Immigration Questions: (954) 382-5378

  POSTING DATE: August 12,  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
ICE Raids In Mississippi As Nation Mourns Shooting Deaths, Just Another Trump Political Stunt
Question: I have a question for you about my getting sponsored by my husband (now my fiancé) for my immigration papers. I heard that the law changed a few years back and now a green card holder can’t sponsor a wife if her I-94 card is expired. In my case, I came to the U.S. in 2012 on a visitor visa, but didn’t go back home. My fiance is a resident and can file for his citizenship in a few months. Our plan is to get married now, before he has his citizenship and then get started on my immigration case early so I can get my residency. My question is, can we get married now and file for my papers and work permit and can I get my social security card while we are waiting for his citizenship?
With the daily barrage of news stories about the 2020 Presidential campaign, it often feels like the election is still too far away to really matter, but in reality, state deadlines to register to vote in the 2020 election are right around the corner! In Florida, the deadline to vote in the Presidential Primary Election on March 17, 2020 is February 18th, that is only seven months away! 

The primary election is important because voters choose their Party’s candidate to run against Trump later in the year in November 2020. The deadline in Florida for the General Election is October 5th. These dates are important because USCIS processing of Naturalization applications have skyrocketed in recent years, going from six months to over a year in some jurisdictions. Residents who file for Naturalization this month in August 2019 may still have a chance to meet the primary registration deadline in February 2020, but as each month goes by, the opportunity slips further away. 
Answer: Current Immigration regulations do not provide any immigration benefits for spouses or minor children of U.S. Residents (green card holders) who are inside the U.S. with an expired I-94 card. You would need to wait until your husband becomes a naturalized U.S. Citizen, then file your Residency petition to adjust status inside the U.S. and request for permission to work. It now takes about 6+ months for the work permit to be approved once the case is filed. If you file for residency before your husband become a Citizen, your adjustment of status and work authorization request will be denied, you will lose your USCIS filing fees and might even be put in deportation proceedings.
**** Urgent Alert ****
File For Naturalization Now To Meet 2020 Presidential Election 
Florida Voter Registration Deadlines!
Last week’s ICE raids in Mississippi in the immediate aftermath of the tragic shootings in El Paso and Dayton, just illustrate the continuing cruel policies of a morally corrupt administration, focused solely on terrorizing an already fragile immigrant community for the sake of news headlines. The ICE operations netted some 700 innocent workers at several targeted food-processing plants, where workers daily undertake grueling, often dangerous work for long hours at low wages, under extreme conditions in which U.S. workers have little interest in working.

Post raid news stories splashed across television screens and newspapers showing desperate, weeping children, frantic relatives and terrified immigrants being led away in handcuffs like criminals, all a seemingly accidental consequence of such immigration enforcement actions. 
But I will offer the following, the scenes of immigrant agony and devastation were not unintentional consequences of the ICE raids, they were the actual object of the raids, exactly what the Trump administration was hoping for, to publicize pain and suffering in order to score political points with his rabid, anti-immigrant base of supporters. They love it and for them, no immigrant is a good immigrant, no cruelty is too extreme, no crying child is a sympathetic figure, but instead an unwelcome enemy of America. In my opinion, this was all staged as just another Trump reality show, starring these poor, distraught immigrants and their innocent terrified children and distressed family members, whose only crime was pursuing the American dream, working hard and providing for their families, nothing more. 

The Guardian
In some USCIS jurisdictions where Naturalization processing exceeds a year or more, those who file for Naturalization this month may just barely make the October 5th deadline to register to vote for the General Election on November 3rd, 2020. 

So don’t delay, there has arguably never been a more pivotal election since our fragile Democracy was created in 1788! This nation of immigrants needs you now more than ever to prove that this wonderful American experiment comprised of immigrants from all corners of the world come together to make an amazing melting pot of the best aspects from all of our collective cultures to show the world that we better than the current occupant of the white house and our democracy can survive one term of Trump, who will be just a tiny “blip” in the history books, an anomaly, a moral and political deviant, elected in a fluke of our electoral system, whose values are inconsistent with our country’s ideals and aspirations. 

However, a second Trump term could doom America for decades to come. As a Resident eligible to apply for U.S. Citizenship, you hold precious power in your hands to be the ultimate arbiter of the political future and history of America, so use it! 

Voter Registration deadlines:
Most Immigrants have heard that there is a way to obtain U.S. Residency (a green card ) through employment sponsorship, but few really know anything about the process. For instance, do you have to already be working for the company in order for them to sponsor you? Do you have to be in the U.S. to get sponsored? How long does the process take? How do you qualify? All very important questions.  

For background, immigration regulations allow U.S. employers to sponsor foreign immigrants to immigrate to the U.S. in order to take up an available job position, which the employer has been unable to find a U.S. worker to fill. Occupations which are often difficult to find qualified U.S. workers to fill cover the spectrum, from sheepherders (yes that is a real occupation) and tree cutters, to nurses, engineers and everything in between. Some occupations are more favorable for getting approved than others, depending upon the current job market and type of skills needed. 
Tips On Getting A Green Card Through Employment 
Under the Labor Certification Process
For instance, low level positions which involve heavy labor or harsh conditions (often not requiring training or experience) such as for tree cutters working outside in the heat all day are very difficult to fill and are good prospects for labor certification approvals. Similarly, highly skilled jobs involving science, technology, engineering and math, requiring Bachelors and often Master’s degrees are likewise good candidates for approvals.

So how does the process work? First, it’s important to understand that the labor certification process to obtain residency through an employer does not in itself confer any legal immigration status or visa until the process is complete, so immigrants who are in the U.S. visiting cannot legally remain here during the process, unless they have legal status through another type of visa, i.e., H-1B work visa, F-1 student visa, etc. Sounds confusing, but it really does make sense, when you look at a typical labor certification case:

Palm Tree Landscaping company grows a variety of palm trees on its 50 acre farm in rural Florida. An important part of its business is removing trees for delivery to customers and replanting. The work is hard, 8-10 hours a day outside in the sun, digging, lifting and sometimes cutting trees. For many companies, it is very difficult to find U.S. workers in rural areas willing and able to perform the job, in exchange for low wages. As a result, after unsuccessfully trying to find workers for the available positions, Palm Tree Landscaping decides it must recruit and hire a few foreign workers who are willing to do the job. So through an immigration attorney, the company begins the labor certification process, which first requires applying to the department of labor (DOL) to find out the minimum wage they are required to pay the worker, then proceeds with placing more ads to try to recruit qualified U.S. workers and after no success, filing a labor certification application with the DOL requesting to permanently hire the available foreign workers in exchange for obtaining their residency (green cards).

After about four to five months, the DOL approves the labor certification application and in the next step, the immigration attorney files an employment Immigrant Visa application (called I-140) with the USCIS attaching the labor certification approval and other documentation, requesting approval of the visa. Thanks to expedited processing, the application is approved by the USCIS in as little as 15 days. Once approved, the USCIS sends the case to the National Visa Center to prepare the case for the foreign workers’ appointments at the U.S. Consulate abroad. Approximately four months later the workers attend their consular appointment, receives the Immigrant Visas and come to Florida to begin working for the company. But what happens if the workers are already in the U.S. legally? Let’s say that Mr. Garcia and Mr. Ortiz are here in the U.S.. Mr. Garcia is here with a pending asylum case, has his work permit and is waiting for his asylum interview. He came to the U.S. several years ago as a visitor and filed for asylum before his I-94 expired. Mr. Ortiz is from Honduras and he has been in Temporary Protected Status through the TPS program for many years. During that time, he obtained an advance parole to travel abroad and returned to the U.S. with a new I-94 and he has his legal work permit as well. Both men are currently working for the company. The process to obtain their residency is exactly the same as above, except, once the I-140 Immigrant Visa application is approved by the USCIS in 15 days, residency applications to adjust status in the U.S. can be filed for both immigrants and they do not need to leave the U.S. and attend an interview at the consulate. Instead, after 6-8 months, they will attend their residency interviews at the local USCIS office and receive their Green cards in the mail within about 15 days.

This is the basic process in a nutshell. The only difference is in the timing for nationals of certain countries that have waiting lines for employment visas, so some immigrants have to wait longer than others do. However, for immigrants of most countries (except China, India and the Philippines), there are currently no waiting lines for employment green cards. 

So how does an immigrant get sponsored by a U.S. employer? Well, that is the key, finding an employer in the U.S. willing to go through the above immigration process. It’s also important to note that for immigrants who are in the U.S., but are out of legal status, immigration rules generally do not allow them to get a green card, except under certain very limited exceptions. So in most cases where an immigrant entered the U.S., but is not in legal immigration status, he or she would not be eligible to obtain residency in the U.S. through this program.  

You can find out more about the labor certification process by calling our office at: 954-382-5378 and by visiting our website at:  and clicking on the Immigration Newsletter link

Question: When we filed for my husband’s Green Card, by accident I sent all our original papers, like marriage certificate, divorce decrees and even my citizenship certificate! I did not know that I only needed to send in copies of everything. We got all our receipts and my husband just did his fingerprints so we are just waiting on his work permit. But immigration has not sent us back our original papers and I am getting really worried. I called the immigration number and the lady said she would put send a note on our file to request return of my originals, but said she could not guarantee anything. It’s going on 3 months since the request and we did not hear back anything from them. Is there something else we can do to get the papers back?
Answer: Unfortunately, sending original documents to the USCIS can be a real inconvenience, since they will not automatically send them back to you. Also, it can be very expensive and time consuming when you need to re-order new original documents. The first advice to readers is never, never, ever send any original documents to the USCIS, unless specifically requested by an officer to do so. The second is that if you do find yourself in that position, you can file form G-884, Return of Original Documents to request return of the documents to you. There is no filing fee. Read the instructions carefully and be sure to specifically request your Naturalization Certificate and other originals that you filed and need back like your Marriage and other Certificates. Since your case is still pending with the National Benefits center, you’ll need to file the G-884 there. Finally, if you do not receive the originals back by the time of your husband’s Residency interview, simply tell the officer that you sent in originals by mistake and ask to have them back.
Question: Hi, I came to the U.S. as a visitor and overstayed for the past 5 years. My American wife and I got married earlier this year and filed my papers on form I130 this in March to get my green card. We got the immigration I-797 notice, but nothing more. I thought I was supposed to do fingerprints and get my working papers by now. When we check the status on line it just says the date the application was filed. My question is does it normally take this long? When do I get my work authorization card so I can get a social security number? Thank you for your answers. 
Answer: That is a great question. When a foreign spouse is inside the U.S. and eligible to adjust status to Residency, in addition to form I-130, the entire adjustment of status petition must be filed along with the request for work authorization in order to obtain a Green Card (i.e. I-485, I-765, I-131, Affidavit of Support, Medical Exam and supporting documents). Once filed, it takes approximately 30 days to receive your Biometrics Appointment notice and another 6 months for your Work and Travel permits. Your marriage residency interview generally comes in another 6 - 8 months.

In your case, you and your wife only filed form I-130, which is simply a spousal petition. Nothing will happen to adjust your status in the U.S. from this petition alone, without your adjustment of status application (form I-485) being filed on your behalf. Generally, the I-130 is filed for spouses who are abroad and who are processing through the U.S. Consulate. In these cases, once the I-130 is approved, the National Visa Center prepares the case for the spousal immigrant interview abroad.

Since you entered the U.S. legally, (even though you are now out of status), you are eligible to obtain your Residency in the U.S.. At this point, you need to file the proper forms and documents to adjust your status and request work authorization so you can complete your residency process. Let me know if you would like us to handle obtaining your Work Permit and Residency.
Always Respond to USCIS Requests For Evidence 
BEFORE The Deadline - To Avoid Denials
During processing of Immigration petitions, the USCIS frequently issues a letter which requests that the Applicant or Petitioner provide additional information or documentation in order for the case to be approved. Each request gives a deadline, usually 87 days to respond. If the response is not received by the deadline, the case will be denied, no matter how minor the document being requested seems. 

Therefore, always respond as early as possible, and for best results, no later than 2 weeks before the deadline. Be sure to make copies of everything you submit and send your response by U.S. Express Mail next day service with a tracking number and delivery confirmation. 
Then be sure to check the USCIS website a week or so after sending to make sure the USCIS online status shows that your response was received. If not, get delivery confirmation from the Postal Service and call the USCIS 800 number with your delivery confirmation information.
Immigration How To:
How Do I Know If  I Need To Register For Selective Service?
Selective Service Registration Requirement 
For Certain Immigrant Men
All men in the U.S. who are between the ages of 18 through 25 are required to register for military “Selective Service”, which is also often referred to as the "draft." 
The draft is a procedural measure which could be used by the U.S. government to gather military forces in times of war. The only time in the history of the U.S. that the draft was actually used was during the Viet Nam conflict. However, the requirement for registration under Selective Service remains.

This requirement applies to Immigrants as well, including U.S. Residents (Green Card holders), Refugees, Asylees, Special Agricultural workers, and under recent policy changes in the past few years, even to undocumented foreign nationals who are in the U.S. in one of these categories between the ages of 18 and 25. The Selective Service registration requirement does not apply to nonimmigrants in a temporary status in the U.S. such as, diplomats, tourists, H1B workers, J-1 visitors, students, etc.

Failure to register for Selective Service has serious consequences for U.S. Citizens and immigrants as well. U.S. Citizens can be denied certain federal benefits including federal employment, while immigrant have an additional penalty which can result in denial of U.S. Citizenship. 

During the Naturalization process to become a U.S. citizen, U.S. Resident men who immigrated to the U.S. or were in one of the above categories during the ages of 18 to 25 must prove that they registered for Selective Service. Failure to register can result in denial of U.S. Citizenship if the U.S. Resident makes the Naturalization application within five years of the failure (age 30), although there are exceptions applied for those who can show that they did not “knowingly and willingly” fail to register. Naturalization applications after age 30 will generally not be denied solely due to failure to register, however applicants will often be asked to explain why they failed to register and should be prepared to give a reasonable explanation. 

You can find out more about Selective Service registration:
Selective Service System