Immigration Updates: What Do We Know About the New Immigration Rules?

Immigration Updates: What Do We Know About the New Immigration Rules?

Many are confused about changes in immigration rules.  Below are  some tips that may be useful.

1.Travel Ban

The ban on entry to the US from seven designated countries (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen) is on hold while it is under review by US courts. It is impossible to know when the courts will issue a decision on the travel ban. For now, we strongly recommend that anyone from one of the listed countries either:

– remain in the US, if they do not intend to return to their home country permanently, or

– travel to the US as soon as possible, if they have a valid visa for entry to the US

  1. Anyone seeking entry to the US will be inspected at the border.  Below is a link to an article that describes what to expect when you are stopped or searched at the US border.  We recommend that if you do not want something searched at the border, such as laptop or a phone, that you do not bring it with you to the border.

Guide to Your rights at the Border

  1. If you are in the US as an undocumented immigrant (sometimes called illegal), we provide links to information on risk of an immigration arrest and what to expect if you are stopped by immigration agents. These are links to information prepared by the Immigration Defense Project.

 Know Your rights – Risk of Arrest


Immigration Arrests in the Community – What to Expect if Immigration Agenst come to Your Home






Tips for Naturalization (US Citizenship) Applications


  1. You must be eligible to apply for naturalization. 

If you are not eligible, not only will your application be denied, depending on your circumstances, you might lose your permanent residence (green card) status. For information on who is eligible to apply for naturalization visit Who is Eligible for Naturalization.


  1. English Language requirement

You must be able to read, write and speak basic English.


  1. Exemption for the English Language Test

50/20 Rule

  • If you are 50 years old, and have lived in the US as a green card holder for at least 20 years, you may not have to take the English test. You must still take the civics test, but you may take it in your native language.

55/15 Rule

  • If you are 55 years old, and have lived in the US as a green card holder for at least 15 years, you may not have to take the English test. You must still take the civics test, but you may take it in your native language.


  1. Medical Exception to the English Language and/or Civics (US History & Government) Test

If you have one of the following conditions, you may be eligible for an exemption of the English language, and or, civics test requirements:

  • Physical Disability
  • Developmental Disability
  • Mental Impairment

For these conditions, you must prove that the condition has lasted, or is expected to last, at least 12 months.  You need evidence from your doctor to explain how your disability or impairment prevents you from learning English. For an exemption from the civics test, you must prove that the disability or impairment prevents you from learning the information needed to pass the test.


  1. Children

Be sure to list ALL your children, even children who do not live in the US, or who do not live with you. If did not list all your children on forms you have already filed with the Immigration Service (USCIS), you will need to explain why you did not list them on an earlier form.


  1. Child Support

If you have children under 21, who do not live with you, provide evidence that you provide financial support for each child.  Also, provide evidence, such as copies a child support or government order, and show how you have followed the order. This could include documents such as:

  • Cancelled checks or money order receipts;
  • Government documents showing child support payments
  • Evidence that your wages have been garnished
  • Notarized letter from the person who cares for your children


  1. Trips Outside the US for 6 Months or Longer

If you have been outside the US for 6 months or longer after becoming a green card holder, you should provide evidence that you continued to intend to live in the US during the entire time you were outside the US, such as;

  • You continued to have employment in the US
  • Your close relatives remained in the US
  • You maintained a residence in the US


  1. Selective Service
  • If you are a man between the ages of 18 and 26, you must provide proof that you registered with the Selective Service.
  • If you are age 26 or older and required to register with the Selective Service, but did not register, you must explain why you did not register. You will also need a status information letter from the Selective Service. For more information on Selective Service registration click on


  1. Arrests/Convictions – Anywhere in the world, for any reason
  • If no charges were filed, you must provide proof that your case was ended by the court.
  • If charges were filed, you must provide evidence of what happened with the charges.
  • If you have had any arrests or conviction vacated, set aside, sealed, expunged or in any way removed from your record, you need to provide a statement from the court that there is no record of your arrest or conviction.

Please Note:

  • You must provide the above evidence even if a judge, government officer or lawyer told you that you no longer have a record, or that you do not have to disclose the arrest/conviction.
  • You must provide evidence of traffic violations if:
    • The incident involved alcohol or drugs; or
    • The incident led to an arrest; or
    • The incident seriously injured another person


  1. Forms and Filing Fees Can Change
  • Be sure to use the most up-to-date version of the Application for Naturalization (Form N-400).
  • Be sure to pay the correct filing fee. Visit the Immigration Service website to make sure you use the correct form and pay the correct filing fee.

No Immigration Status? Make a Plan


No Immigration Status? Make a Plan

There is no way to know what actions the new administration will take concerning immigration after January 20, 2017. It is possible that many undocumented immigrants will be arrested and placed in immigration detention centers. If that happens to you, it will be important for you and your family to have back-up plans in place.


If you are undocumented (without immigration status in the US) you may want to take some of the following steps to protect yourself and your family in case you arrested by Immigration.

  1. If you are eligible to apply for any immigration status in the US, you should apply as soon as possible. For example, if you are married to a US citizen, and you entered the US with a visa, you may apply for a green card in the US. If this applies to you, and you file before you are arrested, you may be able to be released from immigration custody.
  1. Make sure someone you trust has your personal information, so that they can find out where you are being held and/or communicate with you if you are deported. This information includes;
  • Accurate spelling of your name, including your middle name and any other names used
  • Birthday
  • Social Security number (if any)
  • Address and other contact information outside the US, including the names of relatives or friends who may receive mail on your behalf
  • Other contact information for you such as an e-mail address, or the phone number of relatives or friends in the US
  • Copies of any notices you may have received from USCIS or the Immigration Court
    • These papers will contain your A number, if you have one. This will make it easier for your relatives to locate you. Not everyone has an A number.
  1. If you have children in the US, you will need to have a plan in place for their care.
  • Custody or Guardianship Plans
  • Designate someone to care for your children in an emergency
  • Consult a family law attorney about custody or guardianship in case you are detained
  • If no parent or relative is available to take custody or guardianship of your children, it is important to make sure that whoever cares for your children has the legal power to make decisions for them concerning medical care and education. The documents below may be important:
  • Power of attorney for health care and education for your children
  • Power of attorney for finances for your children
  1. Make a will, or update your will, so that your husband, wife or children will have a legal claim to your assets.
  1. Designate/Update beneficiaries on pension or retirement accounts and life insurance policies
  1. Beware of immigration scams. During a time of uncertainty, it is even more important to be on the lookout for immigration scams. Those who are at risk of getting arrested and deported are more likely to be targeted by scam artists who try to sell their phony services to those who have no options for staying in the US. They do this by:
  • Filing applications that include false information. It is very important that all the information included on an immigration application be truthful and accurate. If you file a form that includes false information, or for a benefit for which you are not eligible, it may make it impossible for you to file immigration applications later.
  • Providing fake documents, such as a fake green card, or a fake driver’s license. If you give false documents to an immigration officer, you may never be able to return to the US, even if you become eligible to apply for immigration status in the future.
  1. In most cases, if you entered the US without inspection at the border (you did not answer questions from an inspector) or you overstayed your period of admission (stamped in your passport) you will not be able to file an immigration application in the US. In some cases, you may be able to file an immigration application from your home country.
  1. To help you look at your immigration choices, or plan for future immigration to the US, we strongly recommend that you consult with an experienced immigration lawyer. If you want to schedule an appointment for a consultation with a lawyer from our office, click on contact us.


  • If it sounds too good to be true, it is probably not true.
  • Immigration officers do not call people on the phone asking for money.
  • You cannot “buy” a valid green card or social security card.
  • You must be eligible to apply for a green card, usually because you have a close relative or an employer who may file an application for you.
  • Do not be tricked by rumors and bad information.
  • Protect yourself and your children by planning for the future.

Be Careful of Immigration Scams


USCIS issued a new warning about immigration scams. If someone calls you about an immigration application and asks for personal information or money to “fix” a problem with your application do not provide the information or a payment.  Instead report the call to USCIS.  For more information on immigration scams and how to report problems click on scams

Warning: If you are not a US citizen, do not register to vote!

You must be a US citizen to be able to vote in a US election.  If you are not a US citizen, do not register to vote in a US election, or in any way claim to be a US citizen.  If you claim to be a US citizen and you are not a US citizen, this may be a permanent bar to eligibility for almost and immigration benefit.  If you have been a permanent resident for five years ( three years if you are married to a US citizen) you may be eligible to apply for US citizenship.  To learn more about the requirements to apply for US citizenship see Apply for US Citizenship.

Replace Green Card


Good News for Green Card Replacement: Those who need to either renew or replace their green cards may now do it online.  Green cards have an expiration date that is normally 10 years from the date of approval of the green card application.  The expiration date is listed on the card. Although permanent resident  (Green Card) status does not expire, the card itself. expires.

What does this mean?

It means that even though your card expires, your permanent residence status does not expire.  You remain a permanent resident as long as you can prove that you have the intent to live permanently in the US a and do not  do something that makes you deportable.  For example, many kinds of criminal convictions can make you deportable.

What happens when my Green Card expires?

If you travel outside the US, you may have a difficult time returning to the US with an expired green card.

You may have trouble beginning new employment with an expired green card.

What if I have a two-year (conditional) green card?

A conditional green card is valid for two years. When you a have a conditional green card you must file an application to remove the condition  within the 90 day period before it expires. In this case, your permanent residence (green card) status does expire unless your application to remove the two-year condition is approved.

To determine when you became a permanent resident, the date that your conditional permanent residence application was approved is the date to use. For example, if you became a conditional permanent resident on January 1, 2014, and your application to remove the condition was approved, your green card would expire January 1, 2024.

For more information  on how to replace or renew your green card see Replace Green Card.

Immigration Musical


Immigration Musical: A fun posting, for a change of pace.  Gloria Estefan and her husband, Emilio, have created a musical to share their music and their immigration experience. They want to offer some balance to the immigration debate that often focuses on fear of immigrants. For more information visit On Your Feet

Read Chicago Tribune Review of On Your Feet.

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


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? 


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

Visa Applications May Get Easier



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.

Divya Hoffmann elected to Executive Committee of Upstate Immigration Organization

AILA Upstate Exec Comm_2015

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!