Getting Married in New York State

October 23, 2014: International couples who plan to marry often have questions about how to get married in New York State.  Marriage may be the first step in filing immigration papers.  Some couples delay marriage because they want to save for a reception.  Others delay because they want to allow enough time for family members to make plans to attend the wedding.  As long as yours is a real marriage, there is no legal barrier to holding a small civil or religious ceremony before a larger marriage celebration.  Many couples do this so that they can begin the immigration process for their husband or wife without delay.  This could be important if your husband or wife is not in immigration status, or will soon lose immigration status.  Your husband or wife may file an application for permission to work while waiting for a decision on a green card application.  This can help in saving money for a later celebration.  It may also help your husband or wife maintain a job, or accept a new job.  Finally, it may allow your husband or wife to be able to travel more easily.  For information on how to get married in New York State, click on  Getting Married in NYS.

Immigration for Haitian Families

October 21, 2014: A new immigration program will help  Haitian families.  This program will allow family members of US citizens and green card holders to enter the US up to two years before the date that a green card is available to them.  To qualify, the relative must be in Haiti and already have an approved relative petition.  This is a limited program.  It only applies to certain relatives.  It will allow those who qualify to be together in the US with their relatives while they wait for a green card to become available.

The Immigration Service plans to begin this program in early 2015.  If you have filed papers for a relative in Haiti, make sure that that your relative is eligible for this program before filing any more immigration papers for them.  The best way to do this is to consult an experienced immigration attorney.  Do not be taken in by false promises that may not help your relatives in Haiti.

For more information on this program, called the Haitian Family Reunification Program, go to the following website.

E-Verify, New Website

October 6, 2014: USCIS announced the creation of a new website for employers, MyE-Verify. E-Verify allows employers to confirm that they employees they hire have permission to work  in the US.  For more information go to the website below.

Alert: F-1 Students

October 2, 2014: OPT Alert for F-1 Students: If you are an international student who is applying for Optional Practical Training (OPT) this information could be very important to you. USCIS recently provided the following information concerning the timing of your OPT application.

Students who cannot submit their C3B Optional Practical Training (OPT) designation on the Form I-765 within 30 days of the OPT recommendation date in SEVIS should contact their DSOs to cancel the OPT request in SEVIS and input a new one.

Although F-1 students may apply for post-completion OPT up to 90 days before the end-date for their program and up to 60 days after the end-date for their program, there is another critical date to keep in mind. Within the above time periods, the student must submit the OPT application within 30 days of the date that the Designated School Official (DSO) recommends OPT.  If the student is not able to meet this 30-day deadline, the student should follow the advice provided by USCIS above to request the DSO cancel the OPT request and submit a new one.  All of this however must occur before the end of the 60-day period following the end-date for the student’s program.

USCIS is very strict in enforcing these deadlines and will deny OPT applications that are not submitted on time.  It is very important for students to make sure that they understand the timing issues and consult with their DSO to make sure they understand the requirements for filing an OPT application.  A denial of OPT could result in the student becoming out of status in the US.  Being out of status limits future options such as remaining in the US to apply for a change of non-immigrant (temporary) status. If the student remains in the US without immigration status for 6 months or more, there are unlawful presence bars to re-entering  the US.  The best practice for students is to make sure to understand the requirements for OPT.  If a student misses a required deadline, it is important to consult an immigration lawyer as soon as possible to see what options may be available.