Battered Spouse

November 24, 2011 § 1 Comment

As a battered spouse, child or parent, you are allowed to file an immigrant visa petition under the Violence against Women Act (VAWA). Through the VAWA certain spouses, children and parents of US citizens and permanent residents (green card holders) can file a petition for themselves without the abuser knowing it. Since the abuser is not aware of this, it allows you to seek both safety and independence from the abuser. The provisions of VAWA is equal to women and men. Your abuser will not be informed that you have filed for immigration benefits under VAWA.

You can also get help from the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or 1-800-787-3224 (TDD). You will get help regarding shelters, mental heath care, legal advice and other types of assistance, including information about filing for legal immigration status.

As a battered spouse you will qualify if you are, or were, the abused spouse of a US citizen or permanent resident. You can include on your petition your unmarried children who are under 21 years of age if they have not filed for themselves.

Eligibility Requirements for a Spouse :

To qualify, you should be married to a US citizen or permanent resident abuser or your marriage ended because of death or a divorce (related to the abuse) within the 2 years prior to filing, or your spouse lost or renounced American citizenship or permanent resident status within the 2 years prior to filing because of an incident of domestic violence, or you were legally married to your abusive US citizen or permanent resident spouse but the marriage was not legitimate because of the bigamy of your abusive spouse.

In addition, you have been abused in the US by your US citizen or permanent resident spouse, or you were abused by your US citizen or permanent resident spouse abroad while your spouse was employed by the US government or a member of the US uniformed services, or you are the parent of a child who has been abused by your US citizen or permanent resident spouse.

You should also prove that you entered into the marriage in good faith, not for immigration benefits and that you have resided with your spouse. Also remember that you should have good moral character.

If you meet the requirements, you have to file Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant, with the required supporting documentation and mail it to the Vermont Service Center (VSC). If you qualify, you will receive a notice valid for 150 days that you can present to government agencies that provide certain public benefits to certain victims of domestic violence . If the USCIS approves yourForm I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant and you do not have legal immigration status in the US, they may place you in deferred action, which allows you to remain in the US.



After The Citizenship Interview

November 16, 2011 § 3 Comments

The naturalization interview is a very important phase in the naturalization process and it is strongly advised not to miss your interview. If you cannot make it, ensure that you write the office where your interview is to be conducted as soon as possible and request to have your interview rescheduled.

Rescheduling an interview may add to the naturalization process, resulting in a delay in getting your citizenship certificate. So make sure not to change your original interview date. If you do not attend the interview without notifying USCIS, they will “administratively close” your case. If you do not contact them to schedule a new interview within one year after the USCIS closes your case, they will deny your application.

Also make sure the USCIS has your most current address. If they don’t have it, you may not receive any important information from them. It may not be possible for them to notify you about the date and time of your naturalization interview or about additional supporting documents you may be required to send or bring.

If you move to another address after filing your naturalization application, call the USCIS at their toll free telephone number 1-800-375-5283 to change your address on your pending application. Every time you move, it is mandatory by law to inform the USCIS of your new address. To do this, you should file an “Alien’s Change of Address Card” (Form AR-11), apart form calling Customer Service. An important factor to keep in mind is that you should file the Form AR-11 within 10 days of you having moved. However, there is filing fee for this form. Adding to this, you should also keep the U.S. Postal Service aware of your new address to ensure that any mail to you may be forwarded to the new address.

You will become a full fledged US citizen as soon as you take the Oath of Allegiance to the US in a formal naturalization ceremony. Under certain circumstances, you can take the Oath the same day as your interview. If you are not left with that option, or if you choose to have the ceremony at a later date, USCIS will keep you posted of the ceremony date with a Form N-445, Notice of Naturalization Oath Ceremony”.

If you are not able to go to the oath ceremony on the said date, you will have to return the “Notice of Naturalization Oath Ceremony” (Form N-445) you received to the local USCIS office. Enclose a letter mentioning the reasons as to why you cannot attend the ceremony. Remember to keep a copy of the notice and your letter before you send them to USCIS. On receiving your letter, the USCIS office will reschedule the date and send you a new “Notice of Naturalization Oath Ceremony” (Form N-445) that will have the re scheduled date.

Not all applications will be approved. If your case is rejected and you think that USCIS was wrong in rejecting the application, you have the right to request a hearing with an immigration officer. The letter the USCIS sends will have the details as to how to request a hearing and will include the form you need. Form N-336, Request for Hearing on a Decision in Naturalization Proceedings under Section 336 of the INA” is the form for filing an appeal. You have to file this form, along with the required fee to USCIS within 30 days of having received the denial letter.

Getting a Returning Visa

November 11, 2011 § 2 Comments

US Lawful permanent residents (LPR) or Conditional residents (CR) who stayed abroad for more than a year, or stayed beyond the validity period of the Re-entry Permit are required to get a new immigrant visa to enter the US to continue their permanent residence. If you are green card holder and had to remain outside the US due to inevitable circumstances beyond your control, you can be issued a Returning resident special immigrant visa. If you are unable to get back to the US within the one year validity period of your green card or the two years validity of a Re-entry Permit, you can still qualify for a return visa. You can apply at the nearest US Embassy or Consulate for a Returning Resident (SB-1) immigrant visa.

If the US Consulate approves your return visa application, there is no need for an immigrant visa petition to be filed for you. You will have to attend interviews for your application for returning resident status and for the immigrant visa as well. You are required to establish eligibility for an immigrant visa and attend a medical examination. You have to pay both the visa processing fees and medical fees too.

If you are a member of the US Armed Forces or a civilian employee of the US Government stationed abroad on official orders, your spouse and children can use their green card to enter the US even if it has expired. They need not get a return visa (SB-1) as long as they have not abandoned their green card status and their spouse or parent is returning to the US.

To become eligible for a return visa, you will have to prove that you were in lawful permanent resident status at the time of leaving the US and left with the intention of returning and have not abandoned this intention. You also have to prove that you are getting back to the US from a temporary visit abroad and, if the stay abroad was lengthened, this was due to unavoidable circumstances beyond your control for which you were not responsible.

You should submit a completed Form DS-117 (Application to establish Returning Resident Status) to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you will apply. In addition you have to submit your Permanent Resident Card and Re-entry Permit (if available). You should also submit certain supporting documents. At the Consulate, an officer will review your application and supporting documents to check if you meet the criteria for SB-1 status. Should you meet, you must qualify for the immigrant visa in all other respects to get a SB-1 visa.

The US Consulate will detail you with instructions regarding further processing of your SB-1 visa and these will differ from each Embassy or Consulate. After processing if the consular officer finds that you do not meet the criteria for a SB-1 visa for reasons that you have abandoned your residence in the US, it may or may not be possible for you to get a non immigrant visa depending on whether you have established a residence abroad. If you are not able to furnish sufficient and convincing evidence of compelling ties abroad, then you have to apply for an immigrant visa on the same basis and under the same classification through which you entered before.

Renouncing US Citizenship

November 11, 2011 § 1 Comment

You can a US citizen by birth or through Naturalization. You can also acquire citizenship through your parent(s) if they are US citizens parents depending on satisfying certain requirements. If you qualify based on satisfying all the eligibility requirements, you have to file Form N-400, the citizenship form with the USCIS. There are millions who wish to get naturalized and there is a very thin percent of persons who want to renounce their US citizenship.

It is Section 349(a)(5) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) that governs the option for you to renounce your US citizenship. Should you need to renounce your US Citizenship, you should do voluntarily by appearing before a US consular or diplomatic officer in a foreign country (generally at a US Embassy or Consulate). You will be required to sign an oath of renunciation. If you do not do as stated above, renunciations will not have an effect legally. Remember that you cannot effectively renounce your citizenship by mail, an agent, or even while being inside the US. US courts have held certain attempts to renounce US citizenship to be ineffective on many accounts.

Rights and Privileges :

If you renounce your citizenship, you cannot retain the privileges of citizenship, as this would lead to logical inconsistency regarding the renunciation theory.

Statelessness :

It is very important to remember that you might be left stateless if you renounce your American citizenship (unless you already have a foreign nationality). It would also lead to lack of protection from any government. In addition, you will also face difficulties during your travel because you may not be entitled to a passport from any country.

You will need a visa to travel to the US, or prove that you qualify for admission pursuant to the terms of the Visa Waiver Pilot Program (VWPP). If you do not qualify for a visa or the VWPP to enter the US, you could also be barred from entering the US, in certain circumstances. Renouncing your US citizenship will not stop a foreign country from deporting you back to the US in some other non-citizen status.

Tax and Military Obligations :

Renouncing your citizenship will not have any effect on your US tax or military service obligations. Also remember that renouncing your US citizenship will not permit you to avoid possible prosecution for crimes you committed in the US. In addition, you cannot escape from repaying the financial obligations you incurred previously in the US or what you incurred as a US citizen overseas.

Minor Children :

Though you have the right to renounce your citizenship, you cannot renounce citizenship on your minor children’s behalf. Prior to administering an oath of renunciation to a person under the age of eighteen, he/she should be able to convince a US diplomatic or consular officer that he/she fully aware and understands the nature and consequences of the oath. In addition, he/she should also be able to convince that he/she is not subject to undue influence and is voluntarily renouncing his/her US citizenship.

Irrevocable :

Another reason you need to consider before renouncing s that renunciation of American citizenship is irrevocable, except as provided in section 351 of the INA and cannot be canceled. But if you had renounced your US citizenship before the age of 18, you can get it reinstated if you let your wish known to the Department of State within six months after reaching 18 years of age.

Estimating Green Card Holders During Different Periods

November 3, 2011 § 2 Comments

LPR Entrants before 1980

Earlier, it was considered that all non-citizen residents of the US in 2010 who entered prior to 1980 were legal permanent residents (LPRs). Per certain provisions in the immigration law, foreign nationals of good moral character who are eligible for Naturalization are not removable on terrorism grounds and have lived in the US continuously since January 1, 1972 are eligible for green card status. In addition to this, some persons living in the US before 1982 as unauthorized residents were allowed to adjust their status to LPR. DHS estimates of the unauthorized immigrant population assume that the foreign-born population entering the US before 1980 is legally resident. Estimates of the LPR population in 2010 that entered before 1980 were from data from the 2009 American Community Survey (ACS) of the US Census Bureau on non-citizen residents with a year of entry before 1980.

LPR Entrants from 1980 through 2009

Estimates on LPRs who entered the US between January 1980 and December 2009 were got from application case tracking systems of USCIS. Information on persons obtaining LPR status is through two applications. Foreign nationals living outside the US use the Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration of the U.S. Department of State. Such applicants who subsequently become LPRs are known as “new arrivals.” Form I-485, Application to Adjust Status to Permanent Residence is filed by foreign nationals already living in the US. Any information about the naturalization of LPRs if obtained from the Application for Naturalization (N-400). The citizenship form, N-400 is used by applicants aged 18 years and over. The general information maintained in the USCIS case tracking systems are alien identification number (A-number), date of birth, country of birth, gender, US address, date, LPR status or naturalization was obtained, and class of admission for LPR status.

Estimates were done in such a way that records for LPR entrants from January 1980 through December 2009 were matched by the Alien Registration Number (A number) with naturalization records for the same time period to exclude LPRs who later got naturalized. Then, many adjustments were then made to reduce the total of 1980-2009 LPRs to a 2010 LPR population of 1980-2009 entrants. The methods for adjustments and mortality are the same as those used in DHS unauthorized immigrant population estimates. An adjustment for derivative citizenship is unique to the LPR population calculation. LPRs who entered the US before 1980 were excluded from the estimates as such persons were counted in the pre-1980 entrant population from the ACS.

Remember that the date of entry for “new arrival” LPRs is the date of approval for permanent resident status. However, for “adjustment of status”, the entry date is usually not recorded directly so the year of last entry prior to adjustment of status is generally taken as an approximation. Year of last entry was imputed where missing (approximately 40 percent of adjustment of status records during 1998-2005) using category of admission, year of LPR adjustment, and known last entry date. Additional adjustments were made for LPR children who had derived citizenship, mortality, and emigration.

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