No SSN can be issued due to name difference

Oscar writes, "I guess due to a mixup in how names are written and understood in other countries and the United States, the names on my passport and I797/I94 do not match perfectly.  When I applied for a Social Security number with the Social Security Administration, after a wait of several weeks, I got a letter stating that the DHS was unable to verify the immigration document I submitted as evidence of my lawful alien status.  What should I do now?"



I am assuming that you received this legal authorization to be in the United States through an attorney and you should contact the law firm because clearly they did not file the paperwork accurately.  You might need to start with your passport.  Does the name match that in your birth certificate?  If not, go to your own government and get a more accurate passport.  Then your attorney can file paperwork with the USCIS requesting a correction of your I797.  It is much better to fix this minor mixup at this point because it will produce even more headaches if you choose to apply for permanent status or try to naturalize.  Obviously, as soon as the information on your passport matches perfectly with the information in the DHS database, the SSA will issue you a SS#.

Does the USCIS review green card decision at time of naturalization?

Chen writes, "I received a green card through my parents who used the EB-5 category to invest in a business in the United States.  At the time of interview for my citizenship, I was shocked that the interviewing officer asked me more questions about my parents than about me.  They wanted to know everything about the investments, where the parents are currently, and what happened to the business they invested in.  Do you think my citizenship application will be denied?  Is my GC also in jeopardy?"


It is indeed true that the adjudicating officer will review your complete immigration history prior to approving your naturalization.  Remember that this is the final chance that the USCIS has to make sure that people who do not deserve to be American citizens are screened out (in rare circumstances, the US Government can denaturalize someone if the citizenship was obtained after hiding material information).  Not that they get it right all the time.  Every immigrant knows a criminal or a thug or a crook or someone who used fraudulent documents or lied about something with a US passport, but we must agree that the USCIS does the best it can under the tight budget that they have.


Obviously, they do not second-guess the decision of the previous officers who approved the permanent resident status but they do want to make sure that the reason for which the residency was approved was a valid one.  A simple example is that of marriage to a US citizen.  If the couple is not married for the specified period, it is a red flag.  Similarly, someone who got approved for national interest waiver GC based on technical qualifications but is now working as a hairdresser will invite scrutiny from the USCIS.  That is why in your case, the USCIS must make sure that your parents did everything right because you derived your green card from them.  Since EB5 is highly abused by wealthy foreigners who use it to buy American residency, there is enormous fraud at every stage.  If everything is clean with your parents' investment and the green cards were valid, you will be approved.  If not, not only will your naturalization denied, your green card can also be taken away.

Apply for family based green card with petty theft on record

Kris writes, "I am currently in the United States legally on a H visa.  I met a wonderful American citizen and we got recently married.  Now she wishes to sponsor me for permanent resident status but more than 6 years ago, I was charged with shoplifting (stealing merchandise worth less than $75 at Best Buy).  With the help of an attorney, the charge was reduced to trespassing and after completing probation, my conviction was expunged.  I am now wondering if I will be able to adjust my status with this on my record.  Is this a crime involving moral turpitude (CIMT)?  Will I be denied?  What should I do?"


I am assuming that you have hired a good attorney for this process.  DO NOT try this without a lawyer.  You will need to submit the final court paperwork, but the USCIS will do its own background search on you.  My understanding is that as for as Feds are concerned, nothing is really expunged.  What is meant by expunging is that the conviction is eliminated from the public records but the original charges and timeline remains in the court records forever and is always accessible to law enforcement authorities and to USCIS.  It is just that a search by a potential employer will not find this conviction on your record. 

Chances are that because it was a fairly small crime (I always get shocked when foreigners break the law for something so small!), you have been clean since then, and you are a spouse of a US citizen, you will be approved, but make sure that your attorney is good at this sort of stuff.

Visitor not given six months stay

Andrea writes, "My parents have a tourist visa to the United States and when they first came to visit they were given six months.  They left before the expiration of their stay but they returned to the US after one month.  This time, however, the immigration officer gave them only two months and also added on the passport "no EOS/AOS/COS."  Why did this happen?  Their return ticket is six months from now.  We also had plans for them to stay here for six months and we don't what to do.  Please help."



You see the idea behind a tourist visa is that someone visits the United States for sightseeing or spending time with family/friends or even conduct business like attending meetings with colleagues or trade shows/conferences.  It is generally understood that someone with strong ties to their native country will simply not be able to leave their job and life behind to spend many months overseas, but the CBP agents are often kinder to senior citizens assuming that they are retired and have time to spend.  In any case, it is understood that in a 12-month period, no visitor will spend more than six months in the United States.



In your case, it seems that your parents really want to live in America and visit their native country.  This is clearly a violation of the intent of the visa and the immigration agents rightfully suspect that they are more likely to overstay.  How much time a visitor is given depends entirely at the discretion of the agent and cannot be challenged by them.  Assuming that they leave on time this time and try to return to the US within a matter of few weeks/months, it is highly likely that they will be given even shorter period of time or even denied entry and sent right back.  The officer may also cancel their visas and that will make it extremely hard for them to get another visa or ever visit the US again.  You must realize that tourist visas are not designed for an alien to spend most of their time in the United States (the thinking is also that many of these people then work illegally).  If they wish to live most of the time in the US they should apply for permanent resident status.

File for green card without vaccinations because of pregnancy

Several people have written to ask if they should file their paperwork for permanent residency in the United States without the medical examination (and submit it at a later time) because the beneficiary is pregnant (and thus, unable to be vaccinated for some missing vaccinations) and the process will be delayed by many months. Does the USCIS make any exceptions for pregnancy?



Well, what happens at the USCIS is that as soon as an application is received, it is checked by a low-level employee who is merely looking for a complete application.  This employee does not make any determination as to eligibility or approval, she or he is merely checking if the application is signed and complete, if the attachments are in order, if the fee is paid, etc.  If anything is missing, then, a form letter will be mailed to the applicant asking to send the missing paperwork.  On the other hand if the application is accurate and complete, it will be scanned and a record is made so that it gets in the processing queue.  An incomplete application is put on hold, and generally speaking, the process will take a lot longer than an application filed right the very first time.  While the agency does a pretty good job, it is not uncommon to have misplaced documents when they are filed separately.  In light of the above, you should simply wait for the applicant to be ready for the medical exam and vaccinations.  The USCIS approved doctor will advise you when is it a good time to return after childbirth.

Show up earlier for biometric appointment at ASC?

The way USCIS works is that a lot of the people are instructed to show up at the same hour (more or less like the airlines overbooking their flights in the hope that some people will cancel or fail to show up) and that means that when you have an appointment at 1030AM, no one is waiting specifically to deal with you.  The agency just gets a bunch of people and then processes them as fast as they can.  Generally this means that you have to just wait, sometimes very briefly and at other times a lot longer depending on how you end up in their line.  This, however, does not mean that you can arrive late, because they might throw you out of the system and categorize your application as abandoned.



Now, a lot of people would rather go early for an appointment.  This is possible in some locations but not a guarantee.  On occasions, even the security at the entrance to the building may not allow you to enter (the building may have a limit on how many people can be in at the same time).  On other occasions, you maybe able to complete your fingerprinting even before your appointment time, and there are reports that you can do that even days ahead.  This should only be tried if it would not make a difference that you are not allowed entry or you cannot get your fingerprinting done.  If a date and time is really inconvenient, it is best to call the USCIS and ask them to reschedule it for you.

Is the green card still valid if citizenship is denied?

The answer to this question depends on the reason for which the application for naturalization is denied.  The USCIS has a process that is followed once a petition for citizenship is denied.  In the simplest scenario, if the application is denied because you were not eligible at that time or did not provide enough documentation (e.g. if you have failed to file taxes or owe money to the IRS), then, it is understood that you will be eligible at a later date, and in that case, your permanent resident status is still valid.



On the other hand, if the USCIS believes that you cannot be naturalized because you pose a security threat to the United States or its allies, or that you provided false information during the green card process, or you committed a deportable offense, or that your green card was granted in error, the USCIS will take the necessary legal steps to let you know about them (in extreme cases, it could be in the form of immediate arrest at the time of interview -- think terrorism and national security cases).  With the help of an attorney, you maybe able to fight your removal from the United States.

Marriage based petition for naturalization in jeopardy due to divorce

If you filed an application for naturalization using the 3-year rule based on marriage to a US citizen and before you take the oath, if at any stage there is a divorce, it does not mean that your application is going to be denied.  This is how it works.  Except for a small group, most applicants do not file the paperwork as soon as they are technically eligible.  Months pass by after someone is eligible before people find the time to put together all the supporting evidence and they come around to finding an attorney to help with the paperwork or do it themselves.  If there are delays at the USCIS, it could be months before you get invited to the interview.  If your name gets stuck in the background check, months may fly by.  So it could very well be that by the time you get to the interview stage, you are eligible under the 5-year rule.



So what is the best course of action?  If you applied right on time and your application is proceeding rapidly, it is unlikely that you will be able to use the 5-year rule (the idea is that you should have met the 3- or 5-year rule on the day of oath for citizenship).  In that case, it is best to withdraw your application and simply wait till you are eligible under the five-year rule.



On the other hand, if you are about to be eligible under the five-year rule (use the option to delay your interview if this will buy you more time), then show up for the interview.  During the interview the officer will ask you if any piece of information in your application has changed.  If the divorce is finalized, provide a copy of the documentation.  If the divorce is ongoing, let the officer know about this.  The interviewing officer is very smart and is aware of all the rules that apply to you.  Also, they genuinely want to help people, so if you are eligible under the five-year rule, most likely you will be approved because the officer will exercise his discretion in the matter.  The chance of denial are minimal, but even if that were to happen, wait for instructions from the officer and USCIS, because it could very well be that you may not need to file all the paperwork again and pay the fees, and might merely be asked to wait for a decision later on in the mail after you have reached the five-year eligibility date.

US citizen overseas sponsoring spouse for green card

It would seem that everything is straightforward if the US citizen sponsor lives and works in the United States.  However, a lot of citizens are married to aliens and live abroad.  How do they go about filing documents like I-130, I-864, and I-485?  Actually, the process is not very different and they are as eligible as a citizen who lives in the US.  There may be just additional paperwork or they may have to wait to take certain steps before filing.



Domicile in the United States:  In order to be able to sponsor, you should be domiciled in the US.  Domicile in the US can typically be established if you vote here, own property, pay state/local taxes, have bank or investment accounts, or simply have a permanent address here (thus, it is fair to use a family member's address if you receive your mail there).  If none of this applies to you, do not lose hope.  Chances are that the reason you want to sponsor your spouse for permanent resident status is because you want to move back home.  So, before you do your paperwork, you may have to take other steps a little bit ahead of time than other people.  These actions can include buying a home or signing a lease to rent one, some proof of registering your kids to attend school in the town where you intend to live, or a job offer.  If you are unable to accomplish actions like these, you must simply wait to first relocate to the US and then do the paperwork.



Have you kept the Tax Man happy?  You might already know that all US citizens are required to file a tax return regardless of where they live.  If you have been meticulous about your taxes, you are in good shape.  That information will be needed to complete the paperwork.  If not, make sure that you first make IRS happy by filing whatever returns you need to or get exemptions if that is situation in your case.

Reapply for tourist visa after deportation for overstaying

While the United States of America does not have exit immigration check, if you leave by air or by land into Canada (there is no control on entering into Mexico by land and even Mexico authorities keep no records), the CBP will know who left and when from data provided by the airlines (and by Canadian immigration department).  It is not perfect but has gotten much better in recent years.  Thus, it is tempting to overstay because there are stories that people keep telling about how they were never caught even though they 'live' and 'work' in USA on a tourist visa.  However, many of those who overstay are starting to realize that they have been turned back at the airport or ordered to leave within a certain period of time (normally 72 hours).  Typically, they confiscate your passport, and make a notation in your passport cancelling your visa and banning you typically for five years.



So would it not be great if you could simply apply for a new tourist visa?  Hell, no.  When the 5-year ban was put in place, the agency made sure that the information about you is in the system and the embassies all over the world will have access to that information.  It would not matter if you renewed your passport in the meantime, because in any case, when you show up at the airport, your fingerprints will be in the system.  So the right thing to do is to just wait for five years and then apply.  Chances are very high that you will be denied again, particularly if you have family here and the consulate suspects that this time you will simply never leave.