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  Immigration News & Updates              eNewsletter

  POSTING DATE: August 14,  2017
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Immigration News & Updates eNewsletter ©  2011  - 2017 
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

Question:  I am Colombian and me and my husband who is an American citizen got married late in 2016 in the US. However, I have a good job in Colombia and I had to return to work. We want to start the process of applying for my residence so I can at least get a job in the U.S. and start our lives together officially. We have been reading about the spousal visa and the green card. We are wondering whether I have to be in the U.S. to apply for the green card? Or could I apply for the spousal visa while I am in Colombia? Please share your advice. How could we go about it with your legal assistance? 
With The Family Immigration System Under Threat - 
 Here’s A Rundown of Family Sponsorship & Immigration Times 
Answer: As long as your husband is a U.S. Citizen, and your tourist visa is still valid, there are two options:

1) Adjustment of Status INSIDE the USA: As long as you have a U.S. Tourist visa and you are in the U.S., you can adjust status inside the U.S. and wait here to receive your Green Card. It takes about 3 months to receive your Work Permit/Travel and another 3-5 months for your Green Card.

2) Consular Processing OUTSIDE the USA: If your U.S. Tourist visa has expired or you want to wait outside the U.S. to process for your Green Card, the process takes about 6-8 months. You won’t receive a work permit, since you are not in the U.S., so you’ll need to wait until you receive your Immigrant visa approval in order for you to immigrate to the U.S. and receive your Green Card. 

Option #1 is always the best choice for spouses, since #2 consular processing can be difficult for marriage cases and if your visa is denied, there are few options. 

We can represent you in your Residency process which ever option works best for you both, just let me know.
Helpful Immigration Tips You Can Use
Get Proof of Residency While Waiting For 
Green Card Replacements and Renewals
U.S. Residents who have lost a Green Card or who’s Green Card requires renewal must apply for a replacement or renewal card with the USCIS (using form I-90). However, government processing times required to receive the new card can often take 6 to 8 months or more, which can be quite an inconvenience when a Resident needs proof of U.S. Residency to renew a Driver’s License, obtain a employment and even travel. 
Immigration How To: 
How Do I know What’s The Best Way To Send My Immigration Papers?
Send USCIS Applications and Correspondence by U.S. Express Mail for easy tracking and delivery confirmation

Immigration applications and any follow-up correspondence with the USCIS are such important matters, that you should take the additional step of sending these documents to the USCIS by a safe, quick method, which allows you to verify the date and time of delivery to the USCIS. This is especially critical when you have received a Request For Additional Evidence from the USCIS and must provide the requested documentation by a specified deadline. Many applicants do not know that if their response sent to the USCIS is postmarked before the deadline date, but is actually delivered and received by the USCIS after that date, the case is likely to be denied.
Now that the Republican Congress and Trump Administration are threatening to eliminate nearly the entire family Immigration system, it’s important to understand which family members you can currently sponsor and how long it will take for them to immigrate to the U.S.. 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 and 
4) Brothers & Sisters (and their spouses and minor children) called F4
An I-94 is a small slip of paper which until 2013 was issued to all international visitors and visa holders entering the U.S.. Officially called the Arrival/Departure card, the I-94 contained the date of entry into the U.S. as well as the date by which the individual must depart from the U.S.. Often, individuals do not understand how important this little card is until it is too late. In order to change immigration status inside the U.S. to any other immigrant or non-immigrant visa status, immigration regulations require that a copy of the I-94 be included with the application to establish eligibility. Foreign nationals must prove that they entered the U.S. legally and were inspected by an immigration officer in order to qualify to file for immigration status in the U.S.. Those who did not enter the U.S. legally are generally not entitled to obtain any new immigration status in the U.S., even when married to a U.S. citizen unless a Waiver is obtained.
Tips On Replacing An I-94 Card & Downloading Your 
Arrival/Departure Record
Question: I am married to a U.S. Citizen and I got my green card through about 4 years ago, and I got my conditions removed and received my permanent green card last year and immediately applied for my early Citizenship due to marriage to my American wife. The problem is that when I went to my citizen interview last month, the officer asked me a lot of questions about my marriage and did I bring a lot of documents about me and my wife living together, but I didn’t have them. Finally, the officer gave me a paper scheduling me for second immigration interview and to bring my wife with me. But I can’t do that because me and my wife don’t live together or even talk anymore, even though we are still married, just have not divorced yet. I filed because the lady who filled out the forms for me said that as long as I’m still married to an American I can apply, even if we don’t live together anymore. Can you please clear that up for me. Thanks
Answer: Most U.S. Residents (Green Card holders) must wait for 4 years and 9 months from the date of first obtaining their Green Cards before being eligible to apply for U.S. Citizen through Naturalization. However, the law allows U.S. Residents who are married to and living with their U.S. Citizen spouse in a bona-fide (real) marriage to apply for Early Naturalization in 2 years and 9 months after obtaining their Green Card. The law is generally known as the 3/3/3 rule: 1) The U.S. Citizen Spouse must have been a U.S. Citizen for at least 3 yrs; 2) The couple must have been married for at least 3 yrs and finally 3) The U.S. Resident must have held status as a Green Card holder for at least 3 yrs (really only 2 yrs & 9 mos).

Since you are no longer living with your U.S. Citizen wife, you are no longer eligible to apply for expedited naturalization based upon your marriage. A good option is to have your Naturalization application “withdrawn” in order to try and avoid any issues arising about whether or not you were eligible for your Permanent Green Card. Another option is to allow the case to be denied without pursuing the matter further.
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. 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: 

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 7-8 years, 
3) F3 -Adult Married Sons & Daughters of U.S. Citizens, the waiting line is approx 12-14 years, 
4) F4 -Brothers & Sisters of U.S. Citizens , the waiting line is approx 13-15 years, 
5) F2A -Spouses and Minor Children of U.S. Residents, the waiting line is approx 1 1/2 – 2 years years and 
6) F2B -Adult Single Sons & Daughters of U.S. Residents, the waiting line is approx 7-8 years.

Under current Immigration regulations, once an Immigrant receives U.S. Residency, (even Conditional 2 year 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 would be immigrating at different times, depending upon the Family Immigration category. 

The recent Immigration Bill introduced in Congress, called the RAISE ACT, supported by Trump and most hard-line Republicans, will effectively eliminate all family based immigration. If the proposal is signed into law, no family members except spouses and minor children under age 21 will be allowed to immigrate to the U.S. going forward. However, those already sponsored now will remain eligible to immigrate, even if the law changes.

Learn more about Family Visa waiting lines:
Understanding Family Immigrant Visa Waiting Lines
As a result, Residents who have filed the request and received the USCIS Receipt Notice (called a “Notice of Action”) can obtain a temporary Residency stamp in their passport, called a “I-551” which provides proof of Residency status for up to one year.
To obtain the stamp, Residents should go online and make an Infopass Appointment at their local USCIS office. If your circumstances are urgent, for instance your Driver’s License is expiring, and an Infopass Appointment is not available online, some USCIS offices will also serve walk-in customers. Generally, walk-in customers should go to their local office as early as 7am as possible to ensure acceptance.

Residents should bring the following documents to the USCIS when making the request: 

1) InfoPass appointment notice (if appointment was scheduled); 
2) Valid passport; 
3) USCIS Receipt Notice (called a “Notice of Action”) to prove that Form I-90 was filed and is pending;
4) Copy of your lost or expired Green Card, if available; 
5) Copy of your date-stamped Biometric appointment notice showing you had your biometrics taken if that is the case;
6) Proof of residence within the jurisdiction of the USCIS office, for instance, utility bill, valid driver’s license, etc.;
7) If you have an urgent situation and you plan to apply as a walk-in, you’ll need to bring documents to prove why you need the I-551 stamp on an emergency basis (i.e. airline ticket, flight itinerary, expired driver’s license, for travel: doctor’s letter or death certificate, along with evidence of the relationship to an ill or deceased relative; company letter if emergency travel is work-related, etc.); 
The USCIS Officer will schedule you to have your Biometrics taken (if you have not already done so), then once complete, will issue the I-551 stamp with a validity period of 6 to 12 months. 
Not only is this a tragedy for the beneficiary of the immigration application, but in such instances, all the USCIS filing fees are lost, which in some cases can be thousands of dollars. Certified Mail is not delivered quickly and cannot be tracked online and other private courier services like Fed-ex cannot be delivered to the regular USCIS P.O. box address. 

So, since the USCIS is a government agency, like the U.S. Priority and Express Mail (U.S. Postal Service) The safest way to send applications/documents and to safeguard against the unfortunate situation above is to use the U.S. Express Mail next day service. The cost is about $8 - $15.00 and well worth it. You will receive a tracking# so you can go online and confirm delivery. Be sure to send any responses requested by the USCIS at least one week or more before the deadline. Also, make a copy of everything you send to the USCIS including the initial application, supporting documents, Money Order and all follow-up responses before sending to the USCIS and never send originals! Good luck!
If you’re I-94 card is lost, stolen or seriously damaged, you can apply to replace it by filing Form I-102, Application for Replacement/Initial Arrival-Departure Document. The USCIS filing fee is $445 and it generally takes about 60 -120 days or more to receive the I-94 replacement card in the mail.
Under the new electronic I-94 system implemented in 2013, international visitors are no longer issued paper I-94 cards upon entry into the U.S.. Instead, individuals are provided with instructions on accessing their I-94 records online and printing the I-94 card out from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency. You can visit the CBP site to print out your paper I-94 cards:

Get Your I-94 Printout -U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)