A blog about U.S. immigration matters by Paul Szeto, a former INS attorney and an experienced immigration attorney and counsel. Contact Info: 732-632-9888, http://www.1visa1.com/ (All information is not legal advice and is subject to change without prior notice.)

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Medical Waiver of English, Civics and Oath Requirements for Naturalization

Many elderly clients express difficulty with the citizenship test due to their inability to learn English and remember the facts about the American government and history.  They also ask if the test can be waived on account of their old age or poor memory.  Unfortunately for most people, they don't qualify for any exception and must learn English and study for the citizenship test.  

The English and Civics Requirements
As part of the requirements for naturalization, applicants must demonstrate that they understand the English language; they must demonstrate that they can  read, write, and speak words in ordinary usage.  They must also demonstrate a knowledge and understanding of the basics of the history and principles and form of government of the United States (This is called the civics requirement). 

Medical Waiver of the English / Civics Requirements
However, applicants for U.S. citizenship may seek an exception to the English and civics testing requirements for naturalization "because of physical or developmental disability or mental impairment."  Unfortunately this exception does not cover the normal deterioration of one's memory because of old age.  Nor does it cover other forms of illnesses that do not affect one's ability to learn and recall facts. For instance, I have clients who have cancer.  Unless the cancer somehow affects the person's ability to learn new things, the condition does not qualify for a wavier for the English and civics requirements.

For those who really suffer from medical conditions that affect their cognitive skills, they can and should apply for a medical wavier.  Examples of such conditions include severe dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, developmental disorder, Down syndrome, etc.  Applicants must produce evidence to prove that they suffer from such conditions, including a Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions, Form N-658, completed and executed by a qualified medical doctor. The standard for adjudicating such a request has tightened over the years.  The medical doctor must clearly articulate the prognosis of the applicant, including the clinical diagnosis, the treatment history, the cause of the condition or impairment, the clinical methods used to diagnose the applicant's medical disability, etc.  The doctor must also be able to explain how the medical condition has affected the applicant's ability to learn English and study American civics.  

Waiver of the Oath of Allegiance
As the final step in the naturalization process, an applicant must take an oath to support the U.S. Constitution, renounce all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States against all enemies, bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; or perform other noncombatant service for the U.S. government. This is called the Oath of Allegiance.  

However, if an applicant has a disability that is so severe that he or she is not able to take the oath, an waiver of this oath requirement may also be requested.  This is a separate waiver from the waiver of the English and civics requirements above. The applicant or his/her legal guardian must make the request in writing.  The request must be supported by a written evaluation by a licensed physician, which explains why the applicant is unable to understand and communicate the Oath of Allegiance. This waiver is only reserved for the most severe types of medical conditions and should not be used lightly. 




Thursday, February 2, 2017

Trump's Immigration Executive Orders: Measures To Protect Yourself

The President's recent executive orders on immigration have created chaos and confusion in the immigrant communities.  The most recent order suspending the entry of nationals from seven countries with terrorist ties has resulted in delays, detentions and protests at several international airports.  More changes in immigration policies and executive orders are expected in the near future. The following tips and guidelines should help immigrants to avoid "getting in trouble:"

Do not travel outside of the United States unless it is an absolute emergency.  Nationals from the seven suspended countries clearly are not allowed to enter the U.S.  Even if you don't come from those countries, you might still have difficulties returning to the U.S.  This is particularly true if you are from a country with a large Muslin population. Your country could be added to the list in the future. The current policy is to use heightened scrutiny against every non-citizen. As such, nobody is really safe when it comes to foreign travel. 

Apply for citizenship through the naturalization as soon as possible.  As tough as the current administration's immigration policy may be, it would still be difficult for the government to legally deport a U.S. citizen.  An American green card is not a guarantee of one's ability to stay in or return to the United States, as illustrated by the recent detention of permanent residents at the airports.  It usually requires five years of legal residency to apply for naturalization, unless you are married to a U.S. citizen (in which case only three years are needed).  

Apply for any other eligible applications or benefits as soon as possible.  If you are married to a U.S. citizen and plan to apply for a green card, do it immediately! If you intend to apply for an H-1B visa to work in the U.S., do it as soon as possible!  If you need to extend or change your status, do it now! The sooner you submit your application, the less likely that you will be affected by any future changes in immigration policy. 

File for change/extension of status in the U.S. rather than via overseas consular processing.  If you have a choice of applying for an immigration status in the U.S., take it. For example, although Canadians usually apply for their TN status at the U.S.-Canada border, they should now seriously consider applying from within the U.S. now to avoid a departure. 

Follow the rules and regulations.  Immigration laws are complex.  There are many rules and regulations on just about every type of application and visa program.  And they are sometimes illogical and inconsistent.  However, it is still extremely important to follow them strictly.  Take the H-1B visa program as an example, whenever one's employment has changed materially, a new or amended petition must be filed before the change takes place. Do not try to cut corner.  Follow the rules.

Stay out of trouble in general.  Many a time clients get into trouble because of something minor, such as a traffic violation or a fight at the bar.  However, such small incidents could lead to bigger problems when law enforcement officers are involved.  Immigration status will be checked and questionable individuals could be referred to the federal immigration officers.  The Trump Administration has issued directives to cooperate with state and local law enforcement agencies to enforce the immigration laws. 

Consult with an attorney.  It is more important than ever for immigrants to consult with an experienced immigration attorney when making a decision about their case or travel plans.  Some clients like to do things on their own because they think they are capable of handing their immigration case. They usually come to me when they've encountered a problem.  It might have worked before but in this environment, it is too risky to do it on your own. An experienced immigration attorney not only possesses the expertise about the trade but also the most updated information through the immigration lawyers association.  

Report your change of address within 10 days.  No matter how many times I remind clients to file the AR-11 form to report their change of address, some of them are still not heeding.  It is actually a deportable offense for any noncitizens who knowingly fails to file their change of address form within ten days of their move.  Do it to protect yourself.




Monday, January 23, 2017

Who is the President of the United States?


If you are are studying for the naturalization test, there has been some changes about the U.S. government following the recent elections.

The following are the most recent changes put together by the USCIS. For example, Obama is no longer the President of the United States. Make sure you answer the questions correctly.  


Question
Update

20.  Who is one of your state’s U.S. senators now?

The answer to this question may have changed on January 3, 2017, when the 115th Congress began to meet. 

Give the name of one of your state’s current U.S. senators. For a list of current members of the U.S. Senate, please visit www.senate.gov
23.   Name your U.S. representative.

The answer to this question may have changed on January 3, 2017, when the 115th Congress began to meet. 

Give the name of your current U.S. representative. For a list of current members of the U.S. House of Representatives please visit www.house.gov.

28.  What is the name of the President of the United States now?
·  Donald J. Trump
·  Donald Trump
·  Trump

29.  What is the name of the Vice President of the United States now?
·  Michael R. Pence
·  Mike Pence
·  Pence 

43.  Who is the governor of your state now?
The answer to this question may have changed depending on inauguration dates.
Give the name of your state’s current governor. For a list of current governors, please visit http://www.usa.gov/Agencies/State_and_Territories.shtml

46.  What is the political party of the President now? 
·  Republican (Party) 




Saturday, January 21, 2017

USCIS To Change Filing Addresses for Form I-140 / Form I-907 Applications

Starting January 19, 2017, the Form I-140 and Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing, must be filed at the addresses listed below based on the worksite location:


Worksite Location:
For U.S. Postal Service (USPS)
 First Class and Priority Mail Express deliveries
For overnight/courier deliveries (non-USPS)USPS
Maryland, New Jersey, or Pennsylvania
Premium Processing
USCIS Texas Service Center
P.O. Box 279030 Dallas, TX 75227-9030
Premium Processing
USCIS Texas Service Center
4141 N Saint Augustine Dr.
Dallas, TX 75227-4818
Tennessee
Premium Processing
USCIS Nebraska Service Center
P.O. Box 87103
Lincoln, NE 68501-7103
Premium Processing
USCIS Nebraska Service Center
850 S. Street
Lincoln, NE 68508



Thursday, January 19, 2017

Change of Gender in Immigration Documents

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services issued a policy memo on January 19, 2017 regarding change of gender designation on documents issued by the immigration agency.   To request for a change in the gender on a USCIS-issued document, one may present one of the following forms of evidence: 

• A court order granting change of sex or gender;

•A government-issued document reflecting the requested gender designation. Acceptable government-issued documents include an amended birth certificate, a passport, a driver’s license, or other official document showing identity issued by the U.S. Government, a state or local government in the United States, or a foreign government; or

• A letter from a licensed health care professional certifying that the requested gender
designation is consistent with the individual’s gender identity.   For these purposes, a licensed health care professional includes licensed counselors, nurse practitioners, physicians (Medical Doctors or Doctors of Osteopathy), physician assistants, psychologists, social workers, and therapists. The health care certification letter must include the following information:

  1. The health care professional's full name, address, and telephone number;
  2. The health care professional’s license number and the issuing state, country,
  3. or other jurisdiction of the professional license;
  4. Language stating that the health care professional has treated or evaluated the
  5. individual in relation to the individual’s gender identity; and
  6. The health care professional’s assessment of the individual’s gender identity.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

February 2017 Visa Bulletin: Movement Sluggish



In the February 2017 Visa Bulletin, EB-2 India stays unchanged; EB-3 India moves forward by only one week. EB-2 China and EB-3 China move forward by one month and three weeks respectively.  



EB-3 China remains ahead of EB-2 China.  Therefore, downgrading of the I-140 remains an option for Chinese-born applicants in order to expedite their green card application process.



EB-3 Philippines moves forward by 3 months.


Family First Preference advances 6 weeks to 2 months weeks for most countries, except Mexico, which only moves advances 2 weeks.  Other family categories for all countries have small advancements, i.e., 3 weeks.   Please see the charts below for details.



AD: Dates for Final Action (Approval)
FD : Dates for Filing Applications

FAMILY
Other Countries
China
India
Mexico
Philippines
F1
AD
02/22/2010
02/22/2010
02/22/2010
05/08/1995
12/01/2005
FD
01/01/2011
01/01/2011
01/01/2011
06/01/1995
05/01/2006
F2A
AD
04/15/2015
04/15/2015
04/15/2015
04/01/2015
04/15/2015
FD
11/22/2015
11/22/2015
11/22/2015
11/22/2015
11/22/2015
F2B
AD
07/08/2010
07/08/2010
07/08/2010
11/08/1995
04/08/2006
FD
02/08/2011
02/08/2011
02/08/2011
06/01/1996
02/01/2007
F3
AD
03/22/2005
03/22/2005
03/22/2005
12/15/1994
09/08/1994
FD
08/22/2005
08/22/2005
08/22/2005
05/01/1995
01/01/1995
F4
AD
02/08/2004
01/22/2004
06/15/2003
05/22/1997
06/22/1993
FD
07/01/2004
07/01/2004
05/01/2004
12/01/1997
04/01/1994

1st: Unmarried Sons and Daughters of Citizens (about 23,000 per year).
2A: The 2 "A" preference is for Spouses and Children (under 21 & unmarried) of LPR's.
2B: The 2 "B" Preference is for Unmarried Sons and Daughters (21 or older) of LPR's.
3rd: Married Sons and Daughters of Citizens.(about 23,000 per year)
4th: Brothers and Sisters of Adult Citizens.(about 65,000 per year)



Employment
Other Countries
China
El Salvador Guatemala Honduras
India
Mexico
Philippines
EB1
AD
C
C
C
C
C
C
FD
C
C
N/A
C
C
C
EB2
AD
C
11/15/2012
C
04/15/2008
C
C
FD
C
03/01/2013
N/A
04/22/2009
C
C
EB3
AD
10/01/2016
10/01/2013
10/01/2016
03/22/2005
10/01/2016
10/15/2011
FD
C
05/01/2014
N/A
07/01/2005
C
09/01/2013
Other Workers
AD
10/01/2016
12/01/2005
10/01/2016
03/22/2005
10/01/2016
10/15/2011
FD
C
08/01/2009
N/A
07/01/2005
C
09/01/2013
EB4
AD
C
C
07/15/2015
C
07/15/2015
C
FD
C
C
N/A
C
C
C
EB5
AD
C
04/15/2014
C
C
C
C
FD
C
06/15/2014
N/A
C
C
C

1st: Priority Workers (Extraordinary ability aliens, multinational companies executives/managers,outstanding prof./researchers)
2nd: Members of the Professions Holding Advanced Degrees or Persons of Exceptional Ability.
3rd: Skilled Workers, Professionals, and Other Workers (Unskilled.)
4th: "Special Immigrants" (Religious & others)
5th: Employment Creation (Investors)