Immigration Questions: (954) 382-5378

  POSTING DATE: December 2,  2019
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Immigration News & Updates eNewsletter ©  2011  - 2019 
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
Helpful Immigration Tips You Can Use...

  Immigration News & Updates              eNewsletter
Question: My mom got her citizenship in 2016 and filed my immigration papers. I am now 32 living in Jamaica. My question is that I have been dating my American girlfriend for a few years after we met while she was on vacation here with her family. She has been back to visit me 3 times and now we are thinking about getting married. We have been looking at alternatives to get me to America fast and we are wondering if I am eligible for you to file a k-1 fiancé petition for me. We are worried that the case my mom filed for me back in 2016 might be a problem for me. Does my mom need to cancel that case? thank you.
Immigration How To:
How Do I  Give Up My Green Card?
Giving up (surrendering) your green card can no longer be done at U.S. Consulates abroad. Beginning several months ago, the USCIS requires residents (green card holders) to file Form I-407/ Record of Abandonment of Lawful Permanent Resident Status, to relinquish residency status by mail at the following address:

USCIS Eastern Forms Center 
Attn: I-407 unit 
124 Leroy Road 
PO Box 567 
Williston, VT 05495

Don’t Delay, Naturalization Is Your Ultimate Protection!

These days it’s getting more and more common to hear about U.S. Residents who have lived in the U.S. for nearly all their lives being deported because of some stupid criminal incident that happened when they were younger. Under previous administrations, Residents (green card holders) who broke the law had a chance to make amends and still stay in the U.S. through cancellation of removal or other means. But under Trump immigration policies, more Residents than ever are being deported, including those with old criminal convictions who had previously received cancellation of removal issued by a federal immigration judge. So increasingly, even those with Green Cards no longer feel safe. That is why it is so important for Residents who qualify to take advantage of the ultimate safeguard to living the American dream – Naturalization. Becoming a U.S. Citizen with all its benefits and protections is the best way to safeguard your life and liberty in the U.S.. U.S. Citizens cannot be deported for any reason, unless they lied on their Naturalization application. 
 Upcoming Trump Proposal Will Dramatically Alter Adjustment of Status Process For Many Family Members Inside the U.S.
A new rule expected to be announced by the Trump administration in the coming months will eliminate "concurrent filing" and prevent many spouses, children and other immigrants from obtaining green cards inside the U.S.. The term “concurrent filing” means the “filing together” of applications. The proposal is expected to prevent many family members from filing an immigrant petition (form I-130) and residency application (form I-485) together along with work and travel permit applications. Instead, sponsoring family members would be required to file and obtain approval of the I-130 family petition first, before the spouse or child would be allowed to file for residency. 

Under current procedures, qualifying spouses and minor children of U.S. Citizens and Residents inside the U.S. can file an application for residency and work/travel along with the sponsoring spouse or parent’s I-130 family petition. About six months after the case is filed, the work/travel permit is issued and another few months down the road, the residency interview is scheduled. As long as all goes well at the interview, the immigrant receives the actual green card in the mail a few weeks later. 
Tips On Submitting Successful Affidavits Of Support
Answer: Yes, we can represent your fiancée in filing the K-1 visa petition to sponsor you, however it may be nearly as fast to go ahead and get married and we file the spousal case instead. Under USCIS processing, it can take about 10 months to come to the U.S. as a K-1 fiancée, then once you get here and get married in 90 days, you have to do a second step and file your residency case. If you get married to begin with, we would file the spousal case which would take about a year and then in a few months you could enter the U.S. and get your green card. It is much less complicated and cuts out a lot of useless immigration processing time required doing two immigration steps instead of just one! The petition that your mom filed for you does not affect your marriage case in any way. Under Immigration regulations, an Immigrant can have multiple Immigration petitions filed for them in several different family categories and they do not conflict with each other. See you soon.
Filing an Affidavit of Support (form I-864) is required in nearly all family sponsored immigration cases. The main exception to the Affidavit of Support requirement is when a U.S. Citizen is sponsoring a minor child under age 18, since the child will automatically become a U.S. Citizen upon immigrating to the U.S.. In such cases, the child (not the parent) must file form I-864W requesting the exemption.

Under immigration regulations, all sponsors must complete form I-864 and provide financial documentation to prove that they meet the minimum requirements to sponsor their loved ones. 
Remember, Information On Your Consular Visa Application 
Can Come Back To Haunt You Later!
Many Immigrants believe that the information they provide on the application for a nonimmigrant visa (called DS160) abroad is just a one time thing and somehow disappears once they are issued or denied a U.S. visa. Most are not aware that the information provided when applying for non-immigrant visas at consulates abroad can later be used against them during an immigrant visa or residency interview. Problem issues related to consular visa applications usually arise when an immigrant fails to reveal or conceals information about family members living in the U.S.. i.e., that a brother, sister, parent, fiancée, and/or spouse is living in the U.S.. Other problematic issues involve providing false information about past visa refusals, past criminal activity or convictions, date of birth and information about current and past marriages. 
However, if the rule goes into effect, spouses and children of Residents and other family members of U.S. Citizens will no longer be allowed to remain legally in the U.S. during the process. 

In the case of spouses and children of green card holders, the Resident will first be required to file the I-130 family petition and obtain approval, which can take a year or more under current processing times. Once approved, if the spouse and children are in the U.S. in legal immigration status they could file for a green card at that point, or if they are abroad, they would do consular processing through the U.S. Consulate. Details of the proposal have not yet been released, but it appears from the “abstract” which was published, that immediate relatives of U.S. Citizens (spouses, children and parents) would likely not be effected and that it would apply only to immigrants in the preference categories: spouses and children of Residents and adult children and siblings of U.S. Citizens and employment based immigrants. However, the abstract does indicate that the Department of Homeland Security also “…proposes to make further changes to the appropriate dates when applicants can file Form I- 485 and for ancillary benefits.", which could indeed include restrictions for immediate relatives as well. Stay tuned…. 

U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Read the Abstract: Updating Adjustment of Status Procedures for More Efficient Processing and Immigrant Visa Usage

Association of International Educators
A sponsor is the U.S. Citizen or Resident family member who has filed for his or her relative to immigrate to the U.S.. In cases where a sponsor does not work or have enough income to meet the requirements and has a Joint Sponsor who does qualify, it’s important to understand that the sponsor is still required to file an Affidavit of Support and provide financial documentation in addition to that of the Joint Sponsor. 

Here’s a quick list of typical documents which sponsor’s and joint sponsor’s must submit along with the affidavit of support (form I-864):


1) Most recent tax return and W-2, or IRS Tax Transcript and wage report. At this time, it’s for the year 2018; 
2) Paystubs for the past three months (last 90 days) to prove current income;
3) Employer letter with current date, stating date hired, position, fulltime employment or hours worked and salary or hourly wages. 
4) If retired, copy of social security and other benefits letters showing retirement income, pension statements for the past six months and an explanation letter regarding monthly income

Joint Sponsors:

1) Most recent tax return and W-2, or IRS Tax Transcript and wage report. At this time, it’s for the year 2018; 
2) Paystubs for the past three months (last 90 days) to prove current income;
3) Employer letter with current date, stating date hired, position, fulltime employment or hours worked and salary or hourly wages;
4) Proof of U.S. Citizenship or Residency (copy of U.S. Birth Certificate, Naturalization Certificate or U.S. Passport or Green Card) 

Note that sponsors and joint sponsors are required to provide their current tax return, and the fact that an extension was filed with the IRS does not qualify to overcome this requirement. The only time a sponsor is relieved of that requirement is if his or her income was too low to require the filing of taxes, and in such cases an official IRS Tax Transcript is required, showing that no taxes were filed.

Avoid Common Mistakes

Calculating household size: Make sure you calculate household size by adding in any dependents on your 2018 tax return or IRS transcript along with the immigrating relative. Also, don’t count your spouse or children twice. For instance, don’t count your spouse as both an immigrating relative AND spouse.

Current Income: Your current income for form I-864 does not mean the figure on the current year’s tax return, it means the actual yearly salary or income that you currently make (as evidenced by your paystubs). An easy way to calculate your yearly income is to do the following:
Get your past 3 months paystubs and add them all up, then divide them by 3 to get an average monthly income, then multiply times 12 (for 12 months). That is your estimated annual income based upon your current average monthly income. 

Failing To Provide Copies of Required documents: Sponsors are required to provide the documents detailed above and any missing documentation will cause delay in the case, since the officer will issue an RFE requesting it. Complete copies of tax returns are required and one of the most common mistakes made by sponsors is in just providing the first few pages of the return. You are required to submit the entire return with all schedules and the W-2 or an IRS transcript and wage report, which you can order online for free. Another common mistake is either failing to submit an employer letter, or submitting one which is deficient in that it is not currently dated, or does not state the sponsor’s fulltime status, hours, salary or wages. For instance some sponsor’s submit a letter they received the previous year when they were hired stating their job position and wages, which of course does not qualify since it is not currently dated. Remember, the letter is not a job recommendation, it’s meant to verify “current” employment and salary. 

Our office can help you navigate the often-confusing process of initial Affidavit of Support submission or by preparing a proper response to a USCIS Request For Evidence you received for a previously submitted Affidavit of Support. 
Call for a free consultation 954-382-5378.

These discrepancies can often come back to “haunt” an immigrant later, when he or she is applying for an immigrant visa or residency in the U.S. and is then required to provide documentation to prove eligibility. Information provided at the residency stage with conflicts with the old visa application can result in a finding of “misrepresentation”, which can make an immigrant ineligible to immigrate to the U.S..

U.S. visa policies are very strict and have become even more onerous under Trump administration rules. As a result, individuals seeking to obtain a U.S. visa are often told by friends, family and visa services not to list relatives they have in the U.S. since the fact that they have family members living in the U.S. will result in a denial if their visa, which can be true. Similarly, visa applicants who list that they are married are often more likely to be issued a visa than single applicants, since the consular officer believes that if the applicant has a spouse residing abroad, the applicant is more likely to return to their home country and not over stay their visa in the U.S.

The problem comes later when an immigrant is sponsored by a family member who is in the U.S. and was not listed on his or her application. For instance, an applicant has a parent who is a U.S. Citizen living in the U.S.. The applicant does not list that the parent is a U.S. Citizen in the U.S.. Then the parent later sponsors the child to immigrate to the U.S.. Failure to list the parent’s immigration status in the U.S. is likely going to result as a finding of misrepresentation on the child’s part and will likely prevent the child from being eligible to immigrate to the U.S..

Similarly, if an applicant for a non-immigrant visa lists themselves as married on the visa application, then is later sponsored by a U.S. Citizen or Resident spouse or other family member, in all cases the immigrant will be required to provide official governmental evidence of the marriage or divorce. If the immigrant fails to do so because they were in fact never married, a finding of misrepresentation will likely result in immigrant visa or residency denial based upon fraud. Importantly, even if visa service prepares and files a visa application, the applicant themselves is held responsible for all answers and any discrepancies later found on the application.

There are waivers available to individuals in very limited circumstances, which act as a forgiveness for the fraud or misrepresentation, and allow entry to the U.S. However, these waivers are highly discretionary and can often be very difficult, if not impossible to obtain. So the moral of the story is, never lie or omit information on a DS160 application, since even a slight misrepresentation can prevent an applicant from every visiting or immigrating to the U.S. in the future. 

Question: Hi I have a question about the immigration papers that I need to give the government to immigrate. My mom sponsored me and I have 2 kids. I got an email that I am supposed to give some documents to the visa center but I am really confused about how to do that. I don’t have a way to scan, just copy and there is no address for the center, just a website. My mom paid the immigration invoices on the website but now we cant figure out how to do the rest. I found an address and sent the papers to the visa center, but we just got them back in the mail saying they don’t accept paper documents anymore. It so frustrating and wasting so many months. Is there something your office can do to help me with this so we can get the process going again?
Answer: Yes, I know the process can be very frustrating and we can absolutely take care of National Visa Center processing for you. These days, most consular processing is done “paperless”, through a system called the Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC). The process can be quick under the system, but unfortunately, it is not very friendly to use, even for many who are “technically savvy”, since documents must be provided in the exact format which the CEAC system requires. This can be quite confusing to those who are not familiar with its requirements and interpreting what its often “cryptic” error messages mean. In cases like yours, we will provide you with a comprehensive list of documents to provide to us in paper form. We will then take care of scanning and uploading everything, then guiding you through the entire process until you are here in the U.S. with your Green Cards. Since you don’t have a scanner, I will have you send me all the original documents and we will scan them for you, then send your originals back so you can take them to your consular appointment in the next few months. 
Question: I got my citizenship last year and filed for my mom a few months later and she was approved in august 2019. After that I got an email last month to pay some fees to the national visa center so I did that. My questions is this, she usually comes here to visit and she happens to be here with me now for the holidays. I heard that she can just stay here and get her green card and doesn’t have to go back to Colombia, is that true? Second, since I already paid $445 fees and now we don’t want to do the process in Colombia, can I get that money back and use it to pay for her u.s. filing fees here instead? Thanks. 
Answer: Great question. What you are referring to are the National Visa Center (NVC) fees. Once a case is approved by the USCIS and ready for consular processing, the NVC notifies the petitioner that the case is ready for consular processing and gives instructions on going online and paying the NVC fees for the Affidavit of Support (AOS) and Immigrant Visa fees (IV). Those fees should only be paid for a relative who is outside the U.S. and will be going through the U.S. consulate abroad. The fees are not applicable to those who are adjusting status in the U.S., since they are required to pay different fees for the process inside the U.S.. Unfortunately, once those fees are paid, there is no way to get a refund, so if you want your mom to stay in the U.S. and go through the adjustment of status to residency process here, you will need to pay the additional fee of $1,225. With that said, you should know that since consular processing has begun for your mom, it may only take a few more months for her to complete both consular processing and her immigrant visa interview and be ready to immigrate to the U.S. and get her Green Card. If she decides to stay in the U.S. and file for adjustment of status, under ever increasing processing times, it could take six months or more. So, think it over, perhaps you might want to reconsider having her go home and complete the consular process abroad, since she is so near to completion. Let me know if you have any questions or want our assistance in handling her Residency or NVC process.
For many, the only reason for delay is the high cost of the USCIS filing fee of $725. But the benefits far outweigh the sacrifice of cutting back on other expenses to save the necessary fees. Give it as a gift to yourself or to others!

Here’s a few of the main benefits of becoming a U.S. Citizen:

No risk of Deportation from the U.S.. Even though Residents have legal status in the U.S., they can still be deported in certain circumstances. Even one serious criminal incident by a Resident who has never done anything wrong in the past, however unintentional, can result in removal from the U.S.. U.S. citizens who are convicted of any crime, no matter how serious, cannot be deported. Remember, no one ever thinks they will be convicted of a crime, until they are.

Benefits of a U.S. Passport. Residents may still need to obtain a visa to visit many countries around the world. However, U.S. citizens can travel to a majority of foreign countries without the need for a visa and receive easier entry through foreign borders as well. Another benefit for parents with minor children under age 18 is the ability of your children to automatically naturalize and become U.S. Citizens at the same time and you.

Ability to vote, obtain federal jobs, government benefits and even run for Public Office. Only U.S. Citizens are allowed to vote and even Naturalized U.S. citizens can run for most elected public offices (except the presidency). Similarly, certain federal jobs require U.S. Citizenship and certain benefits are only available to U.S. Citizens.

Ability to sponsor more Family Members. Becoming a U.S. Citizen allows you to sponsor your parents, married children and siblings. Similarly, immigration waiting lines are eliminated for spouses and minor children.

Ability to take long trips outside the U.S. Residents must be very careful about the amount of time they spend abroad and are often fearful of staying outside the U.S. for too long a time. Those who remain outside the U.S. for 180 to 364 days can be challenged by immigration officials about whether or not they reside in the U.S.. Those who remain outside for 365 days or more risk losing their Green Card. U.S. Citizens, however, can remain outside the U.S. indefinitely and still retain all the benefits of citizenship. 

With all these benefits, it simply does not make sense to delay filing for Naturalization. Family members looking for a great Birthday, Anniversary or Christmas Gift should consider paying the $725 USCIS filing fee for a loved one to apply for Naturalization! That’s a gift that keeps giving and lasts for a lifetime, how many other gifts can you say that about? And remember, Naturalization filing fees will be skyrocketing soon, so file now and save!

For background, until recently, U.S. Residents who wanted to surrender residency status and give up their green card so that they could reside permanently abroad could file the application in person at the U.S. Consulate abroad and request a U.S. tourist visa, in exchange for filing form I-407 and giving up their U.S. residency. Apparently, now, that may no longer be possible. Residents hoping to exchange residency for tourist visas may now be required to file form I-407, obtain approval, then present the relinquishment approval to the consular officer in order to obtain a U.S. tourist visa. 
Read the USCIS Announcement
Form I-407, Record of Abandonment of Lawful Permanent Resident Status