Immigration Questions: (954) 382-5378

  POSTING DATE: March 16,  2020
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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

  Immigration News & Updates              eNewsletter
Immigration How To:
How  Can I Get Automatic Citizenship For My Kids?
USCIS Issues Advisory On Office Closings And 
Rescheduling Appointments Due To Coronavirus
Helpful Immigration Tips You Can Use...
Question: I just got married to my citizen husband last week and we are getting papers together to file my immigration application. We were reading online and saw something about getting fingerprints done. We are a little confused about that and are wondering if you can give us advice. Do I need to go to the police station to get my fingerprints taken? I saw something called a FD-258 fingerprint card, do I need to print one out from the internet and take it with me? The immigration website says I need fingerprints but doesn’t say how to get them. We are trying to save money and try to do this ourselves, but its been kind of confusing to figure out what we need to do.
Answer: Yes, I understand, the immigration process can seem very confusing. Under current immigration procedures for regular residency cases, you are not required to provide fingerprints with your application. Once you properly submit your case, the USCIS will send you an I-797 Notice of Action receipt in the mail within about 7-10 days, and then send you a Biometric Appointment Notice in another 15 days or so, directing you to go to the assigned USCIS Support Center at the scheduled time, to have your fingerprints and biometric photo taken. The USCIS filing fees you pay include an $85 fee for this process.
Most USCIS field offices remain open and continue performing routine operations and interviews. However, should the Coronavirus (COVID-19) spread and effect more of the population, as time goes by, some offices may temporarily close.

In the event of field office closings, the USCIS will automatically reschedule cancelled appointments at a future date and send out new appointment notices. For those who have appointments scheduled, but feel ill (flu-like symptoms such as a runny nose, headache, cough, sore throat or fever), the USCIS encourages you to avoid attending your scheduled appointment and instead to send a request to reschedule your appointment. 
Understanding the U.S. 30-Day Travel Ban on European Countries
Understanding How Children Qualify For Automatic Citizenship

Under the Child Citizenship Act, U.S. Resident children who are under age 18 automatically obtain U.S. Citizenship when a biological parent Naturalizes. Similarly, children of U.S. Citizens who immigrate to the U.S. from abroad and enter the U.S. before turning age 18, become automatic U.S. Citizens as well. 

Qualifying children must be under age 18 at the time their parent actually naturalizes (takes the Oath), not the date the parent files for Naturalization. 
Question: My wife, my daughter and myself visited America in 2005 and ended up staying. My cousin has a roofing company and said I should work with him, so we never left and my daughter is in college now. My sister had her American citizenship, so she filed our immigration papers in 2006. The thing is that our case was approved and this national visa center sent us a letter saying they now processing our case and some fees are due. I called the center and they said I need to login into the website and pay the visa fees so we can provide the documents for our visa interview in Jamaica. This is the first we heard about having to go to Jamaica to get visas to come back here. My wife and I are nervous about that. We are afraid to leave in case we cant come back, especially now with the virus thing going on. So we want to know if we should keep going and plan on attending an interview in Jamaica for our green cards or can we just get our residency here through the local immigration office? Thank you.
Answer: That is a very good question. It’s very important to understand that in most cases, if an immigrant is inside the U.S. and his or her I-94 has expired, they are no longer eligible to legally adjust status and obtain a green card in the U.S.. The few exceptions are for spouses, parents and minor children of U.S. Citizens and those eligible under 245(i). All other family members including adult children of U.S. Citizens and Residents and siblings who have remained inside the U.S. past the I-94 date, are ineligible to obtain a green card while in the U.S.. 

I understand that this seems confusing to many who have an I-130 family petition approved and have received notification from the National Visa Center (NVC) that their case is being processed for their consular interview. It does not seem to make sense that the NVC would send such a notice if they know an immigrant is not eligible. However, it does when you realize that the NVC does not determine where you live before it provides the notification and does not make determinations about immigrant visa eligibility. It simply collects the visa fees and prepares the documents required by the consulate for your interview. It is the actual consular officer at the U.S. Consulate who makes the determination as to whether or not you are eligible and whether to approve or deny your visa. In cases where an immigrant has remained inside the U.S. for a certain period of time, immigrant visas will be denied. For instance, once an Immigrant has remained in the U.S. for 365 days or more past their authorized stay, then leaves the U.S., he or she is “barred” from re-entering the U.S. again for ten years. So the mere act of leaving the U.S. to attend an interview at the consulate abroad triggers the bar and makes the immigrant ineligible to re-enter the U.S. for a ten year period from the date they last left the U.S.. In those cases, the immigrant is stranded abroad and must wait for ten years to be able to apply for an immigrant visa again. Since you and your family have been in the U.S. since 2005 and are likely not eligible under any exception, if you pay the NVC fee bills, the funds will be lost and you will not be able to obtain a refund. Similarly, if you complete the NVC process and leave the U.S. to attend your scheduled consular immigrant visa appointment in Kingston, you will “trigger” the ten year immigration bar and your immigrant visa will be denied. You will then be unable to be approved for an immigrant visa or re-enter the U.S. for ten years. With this said, the hope is that a future Democratic administration will approve immigration reform and you may be eligible to obtain your green card in the U.S. in the future. For now, stay safe!

USCIS Policy On Spousal Eligibility For Early Naturalization 

Under immigration regulations, spouses of U.S. Citizens are eligible to apply for Naturalization early, as long as they meet certain requirements. For background, generally, Residents are eligible to apply for Naturalization after holding that status for four years and nine months, whereas eligible spouses of U.S. Citizens can apply in only two years and nine months. Early Naturalization is governed by the so called 3/3/3 rule, to qualify: 1) The U.S. Citizen spouse must have been a citizen for at least three years, 2) the foreign spouse must have been married to (and living together with) the U.S. Citizen spouse for at least three years and 
Under the new policy, no immigrant will be penalized in any way for failing to attend a scheduled appointment due to illness. Similarly, the USCIS encourages those who have traveled internationally to any country outside the U.S. within 14 days of an appointment or those who believe that they may have been exposed to COVID-19 (even if no international travel was involved) not to come to the USCIS and instead, reschedule the appointment for a later date.

Here are some tips on rescheduling your appointment:

1) Timing: Do not wait until the last moment, file your reschedule request as soon as you feel ill or meet the other criteria.

2) Explanation Letter: Prepare a simple letter explaining your reason for requesting the reschedule. If you have travelled abroad in the past 14 days, include a copy of your flight itinerary. If you feel ill, include your symptoms or the circumstances of coming into contact with someone who may have had the virus. Make sure and include a copy of your Interview Notice.

3) Copies: Make a copy of your request, Interview Notice and any supporting documents, as well as your fedex receipt.  

4) Sending: Send your request to the USCIS field office on the appointment notice, using Fed-ex or another next day delivery service with tracking. Go online and get a delivery notification and print it out so you have evidence that your request was received by the USCIS.

USCIS Advisory to those who feel sick to reschedule appointment
USCIS Office Closing Advisory
In efforts to calm the plunging U.S. stock market, last week on March 11th, Trump announced a 30-day ban on European travelers entering the U.S. from the 26 European countries, beginning Friday, March 13th, and the United Kingdom and Ireland beginning today, in an effort to reduce the spread of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). Exempt travelers include: U.S. citizens, U.S. Residents (green card holders) and their direct family members (which include spouses, parents (or legal guardians of children under the age of 21), minor siblings of a minor U.S. citizen or U.S. Residents and minor children, foster children, wards, or adoptee minor children (in IR-4 or IH-4 visa classifications). 
Exemptions also apply to foreign nationals travelling to the U.S. to provide assistance in containing or mitigating the virus and those traveling as a nonimmigrant C-1, D, or C-1/D nonimmigrant visa as a crewmember , as well as governmental visa holders, A-1, A-2, C-2, C-3 (and immediate family member of an official), E-1 (as an employee of TECRO or TECO or the employee’s immediate family members), G-1, G-2, G-3, G-4, NATO-1 through NATO-4, or NATO-6 (or seeking to enter as a nonimmigrant in one of those NATO categories) and members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their spouses and children. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that those entering the U.S. during the next 30 days self-quarantine for a 14-day period. Yet apparently, to date, there is no mandatory testing of exempt individuals for COVID-19, either before boarding the plane or when entering the U.S.

According to administration officials, the Schengen Area in Europe contains the largest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases outside of China with 17,442 confirmed cases, 711 deaths, and continuous high infection rates. European countries effected by the ban include: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Ireland, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the U.K.. U.S. Policies directed towards “foreigners” COVID-19 are likely to get worse before they get better… Stay tuned…. 

Read the Whitehouse Proclamation on the new Coronavirus European Travel Ban 
U.S. Embassy in Kingston Jamaica Temporarily 
Closes Down Operations Due To Coronavirus
On March 10, the U.S. Embassy Kingston announced that its Consular Section would be temporarily closed for routine visa services on March 11, 2020 and would reopen on March 12, 2020, after the Jamaican Ministry of Health and Wellness (MoHW) announced one confirmed case of COVID-19 in Kingston of a person who had travelled from the U.K. to the island. However only a day later, the Embassy posted another announcement which indicated that an employee of the Embassy had tested positive for COVID-19 and all Consular Section routine services including visa processing and American citizens services would cease operations until further notice. Jamaican with scheduled interviews should be receiving cancellation and rescheduling notifications. 
This may only be the start of U.S. Embassies either scaling down operations or undergoing temporary closures, do to concerns about the virus. 

Announcement of temporary closure
Announcement of closure until further notice
​Visit the news & events page to keep up on the closure news

​U.S. Embassy Contact Information
U.S. Embassy Kingston, Jamaica
U.S. Consular Agency Montego Bay
U.S. Consular Agency Cayman Islands

Question: I came to Miami for a visit in july 2019 because my aunt and uncle live in kendall and I was staying with them. Then I decided to stay here a little longer and take some English courses at a language school, so the school gave me the papers I needed to apply for a study visa. I filed the application with immigration in september 2019, since my i94 was going to expire in january 2020. In January I got a letter from immigration asking me for proof that I could support myself while I was here in classes, so I sent them a copy of my aunts December bank statement that shows she deposits at least $3,000 every month, even though there is not much money left at the end of the month. My aunt also wrote a letter saying she would support me and I could live at their house while I was taking classes. I didn’t think it was a problem, but then a few days ago I got a letter from immigration that says “decision” and denied my immigration application and says I cant appeal it. It says I need to leave the u.s.. but I just applied and got accepted to fiu university, so I am wondering if I can apply for a student visa to study business there now?
Answer: Unfortunately, the USCIS is becoming much more strict about requiring proof of financial resources and support for visitors who want to change or extend their stay in the U.S.. That’s why it is so important to make sure that you qualify for an Immigration benefit before you file the application and prepare the petition properly for the best chance of approval. When filing applications to change or extend your status in the U.S., it is vital that applicants understand the risk and if they choose to proceed, to clearly document eligibility, for instance by making sure that the required documentation is provided to prove eligibility. Now that your request has been denied, you are not eligible to change status to a student or any other visa. Also, under a new USCIS policy, you could be issued a deportation notice at any time since your case has been denied. The safest option would be for you to leave the U.S. as soon as possible. Since you overstayed while waiting for a decision on your case, your U.S. Visa is automatically cancelled. In order to reenter the U.S. in the future, you will need to reapply for a new visa at the U.S. Consulate abroad. But it may be very difficult to obtain a renewal of your visa any time soon and may need to reapply for several years or more before a new visa will be approved for you. Under the new Public Charge rule which just took effect on February 24th, all change or extensions of stay require the new form I-944 Declaration of Self-Sufficiency, along with extensive documentation to prove that the applicant has sufficient funds for support while in the U.S., including health insurance, savings, assets, credit and debt information.
3) the foreign spouse must have been a Resident (conditional or otherwise) for at least three years. In such cases, the foreign spouse is eligible to apply for Naturalization in three years (really 90 days before, so that mean in two years and nine months).

There has often been a lot of confusion among immigrants about the marriage requirement, specifically about whether a Resident remaining married with a U.S. Citizen is enough to qualify, even though the couple no longer lives together. Early Naturalization applicants often believe that simply remaining married (as opposed to being divorced) allows them to qualify, even though they do not live with their U.S. Citizen spouse. Thousands of dollars in USCIS filing fees are lost each year as Residents separated from their U.S. spouses apply for Early Naturalization, only to find out later at their Naturalization interview that in addition to meeting the regular citizenship requirements and passing the test, they must also prove through documentary evidence that they were living with their U.S. spouse at the time they filed their case. Those unable to prove that they were living with their U.S. spouse are not only denied Naturalization, but may also put themselves at risk for further inquiry into the validity of their claim to Residency through marriage to a U.S. Citizen.

To clear the issue up, the USCIS issued an update to its Policy Manual in 2018, to provide guidance to clarify the “married” and “living in marital union” requirements for applicants filing for spousal naturalization. The updated guidance makes it clear that an Early Naturalization applicant must have been “living in marital union” (living together) with their U.S. Citizen spouse for at least three years before filing. The recent Policy Alert: Marriage and Living in Marital Union Requirements for Naturalization Purpose, relating to the "married and living in marital union” requirements, clarifies that Early Naturalization applicants 1) must have been living in marital union with their U.S. Citizen spouse for at least 3 years immediately preceding the date of filing for naturalization and 2) that termination of the marriage at any time before the applicant takes the Oath of Allegiance for Naturalization makes the applicant ineligible for such Naturalization. 

Read the Policy Alert: Marriage and Living in Marital Union Requirements for Naturalization Purpose
Check out the USCIS Naturalization Calculator
As a result, parents should carefully plan the date of filing for Naturalization to ensure that they will complete the process before their child(ren) reach age 18.

Figuring about 12 months to take into account any USCIS processing delays is reasonable, under current lengthy Naturalization processing times. Importantly, even when children become U.S. Citizens through this process, the USCIS does not automatically issue a Naturalization Certificate.

However, in reality, none is required, since applying for a U.S. Passport is all that is necessary to prove the child’s new U.S. Citizenship status. To obtain the child’s U.S. Passport, in addition to other information, the U.S. Passport office requires a copy of the parents’ Naturalization Certificate and proof that the child actually resides with his or her U.S. Citizen parent in order to qualify

Read the Child Citizenship Act Fact Sheet