Immigration Questions: (954) 382-5378

  POSTING DATE: December 23,  2019
Tell a friend about this page

Learn More About:

Add this page to your favorites.

Add this page to your favorites.
Immigration News & Updates eNewsletter ©  2011  - 2020 
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: I filed for my wife in Jamaica last year and we have been waiting for the case to be approved so she can get her visa and come here to the us. But I just got a notice from the immigration office here at Oakland park saying that I have an interview for my wife’s case. I am really confused because she is in Jamaica, not here with me so how can we go to the interview together? I think they made a mistake. Can I hire you so you can fix this mistake. please respond as soon as possible.
Immigration How To:
How Do I Know If I Should File For A Green Card Through Marriage To A Girl Willing To Help Me?
Helpful Tips For Smooth National Visa Center Processing

The family immigration process often takes many, many years waiting in line and then finally once an Immigrant Visa becomes available, the National Visa Center (NVC) and U.S. Consulate begin final processing, ending in the immigrant visa consular interview appointment and immigrating to the U.S.. But even after waiting all those years, the final processing steps themselves can be very intimidating and stressful. Here is a quick overview of the process and a few tips to keep in mind in order to help you properly provide the required documentation so as not to delay your relative’s consular interview. 
 New York Law Now Allows All Immigrants 
In The State To Apply For Driver's Licenses
On Monday, December 16, 2019, the State of New York began implementing a new measure called the "Green Light Law", which allows undocumented immigrants throughout the state to obtain Driver's Licenses. Under the new law, applicants can use official identification documents such as valid foreign passports, foreign driver's licenses, identification from an applicant’s home country and foreign birth certificates. Applicants are still required to take and pass the written exams and road tests before being issued licenses and must provide proof that they live in New York, by showing a recent utility bill with their name and address on it. The law further protects immigrants by prohibiting the state from sharing driver license data with immigration officials.
Answer: I understand your concerns that it does not seem logical for you to be scheduled for a marriage interview when your wife is not here. However, in some cases, the USCIS does actually conduct a preliminary interview with the U.S. Citizen or Resident spouse in the U.S. before approving the case. No worries, I certainly can represent you going forward in the process. The first step is to prepare for the interview, we will meet and I will give you a list of documents you will need to assemble for the interview. Normally, I will want you to provide copies of any marital documents you and your wife have for property, bank accounts, utilities, western union or other money transfer receipts, airline tickets showing travel to visit one another, copies of text messages or other communications between you and print outs of as many pictures as you can (the more the better). I will also assist you in preparing an affidavit regarding how you and wife met and how your relationship developed into marriage and prepare you to answer questions about your marriage at the interview. As long as the officer is convinced that your marriage is real, the I-130 approval will be issued shortly thereafter, and then consular processing for your wife will begin. See you soon. 
Holiday Reminder: ICE Still Conducting Raids 
At Some Grey Hound Bus Terminals 
As in the past, Federal immigration agents continue to conduct raids at Grey Hound Bus Terminals in South Florida and other locations across the U.S. to identify and arrest immigrants who do not have legal immigration status. 

Under Trump apprehension policies, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents and Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) officials have escalated operations to identify “illegal” immigrants by boarding Grey Hound buses and Amtrak trains to check the immigration status of passengers.
Question: me and my fiancée have some questions for you. I am here in florida on a student visa and have another year to finish up my studies. My fiancée is american and after dating for the past year, we decided we want to get married in April 2020 when my family can come to the US for the wedding. Our question is about me getting a work permit. As a student, I cant get one until I graduate next year. We were wondering if I can get one as a fiancé of a citizen? If I cant, how long will it take to get a work card once we get married next year?
Answer: Congratulations on your engagement! Unfortunately, until your petition for adjustment of status to Residency is filed, you are not entitled to a work permit. Only fiancée’s of U.S. Citizens who obtain the K-1 visa abroad are eligible to apply for work authorization prior to marriage. Fiancées in the U.S. who do not have the K-1 are not eligible to work until they marry, a spousal residency case is filed on their behalf and the employment authorization card is issued. What you and your fiancée might want to consider is getting married earlier at the courthouse, so that we can file your Residency application now and get your Work and Travel permit in about 180 days, then have your formal wedding with your family later. That way, you can get your place in line in the immigration process. In many south Florida USCIS offices, the residency process is taking about 6-8 months for the green card. 

Question: Hi I have my 10 years green card which does not expire until 2025. The problem is that my girlfriend got me a puppy for my birthday and over the weekend he got a hold of my wallet and chewed everything in it including my driver’s license and green card. There are pieces of the card left, but not much and you cant even really see my full name on what is left. I need to get a new card and driver’s license. I tried to order my license replacement online and the message said I need to go the office with my identification. My passport expired so I don’t have nothing official any more. I need to know what is the fastest thing I can do now in case I get stopped or something and don’t have my license or green card anymore.
Answer: Yes, puppies can do a lot of damage, but they are so cute that it is worth it! No problem, we can quickly file a request with the USCIS to get you a duplicate Green Card and then once we get the receipt, we should receive your Biometric appointment notice to have your fingerprints done a few weeks after that. When you go to have your Biometrics done, the officer can issue you a residency extension at that time. Make sure and bring your appointment notice, green card extension receipt, expired passport and the remnants of your driver’s license and green card when you go. After you get your temporary residency stamp you can take that along with your social security card to the department of motor vehicles to have your duplicate Driver’s License issued. Issuance of your duplicate Green Card will take many months, however in the meantime, the residency stamp in your passport called an I-551, will act as your evidence of lawful residence until your new card is received
Warning - Fake Marriage Is a One Way Ticket To Deportation Hell

Most immigrants know at least one person that got their residency (Green Card) through a fake marriage to a U.S. Citizen or Cuban national. What most do not know is that for every person who is successful, ten or more are not and end up being deported. The most important thing to understand about obtaining a Green Card through marriage is that it is all or nothing! 

The Immigrant either receives conditional and then permanent residency or they don’t and are put in Removal proceedings. There are no other options. 
As you can imagine, the turnout in response to the law was overwhelming, with thousands of immigrants lining up outside Department of Motor Vehicles offices throughout the state. In what will hopefully become a trend nationwide, the state of New Jersey also passed a similar law the same day. 

New York DMV
These “transportation checks” target the most vulnerable group of immigrants, those who are not able to legally drive or fly due to their immigration status. Instead, they are forced to take trains or buses for long distance transportation and are now more at risk than ever, especially during the holidays. As a result, immigrants should carefully consider the risks involved in long distance travel during the holiday season and perhaps use transportation options other than Amtrak or Greyhound.
Understanding Who Qualifies To Apply For Early Naturalization
Most U.S. Residents (Green Card holders) must wait for 4 years and 9 months before being eligible to apply for Naturalization. However, qualifying U.S. Residents who are married to U.S. Citizens are eligible to apply 2 years earlier, in only 2 years and 9 months, under a policy called “Early Naturalization”. 

To qualify under this expedited U.S. Citizenship process, a U.S. Resident must fall under what is commonly called the “3/3/3” rule:
1) The U.S. Resident must be married to their U.S. Citizen spouse for at least 3 years and 

2) The U.S. Citizen spouse must have been a U.S. Citizen for at least 3 years and finally, 

3) The U.S. Resident must have held that status for at least 3 years (really 2 years and 9 months). 

So, as long as the U.S. Resident meets these requirements and is not only currently married to, but also continues to reside in a real marriage with their U.S. Citizen spouse – they can apply for early naturalization. At the naturalization interview, the USCIS officer will review the application and conduct testing on civics, history and English proficiency, as well as requesting documentation to prove that the married couple is living together, including tax returns, bank statements, utilities and other marital documents.

To initiate final consular processing, most sponsors receive a notification email from the NVC called a “Notice of Immigrant Visa Case Creation” which gives the case number, ID and link to login to the Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC) to initiate the process. Here are the basic steps in the process:

1) Pay NVC Bills: The first step is to pay the consular fees to begin the process. Fees are currently $445 per person or $325 per person and $120 for family. 

2) Submit Affidavit of Support and supporting documents: Once the fees are paid, the next step is for the sponsor to immediately submit the completed, signed form I-864 Affidavit of Support, current 2018 tax return (or tax transcripts) , W-2, paystubs and employer letter (2018) through the CEAC system. Failure to quickly provide the required financial documents will result in delay of the case.

3) Complete the DS260 Immigrant Visa Application: at this stage, the immigrating family members must complete the DS260 form for each person and submit.

4) Civil Documents: all immigrants are required to submit certain civil documents, including, Birth and Marriage certificates, divorce decrees, passport biographic page, police certificate, passport photos, criminal records, etc. These documents must be carefully scanned and uploaded through the CEAC system for each immigrating family member.

5) NVC Review: Once the documents are submitted, it can take up to 60 days for the NVC to review the documents. If documents submitted are not clear or scanned improperly, they are rejected and the sponsor/immigrant will receive an email notification to log in and replace such documents with properly scanned versions. 

6) Consular Interview: Once the NVC finds all the documentation is acceptable, the NVC will email notification that the case is complete and the next step is to wait for notification from the consulate. Within about 30 days or so the U.S. Consulate will send a notification email with the date and time of the interview, along with instructions on scheduling the required medical examination and listing documentation to bring to the medical exam and consular interview. 

It’s important to understand that the NVC process can be completed in as little as 60 days if the case is properly prepared and submitted. If not, the process can end up being delayed for many months causing immigrating family members to remain in limbo just waiting, for no good reason. In some cases, I have had new clients come to me over six months into the process exasperated, annoyed, and nearly ready to give up after having previously repeatedly tried to do the case themselves. In addition to sponsors being unsure of which documents are required and unfamiliar with the CEAC system, the main delays are usually caused by documents being uploaded which do not meet the requirements. Here’s a few document tips:

Rule #1, never use your cell phone to take a picture of a document, all documents must be scanned at a clear resolution using a scanner and saved as a pdf. Pics taken with a cell phone will be rejected.
Rule #2, always make sure that the document you are scanning is upright on the page, since documents scanned sideways or upside-down will be rejected.
Rule #3, make sure to scan the entire document so that all sides are fully showing. Scans of documents which are cut off will be rejected. For instance, if a birth certificate has stamps, but the scanned page cuts a portion of the stamp off, the document will be rejected. Similarly, if a document is on oversized paper and the scan cuts off the bottom of the document, it will be rejected. The best approach is to take oversized documents to office depot and have them reduce it to letter size.
Rule #4, reduce the size of the pdf before uploading. The maximum size is 2 mb. Many documents with multiple pages scanned on copiers and printers will easily go over 2 mb, so you’ll need to use a pdf program which allows you to reduce the pdf size.
Rule #5, documents which are in the same language as the country from which the family members are immigrating do not need English translations. For instance, if an immigrant is from Colombia and all his or her documents are in Spanish, no English translations are required to be submitted.

Finally, remember that every time you submit or resubmit documents, it can take the NVC up to 30-60 days to review them, this can cause delay after delay, on and on. So the best approach is to carefully prepare the documents, review the scans to make sure they meet each and every specification before uploading and submitting and then check your emails frequently in case the NVC issues a request for resubmission on one or more documents, so that you can take care of it immediately.

We can quickly and easily take care of the entire NVC process for you! 
Give us a call at: 954-382-5378.

Once an Immigrant files for adjustment of status through marriage and attends the interview, there is no escape from the process. If the couple does not do well at the interview, does not have many marital documents, lives with relatives, no joint bank accounts which show movement, etc, a follow-up interview is scheduled many months down the road. At this second interview, often the U.S. Citizen or Cuban national is taken in with the officer alone and requested to sign a paper that the marriage is fake, withdraw the petition and not to tell the Immigrant. The Immigrant later receives a denial in the mail and referral to Immigration court for removal from the U.S.. There are no options to marry another U.S. Citizen and obtain residency or to be sponsored by a relative or even employer – NOTHING.

If the couple passes the marriage interview and the Immigrant spouse is issued two year conditional residency, this is only the beginning. 90 days before the two year residency mark, the couple must file a petition to remove the conditions on residency (form I-751) to make it permanent and for that, the couple must provide EXTENSIVE documentation to prove that they continue to live together in a “bona fide” (real) marriage. In recent years, the USCIS has become very strict about marital documentation, requiring hundreds of documents showing joint tax returns, bank statements, car insurance, utilities, etc. Those who live with relatives, don’t have joint bank accounts and utilities and are unable to provide the required documents are scheduled for a second interview, sometimes referred to as a “fraud” interview, for an officer to interrogate the couple and determine whether the marriage is real. If the officer determines that the couple is genuinely in a continuing marital relationship, permanent residency is approved and as long as the couple continues as such, the Immigrant spouse can apply for early Naturalization, once he or she has held residency status for two years and nine months. Additional marital documents proving the couple continues to reside together are required at the Naturalization interview as well.

What happens if the couple breaks up before the marriage interview? In most cases now days, if the Immigrant spouse attends the interview alone the officer will deny the case and the Immigrant will be referred to Immigration court for removal from the U.S.. 

What if the couple breaks up after the Immigrant spouse receives two year conditional residency? In that case, the Immigrant can file the removal of conditions application requesting a waiver of the joint filing requirement and submit EXTENSIVE documentation to prove the marriage was real, even though the couple is no longer together. In fake marriages, the couple never has much if any documents, so most of these cases are denied. Once the case is denied, the Immigrant is referred to Immigration court for removal from the U.S.. There are no options to marry another U.S. Citizen and obtain residency or to be sponsored by a relative or even employer. Once the USCIS denies a residency case based upon fraud, the door closes and there is no way to receive any legal status in the U.S. ever again.

But of course, removal proceedings take time, years in fact, so many Immigrants in the process go on with their lives, fall in love, get married and have kids, believing that they will be able to avoid deportation because they are now in a real relationship. However, immigration regulations specifically say otherwise and will not reward an Immigrant who engaged in a fake marriage previously, but who now has a genuine relationship and wants to use it to obtain residency again. It is very sad and tragic that families are broken up every day as part of this process. I would liken filing for residency based upon a fake marriage to taking heroin, once you do it, you can never go back. So don’t listen to well-meaning friends and family who say fake marriage is the best way to get a Green Card. Instead, just imagine that you will be taking your whole potential lifetime here in the U.S. full of hopes, dreams and possibilities, walking into a casino and betting it all on one number. Feeling that lucky?