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Question: I read that a citizen’s wife can come to the USA faster and that the immigration ban does not apply. I filed for my wife back in 2019 as a green card holder but her case is being held up now due to the ban. She got her visa appointment scheduled back in April, but then the embassy cancelled it and she was told there won’t be any new appointment for her until next year. We are really suffering, we have a baby due in January and I want her here with me. I just had my naturalization appointment and I was approved and my citizenship ceremony is coming up this week. My question is how do I get my wife’s case moving faster once I get my citizenship?
In a very disappointing decision last week on August 12, 2020, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit sided with the Trump administration allowing the USCIS to continue to implement the Public Charge Rule nationwide, except in the states of Connecticut, New York, and Vermont.
The decision comes from the Trump administration’s appeal of a Federal Court ruling issued on July 29, 2020, which put a hold on the rule nationwide during the Covid-19 pandemic. Thereafter, the USCIS agreed to accept residency applications without the previously required form I-944 Public Charge form and documentation. Now that the rule is once again alive and well and all residency applications filed must include form I-944 Public Charge, or be rejected by the USCIS.
Federal Appellate Court Gives Trump Green Light
To Apply Public Charge Rule Again!
Immigration Questions: (954) 382-5378
POSTING DATE: August 17, 2020
Answer: Great question. Yes, spouses and minor children of U.S. citizens are one of the few immigrants categories which are not subject to Trump’s Immigration Ban. Once you naturalize and become a U.S. Citizen, we can notify the National Visa Center and U.S. Embassy in order to convert her case to an Immediate Relative spouse. That way she will be on the fast track to get a new visa appointment. However, due to Consular closings and limited staffing, it is taking a lot of time for the consulates to reschedule appointments. So, your wife may not receive her interview several months or more. Let us know once you have your Naturalization Certificate in your hand and we can get started!
Great News – USCIS Issues Work And Travel Permits Without Biometrics!
As if the pandemic weren’t enough, many immigrants have had to contend with extended USCIS field office closures and cancelled appointments. This was especially troubling for many residency applicants who had work and travel requests pending and who would otherwise not be able to obtain approvals without first providing biometrics.
Previous biometrics appointments from March 18, 2020 onward had been cancelled and few if any have been rescheduled since, due to heavy backlogs at local USCIS offices. Many, including myself believed that the USCIS would not issue work (employment authorization document) or travel (Advance Parole) permits until biometrics appointments had been rescheduled and completed.
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.
For background, nearly a year ago on August 14, the Department of Homeland Security issued a new Public Charge Rule which made it harder for immigrants to obtain green cards. The rule allows USCIS and Consular officers to deny residency to immigrants who they believe are likely to obtain public assistance in the future, by a set of criteria which factors in the age, health, education, English proficiency and financial resources of each applicant. The rule was immediately challenged, but the courts finally allowed it to go into effect on February 24, 2020. However, in April 2020, the attorneys general in the states of New York, Connecticut and Vermont appealed the ruling to the Supreme Court due to the spreading coronavirus, which denied the request, but allowed the states to pursue their case in lower courts. The July 29th decision by Federal court Judge George Daniels halted the rule as long as a national emergency over the virus existed, finding that immigrants were forced to make an "impossible choice between jeopardizing health and personal safety or their immigration status."
As a result, residency applicants are again advised to include the required form I-944 along with supporting documentation, with all form I-485 applications. However, as of this writing, the form I-944 has disappeared from the USCIS website. We expect the Department of Homeland Security to issue a statement in the next few days to clarify whether or not the agency will require the form to be submitted or wait for pending litigation to resolve the issue. Stay tuned... .
But what a wonderful surprise to find that the USCIS is at least temporarily bypassing that requirement in favor or issuing approvals! In the past several weeks we have received numerous approvals and clients have received social security cards at the same time.
When immigrants are applying for residency, the normal procedure is to apply using form I-485 for adjustment of status, form I-765 for work authorization and form I-131 for advance parole for travel, among other required forms. The current processing time for work and travel permits is about six months. Once the work permit is approved, the social security administration sends the immigrant his or her new social security card in the mail. Once both the work permit and social security cards are received, an immigrant is authorized to begin working.
If you have any questions about receiving your work permit after filing for residency,
you can call our office at: 954-382-5378.
Lawsuit Challenging The Immigration Ban Moves Forward In The Courts
A lawsuit filed by immigrants harmed by Trump’s Immigration Ban is moving forward in the federal courts. The suit is in response to presidential proclamations issued on April 22, 2020 and June 22, 2020 by Trump which suspend the issuance of immigrant visas to virtually all family and employment-based immigrants (with the exception for the spouses and children of U.S. citizens) as well as H-1B, L-1, H-2B and (most) J-1 temporary non immigrant visas until at least December 31, 2020. Many believe if Trump wins reelection, he will extend the ban indefinitely.
The fate of hundreds of thousands of immigrants and temporary visa workers hangs in the balance while the legal challenge by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), proceeds through the courts.
The first hearing comes up on August 27, 2020, at the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia with AILA requesting that the court issue a temporary injunction restraining the administration from enforcing the proclamation, requiring the Department of State to begin issuing visas which were halted due to the ban, while the case is litigated in court. Twenty-two states and the District of Columbia filed an amicus brief in the case which argues that Trumps proclamations harm their residents, “[T]he proclamations will in fact exacerbate the pandemic’s destructive economic effects".
Question: I am a citizen and I got my parents their green cards about 10 years ago. At the time they weren’t ready to move here and after a few years they couldn’t keep travelling back and forth to keep up their green card since my mom got sick and could not travel. My mom passed away last year and my dad wants to come and stay with me for a few months. He applied for a visitor visa in February but got denied because they said he already had a green card. He tried to turn it in and get a visa but they said that has to be done in the US now. That is why I am contacting you to see what needs to be done next so I can get this straightened out for my dad. Thanks.
Answer: Yes, since July 1, 2019 all surrender of residency applications must be filed with the USCIS directly and can no longer be done at consular posts. Prior that that, a resident who will no longer wished to continue as a U.S. Resident could make an appointment at the consulate and apply for a U.S. B2 tourist visa and file form I-407, Record of Abandonment of Lawful Permanent Resident Status at the same time, in exchange for the visa. These days the application must be made to the USCIS. In your case, we will file your father’s request to abandon his residency with the USCIS Eastern Forms Center. It will take several months to receive an acknowledgement of abandonment of residency. Once that is received daddy can proceed to apply for a tourist visa at the U.S. Consulate.
Question: Now that I am a citizen I want to go ahead and start the process to sponsor my parents. The problem is that due to the virus I am only employed parttime, so right now my income is not very good. I should be put back on full time later this year. I have been waiting to file for them until my income improves, but I don’t want to wait too long because I know everything with immigration is taking a long time now and if the president gets elected again maybe the law will change and I cant sponsor my parents anymore. My question is whether my current income will be a problem for me to file for my parents now or should we wait?
Answer: It is true that a sponsor must demonstrate that they meet the minimum income guidelines for the Affidavit of Support (and have a joint sponsor if they do not), however, that requirement only comes in at the end of the immigration process, once the USCIS approves your case and the National Visa Center begins preparing the case for your parents’ Consular interview. So, you can file their cases immediately to get then in the processing queue now and worry about the Affidavit of Support around this time next years, once the final stage of processing begins. Let us know if you would like us to take care of your parents’ residency cases.
With The Future Of DACA Uncertain – Dreamers Should File
Renewal Applications At Least 150 Days Prior To Expiration
In September 2017, Trump abruptly announced cancellation of the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program beginning March 5, 2018, and stopped accepting new DACA applications. But as the deadline approached, several federal courts blocked the administration from ending the program for Dreamers who already had DACA status.
In a long-awaited opinion, the Supreme Court issued a ruling on June 18, 2020 in favor of DACA (Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals) continuing at least temporarily, and opening the program up to accept new applications, but the Trump administration failed to do so. A federal court then issued another ruling on July 17, 2020 ordering the administration to reopen the program, but the USCIS has refused and posted a notice on its website that it is only accepting renewals and even limiting renewals to one, instead of two years.
And as we sit here Trump’s Justice Department is likely hard at work preparing new policies to try to cancel the DACA program again and as a result, the DACA program could be terminated at any time. This means that DACA renewals should be filed as early as possible, meaning 150 days before the work authorization card expires. USCIS processing of DACA renewals can be slow and those who fail to file early renewals can find themselves with expired work permits, waiting for renewal. This can mean loss of a job and driver’s license in some states.
Recommendations For Renewing DA Status:
The DACA renewal Fee is $495, which includes both renewed DA status and Work Authorization. Applicants who are over age 31 are still eligible, as long as they were under age 31 when the policy became effective on June 15, 2012 and currently hold DACA status.
Be sure to file your renewal no earlier or later than 150 days from the date your current card expires. If you are representing yourself, fully complete the DACA renewal forms and write “Renewal Request” in large letters on the bottom of each form.
Form I-821D, Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization
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..
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 has proven to be a very “anti-immigrant” year, with Trump continually 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.