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USCIS Offices Closure & InfoMod USCIS Appointments

Is USCIS Closed? 

USCIS offices and Application Support Center Offices closed starting today through 4/1/2020. This means that all “green card”/adjustment of status interviews, InfoMod USCIS (formerly InfoPass) appointments, citizenship interviews, and biometrics interviews scheduled between 3/18 and 4/1 are closed. USCIS states that it will send de-schedule and re-schedule notices to applicants.

See USCIS.gov for more information.

If you are looking for assistance with an immigration case contact the Law Office of Ellen Sullivan, P.C. Ellen specializes in Immigration Law and more

 

 

Don’t Lie: An Immigration Golden Rule

The immigration process can be stressful and frustrating. It can be tempting to lie on an application or during an immigration interview to get it over with and keep the process “less complicated”. You may even know people who have lied and then successfully obtained their green card and even US citizenship. But lying on an immigration application, or to an immigration officer, is a bad idea. Please don’t do it!

  • One Lie Will Destroy Your Credibility

The immigration application is invasive and frustrating, and it may seem unnecessarily thorough. Let’s say you are applying for a marriage green card, and you were arrested once for something silly as a kid. Even though you know you copies of your arrest and court records, you’re having a hard time finding them or getting copies of everything you need. So, you leave that arrest at 17 off of your application. After all, it wasn’t anything serious, so why should USCIS care?

That kind of thinking is a big mistake. USCIS will investigate you, as they do all applicants. When USCIS finds that arrest record through its security check, you may be accused of fraud and your application could be denied for that reason—even if the arrest at 17 would have had absolutely not impacte on your ability to get the green card had you disclosed it and provided necessary documentation.

  • Lying is Grounds for Inadmissibility

If you lie or misrepresent something on an immigration application, you’re creating more problems. Lying is grounds for inadmissibility. Under 8 U.S.C. §1182(a)(6)(C)(i), “Any alien who, by fraud or willfully misrepresenting a material fact, seeks to procure (or has sought to procure or has procured) a visa, other documentation, or admission into the United States or other benefit provided under this chapter is inadmissible.”

If you’re concerned about something that you don’t want to include on your immigration application, or, if there’s something you are worried about discussing with an immigration officer during your interview, you should consult an experienced immigration attorney before you submit any application. An attorney can advise you, come up with workable solutions, and attend your immigration interview with you to help you explain the documentation or the facts of the situation. In some cases, an experienced attorney will tell you not to file for any immigration benefit for a certain period of time or, in some cases, ever. I’ve helped people around the world through complicated immigration situations for years, and I’m happy to guide you as well. So, don’t risk lying on an immigration application; I can help.

You Married a US Citizen. Now, document your life together and get a green card!

Congratulations on your marriage! Now that you’ve married a U.S. citizen, you’re probably wondering what comes next. U.S. citizens can apply for a foreign-born spouse to move to, or remain in, the U.S. to live permanently. Obtaining a marriage green card is a three-step process. 

  1. Apply for a “marriage-based” immigrant visa by establishing your marital relationship
  2. Apply for your green card
  3. Attend the green card interview

To establish your marital relationship, you will need to provide a marriage certificate. But aside from the basics, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services wants to ensure that your marriage isn’t one of convenience or a “green card marriage.” To establish the validity of your marriage, you’ll need to provide documentation showing the intermingling of your lives. Collect things such as:

  • Documents such as join leases or property ownership
  • Joint bank or investment accounts
  • Photos together with you and your spouse together with other family/friends in different location on different dates
  • Joint mortgage statements
  • Joint health or auto policies
  • Life insurance policies listing one another as your primary beneficiaries
  • Original copies of letters or cards from family, co-workers, friends, and employers showing both of you at the same address
  • Letters of support from family and friends attesting to the validity of the marriage and their support for the green card for the immigrant spouse

The documents you’ll need to apply for a marriage green card include the following:

  • Birth certificates for each spouse
  • Proof of US citizen spouse’s US citizenship in form of US birth certificate, US passport, or US Certification of Naturalization
  • Marriage certificate for this marriage
  • Divorce certificates for each spouse for any prior marriage
  • Police and/or court documents if either spouse has a criminal history. The US citizen will probably not have to submit the court records, but s/he should discuss the criminal history with the attorney before filing. The immigrant spouse MUST submit any criminal records, and must discuss the criminal history with an attorney.  
  • Previous immigration violation records if applicable
  • Current or expired U.S. visas if applicable
  • Immigrant spouse’s I-94
  • US citizen’s financial documents showing ability to support immigrant spouse. In some cases, the immigrant’s assets and income can be used to show ability to support him/herself.
  • Since USCIS instituted Form I-944 Declaration of Self-Sufficiency, the documents required to prove that the immigrant will not become a “public charge” have drastically increased. The documents now include the US citizen’s taxes and proof of income, the US citizen’s assets that will be available to the immigrant, proof of the immigrant’s debts, proof of the immigrants use of public benefits. I am still working on creating a list of documents that families will need to successfully complete Form I-944. Stay tuned for that list.

The final step is the green card interview. A USCIS officer will ask questions to determine the authenticity of your marriage. You must be prepared to discuss all of the documentation you’ve already submitted, and you should bring additional documentation that you have accumulated in the months between filing and the USCIS interview.

Applying for a marriage green card can be a stressful, confusing, and lengthy process. You don’t want to make mistakes that may jeopardize your application, so it’s a good idea to consult with an experienced immigration law attorney before you file your application with the USCIS. I’ve been helping couples around the world with this process for years. Even if you have complicated issues like a criminal history or prior immigration violations, I’d love to help you.

USCIS Obtains “Admissions” to Marijuana Use during USCIS Interviews

Use, possession, sale and other activities relating to marijuana/cannabis are legal in many states in the United States and in other places worldwide. However, all marijuana activities (with very limited scientific research exceptions) are illegal under US federal law and in turn under US immigration law.

Non-US citizens using marijuana and/or involved in legal cannabis activities throughout the US put themselves at risk of being found inadmissible to the US (that is, unable to enter the US), removable from the US (that is, deportable), and/or ineligible for US citizenship. Some immigration issues arise only when a person has a criminal conviction for marijuana related crimes; other immigration arise merely when a person admits to crimes related to marijuana use. Other immigration issues arise merely when a US immigration officer has “reason to believe” that a person is involved in marijuana trafficking (and trafficking can be as simple as a state law relating to intent to distribute).

In USCIS in Seattle and Denver, USCIS officers are asking enough questions in immigration interviews to elicit “admissions” to marijuana crimes, rendering immigrant ineligible for certain immigration benefits and in some cases, deportable.

AILA issued the Practice Pointer below discussing this issue.

If you use or have used marijuana in the past and are NOT a US-citizen, you should speak with an experienced immigration attorney about the potential consequences on your current or future immigration status.

when will uscis cash my check

Why Pay USCIS with a Check, When Will USCIS Cash My Check & More.

If you submit an immigration petition to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), you almost always pay a fee. Paying a fee may seem pretty straight forward, but there are still small mistakes that can slow down, or in cases with deadlines, thwart your immigration application. You’ll need to ensure that you pay the correct fee. I recommend that clients pay by check or money order, not by credit card.

Ensure Your Fee Total is Correct

To determine how much you need to pay, you shouldn’t rely on anything other than official USCIS publications. The day that I file any form, I go to the USCIS forms page, open the form or forms that I am filing, and check the filing fees. The filing fees are listed on drop down menus on each form’s pages. However, you should also read the instructions (a PDF document) available for all forms. Sometimes the drop-down menu “Fees” does give you information about when you do not need to pay a fee.  There is also a USCIS fee calculator at https://www.uscis.gov/feecalculator.

Why Pay By Check and When Will USCIS Cash my Check?

When paying USCIS, never send cash through the mail. Also, even though USCIS accepts credit card payments for many (not all!) forms, I prefer that my clients pay by check. I have noticed that even when I submit the correct credit card information, USCIS sometimes rejects the application and claims that the credit card information is incorrect. I think that a USCIS agent types the credit card information from Form 1450, and if the agent types incorrectly, the form gets rejected. Checks, on the other hand, are electronically deposited, without the possibility of an agent mistyping the check’s information. After you file an application and send your check, look at your online bank statement every day or so to see when the check is cashed by USCIS. USCIS will usually cash the check in two days to two weeks after you file the application.

How Do I Pay By Check?

When you do pay your fees by check, you will still need to ensure that you have the correct filing fee amount on the check and you must make the check out to US Department of Homeland Security. On the “Pay to the Order” line, write “U.S. Department of Homeland Security.” Do not use DHS or USDHS. Include numerals to indicate the amount of the check, such as $452.50. You should also spell out the digits on the correct line, such as “four hundred fifty-two and 50/100.” In the memo line, write a short description of your payment and include the applicant’s name, such as “John D. Smith, N-400 application and biometric services fee.”Sign the check with your legal name. Paperclip or staple your check to the upper left-hand corner of your application form. 

Keep A Photocopy of the Check (and the REST of your application)

When you file an application, keep a photocopy of every single page that you submit from mailing page (send by a mail service that you can track), your covr page (if any), the check, passport style photos, all pages of the application, and ALL supporting documents.

Wherever you are in your immigration process, it is a good idea to consult an experienced immigration law attorney before filing anything with the USCIS. Ellen Sullivan, P.C. has helped clients around the world and is ready to work with you. Call (617) 714-4375 or email ellen@ellensullivanlaw.com to get in touch. 

© Copyright 2014 Law Office of Ellen Sullivan, P.C. This website does not constitute a representation agreement with Attorney Sullivan or anyone else at the firm. The information on this website is not intended to, nor does it in fact, replace legal advice provided by an attorney in an attorney-client consultation. Please contact our office or another immigration attorney if you would like legal counsel. Sitemap