Immigration Questions: (954) 382-5378

  POSTING DATE: June 3,  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: I got married to my husband back in March 2019 and he is a citizen. We did not file my papers yet because he didn’t file for his taxes for the past two years. He says that if he files and owes back taxes that he wont qualify to sponsor me. Its so stressful to be waiting and worried about my status. Can you please tell me if he files his tax returns for 2018 and 2017 and he owes money, does that stop him from being eligible to file for me, are there any options?
Answer: The issue of owing IRS taxes and how it pertains to the immigration process is often a big source of confusion for many. U.S. Residents and Citizens sponsoring relatives are required to provide their current tax return (2018) and the income figures (not actual returns) for the previous two tax years (2016 & 2017). It does not matter whether taxes are owed or not, just as long as the returns were filed. This is in contrast to tax issues for U.S. Residents who want to apply for naturalization. In such cases, owing back taxes is important, but in most cases, it does not prevent a resident from qualifying for naturalization. The law requires that residents who owe taxes provide proof that they have entered into a formal repayment plan with the IRS and show that they have made all payments due under the plan. So in your case, your husband can file his tax returns and sponsor you, even though he owes back taxes. I hope this is helpful to you.
Helpful Immigration Tips You Can Use...

  Immigration News & Updates              eNewsletter
It is not often that great news comes along for immigrants, especially under the current administration, but for some, the next few months will provide spectacular immigration benefits to a very limited few spouses and minor children of U.S. Residents (green card holders). Limited few means that only certain spouses and minor children can qualify, so please read this very, very carefully! Do not use imaginary thinking… if you are not in legal status in the U.S. and you apply, you will be put in deportation.

During the coming months, the Visa Bulletin (the bible of immigrant visa availability) is expected to show that the immigration category for spouses and minor children of residents, called F2A will be current for certain immigrants (using Chart B Dates For Filing), meaning that there are immigrant visas immediately available to those who qualify. To be eligible, spouses and minor children must have a U.S. visa and be able to travel to the U.S. or be inside the U.S. legally. Be careful, those who are inside the U.S. and are not in legal status (expired I-94) ARE NOT ELIGIBLE!  
*** Alert *** 
Qualifying Spouses And Minor Children Of Green Card Holders Can File For Residency In Coming Months 
Tips On Eligibility For Naturalization

Now, more than ever, it’s important to know basic requirements for filing any immigration application, particularly for Naturalization to become a U.S. Citizen. 

Generally, in order to qualify, a U.S. resident must be at least eighteen years of age, have physically resided in the U.S. for the requisite period of time, have “good moral character”, be able to read and write and be proficient enough in English in order to answer the USCIS officer’s questions about the Naturalization application, U.S. history and civics (with few exceptions).
Immigration How To:
How Do I  Keep Updated On My Immigration Case?
Hardline USCIS Director Forced To Resign – 
Not Tough Enough On Immigrants For Trump!
Tips You Need To Know To Stay Updated With Your Pending Case

Once an immigration case is filed with the USCIS it is vital to not only track the package to ensure delivery, but also to receive confirmation of receipt from the USCIS along with your case number. Then once the USCIS receipt (called the I-797 Notice of Action) is issued, its even more important to stay updated on your case and receive email updates from the USCIS about actions taken on your case. 

For instance if the officer sends you a Request for Evidence, its important to know and followup with the USCIS in case you never receive the request, so it can be resent.
For background, under the Obama administration, the State Department created two monthly Visa Bulletins, one called Chart A “Final Action” and one called Chart B “Dates For Filing”. Generally, the “Final Action” dates are those which are based upon current immigrant visa availability and the “Dates For Filing” based upon projections of upcoming visa availability. Both are based upon very complicated government calculations, which normal people cannot possibly understand, even most state department officials, but nevertheless, each month both charts are published. Every month the USCIS issues an advisory on its website as to which chart (A or B) applicants inside the U.S. should use. A “priority date” is the date the I-130 is filed and thus the immigrant’s place in the immigrant visa waiting line.

Over the past few months, the immigration category for F2A spouses and minor children of residents (which was usually backlogged for several years) has been moving ahead rapidly and is now almost current. As of June 2019, Chart B shows the priority date of March 8, 2019, meaning that any I-130 family petition filed by a resident for his or her spouse or minor child before that date may provide eligibility for the spouse and minor children to file for residency and to live and work in the U.S. until they receive a green card. But, this only applies to spouses and minor children who legally travel to or are already inside the U.S. and are in legal status. Those in the U.S. with expired status DO NOT QUALFIY! It does not apply to spouses and minor children abroad who do not have U.S. visas, they are only allowed to use Chart A, which is several years behind, currently July 2017.

It is expected that as early as July or August 2019, the F2A category may be “current”, meaning that on July 1 2019, if a resident marries an immigrant and the immigrant is inside the U.S. in legal immigration status (as tourist or student or other visa), the residency application to adjust status to residency inside the U.S., along with a request for permission to work and travel can be filed simultaneously! As a result, the spouse (and or minor children) can stay legally in the U.S., work or attend school and go through the entire residency process until they receive their green cards.

Here are some examples of cases, which will and will not qualify to file for residency:

Scenario #1:James, who is a U.S. Resident and lives in the U.S., married his longtime girlfriend June in Jamaica on March 15, 2019. After the wedding, James returned to the U.S. and filed the I-130 spousal petition to sponsor June in April 1, 2019. June has a U.S. tourist visa so she can come and visit James. Likely beginning July 2019, if June comes to the U.S. to visit James, she will be able to stay here and file for her residency and go through the entire adjustment of status process here, rather than having to wait for two years to go through the consular process in Kingston, Jamaica.

Scenario #2 Mary lives in Bahamas and met her husband Carl while he was there on vacation in 2017. They had a long distance romance and finally got serious enough to get married in October 2018. In December 2018 Carl filed the I-130 petition for Mary. She applied for a tourist visa to the U.S. but has been turned down several times, so Carl knows the waiting time for Mary is about two years and he goes to visit her every few months. Since Mary cannot come to the U.S. legally, she will not be able to immigrate early and has to wait until the visa bulletin Chart A Final Action Dates shows that it has reached the date Carl filed the I-130 petition for her in December 2018. Right now, in the F2A for Chart A, it is current for July 2017. So she still has about a year and a half to wait. 

Scenario #3 David came to the U.S. from Bahamas in 2010 as a visitor and never left. In 2016 he met and married his wife Jennifer who got her residency through her parents in 2015. Jennifer filed the I-130 for David, but since his is out of legal immigration status, he cannot file for his green card until Jennifer becomes a U.S. citizen. She can apply in 2020. Since David is not in legal immigration status, even though he has been inside the U.S. for all these years, he is still not eligible to apply for his residency, even once the F2A immigration category becomes current in the next few months. If David did make the mistake and file for residency, his case would be denied and under current Trump policies, he would be put in deportation proceedings.  

Scenario #4 Tanisha is in the U.S. on an F-1 student visa attending Broward Community college. She and her boyfriend Doug (who is a resident) have been dating a few years and are thinking about getting married. Since the F2A category will be current in the next few months, if Tanisha and Doug get married, they can file for her residency and she can stay in the U.S. legally during her entire residency process. She will receive her work and travel permit in six months and residency interview in about 1-2 years.

Scenario #5 Milton has been a resident for 10 years. He applied for citizenship several times, but because he has dyslexia and literacy issues he was denied both times because he could not read the questions and provide the answers properly. Ann came to the U.S. many years ago as a child with her parents in 1994. Her aunt filed an I-130 for Ann’s mom in 1995, but by the time her parents were allowed to get their residency, Ann was too old and did not qualify. So she has been here all these years with no status. Milton married Ann several years ago in 2015 and he filed the I-130 for her, but since that time she can’t file for her residency because she is not in legal status and Milton cannot get his citizenship. However, since she qualifies under an old policy called “245i”, which applies to immigrant who were the beneficiary of an I-130 (and other immigrant petitions) which were filed on or before April 30, 2001, once the F2A is current in the next few months, Ann is eligible to file for her residency and stay in the U.S. and receive her residency without needing a Waiver. To qualify under 245i, she only has to pay an additional $1,000 penalty.

These are the typical situations in which an immigrant spouse or child will be eligible to legally file for residency in the U.S. in the next few months. However, things that sound too good to be true, often are, so immigrants should proceed with GREAT CAUTION before going forward! Remember that Trump’s new deportation program is in full force for residency denials and this temporary opportunity for some immigrants is almost guaranteed to result in thousands of residency denials and deportation notices for immigrants who desperately want to obtain residency and think that they qualify even though they do not. Most Immigrants who are in the U.S. with expired status who file residency petitions will likely be denied and put in deportation proceedings. Many immigrants who are preyed upon by Immigration scammers who take advantage of this temporary policy, will be promised work permits and a green card, only to later be denied and deported, leading to tragic consequences. So please, heed my warning, tell your family members and your friends to stay safe, DO NOT file a residency petition without first consulting with an immigration attorney (not consultant). This temporary policy can be a fantastic opportunity for those who qualify and a nightmare for those who file for residency, but don’t. I’m offering free consultations for any immigrants who believe they qualify under the announced early residency filing opportunity, so find out the facts first, BEFORE filing. 
View the current Visa Bulletin and view Chart A and Chart B for F2A Immigration Category

You can give me a call at: 954-382-5378. Tell my Legal Assistant Frances that you want to talk to Caroly
 to find out if you qualify for early residency filing
The warning bells are ringing and getting louder and louder from Immigrant rights groups across the country, that Trump administration backlogs and policies to delay naturalizations will likely result in millions immigrants being unable to vote in the 2020 Presidential election. One could say that ever increasing delays in USCIS processing of naturalization applications is due to increased application rates, coupled with personnel shortages.

However cynics like me could also assert that the slowdown in processing, causing average processing times to skyrocket from 6 months to now one to two years is intentional, designed to disenfranchise as many immigrants as possible from being allowed to naturalize in time to vote in next year’s election.
Warning: Trump Administration’s Increasing Naturalization Delays Will Prevent Many Immigrants From Voting In 2020 Presidential Election!
Whichever way you want to look at it, the reality is clear, Residents who qualify to apply for naturalization now and fail to do so in the next few months may not be able to naturalize in time to register to vote for the 2020 Presidential election, it is as simple as that. So if you like Trump and agree with what he is doing, then just keep putting it off, Trump will greatly appreciate your kindness when he gets re-elected next year. However, if you feel the urgent imperative to rid our country of his divisive rhetoric, anti-immigrant policies and anti-democratic demagoguery, act now and file for Naturalization before it is too late. You have no idea of the nightmare scenarios a second term Trump administration has in the works for our country and immigrants in particular. The first term has been “child’s play” up to this point, but the next four years will prove to be absolutely terrifying. So remember, this is not the same kind of issue like you are “late” to work, or “late” to pay a bill, oops have to pay a “late” fee, no, this is the kind of too late to save our democracy kind of issue! So stop procrastinating, now is the time to file for naturalization, it is now or never! 

NBC News
When then USCIS Director Francis Cissna assumed his position at the head of the agency in October 2017, one of the first actions he took clearly symbolized his attitude towards immigrants, removing the words “a nation of immigrants” from the USCIS its mission statement, signaling a dramatic change in the agency’s focus, from the traditional mission of facilitating our nation’s legal immigration, to instead, anti-immigration enforcement. Under his leadership, USCIS policies tightened, offices closed, began phasing out INFOPASS, immigration application denials skyrocketed, referrals to deportation escalated, and strategies emerged to deny residency and admission to immigrants under “public charge” provisions, including proposals that “bonds” be required for immigrating relatives.
Yet not even this extreme level of anti-immigrant agency action was enough for Donald Trump. He apparently blamed Cissna for not moving the USCIS far enough to the right and demanded his resignation, which was submitted last week. Sources told news reporters recently that “Francis has been unwilling or unable to challenge the bureaucracy around him to strengthen asylum standards, close loopholes, advance pro-worker reforms, and take bold, decisive action to push policy and regulations through bureaucratic hurdles and roadblocks.” Trump is instead expected to replace Cissna with an immigration hardliner, Ken Cuccinelli who among other things supports restricting birthright citizenship. 

So the nightmare of USCIS continues, now with even darker, more terrifying leadership at its helm, there seems no limit on the havoc and damage Cuccinelli will do to our legal immigration system. Stay tuned…. 


Question: my husband and I got married in 2013 and he filed for me and my 2 kids back in 2015. They are not his (they are from my former marriage) but they were under 18 when we got married. We got our green cards in 2017. Now my husband is filing for naturalization and I want to know if my kids will get citizenship through him, one is 15 and one is 20. Thanks.
Answer: In order for a child to qualify for automatic citizenship through a parent, the relationship must be biological. To qualify, the child must be a resident, residing with that biological parent and UNDER age 18 at the time the parent is sworn in (not at the time of filing the naturalization application). The only time the issue of a stepparent comes into play, is for the purposes of the stepparent sponsoring the child for U.S. residency. In such a case, the U.S. citizen qualifies as a stepparent, if he or she married the child’s biological parent before the child was age 18. In this case, your husband qualifies as the stepparent of your children because you married before they were age 18 and were able to obtain their residency, but since he is not their biological parent they do not obtain automatic citizenship through him once he naturalizes. Since you obtained your residency in 2017, you will be eligible to file for naturalization early in 2020 as the spouse of a U.S. Citizen. If your younger child is still under age 18 at the time you are sworn in, he or she will receive automatic citizenship.
Question: My mom got her citizenship back in 2014 and filed to sponsor me. I am single age 32 and wonder if there is any way to expedite my case so I can immigrate to the us earlier? I saw on the immigration website there is some kind of premium processing fee we can pay, how does that work?
Answer: The current waiting time for adult single sons and daughters of U.S. Citizens is about 7 years or so. Since your case was filed in 2014, you likely would not be eligible to immigrate to the U.S. until about 2021 or later. There is nothing that can be done to move your case faster. You are simply in a line, waiting for a visa because there are 7+ years worth of other adult single children of U.S. Citizens waiting in the line ahead of you. The Premium Processing service you are referring to does not apply to family-based immigration. It is only for employment-based cases such as the H-1B, L and E visas, etc. You can call my office every now and then and I will let you know what the Visa Bulletin says and how much longer you will likely need to wait. I hope this was helpful to you
But in some cases, applying for naturalization is not as simple as just filling out the form and sending it in, since now days, filing any application with the USCIS carries risk, especially for those with certain problem issues. Increased scrutiny by the USCIS amid the current anti-immigrant atmosphere has resulted in far more denials over the past year than in previous periods. In many cases, the worst case scenario is simply denial and the loss of $725 filing fee, however in others, the result can be much more ominous, including deportation.

One of the most common reasons for denial of naturalization is failure to meet the physical presence requirements. Residents who stay outside the U.S. for extended periods of time often believe that they have accumulated the required number of days to prove “physical presence” inside the U.S., only to find out at their naturalization interview that trips of six months or more outside the U.S. breaks the “physical presence” requirement and the new period of five or three years begins the day they return from that trip. There are exceptions when a resident can prove that even though they were outside the U.S. for 180 or more but less than a year, they still continued to maintain residency in the U.S. by showing extensive documentation that they were maintaining a household, utilities, car, insurance, filing taxes, etc, but it’s a very tough case to win. Re-entry permits allow residents to remain outside the U.S. for up to two years, but do not preserve “physical presence”, so none of the time accumulated prior to a trip of 180 days or more can be counted towards the naturalization requirement. There are a very few exemptions to the rule, which include military service, religious workers, members of the media, and some residents, including government workers are able to meet the requirement by filing form N-470, Application to Preserve Residence for Naturalization Purposes.

Another common reason for denial is for failure to prove the payment of child support for minor children both in the U.S. and abroad during the preceding five years. In most cases, a letter from the child’s mother that child support has been paid will not suffice, without additional documentation like Western Union and other money transfer receipts.

Other reasons include failure to pay taxes, which in many cases can be easily overcome with evidence of a valid payment plan with the IRS and proof of ongoing monthly installment payments. Often, however, residents do not understand the requirement and are only denied simply because they failed to provide the officer with sufficient evidence to prove tax payments. Failure to register for Selective service can also result in a denial, if the failure to do so is not adequately explained, since all males between ages of 18 and 25 are required to register, including residents, asylees, refugees, parolees and even undocumented immigrants. Those who failed to register without good cause must wait until age 31 to re-apply.

Failing the English and/or Civics Tests is also a common reason for denial. Applicants who are not fluent in English often memorize the questions and answers, but are unable to communicate with the officer about simple questions on the naturalization application. Those who fail the initial test are rescheduled for a second test within about 60-90 days. There are exceptions to the English portion of the test for those age 50 and above who have been a resident for at least 20 years, those age 55 or above with residency of 15 years or more and those who have a physical or developmental disability or mental impairment (and request a N-648 waiver). However, waivers are very difficult to obtain and most are denied. Qualifying cases are generally those where an applicant has been diagnosed with and undergone long standing treatments for dementia or some other disability for several years prior to applying for naturalization.

More serious issues which can result not only in denial, but further action against a resident involve criminal convictions, registering to vote (even unknowingly), obtaining certain public benefits, fraudulently obtaining residency (through fake marriage) or through employment, when the resident failed to work for the U.S. employer after receiving residency.

As a safeguard, residents are well advised to consult with an experienced immigration attorney to assess any problem issues, BEFORE filing for naturalization. This helps ensure that any problem issues, which can be cured, are handled prior to filing for naturalization. And in some cases, residents are legally advised not to file in order to avoid serious consequences which could result in revocation of residency and likely deportation.

Fortunately, the USCIS offers several convenient ways to get updates on newly filed and pending Immigration cases. Immigrants and Sponsors filing Immigration applications with the USCIS can now sign-up to receive text messages and email E-notifications confirming application receipt by the USCIS, along with the case receipt number(s). The receipt number allows individuals to track the status of their case online. E-notifications are issued within 24 hours after the USCIS receives the application. To request e-notification, download and complete form G-1145 and mail along with all Immigration applications. Once you receive your case number, 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. 

It’s a great way to stay informed and keep up to date on the status of your case as it moves along in processing.