Articles Posted in I-360

Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick answers one of your frequently asked questions: What happens to a family immigration petition if the petitioner (also known as the sponsor of the application) suddenly dies? Sadly, this situation comes up more often than we would like to admit. In this circumstance it is important to know what you can expect if the sponsor of your petition has died, and your options to legalize your status.

Keep on watching to find out more!


Overview


In the past, when a petitioner died while a petition remained pending, the petition could not be approved. Thankfully in 2009, Congress passed legislation known as the Family Sponsor Immigration Act to help applicants in this exact scenario creating a new statutory provision under the Immigration and Nationality Act known as 204(l). This provision in the law gives noncitizens the ability to seek an immigration benefit through a deceased qualifying relative under certain circumstances.

Specifically, the Family Sponsor Immigration Act, provides relief for spouses of U.S. citizens and permanent residents, unmarried sons and daughters of citizens, spouses and unmarried sons and daughter of green card holders, married sons and daughters of citizens, and brothers and sisters of citizens, in cases where the original petitioner has died. Such individuals may seek reinstatement of their immigrant petition based on humanitarian grounds if they meet the below mentioned conditions:

  • your Form I-130 has already been approved by USCIS
  • you were living in the United States at the time the petitioner died and continue to reside there on the date USCIS makes a decision on your application, and
  • you find someone eligible and willing to act as your financial sponsor in place of your original petitioner (a substitute sponsor, as described below).

What if I lived overseas when my petitioner died?

If you lived overseas when your petitioner died you will not be able to continue with your application, however you can apply for humanitarian reinstatement with USCIS. You must seek the guidance of an experienced attorney in this area of the law as these matters can become complicated quickly.

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Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick discusses the long processing times to adjudicate applications and petitions filed with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The backlog of cases has been especially significant for certain types of applications and petitions where demand is greatest, such as I-539 applications to extend/change nonimmigrant status, I-360 petitions for Amerasians, Widow(er), or Special Immigrants, I-765 Applications for Employment Authorization, I-751 Removal of Conditions applications, and many others. According to previous data, in 2014 an average green card case took about 5 months to be processed by USCIS, while in 2020 it has taken over 10 months to process the same type of application.

The reason behind these high processing times leads back to the crippling effects caused by COVID-19. Since the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic, USCIS has been experiencing a financial crisis as more and more people have found it difficult to afford paying costly fees for their immigration processes. To make matters worse, USCIS has also been experiencing a shortage in personnel and resources, making it difficult for the agency to efficiently adjudicate immigration benefits.

Many of these limitations have been caused by conditions in various states around the country, as well as local government mandates. States with high rates of coronavirus for example have been especially hard hit, making it difficult for USCIS to continue to operate at previous levels. The Biden administration has taken steps to try to improve conditions and reduce the backlogs by reinstating deferential immigration policies mandating immigration officers to defer to prior approvals where immigration benefits involve the same parties and facts. The agency has also lengthened the status of removal of conditions applicants from 18 to 24 months while their applications remain pending with the USCIS and implemented flexibility policies to respond to requests for evidence. Despite these changes there is much more that needs to be done.

Want to know more about these important updates? Just keep on watching.


Overview


Massive Delays at USCIS Reach Crisis Levels

  • According to USCIS data, from fiscal year 2017 to fiscal year 2021, processing times for all I-539 applications to change or extend status rose from about 2.8 months in 2017 to 9.8 months in 2021 (an increase of more than 250%)
  • In the same period, processing times for family-based adjustment of status (I-485) applications rose from 7.9 months in fiscal year 2017 to 13.2 months in fiscal year 2021 (an increase of more than 67%)
  • Also during the same period, processing times for naturalization applications (N-400) increased from 7.9 months in 2017 to 11.6 months in fiscal year 2021 (an increase of nearly 47%)

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You are married to a US Citizen and you filed your petition for a green card, but now you are going through a divorce, can you keep your green card?

Divorce Prior to Green Card

If you have filed your application for a green card, but have not yet attended your green card interview, and you or your spouse has since filed for divorce, it is going to be nearly impossible for your green card application to continue without the U.S. Citizen spouse.

If the divorce is filed or is happening before the adjudication of your green card, there are very few options for the foreign spouse to obtain a green card.

As long as the foreign spouse is in legal status, they may be able to remain in the United States by changing their status to a nonimmigrant visa category. In this case, the foreign spouse may only remain in the U.S. temporarily, until the duration of the visa is up.

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In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick discusses how you can obtain permanent residence if your U.S. Citizen spouse has passed away, and you are still in the process of applying for permanent residence.

Overview:

What happens if you and your spouse have filed the I-130/485, and your US Citizen spouse tragically passes away during the process?

SCENARIO ONE: If the couple married but did not have the opportunity to file the I-130/485 applications with USCIS, before the death of the US Citizen spouse, the surviving spouse can still obtain permanent residence by filing form I-360 as a widow(er), provided the couple had a bona fide marriage. Once the I-360 petition is approved by USCIS, the surviving spouse can proceed on their own in filing the I-485 application for permanent residence.

SCENARIO TWO: In cases where the I-130/485 applications have already been filed with USCIS, but the couple did not have the opportunity to go to their I-485 interview before the passing of the US Citizen, USCIS may still adjudicate the foreign national’s application for permanent residence, even if the US Citizen spouse is now deceased. At the interview, the surviving spouse must provide the US Citizen’s death certificate, as well as evidence of bona fide marriage.

If you have any questions regarding this process, please email jacob@h1b.biz, or contact our office.

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In this video, we explain the process of obtaining a green card if you have been a victim of domestic violence.

As a battered spouse, child, or parent of a U.S. citizen, you may self-petition for an immigrant visa petition under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), as amended by the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), without the abuser’s knowledge. If you have an approved petition, you may be eligible to file for a Green Card.

Overview: 

Generally if you have been the victim of physical, emotional, or verbal abuse, as a spouse of a US Citizen, you may still apply for your green card (self-petition) without the US Citizen spouse, by filing the I-360 petition under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Once approved, you may file for permanent residency. A VAWA petition may be filed regardless of gender.

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