Can’t Travel, Visa Expires, What Do I Do Now?

A lot of people stuck abroad have experienced panicking moments in the past two weeks when flights are cancelled and borders are closed due to the #COVID-19 shutdown. In March, 2020, the U.S. Department of State announced that immigrant (IV) and nonimmigrant visa (NIV) appointments at ALL Consulates are suspended due to coronavirus. Many countries are also restricting exiting and entering in order to control spread of the pandemic.
So what does this mean when my visa expires? 
These travel restrictions have made family unity and returning to work difficult, if not impossible. Employers are now in the dark with no specific return date for their valued employees and facing uncertainties as to their future needs. Since many visas have a maximum period allowed pursuant to regulation, consular officers do not have the authority to extend visa validity. However, the consular may be able to re-print a visa once travel becomes possible.
Consulates are able to re-issue a new visa provided that all supporting documents, such as police certificates, medical examinations, etc., have not expired. If the supporting documents have expired,  the applicant will be required to obtain new copies prior to the re-issuance of the new visa. Applicants will have to contact the consulate for the re-issuance and different consulate has different procedures. 
For people who are stuck in the U.S. either on valid visas or during grace period, but are not able to leave the U.S. to return to their home countries, options are also limited. Many have applied to extend or change their status using the Form I-539, but this also comes with a hefty fee. Others are banking on the fact that a brief overstay won’t be too problematic if it is limited to 180 days.
The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) has filed a complaint against USCIS calling for the immediate suspension of immigration benefit deadlines and the maintenance of status for nonimmigrants in the U.S. in light of the pandemic, urging USCIS to extend its filing deadlines so that lawfully present foreign nationals in the United States can maintain status during the pandemic.
While we wait for the outcome of this lawsuit, we urge everyone to stay tuned and take care of yourselves. 

COVID 19 – Unemployment Benefits for Immigrant Workers

immigrant’s eligibility for unemployment benefits and consequences on green cards

Question: Do I, as an immigrant, qualify for unemployment benefits if the coronavirus (COVID-19) causes me losing my job?

Answer: Yes, however, immigrant workers must satisfy the same requirements for #unemployment. You must be unemployed due to no fault of your own, and you must have earned enough wages or worked enough hours in your “base period” to qualify. If you are currently employed or if you quit, then you are not eligible for unemployment benefits.  If your employer offers sick leave to address COVID-19 in lieu of layoffs, you cannot quit on your own volition to get unemployment benefits. If an employer shuts down operations temporarily and no work is available, you are eligible for unemployment.

Question: If I cannot go to work because I quarantined myself, can I get unemployment?

Answer: MaybeIf your employer allows you to work remotely and you choose not to accept that work, you are not qualify. If the employer requires you to stay home but did not offer work from home, then you might be eligible for benefits.

Question: How much is unemployment?

Answer: Depends on your state law and the reason why you cannot go to work. In addition, Pandemic Federal Unemployment Compensation  allows an additional  $600 on top of weekly unemployment benefits for up to four (4) months, not to exceed July 31, 2020.

Question: Does unemployment benefits hurt my green card #adjustment of status application in the future?

Answer: USCIS does not consider “unemployment” in the public charge inadmissibility determination because they are considered earned benefits through the person’s employment. Unemployment is a type of insurance that employers pay into. This isn’t taxpayer money, so it does not affect your green card.

Question: If I am undocumented, do I get #unemployment benefits?

Answer: If you are undocumented, chances are you do not have valid employment authorization or valid SSN, then you are not eligible for unemployment benefits.

Question: I applied for work authorization extension and have not yet received my new work card, can I get unemployment benefits?

Answer: If you have proof that you have applied for an extension, you might allowed to receive benefits. 

File unemployment with the Missouri Department of Labor here.

File unemployment with the Kansas Department of Labor here.

USCIS Service Fee Change Show 21 Percent Increase

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) proposes to adjust USCIS fees by an increase of 21 percent. Read the federal regulation here DHS claims that current USCIS fees leaves the agency a shortfall of $1.3 billion per year and the fee increase is necessary to recover the full operating costs.

USCIS says it has conducted small entity analysis based on a representative sample of the impacted population, The new rules introduce form changes as well as several new forms.

The most important forms with a fee increase are as follows:

Form No. Form Title Current Fee Proposed Fee Difference
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative $535 $555 $20
I-131 Application for Travel Document $575 $585 $10
I-131 Travel Document for an individual age 16 or older $135 $145 $10
I-131 I-131 Refugee Travel Document for a child under the age of 16 $105 $115 $10
I-192 Application for Advance Permission to Enter as Nonimmigrant $930/585 $1,415 $830/ $485
I-212 Application for Permission to Reapply for Admission into the U.S. After Deportation or Removal $930 $1,040 $110
I-290B Notice of Appeal or Motion $675 $705 $30
I-360 Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant $435 $455 $20
I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status (certain applicants under the age of 14 years) $750 $1,120 $370
I-526 Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur $3,675 $4,015 $340
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status $370 $400 $30
I-589 Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal $0 $50 $50
I-600 Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative $775 $810 $35
I-601 Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility $930 $985 $55
I-601A Application for Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver $630 $960 $330
I-751 Petition to Remove the Conditions of Residence $595 $760 $165
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization $410 $490 $80
I-821D Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (Renewal) $0 $275 $275
I-824 Application for Action on an Approved Application or Petition $465 $500 $35
I-829 Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status $3,750 $3,900 $150
I-924A Annual Certification of Regional Center $3,035 $4,470 $1,435
I-929 Petition for Qualifying Family Member of a U-1 Nonimmigrant $230 $1,515 $1,285
N-300 Application to File Declaration of Intention $270 $1,320 $1,050
N-336 Request for a Hearing on a Decision in Naturalization Proceedings $700 $1,755 $1,055
N-400 Application for Naturalization $640 $1,170 $530
N-470 Application to Preserve Residence for Naturalization Purposes $355 $1,600 $1,245

This may prove to have significant financial consequences for several groups, including people who have previously been removed from the U.S. and is eligible to re-enter the U.S. (an $830 increase in fees), U visa family members (an $1,285 increase to qualify as U-1), people who seek to naturalize as U.S. citizens (a $530 increase) people whose naturalization have been denied and are seeking review (a $1,055 increase). We recommend that if you are eligible for the above filings, we need to get them in as soon as possible.

Forms that will becomes cheaper are as following:

Form No. Form Title Current Fee Proposed Fee Difference
I-90 Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card $455 $415 -$40
I-129F Petition for Alien Fiancé(e) $535 $520 -$15
I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker $700 $545 -$155
I-191 Application for Relief Under Former Section 212(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) $930 $800 -$130
I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status $1,140 $1,120 -$20
N-600 Application for Certification of Citizenship $1,170 $1,015 -$155
N-600K Application for Citizenship and Issuance of Certificate Under Section 322 $1,170 $960 -$210
N-565 Application for Replacement Naturalization/Citizenship Document $555 $545 -$10
  USCIS Immigrant Fee (consular processing green card fee) $220 $200 -$20
  Biometric Services Fee $85 $30 -$55
  Dishonored Payments (Returned Check Fee) $30 $0 -$30
I-910 Application for Civil Surgeon Designation $785 $650 -$135
I-817 Application for Family Unity Benefits $600 $590 -$10

The deceased fees, comparing to the increases, are minimal. In addition, DHS is proposing to separate Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, into several forms, including the following:

Form No. Form Title Current Fee Proposed Fee Difference
I-129CW (Proposed) Petition for a CNMI-Only Nonimmigrant Transitional Worker $460 $705 $245
I-129E&TN (Proposed) Application for Nonimmigrant Worker: E or TN Classification $460 $705 $245
I-129H1 (Proposed) Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker: H-1 Classification $460 $560 $100
I-129H2A (Proposed) Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker: H-2A Classification $460 $860 (named); $425 (unnamed) $400 (named)
I-129H2B (Proposed) Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker: H-2B Classification $460 $725 (named); $395 (unnamed) $265 (named)
I-129L (Proposed) Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker: L Classification $460 $815 $355
I-129MISC (Proposed) Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker: H-3, P, Q, or R Classification $460 $705 $245
I-129O (Proposed) Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker: O Classification $460 $715 $255

If you have any reliefs pending and need assistance, we recommend everyone take the opportunities now.

美国移民局发布了关于I-751面试豁免政策

USCIS may waive the requirement for an interview and adjudicate the Form I-751 without conducting an interview.

一般而言,美国移民局官员必须面试所有临时绿卡(conditional permanent resident)申请十年正式绿卡 (I-751表)的请愿人。  新规于2018年12月10日生效,适用于2018年12月10日或之后收到的所有I-751表格。

在调整身份时,婚龄不满2岁的外国公民将成为临时绿卡持有人。这些外国人被视为临时绿卡持有人。这些人的子女也可以获得临时绿卡。为避免在两年后终止临时绿卡身份,有临时绿卡的永久居民必须申请 I-751十年绿卡。在提交I-751表格时,临时绿卡持有人必须提交确定婚姻真实性的所需证据。作为I-751表格裁决的一部分,临时绿卡持有人必须出席面试。美国移民局可以判决或确定绿卡持有人的可信度。

美国移民局目前可以在不进行面试的情况下裁定I-751十年正式绿卡的申请。如果以下的情况达到的话,移民局官员可以不要求面谈:

  • 移民局有婚姻真实性的充分证据;
  • 对于2018年12月10日/之后收到的I-751表格,移民局已与I-751主要请愿人进行了面谈(例如,表格I-485或表格I-130);
  • I-751表或支持文件中没有任何欺诈或虚假陈述的迹象;和
  • 没有复杂的事实或问题需要面谈来解决问题或疑虑。

无论I-751表格是联合申请还是个人申请,上述考虑因素都适用。

如果请愿人和/或配偶居住在美国境外,该I-751案件将被扣留一段时间,直至请愿人和/或配偶返回美国,并且他们能够提供美国地址。 如果临时绿卡持有人通知移民局他/她已返回美国,移民局将恢复处理I-751表格。

在此下载新规:18121035

移民美国 – 大幅收紧公众福利影响美国绿卡, 前方的道路很曲折

新规加大美国公共福利对绿卡的影响

美国移民局提议的新的 ”Public Charge” 的规则将大幅影响享受过公众福利的美国移民或者非移民申请人。根据现行政策,如果没有收到现金援助或长期政府资助的机构护理,正确填写的非欺诈性I-864表格(经济保障书)通常足以解决任何福利领取者的问题。但是新的政策及那个完全颠覆这个理念。

  • 首先,新提议将重新定义“福利领取者”,以包括使用某些公共福利的任何人,即使是在有限的时间段内和适度的金额。 它还将扩大特定公共福利的清单,涵盖医疗补助和补充营养援助计划(SNAP)等。 审批时移民局将全面考虑正面以及负面因素。 “负面”因素包括在提交申请之前的36个月内使用指定的公共福利,收入水平低于联邦贫困指南的125%。
  • 与现行法规不同之处是,新提议要求非移民在美国寻求改变身份或延长身份时证明他们没有收到并且不太可能获得确定的公共福利。
  • 新提议将建立一个公共收费债券系统,允许USCIS酌情允许某些个人情况,发布最低10,000美元的债券以克服“福利领取者”的决定。

新提议将用无定形测试取代简单明了的现行政策。新提议要求审判员权衡无限数的因素,以确定申请人是否可能成为福利领取者。 此外,国土安全部声称每个案例的具体事实和情况都必须要备考虑,这就可能导致不一致和不公平的裁决。以下的因素都有可能被考虑:

  • 申请人的健康状况或疾病是否足以干扰该人照顾他或她自己,上学或上班的能力,以及该病情是否可能要求医疗手术;
  • 申请人的家庭规模,构成申请人“家庭”的个人至少需要提供50%的财务支持,但不包括食宿等非现金支持;
  • 申请人的信用评分,但是新提议也没有任何有意义的标准来确定什么构成“好”或“差”的信用评分或历史;
  • 经济赞助人与申请人的关系有多紧密,美国移民局觉得亲密的家庭成员“在必要时更有可能在经济上支持外国申请人”。

新提议将创建一个新的I-944移民表格 – 自给自足声明 (Declaration of Self-Sufficiency ,国土安全部预计平均I-944表格准备时间为4小时30分钟。申请人需要提交所有家庭成员三年的税单,而在美国还需要获得提交信用评分信。

当然,并不是所有的福利都都会规划在新规定以内。目前的“福利领取者”规定,医疗补助计划(Medicaid)不算作“福利领取者”的福利。 在新提议中,除紧急医疗补助以外,医疗补助计划(除了孕妇分娩)都将被视为公共收益。如果新规则生效,通过医疗补助计划的产前护理将被视为公共费用。 如果它是通过儿童健康保险计划 Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)支付的,有可能不算,因为CHIP不在新的提议中。 在过去36个月内收到公共福利是一个非常重要的负面因素。但是在新规则生效之前过去收到的医疗补助将不计算在内。

新的福利政策复杂多变,如果你在申请美国移民福利的过程之中,我们事务所可以给您提供更多的信息。

Signature Required: If Your Green Card, EAD, or Travel Document is Being Delivered

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced it will begin using U.S. Postal Service’s (USPS) Signature Confirmation Restricted Delivery service to mail Green Cards and other secure documents beginning April 30, 2018. In order to track delivery of your Green Card, Employment Authorization Document (EAD), and Travel Document, you have to sign up for USCIS’ online case management: https://egov.uscis.gov/casestatus/landing.do

Applicants must present identification to sign for their documents upon delivery. Applicants can sign up for USPS Informed Delivery to receive delivery status notifications. Applicants will also have the option to arrange for pickup at a post office at a convenient date and time by going to the USPS website and selecting “hold for pickup.”

自从2018年4月30日起,美国公民和移民服务局(USCIS)宣布将开始使用美国邮政服务局(USPS)签名确认限制送达服务邮寄绿卡和其他安全文件。为了跟踪您的绿卡, 工卡(EAD)和旅行证件的递送情况,您必须注册USCIS的在线案例管理: https://egov.uscis.gov/casestatus/landing.do

申请人必须出示身份证明以在交付时签署文件。 申请人可以注册 USPS 交付以接收送达状态通知。 申请人还可以选择在方便的日期和时间在邮局安排取件,方法是前往USPS网站并选择 “hold for pickup”。

DNA Testing Rules in Sibling Immigration Petition Cases

USCIS may suggest and accept DNA tests s evidence of a full-or half-sibling relationship

USCIS has updated its policy regarding direct sibling-to-sibling DNA testing. If USCIS determined primary evidence is unavailable or unreliable, USCIS may suggest and accept DNA test results from an American Association of Blood Banks (AABB) accredited lab as evidence of a full-or half-sibling relationship. In these cases, USCIS will consider DNA along with all evidence on record to determine if the requisite relationship exists.

A sibling relationship requires that the petitioner and beneficiary are, or once were, the children of at least one common parent. Primary evidence includes birth and marriage certificates. Secondary evidence includes medical records, school records, and religious documents. Affidavits sworn to by persons who were living at the time of and who have personal knowledge of the event to which they attest may also be accepted if certain conditions are met.

USCIS will consider results of DNA testing conducted by an AABB-accredited lab that reflect a 90 percent probability or higher that a full- or half-sibling relationship exists as probative evidence of the claimed relationship. Due to the variations within half-sibling relationship test results, any result for a half sibling below 90 percent will be deemed inconclusive. Where a result is inconclusive, an officer must continue to evaluate the remaining evidence in the totality of the circumstances. To the extent possible, DNA testing against the common parent(s) is encouraged.

兄弟姐妹移民申请案件DNA测试规则

美国移民局已更新其关于兄弟姐妹DNA测试的政策。 如果USCIS确定主要证据不可用或不可靠,USCIS可能会建议并接受AABB认可的实验室的DNA测试结果作为兄弟姐妹关系的证据。 在这些情况下,移民局将考虑DNA以及所有记录在案的证据,以确定申请人于受益人是否存在真实的兄弟姐妹关系。

兄弟姐妹关系的请愿者和受益人至少需要有一个共同父母。 主要证据包括出生和结婚证书。 次要证据包括医疗记录,学校记录和宗教文件。 亲戚朋友邻居也可以写信证明他们兄弟姐妹关系的了解程度。

美国移民局将考虑由AABB认证实验室进行的DNA测试结果,该结果必须反映90%或更高的兄弟姐妹关系概率,作为所声称关系的证明证据。由于半同胞关系测试结果的差异,任何半兄弟姐妹低于90%的结果都将被视为不确定证据。 如果结果不确定,美国移民局官员必须继续评估所有的剩余证据。在可能的范围内,移民局鼓励对共同父母进行DNA测试。