In the United States, Thanksgiving is traditionally a time to reflect on the year, and to give thanks for health, family, friends....really, anything! I had never experienced Thanksgiving until I moved to the US from Ireland, and initially it was strange. What was this weird holiday on a random Thursday in November? And so close to Christmas! What about this bizarre food?
Now, I love Thanksgiving. I like that it focuses on gratitude and appreciating life's gifts, without the commercialism of Christmas. I also like that it is secular, and not belonging to any one religion.
This year, I am grateful for my wonderful clients. It is very difficult practicing immigration law under the current administration, but my clients understand this and appreciate my work.
I am thankful that I am really healthy and can still run, cycle, and do yoga, even if I get injured more than I used to ;)
I am always grateful for my close family, especially this year. My beloved nephew died in an accident in Texas in February, aged 21. It stunned us all and left a 6 1/2 foot hole in my heart. I am immensely thankful that his parents (my sister and her husband) are coping with the loss so well. They are heart-broken, of course, but they and their two daughters honor Mark's memory as he would have wished - seizing life, loving each other, and still laughing...just not as much as when he was here. I am awed by their strength.
I hope that life has given you something to be thankful for this year.
November 12, 2019: USCIS has proposed new fees for many applications and petitions. Not surprisingly, most fees will increase, and sometimes by a lot. See which fees will increase, how some forms will change, how Premium Processing will change under the proposed rules, and more in the latest YouTube video.
The rule will be published in the Federal Register on November 14, 2019. There will be a 30-day comment period, following which period USCIS will publish a final rule. The final rule might have some changes to the fees, but there will still be an increase.
If you have been delaying filing certain applications, we strongly recommend filing soon to avoid the fee increase. Some of the biggest increases are below:
N-400 (Naturalization): Increases from $725 to $1170
Adjustment of Status with EAD and Advance Parole (I-485, I-765 and I-131) increases from $1225 to $2170
Provisional Waiver of Unlawful Presence (I-601A) increases from $630 to $960
Application to Remove Conditions (I-751): increases from $595 to $760.
Other changes include unbundling the work authorization (EAD) and travel documents that can be requested with Adjustment of Status filings. USCIS plans to return to the earlier system of having separate fees for each form, rather than including the EAD and Advance Parole in the Adjustment of Status filing fee.
USCIS is restricting the type of forms for which a fee waiver can be requested, and making it more difficult to qualify for a waiver.
The timeframes for Premium Processing will change. USCIS will have 15 business days to respond, instead of 15 calendar days. USCIS hopes that this increased timeframe will prevent them needing to suspend Premium Processing completely when workloads are too high, as has happened in the past. We'll see.....
There are more changes that are described in the linked video. If you have any questions about the proposed changes, please contact Elaine Martin directly.
There is still time to apply for the 2021 Diversity Visa Lottery. Applications are accepted until November 5, 2019. For more information, see the latest video on YouTube.
As a result of the changes to the analysis of Public Charge for immigration purposes, USCIS has finally published the new forms. The changes take effect for cases filed starting on October 15 2019, but the government did not publish the required forms until late on October 9.
Starting on October 15, 2019, only the recent editions of the following forms will be accepted by USCIS:
The latest editions of these forms all have new questions related to the public charge grounds of inadmissibility.
In addition to the changed forms. most Adjustment of Status applicants will need to include a new Form I-944 with the applications. The following categories are exempt from the public charge requirements and therefore do not need to file the I-944:
For everyone other than these exempt categories, the following rules apply to Adjustmnent of Status applicants:
You must file an I-944 and an I-864 (Affidavit of Support) if you are an
You file just an I-944 if you are a
The public charge rules are complex and the new Form I-944 is very detailed and requests extensive information about the applicant's income, tax filings, language and other skills, assets, receipt of public benefits, etc. More information on the public charge rule is in this YouTube video and a demonstration of the Form I-944 is in this video.
We expect that there will be a lot of developments in this area in the next few weeks and months, especially regarding lawsuits that are trying to stop the riles and forms taking effect. Please check back for information, and subscribe to my YouTube channel for the most recent updates.
Call +1-214-329-4148 if you would like to discuss the impact of the new rules on your specific case.
Elaine Martin has been practising US and global immigration law since 1997. She is an immigrant herself (from Ireland), so has a special understanding of the legal and emotional challenges involved in relocating to a new country.