Naturalization Fee Payment

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USCIS announced recently that naturalization applicants may now pay the filing fee for their application , Form N-400, with a credit card.  This is the only  immigration application  fee that may be paid with a credit card.

For information on how to use a credit card to pay the Filing Fee for your application for naturalization see Naturalization Filing Fee .

 

Three Groups Most Likely to be Deported(New Immigration Policy)

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Three Group Most likely to be Deported: A change in immigration policy announced by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will affect 11 million people who are in the US without documents (sometimes called illegal immigrants). DHS will focus on deporting the following three groups of undocumented immigrants.

1. Convicted Criminals

2. Terrorist Suspects

3. Those who have recently crossed the US border (Since January 2014)

For more information on this change in enforcement policy see Who will be deported? 

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While not being deported does not lead to getting a green card, or any other immigration benefit, it may provide some peace of mind for those who do not fall within the above groups.

There is one one group who may file an immigration application. Those who qualify for Two-year DACA, may file for temporary relief from deportation and permission to work in the US. For information on who may apply for DACA now see Two-Year DACA

DACA- Three-Year Approval Alert

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If you received a Three-Year DACA work permit card from USCIS that was issued, or mailed, after February 16, 2015 read this alert  and follow the directions carefully. The card must be returned by July 30, 2015.  If it is not returned, you could lose your DACA approval and your work permit.

 

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Visa Applications May Get Easier

 

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Visa application procedures may become improve. The Obama Administration  instructed the Dept.of Homeland Security to work on improvements to the visa application process to make it easier to apply for a visa.  Proposals include an application process that reduces paperwork and streamlines the process.  For details on the proposed improvements see Visa Processing May get Better . If these proposals are adopted,applicants for immigrant visas (green cards) and non-immigrant visas, such as a visitor’s visa or a fiancee visa, will be able to file immigration applications and supporting documents more easily.

Visas are now available at some Posts

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Problems with the computer system at the State Dept. have been fixed and 39 US Embassies are now able to resume processing visa applications.  For a list of the embassies that are now online see Connected Posts. The State Dept. advises those who want to apply for a visa to check the website of the nearest embassy or consulate for an update on the availability of interviews. They expect that all posts will be reconnected in the next few days.

Divya Hoffmann elected to Executive Committee of Upstate Immigration Organization

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Divya Hoffman, associate attorney at the Law Office of Diane R. Chappell-Daly, was elected as secretary to the Upstate Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) at their annual meeting in Syracuse, NY on May 28, 2015.  AILA is professional association for lawyers. It provides resources on immigration issues for immigration lawyers and the public. These services  include updates on immigration law and opportunities for pro bono (free) immigration services by Syracuse immigration lawyers to those who qualify based on income.  Congratulations to Divya!

How can I tell if I am working with a real lawyer?

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 How can I tell if I am working with a real immigration lawyer? Do not end up like the victims of immigration scams in this sad story of someone who pretended to be an immigration lawyer and scammed immigrants out of thousands of dollars,  see immigration scam.  Howard Seidler promised a green card and a social security number, but took the money and never filed anything. This is all too common where people are desperate for immigration papers and vulnerable to immigration scams. When you pay someone to file an immigration application make sure you are working with a real lawyer.

How can you tell if the person you are working with is a real lawyer?

1. Lawyers are required to register with the bar association in each state where they practice. You can check the attorney registration on-line to see if your lawyer is registered.  In New York State you can search attorney registration to see if the name is listed.

2. For immigration lawyers you can also check the website for the American Immigration Lawyers Association to see if your lawyer is a member of AILA.  The American Immigration Lawyers Association is a valuable resource for immigration lawyers and for the public. Lawyers, who are members, receive  daily updates on new developments in immigration. Members of the public can access the public AILA website for information on immigration,  and for information on immigration lawyers who are members of AILA.

As the old saying goes, if something is too good to be true, it probably isn’t. When you file an immigration application you need to be sure that you are eligible to apply and that the information on the application is true.  If you are not eligible, or the information on the forms is not true, you could be deported, or even worse, prosecuted for filing a false form and then deported.

 How can I protect myself from immigration scams?

1. Ask for a copy of everything that you sign

2. Check to see that your immigration lawyer is registered with a state bar association.

3. Check to see if your immigration lawyer is a member of AILA.

4. Be careful if anyone filing applications for you guarantees that your application will be approved.  Lawyers are not allowed to make these kinds of promises.

5. If you are undocumented (sometimes called illegal) be even more careful.  In most cases immigrants who are  in the US without immigration papers, or  who have entered without papers (or with false papers) cannot stay in the US to apply for immigration status.

6. One exception to #5 above, is for people who entered the US before June 15, 2007 without papers and were under the age of 16 when they entered.  In that case, Two-Year Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) might be a possibility. For  more information on this see DACA Now.

7. Don’t listen to anyone who says they can file an application now for undocumented parents of US citizen or permanent resident children.  There is a new program for undocumented parents, but it is on hold while it is being challenged in court.  There is also an expanded form of DACA (Three-Year DACA) that may become available for those who have lived in the US without documents since June 1, 2010. This program is also being challenged in the courts and is not yet available.

Remember, it is you who will pay the price if you are working with a scam artist.  You may lose more than your money if the scammer files papers for you that include false information. If you cannot afford to pay for a consultation with a lawyer there are some programs that may be able to help you for free.  In the New York City area you can contact, LawHelpNY .  In the Syracuse, NY area you may be eligible for a free immigration consultation, contact the Volunteer Lawyers Project of Onondaga County to make an appointment. Be careful out there!

 

 

 

H-4 spouses of H-1B workers and Work Authorization

Good news for H-4 spouses of some H-1B workers. If you are in H-4 status and your spouse either has an approved I-140, or if your spouse is permitted to renew H-1B status in three-yer increments beyond the six-year limit, you may file an application for permission to work in the US beginning May 26, 2015. H-4 work permission For answers to frequently asked questions click on FAQ’s.

Employee Rights and Employer Responsibilities

Employers and workers’ rights advocates may find a new series of webinars by the Dept. of Justice helpful. The webinars address employee rights during the E-Verify and I-9 process. For a schedule click on webinars.

 

 

H-1B Update from USCIS

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H-1B  Update:  USCIS  announced today that they have completed the data entry for all H-B cap subject petitions filed in April 2015.  They will now begin the process of returning H-1B cap-subject petitions that were not selected by the H-1B lottery.  USCIS requests that H-1B petitioners refrain from contacting them about the status of these petitions until receiving either a receipt notice or an unselected petition is returned.  USCIS will make an announcement once it has completed returning unselected petitions. They are not able to provide a time-frame on this process due to the high volume of filings this year.