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Monthly Archives: February 2012

Where can Petitioners residing overseas file their Petitions?

This issue of whether a U.S. citizen spouse who resides outside the U.S. can file directly with the U.S. Embassy or Consulate seems to come up every so often, so I thought that I would do a “reminder” blog on the issue. I had blogged about this issue last year as well as it comes up often when discussing which venue is the best place to file petitions.

For petitioners who reside outside the U.S., they can file directly with the U.S. Embassy or Consulate ONLY IF USCIS has an “office” or public counter presence within the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If USCIS does not have a public presence within that U.S. Embassy, then the Petition for Alien Relative must be filed at the same Chicago lockbox.

Please call USCIS at 1-800-375-5283 for the exact address of the Chicago lockbox for filing a Petition for Alien Relative. As of February 2012, the address is as follows:

USCIS
P.O. Box 804625
Chicago, Il 60680-4107

This address can change, and frequently does change, so please call or check other USCIS sources before filing your Petition for Alien Petition, should you decide to file a Petition without the use of an Immigration Attorney.

U.S. Embassy in Damascus, Syria is suspending Operations

While I have been expecting this news for some time now, the U.S. Embassy in Damascus, Syria has officially announced that it will be suspending its operations as of February 06, 2012. The announcement also indicates that all U.S. personnel have already left Syria.

The reason is, of course, the escalating violence now in Syria. The announcement indicates that the U.S. Embassy personnel reached out to the Syrian government regarding their concerns for their safety, and that according to the announcement the Syrian government did not “respond adequately.”

With the cases that I am handling for Syrian nationals, many of these cases are now being transferred to the U.S. Embassy in Amman, Jordan for processing.

Do Fiancé’s of U.S. Citizens Have to Apply for an Employment Card?

A Fiancé of a U.S. Citizen can obtain permission to enter the U.S. through a K-1 visa. Their children can enter the U.S. through a K-2 visa. Upon entry, most people that enter through a K-1 visa, otherwise known as Fiancée visa, want to immediately start working as soon as they find employment.

The question that I receive from many of my K-1 applicants or their spouse is whether they can start working upon their entry into the U.S. My answer is that they must first apply for an employment card. They can apply for an employment card, also known as EAD card, with USCIS. It takes anywhere from 30-90 days for that application to be approved and for the applicant to receive the employment card in the mail.

It is true that the USCIS regulations allow K-1’s to engage in employment pursuant to their status of a K-1 visa. However, according to a recent Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) liaison meeting on or about November 09, 2011, CBP made it clear that, “a K1 must apply …for an EAD.”

In the past, CBP officers would write on the I-94 card that work was authorized, and this was often used by K-1’s when they applied for work in the U.S. However, it appears that CBP has stopped this practice.

The bottom line is that K-1’s must apply for an employment card and wait for the approval of that employment card before they start working in the U.S. Of course, once the K-1 marries the U.S. citizen and files his or her green card application, the employment card can be filed as a part of that application.

Is Administrative Closure the Same as Termination of Removal Proceedings?

For any applicants currently in Removal proceedings, they may have heard the above terms used interchangeably, but in fact they are two completely different forms of relief that an Immigration Judge(s) can grant. Termination of Removal Proceedings basically means that removal proceedings against an applicant are completed and no longer pending, i.e. open, against the applicant. This means that at least for the most current removal proceedings, the applicant was not ordered removed or deported from the U.S. The applicant’s removal proceedings are considered completed, and the applicant is no longer in removal proceedings.

Administrative closure, on the other hand, simply means that the applicant’s removal proceedings are being put on hold for the time being, and that they must be reopened in the future for the removal proceedings to be resolved. Through Administrative closure, the applicant’s case is temporarily taken off the Court’s calendar. The applicant still remains in removal proceedings.

In June and ongoing months in 2011, some Memorandums of law were released by Director J. Morton that set forth factors ICE should consider when determining if a case is eligible for prosecutorial discretion. If ICE agrees to apply prosecutorial discretion to a case, then that case will be administratively closed. In this way, that applicant will not be ordered removed and can also apply for an employment card while he or she is in the U.S.