Tag: green card

Can My Spouse Adjust if I am an LPR

If I am a green card holder, can my spouse stay in the United States if I file for adjustment of status for them?

Hi. I’m Jim Hacking, Immigration Lawyer practicing law throughout the United States out of our office here in St. Louis, Missouri. Every now and then, we come across a case where there’s a lawful permitted resident, let’s call him Juan, living in the United States.

Let’s say also that his spouse, Maria, happens to be in the United States, let’s say, on the student visa, so she is not a lawful permitted resident. She is just the spouse of a lawful permitted resident, and the question is, what type of status does Maria have to maintain in order to be able to stay in the United States.

Here’s the general rule. If you want to adjust your status, you need to be in valid immigration status at the time of your adjustment. In a situation like this, Maria would need to maintain her student status throughout the time the green card case is pending. The reason for this is that there’s a backlog on the processing of green card cases for the spouses of green card holders.

I know that sounds a little bit confusing but, basically, there are a limit on the number of green cards that are available in all kinds of green card categories, and that includes green cards for the spouses of green card holders. That is lawful permanent residences, husbands or wives.

That is the kind of thing that can screw people up because they assume that, once they file for the green card based on their marriage to a green card holder, that that allows them to stay in the United States. Some of this confusion comes from the fact that the spouse of a U.S. citizen who is out of status is allowed to adjust status.

The rules are different when you’re married to a U.S. citizen so, if Juan were already a U.S. citizen, then if Maria were out of status at the time that they applied for adjustment or at the time of her interview, that would be forgiven, the fact that she was out of status, but that rule only applies to U.S. citizens. That rule does not apply to spouses of lawful permanent residents.

That’s really where the confusion comes in. If you are married to a green card holder and if you want to adjust your status, you need to make sure that you find some valid status to be in and that you maintain that status both at the time that you file and at the time of your actual adjustment. In a lot of situations, that can be up to a year and a half or two years or even longer, depending on how many people are in line ahead of you.

This can be a really confusing issue. We’ve seen people screw it up. We’ve seen the immigration service screw it up so, if you have questions about how this works or about how we could help you with that, how you can go about maintaining your status, be sure to give us a call at 314-961-8200, or you can email us at info@hackinglawpractice.com.

We hope you liked this video. If you did, please be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel or our Facebook group, Immigrant Home. You can also share this on social media. We really appreciate it. It helps spread the word, and make sure to subscribe so that you get updates and alerts when we file new videos to the web.

Thanks a lot, and have a great day.

Green Card Holders Barred From Enlisting in Army Reserve

A public affairs officer explained recently that “for the time being” green card holders are unable to enlist in the Army Reserve, but are not barred from enlisting in the army overall.  The officer claimed the change is because of a new Department of Defense policy that requires stricter vetting standards for green card holders and that background checks must be completed prior to green card holders shipping off for basic training.

The public officer made this statement in clarification of an email sent to Army recruiters from the chief of the Accessions Suitability Office Guard Strength Division that said, “EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY DO NOT ‘SHIP’ OR ‘ENLIST’ ANY FOREIGN NATIONAL’S (ALL 1-551 CARD HOLDERS) UNTIL FURHTER NOTICE.”

Army recruiters have been told to stop enlisting green card holders into the Army Reserve effective immediately, according to an email sent to military recruiters and obtained by Mic, a move that experts say breaks federal law.

The Defense Department’s chief of accession declared in a news release, “Effective immediately, all green holders must complete a background investigation and receive a favorable military suitability determination prior to entering any component of the armed forces.”  Prior to this policy change, green card holders were able to enlist and go to basic training as long as a background check had been started.

Due to a backlog of background checks, the new policy is expected to delay enlisted green card holders from shipping out to basic training for at least a year.

Green card holders are unable to enlist in the Army Reserve due to the change in policy because, according to the director of public affairs at the U.S. Army Recruiting Command, there is not a Delayed Entry Pool where enlistees can wait for background checks to be completed.

Federal law states that an “alien who is lawfully admitted for permanent residence” can enlist in “any armed force.”  Not allowing green card holders to enlist in the military would violate this law.

For more information, click here.

Firm Attorney Andrew Bloomberg Notches 3 Wins This Week

Sometimes in immigration wins come in strange forms.

This was certainly true this week for three cases that firm attorney Andrew Bloomberg is handling.

Back in March, we were approached by a couple two weeks before their marriage-based green card interview.  The immigrant, who we will call Robert, had just been arrested and charged with a crime which, if he had been convicted, would likely have led to not only to the denial of his green card application, but very possibly to his deportation.

Andrew prepped the couple on how to talk about the arrest at the interview in a way that was honest, but did as little damage as possible.  The couple attended the interview with Andrew and readied themselves for the inevitable request for evidence from USCIS.

Andrew also got in touch with Robert’s criminal defense attorney to work with him in trying to get an outcome to the case that would have the least possible immigration consequences.  The criminal case dragged on and Andrew had to get an extension of the request for evidence deadline.

Finally, last month, it seemed like Robert had the opportunity to plead guilty to a much less serious offense.  Andrew was on the phone with the criminal defense attorney and the client while the plea was being written, and we were able to convince the prosecutor to change the document in the Courthouse to make it better for our client – details always matter in immigration, and particularly when criminal convictions are involved.

When the plea was finalized, Andrew submitted it to USCIS with an explanation of why it shouldn’t impact Robert’s green card application.  Less than a week later, we got word that Robert’s green card had been approved.  Robert pleaded guilty – but by doing it in the right way, he won his green card.

Also in the last few weeks, we were hired separately by two families whose undocumented loved ones had been arrested and taken into custody by ICE.  Both families live in California, but their loved ones were taken into custody in Missouri.

In deportation proceedings, timing can be everything – in addition to the hardship of being incarcerated, proceedings for detained individuals move very, very fast.  We believe that both of these clients have defenses available to them, but the defenses require the gathering of lots of complicated evidence.

Trying to get them released on bond was important not just to get them out of jail, but to gain time to build defenses.  Both clients had some criminal issues over the years, which often makes it very hard to get immigration bond.

Andrew worked with the families to gather supporting evidence of their rehabilitation, and their ties to the community, and submitted this to the Immigration Court along with a short memo on why bond should be granted.

In telephone proceedings at the EOIR in Kansas City this week, Andrew argued that our clients were not threats to the community or flight risks, and the Immigration Judge granted both bonds over the objections of the Government attorney.

While these clients are still in deportation proceedings, they can be with their families and there is much more time to build the strongest possible cases to keep them in the United States.

Congratulations to Andrew.  We are lucky to have you at the firm!

Love is Love in Immigration Land

Good morning, party people. Happy first Monday in August. I can’t remember what day it is. Hope all is well. I’m here in South Haven, Michigan. Thought I’d give you a little shot of what it looks like. There’s the lighthouse. Having just a great time. Got up here a couple days ago. We did a really cool family photo shoot last night. I posted one of the pictures but the real ones that are coming, they are really great. We haven’t done that in a long time. My parents are celebrating their 49th wedding anniversary this year and I just thought I’d make this video to talk about love.

Had two cases at the office in the last couple weeks. You know, one of our favorite things to do is to put up pictures of our clients once they get their green cards. These are marriage based green card cases. But we’ve had two cases lately where our clients were same sex couples and we couldn’t publish their photos because people in their families didn’t know that one of the people or that they were gay. And that really just has bummed me out. I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately and thinking about a America that we still live in and an America that’s unjust, that’s unfair, that is still angry and hateful.

And if there’s one thing I’ve seen working with couples over the last 10 years in getting them together and keeping them together in the United States is that love is love. And that I’m going to fight and we’re going to fight at our office for everybody who wants to stay together and who wants to love. You know, we’re not going to help people that are involved in fake marriages or anything like that, but that when it comes to love, we want to be there for people. We want to help make the world a better place. We want to help people stay together. And I don’t care who you are, I don’t care if you have an arranged marriage, I don’t care if you have a shotgun marriage, I don’t care if you have same sex marriage, love is love. And life is too short to go through life without being able to be who you want to be and be who you want to be with. And if the federal government wants to try to stop you then they’re going to have to deal with us. And if hateful people are going to have to live with it and if they try to cause trouble, we will fight for you.

So I just wanted to share. I got a little teary eyed at the end of the photo session. My dad, we helped him over to the place where he had to stand and he sat down and he gave my mom a kiss. And to see that after 49 years of everything they’ve been through was really, really special. And so I’m lucky to have the love of my life, Amany, at 18 years together and we have four beautiful kids. I’m very blessed, very lucky and I just wanted to share that all with you today. And we’ll phase out with another shot of the lighthouse. I’m on the pier in South Haven, Michigan. It’s pretty beautiful. Peace out everybody. Go love somebody.

 

 

Winning the Diversity Visa Lottery is Just the First Step

Winning the lottery is just the first step.

Back in the fall of 2016 we were approached by a family – mom, dad, and two adorable kids.  Mom had just won the diversity visa lottery.  The couple was originally from Iraq and were here in the United States studying on F1 visas.
This is an annual process in which the U.S. State Department accepts annual entries of people from countries that are underrepresented in immigration to the United States.  If they are selected, they are then eligible for immigrant visas for themselves, their spouse, and their kids.
If the winners are outside the country, the case is processed through an Embassy abroad.  If they are inside the country with a valid status, such as a student visa, they can apply for their green cards in the United States.
As with everything in immigration, however, there is a catch.
Winning the lottery gives you a number and that number gives you the earliest date at which you can apply for your green cards, in this case the middle of spring.  And the case needs to be completed by September 30, for a process that with other kinds of green cards frequently takes up to a year.  No room for error.
We worked with this family throughout the spring to gather all of the documents so that we could get it on file as soon as possible.  We filed four green card applications  in late April and requested expedited interviews.
On July 27, mom, dad, two kids, a toy dinosaur, and attorney Andrew Bloomberg went to the USCIS office here in St. Louis for a very thorough interview.  Later that day, we got word that all four cases had been approved.
Congratulations to our four new permanent residents, and a reminder that sometimes it pays to play the lottery!

Indian Doctors Face Deportation Due to Paperwork Error

Two Indian physicians who reside in Houston, Texas, face imminent deportation from the United States due to a paperwork error.

Dr. Pankaj Satija is a neurologist who helped found the Pain and Headache Centers of Texas.  His wife, Dr. Monnika Ummat, have resided in the U.S. for many, many years.  Dr. Ummat is also a neurologist.  She specializes in treating epilepsy at Texas Children’s Hospital.  They are the parents of 2 U.S. citizens, 7-year-old Ralph and 4-year-old Zoeey.

The pair faced removal last week after immigration officials refused to extend Dr. Satija’s and Dr. Ummat’s temporary permission to stay in the U.S.  The decision by Homeland Security may cause dozens of Texans who suffer from neurological disorders to be without their doctors.

“I have 50 patients today and 40 patients tomorrow,” said Dr. Satija. “I’m just concerned they’ll be left in a lurch. They could land up in the emergency room.”

The Houston Methodist Hospital System sponsored Dr. Satija for a green card (lawful permanent resident status) in 2008.  Dr. Ummat would be eligible to adjust status as his spouse.  But because the couple are from India and because USCIS has a nearly decade-long backlog for Indian professionals to adjust status, they have not yet received their LPR status.

The couple regularly renewed their travel documents and work authorizations.  But last year, their permission to travel abroad was extended for only one year instead of two years, which had typically been what they received.  Later snafus by Customs and Border Patrol contributed to the confusion.

The couple never noticed the problem.  Then Dr. Satija’s brother called from India to tell him that their father had been admitted into intensive care and was gravely ill.  The entire family flew to India.

When they returned to the U.S., they learned that they had left the U.S. on expired advance parole documents (the formal name for the travel documents).

CBP allowed the couple to enter the U.S. on deferred inspection, which means they were allowed in but would have to explain how they believed they were entitled to stay at a later date.

When they brought their paperwork back to CBP, they were initially told that everything would be okay.  But the next day, they were told “[s]omebody up there has decided you have to leave the country in the next 24 hours.”

According to the Houston Chronicle, in two expansive immigration memos the Trump administration issued in February, it directed the nation’s three main immigration agencies to “sparingly” use the practice of parole, though it hasn’t yet detailed the new regulations.

At the end of last week, DHS did agree to give the couple another 90 days to try and sort out the situation.

This story demonstrates a few themes we talk about at the Hacking Law Practice on a regular basis.

First, it is absolutely ridiculous that we have an immigration system that takes nine years for a pair of super-qualified doctors from India to get lawful resident status.

Second, it is absurd that we are even talking about the possibility of deporting these people who serve sick Americans every day of their lives.

Third, immigrants are awesome and help this country every day.

 

Here’s What Happens When You File a Fake Green Card Case

 

Can I get away with immigration fraud if my spouse decides not to sponsor me anymore?

Hi, I’m Jim Hacking immigration lawyer practicing all throughout the United States. Yeah, it’s a ridiculous title to this video.

I have to tell you that I had something happen for the first time in my many years of legal experience. That is that someone came into my office and they told me flat out that they had paid seven thousand dollars to a friend, a US citizen friend to sponsor them for a green card based on a fake marriage. I honestly have never had that happen before and I have to tell you I was quite surprised. I was surprised that someone was that honest. I was surprised that they had the nerve to tell me. I was surprised that they were even thinking about how to get back at their US citizen spouse for not going through with the promise to perpetuate this fraud. I believe what happened is that as the interview date got closer, the US citizen wised up to what they were doing was a crime under federal law and they didn’t want to go through with it. That’s a good thing.

You shouldn’t file fake immigration cases. It’s one of the worst things you can do. It can prevent you from getting any kind of benefit whatsoever. In addition, it also makes it harder on all the good people who want to get a green card the right way who have a valid marriage. It’s bec of people that pay off other people to get them a green card that cases are harder for regular folks who are just trying to do the right thing. I was quite upset with this person. I held my anger and I told her that this is not a good thing that you did and you should be glad that you’re not going through with it anymore. My advice to her was that she should withdraw this fraud and the petition. Now that leaves her out of status and she’s been out of status for a really long time which is probably why she went ahead and paid for this. Here’s the thing folks, don’t assume that immigration lawyers are going to help you with your fraudulent fake marriage cases. That’s not our job. That’s not what we’re here for. Our job is to help the people who have legitimate claims for lawful permanent resident status for people that are married to real life citizens and have real life marriages.

We want to make sure that we’re not poisoning the well and making immigration think that we file for those claims. We don’t file for those claims. We don’t file fake claims and this person is exactly the kind of person that makes life difficult for the rest of the applicants. Obviously it should go without saying that you should never file a fraudulent marriage based case. Immigration will find out about it. We’ve had many cases in the office recently where immigration has found out about it and so if you are considering filing for a green card, it has to be legitimate. It has to be a real marriage based on what? Love. Nothing else. Not for an immigration benefit. Not because it’s convenient. Not because they want to be able to keep working. We get married for one reason and one reason alone and that reason is love. Don’t listen to anybody who tells you otherwise. Don’t engage in immigration fraud. This couple was headed to a denial. They were headed to a finding that the immigrant beneficiary had engaged in fraud, that the US citizen had engaged in fraud, they could be criminally prosecuted and they sure as heck weren’t going to get a green card.

That knowledge is an expensive lesson. I can’t believe that someone would pay that or would engage in such behavior. If you have such a case, don’t take it to this law office. We don’t have any interest in it. We’re not about filing fake immigration cases. Some people think that the only reason you need a lawyer is when you have a fake immigration case and that’s completely wrong. I’m sure that the vast majority of fraudulent immigration cases are filed by people who don’t have attorneys. Any reputable attorney would turn it down. We do sometimes hear about attorneys who don’t but I’ll tell you this right now.

Don’t ever come in here and try to pedal a fake immigration case past us. We’ll figure it out and immigration will figure it out and you’ll get deported if not, sent to jail first. That’s our lesson for today. Enough pontificating. We’re not here to berate you or to make you mad. Rather we want to educate you on the perils and the problems associated with filing a fake immigration case. Do you so at your peril. You will get caught, you will get punished, and you deserve it. All right. If you have any questions give us a call. 314-961-8200. We’d love to help you out with any legitimate spouse cases.

In the meantime, make sure you subscribe to our YouTube channel. That you like us on Facebook. We also have a Facebook group where we post news and immigration related issues on our Facebook group. It’s called Immigrant Home. So if you want to do a search for Immigrant Home you can find it on there. Otherwise, feel free to email us info@hackinglawpractice.com. Or you can call us at 3149618200. Thanks a lot. Peace.

 

USCIS Announces Steep Filing Fee Increases

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services USCIS has announced an increase to many of the fees associated with filing for immigration benefits in the United States.  This is the first fee increase in six years.

The increase goes into effect on December 23, 2016.

The average fee increase is 21 percent.

The biometric fee for all applicable applications will remain $85.

uscis

Naturalization and Citizenship

The cost to naturalize (N-400) in most cases will increase from $595 to $640 (with the biometrics fee, this amount will be $725).

One slight tweak to the filing fee requirement is that applicants with income greater than 150% but not more than 200% of the federal guidelines will pay a reduced fee of $405, including biometrics.

The naturalization fee waiver will remain available to lawful permanent residents who receive public assistance or have incomes under 150% of those poverty guidelines.

The fee for form N-600, the application for a certificate of citizenship, will increase almost 100% – from $600 to $1170.  This form is generally used for lawful permanent residents who became citizens as a matter of law, usually because their custodial parent became a citizen before they turned 18 years old.

Family-Based Immigration

The fee for an I-130 relative petition, which includes spouse petitions, will increase from $420 to $535.

Adjustment of status (I-485) application fees will go up from $985 to $1140.  So with biometrics, the total adjustment of status fee will go from $1140 to $1225.

Applications for a travel document (I-131) will increase a lot – from $360 to $575.

Employment-Based Immigration

Petitions for non-immigrant workers in the H-1b category will increase from $325 to $460 (in addition to the $750/$1500 training fee and $500 fraud prevention and detection fee).

Non-immigrant visas in the L category will also increase to $460 with the $500 fraud prevention and detection fee).

A petition for an immigrant worker for an immigrant visa (green card) – the I-140 – will increase from $580 to $700.

An application for employment authorization (EAD), the I-765, will increase from $380 to $410.

Can a conditional permanent resident file a petition to bring their children to the United States?

 

Can a conditional permanent resident file a petition to bring their children to the United States?
Yes.  Federal regulations hold that “Unless otherwise specified, the rights, privileges, responsibilities and duties which apply to all other lawful permanent residents apply equally to conditional permanent residents, including but not limited to the right to apply for naturalization (if otherwise eligible), the right to file petitions on behalf of qualifying relatives, the privilege of residing permanently in the United States as an immigrant in accordance with the immigration laws, such status not having changed; the duty to register with the Selective Service System, when required; and the responsibility for complying with all laws and regulations of the United States. All references within this chapter to lawful permanent residents apply equally to conditional permanent residents, unless otherwise specified.”  8 CFR 216.1
The exceptions apply to attempts by Conditional Permanent Residents to apply for spouses other than the one who is the source of their conditional residency.
Conditional permanent residents are able to petition for children on the same terms as any other permanent resident.  Conditional residents can file an I-130 at any time after receiving their LPR status.  They do not have to wait until having the conditions removed from their green card.

Immigrant intent or non-immigrant intent

What’s the difference between immigrant intent and non-immigrant intent, and why is that important in the immigration context? Hi, I’m Jim Hacking, immigration lawyer practicing law throughout the United States out of our office here in Saint Louis, Missouri. I was talking to a young man yesterday about a situation in which he was thinking about having his brother sponsor him for a green card. This young man is in the United States on an F1 student visa, and who was wondering what repercussions there would be of his brother filing that immigrant visa for him, and so I thought I’d  shoot this video to explain the difference between immigrant intent and non-immigrant intent and tell you why that’s really important in the immigration content.

One thing you have to understand is that there’s a big distinction in immigration between people who want to come and visit, or stay temporarily versus those who have said and declared that they want to stay and remain in the United States. That’s the difference between an immigrant visa and a non-immigrant visa. If you’re here on a non-immigrant visa, which is like a V1, V2, which can be a visitor visa, or an F1 student visa, or some of the other types of student visas including Ms and Js, in those situations, you’re telling the government that you’ll be here temporarily in the United States, and that at the end of your stay, at the end of your studies or whatever it is that brings you to the Unites States, that you will return home, to your home country.

Once that immigrant visa is filed, he has displayed what’s called immigrant intent. He has demonstrated that his intention over the long term is to stay and remain in the United States. This can make it very difficult to get that non-immigrant visa, that F1 visa stamped in his passport. The State department and the immigration office don’t like it when people try to jump from one status to another, or when they’ve demonstrated that immigrant intent, then the government is sort of believing and think that the person has demonstrated that they want to stay in the United States, and therefore they’re disinclined. They don’t want to give them that non-immigrant visa anymore. This can come up in lot’s of different ways. One other way that it comes up is when someone applies in an embassy for a non-immigrant visa, like a V1, V2 to come and visit. If they have any kind of pending immigrant visa, if someone has filed an immigrant visa for them a long time ago, or if it’s pending, or if they just don’t even have enough evidence that they intend to return home, then this can come back to haunt them and they probably won’t get the visit visa.

When thinking about coming to the United States, when thinking about what you’re doing with the immigration service and with the state department, you really need to think it through, you can’t just file things willy nilly. This guy was very smart in asking me, “Should I wait to have my brother file this for me, or should I just go ahead and file it?” I said, “Well, what’s your long term plan?” Right now, brother and sister visa cases are taking 13 years. He wisely saw that he wanted to finish up his studies to make it clear that he did intend to return home, and that if his brother still wants to file for him, and if he wants to come, to do that after he’s completed this non-immigrant visa that he’s here on now. If you have any questions about this, if you’re worried about how you may have displayed immigrant intent, how you may have harmed your chances to get a visit visa or anything like that, give us a call (314)-961-8200, or you can email us at jim@hackinglawpractice.com. Thanks.