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Immigration News & Updates eNewsletter ©  2011  - 2020 
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
  Immigration News & Updates              
Immigration How To:
How Do I Make An Inquiry On My Immigration Case During the Coronavirus Pandemic?
Questions About Immigration? We have the answers!
We Are Here To Help, Call us now for a FREE consultation (954) 382-5378
Helpful Immigration Tips You Can Use...
Question: I have a question about my daughter. I filed for her and the case is being handled by the visa center. I paid the visa fees and am at the point where I need to file papers they require for her interview, but the site is down and it keeps freezing and giving me error messages. I wonder if its because of the order president trump issued about visas. But I am a citizen so I don’t know why they wont let my documents through. I tried calling but the message always says call back another time. I don’t know what to do. Do I just have to wait until the 60 days is up?
Answer: What you are experiencing is very common, the National Visa Center (NVC) website frequently has technical problems which prevents users from uploading or accessing files for days at a time. My heart goes out to you and others. Our office encounters the same issues and simply keeps trying several times daily until we get through. Trumps Executive Order does not apply to NVC processing, even for immigrant visa cases which are temporarily suspended for sixty days. So keep trying to access your account at least several times or more each day and if you have questions about your submission, you can call the NVC at 603-334-0700 to speak with a representative from 7:30 AM to 12:30 AM (EST), Monday through Friday. It’s always best to call early in the morning if possible and don’t be discouraged if you get the call back message, just keep hitting “redial” and after a few tries you will get through. Let us know if you would like us to handle the NVC processing case for your daughter.
For many years, the family immigration category for spouses and minor children of U.S. Residents (called F2A) was backlogged for several years, meaning that the average time a spouse or child of a green card holder would have to wait for a visa to be available to immigrate to the U.S. was two years. Then beginning last year on July 1, 2019, the F2A immigration visa line disappeared and visas automatically became available. No line, no waiting, except for the normal USCIS and consular processing time which could take a year or more. This applied to spouses and minor children who were abroad, as well as those who were maintaining legal status inside the U.S.. 
Qualifying Spouses And Minor Children Of U.S. Residents Continue To Be Eligible To File For Green Cards Inside The U.S. During May 2020
Tips For U.S. Residents (Green Card holders) 
Stuck Outside The U.S. Due To The Pandemic!

                  LAW CENTERS

Immigration Questions: (954) 382-5378
  POSTING DATE: May 4,  2020
As the pandemic worsened over the past few months and airports and borders began to close, U.S. residents holding green cards outside the U.S. found themselves in a difficult position, unable to return to the U.S.. Most due to return flight cancellation and airport closures.

 As a result, many residents are have reached or are nearing technical immigration rules which are likely to affect their residency status and ability to reenter the U.S.. Here are some common issues affecting U.S. residents as a result of the pandemic:
Tips On Meeting The New Public Charge Requirements 
For those who were not able to file residency applications before the February 24, 2020 deadline, you'll need to meet the new requirements, since all residency cases will require the submission of the new Public Charge form I-944 Declaration of Self Sufficiency

For those abroad going through the U.S. Consulate, use form DS–5540 Public Charge Questionnaire
The form and instructions require applicants to list information, including the following: Household income, tax, assets, debts, credit scores, educational degrees, occupational skills and licenses held, health insurance information and English proficiency skills and provide copies of all documents relating to those items. For instance, applicants must provide documents to prove household income, copies of tax returns filed (if applicable), copies of assets, i.e. savings/checking/investment statements, deeds to real estate, automobile title and any other assets listed. The rule now requires that applicants provide a credit report, even if they do not have a social security number. Further, those with a low or no score must explain and provide other proof of payment of debts (for instance payment statements for utilities, cell phone, etc.)

Additionally, copies of high school diplomas and college degrees are required and must be accompanied by a U.S. equivalency evaluation from an authorized Credential Evaluation Service. To demonstrate English proficiency, applicants should also include certificates/degrees for English language studies to help increase favorability scores.Further, those who have non-subsidized health insurance must list the health insurance plan and dates of coverage.

To prepare for filing the I-944, here are a few things you can start doing right now:


Make a list of all your assets (real estate, savings, checking, investments), along with the value of each. Then get together copies of your statements for the past several month for each account and locate a copy of titles to any automobiles or real estate you may have. To get a value of your automobile, you can go online to Kelly Bluebook and do a free car valuation. For your real estate, find your most recent property tax bill and it will give a value. You can usually obtain a higher value on real estate by getting a formal appraisal done, but this can cost several hundred dollars or more. Finally, for debts on any of your assets including your automobile and real estate, get together your past payment statements or other documents, which show the current debt and balance due.
**Ideas to increase your favorability score: Have your spouse or other relative add your name to the title of bank accounts (savings/checking, investments), automobiles and real estate.

Credit Report:

Contact one of the three main credit agencies and request a free credit report.  Gather together any bills or statements for utilities or other debts that you regularly pay (for past six months) in order to show regular payments of debts, including those for rent. 
 **Ideas to increase your favorability score: You may be able to establish credit by obtaining a secured credit card, meaning you deposit funds with the credit company, then use the card and make your monthly payment. Apply For A Secured Credit Card 

Diplomas/Degrees/Occupational Licenses/Certifications:

Obtain copies of your high school diploma and any college degrees, licenses and certification courses you may have taken abroad. Once you have them, get a U.S. equivalency evaluation done from an authorized Credential Evaluation Service
**Ideas to increase your favorability score: Provide a job offer letter which details a specific job position, along with wage or salary you will receive once you have your work permit.

English Proficiency:

For those whose native language is not English, you can improve your favorability score even further, by demonstrating that you have English language skills which make you more likely to get a job and support yourself. To prove your proficiency, obtain copies of your school transcripts/courses, certificates/diplomas from the U.S. or abroad, showing that you have taken and passed English courses or that you are currently enrolled. 
**Ideas to increase your favorability score: You can enroll in English studies now! There are many English language classes available in every city. Make sure and get a copy of your enrollment documents to provide the USCIS. 

Private Health Insurance:

You can substantially increase your favorability score by providing proof that you have private healthcare insurance with includes coverage for emergency and major medical expenses. This coverage only qualifies if it is not subsidized by the government or through Obamacare (the Affordable Care Act). There are many policies available to non residents which will meet the qualifications. 
**Ideas to increase your favorability score. Don’t wait, you can enroll in private health insurance coverage now! 

USCIS Fee Waivers:

Don’t apply for Fee Waivers! This will substantially lower your favorability score, as will any applications you made for such waivers in the past.

You can find out more about the Public Charge rule by calling our office at: 954-382-5378

This gives you a clear idea of how the process is supposed to go. Once you know that, you can continue to check on the USCIS website for processing times to make sure that your case is within the normal posted times. To check USCIS processing times, go online to the website first choose Check Case Status then type in the case number. You should receive a message which tells you the date the application is filed. Then click on Check Processing Times, and choose the form number, for instance, I-130, then choose the USCIS Service Center (listed at the bottom of on your receipt) from the dropdown list. Once you see the list of I-130 case types, look for the one which matches your case. For instance, you have a choice if U.S. Resident filing for spouse or minor child, U.S. citizen filing for a brother or sister, etc. and you can see the average processing time for that type of application. For example, U.S. Resident filing for spouse or minor child 18 to 24 months (2 years), U.S. citizen filing for a brother or sister 89 to 115 months (8 to 9 years). If your case has gone over the processing time you can make an online inquiry for a case pending with the USCIS by filing an “e-Request”. It will usually take about 2-4 weeks to get a response. 

For more information, visit the USCIS E-Request webpage

However, since that time, many experts have been wary that this visa availability may not last and worse, that Trump may issue an Executive order temporarily suspending the processing and issuance of green cards inside the U.S. to qualifying F2A spouses and children. This fear was heightened recently when Trump issued an Executive Order on April 22nd which suspended the issuance of immigrant visas for sixty (60) days (with the exception of those to spouses and minor children of U.S. Citizens and others). However, that suspension does not apply to immigrants INSIDE the U.S. who are waiting to adjust status through the residency process and only applies to F2A spouses and minor children and other immigrants who are outside the U.S. waiting for visa to immigrate. 

The good news is that once again, the new Visa Bulletin for May 2020 shows that visas continue to be available to qualifying F2A spouses and children. Meaning that those who are inside the U.S., continuing to maintain legal status are eligible to file for residency (adjustment of status) along with a request for permission to work and can legally stay in the U.S. throughout the residency process and green card issuance. However, it is important to note that F2A spouses and children who are inside the U.S. and are not in legal status (expired I-94), are not eligible to apply for residency. Filing for residency when an individual is not eligible can result in deportation, so always find out the facts first, BEFORE filing. 

You can give me a call at: 954-382-5378 for free advice about whether or not you qualify.

Department of State Visa Bulletin for May 2020. 
USCIS Extends Policy Accepting Late Filing Of Responses
 To Requests For Evidence And Other Notices
In light of the continuing impact of the Coronavirus pandemic on pending immigration applications, the USCIS announced last Friday, May 1, 2020, that it will extend the new policy to accept the late filing of responses to requests for evidence (RFEs) and notices of intent to deny (NOIDs), Notices of Intent to Revoke (NOIR) and others, including, Notice of Appeal or Motions (Form I-290B) filed by applicants and petitioners, for USCIS requests for a new extended period, now between March 1 and July 1st (rather than the May 1, 2020). 
Question: My sister came to visit me last November to help take care of our elderly mom who had an operation. She was due to return home this month at the end of may but her flight was cancelled. Her tourist visa expires in june. Our mom had a relapse and needed another surgical procedure in march and I work so I really need my sister here to help. We are wondering if it is still possible to file for her to get more time here. Is it allowed even though her visa expires next month or does it have to be valid for another 6 months? Thanks.
Answer: Yes, your sister can file for an extension of stay to request up to six more months in the U.S.. The expiration date of the U.S. Visa in her passport does is not relevant to her eligibility to file for an extension of stay. Be aware that it can take the USCIS six months or more to issue a decision on an extension of stay or change of status application, but she would legally be able to remain in the U.S. while awaiting a decision. I hope this is helpful to you.
Question: Hi attorney, I hope you can answer my question. I came to america on a student visa in 2016 that expires later this year. The problem is that I had to drop out of school last year because I could not pay the fall semester tuition. My current situation is that I have been dating my American boyfriend since 2017 and we decided to get married. Our question is whether he can file for me to get a fiancée visa and work permit now before we get married and then once we get married he can file for my green card and I can stay here and work until I get my green card. Is that the way it works? Does it matter that my visa expires and I dropped out of school? Does that mean I have to go back home or be deported? We are wondering if you can help us.
Answer: Congratulations on your engagement! Unfortunately, only fiancée’s of U.S. Citizens who obtain the K-1 fiancée visa abroad are eligible to apply for work authorization prior to marriage. Fiancées in the U.S. who do not have the K-1 are not eligible to work. First, they have to get married, then file a spousal residency case along with a request for employment authorization card. It takes six months or more to obtain a work permit from that point and maybe longer due to the pandemic. The good news is that as the spouse of a U.S. Citizen, it does not matter when your visa expires or that you dropped out of school, you can be out of status and still obtain your green card since you entered the U.S. legally. Let me know if you would like me to handle your residency case.
Outside The U.S. For a Year or More: For instance, immigration regulations prohibit a U.S. resident from using his or her green card to re-enter the U.S. once he or she has been outside the U.S. for a continuous year or more. Instead, the resident must apply for readmission to the U.S. as a Returning Resident and try to prove that the reason for not returning within a year was related to Coronavirus. Residents have two options to apply: 

Consular Option 1) Fill out form DS117 and apply for a Returning Resident (SB-1) Visa at the U.S. Consulate abroad as soon as they reopen by submitting proof that you reside in the U.S. and are returning from a temporary trip which was extended due to circumstances beyond your control related to the pandemic, for instance cancelled flight to the U.S 

U.S. Port of Entry Option 2) Fill out form Form I-193, Application for Waiver of Passport and/or Visa and apply at the U.S. port of entry,(Customs and Border Protection) by providing the same proof and pay the $585 filing fee. This is risky, but would be best strategy if you were able to obtain a flight to the U.S. before the U.S. Consulate abroad reopens.

Re-entry Permit Has Expired: U.S. residents who have Re-entry Permits are allowed to remain outside the U.S. for up to two full years, but must return to the U.S. before the permit expires. Residents must apply for Re-entry Permits while inside the U.S. (and wait to have their Biometrics taken before leaving) and cannot apply from abroad. Those who have been unable to return to the U.S. as a result of the pandemic should either apply as a Returning Resident at the U.S. Consulate (Option 1 above) or take the chance of applying for a waiver at the port of entry (Option 2 above). Be sure to bring documents showing that your flight was cancelled and you have been unable to obtain a new return flight until now.
Under this policy, individuals will be given an additional 60 days past the deadline in the USCIS request. For instance, if a response is due to be received by the USCIS by the deadline of May 1st, the new deadline will be July 1st. 

Tips On Responding:

When filing responses to USCIS requests, always send using Priority Mail or Express Mail whenever possible (Fed-ex/UPS cannot deliver to USCIS P.O. Boxes). Be sure to include a copy of the USCIS request ON TOP OF your response. Most important of all, make a copy of the entire response package before sending, including the USCIS request, your response and all supporting documentation sent. Finally, always send at least 5 days or more BEFORE the deadline to ensure that your response reaches the USCIS prior to the deadline. Responses received after the deadline generally result in denial, even if the postmark on the envelop is before the deadline.

Read the USCIS announcement extending the time on accepting late filings

Over the past few months of the pandemic, USCIS 800# live operator services have been scaled down and it is more difficult to obtain r assistance. As a result, there are alternative ways to try to get an updated status on your case if you believe it has gone over processing times. Of course before filing any immigration application, you should clearly educate yourself about eligibility requirements and timing and understand that different kinds of immigration cases have certain processing times. 

For instance, if you are filing a form I-130 for a relative, you first want to look up specifics on how long the USCIS takes to process the case and how long your relative will need to wait to immigrate.