Articles Posted in Adjustment of Status

In this live stream, attorneys Jacob Sapochnick and Marie Puertollano discuss recent topics in immigration including the new USCIS policy giving immigration officers ample discretion to deny an application or petition filed with USCIS without first issuing a RFE or NOID, suspension of premium processing, fraudulent H-1B schemes, and more.

Overview:

RFE/NOID Policy

Beginning September 11, if you do not provide sufficient evidence to establish that you are eligible for the immigration benefit you are requesting, USCIS may exercise their discretion and deny your petition without first issuing a request for evidence or RFE. This new policy applies to all applications and petitions filed after September 11th, with the exception of DACA renewal applications.  The decision to deny your application or petition without issuing a RFE or NOID will ultimately be up to the discretion of the officer reviewing your petition. An officer may in his discretion continue to issue a RFE or NOID according to his best judgement.

If you are filing for a change of status or extension of your status, we recommend that you file early, so that you are not out of status in the case that USCIS denies your request for an immigration benefit. This will give you the opportunity to either re-file or to consider changing your status to another visa type. In addition, if you have the ability to apply for premium processing service, you should take advantage of that service.

Suspension of Premium Processing

At the moment premium processing services have been temporary suspended for cap-subject petitions until February 19, 2019, with the exception of cap-exempt petitions filed exclusively at the California Service Center, because the employer is cap-exempt or because the beneficiary will be employed at a qualifying cap exempt institution.

Continue reading

In this video attorney Jacob Sapochnick covers the top ten tips to help you overcome the marriage fraud interview also known as the “STOKES” interview. A foreign national applying for permanent residence based on marriage may be required to attend a second interview. This typically occurs in cases where the officer, who interviewed the couple during the initial marriage interview, does not believe that the couple has a bona fide marriage, because of red flags that arose during the initial interview.

1. Be Honest

Our first tip to avoid being scheduled for a second interview also known as the STOKES interview is simple. Be honest with yourself, with your partner (the U.S. Citizen or LPR spouse), and your attorney if you have one. Before walking into your initial I-485 interview you should be careful not to misrepresent the facts in your relationship and ensure that you and your partner are both being honest and truthful regarding all aspects of your marriage. If you or your spouse misrepresent any facts about your relationship, the immigration officer will presume that you do not have a bona fide/genuine marriage, and it will be very difficult to overcome this presumption at the second interview.

2. Preparation

The second tip to avoid the STOKES interview is to be well prepared. You and your spouse should prepare all of your documentation proving bona fide marriage well in advance of your I-485 interview, so that you have enough time to review your documentation with your spouse and your attorney in preparation of your interview. This well make you feel more confident and prepared when it comes time to your I-485 interview.

Continue reading

In this video, attorneys Jacob Sapochnick and Marie Puertollano discuss recent immigration updates regarding the calculation of unlawful presence for F-1 international students and other topics.

Overview:

Memorandum Policy Updates for F-1 Students

Per a new policy memorandum released by USCIS, if you are a student who is out of status, you will begin to accrue unlawful presence on August 9th. Students have at least 5 months to file a reinstatement to avoid falling out of status and accruing unlawful presence.

What is happening with DACA?

On August 3, 2018, a federal judge from the United States District Court for the District of Columbia upheld a decision from the lower courts, ordering the complete restoration of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. This new ruling gives the Trump administration a 20-day deadline to either implement the complete restoration of the DACA program or file an appeal. The Trump administration plans to appeal the decision. In a separate lawsuit filed by Texas and other states, a judge will hear arguments challenging the restoration of the DACA program. A decision in that case has not yet been made. We will notify our readers once a decision has been made.

For the moment, DACA holders may continue to seek a renewal of their DACA benefits, but new requests for DACA will not be accepted.

Continue reading

In this video we cover a new USCIS policy that can have devastating consequences on students who overstay their duration of stay in the United States, or otherwise violate their status. This new policy will change the way F-1, J-1, and M students, accrue unlawful presence in the United States, for visa holders have violated the terms of their visa by not attending school or engaging in unauthorized employment.

Background

In the year 1996 Congress passed legislation that previously governed how an individual on a non-immigrant visa type such as an F-1 visa, could accrue unlawful presence. Pursuant to this legislation, visa holders who overstayed for more than 180 days, could be subject to a 3-year bar, while visa holders who overstayed for more than one year, could be subject to a 10-year bar.

Typically, individuals who travel to the United States on a non-immigrant visa type receive an I-94 arrival/departure record and a stamp in their passport indicating the length of their authorized stay in the United States. Failure to abide by the duration of stay results in an immigration violation of the terms and conditions of a non-immigrant visa type.

F, J, and M students are unique in that these individuals do not receive a definitive length of stay within the United States, and instead are issued an I-20 (for F students) or DS-2019 (for J students) that denotes their authorized stay as “D/S” or “Duration of Stay,” meaning that the individual’s stay within the United States is not confined by any particular date, but instead depends upon the conclusion of that individual’s program of study or authorized employment.

While students on an F-1 visa type could violate their status by failing to go to school, they could not accrue unlawful presence within the United States because of the D/S designation. This class of individuals could only accrue unlawful status at the time of being apprehension by an immigration official or by court judgment.

Continue reading

In this video, attorneys Jacob Sapochnick and Marie Puertollano join a live session on Facebook and Youtube to cover the latest in immigration, E-2 visa changes, TN visa updates, as well as tips, tricks, and advice on how to protect yourself amid this changing immigration climate.

Overview: 

Revised NTA Policy and Delayed implementation:

USCIS has revised its NTA policy expanding the class of individuals who may be referred to ICE and issued a Notice to Appear. Under the revised policy, USCIS may now refer cases “with articulated suspicions of fraud to ICE prior to adjudication.” The implementation of this policy has been placed on hold until operational guidance is implemented by immigration.

What will the new policy do?

The new policy prioritizes the removal of aliens who are removable based on criminal or security grounds, fraud or misrepresentation, and aliens subject to expedited removal.

Prioritizes the removal of individuals who:

  • (a) Have been convicted of any criminal offense;
  • (b) Have been charged with any criminal offense that has not been resolved;
  • (c) Have committed acts that constitute a chargeable criminal offense;
  • (d) Have engaged in fraud or willful misrepresentation in connection with any official matter or application before a governmental agency;
  • (e) Have abused any program related to receipt of public benefits;
  • (f) Are subject to a final order of removal, but have not departed; or
  • (g) In the judgment of an immigration officer, otherwise pose a risk to public safety or national security

Continue reading

Welcome to our YouTube Channel where we touch on all things immigration.

Our law firm is dedicated exclusively to the practice of immigration and nationality law. During the past fourteen years, we have helped thousands of clients from all over the world immigrate to the United States. From immigrating athletes to business professionals and investors, our practice does it all.  On our YouTube channel you will find helpful information about recent changes to the immigration landscape, policy changes, information about different visa types, and more. We provide videos on almost every topic in immigration law. Subscribe to our channel to receive the latest updates in immigration news.

To explore the various services we offer, please visit our website.

Our diverse staff is available to answer your legal questions in Spanish, French, Russian, Hebrew, as well as other languages.

Please remember to follow us on FacebookYoutubeTwitter, and Instagram.

Capture

In this post, we answer one of your most frequently asked questions: how can you find the right immigration lawyer for you?

You need an immigration lawyer, but how do you find the right one? Watch this video to learn all about what you need to know before hiring an immigration lawyer.

In this video we offer several guidelines that can help you decide on the right immigration lawyer for you.

Referrals

First of all, you may want to begin by asking for a referral from your close network of friends or family members who may have already worked closely with an immigration lawyer. Social media is a great resource to ask for recommendations from your network and look up reviews of immigration attorneys in your area. You should make a list of the attorneys you would like to work with and contact their offices to set up a consultation. Most attorneys offer free first-time consultations. Free consultations are a great opportunity for the client to meet one-on-one with the attorney and see if you have a connection with the attorney and would ultimately like to retain the attorney to work on your particular case.

Flat Fee Considerations

Secondly, it is important for you to find out during your consultation whether the attorney charges a flat rate for his services or whether the immigration attorney bills the client an hourly rate. Most immigration attorneys charge flat rates for their services, but this may not always be the case depending on the type of immigration service you are seeking (for example asylum and removal defense cases may require additional costs). Flat rates are more desirable for clients because you will know up front how much it will cost you to pay for the legal fees associated with your case. This may be a good way to determine whether an attorney is the right one for you.

Come Prepared

Come to the consultation with the attorney prepared. Research the immigration service you are seeking and become informed about the process beforehand so that you can ask the attorney your burning questions and any concerns you may have before starting the filing process. You will want to discuss with your attorney the steps involved in the process, the general plan to achieving success on your application, the hurdles that you may run into during the process, and fallback options if your application is unsuccessful. An attorney who can provide you with the full picture of the legal process will allow you to have greater confidence and peace of mind.

Continue reading

In this video we discuss the five most common mistakes that employers make when filing a labor certification application also known as PERM.

#1: Mistakes on the ETA 9089 Form

When you prepare an ETA 9089 also known as the PERM application it is very important to check every line on that form before submitting it for certification. Employers and attorneys who are inexperienced in filing for labor certification typically make mistakes on the ETA form including typographical errors, misspellings, or other technicalities resulting in the denial of the labor certification.

Tip: double and triple check this form to make sure it is filed properly

#2: Mistakes in Placement of Advertisements

Employers and their representatives often make mistakes in the placement of ads such as placing those ads during the wrong time frame and with the wrong information, thus resulting in the denial of the labor certification.

Tip: Outline the recruitment schedule before you place any advertisement and ensure that the advertisements are placed on the correct dates and match the information provided on the forms

#3: Related Experience

Employers and representatives who prepare the forms often fail to match the employee’s past experience with the experience required for the PERM job on Section K.  If the employee’s past experience does not seem related to or almost identical to the experience required for the PERM position, the labor department will deny those applications.

Tip: Past experience must match what the person is going to be doing in the future

Continue reading

In this video, we touch on a very common question: what are the possibilities of changing your status after a visa overstay?

If a person comes to the United States on a visa, whether it is a tourist visa or a student visa, there is a duration of stay that is attached to the visa. To determine the amount of time you are allowed to remain in the United States you must obtain your I-94 arrival/departure record from the CBP website.

If you entered the United States on a tourist visa you can typically stay for up to six months, and you can extend your stay for another six months. During your initial authorized stay, you may change your status to another category such as a student or investor visa. Once you have overstayed and essentially lost your legal status, it is very difficult to change to another legal status.

Continue reading

In this video, we discuss the difference between adjustment of status and consular processing.

What is adjustment of status?

Adjustment of Status is the process by which a foreign national applies for permanent residence, essentially their green card, within the United States. In order to apply for adjustment of status within the United States, the foreign national must have entered the United States lawfully (typically on a U.S. visa) and be married to a U.S. Citizen. The foreign national must not have entered the marriage within the first 90 days of entry to the United States. Doing so creates a presumption of fraud and the couple will be denied at the green card interview.

Example: The foreign national entered the U.S. on a student visa, and later met a U.S. Citizen. The couple then became engaged, and married in the U.S.

The process begins with the filing of the following forms typically at the same time:

  • I-130 petition for alien relative (signed by the U.S. citizen)
  • I-485 application for adjustment of status aka the green card application (signed by the foreign national)
  • I-765 application for employment authorization (signed by the foreign national)
  • I-131 application for travel document (signed by the foreign national)
  • G-325A biographical information (signed by both the U.S. Citizen spouse and foreign national)
  • I-864 Affidavit of Support (signed by the U.S. Citizen)

The process ends with a green card interview before a USCIS immigration officer at a field office near the couple’s place of residence. The purpose of the interview is to determine whether the couple has a bona fide marriage. Both the petitioner and foreign national must attend this interview.

Continue reading