Previous Editions of Forms Accepted Until Feb. 21, 2017, but Must Include New Fees
December 29, 2016
When new fees for most USCIS forms went into effect on December 23, 2016, we published updated versions of the forms at uscis.gov/forms. We strongly encourage customers to submit these new versions, which are updated with the new fees and have an edition date of 12/23/16.
USCIS Announces Extension of Parole for Immediate Relatives of U.S. Citizens
December 13, 2016
To allow immediate relatives of U.S. citizens and certain “stateless” individuals to maintain legal status in the CNMI, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has extended the parole program for these relatives, effective immediately, until December 31, 2018.
USCIS Publishes Final Rule For Certain Employment-Based Immigrant and Nonimmigrant Visa Programs
November 18, 2016
USCIS has published a final rule to modernize and improve several aspects of certain employment-based nonimmigrant and immigrant visa programs. USCIS has also amended regulations to better enable U.S. employers to hire and retain certain foreign workers who are beneficiaries of approved employment-based immigrant visa petitions and are waiting to become lawful permanent residents. This rule goes into effect on Jan. 17, 2017.
USCIS Announces Final Rule Adjusting Immigration Benefit Application and Petition Fees
October 24, 2016
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services today announced a final rule published in the Federal Register today adjusting the fees required for most immigration applications and petitions. The new fees will be effective Dec. 23. USCIS is almost entirely funded by the fees paid by applicants and petitioners for immigration benefits.
The law requires USCIS to conduct fee reviews every two years to determine the funding levels necessary to administer the nation’s immigration laws, process benefit requests and provide the infrastructure needed to support those activities.
IRS Urges Public to Stay Alert for Scam Phone Calls
IRS Special Edition Tax Tip 2015-18, October 21, 2015
The IRS continues to warn consumers to guard against scam phone calls from thieves intent on stealing their money or their identity. Criminals pose as the IRS to trick victims out of their money or personal information. Here are several tips to help you avoid being a victim of these scams:
- Scammers make unsolicited calls. Thieves call taxpayers claiming to be IRS officials. They demand that the victim pay a bogus tax bill. They con the victim into sending cash, usually through a prepaid debit card or wire transfer. They may also leave “urgent” callback requests through phone “robo-calls,” or via phishing email.
- Callers try to scare their victims. Many phone scams use threats to intimidate and bully a victim into paying. They may even threaten to arrest, deport or revoke the license of their victim if they don’t get the money.
- Scams use caller ID spoofing. Scammers often alter caller ID to make it look like the IRS or another agency is calling. The callers use IRS titles and fake badge numbers to appear legitimate. They may use the victim’s name, address and other personal information to make the call sound official.
- Cons try new tricks all the time. Some schemes provide an actual IRS address where they tell the victim to mail a receipt for the payment they make. Others use emails that contain a fake IRS document with a phone number or an email address for a reply. These scams often use official IRS letterhead in emails or regular mail that they send to their victims. They try these ploys to make the ruse look official.
- Scams cost victims over $23 million. The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, or TIGTA, has received reports of about 736,000 scam contacts since October 2013. Nearly 4,550 victims have collectively paid over $23 million as a result of the scam.
The IRS will not:
- Call you to demand immediate payment. The IRS will not call you if you owe taxes without first sending you a bill in the mail.
- Demand that you pay taxes and not allow you to question or appeal the amount you owe.
- Require that you pay your taxes a certain way. For instance, require that you pay with a prepaid debit card.
- Ask for your credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
- Threaten to bring in police or other agencies to arrest you for not paying.
If you don’t owe taxes, or have no reason to think that you do:
- Do not give out any information. Hang up immediately.
- Contact TIGTA to report the call. Use their “IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting” web page. You can also call 800-366-4484800-366-4484 FREE FREE.
- Report it to the Federal Trade Commission. Use the “FTC Complaint Assistant” on FTC.gov. Please add "IRS Telephone Scam" in the notes.
USCIS Expands Efforts to Highlight Citizenship and Immigrant Integration
Initiatives Aim to Support Aspiring Citizens and Improve Customer Service
On Nov. 20, 2014, as part of President Obama’s executive actions on immigration, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson issued a memorandum directing U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to explore options to promote and increase access to naturalization. The memorandum also directed USCIS to consider innovative ways to address barriers to such access, including the inability to pay the naturalization application fees.
On Nov. 21, 2014, President Obama established the White House Task Force on New Americans, an interagency effort to develop a coordinated federal strategy to better integrate immigrants into communities and to support state and local efforts to do the same. Comprised of 16 federal departments, agencies, and White House offices, the Task Force is co-chaired by Cecilia Muñoz, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, and USCIS Director León Rodríguez. The Task Force submitted an action plan to President Obama in April 2015. This report establishes a federal immigrant integration strategy that allows new Americans to contribute to society to their fullest potential.
To celebrate Constitution Week and consistent with recommendations of the White House Task Force on New Americans, USCIS has developed a series of initiatives to improve customer service, highlight the importance of citizenship, and support aspiring citizens.
Citizenship Public Education and Awareness
According to the most recent estimates by the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Immigration Statistics, 8.8 million permanent residents (green card holders) are eligible to apply for citizenship. The analysis showed that the median time spent as a permanent resident before becoming a U.S. citizen is seven years. Green card holders who meet all eligibility requirements may apply for citizenship after five years, or after three years if they are married to a U.S. citizen.
USCIS launched the Citizenship Public Education and Awareness Campaign in July 2015 in an effort to raise awareness about the rights, responsibilities and importance of U.S. citizenship, and provide information on the naturalization process and USCIS educational resources. The campaign began by targeting digital media markets in California, New York, Texas, and Florida. Beginning this month, USCIS will expand the campaign into six additional states – New Jersey, Illinois, Massachusetts, Virginia, Washington, and Arizona. Together, these 10 states are home to 75 percent of the country’s 13.3 million permanent residents.
USCIS has also released a new series of print ads in Korean, Spanish and Tagalog, along with new widgets (small, online applications that can be embedded into Web pages or social media sites) in English and Spanish.
These are some ways that community organizations can support the campaign:
- Place a USCIS widget on their organization's website;
- Link to the campaign’s resources on their website;
- Distribute the campaign’s informational fliers to the public;
- Post USCIS print advertisements (posters) in waiting areas, classrooms, community centers, educational facilities and other high-visibility areas;
- Refer aspiring citizens to the Citizenship Resource Center; and
- Inform local media outlets about the availability of USCIS radio and video PSAs.
In addition, USCIS will use its Electronic Immigration System to notify permanent residents about their potential eligibility for naturalization (through a pop-up message) when they seek to renew or replace a green card.
New for Constitution Week this year, USCIS is inviting people to share six-word essays describing what citizenship means to them, using the hashtag #citizenship6.
Full text can be retrieved at:
DHS Extends Eligibility for Employment Authorization to Certain H-4 Dependent Spouses of H-1B Nonimmigrants Seeking Employment-Based Lawful Permanent Residence
Release Date: February 24, 2015
WASHINGTON – Еffective May 26, 2015, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is extending eligibility for employment authorization to certain H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B nonimmigrants who are seeking employment-based lawful permanent resident (LPR) status.
Employment eligibility for H4 status holders was an important element of the immigration initiative presented by President Obama back in November 2014. This initiative is aimed to modernize, improve and clarify visa programs to grow the U.S. economy and create jobs.
Eligible individuals include certain H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B non-immigrant workers who:
- Are the principal beneficiaries of an approved Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, and are currently waiting for their priority date to become available to proceed with Adjustment of Status; or
- Have been granted H-1B status after the six-year limit because it’s been at least 365 days since the petitioning US employer has filed Labor Certification or I-140 Petition for an H1B worker.
DHS expects this change will reduce the economic burdens and personal stresses H-1B nonimmigrants and their families may experience during the transition from nonimmigrant to lawful permanent resident status, and facilitate their integration into American society. The rule also will bring U.S. immigration policies more in line with those laws of other countries that compete to attract similar highly skilled workers.
The number of individuals eligible to apply for employment authorization under this rule is estimated to be as high as 179,600 in the first year. USCIS underlines that eligible H4 dependents cannot file under the new rule until May 26, 2015.
Retrieved from: http://www.uscis.gov/news/dhs-extends-eligibility-employment-authorization-certain-h-4-dependent-spouses-h-1b-nonimmigrants-seeking-employment-based-lawful-permanent-residence?utm_source=Wolfsdorf+Rosenthal+LLP&utm_campaign=bdb90123e8-FY12HCapNAFSA&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_997aea4341-bdb90123e8-88283873Attorneys of National Capital encourage our clients who currently hold H4 status to contact us to verify their eligibility for Employment Authorization Document.
USCIS will begin to accept requests for consideration of expanded DACA on February 18, 2015Оn November 20, 2014, the President announced a series of executive actions to crack down on illegal immigration at the border, prioritize deporting felons not families, and require certain undocumented immigrants to pass a criminal background check and pay taxes in order to temporarily stay in the U.S. without fear of deportation.
One these initiatives refers to expanding the population eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The Pew Research Center estimated that this would increase the number of eligible people by about 330,000.
According to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, based on DACA program, certain undocumented people who came to the United States as children and meet several guidelines may request consideration of deferred action, i.e. stay legally on the U.S. territory for a period of three years, subject to renewal. They are also eligible for work authorization, which is also extended from two years to three years. Deferred action is a use of prosecutorial discretion to defer removal action against an individual for a certain period of time.
Please note, deferred action does not provide lawful immigration status.
You are allowed to be considered for DACA if you:
- entered the United States before the age of 16;
- have lived in the United States continuously since at least January 1, 2010 (rather than the prior requirement of June 15, 2007);
- are currently of any age (removes the requirement to have been born since June 15, 1981);
- are currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States;
- have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.
USCIS will begin accepting requests for expanded DACA on February 18, 2015.| USCIS will not accept requests for expanded DACA before that date.
Immigration specialists at National Capital Legal Services will be happy to help you in preparing your documents and application for DACA.
Information retrieved from http://www.uscis.gov/immigrationaction#1
USCIS Telephone Scams
Retrieved from http://www.uscis.gov/avoid-scams/common-scams
Do not fall victim to telephone scammers posing as USCIS personnel or other government officials. In most instances, scammers will:
- request personal information (Social Security number, Passport number, or A-number);
- identify false problems with your immigration record; and
- ask for payment to correct the records.
If a scammer calls you, say “No, thank you” and hang up. These phone calls are being made by immigration scammers attempting to take your money and your credit card information. USCIS will not call you to ask for any form of payment over the phone. Don’t give payment over the phone to anyone who claims to be a USCIS official.
Be Aware of IRS Telephone ScamsRetrieved from http://www.irs.gov/uac/Newsroom/IRS-Reiterates-Warning-of-Pervasive-Telephone-Scam
The Internal Revenue Service issued another strong warning for consumers to guard against sophisticated and aggressive phone scams targeting taxpayers, including recent immigrants, as reported incidents of this crime continue to rise nationwide.
People have reported a particularly aggressive phone scam in the last several months. Immigrants are frequently targeted. Potential victims are threatened with deportation, arrest, having their utilities shut off, or having their driver’s licenses revoked. Callers are frequently insulting or hostile - apparently to scare their potential victims. Potential victims may be told they are entitled to big refunds, or that they owe money that must be paid immediately to the IRS. When unsuccessful the first time, sometimes phone scammers call back trying a new strategy.
Other characteristics of this scam include:
- Scammers use fake names and IRS badge numbers. They generally use common names and surnames to identify themselves.
- Scammers may be able to recite the last four digits of a victim’s Social Security number.
- Scammers spoof the IRS toll-free number on caller ID to make it appear that it’s the IRS calling.
- Scammers sometimes send bogus IRS emails to some victims to support their bogus calls.
- Victims hear background noise of other calls being conducted to mimic a call site.
- After threatening victims with jail time or driver’s license revocation, scammers hang up and others soon call back pretending to be from the local police or DMV, and the caller ID supports their claim.
Please be aware that the IRS will always send taxpayers a written notification of any tax due via the U.S. mail. The IRS never asks for credit card, debit card or prepaid card information over the telephone. The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email, or text messages, or social media channels to request personal or financial information. The IRS also does not ask for PINs, passwords or similar confidential access information for credit card, bank or other financial accounts.
Please refer to the IRS website if you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS in order to protect yourself from bogus accusations. The IRS also encourages taxpayers to report a scam at www.irs.gov.
United States passed 171 immigration laws during 2014 yearNearly every state in the nation passed at least one immigration law last year, but legislative activity on the issue was actually slower across state capitals than the year before.
Last year, 43 state legislatures and D.C. enacted 171 immigration laws and 117 resolutions. That’s a 7.5 percent decline from 2013, when states passed 185 laws, according to the bipartisan National Conference of State Legislatures.
The decline in state legislative activity in 2014 can be partly explained by four state legislatures being out of session, according to NCSL. For example, Texas, which passed 101 laws and resolutions in 2013, did not hold a regular session. Montana, North Dakota and Nevada also held no regular session last year, while Maine, North Carolina and Cermont enacted no immigration legislation.
California was the most active state last year. Its 26 laws banned denial of licenses based on immigration status and required that some classes for immigration children teach the importance of civic engagement. The state also passed 28 resolutions, calling on Congress to enact a number of policies.
The largest share of laws, 22 percent, dealt with immigration-related budgeting or appropriating. Another 16 percent dealt with law enforcement, while 15 percent addressed driver’s licensing and other IDs. Thirteen percent dealt with employment and 8 percent each were related to public benefits and health.
Immigration Benefits for Same-Sex Couples
The Supreme Court decision (June 26, 2013) to struck down section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which denied federal benefits to couples in same-sex marriages, has changed the lives of millions of immigrants in same-sex relationships. The Supreme Court’s decision blocked the federal government from denying benefits to same-sex couples that different-sex couples receive.
A 2011 study by the Williams Institute estimated that the United States has twenty-eight thousand five hundred cohabiting same-sex couples in which one person is a U.S. citizen and one is not, which means there are nearly sixty thousand people who stand to have their lives eased and clarified right away. According to AILA President Laura Lichter, "Same sex bi-national couples have fought long and hard for the right to keep their families together. It's only fair that if a U.S. citizen or permanent resident is legally married-regardless of sexual orientation-that their lawful marriage be recognized by the federal government when it comes to immigration issues.”
Shortly after the decision by the Supreme Court, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) began to review immigrant and non-immigrant visa petitions filed on behalf of a same-sex spouse in the same manner as those filed on behalf of an opposite-sex spouse. For instance, a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident in a same-sex marriage to a foreign national can now sponsor his/her spouse for a family-based immigrant visa (green card). Foreign citizens living in the US on non-immigrant statuses (F1, H1B, L, etc.) can now petition for their same-sex spouses to obtain a status of the dependent of the primary status holder (F2, H4, L2, etc.).
Our attorneys are gladly assisting clients with obtaining legal status under the new provisions. Please schedule a consultation with Elizabeth Krukova to determine your eligibility for a certain immigration benefit.