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This Week's Immigration News 
By Immigration Attorney Caroly Pedersen

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Immigration News & Updates eNewsletter ©  2011  - 2014  
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 filed my application for student visa here in the U.S. and it just got denied. My question is how do I get my filing fees back?
Helpful Immigration Tips You Can Use
National Visa Center No Longer Requires Original Documents For Consular Processing
Beginning November 12, 2014 National Visa Center (NVC) policy no longer requires applicants to provide original documents as part of its consular processing procedures. In the future, only copies of original Civil Documents will be required to be provided. Instead, immigrating family members will be required to take original documents with them to their consular appointments.

As background, in most immigration cases for family members living abroad, the NVC is responsible for preparing the case file for the U.S. Consulate abroad. To accomplish this, the NVC requests documentation and information from both the sponsoring U.S. Citizen or, Resident and their Immigrant family members abroad which are required by the U.S. Consulate abroad for Immigrant Visa issuance. 
Answer: Unfortunately, the USCIS rarely, if ever returns Filing fees. That’s why it is so important to make sure that you qualify for an Immigration benefit before you file the application and prepare the petition properly for the best chance of approval. When filing applications to change status to an F-1 Student visa in the U.S., it is very important for applicants to clearly document eligibility, for instance by making sure that the educational or language program does not start more than 30 days after their I-94 authorized stay expires, by providing bank statements to prove that funds are available for tuition and living expenses, by providing a printout of the SEVIS receipt, and importantly, a letter of explanation or evidence which proves that the student intends to return to their home country after they complete their studies. Now that your request has been denied, be sure not to remain in the U.S. past your I-94 authorized stay and if you’re I-94 has already expired, it’s a good idea to consult with an immigration attorney about your options and what your next step should be.
The USCIS recently issued a change of policy Memorandum regarding it use of DNA test results for Sibling cases, where both siblings share a common parent. Under the new policy, based upon current scientific standards, the USCIS will no longer consider DNA test results for siblings to prove the biological relationship. The reason is that the DNA testing industry has not established reliable probability standards for sibling-to-sibling DNA test results, so the resulting test results can’t be relied upon for accuracy.

This is important because in sibling sponsorship cases, where a brother or sister is sponsoring his or her sibling, and the siblings only share one common parent, it has historically been difficult for the USCIS to determine whether or not a real biological relationship exists between the siblings. In the past, DNA tests were used, but were not entirely accurate. As a result, many sibling cases may have been denied based up faulty DNA test results. 

USCIS Announces Policy Changes On DNA Testing for Siblings
Sponsoring U.S. Citizens and Residents are required to submit an Affidavit of Support and financial documentation to prove financial eligibility and immigrating family members are required to provide original photos, their Passport Biographic page, Civil Documents which include Birth Certificate, Marriage Certificate, Divorce decree(s), Military, Criminal records and for those age 16 and older, a Police certificate. Until this change in policy, all documents were required to be provided in the “original” or “certified” copy (certified by the governmental agency responsible for issuing the document), not just notarized by a Notary. According to the new policy, only copies of Civil Documents need be submitted to the NVC, but the Affidavit of Support must still be submitted with original signatures.

With this change, it is vitally important that family members abroad be reminded to take the original documents with them to their consular appointment. Immigrants appearing at their interviews without the required originals will not be issued visas until they are provided, which could significantly delay their visa issuance. 
Under the new policy, the USCIS can consider DNA tests between the siblings and their common parent, since those tests have proven to be accurate. So for instance, if a U.S. Citizen sister sponsors her brother, who had the same father, but not the same mother, the U.S. Citizen and her father could have their DNA testing done and the brother and his father could likewise have their DNA test done. 

If the DNA for both siblings shows common DNA with their father, then the USCIS could assume that the sibling are biologically related. Sibling cases which have been denied in the past can refile and use the new policy to prove the biological relationship. 
Read The State Department’s Visa Bulletin - 
Just Released For December 2014
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 January 2013 by clicking on the link below:

December Visa Bulletin
Read the new USCIS Sibling DNA Testing policy Memo:

USCIS DNA Testing Memorandum
Question:  When I sponsored my mom for her residency, I accidently sent in my original citizenship certificate and by the time I finally realized it and called the immigration 800 number they said they would put in a request but could not guarantee anything. Its been 8 months now and I still did not hear anything. I found out I can apply for a duplicate citizenship certificate but the fees are $345. Is there anything else I can do?
Answer: Yes, 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 to send any original documents to the USCIS unless specifically requested 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. There is no filing fee. Read the instructions carefully and be sure to specifically request your Naturalization Certificate and any other originals that you filed and need back like your Birth Certificate. You’ll need to file your form with the USCIS office which took the last action on your mom’s case. Good luck!
Immigration How To:
How Do I Replace My Lost I-94 Card?  
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.

If your 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. You also may file Form I-102 if you wish to receive a replacement I-94 card with corrected information on it — for example, if the immigration officer spelled your name wrong on the initial I-94 card. The nonrefundable filing fee for Form I-102 is $320. It generally takes about 60 days 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)

Good luck!
An I-94 is a small slip of paper which was, until recently 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.