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This Week's Immigration News 
By Immigration Attorney Caroly Pedersen

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Immigration News & Updates eNewsletter ©  2011  - 2015 
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
Question: My mother is an US citizen and filed for me when I was over 21. I am presently living in Jamaica, but have a visitor’s visa and will be in Florida September. I recently learnt about the adjustment of status. I was wondering if it is possible for me to file for it myself, when I visit Florida so I can legally stay in the USA?
Answer: Family members sponsored by U.S. Citizen and Residents are only eligible to file for adjustment of status (Residency) in the U.S. once an immigrant visa becomes available for them in their particular family immigration category. As the adult, single child of a U.S. Citizen, you are in the F1 category, which currently takes about 7-8 years for an immigrant visa to be available. Right now, there are only immigrant visas available for I-130 petitions filed by U.S. Citizen Parents for F1 adult, single children for December of 2007.
So, to answer your question, it depends upon when your mom filed the I-130 petition for you, which is called your “Priority Date”. You can view the current priority dates released by the State Department every month in the Visa Bulletin each month to determine how much longer you will need to wait.

If an immigrant visa is not yet available to you, even though you have a U.S. tourist visa, you are not eligible to file for adjustment of status in the U.S.. If you do, you will lose your USCIS filing fees and also likely lose your immigration status, which will them make you ineligible to immigrate through the I-130 petition that your mother filed for you. Remember, if something sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
New Affidavit of Support Forms Required Beginning October 6, 2015
The USCIS revised the I-864 Affidavit of Support forms (I-864, I-864A & I864EZ) for family-sponsored Immigration cases with a new edition date of July 2, 2015. Currently, the USCIS accepts both the 03/22/13 and 7/2/15 editions. Beginning October 6, 2015, however, the USCIS will only accept the 7/2/15 edition. 

Adjustment of Status and other cases filed using the older version of the form will receive a request for the applicant to complete and file the new form which could delay case processing. The edition date can be found at the bottom of the page on the Form and Instructions. 
U.S. Residents Can Preserve Time Spent Abroad For Citizenship Purposes 
In Very Limited Circumstances
For U.S. Residents applying for Naturalization to obtain U.S. Citizenship, one of the key requirements is the need to be “physically present” in the U.S. during ½ of the 5 year period for most Residents, or ½ of the 3 year period for qualifying Residents who are married to a U.S. Citizen.

In most cases, absences from the U.S. for 180 continuous days or more, resets the time clock for Naturalization and erases all the time accumulated by the Resident in the time preceding the trip abroad. And while there are exceptions to the rule, the burden is on the returning Resident to prove that they have continued to reside in the U.S. during their absence by keeping a residence, utilities, car, insurance, etc. 
The mere filing of a tax return or maintenance of a bank account will generally not suffice. The issue of the continuous absence from the U.S. normally comes up during the Naturalization process, when the USCIS officer reviews the Naturalization application to determine whether the applicant remained outside between 180 – 364 days. If so, the case will normally be denied if the applicant is relying on any time spent in the U.S. prior to that absence and if the applicant is not able to provide extensive documentation to prove continuous residency during those absences.
However, some Residents are eligible to preserve their “physical presence” in the U.S., for the purpose of Naturalization while they are working abroad in certain situations, by filing Form N-470, if they have lived in the U.S. for 1 continuous year (no trips, not even a few hours to Canada or Mexico) prior to their employment abroad and they:

1.Work abroad for the U.S. Government
2.Work abroad doing Scientific Research for an American institute of research
3.Work abroad as a fulltime paid employee for American company that is engaging in development of foreign trade and commerce
4.Work abroad to as a fulltime paid employee to protect property rights of an American company
5.Work abroad as a fulltime paid employee for public international organization of which U.S. is a member or
6.Work abroad in a Religious position with qualifying religious or interdenominational mission organization

To qualify, the Resident cannot be the sole owner of the U.S. company, or work abroad for a foreign company. If the Resident qualifies, he or she can file form N-470 with the requisite proof of eligibility, before leaving the U.S., even before qualifying for Naturalization, with the exception of religious workers and U.S. Service members, who may apply before or after departure.

It’s very important to note that any time the Resident anticipates spending a continuous period of 365 days or more outside the U.S., a Re-entry Permit must still be filed to allow the Resident to re-enter the U.S.. This is unrelated to the N-470 application to preserve the time that the Resident does spend outside the U.S. for Naturalization purposes. Many Residents mistakenly believe that the Re-entry Permit preserves the entire time spent outside the U.S..In fact, only one year of the time a Resident spends outside the U.S. using a Re-entry permit is permitted to count towards the time required for Naturalization.
Immigration Tips You Can Use
For every government benefit and program, there is an equal number of scams designed to take advantage of innocent victims who believe they are eligible for a benefit or fearful of a government penalty. Immigration is no exception and in fact, is one of the most often victimized groups, since Immigrants often do not understand the law and how the systems works - a fact that scammers take full advantage of. 

My best advice is always to follow the wisdom our parents told us: “if it sounds too good to be true – it is”. Another important thing to remember is to follow your instincts. Whether threatened with extortion for money from a fake government employee or promised a Green Card or other immigration benefits for a large fee - which you have been advised you were not entitled to, stop and think, do your research, don’t get caught up in the excitement and become a victim. 
Common Immigration Scams You Should Avoid Falling Victim To:
I commonly hear stories from many Immigrants who come to me after being scammed, and in almost every instance they tell me that in their heart, they knew something was wrong, but they simply did not listen! We can all learn from that. 

Click on the links below to read some good information about common scams to avoid:

USCIS Scam Warning
Fake IRS Scam
​Stories From Scam Victims
Immigration How To:
How Do I Get Legal Status Through My Child Who Is Serving In The Military?
Understanding The USCIS Policy Which Provides Status and Work Authorization For Undocumented Family Members of U.S. Military Personnel
The Department of Homeland Security has a program which provides legal status, Work Permits and in some cases, Green Cards for many undocumented family members (including: spouses, children (under age 21), and parents) of U.S. Citizen members of the U.S. Armed Forces. 
Most importantly, recipients of the PIP program do not risk deportation due to their unlawful status. Many Immediate Relatives who qualify for “Parole” under this PIP program will also qualify to obtain a Green Card through Adjustment of Status. Qualifying Family members (who have not been convicted of a crime) are those who entered the U.S. without inspection and are the Immediate Relative of a U.S. citizen who is an active duty member of the U.S. Armed Forces, Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve, or who previously served in the U.S. Armed Forces or the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve. 
You can find out more about obtaining status through the PIP program by calling our office at: (954) 382-5378.
Similar to the Obama Administration’s “Deferred Action” for DREAMERS, this  program allows “Immediate Relatives” of Thousands of U.S. Armed Forces personnel to live and work in the U.S. legally without fear of deportation. This change in policy in 2013 is seen as a humanitarian relief for Service Members, to reduce their stress and anxiety about the immigration status of their family members.The program is officially called “parole in place” (PIP) and designed to provide a temporary work permit and status for renewable one year periods. 
Some Immigration experts believe that this may be the Administration’s first step in applying existing regulatory measures which can eventually be used to provide a broader application of legal status to millions of immigrants in the U.S.