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Articles Posted in Citizenship and Naturalization

What’s Changed

On August 29, 2016, a final rule, expanding the existing provisional waiver process to allow spouses and children of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents to more easily navigate the immigration process, went into effect.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) extended eligibility for the provisional waiver process to all individuals who are statutorily qualified for immigrant visas.  First established in 2013, the provisional unlawful presence waiver process, put into place with the purpose of supporting family unity, allows immediate relatives, family-sponsored or employment-based immigrants, as well as Diversity Visa selectees to apply for a waiver of inadmissibility in the United States before they depart for their immigrant visa interview.

NJ Immigration LawyersFive Muslims, all long-time U.S. residents, are suing the Department of Homeland Security, claiming that the department has been instrumental in causing delays in their citizenship and permanent residency requests.

Two of the plaintiffs applied for U.S. Citizenship in 2007, but their applications for citizenship were denied in 2012. Another plaintiff, a Muslim refugee from Somalia, has been seeking permanent residency since 2006.

The ACLU of Southern California is representing the plaintiffs in Los Angeles federal court. It claims the plaintiffs have been unfairly flagged under the Controlled Application Review and Resolution Program (CAARP). The plaintiffs’ attorney contends the program has been used by Homeland Security to illegally blacklist her clients’ applications without telling them why.

Ever since the New Jersey Attorney General issued Law Enforcement Directive 2007-3 in 2007 that required that local police ask about the immigration status of a person arrested for a DUI or other indictable offense, referrals to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have skyrocketed.

The directive required that local law enforcement refer the accused to federal immigration authorities if they had “reason to believe” that a person was not lawfully residing in the United States.

While two-thirds of the people referred to ICE either had immigration charges filed against them or were monitored for possible deportation after their state court cases were resolved, one-third of those referred were actually U.S. citizens.

NJ Family ImmigrationThe U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), California Service Center has advised immigration practitioners of the most common items missing from family based immigrant petitions filed.

Missing evidence will result in the issuance of a Requests for Evidence (RFE), which results in processing lag and consequent delay in adjudicating a case. As a public service, here are some tips in order to process a family-based petition faster.

In addition to providing proof of the status of the petitioner as a U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident, there are five documents that should be included with each family-based (I-130) petition:

The U.S. government is under much scrutiny after the Boston Marathon bombings. Immigration is no exception. While no radical changes have been announced, the Department of Homeland Security is ordering border agents to check the visa status of every international student entering the country. The increased screening comes as a result of Azamat Tazhayakov, a friend of the suspected bomber who is accused of hiding evidence, being able to return to the U.S. even though he was dismissed from school, an action that made his student visa invalid. If you are an international student, what should you expect now?

Verification Required Before Entering

Border agents now must check a student's visa status before he or she even arrives in the U.S. They'll be searching flight manifests to identify foreign students and checking them before they reach U.S. soil. Previously, visa status was only verified if the student was referred to a second officer for questioning upon arriving. That usually only happened if the student was identified as a national security threat. In most cases, border agents simply checked the paperwork the student was carrying, not verifying if it was up-to-date.

School administrators are responsible for entering international students in the Department of Homeland Security's Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). It's updated in real-time and tracks each student's documentation and status. Checking SEVIS is now mandatory.

America is still the land known as "the melting pot" where people from anywhere in the world can find a way to thrive without completely abandoning their home culture or customs. Because Americans are so accommodating of other people's cultural backgrounds it can be relatively easy to find a place where you will fit right in and quickly feel at home.

In other countries around the world, oftentimes the recent immigrant would be expected to assimilate fully with their new home country and traditions and customs of the old home country might not be as tolerated as you will find is the case in America. In many of the large cities you will find neighborhoods that will instantly transport you to other lands. San Francisco, in California, for instance, is home to the largest China Town (a sprawling neighborhood of predominantly Chinese Americans) outside of Asia.

Not far from China Town in San Francisco is the neighborhood known as North Beach which is home to a vibrant Italian American community. The sidewalk cafes are reminiscent of those in Europe. Many times you will hear the shop owners and their customers conversing in Italian. San Francisco is a wonderful example of the melting pot experience but most larger cities have similar neighborhoods where immigrants have settled and created an atmosphere that reminds them of the country of their origin.

It is very common to hear from a freshly naturalized US citizen is that they want to sponsor their family members so they can join them in the United States and enjoy the benefits of living and working in the US. However, not every family member will be eligible to be petitioned for US permanent residency or the green card.

The law is specific on what constitutes a family member as it applies to US immigration. As a rule, extended family members are not part of the “family unit”. The notion that extended families, such as grandparents, nephews, nieces, cousins, aunts, uncles, parents-in-law, and other extended family members, are eligible for sponsorship is simply not correct. Instead, the law allows US citizens to petition for the following family members: “parents, spouses, fiancés, minor-unmarried children, married children or adult children, brothers and sisters, unmarried children and spouse.” Permanent residents, or green card holders, can also petition family members but they are limited to sponsoring spouses, and unmarried children only.

Can a family petition can be stopped or withdrawn? The answer is “Yes.” Whenever family dynamics are at play, the petitioner may have a change of heart and decide he does not want to follow through with his sponsorship. A petitioner can withdraw the petition even after it has been approved. A request to withdraw a petition once received by the USCIS is final. But once the beneficiary has actually received his permanent residency status, the petitioner can no longer withdraw his sponsorship.

Becoming a U.S. citizen is one of the proudest moments in an immigrant's life. Participating in a naturalization ceremony is a great accomplishment, because becoming a legal citizen is not an easy process. During the process errors are possible, and those errors delay the chances of becoming a citizen. Here are common mistakes immigrants make and how to stop them.

The naturalization process begins with filling out Form N-400. One mistake, like missing data, incomplete data or a skipped question will delay the whole process. What you should not do is rush through the application. Fill it out truthfully and accurately. Check and double check the application thoroughly. When filing, include all supporting documents with the N-400. Don't forget to add the exact application fee amount in the form of a check or money order.

While it’s imperative to study hard and pass the civics test and English competency test, listening to what the immigration officer says is just as important. The immigration officer will conduct your interview. At the end of the interview, the official will hand you a letter recommending the approval of your application or may hand out a letter asking for additional documentation. Many fail to provide these documents, and in doing so cause a denial of their application. Provide the additional documents requested as soon as possible along with the request letter.

For many people who have come to the United States, citizenship is the most prized possession that one might attain. It is treasured, a hard won emblem of pride and membership in our national community.

Immigrants come to the United States for a variety of reasons, all of which include wanting a better life. To make that dream a reality, many immigrants and their families work hard to learn English and to learn about the history, the values, and the culture of the American people. They aspire to become citizens of the United States of America.

Citizenship is important. It guarantees full participation in the community and the country-at-large. It defines the roles and responsibilities, the rights and the freedoms of the American people.

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