Immigration2019-03-06T11:17:49-04:00

Immigration

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Deportation and Removal
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FAQs

US citizenship and Immigration ServicesI.S. Law Firm has expertise in all areas of immigration law. Our experience has taught us that working closely with our clients throughout the immigration process is essential to avoiding mistakes and ensuring the successful completion of their applications as quickly as possible. Immigration is one of the most complicated areas of law in the United States, in part because the laws and regulations governing it are constantly evolving. Minor mistakes in the application process can lead to delays, extra costs, and other unfavorable consequences. While some firms use the same forms and procedures for all clients, we treat our clients as individuals and take the time to carefully evaluate the specific laws that apply to each case.  Not only do we take a unique, client-by-client approach to immigration cases, but we do so for a competitive, reasonable rate. We understand that immigration process could be complex and time consuming, this is why we strive to make the procedure for our clients easy and simple to understand. We will explain your options, tell you what we can do, how much it will cost, and dedicate all our resources, knowledge and skills to win your case. You can be assured that your case will be evaluated with thorough detail and attention to achieve the best possible outcome. We will work hard to provide you with clear and relevant information on your case so you can be confident in our expertise as well as the choices we make while trying to resolve your immigration matter.

If I hold an F-1 status, can I do an unpaid or paid internship without work authorization?2019-05-09T12:04:51-04:00

If I hold an F-1 status, can I do an unpaid or paid internship without work authorization?

Usually not. It is very hard and almost impossible to classify the work as “unpaid internship.” It is often abused by the employers who want to underpay for services or by the students who want to work “for cash” and be paid “under the table.” The U.S. Department of Labor regulations concerning unpaid internships are very strict and limiting. You can “volunteer” for a non-profit charity organization and, theoretically, do an unpaid internship which advances your knowledge and skills in the field of your study. But, if you work under the control and direction of the business and provide benefits through your work to that business, then the employer must at least pay you the federal minimum wage. From immigration standpoint, you must also be ready to demonstrate that your unpaid work does not displace potential US workers. In other words, whether you are paid or unpaid is immaterial if by virtue of providing services to the employer you are displacing potential US workers who could be hired for that job. The employer who hires an unpaid trainee without work authorization, must get no immediate benefit or advantage from the activities of the unpaid intern. The employer who is accepting the unpaid trainee without work authorization is expected to be actually burdened instead of benefiting from providing the training.

If I am the derivative spouse of an asylum applicant and we are in the process of divorce, will I be eligible for asylum?2019-05-09T11:46:20-04:00

If I am the derivative spouse of an asylum applicant and we are in the process of divorce, will I be eligible for asylum?

If you divorce the principal asylum applicant while the asylum application is pending you will lose your derivative eligibility for asylum. This is true even if you divorce after the approval of asylum but before you adjust your status to that of a permanent resident. This means that you must either depart from the U.S., apply for another status, or apply for asylum on your own independent basis.

I am a lawful permanent resident of the United States. I got my immigrant visa through the US Embassy in Afghanistan. Before coming to the United States, I have served for the U.S. military in Afghanistan for 2 years. Do I have to register with the Selective Service under these circumstances if I am under 26?2019-05-09T11:35:35-04:00

I am a lawful permanent resident of the United States. I got my immigrant visa through the US Embassy in Afghanistan. Before coming to the United States, I have served for the U.S. military in Afghanistan for 2 years. Do I have to register with the Selective Service under these circumstances if I am under 26?

If you join the military after you turned 18 and leave the military before turning 26, and you are a lawful permanent resident of the United States under 26, you must register. You can fill out an application for registration with the Selective Service during your immigrant visa interview at the US Embassy in your country. Make sure you have confirmation of this registration. Another way of registration, when you are already in the United States as a lawful permanent resident is to apply for registration at a local post office or on the official website of the Selective Service System (https://www.sss.gov/). Through this website you can also find your registration with the Selective Service and read more detailed instructions on registration.

I am filling I-864 Affidavit of Support for my family member. I make the current income amount sufficient to sponsor, but I did not make enough money last year. Can I still sponsor or do I need a Joint Sponsor?2019-05-09T11:34:03-04:00

I am filling I-864 Affidavit of Support for my family member. I make the current income amount sufficient to sponsor, but I did not make enough money last year. Can I still sponsor or do I need a Joint Sponsor?

The ability to sponsor on I-864, Affidavit of Support is determined by the Petitioner’s current income. You can provide evidence showing your current income in the form of an employment letter on your employer’s letterhead attesting to your employment and salary and copies of your paystubs. If your current income is enough based on your household size, you do not need a Joint Sponsor.

My adjustment of status application is pending but my travel authorization has not been approved yet. I have a family emergency outside the U.S., what can I do?2019-05-09T11:32:20-04:00

My adjustment of status application is pending but my travel authorization has not been approved yet. I have a family emergency outside the U.S., what can I do?

It is important that you do not depart the U.S. without your travel authorization approved. Doing so will result in USCIS considering your application as abandoned and will deny it. If you have an emergent reason, you can contact the USCIS to ask them to expedite the processing of your document. There are two ways to do this 1. You can schedule an InfoPass appointment at your local USCIS office explaining the emergent reason. If the officer approves the request, they will stamp your passport allowing you to depart and return while your case is pending. 2. You can call the USCIS toll free number requesting an expedite. USCIS will then mail you a decision. With either of these options, USCIS will ask for proof of the emergent need to travel.

I am applying for O-1 visa. The visa requirements say that I should submit an advisory opinion. What is an advisory opinion?2019-05-09T11:31:13-04:00

I am applying for O-1 visa. The visa requirements say that I should submit an advisory opinion. What is an advisory opinion?

An Advisory Opinion, also known as “Consultation Letter,” is a letter from US peer group or labor or management organization regarding the nature of proposed work and how the O-1 beneficiary’s outstanding qualifications fits to that work. The advisory opinion should describe the beneficiary’s ability and achievements in the field of endeavor, describe the nature of the duties to be performed, and state whether the position requires the services of an alien of extraordinary ability, with details on how the assessment or evaluation was made. An advisory opinion must set forth a specific statement of facts which supports the conclusion reached in the opinion.

If I get E-2 visa, can it lead me to a green card?2019-05-09T10:49:11-04:00

If I get E-2 visa, can it lead me to a green card?

Depends on what you mean by “lead”. There is no visa or status that automatically leads to a green card. There is a common misperception about this. For example, an H-1B status does not “lead” to a green-card through employment. In fact, you do not need an H-1B status to have your potential employer sponsor you for employment-based green card. There are basis and procedures for non-immigrant visas, such as H-1B, E-2, L-1, and there are separate basis and procedures to apply for green card, such as employment-based green card process, family petitions, business, investment, outstanding abilities etc. The E-2 Treaty Investor Visa is a non-immigrant visa which allows entrepreneurs and their families to live in the United States and manage their businesses. You can renew E-2 status continuously in every 2 years. While you are on E-2 status, you can apply for green card through all available options such as investment (EB-5), employment (PERM), family petitions, extraordinary ability, national interest waiver and so on.

Here are the common ways, listed in the order of frequency, through which many of our E-2 clients eventually adjust their status in the US and become US permanent residents:

  1. The E-2 visa holder can be sponsored for employment-based green card by a potential employer who is able and willing to offer a permanent job to the E-2 visa holder.
  2. PERM for E-2 Spouse. Spouses of E-2 visa holders are eligible for work permit, also known as Employment Authorization Document (EAD). The EAD allows the dependent spouse of E-2 principal to work for any employer at any job. Quite often, after some time of employment, the E-2 spouse’s employer decides to sponsor the employee through PERM process and, in turn, all family members of the E-2 visa holder adjusts status to permanent residency in the United States and get their green cards.
  3. Additional Investment – EB-5. As we know, the E-2 visa requires around $100,000 and, sometimes, even smaller investment. In other words, it is for smaller businesses. But as the business grows and expands, the E-2 investor may decide to inject more money ($500K/$1mln) into the business, thereby enabling business to hire 10 or more employees. If that happens, the E-2 investor may now be able to apply for green card through the EB-5 investment program.
  4. Exceptional/Outstanding Skills. If the E-2 investor’s business is so successful and innovative that it impacts the industry or field in which the E-2 investor operates, then he or she may be eligible to apply for green card based on National Interest Waiver or Extraordinary Abilities.
  5. Family Petitions. Some E-2 investors have US citizen siblings or parents. Or they may end up getting married in the US or their children may naturalize through one way or another. If that happens, naturally, the US citizen relative can sponsor the E-2 investor for green card. Some of family-based petitions take many years of waiting in line. For example, a green card process through US citizen sibling can take 12-15 years. The beneficiaries of family-sponsored preference categories who are waiting for priority dates to become current need to have some type of independent non-immigrant status during that time to be able to live and work in the US while waiting. E-2 is a good status which enables the waiting family status to live and work in the US while waiting for their family-based petition’s priority date.

There are multiple other options one can become a lawful permanent resident. E-2 status does not preclude you from exploring all those options while you are in the US. The E-2 Treaty Investor Visa is a great tool for entrepreneurs and businessmen to establish and run their businesses in the US. It is often the first step in realizing your American Dream. For more information of obtaining E-2 visa, starting your business in the US, or applying for green card, please contact us at +1-703-527-1779 or via e-mail: [email protected].

Can I work without work permit EAD while my AOS is pending?2019-03-27T16:01:54-04:00

I am an F-1 student with pending adjustment of status based on my marriage with US citizen. Can I work during my adjustment of status process even though I haven’t received my EAD?

Answer: As I understand, you are currently on F-1 status. During F-1 status, you are not allowed to work in the US. You can begin lawfully working after you receive your work permit based on your adjustment of status process. Any unauthorized work makes you lose your F-1 status, which can make you deportable. However, it would not make you ineligible for adjustment of status.

Typically, any unlawful employment would interfere and make you ineligible for adjustment of status. However, since your adjustment process is based on your marriage with US citizen, any work without authorization or prior status violations would be  waived, i.e. forgiven. In other words, even though you are not legally allowed to work before you received your green-card or work permit, as long as you proceed with the marriage-based adjustment of status, accepting a job offer would not cause a denial of your adjustment of status case.

Can I work abroad or live abroad with green-card?2019-03-27T15:57:07-04:00

I am a green-card holder and I received a job offer in another country. Can I work and live abroad for 2-3 years with green-card?

Answer: It is doable, but you have two important considerations:

1) Abandonment of Permanent Residency, and
2) Qualification for citizenship.

1. Abandonment

Before departing for such a long time, you would have to apply for a Re-entry Permit. Re-entry Permit allows permanent residents to be absent from US for periods up to 2 years without abandoning their permanent residency in the US. Re-entry Permit will allow you to be out of US for up to 2 years and then return without questions about your lengthy absences still maintaining your permanent residency here. But you will still have to continue maintaining close ties to US and file taxes.

2. Citizenship

One of the requirements for citizenship is “continuous presence” i.e. to be continuously present in the US as a permanent resident (i.e. after receiving her green-card) during the statutory period (3 years or 5 years) before you qualify for citizenship. If you depart the US for any period over 12 months, the clock for continuous presence will restart. Please note though that the last year of absence with a re-entry permit counts towards the continuous presence requirement. So, for example, if you returns to the US after 2-year absence with re-entry permit, then you will only need additional 4 years or 2 years (if marriage-based green-card) of continuous presence to qualify for citizenship.

You can read more about these matters in our article here: https://www.islawfirm.com/maintaining-lpr-status-qualifying-citizenship/

If you have more questions or would like to discuss this further, you can contact us to schedule a consultation with immigration attorney.

What happens if I am on a K-1 visa, get married during the 90 days, but I do not file within the dates of my status?2019-03-27T15:38:21-04:00

What happens if I am on a K-1 visa, get married during the 90 days, but I do not file within the dates of my status?

Answer: You will be out of status, but this will not be held against you during your adjustment of status. It should not affect your case because you were legally married during your 90 day status. However, until you file your adjustment of status application, you risk of being detained as unlawfully present, in which case, your adjustment of status process will take longer and cost more. Therefore, it is always recommended to begin the process within the 90 days period.

Can I travel to my country with green-card through marriage with US citizen after withdrawing my asylum application?2019-03-27T13:43:56-04:00

If I applied for asylum and my case was pending. At that time, I married a US citizen and applied for a Green-card based on marriage, and the asylum application was withdrawn. When I am already the green-card holder, can I go to the country from which I previously applied for asylum?

Answer: Depends. If you return to your country, from which you previously applied for asylum, you may be asked – how? Was your asylum application then frivolous? Or did the country conditions change? What changed? By virtue of applying for asylum, you stated to the US government that you were unable or unwilling to return to your country due to reasonable fear of harm. If you now return, the questions will be – what changed? Filing and withdrawing asylum application by itself raises a question of possible misrepresentation. But when you withdraw and then return to the same country, where you previously claimed that you would be harmed, you are almost certain to trigger these questions down the road; for example, when you apply for renewal of your green-card or citizenship.

Will my immigration case be delayed by a government shutdown?2019-03-27T13:35:45-04:00

Will my immigration case be delayed by a government shutdown?

Answer: It depends upon your type of case. If you applied for any immigration benefit with US Citizenship and Immigration Services, your case will not likely be affected by any government shutdown. That is because USCIS accepts fees for their applications, therefore, they are not affected by a lapse in funding due to a shutdown. Immigration and Customs Enforcement operations also proceed as normal during a shutdown. While affirmative asylum cases also continue being processed during the shutdown, the defensive asylum cases in immigration courts get delayed. In fact, all non-detained cases in Immigration Courts are suspended during the government shutdown. The majority of Immigration Courts hearings during government shutdowns, with the exception of detained removal proceedings.

I am a citizen of Ukraine and would like to apply for E-2 visa. Can I file for change of status or do I have to go back and apply through the consulate?2018-05-24T13:43:43-04:00

I am a citizen of Ukraine and would like to apply for E-2 visa. Can I file for change of status or do I have to go back and apply through the consulate?

E-s visa applicants from Ukraine and other post-Soviet states frequently have difficulties with proving the source of income, because almost no one trusts banks or most individuals do not use bank accounts in Ukraine, Azerbaijan and other post-Soviet countries.  Most transactions in those countries are made in cash due to the undeveloped and fragile banking system.  Even if it is a sale of real estate, the initial transfer of funds occurs through a bank account, but then the seller immediately withdraws the funds and stores it in the form of cash.  Income and taxes are very poorly documented.  The good news is that the consulate there is aware of those conditions and is more liberal about tracking cash transaction. However, the USCIS here is not well aware of it and often denies change of status cases due to a lack of evidence proving source of funds invested. Therefore, I never recommend my clients from post-Soviet countries to file for change of status, and instead, advise them to go through the US consulate in their home country.

Additionally, the process through the consulate is more collaborative. If the consular officer is not satisfied with the evidence provided or has additional questions, you can go back and forth until the officer is satisfied. However, if you apply for change of status in the US, you do not get to communicate with the USCIS officer, other than responding to one dry request for evidence. If the USCIS officer makes an adverse decision, you are out of luck and run the risk of being deportable. Therefore, we always recommend to apply for E visa through the US consulate in the applicant’s home country.

Finally, applying for change of status inside the US is always a negative factor for your future visa applications through the consulate. The consulates are not happy when one enters the US with one type of visa and then changes it to another. Even if your change of status in the US is granted, you will still have to obtain the visa through the consulate whenever you decide to travel abroad. So, we recommend to apply from the consulate from the beginning and avoid dealing with the USCIS altogether.

 

I used false information to obtain B-2 tourist visa and applied for asylum after I entered the US. What are my chances?2019-05-09T12:21:57-04:00

I used false information to obtain B-2 tourist visa and applied for asylum after I entered the US. What are my chances?

Prior to every asylum interview, the USCIS asylum office obtains from the consulate copies of all your visa applications. The asylum officer will review the forms and information you provided during the consular process and compare it to the information you provided in the asylum application. If there are any inconsistencies or contradictions, the asylum officer during your asylum interview, must ask you questions about your visa application and give you a chance to explain.

If the asylum officer is satisfied that you had provided false information in your visa application because you had no other ways to escape the risk of harm or to avoid persecution in your home country, then USCIS will not likely deny your asylum case for this reason. According to the USCIS Asylum Officer’s Manual, the officers are instructed to not deny asylum applications solely based on the false information provided by the applicant during the consulate visa application or for gaining entry into the US.  The officer is instructed to ask questions and to determine if the applicant lacks credibility. The key is to make sure to tell the truth when asked about the visa application. If you lied during your visa application, not everything is lost, and you may have an explanation. But if you continue lying at the interview, your asylum application will certainly be denied.  In other words, when the officer asks you questions at the interview, you must come clean, give truthful information and honestly answer all questions at the asylum interview.

If you truthfully answer all questions at the asylum interview, your previous misrepresentations to the consulate, may be forgiven and become irrelevant.  But your misrepresentations at the asylum interview or at the individual hearing will not be forgiven.  The logic behind this is that, providing false information to flee the country due a risk of immediate harm, may be understandable. But providing false information to obtain asylum is not justifiable.

I applied for asylum, but my family members are still in my country. How do I expedite my asylum case?2018-05-24T13:44:32-04:00

I applied for asylum, but my family members are still in my country. How do I expedite my asylum case?

First, your family members may be eligible for Humanitarian Parole.  Humanitarian Parole is designed to allow the applicants to expeditiously enter the United States due to a compelling emergency.  The current processing time anywhere between 3 weeks to 3 months.  To be eligible for Humanitarian Parole, you must demonstrate that your family members are either under a risk of harm or have some medical condition that needs immediate care or any other urgent humanitarian reason.  Simply, showing the need to reunite your family is not enough.  To file for Humanitarian Parole, you (i.e. the person in the US) would file form I-131 for each family member, attaching a detailed affidavit and evidence of the emergency condition.  Each case is considered separately.  However, it is frequently granted to family members of asylum applicants who are under risk of harm or need of urgent care.

Now, as to expediting the asylum interview or hearing, you must contact your local asylum office or file a motion with the immigration court.  You can also request the expedited individual hearing at your master hearing.  The judge will ask you why your hearing should be expedited, and if you demonstrate that your family is separated, the court may put your case on short list, which means that your hearing will be scheduled at the first available window, when, for example, another hearing gets cancelled or new time slot becomes available.  Same applies for the USCIS asylum offices.  If you demonstrate that your family is still in Iraq, the asylum office may put your case on a short-list of expedited cases.

Each asylum office had its own system of short-listing cases.  For example, the Arlington Asylum Office, at least until recent times, was accepting short list requests for every case, as long as your application is full and complete and does not need any supplementation.  In the past, the Arlington Asylum Office’s short list worked well, probably because not many applicants knew about it.  Now, since almost every case gets short-listed, the likelihood of getting your case expedited without proof of exceptional reasons (e.g. family being separated) is much less.  Therefore, it is imperative to provide evidence at the time when you request to short-list your case.  To do so, you need to contact your local asylum office and following your local asylum office’s rules.

I have not filed taxes every year I have been a Permanent Resident. Does this mean I am ineligible for citizenship?2018-05-24T13:46:20-04:00

I have not filed taxes every year I have been a Permanent Resident. Does this mean I am ineligible for citizenship?

You are not automatically ineligible for citizenship, however, one of the important factors of obtaining approval for citizenship is displaying “good moral character.” One of the ways good moral character is determined is by paying taxes each year you were required to do so. Therefore, it is strongly advised to seek a tax expert to file your back taxes before applying for citizenship. This shows USCIS that you have continued efforts to display good moral character. If you owe back taxes, you can enter into a payment plan with IRS and show proof of such payment plan to the USCIS.

Can I file for citizenship even if I was arrested for DUI?2018-05-24T13:45:17-04:00

Can I file for citizenship even if I was arrested for DUI?

Not every arrest or charge will make you ineligible for citizenship. First, you must understand that being charged is not the same as being convicted. Only the crimes for which you were convicted or plead guilty will affect your eligibility for citizenship. But, let’s assume that you were convicted of DUI. How will it affect your citizenship case? the short answer is that, if  you had only one DUI, luckily, you will still be eligible for citizenship, if you properly disclose the incident and provide proper records. If you have been convicted of multiple DUIs or DWIs or other misdemeanors, the answer depends on the circumstances of your case. If you have any charges or convictions, before filing for citizenship you definitely must consult with a qualified immigration lawyer. Even if you do not end up hiring a lawyer for the process, at least get a detailed consultation.

Is it true that 3-year or 10-year immigration ban does not apply to J-1 or F-1 visas?2018-05-24T13:45:56-04:00

Is it true that 3-year or 10-year immigration ban does not apply to J-1 or F-1 visas?

Depends. There are two different notions, lawful status and lawful presence. One may lose his status, but remain in the period of lawful presence. A simple example is when someone applies for a change of status or when someone applies for asylum. During the pendency of the case, the applicant does not have a status but is lawfully present.[1] If the change of status is denied, the unlawful presence begins to count. Why is it important to differentiate lawful status from lawful presence? – Because the applicability of 3 and 10 year bans under INA 212(a)(9)(B) and (C) depends on the length of unlawful presence, not unlawful status.

Under INA 212(a)(9)(B), also known as 3-year ban, a person who spends more than 180 days but less than 365 while unlawfully present, will be banned from returning into the United States for the next 3 years, after she leaves the United States. But if the person accumulates more than 365 days of unlawful presence (i.e. spends more than one year in the US while unlawfully present), then he or she will be banned from returning into the US for the next 10 years.[2] This includes even immigrant visa process (green-card process) through marriage to a US citizen.[3] The ban becomes effective when the unlawfully present person leaves the US.[4]

For example, if someone who entered the US on a tourist visa, applied for asylum and then got selected for DV-lottery (i.e. won green-card in a lottery) during the asylum process, she may be able to obtain her green-card through a US consulate abroad. Whether she will be banned from returning will depend on the number of days spent in the US in unlawful presence. B-2 visitor is usually granted 6 months of lawful status, which in this case also means 6 months of lawful presence. If she applied for asylum before her B-2 visitor status expired and did not work without authorization while her asylum application was pending, then she did not begin to accrue any unlawful presence for the purposes of 3-year or 10-year ban. As such, she may be able to obtain her green-card through a US consulate. She cannot adjuster her status in the US, despite having a pending asylum case, because she does not have a lawful status. But she can leave the US and get her green-card through a US consulate abroad. Doing so will require many calculations and preparations, including possibly having to withdraw asylum application or, in the best-case scenario, obtaining an advance parole, so as not to lose her pending asylum case.

In the case of B-1, B-2, H-1B, and many other visas, the alien begins accruing unlawful presence when they overstay the expiration date indicated in their I-94 arrival-departure document. The same date is also written by the CBP officer on the entry stamp in the alien’s passport, when she enters the US using one of those visas. This is the date by which the alien must leave the US or extend/change/adjust her status. However, in the case of F-1 and J-1 visas, the I-94 and the stamp in the passport do not contain a definite deadline by which the alien must leave the US. In such cases, the stamp shows “D/S”, which means duration of status. According to the USCIS’s policy, such individuals who have “D/S” instead of a definitive date in their I-94s, do not begin to accrue unlawful presence unless and until one of the following occurs: (a) she applied for change of status, which got denied; (b) she successfully changed her status to another status (e.g. J-1 to B-2), which had a definitive deadline to depart now expired; (c) the immigration judge ordered her removal. In all other circumstances, she continues to remain lawfully present in the US despite her previous status violations or overstay of her F-1 or J-1 visa.

As such, an individual who overstays an F-1 or J-1 status, does not automatically begin to accrue unlawful presence for the purposes of 3-year or 10-year ban under INA 212(a)(9)(B) and (C).

[1] Note that in the case of pending asylum, if the applicant works before obtaining the work permit, the applicant begins accruing unlawful presence.

[2] INA 212(a)(9)(C)

[3] The ban applies to all forms of immigration, including non-immigrant and immigrant visas and marriage-based green-card process through US consulates.

[4] Except in the case of an advance parole. See Matter of Arrabally, 25 I&N Dec. 771 (BIA 2012).

When I became a Permanent Resident, I was supposed to register for the Selective Service. However, I was not aware of this requirement and therefore did not register before I aged out. Can I still file an application for citizenship?2018-05-24T13:47:12-04:00

When I became a Permanent Resident, I was supposed to register for the Selective Service. However, I was not aware of this requirement and therefore did not register before I aged out. Can I still file an application for citizenship?

If you did not register because you were unaware of the requirement, or were made aware after you passed the age to register, you can submit an affidavit along with your application explaining the reason why you did not. You should also obtain a Status Information Letter from the Selective Service stating that you are over the age and are no longer required to register. You can do so by calling their hotline or filling out the application on the Selective Service System website.

I would like to legally change my name. Should I do so on my application for citizenship, or after my citizenship is approved?2018-05-24T13:46:48-04:00

I would like to legally change my name. Should I do so on my application for citizenship, or after my citizenship is approved?

The decision of when to file for a legal name change is ultimately up to you. There is a question on the naturalization application asking if you would like to change your name. You may do so this way, however, there is a slight chance it will take longer for you to receive your approved citizenship due to the fact that since you are also changing your name, your Oath Ceremony must be done in court, as opposed to any of the other locations also used for Oath Ceremonies. It is not guaranteed to cause a delay, but there is the slight chance as it is dependent upon the availability in your jurisdiction. You can also make the request at the interview, or after your Oath Ceremony. However, if you wait until after you are naturalized and then want to change your name on your Certificate of Naturalization, there will be additional fees to do so.

I would like to apply for citizenship, however, I am elderly and it is difficult for me to retain new information. Can I be exempt from the language and civics exams for citizenship?2018-04-02T23:32:10-04:00

Your qualifications to be exempt are dependent upon your situation. If you are in good health, you cannot be exempt from the civics exam. However, you can be exempt from the English language exam if you are 50 or older and have been a permanent resident for 20 years, or if you are 55 or older and have been a permanent resident for 15 years. If this is the case, your civics exam will be given in your native language. Now, if you have a medical disability in addition to your elderly age, you may be exempt from both exams if you can prove you are unable to comply. To do so, you must submit Form N-648, Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions. This form is completed by a medical professional and USCIS will determine if you can be exempt.

Are there any exceptions to the one year filing deadline for asylum application?2018-05-24T13:48:00-04:00

Are there any exceptions to the one year filing deadline for asylum application?

Yes. You can apply for asylum even after one year deadline, if you demonstrate that there are:

    • changed circumstances which materially affect your eligibility; or
    • extraordinary circumstances causing the delay.

However, when these circumstances exist, you need to file the application within reasonable time given the exception.

“Changed circumstances” means new developments which now give rise to the reasonable possibility of persecution in your home country. It may be something you did while you were in the US, after one year deadline had passed, making you a target of possible persecution in your country, and thus, earning you basis for asylum. Or another example – you are a homosexual from a country which recently passed laws making it a crime.

“Extraordinary circumstances” usually means circumstances which made your asylum application either “impossible” or “unnecessary” within the one year of your presence in the US. An example of impossible is – you had a serious medical condition precluding you from filing your asylum application within one year of your entry into the US. An example of “unnecessary” is having a valid immigration status in the US and therefore not needing asylum to avoid returning to your home country. Thus, you can apply for asylum even after several years of presence in the US as a student on F-1 status or in any other non-immigrant status, such as H-1B, J-1, etc.

It is important to note that, even if you had changed or extraordinary circumstances, you must file for asylum “immediately” after those circumstances arise or stop existing. For example, if you are applying for asylum after one year deadline based on the changed country conditions, you must file the application immediately after those conditions change. Or if you file for asylum after one year deadline because you had a student visa status which you just lost (e.g. because you stopped going to school), then you need to file for asylum as soon as possible after you lose your status. The official term is “reasonable time.” However, the asylum officers interpret it to mean nearly immediately. Typically, a delay of less than 90 days counts as reasonable. But don’t take our word for it. There are multiple cases involving disputes and different interpretations. There is no specific amount of time set as “reasonable”. It dealt with on case-by-case basis.

I have already applied for a green card but now I want to apply for travel document and work permit while my application is pending. Do I have to pay extra to be able to receive work permit or advance parole since I already filed my I-485?2018-05-24T13:48:23-04:00

I have already applied for a green card but now I want to apply for travel document and work permit while my application is pending. Do I have to pay extra to be able to receive work permit or advance parole since I already filed my I-485?

The filing fees for the I-485 adjustment of status include the filing fees for both work and travel authorization. Even if you have already filed the I-485, you can submit the applications for work and travel authorization at any time without an additional fee. Just be sure to provide proof of your pending I-485 in the form of a copy of your receipt notice with your applications.

I entered the United States with an Immigrant Visa, do I need to apply to adjust my status in order to receive a green card?2018-05-24T13:48:51-04:00

I entered the United States with an Immigrant Visa, do I need to apply to adjust my status in order to receive a green card?

If you applied on the basis of an Immigrant Visa to enter the United States, you do not need to adjust your status. As long as you pay the USCIS Immigrant Fee, preferably before entering the United States, the green card will be created and automatically mailed to the address previously listed on your application. If for any reason you do not receive the card 30 days after entering, you can contact our firm or follow up with USCIS on the status of the card.

My I-751 has been pending for almost a year, the receipt notice shows it has been extended for only one year. Will I fall out of status?2018-05-24T13:47:37-04:00

My I-751 has been pending for almost a year, the receipt notice shows it has been extended for only one year. Will I fall out of status?

Currently (as of February 2017) the USCIS processing times for I-751’s is 11 months and sometimes more. However, that typically fluctuates and can cause your application to be pending for over one year. You will not fall out of status even if USCIS is continuing to process your case past the one year extension. But to provide proof that your application is still pending and you are not out of status, you can attend an InfoPass appointment at your local USCIS office, where the USCIS officer can stamp your passport to show you are still in status. If your application falls outside the normal processing time, you can also call the USCIS main phone number and submit a case inquiry for them to check on the status of your case or place a service request.

After I entered the United States on B1/B2 visitor visa, the US consulate contacted me via e-mail and informed that my visa was revoked and cancelled. Does this mean I am now out of status? What should I do?2018-05-24T13:49:46-04:00

After I entered the United States on B1/B2 visitor visa, the US consulate contacted me via e-mail and informed that my visa was revoked and cancelled. Does this mean I am now out of status? What should I do?

The revocation or cancellation of your visa does not revoke your status. Visa and status are two different things. Your status continues until the date stamped in your passport when you entered. After you enter the United States, the duration of your visa in the passport does not affect the duration of your authorized stay. Even if your visa expires, you can stay in the US as long as it is shown on your Form I-94 and stamped by CBP officer upon your entry. So, to answer your question, as long as you leave before the status expires, you will not be violating your status.

Now the issue you have is that, for some reason, the consulate is unhappy about your trip to the United States. Therefore, they are cancelling your tourist or visitor visa (B-1 / B-2). This usually happens when the consulate determines some negative or inconsistent information about you, your application, or your trip. For example, if during your visa interview or in your visa application you informed the consulate that you are planning to visit the US for a period of 2 weeks. Subsequently, after you enter the country, you spend several months here. If the consulate finds out, they will be upset and may decide to cancel your visa. Even if the consulate does not find out about the inconsistency in the intended length of your visit at this point, they will do so when you apply for a new visa and, in will probably deny your new visa at that time.

Therefore, it is important to provide truthful and detailed information to the consulate about your intended trip. It also goes without saying that you must truthfully answer all other questions in the visa application. The same issue comes up often when the applicants do not provide information about their relatives in the US. When the consulate finds out, they get furious and often cancel visas. Finally, please note that, often consulates keep a close watch after the first-time visitors. This means that, for example, the consulate issues a visa to the first-time applicant, and then observes that applicant’s behavior and actions in the US. They can even follow your social media profiles for any photographs or other evidence of inconsistency with the stated purpose of your visit.

Can I travel outside the United States while my asylum application is pending?2018-05-24T13:50:17-04:00

Can I travel outside the United States while my asylum application is pending?

We strongly recommend not to travel during your asylum case processing. Even though, there is not an automatic ban, leaving the US while having a pending asylum application may cause denial of your asylum application, delays and other unfavorable consequences. In emergency situations, the applicant may apply for Advance Parole to get an authorization. However, Advance Parole is rarely granted in pending asylum cases and, even if granted, it does not guarantee your return. It will be under discretion of the US Customer and Border Protection (CBP) officials to allow or ban the applicant’s re-entry.

 

How much money should I invest to get E-2 visa?2019-05-09T12:21:10-04:00

How much money should I invest to get E-2 visa?

There is not the exact amount limit as a minimum or maximum for E-2 investment. The law requires that the investment be “substantial.”  Typically, an investment of $100,000 or more satisfies the substantiality test. The important factor for E-2 investment is proportionality – the amount you invest should be proportionate to business you do. In other words, you must invest sufficient amount to ensure that the business operation will be successfully fulfilled. While making the decision, the USCIS considers substantiality of E-2 visa investment, which means the nature of the business and amount of the investment should be proportionate. Additionally, the higher investment amount makes it easier to obtain the E-2 visa.

 

Can I petition for a family member or spouse living outside the United States while I am also living outside the United States?2018-04-10T04:04:49-04:00

A United States Citizen or Permanent Resident may file a petition for an immediate relative while living abroad. However, they must be able to prove to the National Visa Center and the selected Embassy that they are still domiciled in the United States. This means that they must show that their time abroad is only temporary, and they will be returning to the United States before or upon the approval of the petition for their relative. Evidence must be provided to prove the Petitioner’s U.S. domicile. Examples of such evidence include maintaining a U.S. residence (mortgage statements, lease agreements, etc.), a job offer from a U.S. based employer, maintaining of U.S. bank accounts and other types of evidence.

NOTICE: The information contained on this site is intended to educate the general public and not to provide legal advice. To obtain proper legal assistance, please contact a qualified attorney.

I have a green card. I filed I-130 (Immediate Relative Petition) for my wife and my child, who reside abroad. The petition was approved, but as I understand, it will take almost 2 years to bring them here. Can I bring them with a tourist visa or V visa?2018-05-24T13:55:32-04:00

I have a green card. I filed I-130 (Immediate Relative Petition) for my wife and my child, who reside abroad. The petition was approved, but as I understand, it will take almost 2 years to bring them here. Can I bring them with a tourist visa or V visa?

Unfortunately, both of those methods are not available.  Your family is not eligible for a tourist visa, because they have an immigrant intent.  For a tourist visa, they have to prove that they have no intention of living in the US permanently.  But, since they are clearly intending to immigrate into the US, based on your petition, they would not be eligible for tourist visas.

They are also not eligible for V visas, because their case had not been pending for over 3 years.  V visas are only available if the priority dates are so delayed, that the beneficiary had been waiting for over 3 years.  There have been no V visas issued for many years lately, because the priority dates for spouses and children of lawful permanent residents have been less than 3 years.

 

I am a citizen of Azerbaijan and would like to apply for E-2 visa. Can I file for change of status or do I have to go back and apply through the consulate?2018-05-24T13:54:00-04:00

I am a citizen of Azerbaijan and would like to apply for E-2 visa. Can I file for change of status or do I have to go back and apply through the consulate?

The toughest part of E-2 cases from Azerbaijan is proving the source of income, because almost no one trusts banks or most individuals do not use bank accounts in Azerbaijan.  Most transactions in Azerbaijan are made in cash.  Even if it is a sale of real estate, the initial transfer of funds occurs through a bank account, but then the seller immediately withdraws the funds and stores it in the form of cash.  Income and taxes are very poorly documented.  The good news is that the consulate there is aware of those conditions.  However, the USCIS here is not well aware of it and often denies change of status cases due to a lack of evidence proving source of funds invested.  Therefore, I never recommend my clients from Azerbaijan to file for change of status, and instead, advise them to go through the US consulate in Baku. The consulate in Baku likes to receive copies of the supporting documents two weeks prior to the visa interview.  Best of luck!

 

Can disability and social security be used to sponsor an immigrant on the I-864, Affidavit of Support Form?2018-05-24T13:53:28-04:00

Can disability and social security be used to sponsor an immigrant on the I-864, Affidavit of Support Form?

Yes, because sponsorship is determined by the expected income of the current year (as opposed to the income on the previous year’s tax return) disability, workman’s compensation and Social Security can all be used to qualify to sponsor an immigrant. Even if the income is not taxable (i.e. disability), you can still show the evidence of the income with multiple pay stubs and checks issued to you that verify how much you earn in disability each month.

 

Can I submit my Application for Naturalization (N-400) while my Petition to Remove the Conditions of Residence (I-751) is still pending?2018-04-10T04:05:13-04:00

Yes, the processing times for I-751’s have been gradually increasing, to the point that they may still be pending once you become eligible to apply for Naturalization. USCIS allows Applicants to have both I-751’s and N-400’s pending at the same time.

NOTICE: The information contained on this site is intended to educate the general public and not to provide legal advice. To obtain proper legal assistance, please contact a qualified attorney.

I asked for extension of B-2 status, which was denied. I now applied for asylum. How does my application for B-2 extension affect my asylum case?2018-05-24T13:58:04-04:00

I asked for extension of B-2 status, which was denied. I now applied for asylum. How does my application for B-2 extension affect my asylum case?

Every application and interaction with the USCIS or DOS creates extra questions in the context of asylum process.  One of the tasks of an asylum officer is to verify the applicant’s credibility. One of the ways by which the officer checks the applicant’s credibility is by comparing the asylum application to the applicant’s previous applications and comparing the information provided in the previous forms and visa applications with the information provided in the asylum application and asylum interview.

The situation with applying for extension of visitor or tourist status prior to applying for asylum is especially delicate, because, to be eligible for a visitor status, the applicant must demonstrate that he/she has a home country residence to which the applicant intends to return.  But, on the other hand, to be eligible for asylum, the applicant must demonstrate that he/she is not willing and cannot return to his/her home country.  Thus, an application for extension of B-2 visitor, in most instances, contradicts the asylum application and damages the applicant’s credibility.  The applicant’s credibility may be restored, if the applicant proves that his/her intent or grounds for asylum application came up after the B-2 extension.  For example, it is possible that the applicant filed for extension or change to B-2 visitor status, hoping that the situation in the applicant’s country would change and the applicant would be able to return during the six months of the requested stay and, when at a later time, the applicant realized that his/her return is impossible or dangerous, the applicant decides to file for asylum.

Therefore, in general, applying for any non-immigrant status, such as visitor visa (B-2) or student visa (F-1), while intending to apply for asylum is contradictory and not recommended.  Of course, making any misrepresentations or providing false information may be deadly for asylum chances.

I used false information to obtain B-2 tourist visa and applied for asylum after I entered the US. What are my chances?2018-05-24T13:56:55-04:00

I used false information to obtain B-2 tourist visa and applied for asylum after I entered the US. What are my chances?

Prior to every asylum interview, the USCIS asylum office obtains from the consulate copies of all your visa applications.  The asylum officer will review the forms and information you provided during the consular process and compare it to the information you provided in the asylum application.  If there are any inconsistencies or contradictions, the asylum officer during your asylum interview, must ask you questions about your visa application and give you a chance to explain.

If the asylum officer is satisfied that you had provided false information in your visa application because you had no other ways to escape the risk of harm or to avoid persecution in your home country, then your asylum case will not be denied for this reason.  According to the USCIS Asylum Officer’s Manual, the officers are instructed to not deny asylum applications solely based on the false information provided by the applicant during the consulate visa application or for gaining entry into the US.  The officer is instructed to ask questions and to determine if the applicant lacks credibility.  The key is to make sure to tell the truth when asked about the visa application.  If you lied during your visa application, not everything is lost, and you may have an explanation.  But if you continue lying at the interview, your asylum application will certainly be denied.  In other words, when the officer asks you questions at the interview, you must come clean, give truthful information and honestly answer all questions at the asylum interview.

If you truthfully answer all questions at the asylum interview, your previous misrepresentations to the consulate, may be forgiven and become irrelevant.  But your misrepresentations at the asylum interview or at the individual hearing will not be forgiven.  The logic behind this is that, providing false information to flee the country due a risk of immediate harm, may be understandable.  But providing false information to obtain asylum is not justifiable.

 

I applied for asylum, but my family members are still in Iraq. How do I expedite my asylum case?2018-05-24T13:56:05-04:00

I applied for asylum, but my family members are still in Iraq. How do I expedite my asylum case?

First, your family members may be eligible for Humanitarian Parole.  Humanitarian Parole is designed to allow the applicants to expeditiously enter the United States due to a compelling emergency.  The current processing time anywhere between 3 weeks to 3 months.  To be eligible for Humanitarian Parole, you must demonstrate that your family members are either under a risk of harm or have some medical condition that needs immediate care or any other urgent humanitarian reason.  Simply, showing the need to reunite your family is not enough.  To file for Humanitarian Parole, you (i.e. the person in the US) would file form I-131 for each family member, attaching a detailed affidavit and evidence of the emergency condition.  Each case is considered separately.  However, it is frequently granted to family members of asylum applicants who are under risk of harm or need of urgent care.

Now, as to expediting the asylum interview or hearing, you must contact your local asylum office or file a motion with the immigration court.  You can also request the expedited individual hearing at your master hearing.  The judge will ask you why your hearing should be expedited, and if you demonstrate that your family is separated, the court may put your case on short list, which means that your hearing will be scheduled at the first available window, when, for example, another hearing gets cancelled or new time slot becomes available.  Same applies for the USCIS asylum offices.  If you demonstrate that your family is still in Iraq, the asylum office may put your case on a short-list of expedited cases.

Each asylum office had its own system of short-listing cases.  For example, the Arlington Asylum Office, at least until recent times, was accepting short list requests for every case, as long as your application is full and complete and does not need any supplementation.  In the past, the Arlington Asylum Office’s short list worked well, probably because not many applicants knew about it.  Now, since almost every case gets short-listed, the likelihood of getting your case expedited without proof of exceptional reasons (e.g. family being separated) is much less.  Therefore, it is imperative to provide evidence at the time when you request to short-list your case.  To do so, you need to contact your local asylum office and following your local asylum office’s rules.

 

Article Information
US citizenship and Immigration Services

Article Title: Immigration

Short Description: I.S. Law Firm has expertise in all areas of immigration law. Our experience has taught us that working closely with our clients throughout the immigration process is essential to avoiding mistakes and ensuring the successful completion of their applications as quickly as possible. Immigration is one of the most complicated areas of law in the United States, in part because the laws and regulations governing it are constantly evolving. Minor mistakes in the application process can lead to delays, extra costs, and other unfavorable consequences. While some firms use the same forms and procedures for all clients, we treat our clients as individuals and take the time to carefully evaluate the specific laws that apply to each case.

Author: Ismail Shahtakhtinski

Publisher - Orgnization: I.S. Law Firm, PLLC

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