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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 Know The Difference Between Spousal And Fiancé Visas
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 saw in the national weekly that mr. trump terminated immigration until next year. Does that mean that I cant file for my wife in Bahamas? How long do we have to wait? We was just about to put her papers in and now we do not know what to do?
As a result of Covid-19, the USCIS has once again issued a notice which extends the time allowed for applicants and petitioners to respond to letters and notices issued by the agency on pending cases. Under the new policy, an additional 60 calendar days from the deadline date will be given to petitioners and applicants to submit a response to a request or notice issued from March 1st through September 11, 2020, this includes:
USCIS Provides New 60 Day Extension 
To File Responses To USCIS Requests 

                  LAW CENTERS

Immigration Questions: (954) 382-5378
  POSTING DATE: July 6,  2020
Submitting Expired Medical Exams To The USCIS Can Be Very Expensive! 

Due to Covid-19, immigrants going through the residency process inside the U.S. will increasingly be required to wait longer and longer periods of time to be scheduled for their residency interviews. The good news is that medical examinations are now valid for two years. 

The bad news is that many immigrants are not aware that medical examinations are only valid if submitted to the USCIS within 60 days of the date the physician signs the form. 
Answer: No worries, Trump’s recent proclamations, referred to as “immigration bans” only apply to immigrants who are going through final immigrant processing at U.S. consulates abroad. It also applies to non-immigrants abroad in certain categories including H-1B, H-4, H-2B, J, and L visas. The proclamations only prohibit the issuance of visas at consulates, not USCIS processing, therefore it does not prevent the USCIS from processing your wife’s case. For instance, in a typical marital immigration case, the U.S. citizen or U.S. resident spouse in the U.S. files the I-130 spousal petition with the USCIS in the U.S.. Typical processing time is about 10-12 months. Once the case is approved, the USCIS then sends the case to the National Visa center (NVC) in Washington to prepare the case for the spouse’s immigrant interview at the U.S. Consulate in his or her home country. Once the case is complete, the NVC transfers the case to the U.S. Consulate to schedule the final interview. According to the Trump proclamations, only cases which are pending for an interview at U.S. Consulates abroad are affected, unless the immigrating relative is a spouse or minor child of a U.S. citizen. So in your case, if you are a U.S. citizen, your wife’s case will not be affected in any way. If you are a U.S. resident, the only time she would be affected would be at the final stage of her case when she is waiting for her consular interview. So if you start sponsoring her now, it will still take about a year or so before she gets to that stage, and hopefully Trump will be long gone by then!
There is often a lot of confusion and misinformation about the difference between spousal and fiancé visas, which is best and who is eligible? 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. 

From that point, the residency process can take up to two years, given the increasingly long USCIS processing delays. U.S. Residents, Green Card holders cannot file for a fiancé, only Citizens can. 
What is An E-Request and How Do I Make One? 
Over the past several years, the Trump administration has phased out self-scheduling of INFOPASS appointments, which had allowed applicants and petitioners to go online and make an appointment at their local USCIS office to see an information officer and make an inquiry about a pending case. This change has severely restricted the option of getting a face-to-face meeting with anyone at USCIS. However, prior to Covid-19, USCIS 800# representatives could assist in making INFOPASS appointments for certain kinds of cases, for example for a resident to obtain a temporary resident sticker, etc. But these days, it’s it is nearly impossible to get an appointment at the local office without an extreme emergency.  

So other than calling the USICS 800 number, the only other option available is making an ERequest for issues including the following:
Understanding How To Qualify For Naturalization When You Owe IRS Taxes 
Many U.S. Residents (Green Card holders) who owe taxes to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) mistakenly believe that they are not eligible to obtain U.S. Citizenship, when in fact, most Residents who owe taxes actually remain eligible to apply for naturalization, as long as they meet certain criteria.

The key to successful naturalization for those who owe IRS taxes is in following several basic steps. 
Requests for Evidence; 
Continuations to Request Evidence (N-14);
Notices of Intent to Deny;
Notices of Intent to Revoke;
Notices of Intent to Rescind and Notices of Intent to Terminate regional investment centers; 
Form N-336, Request for a Hearing on a Decision in Naturalization Proceedings and 
Filing date requirements for Form I-290B, Notice of Appeal or Motion.

For example, if a USCIS letter is dated March 1st and has a deadline date of 87 days, due on May 26, 20202, the new deadline for the response will be July 24, 2020. It is important to note, that responses must be received on or before the deadline, not just postmarked by the deadline date. Also, responses to request for additional evidence should always be mailed in one package, not in multiple response filings, since once the USCIS receives the first response, the officer will usually make a decision based upon that response, not no anything received later. Finally, always send responses, appeals, motions via fed-ex or another mail service, overnight. 

Read the new USCIS Extension Notice
• Your case is over the normal processing times posted on the USCIS website
• You did not receive a notice, card or document by mail
• You changed your address online as required, but the USCIS is still using your old address 
• A notice or card you received has a typographical error

If your issue falls within one of these categories, you can go online to the USCIS E-Request webpage and place what is referred to as a “Service Request”, by fully completing the online form. Have your receipt handy so you can input the correct information. Once the request is submitted, you will receive a number and estimated completion date to hear from the USCIS regarding your request. This was usually within 15-30 days, however with Covid-19 and reduced staffing, getting a response may now take longer. Note that the ERequest system may not allow you to submit your inquiry, if your case is not over the normal processing times posted on the USCIS website. For instance, you filed form I-765 request for employment authorization along with your residency case and it has been pending for three months, since the posted processing time on the USCIS website is 4.5 to 6.5 months, the ERequest system will generally not allow you to submit an inquiry until 6.5 months has elapsed. 

After your Service Request has been submitted, you can expect one of the following responses:

1. You will receive the pending notice, approval, document or notice of correction prior to the USCIS estimated completion date;
2. You will receive a response from USCIS stating the case is within normal processing times and they will process the case as their resources allow; or,
3. You will not receive a response at all. In these cases, wait at least 30 calendar days from the date you filed the previous Service Request, then either place an new one, explaining that the previous one has not been answered, or call the USCIS 800#.

If all else fails and you have filed the E-Request, gotten no response after 30 days, called the 800# and still gotten no response within another 30 days, you should probably go the next step and contact a qualified immigration attorney to sort out your immigration issue and get your case moving again.

Make an E-Request
For background, one of the most important requirements to qualify for U.S. citizenship is to show that you have had "good moral character" in the immediate five years preceding the naturalization application filing (past three years for early naturalization based upon marriage to a U.S. Citizen). Issues which have the most impact on “good moral character”, include an individual’s criminal background, payment of child support and payment of taxes. Many criminal convictions occurring during the “good moral character” period often result in ineligibility. As a general rule, its best to wait until at least five years (or three years in the case of early naturalization) have passed since the date of the conviction or competition of probation (whichever is later). For child support, providing documentary proof of continuing payments for child support arrearages, along with proof of current child support payments will often result in Naturalization approval.

When it comes to the issue of IRS taxes, many individuals owe back taxes either because they could not afford to pay for previous year’s taxes or because of a mistake on their past taxes. Worse yet, the fear of owing back taxes often causes taxpayers to avoid filing a required tax return, which then puts them further and further behind. The best approach is to file all required taxes for previous years and enter into an agreement with the IRS for payment of back taxes owed. Here is what you need to do:

Step#1 File Your Taxes:

If you have failed to file any tax returns for past years in which you were required to file, the first step is to file all delinquent tax returns now. This is required before applying for a payment agreement with the IRS. You should likely get the advice and assistance of an accountant during this process, which costs much less than many imagine. The IRS will then send you a bill stating the taxes owed.

Step#2 Set Up a Payment Plan With the IRS:

The only way to naturalize when you owe back taxes is to enter into a payment plan with the IRS, also called an Installment Agreement. To do that, you should call the IRS and explain that you owe taxes and want to set up a payment plan and need a formal Installment Agreement that states the entire amount owed and for which years. Agents are often very understanding and willing to work with you and set the monthly payments as low as possible. Be sure to explain any extenuating circumstances, which negatively affect your income and ability to pay, for instance any large financial expenditures for medical or other expenses. 

Step#3 Set up Automatic Payments:

Request that the IRS agent to set up automatic debits from your bank account. This is the absolute best way to ensure that your monthly IRS installment payments are made on time and the best documentary evidence to prove to the USCIS that you have been making systematic, timely payments on your taxes. The agent will usually ask you what day of the month you want the debit payment made.

Step#4 Make Your Payments:

Make sure that you have enough funds in your bank account each month for your scheduled payments. Save copies of your bank statements each month and mark IRS payments in yellow highlight.

Step#5 Prepare To File for Naturalization!

Once you have your Installment plan and have made a few months (3-6 months) of regular payments, you should be ready to file for naturalization. Once the time comes, you will want to contact the IRS and request:

1) Tax and Wage Transcripts: for the past five years (three years for early naturalization) showing your official taxes filed with the IRS;
2) Payment Transcript: to show all your Installment Agreement payments to date in order to provide documentary proof to the USCIS.

Step#6 File for Naturalization!

Prepare your Naturalization application and file all required documentation, along with a copy of your:

1) Tax and Wage Transcripts: for the past five years (three years for early naturalization)
2) Payment Transcripts showing all your Installment Agreement payments to date 
3) Installment Agreement and 
4) Bank Statements with highlights showing all payments made. 

Once your Naturalization interview is scheduled, you will also want to request an updated payment transcript from the IRS to show all your payments from the date of filing your application until the interview, and bring that along with updated bank statements with highlights showing all payments made while your Naturalization case was processing. Special note, in cases where a Resident failed to file tax returns in previous years, it is always best to prepare a written, signed statement explaining the circumstances of the failure to file, including any financial or family issues which prevented the timely filing and a statement of regret or remorse for the failure. 

We successfully assisted Residents who owe back taxes in obtaining Naturalization! Give us a call and schedule 
a free consultation. Be sure to bring all the IRS tax letters your received and your past five years tax returns so we can go over your case carefully to determine the best approach to achieving your Naturalization. 

Question: We certainly enjoy the information you provide, keep up the good work. I am a citizen and the question pertains to my parents. They come on vacation to visit us and they generally stay here a few months, then back home and come back several months later, since they are retired and like to spend as much time as possible with all their grandchildren. This year they came in February, but due to the pandemic they could not return home again in April, because of airport closures. We have been spending a lot of family time together and have been discussing having them go ahead and stay here with us and get their legal status. We have a few issues to inquire about. Their status expires in august. So first, we want to understand whether we need to file for an extension to allow them to stay longer while we pursue their residency. Second, we want to know how long the process takes and what happens if the extension runs out before their process is complete? Can they do the whole process here or do they have to go back home? Thank you.
Answer: That is a great question and very important under the current circumstances. For most visitors in the U.S. who are unable to leave before their legal stay expires, filing an extension of stay is vital, in order to maintain legal status and preserve their U.S. visa status. Overstaying by even one day results in the automatic cancellation of a visitor’s U.S. visa. However, for certain family members who are legally eligible to file for residency in the U.S., (called adjustment of status), the filing of the immigration application automatically allows these family members to remain in the U.S. legally during the processing of their residency case. Family members eligible to adjust status inside the U.S. include “Immediate relatives” (parents, spouses and minor children of U.S. citizens) and spouses and minor children of U.S. residents, who are in legal status at the time of filing the residency case. Note that “Immediate Relatives” are not required to have maintained legal status in the U.S., however they must have legally entered the U.S.. In your case, there is no need to file for an extension of stay for your parents, since once we file their residency cases, they are eligible to legally remain in the U.S. through the entire process until they receive their green cards. They are not required to return to their home country for any part of this process. The downside is that once the residency applications are filed, they are not allowed to leave the U.S. until the travel permit (called Advance Parole) is issued, which can take up to six months. If they were to leave before that, their entire adjustment of status case would be automatically cancelled. Estimating processing times is a little tricky right now, since the USCIS may be laying off thousands of employees in the coming months, however it could take as little as six and as much as twelve months for them to receive their green cards. Let me know when you want to begin the process.
Question: My question is about my 16 years old son. I am a U.S. Citizen and sponsored him last year. He had his visa appointment this February and we just wanted to wait until his school ended so he was scheduled to come here in july. Now we are worried that he wont be able to travel from T&T if the airports are not open. My question is what will happen if he is not able come to America by the time his immigration visa expires on July 13th? How do we get an extension? How long will that take? I am anxious to register him for school here in Florida for august. Any information would be appreciated.
Answer: That is certainly becoming an important issue these days for thousands of family members who have immigrant visas already issued by the U.S. Consulate abroad, but have been unable to enter the U.S. due to travel restrictions and airport closures. Unfortunately, there is no way to simply extend the immigrant visa, since the medical examination expires after six months and has to be done all over again. Due to reduced staffing and backlogs caused by consular closures, it could take many months. So of course the best advice is to try all means possible to get him here before the immigrant visa expires, if that is not possible, once the visa has expired, you will need to contact the consulate and explain the reason for the delay (covid-19), pay new visa fees, have your son get a new medical done, then submit the new medical and passport with the expired immigrant visa to the consulate for them to issue a new immigrant visa expiration date. I hope this is helpful to you.
In a typical scenario, having the medical exam is one of the first things an immigrant does, believing that the rest of the application is just forms to fill out. Only later do they come to realize that completing residency applications and obtaining the required supporting documents can be a very time consuming, complicated process, which takes far long than initially believed. And between the time the medical exam was done and the case was actually filed, the medical exam has often expired. Medical examinations can cost upwards of $300+ depending upon where you go, so being required to have the medical redone can be very costly! 

These days, with Covid-19 raging across the country and medical offices with limited capacity, I advise most clients to wait until they receive the residency interview notice before having the medical done. In those cases, the USCIS will generally send a reminder notice that the medical must be done before the interview.

A Spousal visa is used by both U.S. Citizens and U.S. Residents to bring a foreign spouse to the U.S. as a U.S. Resident, without the need to file for residency once they arrive in the U.S.. Spouses actually obtain U.S. Residency the moment they enter the U.S. at the airport or port of entry, and border officials review their immigrant visa documents and put an order in the USCIS system for production of the new resident’s Green Card right then and there upon their arrival. They usually receive their actual Green Card in about 30-60 days or so after entering the U.S.. Once a foreign spouse has been a resident for at least two years and nine months, he or she is eligible to file for early naturalization.

So which route is better? Is it best to bring a fiancé to the U.S. and file for residency or just get married and bring your spouse to the U.S. as a resident? Well, in the old days, the fiancé visa process was pretty quick, about three months for approval, then a quick interview at the consulate abroad and once the couple got married and filed for the new spouse’s residency, he or she could get their Green Card in as little as six months or so. But these days, the fiancé visa process can take upwards of eight months or more to be approved, then another few months to get the interview at the consulate abroad. Then once the fiancé comes to the U.S. and the couple marries, another possible two more years to get a Green Card, so that is about three years more or less for the process. Contrast that with a spousal case, where the U.S. Citizen and foreign spouse get married and once the immigration petition is filed, it takes about eight – twelve months for approval and another two to four months for a consular interview, where the foreign spouse is issued an immigrant visa, which automatically converts to residency (Green Card) once he or she enters the U.S.. So the entire spousal process takes about twelve to fourteen months or so, in contrast with the fiancé process which can take upwards of three years all together to get the Green Card.

Given the current timing, spousal visas are much faster and more efficient these days. The only time that a fiancé visa would normally be in order, is when the foreign fiancé has minor children who are over age 18 and still under age 21. It’s a really strange and wonderful fluke in the law. For background, under the “Immediate Relative” law, a minor child of foreign spouse qualifies as a “Step-child” which can be sponsored by the U.S. Citizen or Resident, as long as the marriage to the child’s parent took place before the child turned age 18. One day over age 18 and the child loses the ability to obtain Residency from the Stepparent. But, under the fiancé visa (K-1), 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. up until they reach age 21 and obtain a Green Card along with the parent. In this case, there is no requirement that their parent and step parent marry before the child reaches age 18! Strange, but true! 

The most common case would involve a foreign fiancé whose children are age 19 or younger. A 20 year old child may still have a chance, as long as the child only recently turned age 20, given the time required for the fiancé visa to be approved and the consular interview to be scheduled for the fiancé and his or her children. As long as the visas are issued and the K-2 children enter the U.S. before they turn age 21, they remain eligible for residency. One day over age 21 and they become ineligible.
As you can see, when minor children are involved, it’s crucial that parents preplan the immigration process very carefully to ensure that children are able to immigrate to the U.S. along with their parent. Once a child turns age 21 (called “aging out”), they fall into an immigration category called F1 (for single children of U.S. Citizens) and F2B (for single children of U.S. Residents), which then takes 6 years waiting time for them to be able to immigrate to the U.S.. That is like an eternity for a family and very tragic indeed. 

Get Free Information about the benefits of the Spousal and Fiancé Visas and find out how 
to protect your minor children from “aging out”, by calling our office at (954) 382-5378.