New Public Charge Rule’s Impact on Green Card Applicants

Since February 24th, 2020, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has implemented the Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds Final Rule nationwide. This public charge rule expands the grounds on which immigration enforcement officials can deny the acquisition of a green card or other legal status to noncitizen applicants, to ensure that individuals will not rely upon government benefits and services. Until February 24th, the use of most public benefits did not impede legal status in the United States. The new rules allow USCIS officials to penalize noncitizen recipients of housing, health, and nutrition welfare programs that are applying to change their legal status. However, because few benefit programs are open to noncitizens without legal permanent residence, few green card applicants are likely to be denied based on their benefit use. Notably, certain classes of individuals, such as refugees and asylum seekers, are exempt from the public charge ground of inadmissibility.

Note that Public Benefits that will not be considered by officers in determining an alien applicant’s inadmissibility on grounds of public charge are: emergency medical assistance, disaster relief, national school lunch programs, energy assistance, food pantries and homeless shelters, Head Start, government-subsidized student and mortgage loans, subsidies for foster care and adoption, Children’s Health Insurance Program, and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children.

This final rule applies to applicants for admission, aliens seeking to adjust their legal status from within the U.S., and aliens within the U.S. who have a nonimmigrant visa and would like to extend their stay in the same or different legal classification. This rule indicates that the Department of Homeland and Security (DHS) will not consider the receipt of public benefits received by an alien who is enlisted in the U.S. armed forces or is serving in active duty. Furthermore, DHS will not consider the public benefits received by children. Likewise, DHS will not consider Medicaid benefits received for the treatment of an emergency medical condition, services provided in connection to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, schools-based benefits provided to individuals who are below or at the oldest age eligible for secondary education, aliens under 21 years of age, and pregnant individuals or individuals within the 60-day period beginning on the last day of the pregnancy.

Significance for Green Card applicants:

The State Department’s revised public charge guidelines increase the difficulty in securing a green card or other form of visa. If a green card applicant is filing immigration paperwork from abroad he or she should expect significant scrutiny of past and present financial circumstances. While receiving cash benefits in the past can be a factor in the government’s decision, no single factor will dictate whether USCIS deems an individual a “public charge”. Immigration enforcement officers use their discretion to decide whether an applicant can receive legal permanent residence, using the following factors to determine whether an individual is likely to rely on public funds:

– Age: The final Supreme Court rule indicates that USCIS will consider whether an applicant’s age impacts his or her ability to physically work, and is therefore relevant to determining self-sufficiency. USCS has indicated that it is important that the applicant is between 18 and 62 years of age. This age range is based on the age at which individuals are generally able to begin working full-time and the age at which individuals typically retire with social security retirement benefits under federal law. Moreover, minors under 18 years of age are more likely to qualify for public benefits, and thus may be relevant to public charge inadmissibility. The regulation also acknowledges that applicants under 18 years of age or over 61 years of age may work or have other means of support. For minors under 18 years of age, USCIS will consider the availability of outside support form a parent and other resources and assets available to the minor applicant. USCIS says that it will be heavily negatively weighted if the applicant is authorized to work, not a full-time student, and does not demonstrate current employment, recent employment history, or any prospect of future employment.

– Health: USCIS will consider whether an applicant has a medical condition that will require extensive future treatment that will likely impede the applicant’s ability to work and provide for himself or herself. However, the presence of a medical condition does not automatically render an alien applicant inadmissible. USCIS officials will likely defer to Form 1-693 (civil surgeon’s medical report) that must be filed as a part of the application process. Officials will consider the medical condition through the lens of whether the medical condition will impede an alien’s ability to attend school and work. Applicants with a health condition should have evidence that they have or will obtain private health insurance to cover all associated foreseeable medical costs.

– Family Status: The final Supreme Court’s rule indicates that the larger the family’s size, the more income an applicant needs to establish. Thus, it is considered whether an alien applicant has a household to support, or whether the applicant is supported by another household, in order to determine whether the alien would be more or less of a public charge. Certainly, household size does not automatically dictate the outcome of a public charge admissibility determination, and officers look at other factors such as financial status.

– Financial status (including income, employment, assets, and resources): Perceived negative factors such as unemployment may contribute to additional questioning. Applicants must submit Form 1-944 (Declaration of Self-Sufficiency) to provide evidence of an annual gross income at least 125% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. If an applicant cannot provide adequate evidence of sufficient income, his or her assets can be considered. These assets may pertain to the applicant or to any family member in the household. USCIS officers will also consider an applicant’s credit history and civil liabilities, including mortgages, spousal support, unpaid taxes, etc… The final rule provides that a household income, assets, and resources of at least 250% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines is a heavily weighed positive factor.

– Education and Skills: USCIS will consider whether an applicant has sufficient education and skills to obtain and maintain a lawful employment. Skills include English proficiency. Generally, aliens with educational credentials, certificates, and skills are more employable and thus less likely to become a public charge. Considering market demand, DHS may regard an applicant’s proficiency in other languages, along with English, when reviewing the education and skills factor.

– Affidavit of Support: Because an affidavit of support does not guarantee that an alien applicant will receive public benefits in the future, officers only consider the affidavit of support as one factor among all others. However, an applicant’s failure to submit a required affidavit of support will result in a determination of inadmissibility without review of other factors. USCIS considers whether a sponsor will genuinely provide the required amount of financial support to the alien applicant.

DHS notes that the following are positively weighed by USCIS: significant income, resources, and assets; or an annual income of at least 250% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.
Furthermore, DHS lists some heavily weighed negative factors that indicate an alien applicant’s likelihood of being a future public charge, which include: lack of employment, lack of financial means to pay for medical costs, current receipt of one or more public benefits, receipt of public benefits within 36 months of filing an application for legal permanent residency, and previous determination of inadmissibility or deportability based on public charge.

No-match letters

In the past, “no-match letters” created a lot of stress for employers, employees, and immigrants. After a lot of push back and lawsuits from immigration groups, businesses, and labor unions, the “no-match letters” were stopped. However, in recent months they have returned. With them came a lot of concerns about compliance issues and fears that they would once again indicate work authorization problems. However, their reinstatement came with specific policy changes that are important for employers and immigrants to know and understand.

What are “No-Match Letters”?

In 2019, the Social Security Administration again implemented the “no-match letters” also referred to as “employer correction requests.” These “no-match letters” are sent out by the Social Security Administration (SSA) when the Social Security number or the name on the employers Form W-2 does not match Social Security Administration records. 

How do “No-Match Letters” Impact the Social Security Administration?

The SSA began implanting these “no-match letters” to notify the employers and their workers of the discrepancy in terms of certain information. These letters also alerted specific employees that they were not getting the proper credit in terms of their earnings. This could affect their disability benefits and future retirement benefits. When employers receive “no-match letters,” they are advised to follow specific steps to address them and prevent future issues. These include:

  • The employer should register online through the agency’s system to discover which worker has the discrepancy.
  • Discuss issues with the indicated worker. Have them confirm the name and Social Security Number reflected in the employment records.
  • Give the worker a reasonable amount of time to contact the Social Security Administration and correct their records.
  • Discuss with the employee their efforts to address and resolve the issue.
  • Go over the employee’s specific documents that show that the discrepancy has been resolved.
  • Finally, submit any employer corrections to the Social Security Administration.

How Do They Affect Immigrants, the People, and the Country?

Previously, employers were able to use the “no-match letters” as constructive knowledge that employees were not authorized to work in the U.S. Therefore, they could fire them. However, with the policy changes, these actions are no longer allowed. According to the SSA, no adverse action should be taken on any employee indicated in the “no-match letter.” These adverse actions include firing, suspending, laying-off, or any discrimination against the individual. Further, the guidance provided by the agency states that the inclusion of an employee’s name on the “no-match letter” does not indicate the employee’s immigration status. All the “no-match letter” does is inform the employer and employee of a discrepancy in the files.

However, with the comeback of these “no-match letters,” it is imperative that employers implement a written policy and specific procedures on how they respond to the “no-match letters” they receive to prevent any unfair practices or any discrimination issues. They also need to apply the procedures consistently to all their workers and maintain specific records of their responses. 

Why Call Immigration Law Group?

With the country’s immigration policies continually evolving, it’s imperative to have a knowledgeable team that understands the immigration laws. With Immigration Law Group, you will have professionals that understand this evolving political climate. They will also walk you through any immigration problem or question that you have. If you would like to schedule a meeting to discuss an immigration issue or need an immigration question answered, contact the Immigration Law Group today.

good moral character

The path to U.S. naturalization is increasingly complex and filled with pitfalls; and many of them seem hopelessly murky as well. One recent change has been to the imposingly and confusingly named Title 8 Chapter 1 Subchapter C Part 316 section 316.10 “Good Moral Character.” It states that an applicant for naturalization must be a person of “good moral character”. But what is that?

8 CFR 316.10 is a legal document, and hard for lay readers to understand, but the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has provided a more readable format, available online.

What Is “Moral Character?” How Do They Know?

When USCIS speaks of “moral character”, they are not speaking of an individual being a generally good or nice person. “Moral character” actually means “law-abiding”. The burden of proof that an immigrant is and has been “law-abiding” rests on the immigrant. There are several categories of laws that will permanently bar someone from entering the U.S.

  • An individual who has been convicted of murder in another country is permanently barred from establishing “good moral character” necessary for immigration.
  • Torture, genocide, Nazi persecutions, violations of religious freedoms. These violations of the Hague Conventions, Geneva Conventions, and other international human rights conventions, will permanently bar an individual from entry into the U.S.
  • Aggravated Felonies. This last category is the most expansive, and the one with the largest number of changes as of January, 2020. Any individual charged with an aggravated felony after November 29, 1990 cannot establish “good moral character.”

What About Other Crimes?

The USCIS acknowledges that there are lesser offenses that many people may commit; and these are not absolute bars to admission to the U.S. Some of these are:

  • Crimes of “moral turpitude”. According to the USCIS manual, “moral turpitude “refers generally to conduct that shocks the public conscience as being inherently base, vile, or depraved, contrary to the rules of morality and the duties owed between man and man, either one’s fellow man or society in general.” These crimes usually involve wanton recklessness or fraud.
  • Prostitution, controlled substance violations, polygamy, adultery. These may be bars to establishing good moral character, unless extenuating circumstances can be established.
  • Habitual drunkenness, multiple DUIs.

But What If It Wasn’t My Fault?

Most people relocate to America because conditions are better here than in their home country. The conditional bars to establishing good moral character acknowledge this with an exception for “purely political” arrests or incarcerations. An applicant must be able to show that political, religious, or racial motivations on the part of the government lay behind their arrests and convictions, and the exemptions are limited to:

  • Crimes of moral turpitude;
  • Conviction of two or more offenses with a combined sentence of five or more years;
  • Incarceration for a period of over 180 days.

For instance, an individual arrested in a sweep of religious minorities under a repressive regime, on trumped-up charges of sleeping with a political rival’s wife, or for demonstrating against the mistreatment of ethnic minorities in a nation that lacks protections for demonstrators, might be able to have this bar exempted.

But What Should I Do?

The burden is on the immigrant to show he or she was never arrested or convicted; an admittedly difficult bar, as it requires the individual to prove a negative. Modernly, immigrants should be aware that social media can be seen by everyone, and a casual comment, misunderstood statement, or similar name can lead to questions that cannot be answered.

Just as important, anyone who has an uncertain background must be prepared to answer any questions. If they are seeking permanent residence, they should seek legal advice early, and determine what is and is not likely to be an issue with USCIS.

Although the goal of the “good moral character” requirement is to ensure the new citizen measures up to the standards of their American community, they are weighed against the standards of the community of the nation they have left. Therefore, although adultery is a late-night comedian’s joke in the U.S., it can be a capital offense in some countries; and it is those judicial systems that the immigrant will be held to when answering the questions of the Immigration official.

Call Our Team!

Immigration Law Group will review your past history, locate any trouble spots, and help you determine the best way to negotiate the labyrinth of “good moral character” and come safely out the other side. Give us a call today!

non citizens and social media

Social media is ubiquitous these days, and while it can be a great way to communicate with family and friends, it’s important to keep in mind that it is largely public. Even with the use of privacy settings, DHS has used social media monitoring and vetting as a justification to approve or deny visas. They have even used social media vetting in order make determinations about citizenship. DHS now uses what they call a “shared social media screening service” to analyze data on non-citizens, and according to the Brennan Center they had prepared to screen approximately 15 million visitors’ social media accounts in 2019.

While many human rights groups are warning against the implications of curtailing free speech with such monitoring, and taking steps to advocate for better policies, it’s still important to take some precautions on social media. If you’re a non-citizen who is  active on social media, there are steps you can take to ensure that you’re better protected.

Social Media: Don’t Share Everything.

While many social media platforms will try to gather as much information on you as possible, you don’t need to answer every question. Certain fields are necessary for verification. You’re under no obligation to share the name of your middle school or other personal information you don’t want to disclose. It’s recommended to treat the “about me” section on social media as “optional”. If there is information that you don’t feel comfortable putting into a public space, don’t include it.

Don’t Rely on Privacy Settings.

Absolutely do use your privacy settings. But, assuming that because your profile is set to “friends only” that it’s impossible for DHS to monitor you is inaccurate. While the ACLU has been demanding more transparency around how the government collects and monitors social media, there is still not enough openness about how and when this information is used. Therefore, caution is important.

Social media monitoring from DHS does not mean that they need to be your social media “friend” so what you consider private is relative. Activate your privacy settings but remain cautious about what information you put out there. Remember, you’re sharing with other people, even if many of them are your friends in real life. If there’s information you wouldn’t share with a stranger it’s a good idea to keep it off social media.

Be Aware of What You Say on Social Media.

Social media is a great way to share ideas, and there’s nothing wrong with being opinionated. Many advocacy groups are working hard to ensure that freedom of speech is protected, and that protection extends to social media. However, using a little caution is important. Anything that can be interpreted as a threat should obviously be avoided, but unfortunately it can be more complicated. Sometimes even jokes can be taken the wrong way. So even if you’re sure your tone is sarcastic, it’s wise not to give anyone any possibility of misunderstanding.

DHS doesn’t necessarily have a person sorting through data. They often rely on algorithms that can make mistakes, especially when interpreting tone and intent. These algorithms have programs to pick up on certain words and phrases. This means that many individuals who are posting perfectly common and appropriate things can be flagged unnecessarily. So always exercise caution, and know when to contact a lawyer.

Call Immigration Law Group!

It’s important that you know your rights and protect yourself when it comes to your social media information. With immigration law group, we can help you familiarize yourself with your rights, and we’ll advocate on your behalf. Our top rated lawyers are here to assist you and guide you on the path to citizenship. For more information, contact us today!

marriage-based visa

The pathway to United States citizenship involves many complex options and, at times, confusing criteria. Immigration law in the United States is continually evolving and changing and can cause a lot of tension for immigrants trying to figure out how it all works. Applying for a green card based on a marriage can seem like an easy procedure. However, there’s a lot to understand to this process of marriage-based visas, and it can be the difference between an approval and a denial.

What is a Marriage-Based Visa?

The marriage-based visa is one option for an immigrant to apply for a green card. It is based on their marriage to a U.S. lawful permanent resident or a U.S. citizen. There are some common misconceptions when it comes to marriage-based visas. Most individuals tend to think that it’s an automatic ticket to U.S. citizenship, and it just involves filing some paperwork. However, the overall application is still a long and tedious process with an intense petition undertaking.

What are the Requirements to Obtain a Marriage-Based Visa?

The process of filing for a marriage-based visa is pretty straightforward. However, the overall operation comes with its hurdles and requires applicants to prove that their marriage is real and valid. To qualify for this specific visa, you will need to show the following:

  • You are legally married to a U.S. Citizen or a U.S. lawful permanent resident.
  • Your marriage is real and not fraudulent. Specifically, you are proving that your marriage is not just done for a green card.
  • Documentation of your spouse’s lawful permanent resident status or U.S. citizenship.
  • Proof that neither of you is married to someone else.

The Process:

To prove that you qualify for this visa, you will need to submit to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) the required Form I-130, along with proof that your spouse is a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident, and that you have a bona fide marriage. Once USCIS approves the I-130, you will be required to pay specific fees and fill out additional paperwork that the National Visa Center (NVC) will need. Once the NVC receives all your documentation, your case will be sent to a U.S. consulate located in your home country, where you will be required to obtain a medical exam by an approved doctor and attend an interview.

If everything is complete, you will receive your immigrant visa and will be able to present it at the U.S. border to receive a stamp in your passport indicating your green card status. This whole process can be tedious and stressful, that’s why if at any point you have questions or concerns don’t hesitate to call experienced professionals that can walk you through it and answer any questions that you may have.

Does a Criminal Record Affect this Process?

During your application process for your marriage-based visa, you will encounter questions that involve your specific criminal history. The government wants to know any interactions that you have had with law enforcement and will want you to provide detailed information. You should to indicate any charges or arrests that you had, even if they have been dismissed. Having a criminal history may complicate your overall process, but they will not automatically cause your case to be denied. Although, there are three significant crimes that most likely cause inadmissibility and should be discussed with an attorney before proceeding with your filing. They are:

  1. Crimes involving an Aggravated Felony
  2. “Moral Turpitude” Crimes
  3. Illegal Drug Crimes

How Do Marriage-Based Visa’s Affect Immigrants and the Country?

There have been countless discussions on marriage-based visas, and their impact on the United States. However, the common theme in these discussions is how beneficial this visa is to overall economic U.S. growth and the country’s diversity. It’s an opportunity to expand the U.S. borders and bring in immigrants with skills that will be valuable to the people of the United States and U.S. economy.

Contact Immigration Law Group!

Obtaining a marriage-based visa can be a daunting process that can cause a lot of headaches for a couple. But, with Immigration Law Group, our knowledgeable and experienced staff can make this process a lot easier and less stressful. We will answer any question and help you prepare your submission. If you need any further information or would like to schedule a meeting, contact us today.

new visa policies

U.S. work and student visa policies have been changing since time immemorial. However, President Donald Trump proposed a change in immigration policies. These changes restrict non-US citizens and immigrants permanently or temporarily from studying, living, and working in the United States.

According to the National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP), the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) data analysis shows that the denial rates for H-1B visa petition has risen from 6% to 32% in 2015 and mid 2019 respectively. This is as a result of the USCIS raising the standards of approved H-1b petition.

What Visa Policies Are Changing?

The most affected policy is the H-1b visa. The policy changes are aimed at improving and streamlining of the allocation of the H-1B visa. This will be achieved by slicing the administrative burden of processing the application, and to transform the selection process in favor of U.S. applicants holding master’s degrees.

The other proposed changes refers to the OPT (Optional Practical Training) program, which allows international students under the F-1 study visas to freely work in the USA for only 12 months. The changes might limit them from receiving work authorization.

Another proposed change involves the H-4 work permit program allowing H-1B visa holders’ spouses to work in the United States. Trump’s administration will not give work permit to these spouses.

How Do New Visa Policies Impact Immigrants?

1. Decline in jobs for international students

A study by NACE (National Association of Colleges and Employers) showed that the number of employers in the U.S. planning to hire international students dropped to 23.4% in 2018 after years of consistent growth that reached 34.2% in 2015.

2. Increase in immigration fees

The cost of becoming a U.S citizen will be 83% more expensive, and it will raise the application fees required for legal permanent residency from $1,022, to 2,915 and the citizen application fee from $640 to $1,170.

3. Fewer students applying for colleges in the U.S.

According to the Institute of International Education (IIE), enrollment of new international students in the United States has reduced by 6.6% between 2017 and 2018, and has continued to go down.

This is not favorable for the economy or the universities as well because international students pay higher fees that native Americans. For instance, in 2017, the students contributed up to $42 billion to the economy through board and room, tuition among other expenses. That’s why some colleges have reclassified economic majors into STEM degrees.

4. Foreign tech workers are moving to Canada

As a result of the proposed changes, most large corporations may be forced to relocate their jobs abroad. For example, Microsoft had announced a huge expansion in Canada planning to build new headquarters in Toronto and hire 500 more employees.

In addition, the Canadian government invited skilled people in the computer and tech related fields to sign up for permanent residence under the Express Entry Program. Out of the 86,022 invites sent in 2017, Indians got 42%, China behind by 9%, Nigeria received 6% and Pakistan got 4%. The number of Indians admitted in 2016 was 9,584, which rose to 26,340 in 2017.

Do Changing Visa Policies Affect the U.S.?

Change in visa policies has pushed highly skilled foreigners out of the U.S. significantly reducing innovation. As a result, foreign affiliate employment has increased due to the increasingly strict restrictions on the H-1B visas. Multinational firms are likely to establish new foreign affiliates outside the U.S., especially in fields where services can be off-shored.

Contact Immigration Law Group!

Looking for an immigration lawyer? Well, look no further! At Immigration Law Group we have top-rated immigration lawyers to help you obtain U.S. citizenship and visas. Contact us today to help you become a lawful permanent U.S. citizen.

migrant protection protocol

Under the current political administration, many of the established immigration laws, like the Migrant Protection Protocol, are being profoundly altered and scrutinized to limit the number of people arriving at the US- Mexico border. Because of these new policies, there has been constant chaos for vulnerable asylum seekers. It is leaving thousands of migrants to deal with dangerous conditions, family separations, and a terrible health environment.

What is the Migrant Protection Protocol?

The Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) are actions implemented by the U.S. Government. It states migrants that are entering illegally or seeking admission without proper documentation into the United States from Mexico must wait in Mexico for the duration of their immigration proceedings. Per the regulation, Mexico will be required to provide the asylum seekers humanitarian protections during this period.

What are the Dangers of the MPP?

This intention of the MPP policy was to create a more efficient and orderly immigration system. Instead, this new regulation requires migrants to wait for months or years in dangerous camps while their case is processed. Many of these migrants are already fleeing terrible conditions, only to be required to stay in camps that have become life-threatening and treacherous.

This new asylum policy has led these migrants to live in some of the most dangerous cities located at the Mexico border. Thus, resulting in a wave of kidnappings, sexual assaults, and rapes. Many criminal organizations have seized opportunities from this new MPP policy by abducting these endangered asylum migrants waiting at the border. They have kept them hostage until their families pay thousands of dollars for their release. Not only is crime a massive issue for these immigrants, but health concerns are also on the rise, as the health conditions at these camps continue to worsen. Without clean water, many immigrants must use the polluted Rio Grande to take care of their essential needs. This usage has resulted in many rashes and a plethora of other health problems.

The whole premise of the MPP was to reduce threats of life and protect vulnerable populations. This objective has been gravely missed. Ideally, the program would have found ways to increase capacity at the ports of entry or improve the detention programs. Rather this policy has led to expanding our asylum system’s current inefficiencies and creating dangerous conditions. As the enforcement of the “Remain in Mexico” program continues, it leaves thousands of migrants to handle the immigration crisis on their own while ultimately putting their lives, safety, and health at risk.

How does the MPP Affect Immigrants and the U.S.?

Under the MPP policy, it makes it nearly impossible for migrants to obtain asylum when they reach the United States. Instead, it leaves these individuals to handle terrible conditions, chaos, and a lot of suffering.  However, it is not only the migrants that are hurting under this regulation.

With the additional border security required under this policy, its forced thousands of U.S. federal employees to work without pay. This policy has created an immense burden for many U.S. officials and has created an overall legal and humanitarian nightmare. Not just an immigration issue, the MPP policy has become a disaster for people and the country as a whole.

Call Immigration Law Group!

Under the current Trump Administration, immigration policies are continually being changed.  It’s more important than ever to have qualified professionals working on your immigration case.

With Immigration Law Group, you can be confident that you are getting the best legal services specific to your case. If you have an immigration question or would like to discuss your immigration case, contact our dedicated and experienced staff today.

Portland Immigration Lawyer

The cost for becoming a United States Citizen might become 83 percent more expensive. The Trump Administration is attempting to raise the application fees from citizenship to legal permanent residency.

Last Thursday, USCIS announced the proposed price hikes, in their statement “current fees do not recover the full costs of providing adjudication and naturalization services.”  The citizenship application fee is currently 640 dollars, the proposed price hike would make the fee 1,170 dollars. The legal permanent residency fee is currently 1,220 and USCIS is attempting to raise it to 2,195.

The proposed price hikes would have a major affect on immigration. There are also price hikes for Asylum, Temporary Protected Status Beneficiaries, and DACA recipients. DACA renewals would go from 495 dollars to 765 dollars. The administration is also seeking to transfer $207.6 million of USCIS funding and divert it to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Advocacy groups are pressing people who are eligible to apply as soon as possible. USCIS and the Trump Administration must place the proposed price hikes in a comment period, the period ends on December 16th.

These price hikes have very little blocking their way to becoming a reality. Congress is really the only option to prevent the price hikes from becoming implemented.

The time to apply for your green card or citizenship application is now!  Don’t wait until the fees increase a substantial amount more than they already are.  Feel free to contact us with any questions.

Immigration public charge Update on Visa Applicants Portland, Oregon

The Public Charge Rule is set to go into affect on October 15th. The new policy has received many challenges, both in court and with Immigration advocates. Critics of the new rule have claimed “The new rule — which critics say makes the definition of “public charge” so vague and all-encompassing that it will effectively favor only rich, white immigrants — drew swift rebuke from dozens of state and local governments, attorneys general, public health organizations and immigrant advocacy groups after U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services formally announced the policy in September.”

The USCIS has refused to comment on the on-going legal battle between the courts and the Trump administration. Washington Post writer Abigale Hauslohner reports  “Is expected to decide next week on whether to block the rule from taking effect.”

Another Federal Judge in Olympia, Washington is going to hold a separate hearing on the same piece of policy. The lawsuit was filed by a coalition of 13 different states. Judges in New York, Maryland and Illinois will also be making decisions on this policy.

If the policy goes into effect, according to Hauslohner “the new public-charge rule, immigrants who are in the United States legally and use public benefits such as Medicaid, food stamps or housing assistance — or have at one time used public benefits, or are deemed likely to someday use public benefits — could be considered “public charges,” rendering them ineligible for green cards.

The new criteria provide “positive” and “negative” factors for immigration officials to weigh as they decide on green-card applications. Negative factors include whether a person is unemployed, dropped out of high school or is not fluent in English.” Hauslohner also reports “Critics say the rule is likely to reduce legal immigration by slashing eligibility for family-based visas, the leading type of legal immigration to the United States, particularly from low-income countries in Africa and Latin America. They say it could also lead to more deportations as huge numbers of immigrants see their applications denied.”

Hauslohner states “The lawsuits argue that the new “public charge” definition deviates substantially from more than 100 years of legal interpretation. They say it will cause significant harm to the health and well-being of immigrant families, as well as the institutions that service them, by leading many to abstain from seeking public benefits that they or their children may need.”

EMPLOYMENT BASED VISAS

How to become a United States Citizen:

You have been a permanent resident green card holder for the last five years, or a permanent resident green card holder for the last three years if you are filing as the spouse of a US citizen. Now you want to enjoy the benefits of being a United States citizen, maybe you want to vote, maybe you want to have the chance of working federal jobs, or maybe you just don’t want to worry about renewing your green card every 10 years and have the peace of mind that comes with being a United States citizen. Below are the steps and requirements that are necessary to become a United States citizen.

Phase one: Eligibility

The applicant must be at least eighteen years old at the time of filing N-400 form. You also must be a permanent resident green card holder of at least five years OR a permanent resident green card holder of at least three years if you are filing as the spouse of a person who is a United States citizen.

There is a ninety-day filing exception. You may submit your N-400 to USCIS as early as
ninety days before reaching your three- or five-year wait period as a green card holder —
as long as you’ve satisfied all other eligibility requirements. You must still wait the full three or five years, however, to become a U.S. citizen. Filing early just lets you get ahead in the application process. (Our guide to citizenship has the full details.)

You can apply if you are married to, and living with, a US citizen. You also must have been married to that US citizen for at least the past three years. The US citizen spouse must have been a US citizen for at least the past three years.

Also during the past three years, you must not have been out of the country for eighteen months or more. You are eligible to apply based on five-year residency if during the last five years you have NOT been out of the United States for thirty months or more.

There are exceptions to the thirty-month rule. If you are a person who has served on board a vessel operated by or registered in the United States OR are an employee or an individual under contract to the US Government OR a person who performs ministerial or priestly functions for a religious denomination or an interdenominational organization with a valid presence in the United States.

To qualify for citizenship eligibility you must have not gone a trip outside the United
States for one year or more without an approved “Application to Preserve Residence for
Naturalization Purposes.”

You must reside in the state or district in which you applied for citizenship for at least the last three months.

Next Step – Biometrics Appointment

The next step is to set up your biometrics appointment — basically, getting your
fingerprints taken — at your local USCIS field office. As with the marriage-based green
card process, USCIS will take your fingerprints during naturalization in order to conduct
a background check. The fingerprinting appointment usually takes place about a month
after USCIS receives your U.S. citizenship application.

You must have “good moral character,” broadly defined as a character that measures up to
the standards of average citizens in your community. More specifically, however, it
means you did not have certain types of crimes — such as murder, illegal gambling, or intentionally lying to the U.S. government in order to gain immigration benefits — on
your record at any time before filing, and you did not lie during your naturalization
interview.

Phase Two: Exam and Oath

You must pass a two-part naturalization test: the first is an English language test
(covering reading, writing, and speaking skills) and the second a civics test (covering
knowledge of U.S. history and government).

You must be able to read, write and speak basic English. There are some exceptions to
this requirement. If you are over the age of fifty years old and have lived in the United
States for at least the last twenty years since becoming a Permanent resident OR you are over the age of fifty-five years old and have lived in the United States for at least fifteen
years since becoming a Permanent Resident OR you have a disability that prevents you from fulfilling this requirement and you will file a “Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions” (Form N-648) completed a signed by a doctor with your application.

You must know the fundamentals of US History and the form and principles of the US
Government. Must be willing to serve in the U.S. military or perform civilian service for the
The United States if called upon to do so. You must register with the Selective Service System if you are male and have lived in the United States between the ages of 18 and 25. You must be willing to defend the U.S. Constitution.

If you are able to pass through the two phases of requirements then you can become a United States citizen. If you want to determine your citizenship eligibility, please give us a call at (866)-691-9894 for a consultation to begin your path to becoming a United States citizen.