Why is my Immigration Case Processing taking so long?

Why Hasn’t Your Case Been Decided Yet? 

Nationwide, you and millions of families, businesses, and people applying for humanitarian relief are waiting longer for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to process and approve your applications and petitions. If you filed Form I-130/I-485 based on marriage to a U.S. citizen, under the law, you should receive a work permit within 90 days of submitting the Form I-130/I-485. Currently, the wait time for a work permit is over 9 months.

Five years ago, an average case was taking about five months to process. By Fiscal Year (FY) 2018, that same applicant waited nearly 10 months. Those extra months of waiting halt business operations, keep families separated, and jeopardize people’s lives. 

Who Is Affected? 

You and other people applying for family-based benefits, employment-based benefits, naturalization, travel documents, and employment authorization are all experiencing delays. In FY2018, a staggering 94 percent of all immigration petitions and application form types took longer to process when compared to FY2014. 

Why Are Cases Taking Longer? 

Many factors can slow down your case. New policies at USCIS are restricting legal immigration. For example, one policy requires USCIS officers to conduct duplicate reviews of past decisions, adding unnecessary work to each case. 

Such inefficient policies help explain why processing times are increasing even as USCIS application rates are decreasing. Recent USCIS data shows that USCIS’s average processing time rose by 19 percent from FY2017 to FY2018, even while overall numbers of case receipts declined by 13 percent during that same period. 

Congress intended USCIS to function as a service-oriented agency on behalf of the American people. But the agency is failing its mission with unacceptably and increasingly slow case processing. 

For more information on immigration case processing, 

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Copyright © 2019, Law Offices of Gail S. Seeram. All Rights Reserved.

Trump will make Asylum Seekers Pay Fee

President Donald Trump ordered major changes to U.S. asylum policies that would charge fees to those applying for humanitarian refuge in the United States.

Trump’s directive also calls for tightening asylum rules by banning anyone who crosses the border illegally from obtaining a work permit, and giving courts a 180-day limit to adjudicate asylum claims that now routinely take years to process because of a ballooning case backlog.

The order, announced in a presidential memorandum, comes as the president seeks to mobilize his supporters with a focus on illegal immigration ahead of his 2020 reelection campaign

The surge of migrants from Central America arriving at the U.S. southern border with Mexico has frustrated the Trump administration, which has been trying various methods to stem the flow, all of them thus far unsuccessful. The proposed changes to the asylum system aim to address one of the most confounding aspects of the surge: families seeking safe passage using long-standing U.S. asylum protections.

More than 103,000 migrants crossed the U.S.-Mexico border last month, the highest level in more than a decade. About 60 percent were Central American parents traveling with children who, upon arrival on U.S. soil, have the legal right to request refuge from persecution.

Their numbers have overwhelmed the government’s ability to hold them in custody and quickly process their claims. Adults who arrive with children are typically assigned a court date and are released into the country, often reuniting with family members and taking jobs while their claims are pending.

Trump in recent weeks has increasingly mocked asylum seekers as fraudsters trying to game the system by making up stories about their hardships and fears of return to their native lands. Although homicide rates in Central America are among the highest in the world, many of those now arriving acknowledge they are fleeing poverty and hopelessness, which are not grounds for asylum protections.

The new White House measures, which call for new regulations in 90 days, follow one week after Trump issued a memorandum directing the secretaries of state and homeland security to find ways to combat visa overstays; it is another example of the administration trying to squeeze migration as it argues that the influx of undocumented people amounts to a national emergency.

The memorandum directs Attorney General William P. Barr and acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan to propose regulations within 90 days that would change various aspects of the way asylum cases are handled.

It calls for the United States to charge a fee for asylum applications, and it seeks to ensure that “absent exceptional circumstances,” all asylum applications will be adjudicated within 180 days of filing.

The moves would prohibit those who have entered the United States illegally from receiving provisional work permits until they have been approved for relief or protection from removal.

U.S. immigration law grants the attorney general the authority to impose fees on asylum applicants but does not require such payments, and migrants seeking refuge to avoid deportation have not been charged.

David A. Martin, a former Homeland Security deputy general counsel who helped make changes to the asylum system in the 1990s, said that he had never heard of charging a fee to applicants and that it would be a “bad idea.”

Asylum seekers are fleeing for their lives — fearing torture or death in their home countries — and often cannot afford to survive without assistance in the United States, he said.

“Genuine asylum seekers by definition leave in the most urgent of circumstances,” Martin said. “As a group, they tend to be very short on resources. If you’re going to leave the possibility of refuge for people who legally qualify truly open, you wouldn’t impose a barrier of a fee.”

Charging a fee for asylum claims would put the United States in the clear minority. A study of 147 countries found that the “vast majority” did not charge a fee to apply for asylum, according to a December 2017 report by the Law Library of Congress’ Global Legal Research Center. Some nations charged migrants fees for temporary or permanent protection visas, though migrants could apply for waivers.

But almost a decade ago, Martin said, asylum cases started to pile up again and the government failed to invest enough in the immigration courts to keep up. Now the court backlog exceeds 850,000 cases, including asylum, with approximately 400 judges to handle them.

But they said the presidential memo could cause chaos in the already overwhelmed immigration courts, intensifying pressure on immigration judges who would be subject to case-completion quotas.

“It’s not that asylum seekers don’t want other cases to be quickly adjudicated,” she said. “There’s a fine line between quick adjudication and being railroaded through the system. … It’s not like asylum seekers want to sit here in limbo forever,” she said. “But they also don’t want to be punished for seeking asylum.”

ACLU warns ‘immigrants and people of color,’ against travel in Florida

Excerpts from Washington Examiner April 8, 2019 by  Susan Ferrechio 

The American Civil Liberties Union has issued a travel advisory for “immigrants and people of color to use extreme caution” in Florida because of a pending immigration bill the state legislature is considering that would ban so-called sanctuary cities.

The Florida Legislature has advanced legislation that would require local law enforcement to work with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in detaining undocumented immigrants.

Both of Florida’s legislative chambers are expected to consider the measure in the coming weeks. “We and partners have issued a travel advisory urging immigrants and people of color to use extreme caution when traveling in Florida,” the ACLU tweeted. “The state is on the verge of passing a draconian anti-immigrant bill which will endanger our communities.”

Florida’s undocumented immigrant population is estimated to be greater than 700,000.

Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, has urged law enforcement officials in cities and counties to cooperate with immigration officials.

For more information on undocumented immigrant, 

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Copyright © 2019, Law Offices of Gail S. Seeram. All Rights Reserved.

What is Marriage Fraud?

Any non-citizen of the U.S. who enters a marriage to a U.S. citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident for the sole or primary purpose of obtaining permanent residence (a green card) is deemed to have engaged in marriage fraud and is subject to various immigration law consequences.  Marriage fraud is included in the grounds of deportability at Immigration and Nationality Act (I.N.A.) § 237(a)(1)(G), or 8 U.S.C. § 1227(a)(1)(G). To be deemed to have engaged in “marriage fraud,” the person must enter into a marriage for the sole or primary purpose of evading U.S. immigration law.  Also, once you have fraud or misrepresentation on your record, you are inadmissible under I.N.A. § 212(a)(6)(C)(i), which means to be barred from eligibility from virtually any sort of U.S. visa or green card.

U.S. immigration law requires scrutiny of new marriages. Under the Immigration Marriage Fraud Amendments of 1986 (“IMFA”), an applicant whose marriage is less than 24 months old when he or she receives approval for a green card will receive only “conditional,” not permanent residence. This status expires after another two years. Within the 90 days before that two-year expiration date, the immigrant must apply to have the condition removed (on USCIS Form I-751) to become a full-fledged lawful permanent resident.

Since marriage fraud in the U.S. is prevalent, petitioners and beneficiaries have the burden to prove their marriage is a bona-fide good-faith marriage based on love and not for an immigration benefit.  When trying to overcome a marriage fraud assumption by an officer, applicants should remember that three types of evidence may be gathered by the officer to ascertain whether it is a real marriage.

There will be an in-person interview with the immigration officer, beneficiary and petitioner.  There are two types of evidences presented at the interview: (1) oral testimony by the petitioner and beneficiary, and (2) documentary evidence.  When oral testimony is taken from the petitioner and beneficiary, the officer may separate the two during questioning or may interview them in the same room.  If applicants have an attorney, the attorney shall be present during questioning by the officer.  Documentary evidence are bills, statements, insurances, leases, etc. that prove the petitioner and beneficiary are living together and commingling finances.  The third type of evidence the officer may examine is “bed checks” or on-site investigations an officer conducts at the home of the petitioner and beneficiary.

Lastly, an officer may cite fraud indicators or red flags such as cultural differences between the petitioner and beneficiary, language barriers, significant age difference, prior marriages when immigration benefits were obtained, etc. Marriage fraud is a serious allegation with lifetime consequences, do not the risk denial, deportation proceedings and future inadmissibility.  Seek legal representation from an attorney who can prepare you for the interview, attend your interview and has experience dealing with possible marriage fraud allegations – contact Immigration Law Offices of Gail S. Seeram for your FREE consultation.

For more information on marriage fraud, 

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Copyright © 2019, Law Offices of Gail S. Seeram. All Rights Reserved.

Immigration Court system “on the brink of collapse.”

American Bar Association (ABA) calls on Congress to make sweeping changes in order to fix the immigration court system “on the brink of collapse.” – currently face backlogs of over 855,000 cases. In 2018, former Attorney General Sessions stripped judges of their ability to administratively close cases, restricted asylum for victims of domestic violence, and limited judges’ ability to dismiss cases.

ABA’s solution to this problem would be make the immigration court an “Article I” court, similar to federal tax court or bankruptcy courts. Under this new system, the Attorney General would have no authority to directly overrule judges or set precedent, and judges could not be disciplined for failing to meet case completion quotas. The lack of independence in the immigration court system is so dire that the ABA is making an unprecedented call for the government to suspend the hiring of all new immigration judges until the immigration court have been made more independent.

For more information on Immigration Court, 

text | whatsapp | call 407-292-7730 or email gail@gaillaw.com

FREE phone & in-office consultation – FREE Live Chat www.GailLaw.com

Copyright © 2019, Law Offices of Gail S. Seeram. All Rights Reserved.