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Immigration News & Updates eNewsletter
POSTING DATE: MAY 23, 2016
Immigration News & Updates eNewsletter © 2011 - 2016
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Questions & Answers
Question: I just got married to my American husband and we want to file for my immigration papers through adjustment of status. I have been in the U.S. since last month when I came using my ESTA. My question is, can I get my Green Card while staying here in the U.S., even though I entered on ESTA and how long will it take to get my work permit? Also, will I be able to travel while I am waiting for my immigration papers, so that I can go back home and finish up my last week of work?
Answer: Immigration regulations allow Spouses (Parents and Minor Children) of U.S. Citizens, called “Immediate Relatives” who entered the U.S. legally under the ESTA Visa Waiver program to adjust status to Residency inside the U.S.. Note that Family members in any other category entering the U.S. on ESTA are not eligible.
“Immediate Relatives” who are adjusting status inside the U.S. may also obtain a Travel Permit (called “advance parole”), as long as they have not been out of legal status for 180 days or more by the date the USCIS receives the application. Since you just arrived in the U.S. last month, you are eligible for a Travel Permit. Both the Work and Travel Permit take about 90 days to be issued.
This Week's Immigration News
Temporary Protected Status (TPS) Extended for Nicaragua and Honduras
Department of Homeland Security Admits Using Social Media
To Verify Immigrant Information
Question: My American wife and I filed for my green card last year and had our interview last month. The officer started out with a bad attitude, acting like she was doing us a favor by interviewing us. Things got worse and she asked my wife why she didn’t take my last name and she said she did, but the officer wanted to know why her driver’s license didn’t have her married name. we explained that she didn’t have time to go in to change it, but the officer didn’t want to listen to anything we had to say. The officer kept asking for papers we didn’t know we were supposed to bring, so of course we did not have them to give, even though we gave her affidavits from friends and family. Finally the officer said that she was not convinced that we were in a real marriage because we didn’t have documentation and said she would have the Supervisor review everything. Well, it’s been a month already and we don’t have the answer yet. Are they allowed to deny us because of the documents and the name issue? What can we do next?
Answer: Sorry to hear that you had such a bad experience. USCIS regulations do not require a wife to take her husband's last name in marriage-based immigration cases. A married woman may keep her own name, adopt her husband's last name or choose to hyphenate her name along with his. The real, main issue in marriage-based immigration cases, is the critical necessity for a couple to clearly establish that the marriage is real - by providing extensive documentation from the time of the marriage until the interview, not just for the past month (for example Joint: bank statements, driver’s license or state ID at the same address, auto insurance, utilities, both names on the lease, tax return “married filing jointly”, lots and lots of photos, etc. the list goes on and on. Affidavits attesting to a genuine marriage are usually not given much weight by an officer and are generally used as a last resort when a couple does not have enough other “real” documentary evidence to show. USCIS officers have a lot of discretion to decide whether a marriage is real or not, based upon the totality of all the evidence presented by the couple, as well as the way a couple presents themselves and especially the way they interact together at the immigration interview.
In my experience, couples in marriage cases simply do not take marriage immigration cases seriously enough or prepare well enough for or USCIS interview - until they run into problems and enter the “nightmare” of the USCIS presuming they are in a fake marriage. The result often leads to successive interviews at the USCIS office, being separated and interrogated, waiting for months and sometimes even years to eventually receive approval of a Green Card which in many cases could have easily been approved at the first interview, with the proper planning. So, with that said, I suggest making an INFOPASS appointment to do a status check on your case. It is likely that you will be told that your case is still being reviewed by the officer, which could mean six months more waiting for a new interview to be scheduled. In the meantime, come see me and I’ll give you instructions on how you can begin preparing your case properly so that you will have everything you need and be fully prepared for your next interview
The Department of Homeland Security recently announced the extension of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for an additional 18 months for nationals of Nicaragua and Honduras. The extension is effective July 6, 2016, through January 5, 2018.
The 60-day re-registration period runs through July 15, 2016. The USCIS is automatically extending current TPS Nicaragua and Honduras Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) bearing a July 5, 2016 expiration date for six months. These existing EADs are now valid through January 5, 2017.
Apply for TPS Renewal:
Apply for Work Authorization Renewal:
Helpful Immigration Hints You Can Use
Immigration How To:
How Do I Get Proof of Residency After I Lost My Green Card?
The USCIS recently confirmed that it has been routinely using social media websites to review personal information about Immigrants when adjudicating applications. Social media sites accessed by USCIS include: Facebook, LinkedIn, blog posts, and dating websites, mostly for marital immigration cases, to verify information provided by applicants during their residency proceeding to help determine whether or not the marital relationship is real.
As a result, Immigrants should understand that their online social media postings and Facebook are on public display and may be reviewed by Immigration Adjudicators. Good to know!
Sign Up For USCIS Case Transfer Update Alerts
Once an Immigration application is filed with a USCIS, the Service Center occasionally transfers certain case types to other offices for more efficient processing. Until recently, customers received paper notifications of such transfers.
Recently the USCIS created a new Workload Transfer Updates webpage to provide updates on such case transfers.
You can also now sign up to receive email Alerts if your case is transferred to another office.
Sign up for Case Transfer Alerts:
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.
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. 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 $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!
U.S. Residents who have lost a Green Card or who’s Green Card requires renewal must apply for a replacement or renewed card with the USCIS (using form I-90). However, government processing times required to receive the new card can often take three 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.
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.).
Obtaining Proof of Residency While Waiting For Green Card Replacements and Renewals