Immigration Questions: (954) 382-5378
POSTING DATE: September 23, 2019
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Immigration News & Updates eNewsletter
Question: I just got back from my citizenship interview and looks like it didn’t go well. I filed everything correct and answered all the questions but then the officer was asking me about was I still with my American husband. I filed my citizenship early because me and my husband were not divorced and I thought the law said if I was still married I could still get my us passport. But we don’t live together anymore. We broke up about a year ago and he filed for divorce but it did not go through yet. The officer questioned me a lot about my marriage and asked me to give him lots of documents about me and my husband living together, but I didn’t have them. I told him the truth that we don’t live together but we are not divorced. He said if we are not living together as married couple then I am not eligible. He said I would get a letter in the mail. Is it true what he said?
Answer: Most U.S. Residents must wait for 4 years and 9 months from the date of first obtaining their Green Cards before being eligible to apply for U.S. Citizen through Naturalization. However, the law allows U.S. Residents who are married to and living with their U.S. Citizen spouse in a bona-fide (real) marriage to apply for Early Naturalization in 2 years and 9 months after obtaining their Green Card. The law is generally known as the 3/3/3 rule: 1) The U.S. Citizen Spouse must have been a U.S. Citizen for at least 3 yrs; 2) The couple must have been married for at least 3 yrs and finally 3) The U.S. Resident must have held status as a Green Card holder for at least 3 yrs (really only 2 yrs & 9 mos).
Since you are no longer living with your U.S. Citizen husband, you are no longer eligible to apply for expedited naturalization based upon your marriage. A good option is to have your Naturalization application “withdrawn” in order to try and avoid any issues arising about whether or not you were eligible for your Permanent Green Card. Another option is to allow the case to be denied without pursuing the matter further, then reapply once you have had your residency for 4 years and 9 months.
Yes, You Can Still File Your Green Card Renewal By Mail, Here’s How!
Immigration How To:
How Do I I Know If My Criminal Record Will Cause Me Problems At the Immigration A Border
With the Trump Administration promising to issue an updated version of the Executive Order “travel ban” any day now, Immigrants are bracing for further restrictions and are afraid to travel, fearing they may not be able to reenter the U.S..
However, even without a new Trump ban, U.S. Residents (Green Cards holders) with criminal records should now 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..
Many immigrants want to file to extend or replace their green card, but don’t want to do it online. And although the online option is meant to be more efficient, it can be a little technically challenging for some.
So for Residents who don’t feel comfortable with filing online, the option still exists to file a paper application.
But how do you find the form and where do you send it? It seems the USCIS may be trying to discourage paper filing, by hiding the fillable Form I-90, so here’s how to find it:
Never Agree To Give Up Your Green Card Without a Hearing!
Since Trump took office, many U.S. Residents (Green Card holders) who plan to travel abroad fear that they will not be allowed to re-enter the U.S. and could have their Green Card taken away at the U.S. border. This comes after reports that Customs & Border Patrol (CBP) officers at airports and other borders have been requesting that Residents relinquish their cards and sign official I-407 forms to "voluntarily" abandoned their status as a "lawful permanent resident of the U.S..
Question: I have a 18 year old daughter and me and her got our 2 year green cards through my husband. Just before our 2 year card expired, me and my husband filed the removal of conditions form to get me and my daughter’s permanent residency. But after we filed the case, we got an immigration receipt that only had me on the main part and extended my green card for 18 months. My daughter’s green card has expired and she needs to register at college and renew her drivers license, but they told her she can’t without a valid green card. I called the Immigration 800 number and the officer said that since my daughter did not file a separate I-751, she would not get a separate receipt. Is that correct? Is there anything I can do?
Answer: When a child (under age 21) is included on the parent’s I-751 Removal of Conditions application, the parent receives the I-797 Receipt, which extends U.S. Residency, Work and Travel Authorization for one full year. It lists the child’s name as a dependent. In order to receive a separate extension letter for a child, a separate I-751 application must be filed, but that is not necessary. In your daughter’s case, call the USCIS 800# and tell them your daughter was included on your I-751 Removal of Conditions application and she needs to get a residency extension. The officer will instruct you how to get an INFOPASS appointment at the local USCIS office to take her passport, along with the I-797 Receipt you received and copy of the application, in order to have the officer provide a one year Residency extension sticky called an I-551 on her card. With that, she should be able to register for school and get her driver’s license renewed. I hope this is helpful.
Immigration Court Backlog Now Exceeds One Million Cases
A recent report found that the number of cases pending in the U.S. Immigration court system has nearly doubled since President Trump took office. The number surpassed one million cases in August, and continues to grow. When Trump took office in 2017, there were approximately 542,000 cases awaiting adjudication.
The rapidly growing backlog is due mainly to the administration’s crackdown on non-criminal immigrants and the record number of arrests and detentions, which have taken place over the past several years. The Obama-era policy prioritized deportation of immigrants with criminal records and did not target other law abiding immigrants. Under Trump’s policies, any immigrant encountered in the U.S. who does not have legal immigration status is deportable. In a twist, Trump’s policies have actually had the effect of allowing many immigrants and asylum applicants who were already in the court system waiting for their day in court to stay many months and even years longer in the U.S..
In efforts to alleviate the massive court backlogs, the administration has instituted expedited deportation when possible, set up temporary tent courts at the border and instituted the new controversial "Remain in Mexico" policy forcing many asylum applicants to wait in Mexico for a hearing in the U.S.. But as cases continue to pile up, officials are seeking other ways to stem the tide of immigrants able to have a hearing in immigration court, including charging a nearly $1,000 fee for an immigrant to appeal his or her case in the immigration court system. Stay tuned…
Go online to www.uscis.gov and click on the forms. Go to the I-90 form page and scroll all the way down to “Filing Options”, then choose “File by paper”, which brings you to the Form I-90. Fully complete the form and send it in along with two passport photos and the USCIS filing fee of $540. If using U.S. Postal Service (USPS), send to: USCIS, P.O. Box 21262, Phoenix, AZ 85036. If sending via FedEx, UPS, and DHL deliveries, send to: USCIS, Attention: I-90, 1820 E. Skyharbor, Circle S, Floor 1, Suite 100, Phoenix, AZ 85034. Don’t forget to include form G-1145 on top so you will get an email or text confirmation when the USCIS receives your case. If you don’t want to try to find the form on the USCIS website, no problem, just visit our website at: www.Immigratetoday.com and click on the Immigration Newsletter link, that will take you to the current issue where we have a link all set up for you to get to the Form I-90.
Trump Administration Refusing To Grant TPS Status To Bahamians
And Even Denying Legal Entries!
Thousands of Bahamians living in South Florida have loved ones stranded in the Bahamas after Hurricane Dorian destroyed their own homes and everything they own. The case for humanitarian relief for a country’s citizens could not be stronger. Yet the Trump administration adamantly refuses to grant Bahamians Temporary Protected Status (TPS) or any other special visa to assist them in escaping the humanitarian crisis and is even going further in denying many Bahamians with proper documentation or visas entry into the U.S..
But since the government seems determined to deny Bahamians any special immigration status, those lucky enough to make it into the U.S. out of harm’s way, may later find themselves in an immigration quagmire, unable to leave, for fear of not being allowed back in and unable to legally live and work in the U.S. if they stay. Those who apply to extend their legal status in the U.S. before their six-month stay expires, may face denial and with that comes negative immigration consequences including deportation.
However, with nothing to go back to, it may make no sense to leave. So the most practical approach may end up being simply overstaying and hoping for the best.
The great hope is that Trump will be defeated in 2020 and a new Democratic administration will swiftly grant TPS status to Bahamians and allow any remaining family member unable to gain entry under the former administration to enter the U.S. quickly and easily.
Question: I applied for my American citizenship back in 2018 and got my citizenship interview later this month. My wife overstayed her visa several years ago and we want to file her papers as soon as possible. My question is, do you know if I can get my naturalization certificate issued to me on that same day if I pass my interview? Am I considered as an American citizen then and can I apply for my American Passport?
Answer: Ms long as you successfully pass your Naturalization test and otherwise meet the qualifications, the officer will recommend you for approval and you will be put in the queue to be scheduled for your Swearing-In Ceremony, where you take the Oath of Allegiance. It can take from a few days to weeks to be scheduled for your ceremony, depending upon where you live. At your ceremony, you should get your certificate the same day you are sworn in and you can immediately apply for your wife’s residency and your U.S. passport. You're a citizen from the moment you take the oath. You can pick up a U.S. passport application at your upcoming swearing in ceremony, or download it from the U.S. Passport website.
Such actions by CBP officers requesting Green Card holders to voluntarily relinquish their U.S. Residency status is 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 reside in the U.S.. U.S. 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) recently, and who do not have any serious criminal convictions, should not fear travelling abroad and do not risk losing their Green Cards when they try to re-enter the U.S..
Here’s a few quick tips:
Take documents with you which show that you actually live in the U.S. like 1) Paystubs for past several months 2) current electric or other utility bill and 3) copy of a current Lease or property Deed and 3) 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..
Never stay outside of the U.S. for more than 179 continuous days at one time, since that 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.
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, as I have advised in the past, things are likely going to get tighter at the airport inspections and other borders. U.S. Residents who do not now live in the U.S. should start making plans to either begin residing here for more periods of time during each year and start establishing 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’s best to prepare now, rather than face losing your U.S. Residency because you were not better prepared.
Once a Resident loses his or her Green Card, they cannot ever get the same one back, instead, they must start 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.
Under the Department of Homeland Security’s new enforcement priorities announced in February, 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.
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….