Category: tips

Vaccinations — you have to get them unless you qualify for a medical and religious exemption

Learn about vaccinations and medical requirements for the green card application, including exemptions for medical and religious reasons.To get a green card through marriage, you need to undergo a medical exam with a USCIS approved doctor. You can find the doctors using the tool at this website. The doctor will give you a sealed envelope with Form I-693. You should also request an unsealed copy of Form I-693 so that your attorney can review it. 

The medical exam requires you to have certain vaccinations. You can find the vaccination list at this link.  There may be vaccinations that you cannot get right now due to your current age or health reasons. If so, there is no problem, and those would be considered medical waivers to the vaccination requirement. However, if the doctor determines that you need a vaccination and you do not want to take it for a medical reason and the doctor does not agree,  you will have a problem. 

Also, you may not want to get a vaccination for religious reasons. Those waivers are difficult to obtain, and you must show the following:

  • You are opposed to all vaccinations in any form.: This means you are opposed to all vaccinations, not just a specific vaccination such as the flu or COVID vaccinations. You may have received vaccinations as a child, but as long as you have not received any as an adult, you may be able to meet this requirement.  
  • Your objection must be based on religious beliefs or moral convictions.: You have to show that you belong to an actual religion that holds an actual opposition to vaccinations. A mere preference of yours won’t cut it. 

The religious belief or moral conviction must be sincere.: Again, you have to show that you are part of a religion that holds this belief. If you just joined the religion recently, you’ll have more difficulty proving that this is a “sincere” religious belief.

 

If you need to talk to an experienced immigration attorney. We’ve helped hundreds of people traverse the complicated immigration and citizenship process. We would love to help you as well.  Call (617-744-7919) or email hello@cambridgeimmigrationlaw.com to get in touch.

 

The Temporary 540-Day EAD Extension Rule

The Temporary 540-Day EAD Extension RuleAfter October 26, 2023, USCIS has indicated that it will revert to 180-day automatic extensions.

An Employment Authorization Document (EAD) is a work permit issued to individuals in many different immigration categories. If you receive an EAD, it may be used to prove to an employer that you are legally authorized to work in the United States. If you are eligible for an EAD, you may submit an application on Form I-765, with photos and fees, if required.

As long as you remain eligible for an EAD, you may apply to renew the EAD before it expires. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has previously granted an automatic 180-day extension to work authorization while an EAD renewal application is pending for certain applicants.

You may be eligible for an automatic extension of work authorization if:

1)  You timely filed your Form I-765 before the date that your current EAD has expired or within the applicable filing period for TPS applicants.

2)  You are applying to renew your EAD in the same category as your previous EAD. (There is an exception for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) beneficiaries or pending applicants: their EAD and renewal application must contain either the A12 or C19 category, but the categories do not have to match each other.)

3)   Your eligibility for employment authorization is NOT dependent on the adjudication of another benefit.

Now, due to historically long processing times, USCIS has temporarily increased the automatic extension period for up to 540 days, while an EAD renewal application is pending. The change was formalized through a Temporary Final Rule, which will remain in place through October 26, 2023. After October 26, 2023, USCIS has indicated that it will revert to 180-day automatic extensions.

To receive the automatic extension of up to 540 days, you must timely file an EAD renewal application in an eligible category (see below) by October 27, 2023.

As proof of your employment authorization, you will present your expired or expiring EAD and the Form I-797C receipt notice that USCIS sent you after you filed your EAD renewal application. Your employer is required to verify or reverify your employment authorization and record the details of the documents that you present on Form I-9. If you or your employer are confused about when your work authorization extension will now expire, you’re not alone! USCIS has created an online tool to assist you and your employer in calculating your work authorization extension date: https://www.uscis.gov/i-9-central/form-i-9-resources/employment-authorization-document-ead-automatic-extension-calculator.

Am I eligible for the additional extension to work authorization?

  • Timely filed your EAD renewal application before May 4, 2022, and your previous 180 day auto-extension has expired.
    • Then, you receive an additional 360 days of work authorization.
  • Timely filed your EAD renewal application before May 4, 2022, and the original 180-day extension has not yet expired.
    • Then, you receive the remainder of the 180- day extension, plus an additional 360 days of work authorization.
  • Have timely filed or will timely file your EAD renewal application between May 4, 2022, and October 26, 2023.
    • Then, you receive a 180-day extension, plus 360 days extension, for a total of 540 days of extended work authorization.

Finally, if your EAD renewal application is denied, then the automatic extension of work authorization may end before the 540-day period. your work authorization, please discuss the specifics of your situation with an attorney.

The EAD categories eligible for the 540-day automatic extension to work authorization (as indicated on Form I-765 under “Class Requested” at the time of the EAD renewal application) are:

(a)(3)     Refugee

(a)(5)     Asylee

(a)(7)     N-8 or N-9

(a)(8)     Citizen of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, or Palau

(a)(10)  Withholding of Deportation or Removal Granted

(a)(12)  Temporary Protected Status (TPS) Granted

(a)(17)  Spouse of principal E nonimmigrant with an unexpired I-94 showing E nonimmigrant status

(a)(18)  Spouse of principal L-1 Nonimmigrant with an unexpired I-94 showing L-2 nonimmigrant status

(c)(8)     Asylum Application Pending

(c)(9)     Pending Adjustment of Status under Section 245 of the Act

(c)(10)   Suspension of Deportation Applicants (filed before April 1, 1997)

Cancellation of Removal Applicants

Special Rule Cancellation of Removal Applicants Under NACARA

(c)(16)   Creation of Record (Adjustment Based on Continuous Residence Since January 1, 1972)

(c)(19)   Pending initial application for TPS where USCIS determines applicant is prima facie eligible for TPS and can receive an EAD as a “temporary treatment benefit”.

(c)(20)   Section 210 Legalization (pending I-700)

(c)(22)   Section 245A Legalization (pending I-687)

(c)(24)   LIFE Legalization

(c)(26)   Spouses of certain H-1B principal nonimmigrants with an unexpired I-94 showing H-4    nonimmigrant status

(c)(31)   VAWA Self-Petitioners

 

If you have questions about your eligibility for an extension of your work authorization, please discuss the specifics of your situation with an attorney or find an immigration attorney via https://www.ailalawyer.org.

Why should you get the medical done before you file your I-485 application and, in most cases, submit it with your I-485 application?

Know the importance of including your medical exam with the I-485 application for a smooth green card process.You should get your medical exam completed before you file your green card for two important reasons. First, you–and I as your attorney–want to see if any issues come up with your medical exam. For example, a client recently conducted her medical exam and learned that she was positive for TB (tuberculosis). With that diagnosis, she is not eligible for a green card. She needed to get the necessary treatment–which took 8 months–in order to get a clear and complete medical exam. If she had filed without the medical exam, waited for an RFE, and then learned that she had TB, she may not have been able to respond to the RFE by the 3-month deadline and her entire case would have been denied, and she would have had to start over. Sometimes, even when we see negative results, we file the application due to certain legal issues. However, it’s best to decide to file without the medical exam knowing why you’re applying without the medical exam. 

The other big reason to file with the medical exam is that USCIS can fully approve your case if the medical exam is included. Meaning, in most cases (since 20220, there will be no interview. Lots of people used to bring the medical exam to the interview. Now, you do not always have that opportunity. If you don’t file the medical exam with your application, the approval of your case may be slowed down because USCIS has to ask you for the exam, you have to send it to USCIS, and then USCIS has to get back to looking at your case once you send in the exam.

 

If you need to talk to an experienced immigration attorney. We’ve helped hundreds of people traverse the complicated immigration and citizenship process. We would love to help you as well.  Call (617-766-0214) or email hello@cambridgeimmigrationlaw.com to get in touch.

Why you should get your records through Freedom of Information Act Requests?

Discover the importance of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Requests for your immigration records and applications in this article.Before you do anything with the government, you should find out what records the government has about you. Here are a few examples why:

**You’re ready to apply for citizenship, and so you apply for a copy of your USCIS records that relate to your Lawful Permanent Resident Adjustment of Status application. Once you get your USCIS records, you see that you made a mistake on your application: you noted an incorrect address for a prior residence. This is not a big deal, but you want to put the correct date on your N-400 application, and be ready to explain the mistake if asked at an interview. 

**You’re ready to apply for citizenship, and you do not remember if you disclosed a criminal issue that occurred before you become an “LPR”/green card holder. Once you get your USCIS records, you see that you did NOT disclose the issue. The criminal issue would not have made you ineligible for the green card and you had another criminal issue that you disclosed. That means that you answered “yes” that you had criminal issues, but you just did not describe them all. I would talk to you about why you did not disclose this issue. Were you represented by an attorney who forgot to include the information? Or, did you not realize that the incident was actually criminal because you though all driving offenses were civil? Whatever the reason, you need to give a good explanation to USCIS and make sure that the omission is explained as a mistake, not a misrepresentation or fraud. If USCIS thinks it’s a mistake, you’re citizenship application will likely go through fine. If USCIS thinks that it was a purposeful misrepresentation, you risk losing your LPR/green card status. 

**You want to apply for a “green card” through your US citizen spouse. You had a green card years ago through a job, but you left the US 20 years ago and have not lived in the US since then. You should get a copy of your USCIS records to make sure that you put all the correct information in your new application about your prior green card status, for example, when you got the green card, the name of the employer that helped you get the green card, and the INS/USCIS location where your green was processed.

 

If you need to talk to an experienced immigration attorney. We’ve helped hundreds of people traverse the complicated immigration and citizenship process. We would love to help you as well.  Call (617-744-7919) or email hello@cambridgeimmigrationlaw.com to get in touch.

Do you have prior/pending immigration applications?

Managing pending immigration applications: Tips for nonimmigrant visa filings & maintaining consistency with expert immigration attorneys.Generally, having prior or pending immigration applications is not a problem. However, if you want to file for a nonimmigrant visa AFTER you file for a green card, you may have a problem showing that you intend to return to your home country. Also, if you’ve filed or will file other applications, you want to make sure that they are all consistent. If you see a mistake on a past application, don’t change your current application to fit the mistake–figure out with your experienced immigration attorney if you can safely bring the mistake to the attention of USCIS when you file a new application with the updated answer. Finally, make sure to share a copy of all your prior applications with your new attorney. If you don’t have copies of them, request them with a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Request. 

 

If you need to talk to an experienced immigration attorney. We’ve helped hundreds of people traverse the complicated immigration and citizenship process. We would love to help you as well.  Call (617-744-7919) or email hello@cambridgeimmigrationlaw.com to get in touch.

Have you worked in the US without permission?

Worked in the US without permission? Understand the implications and the importance of disclosure in immigration applications in this article.This won’t be a problem for a spouse of a US citizen UNLESS the person worked without permission and then did NOT disclose that fact when asked about it on an online immigration application, paper submitted application, or in person with an immigration official. A common situation is for a student on an F-visa to babysit while he is in school, and then not disclose that when asked about it on an online immigration application, paper submitted application, or in person with an immigration official. If you’re asked by a US immigration official about unauthorized work and you lie, you may turn a non-problem (the work) into a big problem (lying, fraud, misrepresentation).

If you need to talk to an experienced immigration attorney. We’ve helped hundreds of people traverse the complicated immigration and citizenship process. We would love to help you as well.  Call (617-766-0214) or email hello@cambridgeimmigrationlaw.com to get in touch.

 

Why do you need to get ALL marriage and divorce certificates?

Prepare for your green card application: Gather essential marriage and divorce certificates to ensure a smooth process.If you’re trying to figure out if you’re eligible to get a green card based on your marriage to a US citizen or lawful permanent resident, you need to get some marriage documents in order. First, you’ll need a certified copy of your current marriage certificate. If the certificate is not in English, you’ll need an English translation of the document. You can use an online translation service, or you can use a simple Certificate of Translation, like we will show you here. Just make sure that neither you nor your spouse does the translation. 

Next, you will need copies of all marriages and divorces for you and your spouse. It’s best to have certified copies of these documents, but generally you can get by with any acceptable copy. You need to get all marriage and divorce certificates, even if they are from decades ago! If you absolutely cannot get them, you must provide a sworn statement of your efforts to convince USCIS that the document is in fact not available. USCIS will not accept a document as unavailable just because it’s a huge pain for you to try to get it. 

When information about a marriage or divorce is difficult to obtain, do not make the mistake of leaving it off the immigration applications. That decision could come back to haunt you in the form of a charge of misrepresentation, which will add years and thousands of dollars of cost onto your immigration process. 

For all marriage and divorce documents, you need to check that they comply with the format that the US Department of State defines for each country. You can find those requirements at this link. If your marriage took place in the US, then your marriage certificate from the registry in your town/city is what you’ll need. 

If you need to talk to an experienced immigration attorney. We’ve helped hundreds of people traverse the complicated immigration and citizenship process. We would love to help you as well.  Call (617-744-7919) or email hello@cambridgeimmigrationlaw.com to get in touch.

 

Are you Canadian who has “overstayed” in the US?

Canadians overstayed in the US? Learn about unique considerations and immigration options for Canadian visitors.There are special (usually positive) issues for Canadians as related to being in the US, even if they “overstay.” The reason is that the US government is not clear about whether Canadians who entered without a visa and who stay longer than 6 months actually have “overstayed.” If you are Canadian, the best course of action is to not stay longer in the US if you entered without a visa. If you did stay in the US more than 6 months (on this entry or prior entries), you need to speak with an experienced immigration attorney to determine if and how this will affect your eligibility for a green card. 

 

If you need to talk to an experienced immigration attorney. We’ve helped hundreds of people traverse the complicated immigration and citizenship process. We would love to help you as well.  Call (617-766-0214) or email hello@cambridgeimmigrationlaw.com to get in touch.

Have you ever overstayed and left the US?

Overstayed in the US? Learn about re-entry restrictions and I-601 waivers for legal immigration options in this article.If you’ve overstayed more than 6 months in the US, and you leave, you will not be able to re-enter the US legally for 3 years, unless you are granted an I-601 waiver. If you’ve overstayed more than 1 year in the US, and you leave, you will not be able to re-enter the US legally for 10 years, unless you are granted an I-601 waiver. If you applied for a visa after you overstayed and left the visa, you’ll most likely be asked about this issue. If you tell them about your overstay, you may be ineligible for a visa, for now. If you lie about your prior stay in the US, and the US finds out, you will be ineligible to enter the US due to fraud, unless you are granted an I-601 waiver for fraud. 

 

If you need to talk to an experienced immigration attorney. We’ve helped hundreds of people traverse the complicated immigration and citizenship process. We would love to help you as well.  Call (617-766-0214) or email hello@cambridgeimmigrationlaw.com to get in touch.

Are you married to more than one person at the same time?

USCIS recognizes only your first legally married spouse for immigration purposes, and additional marriages need not be disclosed.USCIS will only recognize your first marriage as a valid marriage for immigration purposes. With that, you do not need to disclose marriages that take place after a first marriage is still legally valid. However, talk to an experienced immigration attorney if you have engaged in a marriage ceremony while you are legally married because you may be committing a crime in certain US states and in countries outside of the US.  If you plan to practice, or have practiced, polygamy in the US or have attempted to be polygamous in the US, you will not be eligible for a green card.  

If you need to talk to an experienced immigration attorney. We’ve helped hundreds of people traverse the complicated immigration and citizenship process. We would love to help you as well.  Call (617-272-7980) or email hello@cambridgeimmigrationlaw.com to get in touch.