Immigration Questions: (954) 382-5378

  POSTING DATE: July 15,  2019
Tell a friend about this page

Learn More About:

Add this page to your favorites.

Add this page to your favorites.
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
Helpful Immigration Tips You Can Use...

  Immigration News & Updates              eNewsletter
The Immigration Raids Begin In Miami 
And Major Cities Nationwide! 
Immigration How To:
How Do I Get Ready For My Immigrant Appointment At The Embassy?
Tips On Preparing For Your Immigrant Visa Appointment

Read Your Appointment Letter carefully/Gather Civil Documents: make sure that you completely review the appointment letter, schedule and attend your required medical examination and gather the ORIGINAL Civil documents listed on your notice. In most cases, you are required to bring your passport which must be valid for at least six months beyond your intended entry date to the U.S. and provide ORIGINAL or certified copies of your birth and marriage certificate, divorce decrees, police certificate, military certificate (if applicable), death certificate for spouses, criminal records for arrest and convictions (if applicable), even if the charge was dismissed, expunged or sealed. It’s also good to bring updated financial documents from the financial sponsor, for instance their current tax return and W-2 and copies of their paystubs for the past several months.
Question: I came to florida 5 years ago with my 8 yr old son to visit my mom who had an operation and needed my care. She had a long recovery and it so happens we overstayed and are still here. I met my fiancée who has a green card last year and we are now planning on getting married. My question is once we get married, can we file immigration papers for me and my son? Will we be legal after that? When will I get my drivers license, work permit and social security number? Thank you for your answers.
Green Card Holders With Criminal Records 
Should Use Caution Before Travelling Outside U.S.!  

With the Trump Administration cracking down on both legal and illegal immigration, U.S. Residents (Green Cards holders) with criminal records should take great care before travelling abroad, since even old criminal convictions can cause difficulties in re-entering the U.S., result in a bar to readmission and in some cases, even removal from the U.S..Under the Department of Homeland Security’s strict enforcement priorities, the government’s application of strict Immigration enforcement laws are tightening, resulting in raids and the apprehension of Immigrants with even “suspected” criminal activity. This of course also means more scrutiny of both foreign visitors and U.S. Residents seeking to enter the U.S. from abroad as well.
As promised, Immigration and Customs Enforcement ICE began raids targeting thousands of immigrants with deportation orders began on Sunday in major cities across the country, including: Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York City, San Francisco, and Miami. And while smaller in scope than the previously planned operation, tragically, even those who do not have deportation orders, caught up in the raids are taken into custody, called "collateral arrests" including families and children.

 The threat of these enforcement raids has terrorized immigrant communities for weeks, causing many immigrants to flee their homes, leave their jobs and take desperate measures such as leaving their small children in the care of relatives in efforts to evade ICE officers.
Important Benefits of the Fiancée Visa For Parents 
With Minor Children 18 or Older
Under the “Immediate Relative” law, the minor child of a foreign spouse qualifies as a “Step-child” which can be sponsored by the U.S. Citizen, as long as the marriage to the child’s parent took place before the child turned age 18. Yet one day over age 18 and the child loses the ability to obtain Residency from the Stepparent. 

So what happens if a couple is planning to get married but has not yet done so before a child turns age 18? And what if the couple has not even met until the child is over 18? Tragically, in some cases, children are not able to immigrate along with their parent and must often wait in a long immigration visa lines for years once their parent obtains a Green Card, to join them in the U.S..

Yet in many instances, the a K-1 Fiancé Visa is a perfect solution for U.S. Citizen sponsorship and can be the key to enabling stepchildren to immigrate to the U.S. along with their parent, when they would otherwise be unable to do so.
Answer: Unfortunately, spouses and minor children of U.S. Residents (Green Card holders) who are inside the U.S. with expired immigration status are generally not eligible to obtain Residency. This means that the I-130 family petition filed by the U.S. Resident spouse does not confer any legal status or immigration benefits on the foreign national spouse or children. No legal immigration status, no social security card or driver’s license. If the foreign national spouse files a petition to adjust status to Residency, the case will be denied and under Trump administration policies, this could lead to deportation. This is in stark contrast to the generous rights and benefits available to the foreign spouse and children of U.S. Citizens. Under immigration regulations, as long as a spouse or child entered the U.S. legally, even if they then later fell out to status, they remain eligible to apply for Residency, remain in the U.S. during the immigration process and receive a work permit, social security card and later driver’s license. 

The only option for the foreign spouse and children of a Resident who are not in legal status is to wait until the U.S. Resident becomes a U.S. Citizen. Once he or she naturalizes and the Residency case is filed, and the spouse and children may legally remain in the U.S. during the entire immigration process. So the priority is always - how quickly the U.S. Resident spouse can file for and obtain U.S. Citizenship, I hope this is helpful to you. Let us know if you need our assistance in your fiancé’s naturalization filing.
Plans to conduct nationwide raids have been in the works for several months, then in June, just days before the operation was scheduled to begin, Trump decided to use the enforcement action for political purposes and broadcast the plan to his supporters on Twitter. Following this public disclosure, ICE officials worried that Trump’s forewarning had jeopardized the operation by eliminating the element of surprise, allowing many targeted immigrants to flee and potentially putting ICE agents in harm’s way, so they temporarily cancelled the scheduled raids. However, clearly, everyone knew the raids would be rescheduled and as Trump forecast last week “fairly soon.” “I say they came in illegally, and we’re bringing them out legally,” he told reporters.

In the wake of these enforcement actions, many targeted cities have pledged not to provide any assistance to ICE or share information about immigrants in the community, yet Republican Mayor of Miami, Francis Suarez made no such pledge, instead telling CNN that the people of Miami “shouldn’t be worried.” “As Mayor, I trust that only those individuals who represent a clear and present danger to our communities will be affected by this DHS policy.” In fact, to assist ICE, Miami-Dade police have agreed to detain suspected immigration offenders, in order to allow federal agents time to take them into custody.

Yet despite Mayor Suarez’s cooperation with ICE and lack of concern for a community where one in five residents is an immigrant, Immigrant rights organizations in Florida have mobilized and set up "safe sanctuary spaces” in secret locations for vulnerable immigrants seeking a safe place to harbor from the raids. Volunteers have gathered supplies, food, sleeping bags and other essentials, which they have distributed, to individuals, organizations and churches engaged in assisting innocent immigrants.

As reported by the Miami Herald last week, Miami-Dade commissioners even “advanced a plan” to "expand the list of minor crimes that can be treated as civil violations, offenses that result in a ticket rather than a trip to jail," in an effort “to keep undocumented residents, whose immigration status is discovered during booking, out of the system.”

The upside of the raid announcement is that the fear of impending raids has caused many Immigrants to become better informed about their rights, including their right to refuse to open doors to ICE agents, (who are not legally allowed to forcibly enter a home). And immigration advocates nationwide have prepared resources for immigrants to use to protect themselves and their families, including lists of local organizations providing assistance and even “local raids response hotlines”. 

CBS News
​AILA Know Your Rights for raids
Catholic Legal Immigration Network
Immigration Emergency Planning Guide
Miami: Florida Immigrant Coalition (FLIC) hotline, call for help 1-888-600-5762

Most people know that the K-1 Visa Fiancé Visa is used by U.S. Citizens to bring a foreign fiancé to the U.S. in order to get married within 90 days and file for Residency to get a Green Card. But many don’t know about the hidden benefits of the law, which allows minor children of the foreign Fiancé to qualify for Residency, when they would not otherwise be eligible to under regular Family immigration rule for “Immediate Relatives” (Spouses, Minor Children and Parents). Under the K-1 Visa, minor children of the Fiancé, under age 21 are eligible to be issued a K-2 Visa, which allows them to accompany their parent to the U.S. and obtain a Green Card along with the parent, up until they reach age 21. In this case, there is no requirement that their parent and stepparent marry before the child reaches age 18!

Years ago, the K-1 Visa was great because it would expedite the process to bring a fiancée to the U.S. in only a few months, so that the couple would not have to be separated for long periods of time. However, these days, the K-1 process takes almost as long as a spousal Immigrant Visa, 8 +months or so, making it less attractive. As such, the usual advice to U.S. Citizens these days is simply to get married to the foreign fiancée in their home country, then file the spousal petition and once approved, the foreign spouse will become a Resident upon entering the U.S.. 

However, in cases where the foreign Fiancé has one or more children over age 18, but under age 21, the K-1 (Fiancé) and K-2 (dependent) visas are a wonderful solution to overcome the problems caused under normal Immigration regulations in establishing the requisite Stepparent/Stepchild relationship before the child turns age 18. In this case, as long as the K-2 child enters the U.S. before age 21, he or she continues to qualify for a Green Card. This visa is only available to Fiancés and their minor children under age 21 of a U.S. Citizen (not Resident Green Card holder) and is only for those who are outside the U.S. and have not overstayed previously in the U.S..

 Find out if this could be the solution for your children! Get Free Information about the benefits of the K Fiancé Visa, by calling our office at (954) 382-5378.

To Extend Or Not To Extend That Is the Question!
Understanding The Risk Of Requesting To Extend Or Change Status 
Its very common for international visitors who come to the U.S. on short vacations to change plans and decide to stay for a longer visit. 

This is often the case for visitors who wish to travel to other U.S. states and visit additional tourist destinations, as well as for those who want to stay for extended periods with family or even to have time to look for a college to attend later on a student visa. 

Whatever the reason, immigration laws provide a legal procedure set up for just such requests, leading visitors to believe that if they follow the rules, nothing bad can happen, can it? Well, unfortunately, yes!
Commonly, in the past, a foreign national visiting the U.S. on a Tourist/Business Visa, called a B1/B2, could extend his or her stay or change to a new visa like an F-1 Student visa status, by filing an application (form I-539) with the USCIS. Once filed, the applicant could remain in the U.S. legally, while waiting for the application to be processed, typically within several months. An example would be a case involving an international tourist wishing to extend his or her vacation for several months in the U.S. or an individual seeking to become an international student to study English or enroll in an academic program. 

However, things have gotten much more complicated over the past few years, due largely to Trump administration policies, making it extremely risky for international visitors to request to change or extend status in the U.S. and the consequences can often be disastrous! There are several reasons, first, foreign nationals must wait for at least 60 days after the date they enter the U.S. before filing any immigration application with the USCIS, including those to extend or change status. Second, the USCIS processing time has increased so drastically, from several months to 8+ months, that in most instances, an individual’s “period of authorized stay” in the U.S. often expires while waiting for their application to be processed. Third, as part of Trumps tough immigration measures, it is more difficult to obtain approvals for extensions of stay and changes of status. As a result, foreign applicants must now withstand more scrutiny about their intentions to return to their home country, and risk denial if they are not able to provide extensive documentation, which establishes that they own property and continue to maintain a residence in their home country, to which they intend to return once their visa in the U.S. expires. Finally, under another policy, all applicants to change status to an F-1 student or other visa in the U.S. are first required to file applications to extend status in the U.S.. This is not only confusing, but can lead foreign nationals to believe that once they file the application to extend status, it will automatically be granted and there is no risk…. when nothing could be farther from the truth. 

In a cruel twist, even extensions of stay requests, which are approved, often end in tragedy, since the USCIS Approval Notice issues the extension for the period from the applicant’s original period of stay expiration, for an additional six-month period. However, since USCIS application processing times often exceed 6-8+ months, by the time the applicant receives the Approval Notice, the six month extension has already expired! For example, John comes to Miami on vacation in June 2018 to visit family and is given six months to stay in the U.S. (until December 2018). In November 2018, John decides he wants to extend his visit for six more months to spend some time with his elderly grandmother who is ill, so he files form I-539, receives the I-797 Receipt Notice, and waits for his approval. Time goes by and finally in July 2019, John receives an Approval Notice from the USCIS, which grants him a six month extension from December 15, 2018 through June 15, 2019, great, but its already July 2019 and now he is out of status! Not only that, but now his U.S. visa is automatically cancelled as well, since overstaying an individual’s “period of authorized stay” in the U.S. by even one day, results in immediate cancellation of that person’s B1/B2 visa. Even in cases where an extension is granted and a visitor is still in valid status, another risk that many applicants do not understand is that if they apply to extend status in the U.S. and are approved, once they leave and later try to return again too early, they risk heightened scrutiny about their intentions in the U.S.. In some cases, the consequence can be denial of entry or even B1/B2 visa cancellation if the officer believes they are seeking to reenter the U.S. with the intention to change or extend status again. Clearly, filing any application to extend or change status in the U.S. is very risky and should be very carefully considered before an application is made.  

For questions about changing or extending your stay in the U.S. and other immigration issues, 
call me for a free consultation at: 954-382-5378.
Question: I have a question and don’t know where else to turn. My husband and I are green card holders and a few years ago we bought some properties and couldn’t sell them and lost a lot of money and the properties got foreclosed. So far there are two lawsuits in court against us. We don’t have the money to pay them so there is nothing we can do about it. Because of the lawsuits we have been afraid to travel and last year we did not go home for Christmas. My dad is elderly and his health is getting worse by the day. We want to make sure we can see him for Christmas this year but are so afraid about leaving the us because we are scared that we won’t be allowed back in the U.S. because of the lawsuits against us. We could have filed for our us citizenship last year but were afraid because of the foreclosures as well and this causes us a lot of mental stress and anxiety. Can you please tell us what to do to be able to go home for a visit with my father this Christmas, is there some sort of waiver you can get us? bless you.
Answer: No need to worry, in fact, currently there are no negative immigration consequences to U.S. Residents from owing a debt to a bank or any other creditor, (with the exception of certain large debts owed to the IRS). You can safely travel freely without worrying about any problem returning to the U.S.. Debts owed to creditors are Civil, not Criminal. Civil debts do not carry any criminal penalty whatsoever and a debtor cannot be arrested or charged simply for owing debts. Further, there are no negative immigration consequences for debtors with judgments against them or those whose debts have been eliminated through bankruptcy, when applying for Naturalization to obtain Citizenship, again, unless certain debts are owed to the IRS which remain unpaid. Start planning your holiday vacation and enjoy your time with your family!
Question: I have been a green card holder for over ten years and finally filed for my citizenship last year. Two weeks ago I passed my interview and I go to take the oath next week. My boyfriend and I have been dating for a few years and he usually comes to visit me for a month or two then goes back. This year he came in January and just went back last week. After spending so much time together, we are getting pretty serious about each other and plan to get married and I will file his immigration papers. Now that I am a citizen I know the process will go fast. My question is about him coming back next month. We plan for him to come and we have our wedding here in florida in September and we talk and text everyday now about the details. But we are worried that since he just left the us last week and went home, maybe he will have problems coming back again. Is it legal for him to come back so soon after leaving?
Answer: That’s a good question. It’s not an issue of whether or not its legal, it’s an issue of whether your fiancé can convince the officer at the border that he is eligible to re-enter the U.S. so soon after he stayed in the U.S. for six months. I will say that it could be risky for him to try to enter again so soon after staying for so long, although it really depends a lot on the officer at the border. The risk is if he tries to reenter too soon and is denied entry, it could negatively affect his ability to come back to the U.S. in the near future. Foreign nationals who stay in the U.S. for extended periods are assumed to be working or living in the U.S. illegally. The best approach is for him to stay outside the U.S. at least several months or more before trying to reenter. Also, be aware that immigration officials at the border can review a visitor’s social media posts, cell phone pictures and texts, to help them determine what the true purpose of the visit might be. So if is scrutinized the next time he tries to enter the U.S., online posts and phone texts broadcasting your wedding plans could jeopardize his ability to be able to enter the U.S. in the future.
This is particularly a concern for U.S. Residents with certain criminal convictions who travel abroad, even for brief periods, since they will now be more fully vetted upon returning to the U.S.. Many Residents are unaware of the immigration implications of old, seemingly insignificant criminal convictions. Under the regulations, many crimes are considered Crimes of Moral Turpitude, which fall into three categories: 1) those involving fraud, larceny (i.e. theft), 2) crimes against persons or 'things', and 3) governmental authorities. Alone, many crimes do not have negative consequences for Residents, however, if a person has two or more such offences, no matter how old, depending upon the circumstances, they run the risk of being inadmissible to the U.S. or of being deportable. And while waivers are available in some cases, there is never a guarantee of approval and new border policies may require such individuals to remain in detention until the case is resolved. Note that many crimes committed by juveniles before age 18, may be excused, and under some circumstances, a pardon will be recognized, but for immigration purposes, expunged criminal convictions remain convictions and may still have consequences.

Therefore, the best advice for Residents with a criminal background who wish to travel, is to have their particular circumstances reviewed by a criminal immigration attorney first, before making any plans to travel abroad. Better to be safe, then sorry….
.For marriage cases, you’ll need to provide additional evidence to prove the validity of the marriage, including as many photos of you and your spouse with family and be prepare to answer extensive questions about the history of your relationship, your spouse’s family, job, ex-spouses, children, etc.  

Medical Examination: Make sure that you schedule your medical examination way in advance of your consular appointment date, in order to give enough time for the results to be ready for your interview. The appointment notice will give you complete instructions on which doctors are authorized by the Consulate to perform the required exam. If possible, take a copy of your vaccination records to your exam for the doctor to review to avoid being given duplicate vaccines and avoid drinking alcohol for several weeks prior to your exam if possible. Substances such as marijuana should be avoided for many months prior to the exam. Blood test results which are positive for drugs can result in a permanent denial of an immigrant visa.

Appointment Application & Confirmation: At the time of your appointment, make sure you print out and have your appointment letter and appointment registration confirmation with you when you go to the U.S. Consulate. You might be wise to review your DS260 immigrant visa application you submitted online, just to refresh your memory about the information you provided for past addresses, employment, and travel history and family relationships.

Security at the Consulate: Increasingly, U.S. Embassies maintain very strict security measures, which prohibit you from bringing certain items to with you to your appointment. Most Embassies now do not allow you to bring cell phones, tablets, computers and any other electronic devices, luggage, weapons and objects such as penknives which can be used as a weapon. 

If you have questions about the process or which documents you are required to provide for your specific case, make sure and consult a qualified immigration attorney before proceeding.