Immigration Questions: (954) 382-5378

  POSTING DATE: May 27,  2019
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Immigration News & Updates eNewsletter ©  2011  - 2019 
For questions about U.S. Residency, Green Cards and Immigration Visas, Visit our Website at: or  call our office at: (954) 382-5378
Questions & Answers
This Week's Immigration News 
By Immigration Attorney Caroly Pedersen
Question: We mailed my husbands immigration forms in nearly 2 weeks ago and have not gotten any letter from immigration confirming that they received it. We used a money order but so far western union says it hasn’t been cashed. I have the certified receipt from the post office that says it was delivered to immigration on may 21, it took all that time! We are wondering what to do at this point, should I stop payment on the money order?
Answer: Not to worry, once the USCIS receives your application, it can take a week or much longer for the check or money order to be cashed and another 7-10 days for you to receive your Receipt, called the I-797 Notice of Action. So since your case was received by the USCIS on May 21st, you should receive your receipt sometime this week. The back of the check or money order will have the case number on it and will start with three letters, followed by 10 numbers, for instance, MSC1234567890. You can check the status on the USCIS website. For the future, an easy way to know your case was received is to include a form G-1145 with each case, in order to get a text or email message from the USCIS once your case is received, which will include the case number. Once you have your case number, you can go to the USCIS website and sign up for Email Status updates on your case through the USCIS My Case Status program. Once you register and enter your case number(s), the USICS will automatically email you notifications and updates on any actions take on your case so that you are better informed about your case status. Finally, a good tip is never to send an immigration application using certified mail, since it takes such a long time to be delivered. Its always best to use Priority Mail, which often takes about 2 -3 days for delivery and only costs about $7.
Helpful Immigration Tips You Can Use...

  Immigration News & Updates              eNewsletter
Reuter’s news reports that the Trump administration is actively making policy changes, which would enable officials to deport Residents (Green Card holders) who use public benefits. The Department of Justice (DOJ) proposed regulation reportedly seeks to dramatically expand the types of public benefits used, which could result in a resident being deported.

The expanded benefits include: cash welfare, food stamps, housing aid, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly known as food stamps; Section 8 housing vouchers; most Medicaid benefits; Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), any other cash assistance program.
Trump Administration Drafting Plans 
To Deport Residents Who Use Public Benefits
Understanding Who Qualifies To Apply For Early Naturalization

Eligible U.S. Residents who are spouses of U.S. Citizens can apply for Naturalization early and obtain their U.S. Citizenship in only 2 years and 9 months.

Most U.S. Residents (Green Card holders) must wait for 4 years and 9 months before being eligible to apply for Naturalization. However, qualifying U.S. Residents who are married to U.S. Citizens are eligible to apply 2 years earlier, called “Early Naturalization”. To qualify under this expedited U.S. Citizenship process, a U.S. Resident must fall under what is commonly called the “3/3/3” rule:
New Trump Memo Requires Sponsors To Reimburse Government 
For Public Benefits Used By Immigrants
Dreamers Should File Renewal Applications At Least 150 Days Prior To Expiration

In September 2017, Trump abruptly announced cancellation of the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program beginning March 5, 2018. But as the deadline approached, several federal courts blocked the administration from ending the program for Dreamers who already had DACA status. So even as the March 5th deadline has passed, the Trump administration is currently still required by the federal courts to allow DACA renewals, but not to accept new applications. However, this is not a permanent solution, and a federal court could allow Trump to terminate the program in the future. 
Trump signed a new presidential memorandum last week, which seeks to enforce a long standing rule requiring sponsors who sign Affidavits of Support to be responsible for reimbursing the government for any public assistance received by an immigrant. 

The memo, called “Memorandum on Enforcing the Legal Responsibilities of Sponsors of Aliens” seeks to enforce an existing federal law, (part of the 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) and Welfare Reform laws) which have been on the books for 23 years, but never really been enforced. The law provides that sponsors who sign an affidavit of support accept legal responsibility for the sponsored immigrant(s) until they become U.S. citizens or are credited with 40 quarters of work (10 years), whichever is sooner. 
Immigration How To:
How Do I Know When I Can File For DACA Renewal?
Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of State released the results of the 2020 Visa Lottery, called the “Diversity Visa program”. It’s important to remember that since the program is now fully automated, winners do not receive a letter or email notification. The only way to find out whether or not you have won is through the official Electronic Entrant Status Check (ESC).
Visa Lottery Winners Announced By U.S. Department of State 
Existing federal policies prohibit most green card holders from using public benefits unless they been a resident for at least five years. The confusion for immigrants comes, however, when state laws, which conflict with federal prohibitions, allow residents to apply for public benefits, which could jeopardize their immigration status. An example cited by Reuters is a state “allowing pregnant women and children who are permanent residents to access Medicaid without a waiting period.”. Technically, this is in violation of immigration policies.For now, the DHJ is still in the early drafting phase and no regulations has been released publically to date. Once the draft rule is released, it is expected to cause a fury of criticism and likely lawsuits to stop it.

Read the Reuter’s article 
Mother Jones
Another important thing for winners to understand is that while there are only 50,000 Immigrant Visas available, over 100,000 applicants are selected as “winners”. So being selected as a winner and being lucky enough to actually be issued an Immigrant Visa to obtain a Green Card are two different things. The reason for the selection of so many winners over the amount of visas available is that many “Entrants” either don’t qualify (for instance failing to possess the required educational or employment background) or simply fail to complete the visa process. So the best tip is always to apply early…don’t wait!

Finally - don’t fall prey to Scammers! Every year thousands of Entrants receive emails and letters from scammers pretending to be an official notification of winning the Visa Lottery and directing that money be wired to a bank account. Don’t be fooled! State Dept and USCIS fee payments are never made by wire. If you receive any written communications relating to winning the lottery or from the USCIS requesting fees which you are not absolutely familiar with, have an attorney take a look and let you know whether or not the notification is genuine. Better to be safe, than sorry…
This responsibility does not mean actual financial support of the immigrant, but instead responsibility to ensure that if the immigrant accepts public assistance within that period, the sponsor is liable to reimburse the government for the cost of the assistance.

Under the new Trump memo, each future sponsor will be required to sign an affidavit, which clearly lists the financial responsibilities required for sponsoring an immigrant. The measure would also create a program to recover funds from sponsors when an immigrant they have sponsored receives any kind of public assistance. Likely withholding tax refunds and other government benefits from sponsors until reimbursement is receive in full. 

Read the Memorandum on Enforcing the Legal Responsibilities of Sponsors of Aliens 
US News
Tips On Successfully Completing The National Visa 
Center Process For Immigrating Relatives
The family immigration process often takes many, many years waiting in line and then finally once an Immigrant Visa becomes available, the National Visa Center (NVC) and U.S. Consulate begin final processing, ending in the immigrant visa consular interview appointment and immigrating to the U.S.. But even after waiting all those years, the final processing steps themselves can be very intimidating and stressful. Here is a quick overview of the process and a few tips to keep in mind in order to help you properly provide the required documentation so as not to delay your relative’s consular interview. To initiate final consular processing, most sponsors receive a notification email from the NVC called a “Notice of Immigrant Visa Case Creation” which gives the case number, ID and link to login to the Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC) to initiate the process. Here are the basic steps in the process:
1) Pay NVC Bills: The first step is to pay the consular fees to begin the process. Fees are currently $445 per person or $325 per person and $120 for family. 

2) Submit Affidavit of Support and supporting documents: Once the fees are paid, the next step is for the sponsor to immediately submit the completed, signed form I-864 Affidavit of Support, current 2018 tax return (or tax transcripts) , W-2, paystubs and employer letter (2018) through the CEAC system. Failure to quickly provide the required financial documents will result in delay of the case.

3) Complete the DS260 Immigrant Visa Application: at this stage, the immigrating family members must complete the DS260 form for each person and submit.

4) Civil Documents: all immigrants are required to submit certain civil documents, including, Birth and Marriage certificates, divorce decrees, passport biographic page, police certificate, passport photos, criminal records, etc. These documents must be carefully scanned and uploaded through the CEAC system for each immigrating family member.

5) NVC Review: Once the documents are submitted, it can take up to 60 days for the NVC to review the documents. If documents submitted are not clear or scanned improperly, they are rejected and the sponsor/immigrant will receive an email notification to log in and replace such documents with properly scanned versions. 

6) Consular Interview: Once the NVC finds all the documentation is acceptable, the NVC will email notification that the case is complete and the next step is to wait for notification from the consulate. Within about 30 days or so the U.S. Consulate will send a notification email with the date and time of the interview, along with instructions on scheduling the required medical examination and listing documentation to bring to the medical exam and consular interview. 

It’s important to understand that the NVC process can be completed in as little as 60 days if the case is properly prepared and submitted. If not, the process can end up being delayed for many months causing immigrating family members to remain in limbo just waiting, for no good reason. In some cases, I have had new clients come to me over six months into the process exasperated, annoyed, and nearly ready to give up after having previously repeatedly tried to do the case themselves. In addition to sponsors being unsure of which documents are required and unfamiliar with the CEAC system, the main delays are usually caused by documents being uploaded which do not meet the requirements. Here’s a few document tips:

Rule #1, never use your cell phone to take a picture of a document, all documents must be scanned at a clear resolution using a scanner and saved as a pdf. Pics taken with a cell phone will be rejected.

Rule #2, always make sure that the document you are scanning is upright on the page, since documents scanned sideways or upside-down will be rejected.

Rule #3, make sure to scan the entire document so that all sides are fully showing. Scans of documents which are cut off will be rejected. For instance, if a birth certificate has stamps, but the scanned page cuts a portion of the stamp off, the document will be rejected. Similarly, if a document is on oversized paper and the scan cuts off the bottom of the document, it will be rejected. The best approach is to take oversized documents to office depot and have them reduce it to letter size.

Rule #4, reduce the size of the pdf before uploading. The maximum size is 2 mb. Many documents with multiple pages scanned on copiers and printers will easily go over 2 mb, so you’ll need to use a pdf program which allows you to reduce the pdf size.

Rule #5, documents which are in the same language as the country from which the family members are immigrating do not need English translations. For instance, if an immigrant is from Colombia and all his or her documents are in Spanish, no English translations are required to be submitted.

Finally, remember that every time you submit or resubmit documents, it can take the NVC up to 60 days to review them, this can cause delay after delay, on and on. So the best approach is to carefully prepare the documents, review the scans to make sure they meet each and every specification before uploading and submitting and then check your emails frequently in case the NVC issues a request for resubmission on one or more documents, so that you can take care of it immediately.

We can quickly and easily take care of the entire NVC process for you! Give us a call at: 954-382-5378.

Question: I misplaced my green card and drivers license. I had them together in the same bag with other documents and I cant find the bag anywhere. I have torn up my apartment, but nothing. Im afraid maybe I threw it out by mistake. Its driving me crazy. The real problem is that when I tried to get a replacement drivers license online it said I need to go to the office. When I went to the office they said they cant give me a new one without my actual green card. I need my green card because I am staying at my cousin’s apt and I need to show it every time I have to get in the entry gate. Is there something you can do quick so I can get it?
Answer: Yes, no problem, we will first file a request with the USCIS to get you a duplicate Green Card and then once we get the receipt, you can call the USCIS to have them make an appointment at your local USCIS office in the next few weeks to get you a temporary residency stamp. Once you get that , you can take your passport with the residency stamp, along with your social security card to the department of motor vehicles to have your duplicate Driver’s License issued. Issuance of your duplicate Green Card will take many months, however in the meantime, the residency stamp in your passport called an I-551, will act as your evidence of lawful residence until your new card is received. 
Question: My mom is a citizen and filed for me in 2013 and I am still waiting, the immigration online website says the case was approved a few years ago, but she never received the approval notice or maybe she lost it, she cant remember now. My question is whether I need it or not. I am single so I know I need to wait a little while longer to immigrate. What should we do now? Thanks in advance for your advice.
Answer: Good question, in your case, it is not really important to have the actual approval notice. Once an Immigrant visa becomes available to you in the F1 Immigration category for single adult children of U.S. Citizens, the National Visa Center (NVC) will contact your mother to begin the process. The waiting line is generally about 7 years, and since she filed for you back in 2013, you should be able to immigrate sometime next year. It is a good idea for your mom to call the NVC to confirm her address and give them the I-130 receipt case number so they can easily identify your case. Here is the contact information for the NVC: NVC telephone: (603) 334-0700. 7:00 a.m. to 12:00 midnight EST, Address for mailing correspondence National Visa Center Attn: WC 31 Rochester Avenue Suite 200 Portsmouth, NH 03801-2915. If you do decide to request a replacement Approval Notice, you can file form I-824. The filing fee is $465. I hope this is helpful to you.
1) The U.S. Resident must be married to their U.S. Citizen spouse for at least 3 years and 

2) The U.S. Citizen spouse must have been a U.S. Citizen for at least 3 years and finally, 

3) The U.S. Resident must have held that status for at least 3 years (really 2 years and 9 months). 

So, as long as the U.S. Resident meets these requirements and is not only currently married to, but continues to reside in a real marriage with their U.S. Citizen spouse – they can apply for early naturalization… now you know ...

As a result, Dreamers are advised not to become complacent and leave renewals until the last moment….since the program could be terminated at any time. This means that DACA renewals should be filed as early as possible, meaning 150 days before the work authorization card expires. USCIS processing of DACA renewals can be slow and those who fail to file early renewals can find themselves with expired work permits, waiting for renewal. This can mean loss of a job and driver’s license in some states.

Recommendations For Renewing DA Status:

The DACA renewal Fee is $495, which includes both renewed DA status and Work Authorization. Applicants who are over age 31 are still eligible, as long as they were under age 31 when the policy became effective on June 15, 2012 and currently hold DACA status. Be sure to file your renewal no earlier or later than 150 days from the date your current card expires. If you are representing yourself, fully complete the DACA renewal forms and write “Renewal Request” in large letters on the bottom of each form. You can get a link to the required DACA renewal forms by visiting our website at: and clicking on the Immigration Newsletter link.

Form I-821D, Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival 
Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization
Form I-765WS
USCIS Deferred Action Webpage