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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  Apply For My Passport After Getting Naturalized?
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 immigration options. My brother sponsored my parents when he got his citizenship and they got their green cards in 2015, then he also sponsored me in 2016. My parents moved to the U.S. in 2017 and now my whole family lives there, except me. I am recently divorced and thought maybe I could move to the U.S. and get a new start. My question is whether it is possible for me to come and live in the U.S. with my family while I am waiting for the immigration visa process? Is there any benefit to my parents sponsoring me instead of my brother? Which is better? Thanks again.
A Federal District Court ruled on Friday that the Trump administration must resume accepting new applications for the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program, in order to comply with a recent Supreme Court ruling issued on June 18, 2020, denying the government’s right to terminate the program. Following the Supreme Court decision in favor of Dreamers last month, the Trump administration has continued to defiantly refuse to accept new DACA applications. 

Coming nearly a month after the Supreme Court’s ruling, Judge Grimm’s order means that the DACA policy must be restored to what it was before the Trump administration terminated it in September 2017, mandating that the USCIS resume accepting new DACA requests under the 2012 executive order by Obama. 
Federal Court Orders Trump To Accept New DACA Applications

                  LAW CENTERS

Immigration Questions: (954) 382-5378
  POSTING DATE: July 20,  2020
Tips To Avoid Losing Your Green Card When 
Re-entering The U.S. After A Prolonged Stay! 

Since Trump took office in 2017, many U.S. Residents (Green Card holders) have been wary of travelling abroad, in fear that they may not be allowed to re-enter the U.S. and could have their Green Card taken away at the U.S. border. This fear has been exacerbated by the recent pandemic, which has caused many residents to be unable to return to the U.S. due to cancelled flights and airport closings. When a resident has remained outside the U.S. for an extended period and the Customs & Border Patrol (CBP) officer at the airport or border believes the resident does not actually reside in the U.S., the officer can request that the resident relinquish his or her green card and sign official I-407 form to "voluntarily" abandon status as a permanent resident of the U.S.. 
Answer: This is a very important question, especially now that the Trump administration has been successful in stopping most family immigration. The waiting line for siblings (brothers & sisters) of U.S. citizens is currently about 14 years (called F4 Family Preference category). Your brother filed for you in 2016, so you have approximately 9 more years to wait. However, the waiting line for adult, single children of U.S. residents is now only about 5 years (called F2B Family Preference category), so if one or both of your U.S. resident parents filed for you, you would only need to wait 5 years or so, instead of another 9 years. The drawback in being sponsored by a resident parent is that in the F2B category, if you get married before your parent becomes a U.S. Citizen, your Immigrant Visa case will be cancelled. This is not the case with your brother’s sponsorship, since the F4 category for siblings includes spouses and children, but takes more time. Note that if your sponsoring parent naturalizes and becomes a U.S. citizen, unfortunately the waiting line for you goes up an additional year to 6 years (called F1 Family Preference category). In your case, you could have both your U.S. resident parents file family petitions for you and still keep the one your brother filed for you as a backup. There is no limit on the number of immigrant visa petitions that can be filed for an immigrant in different family categories. This will protect you in case the immigration categories for adult children or siblings is eliminated by Congress in the future. Let me know if you would like more information about the process.
Once you get naturalized, you can immediately apply for your first U.S. Passport. First, download form DS-11, complete it and then gather the required documentation. 

Here is what you will need to apply for your new U.S. Passport:

-Completed Passport application forms (DS-11)
ICE Backs Down From Restrictive International Student Policy
 And Resumes Allowing Online Studies
Perhaps fearful of yet another loss in federal court and the resulting negative publicity, the Trump administration’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency, entered into a quick settlement last week with Harvard, MIT and other colleges which had requested that a federal court force ICE to allow international students to take online classes during the pandemic and to withdraw its recent threat to deport those students who failed to comply. 

According to the settlement, the Trump administration has agreed to reinstate a directive it issued in March, allowing international students to take online courses during the Covid-19 crisis.
Question: I got my US citizenship in 2010 and filed for my daughter and her husband. The application was approved. Then a few months later I received a notice from the visa center saying that they have the case. At that point we were all so happy because we thought they could start preparing to move here to the U.S. with me and I should start filling out the affidavit papers and all. But no notice came so I called the visa center and they said that there were no visas available. And I asked if it was because of the virus or the presidents order and they said no. Now we are really worried, we don’t know what is going on and we need some guidance. The immigration website says that it takes 93 to 121 months for married children of citizens. We are over that time so how much longer do they need to wait? Have I failed to do something I was supposed to, please let me know so I can do it now and get them here with me as soon as possible, thank you.
Answer: That is a great question. I understand your confusion. For background, the waiting line for adult, married children and their spouses and minor children of U.S. citizens (F3 Immigration category) is about 12 years. It is confusing because there are two different processes involved in these type cases, the first one is the USCIS processing, and then once the case is approved, the second one is waiting for an immigrant visa to be available, this is handled by the State Department. For the first process, the USCIS processing time for the actual I-130 family petition you filed is what the USCIS website is referring to, since it takes about 7-10 years for the USCIS to approve the case. Once the case is approved by the USCIS, it sends the file to the National Visa Center (NVC) to hold until a visa becomes available in the second part of the process. This is where it gets tricky. The National Visa Center is in charge of holding Immigration cases until Immigrant Visas become available, then taking care of processing the case for the U.S. consulate in order for Immigrants to receive their interview so that they can be issued Immigrant Visas and proceed to finally immigrate to the U.S.. 

There are long waiting lines for most family members to immigrate to the U.S. depending upon their relationship to the U.S. Resident or Citizen sponsor and also depending upon their nationality. The general waiting line for F3 is about 12 years for all countries except Mexico and the Philippines which are longer. You can keep up to date on the monthly visa availability by visiting the Visa Bulletin website. So, for F3 married children, generally about 11-12 years down the road, the NVC will send you a letter/email notifying you that consular processing is beginning. Nothing happens between now and then. If you move, please update the NVC. There is no way to expedite the process because it is not a matter of “processing”, it is a matter of too much demand for too few Immigrant visas in that immigration visa category. In your case, since you filed the I-130 in 2009, there is a wait of approximately another year or so more. Once you receive the letter notifying you that consular processing has begun, we can take the case from there and pay the NVC bills for your daughter and her family and take care of preparing all the financial affidavits of support and other required documents necessary to finalize the case and get the family through the consular interview process so that they can finally join you here in the U.S..
Find out more about family Immigration waiting lines: Understanding the Immigrant Visa Process
Visit the Visa Bulletin Website: Visa Bulletin Website
However, as of today, Monday, July 20th, the USCIS Webpage for DACA has not been updated in accordance with either the Supreme Court decision, or the Federal District Court order and instead continues to state that the agency is not accepting any new DACA applications. But more likely than not, this recent court order will eventually force the agency to comply, hopefully sooner, rather than later. Dreamers should visit the USCIS DACA webpage frequently for updates.

Once the USCIS does begin accepting new DACA applications again, it’s very important to understand that the eligibility requirements and benefits are the same as under the original Obama DACA program. Those who qualify receive a work permit and DACA status, which is renewable every two years. Pay very close attention to the requirements and do not use “magical thinking” when applying, since this is not the safest time to apply for immigration benefits that you are not eligible for. It will unnecessarily expose your personal information and that of your family to the Trump administration. Technical details absolutely govern whether or not an individual is eligible. For instance, if you came to the U.S. even a day after June 15, 2007 you do not qualify. If you came to the U.S. before June 15, 2007, but you were age 16 or above, you do not qualify, even if you came only a day after your 16th birthday. If you were in the U.S. in legal immigration status on June 15, 2012, you do not qualify (for example you were in the U.S. as a visitor and your period of stay (I-94) had not expired by that date). 

To be eligible under the requirements of the DACA program, you must:

-Have been under 31 years of age on June 15, 2012 (even though you can be age 31 or above now);
-Have last entered and remained in the U.S. on or before June 15, 2007, before your 16th birthday;
-Have been physically inside the U.S. on June 15, 2012 and on the date of the application;
-Not be in lawful immigration status on June 15, 2012, meaning you cannot have been in the U.S. in legal status on that date;
-Must be either currently studying or have graduated from high school, earned a GED or have an honorable discharge from the US Armed Forces or the Coast Guard; and
-Have not been convicted of a felony or DUI, or convicted of a “significant misdemeanor” or 3 or more misdemeanors of any kind.

Supreme Court Rules In Favor of DACA Dreamers- Issues Trump A Sound Defeat!
Department of Homeland Security Statement on Supreme Court DACA decision
USCIS DACA webpage not accepting new DACA applications
Supreme Court Ruling In Favor of DACA

Under regular immigration policies, international students are limited to one online class or three credit hours per term. However due to the pandemic which began to rage in March causing school closures and a switch to online learning, ICE issued an updated policy announcement that same month, providing temporary exemptions to allow international students to move to online-only classes during the spring and summer semesters, stating that these exemptions would apply “for the duration of the emergency,”. However, in a complete reversal, ICE rescinded the earlier March policy on July 6th, not only restricting online classes, but further threatening to deport international students who did not comply. Under the new July policy, international students whose Fall programs had moved entirely online had a choice to either leave the country or transfer to a school offering either in-person instruction or a hybrid model (with at least one in-person course) and obtain a new I-20 by August 4, 2020.

For now, international students may safely attend online courses without fear of losing immigration status or facing deportation. But Trump has other immigration bans and threats up his sleeve and chances are he has plenty of anti-immigration proclamations planned in the months to come as we get closer and closer to the election.

State Department Announces Phased Resumption of Visa Services 
At U.S. Consulates World-wide
The U.S. Department of State (DOS) just announced that beginning July 15, U.S. Embassies and Consulates will begin to phase-in routine visa services, depending upon local country conditions. Information about resumption of services will be available on each embassy or consulate’s website. However, Trump’s immigration ban is still in effect until December 31st and may be extended indefinitely if he is re-elected, so the planned resumption of services will not include visa issuance for most family and employment immigrant visas.

As a result of the pandemic and Trump’s anti-immigrant policies, legal immigration to the U.S. has nearly come to a grinding halt. For most conservatives, the dream has always been to eliminate family sponsored immigration and only permit those with “merit” who can prove themselves worthy enough to be allowed to immigrate to America. 
The Trump administration has been on an anti-immigrant crusade since the beginning, seeking to limit legal immigration at every opportunity with termination of DACA, restrictions on visas, the public charge rule, proclamations and on and on. In the end, it finally came down to using the pandemic as the ultimate excuse which enabled Trump to eliminate nearly all immigration from abroad, leaving only those safely in the U.S., immune from his immigration bans. Under Trump’s recent immigration bans, an estimated 180,000 family members of U.S. citizens and residents are stranded outside the U.S. through the end of 2020, unable to obtain the final immigrant visa which allows them to join their family here in the U.S.. Thousands of Green Card lottery winners, unable to be issued immigrant visas, may lose the opportunity to immigrate and over 167,000 foreign workers have been prevented from obtaining work visas to enter the U.S. until 2021, unless Trump is elected to a second term. Estimates are that the number of non-immigrant visas issued has plummeted 94% since the beginning of 2020.

The only good news is that once reopened, posts will again be issuing non-immigrant tourist, student and other type visas, including those for E investors. To find out more about local country opening dates and procedures, visit the State Department resource website to get contact information for each U.S. Embassy/Consulate. 
Question: I got my notice for my citizenship appointment and wonder if I can bring my wife. It says only the applicant can come, but does that include family? I know we have to wear masks and keep distance. I am really nervous and we want to come together if possible.
Answer: Unfortunately, with the new social distancing rules due to Covid-19, only the applicant, petitioners, legal representatives and those assisting the disabled are allowed to enter the building. Your wife can accompany you there, but she will likely be required to wait outside. So she can still be there giving you moral support and will be outside waiting for you after your successful Naturalization interview! Good luck!
This is most common in circumstances where a resident has been absent from the U.S. for a long period of time, including a year or more, or when the traveler otherwise gives information or statements which clearly indicate that he or she does not in fact reside in the U.S.. 

However, its important to understand that residents who really do live in the U.S. and who have not been travelling abroad for extended periods of time (180 consecutive days or more), and who do not have any serious criminal convictions, should not fear travelling abroad and are not at risk of losing their Green Cards when they try to re-enter the U.S..

Here’s a few quick tips for residents who frequently travel abroad or who have spent more than six months outside the U.S. in the past year:

1) If your extended absence is due to the pandemic, bring documents with you which show that your previous flight(s) to the U.S. were cancelled through no fault of your own due to airport closures and restrictions caused by the Coronavirus.

2) Also bring documents with you which show that you actually live in the U.S., including:

a) Paystubs for past several months 
b) Current electric or other utility bill and 
c) Current Lease or property Deed and 
d) Current bank statements which show regular purchases and use of the bank account in U.S.. 

Note that items such as U.S. Driver’s License or tax return do not necessarily show that a Resident actually lives in the U.S., especially if the tax return shows foreign earned income and does not show employment in the U.S..

3) Never stay outside of the U.S. for more than 179 continuous days at one time, since a reentry to the U.S. after 180 days not only “resets” the clock for accrual of physical presence for Naturalization purposes, but it is also a potential red flag to the CBP officer that you may not actually reside in the U.S. and can lead to more serious questioning, which can sometimes lead to a request for you to voluntarily relinquish your Green Card.  

4) Understand your rights! You are not required to voluntarily relinquish your Green Card at the border and have the right to request a hearing before an immigration judge and you will be allowed to enter the U.S. to wait until that hearing. During the hearing, you have the burden of providing substantial documentary proof that you actually reside in the U.S. and that your absence from the U.S. was temporary. It’s always a good idea to have a qualified Immigration attorney to advise and assist you in understanding what kind of proof is required to present your best case to the Judge.

Finally, more than ever, 2020 may prove to be a very “anti-immigrant” year, with Trump potentially issuing all sorts of executive orders, policies and proclamations to make life harder for immigrants and residents alike. As a result, residents who do not now live in the U.S. should spend more time here and avoid spending extended periods outside the U.S. when possible. It's also a good idea to establish documentary proof of residence, like having a lease, utilities, car, insurance, etc in your name. Remember that residents are required to file U.S. tax returns as residents and must report worldwide income (but not assets). It is always best to be conservative and protect yourself when possible, since once a resident loses his or her green card, they cannot ever get the same one back, instead, they must start the immigration process all over again. Sometimes that is possible if you are the parent or spouse of a U.S. Citizen, but in many cases, a Resident obtained their Green Card through a marriage that is now dissolved, or through parents that are now elderly or through siblings and may have to wait a decade or more once the process is started all over again.
-Proof of U.S. citizenship (naturalization certificate/Certificate of Citizenship)
-Proof of your identity: Driver's license, Government ID: city, state, or federal, Military ID: military 
-Two current color passport pictures
-Your social security number
-Applicable fees: The regular passport fee is $110 (plus $35 fee) if you are 16 and older, and the U.S. passport is good for ten years. The fee is $80 (plus $35 fee) if you are under 16, and the new passport is good for five years.

Find the passport office location nearest you (it might just be the post office). Hand in your completed forms, passport photos, and money for the passport. 
You can check your application status several weeks after you submit your application, you can check your application's status online