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POSTING DATE: June 24, 2019
Immigration News & Updates eNewsletter © 2011 - 2019
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Questions & Answers
This Week's Immigration News
Question: Now that green card holders can get their spouses to the US faster, me and my wife want to go ahead and start the process. The problem is that I am only employed parttime and go to school at night, so my income is not very good. Once I graduate tech school at the end of the year, I should be able to get a good job. We have been waiting to file until my income improved because we know there is a minum I have to reach. My question is whether my current income will be a problem for me to file for my wife now or should we wait?
Answer: Good question. It is true that a sponsor must demonstrate that they meet the minimum income guidelines for the Affidavit of Support (and have a joint sponsor if they do not), however, that requirement only comes in at the end of the immigration process, once the USCIS approves your case and the National Visa Center begins preparing the case for her Consular interview. So, you can file her case immediately to get her in the processing queue now and worry about the Affidavit of Support around this time next years, once the final stage of processing begins. Let us know if you would like us to take care of your wife’s residency case.
Helpful Immigration Tips You Can Use...
Immigration News & Updates eNewsletter
Just as Trump was kicking off his campaign reelection bid for 2020 in Orlando last week, he announced that his administration would begin deporting “millions” of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. in the coming weeks.
This threat was later backed up by acting ICE Director Mark Morgan, who confirmed Trump’s tweets, telling reporters that the agency will launch an operation to target and remove undocumented immigrant families who have received final orders of removal, to send a “powerful message” to deter illegal immigration, adding “It’s straightforward: if you’re here illegally, then you should be removed and in this case, that includes families,”.
ICE Immigration Raids – What You Need To Know!
Immigration How To:
How Do I Know What The Correct Filing Fee Is For My Application?
Excessive USCIS Processing Times Finally Prompt Agency Action
Use The Online USCIS Filing Fees Calculator
To Determine The Correct Filing Fees
Filing immigration applications with the incorrect filing fee is the leading cause of case rejections by the USCIS. This can be inconvenient and sometimes very serious for certain applications which have filing deadlines. As a result, the USCIS has an Online Fee Calculator to assist customers in calculating the correct fee amounts to include when filing their forms. The Online Fee Calculator asks users to select a form, or combination of forms, and then to answer a series of questions. The tool then calculates the correct fee amount that the filer must submit, based upon his or her answers and can be accessed by both computer and mobile devices.
As those who have gone through the Residency or Naturalization process in the last few years know, it can take up to two years to receive a Green Card or U.S. Citizenship, up from only six to eight months several years ago.
To make matters worse, processing times vary wildly among various jurisdictions, so that an average processing time on the USCIS website may range from six to 24 months. USICS says this is the result of higher than expected application rates, which I suppose is no doubt due to immigrants’ fears about Trump’s anti-immigrant policies.
Question: I am a resident and I want to file for my wife and her kids (she was not married to their dad). The kids are all minors, one is 14, one is 17 and the eldest is 19 yrs old. My question is if I file for the kids on the same I-130 form or do I have to file a separate I-130 form for my wife and each kid. Also, I have my citizenship case filed since February this year and am waiting for my interview.
Answer: Very important issues you are bringing up. First, a U.S. Citizen or Resident can sponsor step-children of a spouse, as long as the children were under age 18 at the time of the marriage to the child’s biological parent. If qualifying, the U.S. Citizen step-parent can file for the minor children until they reach age 21. Second, the rule about whether or not a separate form I-130 needs to be filed for each child depends upon whether the sponsor is a U.S. Citizen or Resident. When a U.S. Citizen is sponsoring a spouse or child, a separate form I-130 needs to be filed for each person i.e., one for the spouse and one for each child, since these family members are in a special immigration category called “Immediate Relatives”. When a U.S. Resident sponsors a spouse and children, all qualifying children can be included in the parent’s I-130 and there is no need to file a separate one for each child. The immigration category for spouses and minor children of U.S. Residents is called F2A. However, the issue becomes much more complicated when the U.S. Resident sponsor Naturalizes after sponsoring a spouse and minor children on the same form I-130, since immediate relatives of U.S. Citizens must each be sponsored separately.
In your case, if you married your wife before her 19 year old child turned age 18, then you can sponsor your wife and all step children on the same I-130 form. If you did not, the eldest child will not be eligible to immigrate along with the family and your wife will need to wait until she has obtained residency, then file to sponsor that child in the F2A category for spouses and minor children of U.S. Residents. If the child turns 21 before he or she is able to immigrate, the child will automatically move to the F2B immigration category for single, adult children of U.S. Residents, which has a waiting line of about 6 years. If you Naturalize before your wife and stepchildren immigrate, they automatically move to the immediate relatives category and you will need to file a separate I-130 for each child. I hope this is helpful. Let me know if you would like me to take care of filing the case for your wife and step children.
Understanding What Happens When You Overstay Your U.S. Visa
With illegal immigration and the border wall in the news almost daily, it’s easy to overlook the fact that the majority of immigrants inside the U.S. who lack immigration status actually came here legally on a visa and simply overstayed. But of course you never hear about that because Trump doesn’t care about facts when it comes to immigration.
According to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) statistics, of the approximate 53 million foreign visitors who legally entered the U.S. in 2017, more than 600,000, overstayed their visas by the end of that year. This is similar to years past and likely to current numbers, which will be reported by the DHS next year.
As expected, the threat sent shock waves through the immigrant community, causing even more fear and anxiety for a population already feeling under constant siege. ICE plans to begin operations in ten major cities: Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York and San Francisco, and will likely expand into other areas as the process moves forward.
Then a few days later just on the eve of the planned operation, Trump backtracked and said he would delay the raids to give Congress time to make changes to asylum laws. Are the raids going ahead or not? Maybe its real or just a ploy? Maybe its because there is no detention space available for families? Nothing ever really makes any sense when it comes from Trump.
But amid all the hype and rhetoric, it’s important to understand that most immigrants in the U.S. who lack legal status will not be a target of these planned raids. No ICE agents are going to be rampaging through random immigrant neighborhoods knocking on doors and taking families into custody. The agency says the focus of the apprehensions are on those who crossed the border illegally and were placed in an expedited proceeding in the immigration court system but failed to report for their hearing, as well as others who have final orders of deportation. This is not to say that other undocumented immigrants who are encountered as part of the raids will not be apprehended as well, but in general, law abiding immigrants who do not have deportation orders should not be unnecessarily alarmed by all the hype and rhetoric. However, those who do have deportation orders who are living at the same address which is in the ICE system, might not want to be at that location any time soon. Immigrants who are not sure whether they have a final order of deportation can call the deportation hotline 1-800-898-7180 or call our office and give us the Alien Registration Number and we will do it for you.
In all cases, its important for immigrants to understand their rights and to be informed about what ICE agents can and cannot do. For instance, ICE agents are not allowed to enter your home without a warrant, so you do not have to open the door. Also be aware that ICE agents have been known to pretend to be police officers asking about a crime or warning about identity theft, so even if you open the door and they present a badge, you are allowed to close the door and tell them you do not want to talk to them unless they present you with a warrant without fear that they will bust your door down like they do in the movies.
It’s Hurricane Season Again, Make Sure To Keep
Your Vital Immigration Documents Safe!
Now that hurricane season is upon us again, it’s a good time to start taking steps to safeguard your Immigration and other important documentation to prevent potential loss due to natural disasters such as hurricanes and water damage.
1) Copy and Scan Documents: Be sure that you always make a copy of the entire immigration petition and supporting documentation BEFORE sending to the USCIS and make copies of all receipts, notices and correspondence to and from the USCIS as well.
In its efforts to equalize processing times nationwide, the agency plans to transfer caseloads from USCIS field offices with longer processing times, to those with shorter ones to adjudicate applications and request additional documents (Request for Evidence) if necessary. This means, for example that a case normally handled by Oakland Park Field Office might be processed at the West Palm Beach office and the applicant would receive notices from that office, but the actual biometrics, interview and swearing in would be at the Oakland Park office.
2) Make copies of Birth, Marriage & Citizenship Certificates, Divorce Decrees, Green Cards, Passports, I-94 cards, Driver’s License, home and car insurance, car registration, healthcare cards, mortgage statements and other important papers.
3) Upload Documents To Free “cloud”: If you have a scanner, scan all your documents and save them on an online “cloud” like dropbox.com, its absolutely free! If you don’t have a scanner, take clear pictures of your documents using your cell phone. Each document should be a single photo.
4) Original Documents: Originals should be kept safely together in a file and enclosed in a zip-lock bag or other waterproof container or safety deposit box at your local bank.
5) Document Copies: Copies of all your documents should also be placed in a zip lock bag and should be easily accessible.
Question: I came here to the us back in 2009 on a visit and got offered a job so I stayed here ever since. I got married a few years ago but we never did my papers, then I got divorced, so now I am looking for a way to get my immigration straight. I have worked at the same job now for over 6 years and my boss said the company would be willing to sponsor me. I work in a warehouse and know how to work a forklift and other equipment. If its possible, how long will it take for them to sponsor me so I can get my green card?
Answer: The process you are referring to which allows a U.S. company to sponsor a foreign worker is called “Labor Certification”. Thousands of immigrants obtain green cards in the U.S. every year through this process. It generally takes about a year or so for labor certification approval, then if the foreign worker is legally in the U.S. the residency case is filed, if the worker is abroad, they can immigrate through consular processing in as little as six months or so. However, when a foreign worker is in the U.S. with expired immigration status, he or she is not eligible to file for residency and obtain a green card in the U.S., even once the labor certification case is approved. If the worker leaves the U.S. to go through the consular immigration process abroad and they have overstayed in the U.S. for 180 days or more, they are subject to a Re-entry Bar, three years for overstaying 180-364 days and ten years for overstaying over a year. Therefore, for you and millions of immigrants who are inside the U.S. with expired immigration status, labor certification is not answer. There are, however some exceptions when labor certification can still benefit those who are not in legal status, for instance those who qualify under a law called 245(i), who came to the U.S. before December 2000 and were the beneficiaries of certain immigration petitions filed for them or a parent before April 30, 2001 and asylum applicants who filed for asylum prior to their I-94 expiring.
So what happens when an individual overstays a visa? Well, there are different consequences for those who overstay and remain in the U.S., than for those that overstay and then later leave. Of course the best option is always to avoid overstaying a visa at all costs. For visitors, this usually means making sure to double-check the I-94 printout on the Customs and Border Patrol website to be certain to leave the U.S. before the stay expires and to avoid filing any immigration application to extend or change status in the U.S.. Such applications usually take up to six months to process, going past the applicant’s “authorized period of stay” and when denied, leave the individual with no options. Further, under the new NTA policy, when an application to extend or change status is denied, the USCIS now initiates deportation proceedings against the applicant. Those legally in the U.S. on work and investment type visas should file for renewal six months in advance and use premium processing when available, so that they remain in legal status during the renewal process. This keeps options open in case a renewal is denied, allowing the individual to perhaps file other type of application to stay in legal status.
Individuals who overstay a visa by even one day, automatically lose visa status (called “Visa Voidance”) and once they leave the U.S., cannot re-enter without reapplying for a new visa at the U.S. Consulate abroad. And of course obtaining a new U.S. visa after an overstay is a very difficult, if not impossible task, which can lead to successive visa denial for many years to come.
Those who overstay and then remain in the U.S. for a period of time before leaving face much tougher consequences and are barred from returning to U.S. for 3-10 years, depending on the period they overstayed. Here’s a rundown:
•3-year bar: When an individual overstays in the U.S. for six months or more, once they leave they are barred from reentering the U.S. for three years from their date of departure. •10-year bar: When an individual overstays in the U.S. for one year or more, once they leave they are barred from reentering the U.S. for ten years from their date of departure. •Bar to Change of Status/Extension of Stay: When an individual overstays in the U.S., even by one day after their authorized period of stay, they become ineligible to extend their stay in the U.S. or change their status to another nonimmigrant status. The only immigration option is obtaining residency through a real marriage to a U.S. Citizen.
Clearly, overstaying a U.S. visa has unwelcome consequences which take effect immediately upon the first day of overstay, so the best way to avoid that is to preplan your immigration options far in advance of your visa expiration.