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POSTING DATE: August 19, 2019
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Immigration News & Updates eNewsletter
Trump’s new ‘Public Charge’ Rule And
What It Means For Immigrants
Question: I am getting married to an American citizen next week but I am worried about my 18 year old daughter who is here with me on an expired visitor’s visa from last year. I know my husband would not be able to file for her, but my question is whether I can I file for her after I get married?
Answer: Your U.S. Citizen spouse cannot sponsor your daughter, because under Immigration regulations, the stepparent relationship had to have been established by your marriage, before your daughter reached age 18. Unfortunately, if she leaves the U.S. now, your daughter will be legally “barred” from re-entering the U.S., since she overstayed her period of authorized stay. Once you become a Resident, you can petition for your daughter, but under the current immigration regulations, she will not be allowed to adjust status in the U.S. due to her overstay. The only way she can get legal status if she stays in the U.S., is through a real marriage to a U.S. Citizen or through some future immigration reform.
Warning: Immigration Agents Step Up Raids At Grey Hound Bus Terminals
As long anticipated, the Trump administration finally released its so called “public charge rule” last week in an effort to further restrict legal immigration and reduce the number of immigrants eligible for a green card.
The rule will also be applied to nonimmigrants, including those seeking to extend student, work or visitor visas in the U.S..
Tips On Contacting the National Visa Center
Free Online Tools For Naturalization Preparation
The USCIS has announced a new program to increase awareness about online Naturalization tools available for U.S. Residents who are applying for U.S. Citizenship.
These tools include an online Citizenship Resource Center, Civics and Citizenship Toolkit for information on citizenship and naturalization topics, study guides and tests and Literacy resources, to assist Residents in learning or improving written English writing skills.
Visit the USCIS Naturalization Resource Page:
Immigration How To:
How Do I Know What Happens If I Did Not Register For Selective Service When I Was Required To?
Selective Service Late Registration And Naturalization Eligibility
Men who live in the U.S. or who get a green card at any time between the ages of 18 and 26, are required to register with the U.S. Selective Service System, to be called up in a military draft if ever needed. Those exempt include men between 18 and 26 who were only here in a nonimmigrant visa status, like tourists, students, etc. Strangely, undocumented or illegal aliens are required to register. The issue of Selective Service Registration generally comes up for Immigrants who apply for Naturalization and are required to list their Selective Service Registration information. And since failing to register for Selective Service can result in Naturalization denial for failure to show good moral character, it’s a very important issue for those to whom it applies.
Understanding the “public charge” rule and what the new change means
The public charge rule was initially established by law in 1882 and over time has been used by the government to deny visas for anyone who is deemed to be “primarily dependent on the government for subsistence,” by either 1) using public cash assistance for income maintenance or 2) institutionalization for long-term care at government expense, including: Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), “welfare”, State and local cash assistance, Medicaid or other programs supporting long-term institutionalized care, such as in a nursing home or mental health institution.
However, under the new rule, the administration has expanded the types of prohibited government benefits to further include: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, called SNAP (“Food Stamps”), Section 8 housing, rental assistance, housing subsidies and nonemergency Medicaid benefits (with exceptions for children under 21, people with disabilities, pregnant women, and mothers within 60 days after giving birth). The rule applies to those who have received 12 months of benefits within a 36 month period, with two benefits in one month counting double. For instance if a person received both food stamps and Medicaid for 6 months, it would still count as 12 months. Note that benefits received by a spouse or child will not count against an immigrant.
Most importantly, the rule has also changed the definition of “public charge,” to include not only past use of public aid, but additionally the immigrant’s likely need for use of aid in the future. The real killer in the new rule is the provision which allows government authorities to deny visas, and residency to immigrants based upon a determination that they are likely to use benefits at any point in the future! Under the policy, immigration officers will now be required to use specific factors to make eligibility determinations, including: Age, Health, Family status, Assets, Resources and Financial status (including credit scores), Education, Skills and Proficiency of English. USCIS officers are directed to consider negative factors, such as children under age 18 and adults over age 61 who are less likely to be able to work and support themselves, and more likely prone to need government assistance. This is especially true for elderly immigrants with disabilities and chronic health conditions, who are believed to be more prone to use subsidized medical and hospital care. Immigrants unable to speak proficient English can also be considered to be less likely to obtain employment sufficient to support themselves and therefore more likely to require government aid in the future. The government will also determine whether an applicant has “adequate education and skills to either obtain or maintain employment” (if authorized to work), by looking at employment history, high school degree and higher education, “occupational skills, certifications, or licenses,” and proficiency in English or other languages.
In addition to the current “Affidavit of Support” (Form I-864) required to be provided by all U.S. Resident and Citizen sponsors, the new policy will now further require the immigrant themselves to file Form I-944, called “Declaration of Self-Sufficiency” to allow immigration officers to determine whether the applicant is likely to become a “public charge” in the future. Under the new strict guidelines, Immigrants with high incomes will be deemed as a “heavily weighted positive factor”, while those earning less than 250% above the federal poverty line, ($42,275/yr for a couple and $64,375/yr for a family of four) would have their income count against them when immigration officials are deciding whether or not to grant them a visa. Officials will have the discretionary authority to allow immigrants and visa applicants who fail to meet the new public charge requirements the opportunity to post a public charge bond. The final rule sets the minimum bond amount at $8,100, however the actual bond amount required will ultimately be determined based upon each individual’s circumstances.
New public charge requirements will apply to most immigrants seeking residency (green cards) based upon family sponsorship (some 800,000 per year according to statistics) and through employment, as well as those seeking temporary (“nonimmigrant”) visa and extensions. Those exempt include refugees, asylees, victims of domestic violence, and certain other special categories.
Experts believe that the government’s application of the new financial requirements could result in nearly half of all marriage and family cases being denied, not to mention denial of thousands of additional visas and visa extensions each year. The good news is that there is a 60 day grace period before the rule takes effect, so cases filed prior to the effective date October 15, 2019 will still be adjudicated under the existing public charge policy. As a result, immigrants are strongly advised to file residency and other applications prior to the deadline so the case is received and receipted by the USCIS prior to the rule taking effect. Finally, since publication of the rule, numerous states and organizations have filed lawsuits to stop the new policy from taking effect, which might result in delay or even permanently prevent implementation of the rule.
Read the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announcement
According to news reports, Federal immigration agents have stepped up efforts to identify and arrest immigrants who do not have legal immigration status, at Grey Hound Bus Terminals in South Florida and other locations across the U.S.. Following recent changes in federal apprehension policies allowing agents to apprehend immigrants in the interior of the U.S. for expedited deportation, Customs and Border Patrol officials (CBP) have escalated operations to identify “illegal” immigrants by boarding Grey Hound buses to check the immigration status of passengers. These “transportation checks” target the most vulnerable group of immigrants, those who are not able to legally drive or fly due to their immigration status. Instead, they are forced to take trains or buses for long distance transportation and are now more at risk than ever. Under Trump’s ever increasing dictatorial policies, immigration officials now have free rein to stop and question any individual based upon their ethnicity, just like Nazi Germany, “Papers Please!”.
As a result, immigrants should carefully consider the risks involved in long distance travel and perhaps use transportation options other than Amtrak or Greyhound.
Once the USCIS approves a family petition (form I-130), it forwards the case to the National Visa Center (NVC), to handle processing of cases for relatives outside the U.S., by preparing the case for the U.S. Consulate in your family member’s home country. After the sponsor receives the I-130 Approval Notice from the USCIS, the NVC generally sends out a notification that it has received the case from the USCIS.
If the family member is in a “preference category”,(for all relatives who are not the Spouse, Parent or minor child of a U.S. Citizen), the letter will also state that there are no visas presently available for the foreign family member and that he or she should not make any plans to immigrate to the U.S. until a visa becomes available (which can be many years down the road). And during the long wait for an Immigrant Visa, family circumstances may change and addresses need to be updated in order for the NVC to have current contact information for the U.S. Citizen or U.S. Resident sponsor.
Similarly, when a U.S. Resident becomes a U.S. Citizen, or a married child divorces the process for immigrating family members may speed up, but the NVC may not be aware of the change unless they receive a copy of the new Citizen’s Naturalization Certificate or the child’s divorce certificate.
To contact the NVC, call: (603) 334-0700. You may often hear a message saying that due to high call volume, operators are assisting other customers, directing you to call back at another time. Do not let this dissuade you, simply use redial to keep calling back every few moments until you are able to be put in the wait queue. Be sure to have the USCIS or NVC case number, your full name/ birth date and the same for your relative. You can also contact them by mail (making sure your letter contains all the above information, send to: National Visa Center, Attn: DR, 31 Rochester Ave. Suite 100, Portsmouth, NH 03801-2914.
Question: I immigrated to the U.S. at age 10 along with my dad, through my American step mother who sponsored us both. I got my residency, then automatically got citizenship along with my dad when I was 14. Now I’m 25 and I want to sponsor my biological mom. But I’m afraid that since my step mom sponsored me, I can’t sponsor my biological mom. Can you please help me?
Answer: Good news, under Immigration regulations, U.S. citizens can sponsor both their biological and step parents and biological and step parents can sponsor both their biological children and step children. This means that once a U.S. Citizens child turns age 21, even though they were sponsored by a stepparent for Residency, the child is still able to sponsor their biological parent. Similarly, a U.S. Citizen child can also sponsor both their stepparent and biological parent to immigrate, as long as the requisite relationship qualifies. Step-parents are considered to qualify as “parents” and step children qualify as “children” for immigration purposes, as long as the step-parent/step child relationship was established before the child (now U.S. citizen) reached the age of 18. The only time a U.S. citizen would not qualify to sponsor a parent is where the parental rights had been terminated through adoption or otherwise.
Question: I am legal in the states on a student visa and just got married to my American boyfriend. We want to file my immigration papers and I know I need some kind of police certificate but I am not sure how to go about getting it. Can direct me which police station I need to go to and what I need to take to have that done, thanks.
Answer: In most cases, immigrants who have no prior criminal history do not need to have fingerprints taken at the police department in order to obtain a “police clearance” report prior to filing I-485 Adjustment of Status (“Green Card”) and Naturalization applications. Biometrics, including fingerprints are done by the USCIS after a residency case is filed and are only required to be taken by the USCIS Immigration Support Center. So do not waste time going to the local police station to obtain such reports. However, if you were ever arrested, even if the case was later dismissed, or ever had to go to a criminal court for any reason, you need to obtain an official stamped/certified copy of both the:
1) Arrest report (obtain from the police dept. which arrested you) and
2) Court disposition (obtain from the court where your case was adjudicated).
The originals are to be given to the USCIS officer at the time of your interview. Only send copies in your initial petition package.
For some, it’s not too late to register: Men preparing to apply for Naturalization (U.S. Citizenship) who failed to register for the Selective Service in the past, but who are not yet age 26, can still register online. However, those who have passed age 26, are not eligible to register and must face the potentially negative immigration consequences of passing the required registration date. For those who failed to register, the easiest thing to do may be to wait until you are age 31 to apply for Naturalization so you have five years of good moral character or 29 years of age to show three years of good moral character (if you have been married to and living with a U.S. citizen).
If you don’t want to wait, you will need to prove to the officer that you did not know you were supposed to register and that you didn’t “willfully” fail to register. To do this, you can submit the following along with your naturalization application:
1) Status Information Letter from the Selective Service System (obtained from the Selective Service System website or by calling 847-688-6888.)
2) your sworn declaration, and sworn declarations from people who knew you, attesting to the reasons why you failed to learn about and did not know about the requirement to register or believed you were automatically registered.