Immigration Questions: (954) 382-5378
POSTING DATE: September 24, 2018
Immigration News & Updates eNewsletter © 2011 - 2018
For questions about U.S. Residency, Green Cards and Immigration Visas, Visit our Website at: www.ImmigrateToday.com or call our office at: (954) 382-5378
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Questions & Answers
This Week's Immigration News
Question: A few years after my husband and I filed his papers and he got his 2 year green card, we had to apply for his 10 year card, which we did in August 2017. Now more than a year has gone by and still there is no word on his 10 year card. We tried calling immigration and even went to the local office and they just said we had to wait. His green card expired last year and we did get a notice that it was extended for eighteen months, but this all sounds very strange to us that it would take so long. Im worried that there is a problem, but no one will give us any answers. Since he has been a resident for over 3 years now we want you to file for his citizenship and we are hoping you can step in and get this problem fixed so he can get his US passport.
Answer: I understand your concern and frustration and I share it as well! Applications to remove conditions on residency to obtain permanent Green Cards for spouses (Form I-751) used to be processed in about 6 to 8 months, then it crept up to a year and now under Trump, it’s up to nearly two years in some cases. That is why the USCIS recently issued new extension notices, extending the residency of conditional residents from 12 to 18 months, due to these long processing times. As incredible as it seems, there is no option available to expedite these cases.
My advice to Conditional Residents is this: first, don’t be concerned that your case has been pending so long 12 months or more, that is now the normal processing time these days. Second, once you are a month or so away from expiration of your extension receipt date, you can go online to the Infopass website and make an appointment at your local USCIS office to get a residency extension stamp, called an I-551 in your passport. Bring your 1) Infopass Appointment Notice 2) I-797 Notice of Action receipt and 3) passport. Your residency can then be extended for up a year. Finally, if you receive a USCIS request for more documentary evidence to prove that your marriage is real, take it very, very seriously. Most couples who file form I-751 do not realize how serious the process is and have no idea of the kind of documentary evidence the USCIS expects to be submitted. As a consequence, many couples simply enclose copies of recent tax returns, bills and bank statements for the past month. These submissions will not meet USCIS requirements and often result in even longer delays in processing (up to an additional 3-6 months or more) and in many cases, a USCIS interview at the local office, which is not usually required for well documented cases.
My job as an Immigration attorney often involves representing new clients in rectifying poorly documented I-751 applications for removal of conditions they filed by themselves, once they come to me with a multiple page request they received from the USCIS Service Center requesting every marital document under the sun or in representing them at a USCIS interview scheduled at their local office.
The key to success in these types of cases, is of course filing the initial application properly, with extensive documentation of the marriage from the time the foreign spouse received the conditional green card. That means twenty one (21) months of joint tax returns/W-2’s, joint leases (or property title), joint bank accounts (every single page for every month), joint car insurance (for every year), joint utility bills (for every month), Drivers Licenses showing the same address, etc. Affidavits referred to in the I-751 form instructions are really not necessary if you have enough marital documentation to prove to the USCIS that you and your U.S. Citizen spouse continue to live together and if you only submit the Affidavits, your case will almost certainly be sent to your local office for an Interview.
Once a request for evidence is issued by the USCIS, the second chance of success is to provide the USCIS officer with all the (above) documents from the time the green card was received to the date of the request. However, in some cases, couples have not understood the importance of marital documentation and simply do not have many joint marital items together. For instance, they don’t file joint tax returns together, don’t share a joint bank account, don’t have car insurance together, and don’t have a lease because they live with relatives, don’t have the same address on their Driver’s Licenses. These are all big RED FLAGS for officers of a fake marriage and it can be a real uphill battle to prove to a USCIS officer at the interview that the couple’s marriage is in fact real. However, it can be done, and I have had great success, even for couples with the most challenging cases.
In your case, there is no need to worry that your husband’s ten year green card has not been approved yet, as it can even take up another year for normal processing time. Just make his infopass appointment before his 18 month extension expires, if required, so he can get another residency extension. And if you do receive a request from the USCIS for more marital documents, that would be the time that I can step in and assist you in responding to the request to increase your chances of approval at the service center level, rather than having the case drag on and having to go to another marriage interview at your local USCIS office. Once his permanent residency is approved, we can then proceed to file for your husband’s early Naturalization.
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Failing To Provide Proof of Child Support Payments
Leads To Citizenship Denial
One of the main Citizenship requirements for a parent who does not live with his or her minor children, is demonstrating payment of support for all children whether in the U.S. or outside, until the age of 18, for the past five years. This is required whether or not there is a Court Order for child support payments. The standard is that if you are a parent and do not live with your minor children, you still have the moral responsibility to support them, even if the custodial parent does not require you to do so. This corresponds with Question 30 H of the Naturalization application asks “Have you EVER Failed to support your dependents of to pay alimony. Even when a Resident ticks off “No”, if the application lists minor children living at any address other than that of the applicant, the USCIS will generally ask for proof of child support payments for all children under the age of 23 at the time of filing the application, since you only need to prove Good Moral Character for the past five years, and payments for children up until they turned age 18. For example, if you apply for Naturalization and you have children ages 17, 19 and 24, you would need to provide evidence that you paid child support for the 17 year old for the past five years and the 19 year old for four years until the child turned age 18. No proof would be required for the 24 year old.
Naturalization applicants, who do not provide adequate proof of child support payments at their interview, later receive a USCIS notice from the officer, requesting that the additional documentation be provided. This is often a total shock to many applicants, who were not aware of the requirement to provide proof, believing that since there is no child support order from the court, they are not required to show payments. Many applicants fail to provide any or all the documents requested, which usually results in denial of the case and loss of the USCIS filing fee.
In Florida, the simplest case to prove is one in there is a court order for child support and the applicant makes the payments through the Florida Department of Revenue. This way, there is a record of every child support payment and the applicant can get a printout showing of all support payments and provide that, along with a certified court order for child support. Those who are in arrears and are not current on child support payments, should wait until they are caught up before filing for Naturalization. Other proof includes copies of wage garnishment deductions from paychecks, cancelled checks or other proof of monthly payments.
It gets a little tricky, however, for applicants who don’t have a court order from the U.S. or other country and don’t make formal payments through a government system. In such cases, applicants should provide proof of payments for the required period, through Cancelled checks, Money Order receipts, Western Union (or other money transfers) receipts or transcripts (a history of payments by wire transfer can be ordered from western union and other companies for up to five years or more) and a notarized letter from the custodial parent that all child support has been paid and is up to date, along with a copy of their proof of identity, like driver’s license, passport biographic page, etc.
Residents who plan to file for Naturalization in the coming years, who are not currently making formal child support payments should begin to do so immediately. For those without court orders making payments inside the U.S., its best to get a signed, notarized agreement with the custodial parent, which sets out an exact monthly payment to be made. Then, make only formal, check or money order payments and save the receipts for each one, make sure and write child support on the memo line. That way, if the custodial parent later refuses to provide a letter confirming that child support is up to date, the applicant will have proof of the agreement and of all payments made. The same advice goes for those with children abroad. Get a formal agreement between the parents and begin sending regular monthly Wester Union or other transfers directly to the custodial parent, not to any other person’s name. Finally, never, ever, ever pay cash! There is no evidence of payment and even if a custodial parent writes a letter confirming child support payments, a USCIS officer can still request evidence of payments.
Proving payment of child support can be particularly problematic for those with children abroad in the Caribbean and other countries, where there is usually never a court order for child support and payments are often made casually, not formally. In a typical case, a father may pay for a child’s school, clothes other expenses, but not pay child support to the mother directly each month. In these cases, it can often be very difficult to prove child support payments. For those currently supporting children in this matter who intend to apply for Naturalization in the near future, the best advice is to start paying support in a regular, formal manner. Send monthly Wester Union or other payments in regular amounts and only send in the name of the custodial parent, not in the name of another person or family member, since there is no proof that the funds were actually paid to the parent for child support. Keep a log of the date and amount and a copy of every transfer in date order so that you don’t have to sort through them later.
The key to success with Naturalization and any other immigration matters is to learn what the requirements are and plan carefully to make sure that all the requirements are met before applying. Filing an application without this knowledge and preparation can in some cases, end up being a waste of time and money. This is especially true for proving child support, since it often requires extensive documentation, affidavits, receipts, Western Union transaction reports, which take time and a lot of effort to assemble. So the best approach is to have the documents available before filing the case. We can assist you in understanding what documents you will need to provide in your particular case, and properly present it to the USCIS on your behalf, just give us a call for a free consultation at: 954-382-5378.
You Can Get Your Past Five Year U.S. Travel History Records Quickly & Easily
Foreign travelers to the U.S. often need to determine how many days they have spent inside the U.S. for Tax and other purposes. However, it can sometimes be difficult to determine exact dates by using one’s own passport stamps alone, since some entry stamps may be stamped over existing stamps, with exact dates almost impossible to read.
Now there is a quick and easy way to get your past five-year travel history.
As long anticipated, Trump’s Department of Homeland Security finally released the dreaded policy proposal last Saturday, which aims to limit eligibility to immigrate and receive U.S. Residency. This announcement has been expected, as Trump seeks to use it as a political tool, just prior to the upcoming midterm elections.
Under the proposed new rule, “Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds” an immigrant’s prior or potential use of public benefits including food stamps, Medicaid, and Section 8 housing vouchers will be considered “heavily weighted negative factors” in consideration of green card applications during the residency process.
Trump Moves Swiftly To Restrict Residency For Immigrants Using Public Aid
According to news reports, a flyer has been distributed in Florida and Texas, offering a reward to citizens for reporting immigrants to authorities. The flyer has the official Department of Homeland Security and the Crime Stoppers logo and reads: "Report an undocumented alien (legally challenged resident) and if they are arrested and deported you will receive $100.00.".
While the telephone numbers for the agencies are correct, the Department of Homeland Security, Crime Stoppers, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and local authorities have all reportedly denied issuing the flyer.
The deadline in Florida to register to vote in the midterm elections in November is Tuesday, October 9th!
I don’t need to tell you how chaotic and dangerous the Executive branch of our country has become since Trump took office. As each news cycle brings a new controversy and mounting danger to our democracy, many in our country and the world live in fear of what may come next. Executive powers are vast and Trump loves to test them whenever possible, just to prove he can. So with this constant hourly threat to our nation’s wellbeing, the only immediate solution is for Democrats to win a majority of seats in Congress in the fast approaching November 6th midterm election, with hopes of taking over the House of Representatives or even the Senate.
**** WARNING ****
Deadline For New U.S. Citizens To Register To Vote Fast Approaching!
The result of the fake flyer has been to instill yet more fear and apprehension in an immigrant community already terrorized by Trump’s constant war against immigrants.
This is just another symptom of a dark, racist element of American society, being encouraged to act on their worst instincts, by a morally and intellectually corrupt executive seeking to degrade our country’s ideals, rather than inspire and encourage Americans to be our best, sad!
Midterm elections have historically low voter turnout, especially for Democrats, who have low voter turnout in general, which largely contributed to Trump’s electoral win. Voting in a non-presidential election seems boring, it’s not sexy, but this year, it can be the difference between a democratic or authoritarian regime.
People say, I don’t have time to wait in the lines, I can’t get office work – really? Early voting locations are open ten days before Election Day and usually open from 7am to 7pm. What is your excuse now? Remember, Trump voters are all fired up, they worship their dear leader and are going to show up in droves all day every day through the election, they will even spend the night outside the voting centers just to be there early to keep their man in office to continue to create mayhem and discord in our society and the world.
Yes, there is voting by mail, but that carries a great risk many are not aware of, since mailed-in ballots which arrive right before or on Election Day are not always counted until up to seven days later. Another problem is that some of these ballots are disqualified because the voter forgot to sign or did not mark the ballot clearly, resulting in a lost vote! With that said, go to the polls in person during early voting, so your vote will count. For new Citizens who registered to vote following their swearing in ceremony, make sure that you have received your voter registration card in the mail by Friday, October 5th, if not, go to the voter registration office near you and request it in person. Those who are swearing in before October 9th, understand that it can take several weeks to receive your voter card in the mail, so again, to be safe, better to request it in person. It is your right as a U.S. Citizen and this year, your vote is pivotal, it really will make a difference, you will make history!
For new Citizens in the South Florida area, I’ve made it easy for you to locate a voter registration office near you, register in person, get your Voter Registration card and get a sample ballot so you can see all the candidates and plan your vote. In many cases, it’s impossible to know who all the local candidates are on the ballot, so many just vote for all Democrats or all Republicans. Also, you don’t need to know about all the issues on the ballot either, you can simply leave the choice blank for those issues you are not informed about.
Florida Voter Registration Application to download, complete and take to your nearest voter registration office:
The Supervisor of Elections Main office:
115 S. Andrews Avenue, Room 102
Fort Lauderdale, FL, 33301
Office Number - (954) 357-7050
Miami Dade County:
The Supervisor of Elections Main office:
2700 NW 87 Avenue, Doral, FL 33172
West Palm Beach
Supervisor of Elections
240 S Military Trail
West Palm Beach FL 33415
Phone: (561) 656-6200
Question: Hi there, I got my green card through my us born son seven years ago and just got my citizenship last year. I filed for my 19 year old daughter in Jamaica last december and the case was approved. We are just waiting for her interview at the embassy. She is single, but the problem is that she is four months pregnant. My fear is that maybe my grandchild wont be born in time to get the immigration visa and what will happen if my daughter has her interview and gets her visa, then cant come to the U.S. before the baby is born? Will my daughter be able to bring her child with her? Can you please help us in this matter?
Answer: I Don’t worry, fortunately, there is a special waiver available for babies born to immigrant visa holders before they enter the U.S.. The law allows immigrant visa parents with a newborn baby to bring the baby to the U.S. without having to put the child through a long immigration process. As long as the parent is bringing the baby to the U.S. with them on their first entry to the U.S. since the baby was born, and the parent is entering during the valid immigrant visa period, the child can accompany the parent. The parent must bring the original or a certified copy of the baby's birth certificate and English translation if it is in a foreign language. The same is true of a U.S. Resident who has a child abroad and is seeking to enter the U.S. for the first time following the child’s birth. In some circumstances, airlines will not allow the child to board without a “Transportation letter” issued by the U.S. consulate which give permission for the child to be transported to the U.S. without a visa.
Failure to provide proof of child support payments is one of the most common reasons that Naturalization applications are denied every day.
This often happens even when a parent has actually paid child support, but simply fails to provide evidence of payments. Generally, Residents must show that they have “Good Moral Character” in order to be eligible for U.S. Citizenship.This covers the preceding five year period prior to applying for Naturalization for most Residents, and three years for those eligible to apply for early Naturalization through marriage to a U.S. Citizen.
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency keeps automated records of entry and exit data for non-immigrants who visit the U.S.. You can now access and printout your own travel history and current I-94 Arrival/Departure card by visiting the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) website. You’ll need have the following information handy: your first and last name, your full date of birth, your passport number, and the country of issuance of your passport.
Critics say this rule will be used to limit legal family immigration, what Trump calls “chain migration”, making it more difficult for family members of residents and U.S. Citizens to be able to immigrate. The proposal has a 60 day comment period prior to going into effect and has another grace period of 60 days before being implemented.
The new proposal has some notable changes from the earlier, harsher draft, in that it does not penalize current residents, only immigrants in the green card process and non-immigrants, including students seeking to enter or extend stay in the U.S.. The initial more punitive proposal would have been applied to residents and included those who had used any kind of public assistance, including Obamacare, child tax credits and even benefits received by their U.S. Citizen children. Overwhelming criticism from Congress caused those provisions to be cut in favor of focusing on immigrants who had not yet obtained U.S. residency.
The nearly 500 page document still includes troubling provisions which seek to restrict green cards for those likely to receive public assistance in the future. Under existing federal law, immigrants applying for residency or an immigrant visa must prove they will not become a “public charge.” (meaning burden to the state). Under the new rule, the Trump administration directs immigration officials to give added weight to an applicant’s potential dependency on public assistance in the future, including considering certain medical conditions such as cancer, heart disease and mental illness, as negative factors, which would tend to show potential future use of public funds. Under the new rule “an alien is at high risk of becoming a public charge if he or she has a medical condition and is unable to show evidence of unsubsidized health insurance.” Applicants who don’t qualify for green cards under the new rule could be asked to pay cash bonds of at least $10,000 to avoid being denied.
In the past, when a U.S. Citizen client has expressed concern as to whether their parent’s frail health and poor medical condition would prevent them from being issued immigrant visas, I would always assure them that it would not. However now, the new rule may prevent many elderly parents from immigrating to the U.S., if they are unable to prove that they have private medical insurance and may be forced to post a $10,000 bond in order to be approved. Similarly, spouses and children of residents and U.S. Citizens who are not able to show that their sponsors can support them, may now be denied (or required to post a bond) in cases where a joint financial sponsor was necessary because the family member who sponsored them did not meet the minimum financial qualifications. The negative ramifications of this rule are vast and will likely have tragic consequences for many family sponsored immigrants going forward.
In defense of the proposal, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said in a Saturday statement, “Those seeking to immigrate to the United States must show they can support themselves financially,”, adding that the new rule would “promote immigrant self-sufficiency and protect finite resources by ensuring that they are not likely to become burdens on American taxpayers.”
According to the administration’s own calculations, the new rule will affect some 382,000 immigrants every year, yet that is likely a low estimate, given the rule’s underlying ultimate aim to reduce legal family immigration by half. Certain categories of immigrants would be exempt, including refugees, asylees and legal immigrants who serve in the military.
Democrats and Immigrant advocates are vowing to fight the new rule, and court challenges, which could end up in the Supreme court are likely. Stay tuned…