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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              
Immigration How To:
How Do I  Know  Which Family Members I Can Sponsor Under The New Rules?
Questions About Immigration? We have the answers!
We Are Here To Help, Call us now for a FREE consultation (954) 382-5378
Helpful Immigration Tips You Can Use...
Question: I am a citizen sworn in Feb 2020 and have been planning to file for my mom and dad in Bahamas. I saw that pres trump made a new rule against immigrants and now I don’t know if I can file for my parents or not. If not, can I do it in 60 days or do I have to wait longer. Can you do anything to help me?
Answer: Good question. The Executive Order issued by Trump on April 22nd only applies to existing immigrant cases for family members who are abroad (with the exception of spouses and minor children of U.S. citizens and others). It does not apply to any new applications filed by U.S. citizens or residents to sponsor family members in the U.S. or abroad. Therefore, we can file the petitions for both of your parents now, you do not need to wait for sixty days. Currently, it can take up to a year for the family petitions to be approved and another 2-4 months for your parents to be issued an immigrant visa to immigrate to the U.S..
Local USCIS field offices have been closed since March 18, due to the Coronavirus. The USCIS has announced that it will reopen and resume normal operations at local field offices on Wednesday, June 4, 2020. The resumption of services includes those for Infopass, Biometrics, interviews and Naturalization Swearing-In Ceremonies. Local field offices will automatically be sending out reschedule notices for appointments cancelled due to the temporary closures.
For the past several years, family sponsored immigration has been under constant attack by the Trump administration. The new public charge rule is just the latest tool being used by Trump to try to restrict legal immigration. 

Therefore, it is more important than ever 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..
Many Work Permits Are Automatically Extended For Six Month Past Expiration

A little known policy, called the Automatic Employment Authorization Document (EAD) Extension rule allows pending residency and other immigrants with expiring work permits to keep working for six months. Under the rule, eligible applicants in certain immigration categories with expiring work permits who have filed for extensions (form I-765), are automatically authorized to continue working for an additional six month period while waiting for the renewal to be issued. This comes in very handy now that the normal processing time for work permit renewals takes six months and is likely to exceed that during and post pandemic. Eligibility is limited to certain immigration categories, including those for pending adjustment of status applicants, called C(9).
USCIS Automatic Extension Rule

USCIS Announces Plans To Reopen Local Offices On Wednesday, June 4th!
Following a late night tweet last Monday that he was temporarily suspending immigration into the U.S. to provide jobs for “American workers”, Trump then went on to sign an executive order on Wednesday, April 22nd to suspend the issuance immigrant visas to foreign nationals waiting to immigrate. The new order is effective for sixty (60) days and only applies to immigrants who are outside the U.S., who have not yet been issued an immigrant visa and exempts spouses and minor children of U.S. Citizens, among others. It does not have any effect on immigrants inside the U.S. who are waiting to adjust status through the residency process. The order also does not suspend the filing of family petitions by U.S. residents and citizens wishing to sponsor family members to immigrate. 
Trump Executive Order Restricting Immigration - 
Who Is Affected And Who Is Not?
Recap Of Recent Immigration Changes Due To The Coronavirus

                  LAW CENTERS

Immigration Questions: (954) 382-5378
  POSTING DATE: April 27,  2020
Immigration policies have undergone drastic changes as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, with new changes just about daily. 

Here’s a rundown of several important policy changes:

State Department (DOS) Suspends Routine Visa Services At U.S. Consulates Worldwide: Beginning March 20th the DOS suspended most visa services at U.S. Consulates world-wide.
Question: Me and my wife who is American got married in 2016 and I got my Green Card in 2018. Now we want to bring over my 18 year old son to live with us. I read where children under 18 automatically get American citizenship when a parent is a citizen. Since my wife is a citizen, will my son be able to come here and get his American passport automatically? How does that work exactly, thanks?
Answer: Under the Child Citizenship Act of 2000, certain qualifying foreign-born children automatically acquire U.S. Citizenship from a parent, simultaneous with their grant of U.S. Residency (a Green Card). To qualify, a child has to have at least one U. S. Citizen parent (by birth or naturalization), be under 18 years of age, be a U.S. Resident and residing with or coming to live with the U.S. Citizen parent. Essentially, what this means is that Immigrant children in the U.S. and abroad, who are under age 18 and approved for Residency through a U.S. Citizen Parent, automatically become U.S. Citizens and can immediately apply for a U.S. Passport. However, the law does not extend to Immigrant children when the sponsoring U.S. Citizen is a step-parent, not biological parent, unless the child was legally adopted. It does, however, allow a step-parent who was married to the child’s biological parent before the child reached the age of 18 to qualify to sponsor the minor child up until the age of 20 for U.S. Residency. So in your case, while your son can obtain U.S. Residency through his step-mother, he does not qualify to automatically become a U.S. Citizen for two important reasons: 1) The U.S. Citizen sponsoring his step-mother, not biological parent and 2) Your son is age 18 or older. I hope this was helpful to you. Let me know if you would like me to handle your son’s residency case.
Question: Hi, I hope you remember me, you got my sister and her family green cards last year. I have a question I want to run by you. We applied for the green card lottery last year and just got an email saying we won and asking us to pay the visa fees. Is this normal? Should we answer it and pay the fees? How do we know if its real or not?
Answer: Nice to hear from you, I hope all is well!! No, it is not real, it is a scam. The state department does not send email or letter notifications to Diversity Visa Lottery winners. Lottery Visa applicants are required to login into their Lottery Visa account on the official State Department Website to see if they have won. So DO NOT PAY THE FEES, just disregard it.
If you had a scheduled appointment which was automatically cancelled due to the office closures and do not receive a reschedule notice within 30 days of the reopening, call the USCIS at: 1 (800) 375-5283. Read the reopening notice: USCIS Reopening Announcement
The executive order is not expected to have much effect on immigration, since in reality, there is already a suspension of immigrant visa issuance, since the U.S. Consulates have been closed down since for over a month already and are not expected to reopen until June. Critics suspect Trump just used the already ongoing consular closures as a ploy to satisfy his anti-immigrant base of supporters who don’t really understand immigration issues and were not even aware that visa issuances abroad had already been suspended.

However, Trump's stunt may have backfired, with major blowback from conservative anti-immigrant groups wanting tougher measures against immigration, calling on the administration to suspend all immigration across the board inside and outside the U.S.. The worry is that if the criticism against Trump from the right becomes too strong, he may resort to restricting immigration even further to placate his voters, which could include suspending the acceptance of all immigrant visa applications inside the U.S., as well as halting all adjustment of status cases . As a result, the best advice is to file immigration application as soon as possible to avoid any possible imposition of restrictions. Once cases are filed, any future orders restricting immigration would not apply retroactively.

Read the Whitehouse Executive Order
The Hill
Those who require emergency services are advised to visit the U.S. Embassy websites to request an emergency appointment. Appointments will be rescheduled once the facilities reopen. So far there has not been an announcement giving the date of reopening, however I suspect June 4th will be the target date. However, due to the recent Trump Executive Order suspending the issuance of immigrant visas abroad for 60 days beginning April 22nd, only spouses and minor children of U.S. Citizens and other exempted immigrants will receive visas until at least June 22nd. 
Read the State Department Announcement
Read the Embassy Notice

USCIS Changes Application Requirements, No Longer Requiring Original Signatures: Under the new policy, beginning March 21st, the USCIS will accept all forms and documents with scanned, faxed or photocopied signatures. Previously, all immigration forms were required to contain an original handwritten signature in ink, called a "wet" signature. This is an effort to reduce the need for personal contact to obtain original signatures and provide for the new reality of remote services. This new policy may continue indefinitely.
USCIS Signature Change Announcement

Immigration Court Closures: The Departments of Justice has postponed all immigration hearings for immigrants who are not in detention scheduled through May 1, 2020 nationwide. Hearings postponed due to the pandemic will be rescheduled at a later date. To check the status of a hearing call the court at 800-898-7180 and enter your Alien number.

State Department Issues Global Level 4 Do Not Travel Health Advisory: On March 31, the State Department issued an advisory to U.S. Citizens warning that those who travel abroad may not be allowed to return to the U.S. and notifying citizens abroad to either return to the U.S. immediately, or risk being unable to re-enter the U.S. for an “indefinite” period of time. No new updates have been given to date.
Global Level 4 Advisory

Premium Processing Service Cancelled For All Immigration Applications: On March 20th, the USCIS abruptly temporarily suspended premium processing service for all Form I-129 (includes 2021 Cap subject petitions) and I-140 petitions, including renewals. Since that date, the USCIS is no longer accepting cases filed using Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service will be accepted. 
USCIS Premium Processing Cancellation Notice

Late Filing Of Responses To Requests For Evidence And Other Notices: The USCIS is accepting the late filing up to 60 days for responses to requests for evidence (RFEs) and notices of intent to deny (NOIDs), Notices of Intent to Revoke (NOIR) and others, including, Notice of Appeal or Motions (Form I-290B) filed by applicants in response to USCIS requests dated between March 1 and May 1, 2020.  
Read the USCIS announcement on accepting late filings

Reuse Of Biometrics For Processing Of Employment Authorization Extension Requests: Due to the temporary closure of Application Support Centers (ASC), the USCIS is reusing previously submitted biometrics (fingerprints and photos) in order to process extension of work permits (Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization) due to the temporary closure of Application Support Centers (ASC) as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The reuse of previous biometrics only applies to work permit extensions and unfortunately, does not apply to initial applications filed for permission to work. 
USCIS Biometrics Reuse Notice

International Students May Take Fulltime Online Classes: To encourage social distancing, new policies are allowing certified colleges and schools to permit international students on F and M visas to temporarily undertake courses of study exclusively online. Previously, international students were prohibited from pursuing solely online (distance-learning) studies and were required to attend a certain number of courses on campus in the classroom. 
SEVP Notice

In-Person U.S. Passport Services Temporarily Suspended: In-person passport services suspended at major passport offices, except for “qualified life-or-death emergencies”. However 
Applications may still be accepted at some outside agencies and U.S. Postal Service (USPS) offices. Application for renewals are still accepted by mail but processing will be delayed.

DHS Issues Alert Urging Visitors Impacted By The Pandemic To File Extension Applications To Protect Their Immigration Status: In early April, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued an Alert urging nonimmigrants who are unable to leave the U.S. due to the pandemic to file an application for extension of stay or change of status to preserve legal immigration status in the U.S.. The advisory appears to indicate that the circumstances of the COVID-19 virus will be taken into consideration in processing such requests and that even late filings will be considered on a case-by-case basis. If you have questions about filing for an extension of stay or change of status give us a call for free advice at: 954-382-5378. 
DHS Extension of Stay Alert 

Coronavirus Threat Causes USCIS Regional Service Center To Close For Several Days: USCIS Regional Service Centers are responsible to process most immigration applications, including those for residency, family, naturalization, work and travel permits to name a few. Throughout the pandemic until today, these vital centers have remained open. However a recent coronavirus scare caused the temporary closure of Vermont Service Center (VSC) on April 10th, which lead many to believe that other Service Centers might suspend services as well. The scare passed quickly when the VSC quickly reopened on April 13th and there have been no new service center closures to date.
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 
Note that 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 8-12 months). 
2) F1 - Adult Single Sons & Daughters of U.S. Citizens, the waiting line is approx 61/2 years, 
3) F3 -Adult Married Sons & Daughters of U.S. Citizens, the waiting line is approx 12+ years, 
4) F4 -Brothers & Sisters of U.S. Citizens , the waiting line is approx 13+ years, 
5) F2A -Spouses and Minor Children of U.S. Residents, currently there is no waiting line, just USCIS and consular processing time (approx 8-12 months). In previous years the waiting line has typically been approx 1 1/2 – 2 years and 
6) F2B -Adult Single Sons & Daughters of U.S. Residents, the waiting line is approx 6 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 will be immigrating at different times, depending upon the Family Immigration category. If Trump gets a second presidential term, he and fellow republicans may be successful in limiting 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 may be put in deportation under current strict immigration policies, so get professional advice before filing any residency case! Waivers are available which allow family members who are out of status to obtain residency through consular processing, but not through adjustment of status in the U.S.

You can learn more about sponsoring a family member 
by calling our office at: 954-382-5378.