Nov
20

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder, and the Threat of Deportation Stronger – Understanding the Effect of Omission in Visa Applications

The journey from visa applicant to American citizen can be long and arduous. At best, it takes years, and in some cases, decades. So, receiving a Notice to Appear in Immigration Court after your naturalization interview is incredibly frustrating. After applying, often multiple times, for a visa, finally receiving it, arriving in the United States, and spending years as a green card holder, the next step should be simple: you file your N400, attend your interview, swear the oath, and become a citizen. However, many applicants stumble at this last step and find themselves facing...

Nov
14

Moving Forward After Loss: What Happens if the Petitioner Passes Away while the Case Remains Pending

Moving Forward After Loss:  What Happens if the Petitioner Passes Away while the Case Remains Pending?  During the COVID-19 pandemic, families across the globe are facing loss in record numbers. Faced with this reality, many US citizen and Lawful Permanent Residents who have filed for loved ones now wonder: if my relative passes while applying for me, what happens then?  Does my petition pass away too?

Overview of Section 204(l) Relief

Years ago, the answer to this question was “yes.” Now, however, when the qualifying relative passes away before the applicant receives their green...

Oct
4

Why Is My Case Moving so Slowly - Understanding the USCIS Tortoise

Why Hasn’t Your Case Been Decided Yet? Nationwide, you and millions of families, businesses, and individuals applying for immigration benefits are waiting longer for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to process and approve applications and petitions.  It has been a difficult time for many and created undue stress.  Many people have had issues with their employers, and the constant shifting of standards has only created confusion.

Based on previously available USCIS data, in Fiscal Year (FY) 2014, an average case took about five months to process. In FY2020, an average...

May
16

The Longest Mile – the Status of Pending U Visa Applications 2021

A person can qualify for a U visa if they have been the victim of certain, generally felony-level, crimes.  They must cooperate in the investigation and/or prosecution of the crime.  The victim must also have suffered significant harm because of the crime. 

Congress created U visas in 2000 through the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act.  Congress established a pool of 10,000 U visas each year.  Notably, family members of U visa applicants do not count toward the 10,000-visa limit.  The quantity of U visa applicants has exploded, especially since 2013, as more people...

Mar
14

May I Go? Traveling While Naturalizing

Many people ask whether they may travel internationally once they have filed their applications for naturalization. The answer is that, generally, yes, a lawful permanent resident may travel outside the United States while their naturalization application is pending. 

However, there are very clear limitations.  First, if a lawful permanent resident is absent from the US for more than 180 days in a single trip at any time, it can restart the clock that runs toward eligibility for naturalization.  This applies whether a person has already or not yet applied for naturalization.  A person...

Nov
4

The Uncertain World of Surrogacy and US Immigration

When exploring the use of an overseas surrogate to give birth to a child, it is vital to plan for immigration-related issues that may arise. While many international surrogacy agencies provide guidance on how to have your baby, many lack the guidance about how to return to the United States once your child is born. This causes stress, frustration, and panic while in a foreign country. Depending on the immigration status of the parent(s), the child will either derive U.S. citizenship at birth or must submit an adjustment application to become a lawfully admitted permanent resident.

In...

Jun
24

USCIS Is Broke for All the Wrong Reasons

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) says it’s out of money and they want immigrants to pay for it even though the agency’s misplaced priorities and expenditures are to blame.   Within the last several years, the Trump administration has inappropriately changed the mission of the agency.  In 2019 , the controversially Trump appointed Acting  USCIS Chief , Kenneth T. (Ken) Cuccinelli, , declared USCIS as “a vetting agency, not a benefits agency.”  Consequently, the agency has invested a majority of its resources into what they’ve mislabeled as “vetting” and...

Apr
15

Up in Smoke - Legalized Marijuana and the Loss of Immigration Status

Although legalization of marijuana is becoming more prevalent throughout states, the use and sale of marijuana remains illegal under federal law. Because immigration benefits are controlled by federal law, this differential could pose serious inadmissibility, removability, and good moral character issues for noncitizens living and working in states where marijuana is legal. Even if a noncitizen possessed, used, or sold marijuana in accordance with state law, his or her lawful immigration status, or ability to obtain lawful immigration status, could still be in jeopardy.

In states where...

Feb
23

Credible Fear Interviews and the Third Country Transit Rule

For individuals seeking asylum in the United States, arriving at the US border may signify the end to their physical journey; however, it also marks the beginning of a longer legal journey navigating the credible fear screening process and, more recently, the “third-country-transit asylum eligibility bar.” Think of the credible fear screening process as the key to a locked door – if the individual can obtain the key (a positive credible fear determination), then he or she can “enter” the United States and apply for protection. But, if an individual cannot obtain the key (a...

Jan
18

When Is a Person a Good Person? USCIS' Evolving Character Standard

When is a person a good person?   The law is rather clear.  However, USCIS continues to engage in a campaign to rewrite the law to get it getter authority to deny otherwise qualified applicants for naturalization.    This is part of the administration's vigorous effort to slant the law against approving an application instead of toward approving an application.   The latest twist ignores years of litigation that established clear boundaries for who can and cannot prove whether they are a person of good moral character.   

When making the decision to apply for naturalization, there...

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