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Lee & Garasia, LLC
  • Tel: 732-516-1717
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Experience, Accessibility, and Excellence for Over 20 Years
  • "Lee and Garasia are excellent lawyers, punctual and professional. They are dedicated to going above and beyond the usual level of service to meet your client's needs. Their staff is very knowledgeable, friendly and polite. I would highly... recommend this firm to anyone." Read More

  • "I would definitely recommend Mr.Lee and Garasia as an immigration attorney because they did a great job with my case i.e. of Adjustment of Status (i-485). Mr. Lee helped us in each and every detailed information and prepared to the best of it. It was all well done and would like to appreciate." Read More

  • "I would like to thank my lawyer Mr Lee & Garasia and the staff for all immense help and patience throughout this entire process, I really appreciate your constant attention to my case, as well to my questions and my concerns. You've really made this process much more comprehensive to me, which I greatly appreciate." Read More

  • "Mr. Lee and Ms. Garasia did a great job with my renewal of my permanent residence application. They help prepare the paperwork with such a great attention to details and accuracy. I will recommend the law firm every time." Read More

  • "Mr. Lee did a great job with the renewal of my permanent residence application. My case was very time sensitive and they worked really fast on my case with great detail and accuracy. I will recommend the law firm every time." Read More

  • "I would recommend Attorney Paris Lee for anybody who needs immigration consultation. Mr. Lee is THE lawyer who respects and cares clients. Mr. Lee is professional and honest. Bottom line, preparation for the results and NO BS!" Read More

  • "Stalin - Lee did a wonderful job, Got my wife her visa in one year. He is extremely helpful and knowledgeable. I would highly recommend him for all your immigration needs." Read More

  • "Hello. I appoint him as my immigration lawyer and that way he solved my cases was truly amazing. He was so honest and knowledgeable for his work.He solved my all family immigration issues and because of his effort we were able to get done our immigration work done successful. Thank you lee and garasia." Read More

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Green Cards Archives

What is The New Public Charge Rule Affecting Green Cards?

Now that the Public Charge is a reality, anybody intent on applying for permanent residence must understand that immigration just got a whole lot harder. Under the new guidelines, which some have loosely called a "wealth test," immigration officers are vested with extraordinary discretion in judging whether a green card applicant is likely to become dependent on the federal government for assistance. While there are certain classes of people who are exempt, the vast majority of green card applicants, especially those immigrating through family, are subject to the rule, whether applying inside the US through an Adjustment of Status process or abroad through Consular Processing.

New Public Charge Law Will Also Apply to Consular Cases | Form DS-5540

Applicants for permanent residence should be aware that the new public charge guidelines are intended to apply to all applicants for admission. Technically speaking, the new I-944 Declaration of Self Sufficiency and revised guidelines will be going into effect February 24, 2020, for nearly all adjustment of status applicants (that is, applicants who are applying for their green cards from within the US.)

Immigration Filing Fees Going Up

Last week, the government announced a series of proposed fee increases that are staggeringly steep. At the moment, the proposal is undergoing a public comment period, but unless there is some sort of litigation to block the changes, applicants may have to dig deeper to defray these costs when they go into effect later this year/early next year. Here are some of the applications that will be going up:

TPS Holders with Deportation Orders Applying for Green Card After Advance Parole

TPS applicants who are applying for adjustment of status with outstanding removal orders should be aware that the New Jersey District Office has reversed its policy with respect to these cases. Of course, every case is fact and circumstance specific, but in general, it now appears that individuals who initially entered without inspection, have been ordered removed, subsequently left and re-entered the US with advance parole are being deemed ineligible to adjust status before USCIS. The issue hinges on whether USCIS or the Immigration Court has jurisdiction to adjudicate an adjustment of status application filed by someone who has already been ordered removed. In most cases, the removal order is considered executed once a person under that order leaves the United States. Once an individual has a removal order, he/she is generally barred from the US for ten years unless an I-212 is filed and approved. In some cases, individuals who have returned with advance parole have filed I-212s in conjunction with their adjustment of status applications before USCIS. Now, the government's posture is that USCIS does not have jurisdiction over such cases because the individual has not actually departed (in a legal sense) to trigger execution of the removal order. Moreover, if a person with TPS has left the US with advance parole, he/she technically returns to the US in the same immigration status he/she had prior to the departure. So, in other words, if an applicant had initially entered without inspection and left with advance parole, he/she shall be inspected and admitted "in the same immigration status the alien had at the time of departure"-namely, as an individual who has entered without inspection. And unfortunately, in general, unless the individual is eligible under section 245i, applicants who enter without inspection do not qualify to adjust status here in the US.

File Parent Green Card Cases Before October 2019

A recent podcast by our west coast colleague attorney John Khosravi brought up a very insightful point that is worth repeating. As we previously discussed, the new public charge rules go into effect October 15 of this year. The rule is extraordinarily complex and well over several hundred pages. Much of the media attention has focused on the expansion of what types of programs constitute public benefits. There is understandable fear that aspiring immigrants may be deterred from applying for benefits which they desperately need out of fear that their immigration cases will be jeopardized. What has not been emphasized, however, is perhaps even more significant than what additional programs will be considered: namely, the number of factors that an officer may consider when determining whether an individual may be a public charge, and hence, ineligible for permanent residence. These include:

No Birth Certificate for Green Card Case | School Leaving Certificates

For most green card applications, an applicant will ordinarily be required to submit his/his birth certificate. Unfortunately, it is very common for older individuals to not have birth certificates. We see this especially with our Indian clients who were born during times when no official register of births was maintained. In some cases, some applicants may have school leaving certificates or other documents bearing the birth date and parentage information. However, it is important to understand that school leaving certificates, baptismal certificates and the like are not considered primary evidence. In short, one cannot submit a leaving certificate or other document indicating the birth information in lieu of a birth certificate merely because obtaining the birth certificate is inconvenient. If there is a birth certificate, USCIS will expect to see one. The aforementioned alternative documentation is deemed secondary evidence and will not be considered unless a birth certificate is truly unavailable. Should this be the case, an applicant will ordinarily have to submit an official no birth registration letter from their government confirming this. If a no birth registration letter has been obtained, then one may start assembling the alternative secondary evidence of birth. As mentioned previously, this may come in the form of religious records, school records, or even census records. Should none of these records be available, then one may submit at least two affidavits obtained from two different people who have personal knowledge of the birth and parentage of the applicant. While the affiants do not need to be US Citizens, they must nevertheless identify themselves, explain how they know the fact at issue, and certify that the statements are truthful.

Emergency Travel Outside of US While Green Card Case Pending

With few exceptions, leaving the United States while a green card case is pending can be fatal to one's case. In general, departure from the United States without an advance parole document normally results in a denial of the adjustment of status petition. USCIS will determine that the individual has abandoned the application. Moreover, in some cases, if an applicant has overstayed and accrued too much "unlawful presence," he or she may trigger a three or ten-year bar from returning (depending on the length of the unlawful presence). So, in most cases, if an individual foresees that he/she will need to travel outside the US during the pendency of an adjustment of status case, advance parole should be strongly considered.

New Question on DS 260 on Visa Form About Social Media

Applicants for immigrant visas may be surprised to see a new question on the electronic DS 260 application pertaining to social media. As of May 31, 2019, the immigrant visa application (and reportedly the electronic DS 160 nonimmigrant visa application as well) now feature arguably invasive questions requesting information regarding social media platforms used within the last five years. Applicants are requested to list their usernames (or "handles") for the following sites/apps/programs:

Can Drunk Driving in a School Zone Cause Deportation or Immigration Problems?

In New Jersey, driving while intoxicated in a school zone is a very serious offense with particularly severe penalties that go well beyond the typical punishment associated with a regular drunk driving offense. The offense is punished under Title 39:4-50(g), which provides for enhanced penalties when a violation under 39:4-50 occurs:

No I-751 Receipt Notice After Filing

One disturbing trend that we have noticed recently is an inexplicable delay in USCIS issuing I751 notices acknowledging receipt of the application and extending an individual's green card. Ordinarily, a receipt notice is typically issued within four to six weeks after receipt. However, in some cases, it has been more than three months and the applicant still has not received the receipt/extension notice. In some cases, individuals have received the biometrics/fingerprint notice but not the extension notice, an interesting scenario which have led some to posit that USCIS may want to investigate/ascertain an individual's criminal history before issuing the receipt notice. Given the administration's emphasis on enforcement, there may possibly be some validity to this. On the other hand, the delay may arise not so much out of nefarious motives but simple government bureaucracy and inefficiency. In any case, regardless of the reasons, the consequences can be severe, especially for those who have waited to the last second to file or worse, attempt to file out of time. Legally, even if the government has terminated or revoked a conditional resident's status due to failure to file, that individual has a right to appear before the Immigration Court where an Immigration Judge will render a final determination. Practically speaking, however, the absence of a receipt notice can cause a great deal of confusion and havoc. For one thing, the individual has no proof verifying that an application to remove conditions has been filed. Without a receipt notice, the individual is ill equipped to prove that he or she is still legally in status (unless that person has some proof of delivery and is able to secure an I-551 stamp from USCIS). This can lead to a person losing his/her job, driving privileges, as well as inability to travel outside the country-even if an application was in fact filed-because the immigrant has no proof that his/his permanent residence has been extended while the case is being considered. Given all these horrible ramifications, it would be especially prudent for conditional residents to consider filing the I-751 as soon as practicable. For joint I-751s filed by a married couple, this usually means ninety days before the 2nd anniversary of the grant of permanent residence. For those who are eligible to file an I-751 waiver, they may even be able to file earlier. For example, those asking for a waiver of the joint requirement due to abuse may file at anytime and do not need to wait until the ninety days prior to the expiration of the card. The same goes for those who entered into the marriage in good faith that has been subsequently terminated. If an application is filed at the earliest possible stage, there may be enough time to secure the receipt notice (or alternative proof that the case is received and pending) prior to the card expiring.

PROFESSIONAL RECOGNITION

    • Avvo Rating 10.0 | Superb
    • Client Distinction Award martindale.com | 2016 Martindale-Hubbell Client Distinction Award
    • New Jersey State Bar Association | Paris Lee Chair - Immigration Section 2015-2016
    • Nationally Recognized | Newsweek Nationwide Showcase | Top Attorneys 2013
    • New Jersey Chapter | American Immigration Lawyers Association | Angie Garasia | Chapter Chair 2015-2016
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Lee & Garasia, LLC
190 State Route 27
Edison, NJ 08820

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