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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: I am here visiting in Florida since May with my son who is 12 and staying with my sister. I recently lost my job back home and want to stay here for a while. So I want to enroll my son in the middle school nearby. I can’t afford private school. I picked up the school registration forms and it doesn’t say he can’t go to school there, but my sister says its not legal. Please tell me whether I can or can’t enroll him in public school.
Answer: That’s a great question. Technically, under public school policy guidelines, you can enroll him and school, regardless of his immigration status, however, you will be violating Federal Immigration regulations. Tourists are not allowed to attend public schools, no matter what age and to do so could cause cancellation of your U.S. Visas, if caught. And, since your tourist visa stay in the U.S. is only 6 months, to remain legal, you will need to travel in and out of the U.S.. At some point, an Immigration officer at the airport or other border is going to realize that you and your son spend most of your time here. If that happens, the officer can cancel your B1/B2 Tourist visa. Now of course I realize that many children are attending school who are in the U.S. on tourist and other visas which do not permit it, but technically, it is not legal. Contrast this with children who do not have legal immigration status because they have overstayed their period of immigration stay or were brought to the U.S. illegally, who should be enrolled and attending school, because they are living in the U.S. and have no other choice. 

Visit the ICE website to view the chart of which types of visas are allowed to attend public school:
Get Ready For This Year’s Visa Lottery And Beware of Scams!!
As in past years, this year’s Diversity Visa Lottery (called “DV-2017”) will open for its annual FREE Online Registration beginning on October 1, 2015. The U.S. Department of State will release its official instructions for the lottery later this month, which will explain eligibility and procedures for applying online. 
Florida Continues To Refuse To Issue Driver’s Licenses To Undocumented Immigrants 
As you might guess, the State of Florida is among the top five states with the largest Immigrant populations (along with California, Texas, New York and New Jersey), but what you may not know, is that it is also one of the states with the toughest Driver’s License requirements. 

And while many other states are expanding and relaxing requirements for Driver’s Licenses, Florida’s Republican held Legislature continues to deny access to Florida’s estimated 1 million undocumented Immigrant population.
Countries not qualifying for DV-2017 are: Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China (mainland-born), Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, South Korea, United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, and Vietnam. 

Most importantly, remember that the DV Lottery is always FREE and no paper applications are accepted. Lottery applications are required to be filed online through the official Department of State DV Lottery Website. Once the online entry is made, applicants receive a Confirmation Number, which allows them to return to the official government website and check the status of their entry through the “Entrant Status Check” once the winners are selected. There will be no other official notification. The program does not send notification emails or letters and never directs applicants or winners to wire money under any circumstances. 
This is a very busy time of year for scammers, preying on Immigrants who are anxious to begin applying for the Visa Lottery. Beware of websites claiming to be official Lottery sites, which charge a fee for entry, since they are not affiliated with the official U.S. Department of State and may be scams. Only sites that end in .gov are government sites. 

Apply yourself – its FREE and easy! The only official government website is State Department DV Lottery Application Site  which is currently not available for DV 2017 and will only be available for access once the lottery begins on Oct 1st.

 I will publish the official DV2017 announcement once it is released by the U.S. Department of State. In the meantime, visit last year’s DV-2016 announcement and information to familiarize yourself with the program
And while many other states are expanding and relaxing requirements for Driver’s Licenses, Florida’s Republican held Legislature continues to deny access to Florida’s estimated 1 million undocumented Immigrant population.

In recent years, there has been a positive trend among many states across the nation to expand driving privileges, with ten states and the District of Columbia now issuing Driver’s Licenses to undocumented Immigrants residing in those states, which include: D.C., California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, Vermont and Washington, with the states of Delaware and Hawaii recently enacting similar legislation. To qualify for these limited purpose Driver’s Licenses, most of these states require identification, such as a foreign birth certificate, a foreign passport, or a nationality card, along with evidence of current residency in the state.

In a state like Florida, where public transportation is often limited, its impractical to think that Immigrants aren’t driving on our roads out of sheer necessity. The aim of other states which have liberalized their Driver’s License policies for Immigrants was to increase public safety and better ensure that drivers in their states have automobile insurance. So even just for the sake of increased security and protection for other driver’s in Florida, it makes perfect sense for our Legislature and Governor to join other states and pass a Driver’s License law which ensures that those driving on our streets and highways are qualified and registered. But officials in Tallahassee will never take that step until Citizens of the state take them to task and demand that the law is changed. Please contact your Florida Senator or Representative and tell them that you want to ensure public safety by allowing Immigrants in the State to obtain lawful Driver’s License, automobile registrations and insurance. 

States Issuing Driver's Licenses To Undocumented Immigrants:

Contact your Florida Legislator:
Florida Senators
Florida Representatives
Helpful Immigration Tips You Can Use
Read The State Department’s Visa Bulletin - Released For September 2015
The Visa Bulletin released by the State Department each month details the current waiting times for Immigrant Visas in Family and Employment Immigrant Petition cases.

You can view the current Visa Bulletin for September 2015 by clicking on the link below:

September Visa Bulletin
Immigration How To… 
How To Determine Financial Requirements for the 2015 Affidavit of Support
The new minimum income requirements under the I-864 Affidavit of Support have been released. U.S. Citizen and U.S. Resident Sponsors are required to meet or exceed 125% of the Poverty Guidelines in order to qualify.

 The income requirements for 2015 have increased just slightly from 2014. For example, the minimum yearly income of $19,912 is now required for a single U.S. Citizen to sponsor a Spouse, compared with $19,662 for 2014. 

Number of Family            Minimum Income Requirements 125% of Poverty Guidelines
Members in Household    All States (other than Alaska & Hawaii)
Including the Immigrant

**Add $5,200 for each additional person
Here’s a few important tips for Sponsors to remember when filing Affidavits of Support:

1) Make sure that your “Net” (not Gross) income meets the minimum income requirements 
2) Always include a copy of a) your most recent tax return and W-2 b) past 3 months paystubs and c) current letter from your employer stating your fulltime position, dates of employment and wages (which match your paystubs).
3) If the sponsor does not meet the requirements, he or she must still file an I-864 and include an I-864 from a Joint-sponsor who does meet the qualifications and be sure to include a copy of the Joint-sponsor’s U.S. Birth Certificate, U.S. Passport, Naturalization Certificate or Green Card b) copy of the most recent tax return and W-2 c) past 3 months paystubs and d) current letter from his or her employer stating fulltime position, dates of employment and wages (which match his or her paystubs).
4) U.S. Citizen parents sponsoring minor children under age 18 are not required to file Affidavits of Support , since the immigrating child will automatically become a U.S. Citizen upon obtaining U.S. Residency. Instead, the child is required to file form I-864W requesting the exemption.

Take a Look at the NEW Affidavit of Support Minimum Income Guidelines:
2015 Poverty Guidelines

You can learn more about preparing I-864 Affidavits of Support and meeting the minimum income requirements by visiting our website and clicking on the Immigration Newsletter link or  by calling our office at: 954-382-5378.