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USCIS Announces Ten Areas of Focus for Policy Review

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USCIS has announced the results of a public survey that helped USCIS select 10 issue areas to address in an agency-wide review.

Informed by the survey responses, the agency’s needs, and input from the workforce, the USCIS Policy Review will begin by examining policies in the following ten areas:

  1. National Customer Service Center
  2. Non-immigrant H-1B
  3. Naturalization and Citizenship
  4. Employment-based Adjustment of Status
  5. Family-based Adjustment of Status
  6. Employment-Based Preference Categories 1, 2 and 3
  7. Refugee and Asylum Adjustment of Status
  8. Form I-601
  9. General Humanitarian
  10. Employment Authorization and Travel Documents.

In April 2010, USCIS issued a public survey that asked members of the public, as well as its own workforce, to help identify the issue areas that the agency should examine first.   USCIS received approximately 5,600 survey responses from diverse stakeholders.

USCIS is now establishing internal working groups to focus on each of the 10 issue areas. The working groups will include USCIS adjudicators, policy analysts, attorneys, customer-service representatives and other experts from within the agency.

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Written by MithrasLaw

July 26, 2010 at 1:50 pm

USCIS Citizenship and Integration Grant Program

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USCIS has announced the FY 2010 Citizenship and Integration Grant Program , a $7 million initiative that will give grants to organizations that provide citizenship preparation programs in communities across the country.

These programs will allow immigrants to improve their English language skills and knowledge of U.S. history and government as they prepare for the naturalization application and interview process.

The FY2010 Grant program builds on the FY2009 Grant program, which awarded a total of $1.2 million in grants to 13 organizations that serve immigrants across the country.

Written by MithrasLaw

March 10, 2010 at 11:16 pm

Posted in Naturalization

Know the Effects of Divorce or Separation on your Immigration Status

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This article provides basic information about the effects of divorce or legal separation on one’s immigration status where a foreigner marries a US citizen (USC) or a legal permanent resident (LPR) and is given an immigrant benefit because of the marriage. Where a couple is contemplating divorce or separation, it is important for the foreign spouse to understand the impact a divorce or separation can have on his or her immigration status. It should also be pointed out that marriage to a USC does not automatically confer any type of immigration status on the foreign spouse.

Divorce decree obtained before Green Card:

Where a foreign spouse is attempting to obtain permanent residency through the sponsorship of his or her USC spouse or LPR spouse as a result of marriage to him or her and a divorce decree is granted before the foreign spouse has obtained a green card, then the foreign spouse cannot be granted the green card because the divorce has ended the legal marriage and the foreign spouse cannot be granted the green card based on marriage.

The same is true, where a divorce takes place prior to the adjustment approval, typically, the foreign spouse almost always finds himself or herself out of status, unless he or she maintained (typically L-1 or H-1B) non-immigrant status.

Divorce granted after foreign spouse receives Green Card:

  1. Where a divorce is granted after the foreign spouse obtains a green card (now called an immigrant spouse), the effect of a divorce is minimal and it does not change/ invalidate a granted green card where the immigrant spouse has been married to the USC for three years or more and has received an unconditional green card. However, the foreign spouse may have to wait 5 years (instead of being able to take advantage of the 3 year residency requirement where married to a USC) to apply for naturalization.
  2. Where a foreign spouse is married to the USC for a short time (two years or less) and a conditional green card has been granted, the implication is very different. The conditional permanent residence status is typically granted for two years and to attain full permanent resident status, the conditional resident must file a petition within the 90 day period with the USCIS before the conditional residency expires and this petition needs to be signed jointly by the USC spouse. At that time, if the spouses are still married, the immigrant spouse will receive a full permanent residence. Conversely, if a divorce decree has been obtained than the immigrant spouse’s conditional permanent resident status can be terminated and s/he can lose his/her immigrant status  because divorce terminates the conditional permanent residency granted.  In certain circumstances, a waiver can be granted. For instance, if the marriage was based on good faith and the couple  have a child together or own property jointly, then it is possible for the foreign spouse to obtain a waiver.

Separation:

Separation can mean either legal separation or physical separation. Physical separation i.e. spouses living apart, in general does not in itself constitute termination of the marriage for immigration purposes and a petition may not be denied merely because the couple cohabits separately.  Legal separation, on the other hand, is a court order or a written agreement directing or authorizing the spouses to live separate and apart. Legal separation can constitute termination of marriage for immigration purposes and the USCIS may deny a green card in cases where the parties entered into a valid marriage, but have since obtained a legal separation prior to the final adjudication of the green-card.

If any of the above described situations is applicable to you or whether you are contemplating separation or divorce, it is recommended that you discuss your circumstances with an experienced immigration attorney who can help you understand the implications and guide you about your best options.

Written by MithrasLaw

February 2, 2010 at 12:13 pm

Is a Green-card Holder Spouse’s Right to Obtain Citizenship after a Divorce Jeopardized?

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This article provides basic information about how a divorce can affect a spouse’s citizenship or naturalization application where a green-card holder spouse (an immigrant spouse),  marries a US citizen (USC) and has received his/her green card/permanent residency through marriage. So where an immigrant spouse is contemplating divorce or has obtained a divorce decree it is important to understand the consequences of  a divorce on a naturalization/citizenship application.

Assuming, that the marriage was not a sham or for fraudulent purposes, divorce does not adversely affect a spouse’s immigration status after the immigrant spouse has obtained an unconditional green card or permanent residence and in such instances a divorce will not invalidate the green card or cause the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to deny a citizenship application automatically. More importantly, the sponsoring USC spouse cannot take the right away or attempt to revoke the green card from the immigrant spouse.

A divorce, however, may pose doubts and require the divorced immigrant spouse seeking to obtain U.S. Citizenship to reassure the USCIS interviewing officer that the marriage was not a sham. A good way to prove that your marriage was genuine is to take copies and originals of documents that show that you and your ex-spouse lived together, had joint bank accounts, and shared important and memorable moments during your time together. Examples of documents include, home title or rent receipts or home lease in both names, joint bank account statements, credit card statements, photographs of both spouses on vacation, birth certificates of children born during the marriage, etc.

Also, a divorce can delay an immigrant spouse’s right to obtain citizenship. For instance, a divorced immigrant spouse who was married to a U.S. citizen will not be able to take advantage of the short three year residency requirement, if the spouse is not married to the U.S. citizen for at least three years before the naturalization exam date. In essence, if the immigrant spouse divorces the U.S. citizen spouse before three years of marriage have passed, then s/he will have to wait until the normal five year residency requirement has elapsed before s/he is eligible to apply to become a naturalized U.S. Citizen and cannot take advantage of the three year residency requirement.

Depending on each individual’s personal circumstances, the immigration consequences can be varied and it is therefore recommended that you consult with a qualified immigration attorney to discuss your options and strategize before making a hasty decision.

Next month, I will address the implications of a divorce where a spouse has not yet obtained a green card or is in process of obtaining a green card, as a result of the marriage, and instances where a spouse has a conditional green card.

Reproduced from Lokvani where the article written by our attorney, Hanishi T. Ali, was originally published http://www.lokvani.com/lokvani/article.php?article_id=6239

Written by MithrasLaw

January 29, 2010 at 10:21 am

New Filing Address for Naturalization Applicants (N-400)

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The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on December 17, 2009 that all applications for Naturalization (Form N-400) are to be filed at new USCIS Lockbox facilities in Phoenix and Dallas and that the change in filing address takes effect immediately.

N-400 naturalization applicants who live in Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennesee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Puerto Rico, or the U.S. Virgin Islands are to file their N-400 applications by regular mail with the USCIS Dallas Lockbox at:

USCIS
P.O. Box 660060
Dallas, TX 75266

Express Mail and Courier deliveries (which I highly recommend) must send their N-400 application to:
USCIS
ATTN: N-400
2501 S. State Hwy. 121 Business
Suite 400
Lewisville, TX 75067

N-400 naturalization applicants who live in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming, Territory of Guam, or the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands are to file their N-400 applications by regular mail with the USCIS Phoenix Lockbox at:

USCIS
PO Box 21251
Phoenix, AZ 85036

For Express Mail and Courier deliveries the N-400 must be sent to:
USCIS
ATTN: N-400
1820 E. Skyharbor Circle S
Suite 100
Phoenix, AZ 85034

Written by MithrasLaw

December 21, 2009 at 6:09 pm

Vermont Service Center Processing Time Report Released in September 2009

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Below are the processing time report released by USCIS on September 14, 2009 for the Vermont Service Center (VSC). The chart shows the Form Number, Form Name, and Processing Time for all forms processed at the VSC.

Service Center Processing Dates forVermont Service Center posted on September 14, 2009:

Form Title Classification or Basis for Filing Processing Timeframe
I-90 Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card Initial issuance or replacement July 06, 2009
I-90A Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card Initial issuance or replacement for Special Agricultral Workers (SAW) July 31, 2009
I-102 Application for Replacement/Initial Nonimmigrant Arrival/Departure Record Initial issuance or replacement of a Form I-94 June 18, 2009
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker H-1B – Specialty occupation – Visa to be issued abroad July 31, 2009
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker H-1B – Specialty occupation – Change of status in the U.S. July 31, 2009
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker H-1B – Specialty occupation – Extension of stay in the U.S. June 04, 2009
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker H-2A – Temporary workers July 01, 2009
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker H-2B – Other temporary workers July 01, 2009
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker H-3 – Temporary trainees July 31, 2009
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker L – Intracompany transfers July 31, 2009
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker Blanket L July 31, 2009
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker O – Extraordinary ability July 31, 2009
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker P – Athletes, artists, and entertainers July 31, 2009
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker Q – Cultural exchange visitors and exchange visitors participating in the Irish Peace process July 31, 2009
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker R – Religious occupation July 31, 2009
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker TN – North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) professional May 21, 2009
I-129F Petition for Alien Fiance(e) K-1/K-2 – Not yet married – fiance and/or dependent child April 23, 2009
I-129F Petition for Alien Fiance(e) K-3/K-4 – Already married – spouse and/or dependent child April 23, 2009
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative U.S. citizen filing for a spouse, parent, or child under 21 February 05, 2009
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative U.S. citizen filing for an unmarried son or daughter over 21 July 02, 2006
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative U.S. citizen filing for a married son or daughter over 21 June 04, 2006
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative U.S. citizen filing for a brother or sister September 19, 2003
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative Permanent resident filling for a spouse or child under 21 January 18, 2006
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative Permanent resident filling for an unmarried son or daughter over 21 June 04, 2006
I-131 Application for Travel Document All other applicants for advance parole July 31, 2009
I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker Extraordinary ability July 31, 2009
I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker Outstanding professor or researcher July 31, 2009
I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker Multinational executive or manager July 31, 2009
I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker Schedule A Nurses July 31, 2009
I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker Advanced degree or exceptional ability July 31, 2009
I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker Advanced degree or exceptional ability requesting a National Interest Waiver July 31, 2009
I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker Skilled worker or professional July 31, 2009
I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker Unskilled worker July 31, 2009
I-212 Application for Permission to Reapply for Admission into the U.S. After Deportation or Removal Readmission after deportation or removal July 31, 2009
I-360 Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) June 24, 2008
I-360 Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant All other special immigrants June 18, 2009
I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status Employment-based adjustment applications July 24, 2006
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status Change of status to H or L dependents May 21, 2009
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status Change status to the F or M academic or vocational student categories May 21, 2009
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status Change Status to the J exchange visitor category May 21, 2009
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status All other change of status applications May 21, 2009
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status Extension of stay for H and L dependents May 21, 2009
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status Extension of Stay for F or M academic or vocational students May 21, 2009
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status Extension of Stay for J exchange visitors May 21, 2009
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status All other extension applications May 21, 2009
I-612 Application for Waiver of the Foreign Residence Requirement Application for a waiver of the 2-year foreign residence requirement based on exceptional hardship or persecution July 31, 2009
I-751 Petition to Remove the Conditions on Residence Removal of lawful permanent resident conditions (spouses of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents April 12, 2009
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization Based on a request by a qualified F-1 academic student. [(c)(3)] July 05, 2009
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization Based on a pending asylum application [(c)(8)] July 31, 2009
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization Based on a pending I-485 adjustment application [(c)(9)] July 31, 2009
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization Based on TPS for Honduras/Nicaragua [(c)(19), (a)(12)] October 01, 2008
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization Based on TPS for El Salvador [(c)(19)(a)(12)] October 01, 2008
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization All other applications for employment authorization July 05, 2009
I-817 Application for Family Unity Benefits Voluntary departure under the family unity program July 31, 2009
I-821 Application for Temporary Protected Status El Salvador initial or late filing October 01, 2008
I-821 Application for Temporary Protected Status El Salvador extension October 01, 2008
I-821 Application for Temporary Protected Status Honduras and Nicaragua initial or late filing October 01, 2008
I-821 Application for Temporary Protected Status Honduras and Nicaragua extension October 01, 2008
I-824 Application for Action on an Approved Application or Petition To request further action on an approved application or petition July 02, 2009
N-600 Application for Certification of Citizenship Application for recognition of U.S. citizenship July 23, 2009
N-643 Application for Certification of Citizenship on Behalf of an Adopted Child Application for recognition of U.S. citizenship on behalf of an adopted child July 31, 2009

Written by MithrasLaw

September 16, 2009 at 6:33 pm

Vermont Service Center Processing Time Report Released in August 2009

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Below are the processing time report released by USCIS on August 13, 2009  for the Vermont Service Center (VSC).  The chart shows the Form Number, Form Name, and Processing Time for all forms processed at the VSC.

Field Office Processing Dates for VERMONT SERVICE CENTER as of: June 30, 2009
Form Title Classification or Basis for Filing: Processing Timeframe:
I-90 Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card Initial issuance or replacement 3.5 Months
I-90A Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card Initial issuance or replacement for Special Agricultral Workers (SAW) 3.5 Months
I-102 Application for Replacement/Initial Nonimmigrant Arrival/Departure Record Initial issuance or replacement of a Form I-94 2.5 Months
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker H-1B – Specialty occupation – Visa to be issued abroad April 01, 2009
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker H-1B – Specialty occupation – Change of status in the U.S. April 01, 2009
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker H-1B – Specialty occupation – Extension of stay in the U.S. April 01, 2009
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker H-2A – Temporary workers 2 Months
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker H-2B – Other temporary workers 2 Months
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker H-3 – Temporary trainees 2 Months
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker L – Intracompany transfers 2 Months
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker Blanket L 2 Months
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker O – Extraordinary ability 2 Months
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker P – Athletes, artists, and entertainers 2 Months
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker Q – Cultural exchange visitors and exchange visitors participating in the Irish Peace process 2 Months
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker R – Religious occupation 2 Months
I-129 Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker TN – North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) professional April 26, 2009
I-129F Petition for Alien Fiance(e) K-1/K-2 – Not yet married – fiance and/or dependent child 5 Months
I-129F Petition for Alien Fiance(e) K-3/K-4 – Already married – spouse and/or dependent child 5 Months
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative U.S. citizen filing for a spouse, parent, or child under 21 5 Months
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative U.S. citizen filing for an unmarried son or daughter over 21 July 02, 2006
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative U.S. citizen filing for a married son or daughter over 21 June 04, 2006
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative U.S. citizen filing for a brother or sister September 19, 2001
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative Permanent resident filling for a spouse or child under 21 January 18, 2006
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative Permanent resident filling for an unmarried son or daughter over 21 June 04, 2006
I-131 Application for Travel Document All other applicants for advance parole 3 Months
I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker Extraordinary ability 4 Months
I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker Outstanding professor or researcher 4 Months
I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker Multinational executive or manager 4 Months
I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker Schedule A Nurses 4 Months
I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker Advanced degree or exceptional ability 4 Months
I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker Advanced degree or exceptional ability requesting a National Interest Waiver 4 Months
I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker Skilled worker or professional 4 Months
I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker Unskilled worker 4 Months
I-212 Application for Permission to Reapply for Admission into the U.S. After Deportation or Removal Readmission after deportation or removal 4 Months
I-360 Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) May 20, 2008
I-360 Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant All other special immigrants 5 Months
I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status Employment-based adjustment applications July 24, 2006
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status Change of status to H or L dependents 2.5 Months
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status Change status to the F or M academic or vocational student categories 2.5 Months
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status Change Status to the J exchange visitor category 2.5 Months
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status All other change of status applications 2.5 Months
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status Extension of stay for H and L dependents 2.5 Months
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status Extension of Stay for F or M academic or vocational students 2.5 Months
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status Extension of Stay for J exchange visitors 2.5 Months
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status All other extension applications 2.5 Months
I-612 Application for Waiver of the Foreign Residence Requirement Application for a waiver of the 2-year foreign residence requirement based on exceptional hardship or persecution 4 Months
I-751 Petition to Remove the Conditions on Residence Removal of lawful permanent resident conditions (spouses of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents 6 Months
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization Based on a request by a qualified F-1 academic student. [(c)(3)] 3 Months
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization Based on a pending asylum application [(c)(8)] 3 Months
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization Based on a pending I-485 adjustment application [(c)(9)] 3 Months
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization Based on TPS for Honduras/Nicaragua [(c)(19), (a)(12)] October 01, 2008
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization Based on TPS for El Salvador [(c)(19)(a)(12)] October 01, 2008
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization All other applications for employment authorization 3 Months
I-817 Application for Family Unity Benefits Voluntary departure under the family unity program 6 Months
I-821 Application for Temporary Protected Status El Salvador initial or late filing 3 Months
I-821 Application for Temporary Protected Status El Salvador extension 3 Months
I-821 Application for Temporary Protected Status Honduras and Nicaragua initial or late filing 3 Months
I-821 Application for Temporary Protected Status Honduras and Nicaragua extension 3 Months
I-824 Application for Action on an Approved Application or Petition To request further action on an approved application or petition 3 Months
N-600 Application for Certification of Citizenship Application for recognition of U.S. citizenship 5 Months
N-643 Application for Certification of Citizenship on Behalf of an Adopted Child Application for recognition of U.S. citizenship on behalf of an adopted child 5 Months

Written by MithrasLaw

August 15, 2009 at 8:36 pm

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