Articles Posted in Foreign nationals

In this video attorney Jacob Sapochnick talks about the Diversity Visa Program also known as the “Diversity Visa Lottery.”

What is the Diversity Visa Lottery?

Every fiscal year approximately 50,000 immigrant visas are up for grabs for a special class of immigrants known as “diversity immigrants.” To be eligible to participate in the program as a “diversity immigrant,” you must be from a country with historically low rates of immigration to the United States. If you were not born in an eligible country, you may qualify to participate in the program if your spouse was born in an eligible country or if your parents were born in an eligible country.

In general, the requirements to participate in the diversity visa program are as follows:

Requirement #1: You must be a national of one of the following countries

AFRICA Algeria Angola Benin Botswana Burkina Faso Burundi Cameroon Cabo Verde Central African Republic Chad Comoros Congo Congo, Democratic Republic of the Cote D’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) Djibouti Egypt* Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Ethiopia Gabon Gambia, The Ghana Guinea Guinea-Bissau Kenya Lesotho Liberia Libya Madagascar Malawi Mali Mauritania Mauritius Morocco Mozambique Namibia Niger Rwanda Sao Tome and Principe Senegal Seychelles Sierra Leone Somalia South Africa South Sudan Sudan Swaziland Tanzania Togo Tunisia Uganda Zambia Zimbabwe

ASIA Afghanistan Bahrain Bhutan Brunei Burma Cambodia Hong Kong Special Administrative Region** Indonesia Iran Iraq Israel* Japan*** Jordan* Kuwait Laos Lebanon Malaysia Maldives Mongolia Nepal North Korea Oman Qatar Saudi Arabia Singapore Sri Lanka Syria* Taiwan** Thailand Timor-Leste United Arab Emirates Yemen

EUROPE Albania Andorra Armenia Austria Azerbaijan Belarus Belgium Bosnia and Herzegovina Bulgaria Croatia Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark (including components and dependent areas overseas) Estonia Finland France (including components and dependent areas overseas) Georgia Germany Greece Hungary Iceland Ireland Italy Kazakhstan Kosovo Kyrgyzstan Latvia Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macau Special Administrative Region** Macedonia Malta Moldova Monaco Montenegro Netherlands (including components and dependent areas overseas) Northern Ireland*** Norway (including components and dependent areas overseas) Poland Portugal (including components and dependent areas overseas) Romania Russia**** San Marino Serbia Slovakia Slovenia Spain Sweden Switzerland Tajikistan Turkey Turkmenistan Ukraine Uzbekistan Vatican City

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In this video attorney Jacob Sapochnick discusses some new developments regarding the government’s planned implementation of a final rule that would have made certain individuals inadmissible to the United States on public charge grounds.

On October 11, 2019, judges in three separate cases before U.S. District Courts for the Southern District of New York (PDF)Northern District of California (PDF), and Eastern District of Washington (PDF) granted court orders to stop the government from implementing and enforcing the terms of the public charge rule proposed by the Trump administration. As a result, the final rule has been postponed pending litigation until the courts have made a decision on the legality of the rule on the merits. These court orders have been placed nationwide and prevent USCIS from implementing the rule anywhere in the United States.

What would the public charge rule have done?

The public charge rule was set to be enforced on October 15, 2019. The rule would have expanded the list of public benefits that make a foreign national ineligible to obtain permanent residence and/or an immigrant or nonimmigrant visa to enter the United States.

A person would have been considered a “public charge” under the rule, if they received one or more designated public benefits for more than 12 months in the aggregate, within any 36-month period.

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In this video attorney Jacob Sapochnick discusses the implications of accepting unlawful employment while in the United States, how it can impact your future green card or immigration status in the United States.

First, what is unlawful employment?

Unlawful employment occurs when a foreign national accepts employment outside of their authorization. For example, if you do not have a work visa with authorizes you to engage in lawful employment, a green card, or employment authorization card, and you accept employment regardless, then you have accepted unlawful employment. In some cases, even unpaid employment may be considered unlawful employment.

Unlawful employment is employment that may have occurred before your last entry (maybe years ago), employment that you have taken before you have filed for adjustment of status, etc.

Unauthorized employment may impact a person’s ability to legalize their status in the United States. However, there are certain instances in which accepting unauthorized employment will not have a negative effect on a person’s future ability to obtain permanent residence.

Exceptions

One of these exceptions is what we call the “immediate relative exception.”

If you are an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen, and are filing for adjustment of status based on your family relationship as:

  • The spouse of a U.S. citizen;
  • The unmarried child under 21 years of age of a U.S. citizen; or
  • The parent of a U.S. citizen (if the U.S. citizen is 21 years of age or older).

Your acceptance of unauthorized employment will not impact your ability to obtain permanent residence because that unauthorized employment will be considered “waived” at the interview.

Recipients of VAWA (Violence Against Women Act) filing for adjustment of status also qualify for this exception and will not be adversely affected by acceptance of unauthorized employment.

In addition, certain physicians and their families who are immigrating to the United States may also be exempt, as well as certain U.S. service members who are in the military and are in the process of adjusting their status.

For more information click on the video above.

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What happens when you have let your green card expire, and you now want to apply for citizenship?

Overview: 

Under current immigration law, a naturalization applicant is not required to have a valid green card at the time of filing for citizenship.

Because of this, individuals with a now expired green card do not need to apply to renew their green cards before applying for citizenship.

However, in cases where the green card was lost or stolen it is recommended that the individual file Form I-90 to renew a lost or stolen green card.  Even in this case you may still apply for citizenship and provide a copy of your I-90 receipt notice as proof that your green card renewal is in process.

Exception: Individuals who are traveling or individuals who need to have a valid green card to prove that they are eligible to engage in lawful employment,  should apply to renew their green cards as soon as possible.

Remember that as a general rule, applicants are allowed to apply for citizenship even if their green card has now expired, but in certain cases it may be a good idea to apply for a green card renewal prior to applying for naturalization.

Conditional Green Cards

If you have received a conditional 2-year green card, you must first remove the conditions on your conditional permanent residence on Form I-751. Conditional residents may apply for citizenship on their third anniversary of becoming a resident, if they remain married to the same individual who petitioned for their green card.

For more information about citizenship please click here.

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In this video attorney Jacob Sapochnick discusses a hot topic in immigration: how should an EB-5 investor choose a Regional Center?

In this video, Jacob Sapochnick will give you his top 5 tips for choosing a Regional Center.

First, what is a Regional Center?

An EB-5 regional center is an economic unit, public or private, in the United States that is involved with promoting economic growth. Regional centers are designated by USCIS for participation in the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program.

Where can I find approved Regional Centers?

The USCIS website contains a list of approved EB-5 (immigrant investor) regional centers by state. Please keep in mind that although these regional centers have been approved by USCIS, you must down your own research to evaluate the regional center’s reliability and their record of success. Do not assume that because the Regional Center has been approved by USCIS that it is a Regional Center worth investing in. You must be diligent when doing your research and seek the advice of a professional when making any investment decision.

As you do your research you will see that real estate projects predominate among regional centers although some regional centers also have investment projects in other sectors.

As a rule of thumb investors should take the following factors into account when choosing a regional center:

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In this video attorney Jacob Sapochnick will discuss a very important topic: can a step-parent, who is a U.S. Citizen, petition for a step-child to immigrate to the United States?

USCIS takes the position that as long as the marriage between the U.S. Citizen and foreign national takes place before the child turns 18, that child can immigrate to the United States on the same I-130 petition.

This situation arises where the U.S. Citizen’s foreign spouse has children from a previous marriage, and the U.S. Citizen is interested in petitioning for the child to immigrate along with the foreign national spouse.

If the child is older than 18 at the time of the marriage between the U.S. Citizen and foreign national takes place, the child must find an alternative means of obtaining permanent residence.

The location of the marriage does not matter, rather the child’s age at the time of the marriage is what is key here.

For more information about this topic please click here.

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In this video attorney Jacob Sapochnick answers a frequently asked question: Can you lose your green card if you get divorced during the green card application process?

The answer is that it depends on where you are in the green card process.

As a preliminary matter, when you are married to a U.S. Citizen for less than 2 years, at the time of filing, you receive a conditional green card that is valid for 2-year period. In order to remain in the United States, you must remove the conditions on your green card before your conditional green card expires.

If you have been married for more than 2 years at the time of filing, then you will receive a green card that is valid for 10 years, and you do not need to remove your conditions.

If you divorce after obtaining your conditional green card, you can still remove your conditions to obtain the 10-year green card, despite having divorced. To read more about the removal of conditions process for applicants who have divorced please click here.

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The Trump administration recently announced new rules for expedited removal, the process of apprehending undocumented immigrants and removing them from the United States, without the opportunity to see a judge or attend an immigration hearing.

What is Expedited Removal?

Expedited removal refers to the fast track process of deporting an undocumented immigrant from the United States without an immigration hearing. This fast track removal process has been in effect since July 23, 2019.

Prior to this date, individuals apprehended within 100-miles of a U.S. border, present in the United States for less than 14 days, were not entitled to an immigration hearing prior to removal from the United States.

Under the new rules, a person who is unlawfully present anywhere in the U.S., for a period of less than 2 years, can be placed under expedited removal. If you have been unlawfully present in the U.S. for more than 2 years, then you must provide documentary evidence of your physical presence during that time to avoid expedited removal.

Expedited removal is part of a larger effort to deter illegal immigration and prevent American employers from hiring undocumented immigrants.

For more information about expedited removal please click here.

Don’t forget to download our free e-book, the Five Ways to Get a Green Card in the United States here.

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In this video attorney Jacob Sapochnick discusses upcoming changes to the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program.

Under a new rule published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, several changes to the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program will go into effect on Nov. 21, 2019.

The new rule modernizes the EB-5 program by:

  • Providing priority date retention to certain EB-5 investors;
  • Increasing the required minimum investment amounts to account for inflation;
  • Reforming certain targeted employment area (TEA) designations;
  • Clarifying USCIS procedures for the removal of conditions on permanent residence; and
  • Making other technical and conforming revisions.

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In this video attorney Jacob Sapochnick discusses a new rule, effective October 15, 2019, that expands the list of public benefits that make a foreign national ineligible to obtain permanent residence and/or an immigrant or nonimmigrant visa.

Overview: 

Receipt of certain public benefits by a non-citizen may render that individual ineligible to obtain: a visa to the United States, adjustment of status to permanent residence, or ineligible for admission to enter the United States.

The final rule defines a public charge as any alien who receives one or more designated public benefits for more than 12 months in the aggregate within any 36-month period.

Under the final rule, immigration will now be taking into consideration the following benefits to determine whether an individual is or is likely to become a public charge to the U.S. government:

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