Immigration Questions: (954) 382-5378

  POSTING DATE: October 1,  2018
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Immigration News & Updates eNewsletter ©  2011  - 2018 
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
Question:  Hi, I have a problem I hope you can help with. I had a tourist visa to visit the U.S. good for 10 years until 2022. I came to fort lauderdale to visit family last year and I met a very special girl and when it came time to leave I decided to request more time to stay. I should have left on December 3rd. So I filed the immigration form in November and didn’t leave in December. But I did not get an answer by January this year and I had to come home for family reasons so I left on January 15th. My girlfriend and I have been dating long distance and its getting serious so then last month I came to visit her and I got stopped at the airport and they made me come back home again! The immigration guy said that I overstayed my visa by a month. I showed him the receipt that I got from immigration that I filed for an extension, but he says that does not matter unless it was approved. I explained that it took too long to get approved and he said it doesn’t matter and cancelled my 10 years visa. I had to go the embassy in Jamaica and request another one and they denied me because they said I overstay, even though I explained everything to them again. My girlfriend is now my fiancée and we want to get married, so she is going to come here and we will get married, but we are not sure what happens after that. We need to know what we have to do so that I can travel back to the U.S. with her when she comes back after we are married. It’s so hard to get a straight answer, everybody is telling me something different. Thanks
Answer: Unfortunately, under Immigration regulations, once a foreign visitor overstays their period of authorized stay in the U.S. - by even one day, once they leave the U.S., they are not allowed to re-enter on their current Visa and are instead required to apply for a new B1/B2 Tourist visa at the U.S. Consulate in their home country. And, since the visitor overstayed, once they apply for a new visa at the U.S. Consulate abroad, the Consular officer is very likely to deny the request, effectively closing all possibilities for legally travelling to the U.S. again. This even applies when a visitor files a request to extend their stay in the U.S., then leaves before a decision is made on the request.

In your case, since your U.S. Citizen Fiancée is going to fly to Jamaica to marry you, once she returns, a Spousal Immigrant petition can be filed to initiate the process of bringing you to the U.S. as a U.S. Resident (Green Card holder). However, you won’t be allowed to immediately return to the U.S. along with your new wife, and instead you have to wait in Jamaica for consular processing. The current processing time can be over a year, so you will both need to be patient. There is an option to do a K-1 Fiancée Visa, however, the process takes nearly as long as the spousal visa and if you go that route, once you got here on the K-1 and got married, you would then have to go through the entire residency process here, which can now take up to two years. I can take care of your Residency process so that your case is properly and professionally prepared and filed, and you are able to immigrate to the U.S. as quickly as possible under USCIS and Consular processing procedures.
Helpful Immigration Tips You Can Use...

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How Do I  Know What Will Happen At My Naturalization Ceremony?
Overview Of  Family Immigration: Which Family Members Can Be Sponsored By Whom And How Long It Will Take For Them To Immigrate To the U.S.
Once your Application for Naturalization is approved, the USCIS puts your case in the queue to be scheduled for your Oath of Allegiance which takes place at your naturalization ceremony. This taking of your Oath of Allegiance complete the process of becoming a U.S. citizen.

Understanding the types of Oath Ceremonies:

There are two kinds of Oath of Allegiance ceremonies, one, is a judicial ceremony, where the court administers the Oath of Allegiance for Residents who have requested a name change and the regular administrative ceremony, during which the USCIS administers the Oath of Allegiance.
The USCIS recently announced that beginning today, October 1, 2018, it is beginning implementation of a new policy to issue deportation notices to certain immigrants after an immigration application has been denied.

The controversial NTA policy, issued on June 28, 2018, entitled “Updated Guidance for the Referral of Cases and Issuance of Notices to Appear (NTAs) in Cases Involving Inadmissible and Deportable Aliens,” dramatically alters the entire U.S. immigration system by significantly expanding the types of cases under which an individual can be issued a Notice To Appear (NTA), and referred to immigration court for Removal proceedings and deportation from the U.S.. 
USCIS Begins Issuing Deportation Notices Under New Policy October 1st!
Despite Trump’s vow to end the Visa Lottery, this year’s lottery (called DV-2020) will still be held as planned and begin on Wednesday, October 3, 2018 at 12:00 noon, Eastern/Standard time (EST), and conclude on Tuesday, November 6, 2018 at 12:00 noon. 
This Year’s Visa (Green Card) Lottery  
Begins On October 3rd, 2018!
Now, as never before, it’s important for Immigrants and sponsors to educate themselves about basic Immigration Issues. 

I often get questions from U.S. Citizens and U.S. Residents alike about which family members they are eligible to sponsor, when they are allowed to initiate the process, how many family members can be sponsored at one time and how long it will be before their loved ones can immigrate to the U.S..
Generally, when an immigrant is deemed deportable, he or she is issued a Notice To Appear (NTA), which is a notice to the immigrant that he or she has been placed in Removal Proceedings and must appear in immigration court at a date and time to be announced. 

The first phase of the NTA policy will be applied to immigrants who are denied for family-based residency (form I-485) and non-immigrants whose applications to change or extend status (form I-539) are denied. I-539 applications are generally filed by visitors to the U.S. who wish to extend their stay in the U.S., or change status to a student or other visa. Once a USCIS denial is issued, an NTA will follow for applicants whose period of authorized stay has expired. An individual with an expired period of authorized stay is technically considered to be ”unlawfully present” in the U.S. at the time of denial. This includes those who file an application while they are still in legal status, but due to the time involved in processing the immigration case, have fallen out of legal status by the time a denial of the case is issued. 

This partial application of the NTA policy covers an extremely wide range of circumstances, including millions of family sponsored applications to adjust status to residency in the U.S. and non-immigrant change or extension of status applications.  

For example, Marlene came from Jamaica to the U.S. on a tourist visa several years ago and never left. She met a U.S Citizen in 2017, they fell in love and recently married in 2018. On October 1, 2018, the couple filed Marlene’s residency application (form I-485). After receiving the USCIS receipt and biometrics appointment notices, Marlene and her husband receive a letter from the USCIS in November, informing them that the affidavit of support submitted did not prove that the U.S. sponsor husband had met the minimum financial requirement. The letter, called a Request For Evidence, directs the couple to either provide additional evidence to prove that the U.S. husband’s income or assets meets the minimum requirements or submit an additional affidavit of support from a joint sponsor. The U.S. husband’s income varies, because he does not always work 40 hours per week. As a result, some months his income meets the minimum requirement for the affidavit of support and others it does not. In response to the USCIS letter, the couple encloses several more paystubs that the husband has received and sends it in with a letter explaining about his income. Following the USCIS receipt of the response, in November 2018, the USCIS finds that the additional paystubs do not prove that the U.S. husband meets the minimum affidavit of support requirements and issues a Denial. The couple receives the denial and since they have lost the $1,225 filing fee, they do not have enough funds to file the case again with a joint sponsor affidavit of support right away. As a result, on January 7, 2019, the USCIS then issues Marlene a Notice To Appear in immigration court, which makes Marlene subject to deportation from the U.S.. 

Jose came to visit Miami from Colombia in June 2018. He was given six months to stay in the U.S.. In November, some friends in New York invite Jose to come and stay with them for a few months and travel to tourist sites in the north eastern U.S.. Jose’s stay expires in December 2018, so in November he files a form I-539 with the USCIS to request an additional two months stay until February 2019. He receives a USCIS receipt in November and then waits for the approval notice. Finally, in April 2019, he receives a denial of his request. Then in June 2019 the USCIS issues Jose a Notice To Appear in immigration court, which makes him subject to deportation from the U.S.. If Jose leaves the U.S., his U.S. tourist visa is automatically cancelled and now that he is subject to deportation, he will be denied any future visa request at the consulate abroad. 

The ramifications of this new policy are enormous, with these and many more nightmare outcomes to become the new U.S. immigration norm from now into the future. As a result, immigrants and non-immigrants alike are urged to be very cautious before filing applications with the USCIS. If the decision is made to file, be sure that eligibility exists and that the case is complete and contains all the required documentation to prove eligibility, since you may not get a second chance!  

USCIS Announcement Implementing the NTA Policy
NTA Memorandum
More information about the NTA policy
The Department of State has released instructions for the DV 2020 lottery which explains eligibility and procedures for applying online. Countries NOT eligibility this year are: Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China (mainland-born), Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, South Korea, United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, and Vietnam. Persons born in Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR, and Taiwan are eligible. If you were born in one of these ineligible countries, you can use your spouse’s country or if neither of your parents was born there, and they were not legal residents of that country at the time of your birth, you can still qualify by using the country of birth of either of your parents to apply.

To qualify, applicants must: 
1) Be born in a qualifying country or qualify by claiming a parent or spouse’s eligible country, and 
2) Meet the education/work experience requirement by having either: at least a high school education or equivalent, or two years of work experience within the past five years in an occupation that requires at least two years of qualifying training or experience. Only one entry is allowed for each person and those with more than one entry will be disqualified. See the DV-2020 Questions and Answers for more details.

Remember, the DV Lottery is always FREE and no paper applications are accepted. Lottery applications are required to be filed online through the official Department of State DV Lottery Website, beginning October 3rd. Once the online entry is made, applicants receive a Confirmation Number, which allows them to return to the official government website and check the status of their entry through the “Entrant Status Check” at: beginning on May 7, 2019. There will be no other official notification. The program does not send notification emails or letters and never directs applicants or winners to wire money under any circumstances. Beware of websites claiming to be official Lottery sites and paralegals, which charge a fee for entry, since they are not affiliated with the official U.S. Department of State and may be scams. Only sites that end in .gov are government sites. Apply yourself – its FREE and easy! 

Diversity Visa Instructions
Frequently Asked Questions Page 8
The common belief among many residents (green card holders) is that old criminal convictions that occurred many years ago no longer matter and they will not affect his or her immigration status. However, in reality, nothing can be farther from the truth and this misunderstanding often leads to residents being taken into ICE (Immigration & Customs Enforcement) custody, detained and in some cases, deported, over seemingly insignificant past crimes. Criminal Immigration attorneys warn residents with criminal backgrounds to take certain precautions to avoid having the USCIS revoke their green card for convictions which occurred after the green card was obtained and ways to safeguard against being taken into custody as part of Trumps aggressive Immigration enforcement policies.
Tips For Residents With Criminal Convictions In the Era of Trump
One of the most common ways that a Resident with a criminal background finds themselves in Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) custody is when they travel internationally and then re-enter the U.S. only to find that they face interrogation and possible detention and deportation due to a past criminal conviction, no matter how many years ago it occurred. Another common way that a Resident can be taken into Immigration custody is after an even minor traffic offense for which they were arrested. Finally, residents with a criminal background who file for Naturalization can be referred to Immigration Court and not only be denied U.S. Citizenship, but lose their Green Card and be deported as well.

To avoid these nasty consequences, residents with criminal conviction(s), no matter how “small”, should consult with an experienced criminal immigration lawyer before traveling internationally and before filing for Naturalization. Those who do not plan on international travel or filing for Naturalization should also schedule a consult to have the lawyer review their criminal record and provide advice about any possible future risks and/or steps that can be taken to clear up any potential negative Immigration effects of criminal convictions, including getting a criminal case reopened and dismissed. This does not include getting a criminal case “expunged” which does not make it disappear for Immigration purposes and may only make it more difficult to provide required documentation in a future immigration case.
Question:  Good morning Ms.Pedersen, my father in law has a green card and is due to be back in the United States on 10/12/2018. However, he had a heart attack and had a procedure done but has not gotten medical clearance to travel yet from his doctor. We are very concerned that he could lose his green card because he would be outside of the United States for more than 180 days, if he is unable to travel next month. Is it possible we could get a medical exemption for him? Please advise  
Answer: Not to worry dear! As long as your father in law has a valid, documented reason why he remained outside the U.S. for an extended period of time, it should be fine. The rule is that U.S. residents who remain outside the U.S. for 180 up to 364 can be questioned about whether or not they continue to maintain residency in the U.S. and that can be satisfied by a reasonable excuse. Residents who stay outside the U.S. for 365 days or more have the burden of proving that they continue to reside in the U.S. and are at risk of losing their green card if they fail to provide a reasonable explanation and showing that they do in fact reside in the U.S. and were only outside the U.S. temporarily and further that extenuating circumstances caused them to remain outside for 365 or more days. In your father in laws case, just have him bring his medical records to show the operation and follow up care and he will be fine to reenter the U.S..
Question:  Filed for Green Card in Feb, got RFE requesting most recent tax return as income does not meet minimum level. Have 2017 tax return submitted which is just above the required limit. Got one sponsor who can help but hasn't filed 2017 tax return yet. Can I just go ahead with 2017 W2 and previous year tax returns from the sponsor?
Answer: Immigration regulations require that the sponsor and if required, joint sponsor, provide a copy of a filed tax return for the most recent year, which would be 2017. Providing a copy of the joint sponsor’s 2017 w-2 will not meet the qualifications and it may result in the case being denied. Either the joint sponsor must file the 2017 tax return or you will need to find another joint sponsor who has. I hope this is helpful to you.
Currently, here’s how it works:

U.S. Citizens are eligible to sponsor:
1) Spouses, Minor Children and Parents (called "Immediate Relatives") 
2) Adult Single Sons & Daughters (and their minor children) F1, 
3) Adult Married Sons & Daughters (and their spouses and minor children) called F3  
4) Brothers & Sisters (and their spouses and minor children) called F4.

U.S. Residents are eligible to sponsor: 
1) Spouses and Minor Children called F2A and 
2) Adult Single Sons & Daughters (and their minor children) called F2B. 

U.S. Residents cannot sponsor their Parents, Adult Married Sons & Daughters or their Brothers & Sisters. If a child who has been sponsored by a Resident marries before the parent becomes a U.S. Citizen, the Immigration case is automatically cancelled, even if the child later divorces.

Waiting Times For Family Members in all Countries (except Mexico/India & Philippines where waiting times are often much longer): 
1) Immediate Relatives (Spouses, Minor Children and Parents of U.S. Citizens), there is no waiting line, just USCIS and consular processing time (approx 12 months). 
2) F1 - Adult Single Sons & Daughters of U.S. Citizens, the waiting line is approx 7+ years, 
3) F2A -Spouses and Minor Children of U.S. Residents, the waiting line is approx 2 years and 
4) F2B -Adult Single Sons & Daughters of U.S. Residents, the waiting line is approx 7 years.
5) F3 -Adult Married Sons & Daughters of U.S. Citizens, the waiting line is approx 12+ years, 
6) F4 -Brothers & Sisters of U.S. Citizens , the waiting line is approx 14 years, 

Under current Immigration regulations, once an Immigrant receives U.S. Residency, (even Conditional Residency through marriage), and similarly when a Resident becomes Naturalized, they are eligible to sponsor any and all family members in any of the qualifying categories. There is no limit on the number of family members which can be sponsored at the same time. For instance, a U.S. Citizen can sponsor an adult, single daughter, a married son and 3 sisters and 2 brothers all at the same time. However, due to the difference in waiting times, each family member be immigrating at different times, depending upon the Family Immigration category. Trump and Congressional Immigration reforms in the future may limit the type and amount of family members allowed to immigrate to the U.S., but for now, the number is limitless, so don’t wait until it is too late. 

Finally, in most cases, family members in the F-1 – F4 categories above must be in legal Immigration status (unexpired I-94) in order be eligible to adjust status to residency in the U.S.. Those filing for adjustment who are not in legal status will be denied and likely put in deportation under a Trump presidency, so get professional advice before filing any residency case! 

Learn more about family sponsored immigration

So what’s going to happen at your naturalization ceremony?

1. Receive Your Naturalization Ceremony Notice to Take the Oath of Allegiance

While some Immigrants who request it may be able to participate in a naturalization ceremony on the same day as their naturalization interview, many Residents must wait for the USCIS mail them a notice with the date, time, and location of their scheduled naturalization ceremony, called a Notice of Naturalization Oath Ceremony (Form – N-445). Those who cannot attend the scheduled naturalization ceremony must return the notice to their local USCIS office, along with a letter requesting a new date and explaining why they are not able to attend the scheduled naturalization ceremony. Residents who fail to show up for their naturalization ceremony without having requested a rescheduling may receive a denial of their naturalization case.

2. Complete Form N-445, Notice of Naturalization Oath Ceremony before checking in at the Ceremony

Residents should complete Form N-445, Notice of Naturalization Oath Ceremony before arriving at the ceremony, prior to check in with USCIS. During check-in, a USCIS officer will review your responses to the questionnaire.

3. Surrender of your Permanent Resident Card (Green Card) 

Residents who are becoming U.S. Citizens must surrender their Permanent Resident Cards to the USCIS at the time they check- in for the naturalization ceremony. Those who have lost their cards can receive a waiver. 

4. Taking the Oath of Allegiance to the United States

A Resident is not a U.S. citizen until he/she takes the Oath of Allegiance to the United States during the naturalization ceremony. After the Oath, new U.S Citizens receive their Certificate of Naturalization.

5. Notes about the Certificate of Naturalization

New U.S Citizens should carefully review the Certificate of Naturalization for accuracy while still at the ceremony. Any inaccuracies must be brought to the attention of the USCIS before leaving the ceremony. Unless or until you apply for your U.S. Passport, your Certificate of Naturalization is your official proof of your U.S. Citizenship. Those who lose their Certificate of Naturalization must request a replacement by filing Form N-565, Application for Replacement Naturalization/Citizenship Document and paying the $555 USCIS filing fee. The waiting time for a replacement can be lengthy.

6. Time to apply for Your U.S. Passport

Once you receive your Certificate of Naturalization, you can immediately apply for a U.S. passport. You will receive an application for a U.S. passport at your naturalization ceremony, called the “U.S. Citizenship Welcome Packet” or you can go online to the U.S. Passport office

7. Time to Register to Vote!

Now that you are a U.S. Citizen, it is your right and privilege to vote. You can register to vote at certain locations in your community, which may include post offices, motor vehicle offices, county boards of election, and offices of your state Secretary of State. You can read more about registering to vote by reading the government publication: “A Voter’s Guide to Federal Elections."

8. Final Step: Update your Social Security Record

After you become a U.S. Citizen, you will need to notify the Social Security Administration (SSA) to update your Social Security record. You can find your local Social Security office by calling 1-800-772-1213 or by visiting: You can go to your local SSA office about ten days after your ceremony to give time for the SSA to be able to access your new status in the USCIS records. Be sure to take your Certificate of Naturalization or U.S. passport with you. Good luck!