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This Week's Immigration News 
By Immigration Attorney Caroly Pedersen

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According to the State Department, beginning September 1, 2014, the waiting time for Spouses and Minor children of U.S. Residents (Green Card holders) to immigrate to the U.S. (for those outside the U.S.) or to adjust status to U.S. Residency (inside the U.S.) will be reduced to about 1 ½ years.  
Currently, the waiting time is about 26 months. 
Visa Waiting Line For Spouses and Minor children of Green Card Holders Getting Shorter 

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Immigration News & Updates eNewsletter ©  2011  - 2014  
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
Question: Good day, I have a question. My family and I sent in our I-485 applications last year. We got or work permits, but we're still waiting for approval for the green cards. The work permit is expiring so my question is do we have to send a fee this renewal I-765 application? Seeing that we already paid the fee with the original application? And what else do we need to send with the application? 
Answer: ​ It is unusual that your residency petitions would be pending for so long. You should do an infopass appointment at your local USCIS office to see if you can get some information on the status of the cases. You do not need to pay the work permit (EAD) renewal fee, since your original I-485 fees included all renewals. Include the form I-765, a copy of the front and back of your current EAD card, copy of the I-485 receipt, copy of your passport Biographic page and 2 passport photos.
Click below to make an Infopass Appointment:
Helpful Immigration Hints You Can Use
Immigration How To:
How To Make a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Request To Obtain Your Travel History for Naturalization
Immigrants Without Legal Status - Save Documentation 
To Prove Physical Presence in the U.S.
As with the new Childhood Arrivals program, any future Immigration Reform or Amnesty will require that Immigrants prove that they have been living inside the U.S. for a certain period of time and that they were currently physically present in the U.S. on the date of the law’s enactment.

 Gathering and retaining evidence of physical presence in the U.S. will be critical to eligibility. Simply save receipts, utility bills, statements, doctor receipts, etc that include the date—to show your presence over time and let them accumulate. You never know when you will need them and if you do and you don’t have the evidence, it will be very difficult to get later. As they say, “it is better to be safe – than sorry”.
You can find out more about issues involved in Marriage Immigration residency by visiting our website at: or by calling our office at: 954-382-5378 
When U.S. Residents are planning on filing for Naturalization, it is often very difficult to remember past trips outside the U.S., particularly for those who have lost their passport, or who travel frequently. You can make a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for your travel history online through the FOIA online system. 

Make sure and choose U.S. Customs and Border Protection, complete the form and when it asks for the type of information you are seeking, type in U.S. Travel history information (entries and exits) from xxx (date) through (date).

Once you submit the request you will immediately receive a unique FOIA tracking number and acknowledgment that your FOIA request was received by CBP. Then you will be able to track your FOIA request any day/any time through your FOIAonline account. You will receive an email to retrieve responsive records or document via your FOIAonline account, when records or documents become available and you can view all of your historical FOIA requests via the "dashboard" in your FOIAonline account.

Make a FOIA Request:

Get E-Notification From The USCIS When Filing Immigration Applications
Immigrants and Sponsors filing Immigration applications with the USCIS can receive a text message or email e-notification confirming that the application was received and accepted for processing 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 the USCIS application submission.  

Download the Form G-1145:
Form G-1145
Visit the State Department's Visa Bulletin to view the current wait times for all family and employment visas:

Visa Bulletin
Question: My Finance is currently here on a student visa. He is an international medical graduate. He is taking the tests to receive his Doctors license to practice medicine here. We are now engaged! Woo hoo! We need advice about timing of the civil union and religious ceremony. His visa expires at the end of December, however he will have grace period of 2 months before he has to leave the country. We do not feel comfortable living together until after the religious ceremony which we would like to have in late February. Ideally we would like to have the civil union in late January then as the paperwork is processing have the religious ceremony. We need help with the timing and would like legal advice on how and when to begin the process of marriage, and to see if our current timeline is realistic and best.
Answer: ​ Congratulations on your engagement! I am assuming that you are a U.S. Citizen. This is a very important issue. You should not file his immigration case until you are living together. The USCIS could see it as a “sham” for you to file his papers using the civil but not consider yourselves married enough to live together until the religious ceremony. Either live together after the civil ceremony and file his residency case immediately, so that he can get his work permit in several months, or wait until after the religious ceremony in February once you are living together.

The most important issue in marriage cases is whether or not you are living together and the USCIS officer will expect to see proof of joint marital documentation from the time you are legally married (whether civil or religious) until your marriage interview. Most couples are very anxious to file residency cases for spouses after the civil ceremony, simply for practical reasons – the all important work permit. Once the residency case is filed along with the request for a work permit (called Employment Authorization), it can take from 60 -90 days to receive it. That is a long time waiting for a work permit, which is necessary to do many things, including work, renew driver’s license, etc.

It’s also important to know that as the spouse of a U.S. Citizen, your husband can overstay his I-94 expiration, since he is in a special Immigration category called “Immediate Relatives” which are spouses, minor children and parents of U.S. Citizens. Basically, immigration regulations forgive him for any lapse in his immigration status, so he is not obligated to leave the U.S. once his grace period expires. Optimally, so that he can work as soon as possible, you would get married civilly, live together and file his residency application asap so by the time of your religious ceremony in late Feb, he should already have received his work permit and is free to work. Let us know if you need our legal assistance in filing for your husband U.S. Residency.