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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  Renew My Child’s Green Card For Free?
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: Hi, I married my American husband and got my green card in 2017 and will be eligible to file for citizenship early through my marriage. But I have a question about my daughter. She got through after me in 2018 when she was 15. I know I can get my citizenship early through marriage, but does my daughter have to have her green card for 5 years before she can apply or can she get hers along with me? Thanks.
As part of the required 30 day review mandated in Trump’s proclamation on April 22 to suspend issuance of most immigrant visas abroad for sixty days, the Department of Homeland Security recently sent recommendations to the White House to further restrict legal immigration during the Coronavirus pandemic. This new recommendation would suspend work authorization for foreign students in the U.S. on student visas, under a program called: Optional Practical Training, (or OPT). Under the current OPT program, most international students who graduate from a U.S. university are afforded a year or more to remain in the U.S. and obtain a work permit following graduation in order to obtain occupational training.
DHS Recommends That  The Trump Administration 
Suspend Student Visa Work Authorizations

                  LAW CENTERS

Immigration Questions: (954) 382-5378
  POSTING DATE: May 18,  2020
Understanding Which Documents To Bring 
To Your Residency Interview In Order To Be Approved
The immigration process to adjust status to residency in the U.S. can be long and tedious, sometimes taking a year or more to finally receive your residency interview. So with all that waiting, it’s important to be sure that you bring the right documents with you to your interview, to ensure approval. Otherwise, the USCIS will issue you a request for missing documents, which can unnecessarily delay approval of your green card for up to three months or more after your interview! 
New Coronavirus Relief Bill Gives Stimulus Checks To All Immigrants 
Answer: Under the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 children who are under age 18 automatically acquire United States citizenship when at least one biological parent naturalizes, as long as the child resides with that parent. There is no requirement that a child hold residency status for five years. In fact, when a minor child under age 18 immigrates to the U.S. through a U.S. parent (biological), he or she automatically becomes a U.S. Citizen upon entry to the U.S.. However, timing is everything, so it is important to understand that the law only applies to children under age 18 at the time the parent naturalizes, not files the naturalization application. So, with long naturalization application processing, it can take a up to a year or more to complete the naturalization process and actually swear in. If your daughter turns age 18 during that time, she will not acquire U.S. citizenship along with you and will instead have to file for her citizenship separately.
House Democrats just passed a new bill called the Heroes Act (Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act), which among other things includes a second round of stimulus payments, $1,200 for adults and an increase of $1,200 for each child, with a cap of $6,000 to each family. 

And while millions of immigrants were left out of the first stimulus called the Cares Act, this new measure specifically provides federal stimulus cash payments to immigrants and their families who were excluded from the recent Cares Act, which provided most tax payers with up to $1,200 for adults and $500 for each child under the age of 17. 
Immigration rules and regulations can be obscure, seem mysterious and are often complicated. So it’s nice to come across a rule which is actually beneficial and saves you money! Under a little-known law, once a U.S. Resident child turns age 14, a Green Card renewal must be filed within 30 days.

This special requirement exists because children under age 14 are exempt from the fingerprinting, so once a child reaches age 14, he or she must provide biometrics fingerprints as part of the renewal process. However in practice, most parents do not follow the rule to renew their children’s Green Cards and no penalty is applied by the USCIS for failure to do so.  
Tips On Successfully Surviving The National Visa Center Process 
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 for your relative, ending in the immigrant visa consular interview appointment and thereafter 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. 
Trump is expected to issue a new executive order this month announcing the restriction on international students as an economic protection for Americans workers who have lost jobs due to the pandemic. However, there are few details about the plan and whether it would only apply to new work permits or apply to all students, including those who are currently inside the U.S. working in accordance with the OPT program. Stay tuned….. 
The new $3 trillion relief bill would give $1,200 cash payments to all immigrants, including those in mixed households who have either a social security or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). The benefits would apply retroactively to those with ITIN numbers who were ineligible under the CARES Act. Other benefits to immigrants in bill include protecting essential workers from deportation and providing work permits to those in critical industries during the pandemic, in service industries from farmworkers harvesting food, worker in meat processing facilities, even those delivering food and cleaning public areas. 

Provisions of the measure also benefit foreign medical professionals who are fighting the coronavirus by expediting visas and green cards and providing free Covid19 testing, treatment, and vaccines to unauthorized immigrants without health insurance. Finally, the bill requires the Department of Homeland Security to administer naturalization ceremonies remotely through videoconferencing or other means. Since March 18, 2020, local USCIS offices have been closed nationwide and have suspended all in-person services, including naturalization ceremonies. So remote naturalization would be particularly useful to thousands of residents who have passed naturalization tests, yet have been waiting months for their naturalization ceremonies to be rescheduled so they can finally be sworn in as American citizens. 

The bill now moves from the Democratically held House, to the Republican held Senate where experts predict a tough fight lies ahead for passage. Forbes reports that both Trump and Senate Republicans have called the bill “dead on arrival”. However many of the provisions of the bill are popular with most Americans, including the new more generous cash payments and other relief to those struggling in an economy ravaged by the pandemic, including:
Unemployment Benefits: extending the extra $600 weekly federal unemployment benefit through January 2021 and allowing gig workers, independent contractors, part-time workers and the self-employed individuals to receive unemployment benefits through March 2021.

Student Loan Forgiveness extensions through September 2021 and cancellation of up to $10,000 for some federal and private loans.

Rental Assistance and ban on evictions for nonpayment for a year and 

Homeowner Assistance Fund to prevent mortgage defaults and property foreclosures.
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 tax return (or tax transcripts) , W-2, paystubs and proof of residency or citizenship 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.
Question: I was 19 when my dad married my step mom and immigrated to america. I was too old so I couldn’t go and once dad got his green card and filed for me, I was already over 21 so out of luck and had to go in the adult line which takes a lot of years. He filed for me in 2017 when he was a resident. My question is if the process would be faster for me if my dad gets his citizenship?
Answer: The current waiting time for adult single sons and daughters of U.S. Residents (immigration category F2B) is about 5+ years or so. And believe it or not, the waiting line for adult single children of U.S. Citizens (immigration category F1) is a bit longer, 6+ years. So it will be faster for you in the F2B category with your dad staying a resident. However if your dad does naturalize, you can make a request to stay in F2B and opt out of the F1 category. There is nothing that can be done to move your case faster, since you are simply in a line, waiting for a visa because there are 5+ years’ worth of other adult single children of U.S. Residents waiting in the line ahead of you. I hope this was helpful to you.
Question: I have a question about my son filing for me and my husband. He came to the us on a student visa to go to school, then met his wife at school and they got married in 2015. He is a us citizen now and wants to sponsor me and his stepdad to come up and live there. I got married to his stepdad when my son was 19 years old in the us in school, but we were living together for many years since my son was 12. Will my son be able to sponsor my husband as his stepdad to immigrate up there with me or how does that work?
Answer: This is a very common question and often very confusing to parents of U.S. Citizens. Parents of U.S. Citizens are called “Immediate Relatives” (as are Spouses and Minor children).U.S. Immigration regulations only allow U.S. Citizens to sponsor each of their Immediate Relatives separately and no dependent spouses or minor children are able to immigrate along with them. For instance a U.S. Citizen child cannot sponsor his or her parents together as a couple, instead, each parent must be sponsored separately in a separate family petition. Step-parents are considered to qualify as “parents” for immigration purposes, as long as the biological and step-parent got married before the child reached the age of 18. Therefore, your son can sponsor you and you can immigrate to the U.S. in about a year. However, your husband does not qualify as a step-parent since you did not get married before your son was age 18, therefore your son cannot sponsor him. Once you obtain your green card, you can immediately sponsor your husband and it will take about a year or so for him to be able to immigrate to the U.S.. Let me know if you would like me to handle your residency case.
But understandably, determining which documents to bring with you can be difficult, since the interview notice itself is very confusing, providing a list of documents for all different kinds of cases, not specific to each individual immigrant.
So to avoid confusion and delays caused by failing to provide required documents, let’s go over a few important items which every immigrant must bring to his or her residency interview:

- Interview notice 
- new Medical Report if previous one submitted has expired (most old medicals have expired, since they were only valid for one year prior to November 1, 2018)
- current Passport & all prior Passports  
- I-94 card (if you entered the U.S. PRIOR TO 2013 otherwise “online I-94 printout”)
- Work Authorization card/Travel Permit
- Driver’s License
- ORIGINAL Birth Certificate 
- ORIGINAL Marriage Certificate for current marriage (not for past marriages)
- ORIGINAL/CERTIFIED Divorce Decree for every marriage in the past
- ORIGINAL/CERTIFIED Criminal Documents for any criminal case of any kind, including traffic cases which required a court appearance. Criminal Documents must include: a) CERTIFIED Police Report or Traffic Ticket and b) CERTIFIED Court Disposition (you must bring both a & b to give to the officer at your interview)

Every U.S. Citizen or U.S. Resident sponsor should bring:

- ORIGINAL Birth Certificate (if sponsoring a sibling) AND 
- Proof of U.S. Citizenship or U.S. Residency (i.e. ORIGINAL Naturalization Certificate , US passport or Green Card
- Driver’s License

-For marriage residency: U.S. Citizen or U.S. Resident Spouse’s Original/certified Divorce Decree for every marriage in the past, in addition to extensive marital documentation (see below)

-While not required, it’s also helpful for the U.S. Citizen or U.S. Resident to bring an updated tax return and W-2 for the current year since filing the residency case, a currently dated employer letter and current paystubs

Marriage residency cases are particularly complicated, since in addition to the above, the USCIS officer will expect the married couple to provide extensive documentation of their lives and financial affairs together, including:

- Photos of the Couple: Original Photos of pictures you have together, during the time you were dating, pictures of your wedding and all pictures you have taken since you married. Assemble photos in Photo Albums. As many as you can, the more the better. Residency interviews can go quite quickly for couples who have lots of photos. Digital Photos will not qualify. The officer will not look at digital photos on your cell phone or camera. Include at least 8 Original Photos of you as a couple together (Wedding, Holidays, etc) for the officer to keep in the USCIS file

-Tax Returns FOR ALL YEARS since you got married, showing “married filing jointly” AND W-2’S for Both spouses;

-Joint Bank accounts statements showing both spouse names since before and after you got married until present -stmts only, not checks

-Joint Credit Card Statements/Investment Accounts showing both spouse names showing both spouse names since before and after you got married until present (if available) 

-Joint Auto Insurance policies & Insurance Cards showing both spouse names since before and after you got married until present 

-Joint Health Insurance card/policy & Insurance Cards since you have been married (if available) 

-Joint Warranty Deed, Joint Closing Documents, Joint Homeowner’s Insurance policy;

-Joint Lease Agreement showing both spouse names since before and after you got married until present

-Joint Utility Bills in Joint Names showing both spouse names since before and after you got married until present

-Separate Utility Bills in U.S. Citizen’s/Foreign spouse’s name showing marital address to prove you reside together even though the bill is not in both spouses names 

-Joint Auto purchase contract/Automobile Registration showing both spouse names

-Joint Travel tickets/itineraries and boarding passes for trips showing both spouse names since before and after you got married until present

-Joint Receipts for items purchased together, for example, furniture showing both spouse names since before and after you got married until present

-Joint Birth Certificate for child born to the couple (if applicable)

-Joint Gym Memberships showing both spouse names since before and after you got married until present

-Joint Church & Club Memberships showing both spouse names since before and after you got married until present

-Joint BJ’s, Costco & other similar Cards showing both spouse names since before and after you got married until present

-Other documentation to show parties have been living together as married spouses showing both spouse names since before and after you got married until present. 

-Copy of Driver’s License for both spouses showing the same marital address.

In most residency interview cases, once you have been called and are in the interview room, the officer will have the immigrant and sponsor take an “oath” to tell the truth, have them show their identification (driver’s license, passport) and then take the immigrants fingerprints and digital photo. Following that, the officer will generally want to see the original “civil” documents such as birth and marriage certificates, divorce decrees, naturalization certificate, etc. The officer will generally then review the family petition (I-130) and residency application (I-485) by asking the sponsor and immigrant to verify information on the form such as address, social security number, parents names, children’s and spouses names, etc. For marriage interviews, the officer will ask the couple questions about their relationship, marriage and life together as well. 

All immigrants will also be asked a myriad of “admissibility” and criminal questions (expect between 20 and 40) and then ask the immigrant to sign the I-485 residency form. After that, the interview is generally complete. Its always a good idea to confirm with the officer whether there is any other documents or information they need (in case they forgot to ask) so you can give it to them right there during the interview. In cases which go smoothly, the officer will approve the case and order the green card the same day, which the immigrant receives in the mail in about 2 weeks. In others, where required documentation is missing or the marriage interview did not go well, the officer will send the immigrant a letter requesting additional documentation. Once that is provided to the office however, it can take three months or more for the case to be approved. 

Our Firm provides interview preparation and representation as well, ensuring that you have all the documents required and understand exactly what will happen in your particular case. Give us a call at: 954-382-5378.

But what if there were a benefit to filing a renewal (form I-90) on your child’s 14th birthday? Well there is ….to a lucky few! The USCIS actually waives the application fee for Green Card renewal applications filed for children within 30 days of their 14th birthday, as long as the child’s Green Card will expire after the child turns age 16. Strange, but true. The catch is that there is only a very short 30 day period in which the renewal can be filed without paying the USCIS filing fee and those exact requirements must be met. For instance, if a child is turning age 14, but their Green Card expires when the child is 15, the filing fee would not be waived. Similarly, if the child has turned age 14 and you filed after 30 days, the fee is not waived. In all cases the biometrics fee of $85 must still be paid, but you will still be saving $455 for the regular renewal fee. Good to know!