Tag: US immigration law

OBTAINING A GREEN CARD: VICTIMS OF CRIME WITH U NONIMMIGRANT STATUS

In the United States, victims of certain crimes who have endured substantial physical or mental abuse may find solace in the U visa program. This program, designed to protect and assist victims, offers a pathway to lawful permanent residency, commonly known as obtaining a Green Card. 

U nonimmigrant status, is designated for victims of specific crimes who have suffered severe physical or mental trauma and have been helping in aiding the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity.  

U Nonimmigrant Visa Process

To obtain a U visa, you must do the following:

  1. Obtain signed Form I-918 Supplement B, U Nonimmigrant Status Certification from law enforcement stating that you were a victim of a qualifying crime and you were helping in the investigation or prosecution of the crime. 
  2. File Form I-918, Petition for U Nonimmigrant Status with Form I-918B and other required documents
  3. Obtain “prima facie” determination of U visa status, which will allow you to obtain an Employment Authorization Document. 
  4. Wait years for an actual U visa to be available to you. 
  5. Once a U visa is issued, remain in U visa status for four years and then apply for a green card. 

Green Card Through U Visa

Adjustment of status–or an application for a green card–through U visa is much more forgiving than green card applications through marriage or employment. Many criminal issues can be forgiven for a U visa green card. Also, importantly, an applicant can get a green card even if they crossed the border without a visa, or entered EWI.

Derivative U Nonimmigrant Family Members

Certain relatives of U-1 nonimmigrants may also qualify for a Green Card as derivative applicants. Spouses (U-2), children (U-3), parents (U-4), or siblings (U-5) who meet specific criteria are eligible for adjustment of status based on derivative U nonimmigrant status.

Navigating the path to a Green Card as a victim of crime under the U visa program is complex. For more information and personalized assistance regarding adjustment of status based on U nonimmigrant status, please contact Cambridge Immigration Law. Our team of dedicated attorneys is committed to advocating for your rights and facilitating your journey towards a brighter future in the United States.

RESOLVING DELAYS IN IMMIGRATION CASES: UNDERSTANDING USCIS MANDAMUS

USCIS processing times have improved significantly since the depths of the pandemic in 2020 through 2022. However, many case types and many individual cases are taking unexpectedly long for USCIS to make decisions and even to respond to requests for updates or expedites. Sometimes, we cannot get USCIS to speed up its pace without threatening to file, and sometimes actually filing, a federal lawsuit against USCIS. This lawsuit is called a “Writ of Mandamus” and it asks a federal judge to order USCIS to make a decision on a long-pending USCIS case. 

Writ of Mandamus:

Mandamus, derived from Latin, meaning “we command,” is a legal mechanism used to compel an employee, officer, or agency of the United States, such as USCIS, to act. In immigration law, a Writ of Mandamus serves as a tool for applicants to assert their rights and prompt USCIS to make a decision on their case.

Writ of Mandamus in Immigration Cases:

A Writ of Mandamus addresses situations where USCIS has unreasonably delayed a case, preventing an approval or denial of the case. Here at Cambridge Immigration Law we make sure our clients know that we are requesting a decision on a case, not an approval on a case. If a case is weak, filing a writ of mandamus may not be the client’s best strategy. However, there are clients who want any decision, even if there is a good chance there will be a denial. A denial opens the opportunity for an appeal, or for some people, puts closure on their quest for an immigration benefit. 

Requirements for Writ of Mandamus:

Certain requirements must be met for a Writ of Mandamus. We prove that USCIS has a clear duty to decide a case, that USCIS owes that decision to our client, and that there is nothing else that we can do to try to push USCIS to make a decision. Importantly, we must prove that the delay is unreasonable.  

Determining Unreasonable Delay:

The Administrative Procedures Act mandates that agencies like USCIS complete tasks within a reasonable time frame. If an applicant’s case falls outside the standard processing time, filing a Writ of Mandamus may be a viable option to prompt USCIS to render a decision. Often, the mere filing of the lawsuit prompts USCIS to take action on the case. Also, a threat of filing a writ of mandamus often pushes a decision. 

USCIS Mandamus offers a legal avenue for individuals experiencing delays in their immigration cases. Seeking relief through this remedy requires careful consideration of requirements, determination of unreasonable delay, and legal representation to navigate the process effectively. Consult with our experienced team so that we can get a decision for you on your long-pending USCIS case. 

NAVIGATING CITIZENSHIP APPLICATION WITH AN EXPIRED GREEN CARD: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Most people will apply to renew their green card before applying for US citizenship, if the card is set to expire, but an unexpired green card is not a requirement for citizenship eligibility. 

Instead, applying for a new green card is a legal requirement at 8 CFR 264.5(b(2) for all green card holders if the card will be expiring within six months. However, if someone is applying for citizenship more than six months before the green card will expire, there is no requirement to file for a new green card. 

If you’re confused about what we just wrote, we understand. It’s confusing! You aren’t required to have a unexpired green card to become a US citizen, but you are required to apply for a new green card if your card is expiring. Those two rules do not seem to go together. They do, however, if you look at the fact that an applicant for naturalization must show “good moral character”, and really any violation of the law, can be considered “bad moral character”. Since applying for a new green card is a law, it is best for applicants for citizenship to comply with this law so they can show “good moral character.”

Lost or Stolen Green Cards:

US law requires a lawful permanent resident to apply for a new green card if their card has been lost or stolen. So, if you are applying for US citizenship, you should apply for a new green card if you lost yours so that you can show that you are complying with the requirements at 8 CFR 264.5(b)(1), thus making you a person of “good moral character.”

Conditional Green Cards and Naturalization:

If you have a two-year green card, through marriage to a US citizen, you must file Form I-751 before you file for US citizenship. However, your Form I-751 does not need to be approved before you file Form N-400. In fact, here at Cambridge Immigration Law, most of our clients’ I-75s are still pending when we file Form N-400. 

Aside from immigration laws requiring you to do so in most cases,, there are other reasons to renew your green card. An unexpired green card, or proof of a pending green card renewal, serves as essential documentation for international travel, home loan applications, driver’s license renewals, and employment verification.

 

USCIS UPDATES FORM N-400 FOR NATURALIZATION APPLICANTS

Recently, USCIS made changes to Form N-400, the application used to apply for US citizenship, aka naturalization.  

Importantly, the updated Form N-400 introduces a third gender option, marked as “X,” to recognize individuals with non-binary or other gender identities beyond the traditional male and female categories. For pending N-400 applications filed using previous versions of the form, applicants have the opportunity to request a gender change to “X” , ensuring alignment with their true identity.

Next, applicants filing Form N-400 now can request an original or replacement Social Security number (SSN) or card directly through the N-400 application process. When someone becomes a US citizen, or changes immigration status, SSA must know in order to apply that information to their SSA accounts and also to communicate status to various state and federal agencies for reasons including employment authorization purposes and licensing. By including the request for a new SSA card via Form N-400, the individual no longer needs to separately communicate with SSA to make sure their citizenship status is properly updated after obtaining US citizenship.  

At Cambridge Immigration Law, we recognize the importance of staying updated with these changes and are dedicated to assisting applicants throughout the naturalization process. Our team is here to provide guidance and support, ensuring that every individual’s path to citizenship is navigated with ease and confidence.

NAVIGATING DIVORCE AND IMMIGRATION

NAVIGATING DIVORCE AND IMMIGRATION

For many immigrants, the journey toward obtaining lawful U.S. residence is filled with challenges and complexities. When major life events, such as divorce, occur, the stakes become even higher, often leading to increased stress and uncertainty. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the implications of divorce on U.S. immigration status and how individuals can navigate this intricate legal landscape with the guidance of experienced immigration attorneys.

The Impact of Divorce on Immigration Status

Divorce can have far-reaching consequences on an individual’s immigration journey, depending on various factors such as their residency status and stage in the immigration process. For those in the midst of petitioning for a marriage-based green card, a divorce can halt the application process altogether. Regardless of whether the divorcee is the applicant or the sponsoring spouse, the dissolution of the marriage renders the petitioner ineligible to apply for lawful permanent residence through their spouse.

Challenges Faced by Conditional Residents

Conditional residents, specifically those married for less than two years at the time of admission to the United States, encounter unique challenges when seeking to remove the conditions of their green card. Divorce complicates this process, as individuals must provide compelling evidence of the authenticity of their marriage, despite the dissolution, to petition for permanent residence successfully. This requires thorough documentation and strategic legal advocacy to navigate the complexities of the immigration system effectively.

Moreover, conditional residents who divorce before the expiration of their two-year conditional green card may face additional hurdles. USCIS scrutinizes such cases closely to ensure that the marriage was not entered into fraudulently for the purpose of obtaining immigration benefits. Therefore, divorcees must demonstrate the legitimacy of their marriage and provide extensive evidence of the relationship’s bona fides to overcome this scrutiny.

Navigating the Renewal Process for Permanent Residents

In contrast, permanent residents, who have been married for at least two years at the time of admission, experience fewer immigration implications due to divorce. While their status remains largely unaffected, renewing their green card every ten years may still benefit from legal counsel to ensure accuracy and compliance with immigration regulations. With the guidance of experienced immigration attorneys, permanent residents can navigate the renewal process with confidence and peace of mind.

At Cambridge Immigration Law, we understand the challenges and uncertainties individuals face when divorce intersects with immigration matters. Our dedicated team of attorneys offers comprehensive legal support, guiding clients through the intricacies of the immigration system with compassion and expertise. Whether you’re navigating a green card application, seeking to remove conditions on your residence, or renewing your permanent resident status post-divorce, we are here to advocate for your rights and pursue the best possible outcome for your case.

NAVIGATING THE H1B LOTTERY

NAVIGATING THE H1B LOTTERY

Embarking on the H1B visa journey signifies a pivotal moment for skilled foreign workers and their potential employers. The H1B Lottery, a key initiation administered by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), is the gateway to securing coveted H1B cap-subject visas. These visas offer the prospect of employment in the United States, attracting individuals with specialized skills and expertise. The anticipation builds as the H1B Registration (H1B Lottery) opens its doors on March 6, 2024, at 12 pm, providing aspiring candidates a chance to secure a spot in the annual visa allocation.

Crucial Milestones in the H1B Lottery Journey:

  • March 22, 2024: Last Day to Register
  • March 31, 2024: USCIS Notification of Lottery Winners
  • April 1, 2024, to June 30, 2024: H1B Petition Submission Period
  • October 1, 2024: Authorized Work Commencement for H1B Visa Holders

The urgency is apparent, with March 22, 2024, serving as the final day to register in the H1B lottery. Following this, USCIS will announce the lottery winners by March 31, 2024. The subsequent window, from April 1, 2024, to June 30, 2024, becomes a critical period for selected candidates to submit their H1B petitions, paving the way for potential employment opportunities in the U.S. Starting October 1, 2024, successful H1B visa holders can commence authorized work with their employers.

Understanding the significance of the H1B visa for both individuals and employers, Cambridge Immigration Law stands as a dedicated ally for those navigating this intricate process. Our commitment extends to providing comprehensive support and expert guidance throughout the journey. With an acceptance window for new H1B clients until March 15, 2024, we encourage prospective candidates and employers alike not to miss the chance to secure a spot in the H1B lottery. Contact us today, and let us embark on this transformative journey together.

Another day, another change in immigration: Court blocks USCIS’s fee increase

Another day brings another change to US immigration law and practice. As of yesterday, September 29, 2020, a federal court ordered a preliminary injunction against USCIS from implementing its fee increases, which were set to go into effect for all cases filed on or after October 2, 2020. See https://www.forbes.com/sites/stuartanderson/2020/09/30/judge-blocks-uscis-fee-increases-heres-why-it-happened/#6954d313583a.

Injunctions are temporary, and USCIS may ultimately win its campaign of raising fees. With that do not file any application without carefully checking the fees as of the date that you file your application, especially if you are filing after October 2, 2020.

Contact my office if you would like to discuss your immigration status and immigration options that may be available to you.