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This Week's Immigration News
Immigration Questions & Answers
Question: My wife and I got married in 2010, but we never started the process to file for my green card because we were saving money for the fees. Tragically, several months ago in June 2011, my wife had a stroke and died after I rushed her to the hospital with chest pains. She was only 46 and myself and her family have been in shock for the past several months. I have decided that if I can’t be legalized, I will go back home to be with my family in Jamaica. I read in one of your last few columns about the Widow law ending this month in Oct. Does that mean that I need to file for my immigration status by the deadline in Oct or I can’t qualify after that? How long does it take? I want to find out before I come to your office next week. Thanks for all your advice.
Answer: I’m sorry to hear about the loss of your wife. The last thing you should have to worry about now is your immigration status. The good news is that for surviving widows and widowers of U.S. Citizens, the deadline to apply for so called “Widow” immigration benefits is within 2 years of the U.S. Citizen spouse’s death. The October 28, 2011 deadline is only for Widows and Widowers who’s U.S. Citizen spouse died BEFORE the law was enacted on October 28, 2009. So you have plenty of time to take care of your personal affairs before filing. The process for your Green Card takes approx. 8-9 months from the date of filing. See you next week.
Question: Greetings to you and your staff for the wonderful work you all are doing. I am having some concerns about when will I be eligible to apply for my citizenship and what doI need to provide when that time comes around. I was married to a US citizen and we got divorsed about 1 ½ years after I got my permenent residence card. I got a 10year card issued on 6/12/07. When will I be qualified to apply ? Thanks for taking the time to read my mail and I await your answer !
Answer: Thanks for your email. Under immigration regulations, spouses of U.S. Citizens, who have been U.S. Residents for at least 2 years & 9 months AND who have been married to their U.S. Citizen spouse for at least three years AND their U.S. Citizen spouse has been a U.S. Citizen for at least three years are eligible for Early Naturalization, which allows them to file for Naturalization 2 years & 9 months after obtaining U.S. Residency. All other U.S. Residents must wait 4 years & 9 months.
Since you are no longer married to your U.S. Citizen spouse, you cannot apply for early Naturalization. You can apply for your U.S. Citizenship 4 years and 9 months from the date you received your Green Card (U.S. Residency). According to the information you provided, since your Green Card was issued on 6/12/07, you can apply after March 12, 2012.
When applying for Naturalization, you must provide passport photos, copy of your Green Card, Driver’s License, proof of Selective Service registration (for males who were residents during ages 18-26), copies of your divorce decree(s), evidence of child support payments (if applicable), etc. If you have been outside the U.S. for six months at any time, have any criminal , IRS tax, Child Support, or other issues-you should seek the advice of an immigration attorney before filing. I hope this is helpful to you!
Senior Citizenship Act of 2011 Bill Introduced Into Congress
On September 15, 2011, Democratic Rep. Nadler introduced a new legislative proposal called the Senior Citizenship Act of 2011. If enacted by Congress, the new measure would exempt elderly persons age 75 or older , who have been U.S. Residents for at least 5 years from taking both the English language and U.S. History & Government portions of the naturalization exam. The Bill would also permit elderly persons age 65 or older, who have been U.S. Residents for at least 5 years to take the Hstory & Government examination in a language of their choice. On Sep 23, 2011, the Bill was referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement.. The next step is for the Bill to be considered by the Sub-Committee. It is important to know that many Bills are introduced into Congress each year, however, depending upon the political climate, often a Bill will just sit there, waiting for someone to refer it to a committee, then for the committee to act on it. If nothing happens to a Bill, which is really just a proposed Law, a Bill will simply expire after sitting for two years.
This Week's Immigration News
Immigration Benefits for Survivors of Immigration Petitions When the Sponsor Dies
In 2009, Congress changed immigration regulations by adding provisions often referred to as the Survivors Act to the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Under the new law, surviving family members of I-130 petitions, may still qualify to obtain U.S. Residency in the U.S., even when the U.S. Citizen or U.S. Permanent Resident who sponsored them has died, as long as the qualifying relative(s) resided in the U.S. at the time the relative died and have continued to reside in the U.S. until an Immigrant visa becames available. The following family members of I-130 petitions qualify under the Survivors Act:
1) Adult Children (their Spouses & children under 21) of U.S. Citizens, 2) Brothers & Sisters of U.S. Citizens (their Spouses & children under 21) 3) Spouses, Minor Children & Adult Single Children of U.S. Permanent Residents, 4) Surviving Spouses & children under 21 of Adult Children & Brothers & Sisters of U.S. Citizens, when the Adult Child or Sibling of a U.S. Citizen dies. **Spouses and Minor Children of of U.S. Citizens are covered under another provision which relates to Widows. The new law also has the additional requirement that an Affidavit of Support must be filed in all residency cases under the Act from a limited list of qualifying sponsors: spouse, parent, mother-in-law, father-in-law, sibling (Brother/Sister), child (if at least 18 years of age), son, daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, sister-in-law, brother-in-law, grandparent, or grandchild of a sponsored alien. The USCIS will also process requests to reopen cases I-130 cases that were denied before the new law took effect. Prior to the Survivor Act, the death of either the petitioner or the principal beneficiary meant that the Immigration petition died even after it had been approved and could only be reinstated under humanitarian grounds. However, the Survivor Act only covers Immigrants of I-130 petitions who were living in the U.S. when the petitioner died and continued to reside here. Unfortunately, family members (other than Widows/Widowers of U.S. Citizens) residing abroad are not included in the law and the only remedy available once the petitioner dies is to apply for humanitarian reinstatement. Another benefit of the law is that it allows surviving Spouses and children under 21 of employment-based petitions to receive U.S. Residency, even when the principal beneficiary of the immigrant visa dies. The final benefit is the way the USCIS processes these cases for relatives who are not in lawful status in the U.S. (i.e. expired I-94’s). Waivers of admissibility for unlawful status generally require a showing of extreme hardship to a qualifying U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (LPR) sponsoring the relative. However in Survivor Act cases, the USCIS position is that the fact itself that the sponsoring relative has died will be deemed to be the equivalent of a finding of extreme hardship for granting of such waivers. Examples of qualifying cases under the Survivor Act once a visa becomes available, include the following:
Example#1: A U.S. citizen files an I-130 petition for his married son who lives in the U.S. with his wife and 3 children, all with expired I-94 cards. Tragically, the father dies. Under the new law, the son, his wife and children would still be able to obtain U.S. Residency
Example#2: A U.S. citizen files an I-130 petition for her married daughter who lives in the U.S. along with her husband and child, all with expired I-94 cards. Tragically, the daughter dies. Under the new law, the surviving husband and child would still be able to obtain U.S. Residency, even though the Principal Beneficiary (the daughter) had died,
Example#3: A U.S. Resident gets married and files an I-130 petition for his new wife. Her I-94 has expired, but she lives in the U.S. along with her husband. Unfortunatly, the U.S. Resident husband dies. Under the new law, the surviving widow would still be able to obtain U.S. Residency,
Question: I got my automatic American Citizenship from my mom when she got Naturalized two years ago and now that I just turned 19 years old, I want to sponsor my both my fiancee and my dad for their green cards. My question is whether I can sponsor them both at the same time and if I can, will it be a problem that they both have expired immigration status. My fiancee’s mom brought her here when she came on a work visa 10 years ago, but then it expired and they never went home. My dad came as a tourist 7 years ago and just never left. Thanks
Answer: You can sponsor more than one relative at a time. Nothing in Immigration regulations prevents you from doing so, as long as you can show that you meet the minimum financial requirements for the Affidavit of Support, or that there is a qualifying Joint-sponsor for each petition who does. Similarly, both your new wife and your dad will still be eligible to receive their U.S. Residency (Green Cards) in the U.S., even though the immigration status for both has expired. Immigration regulations allow Spouses, Minor Children and Parents of U.S. Citizens to obtain Green Cards in the U.S., even when their I-94 cards have expired, as long as they entered the U.S. legally. In this case, both your fiancée and father entered the U.S. with inspection by an immigration officer, even though they both later fell out of legal status, therefore, the regulations allow them to receive residency in the U.S.
Since you are at least age 18, you may sponsor your wife (once you and your fiancée marry), however, regulations require a child to be at least age 21 to sponsor parents. Fortunately, it will only be a few years before you are age 21 and can petition for your dad. Tell dad to give me a call if he has any questions about that.
Question: I want to file a fiancée visa for my girlfriend.Can I pay extra money to expedite the processing of my fiancee’s visa so I can get her here to the U.S. sooner?
Answer: Unfortunately, Fiancee visas and family-based petitions (like the I-130) are just a few of immigration applications which cannot be expedited through USCIS Premium Processing. Currently the USCIS processesing time for Fiancee visas is about 5 months, then the case is sent to the U.S. Consulate abroad for the visa appointment. Many other visa applications are eligible for expedited processing. For an additional filing fee of $1,225, the USCIS will process the following type cases in 15 calender days or less: Work visas such as the H-1B, E-1, E-2, H-2B, H-3, L-1, O-1, O-2, P-1, P-2, P-3, Q-1, R-1 & TN and I-140 Immigrant petitions (for Immigrant Workers, Multinational Executives & Aliens of Extraordinary Ability. For more information on any of these visa types, visit our Website at: Immigratetoday.com or call our office.
Question: My mom and stepdad were married for 3 years, then they filed for my mom’s and my green cards. When the cards came, my mom got her 10 year card, but my card was just for 2 years. At the time, we didn’t really understand why or worry about it. Now my card expires next month. We want to know what we need to do?
Answer: Sorry to hear about your problem. Obviously, the USCIS made a mistake with issuance of the 2 year card. In these types of cases, it is always best to take care of getting it fixed earlier, rather than later, since the USCIS moves slowly in doing just about everything. Generally, spouses (and minor children) who are sponsored by a U.S. Citizen receive a Conditional 2-year Green Card when the Citizen and foreign spouse are married for less than 2 years at the time of the USCIS interview. In your circumstances, since your mother had been married to your stepfather for 3 years at the time of your USCIS interview, the USCIS issued your Conditional 2-year card in error. However, it does not always mean that they will correct the error quickly. Make an INFOPASS appointment online to go to your local USCIS office. Take your Green Card, passport, a copy of your mother’s Green Card and the marriage certificate. Ask the officer to put a temporary residency stamp in your passport so you don’t have to worry about your card expireing next month. Then, hopefully, the officer will order a new card with the correct dates. However, the officer may tell you that you need to file for a replacement Green Card yourself. If that happens, contact our office, since there will be certain additional documentation you need to provide with your petition in order for your card to be processed without requiring you to pay the USCIS filing fee.
Immigration Questions & Answers
This Week's Immigration News
Immigration Questions & Answers
Question: I have been coming to America several times a year for the past twenty-two years and always leave early. But for the past 2 years, every time I enter the U.S., the officer sends me to room to have another officer ask me questions and look me up in the computer. They always let me enter, but it is inconvenient and humiliating. The last time the officer told me it was because of an “identity” issue, but said he couldn’t tell me why or fix it in the computer, that I had to contact the Homeland Security dept. Is there something you can tell me to do to help?
Answer: Yes, what you are experiencing can be very frustrating, all likely because your name is similar to that of another person who is on a special “watch list” and because of that, the Customs & Border Patrol computer has designated you as a “selectee” for secondary screening for identity verification. Dept of Homeland Security (DHS) has a program called “DHS TRIP” which is designed to help correct inaccuracies in government records to avoid inconvenience when traveling. To try to get your issue resolved, go online to the Dept of Homeland Security (DHS) website at:
http://www.dhs.gov/files/programs/gc_1169676919316.shtm and make a request for a review. After filing the complaint online, you will be asked to submit documents via email for the DHS to review. The DHS will issue you a Redress Control Number, which you can use to track the status of your inquiry on the DHS online system . The DHS may also send you a confirmation letter asking for additional information needed to complete your case review. Hopefully, after review, the DHS will correct your information in its computer. I hope this is helpful to you.
Update on Social Security Administration List of Invalid Social Security Numbers
Thanks to the diligence of one of our readers who correctly identified an inaccuracy in a previous column several weeks ago regarding invalid Social Security numbers, the following is a corrected list of the first three digits of Social Security numbers (SSN) which are invalid prior to June 25, 2011 because they had never been issued by the Social Security Administration (SSA): 000, 666, 800, 900 and Above 772 in the 700 series (i.e. 773-799). Additionally, the SSA has never assigned a SSN with the second two digits of 00 or the last four digits of 0000.
Obama Administration Improves The Green Card Investment Program
The Whitehouse recently began taking steps to improve the government’s green card investment program in order to encourage foreign investors to make investments in new U.S. businesses and government approved investment centers in order to recieve Green Cards. As the economy has weakened, the administration has begun reviewing existing immigrant investor programs to implement improvements designed to encourage foreign investors to invest in business development, realestate and other market sectors to improve the U.S. economy, in exchange for awarding Green Cards (permanent residency) to the investor and his or her family. Under a new expedited program, the USCIS will process Investor applications within 15-days, instead of six months, upon payment of a new $1,225 Premium Processing fee, scheduled to go into effect within the next several months.
Under one of the lowest cost programs, once a foreign investor invests a minimum of $ 500,000 ($550,000 with administrative costs) in a government approved regional center project, the USCIS can process approval in as little as 15 days and allow the investor and family members to immediately apply for Green Cards. In addition to receiving U.S. Residency, the investor also recieves regular financial returns on the investment, which are generally in keeping with market rates. After receiving Permanent U.S. residency, the investor can “exit” out of the investment and receive return of some or most investment funds, depending upon the investment program options.
For background, the US Congress created the fifth employment-based visa category in 1990, enabling a maximum of 10,000 foreign investors each year to secure US Green Cards, but has done little to improve or highlight the benefits of this unique Investment program until now. Faced with difficult economic times, the Obama Administration has begun to improve and promote the little publicized program, recently charging USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas with the task of promoting foreign immigrants’ entrepreneurial spirit by focussing on the Immigrant Investor Program in order to attract investors and entrepreneurs from around the world to invest in the U.S. and create jobs in America.
U.S. Department of State Announces Visa Lottery Program For 2013
The State Department (DOS) recently published the Diversity Visa Lottery instructions for the 2013
Visa Lottery program. You can view the official Lottery Instructions by going online to: http://travel.state.gov/visa/immigrants/types/types_1318.html
The official online registration for the 2013 Visa Lottery program will begin on Tuesday, October 4, 2011, at noon, Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) and conclude on Saturday, November 5, 2011, at noon, Eastern Daylight Time (EDT). Remember that the yearly Visa Lottery is FREE! Entrants can easily apply online and do NOT need to pay a fee to enter. Winners are NOT notified by either mail or email and must logon to the official DOS website to determine whether or not they are a winner. Also, be sure to apply through the “Official” DOS site, not through a site that looks similar, but may charge a fee for registration. Before applying, please review the DOS advisory about fraud and notification at: http://travel.state.gov/visa/immigrants/types/types_1322.html#fraud
Obama Administration Compares Illegal Immigration to Jaywalking
During a Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI) conference on September 14, 2011, White House Director of intergovernmental affairs, Cecilia Munoz, compared the federal crime of being in the U.S. illegally to the innocent crime of “jaywalking” (crossing the street without using a designated “Crosswalk”). Her comment was made in response to the Administration’s new policy of “prosecutorial discretion,” which will prioritize prosecusion and deportation of immigrants to those convicted of serious crimes and seek to administratively close low priority cases. At the conference, Director Munoz further commented: “If you were running the police department of any urban area in this country, you would spend more resources going after serious criminals than after jaywalkers. DHS (the Department of Homeland Security) is doing the immigration equivalent of the same thing,”.
New 2012 H-1B Work Visas Begin October 1, 2011
The new H1B work visas for fiscal year 2012 officially begin on October 1, 2011. To date, more than half of available H-1B visas have been taken. Individuals and Students with Optional Practical Training (OPT) are advised to apply for H-1B visas before the end of 2011 or risk the unavailability of H-1B visas at that time. For background, H-1B work Visas allow individuals with a minimum of a Bachelor’s Degree (from the U.S. or foreign country) to work for a designated U.S. company in the U.S. for a period of up to 6 years. During that time, a Green Card can be obtained through a process called “Labor Certification” , sponsored by the U.S. company. For more information about H-1B work visas and obtaining U.S. Residency through employment, contact our office.
Question: I have a question about getting a visa to invest in a business here in Lauderhill. A friend of mine owns a Jerk restaurant and wants me to invest and be his partner. We agreed on $85,000 and to split the protits 50/50%. Would I be able to get that special visa for Jamaicans to own their own business in the U.S. . I am here now and want to get the visa as soon as I can, how long does it take for me and my wife to get the visa? Thanks.
Answer: The Visa for Jamaicans you are referring to is called the E-2 Investor Visa, which allows citizens of Jamaica and other countries such as Trinidad & Tobago, etc to make an investment in their own new or existing business. E-2 Investors can make an investment in an existing business and become a partner, as long as they own 51% or have a “controlling interest”. $85,000 is an adequate investment and as long as all the other factors are favorable, it should be enough for an E-2 Visa approval. Processing time is very fast, as little as 15-days. Once the visa is approved, your spouse can obtain a work permit and social security number.
Question: I filed the I-751 case for me and my 19 year old son and I got a letter from Immigration saying that my Green Card was extended, but not one for my son? I called Immigration and they said that he would not get one. He needs that letter for school or he will lose his scholarship. Is it true what Immigration is telling me?
Answer: When a child (under age 21) is included on the parent’s I-751 Removal of Conditions application, only the parent receives the I-797 Receipt, which extends U.S. Residency, Work and Travel Authorization for one full year. In order to receive a separate extension letter for a child, a separate I-751 application should always be filed. In this case, you should make an INFOPASS appointment and take your child’s passport, along with the I-797 Receipt you received and copy of the application, in order to have the officer stamp his passport with a one year Residency extension. I hope this is helpful.
This Week's Immigration News
Immigration Questions & Answers