Same-Sex Spouses to Receive Federal Benefits

According to, “same-sex marriage is legal in 13 states and the District of Columbia. In these states, LGBT couples enjoy the same state employee benefits as heterosexual couples. Until recently, however, they lacked equal access to federal employment benefits. This all changed in June 2013, when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Sec. 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which had defined marriage as exclusively between a man and a woman. Now, in states that recognize same-sex marriage, spouses are entitled to federal employment benefits as well…When a couple is married and resides in a state that recognizes same-sex marriage, extension of federal employment benefits to same-sex couples will be fairly straightforward. When the couple is not married and resides in a state that does not recognize same-sex marriage, state law preempts federal law and the same-sex spouse will not be eligible for federal employment benefits.”

To read more, click here.

USCIS Approves 10,000 U Visas

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has approved the statutory maximum 10,000 petitions for U nonimmigrant status (U visas) for fiscal year 2013. This marks the fourth straight year that USCIS has reached the statutory maximum since it began issuing U visas in 2008.

Each year, 10,000 U visas are available for victims of crime who have suffered substantial mental or physical abuse and are willing to help law enforcement authorities investigate or prosecute those crimes. A U-visa petition requires certification of assistance from law enforcement.

The U-visa program was created by Congress to strengthen the law enforcement community’s ability to investigate and prosecute cases of domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking, and other crimes while also offering protection to victims. More than 76,000 victims and their family members have received U visas since the program was implemented.

USCIS will continue to accept U-visa petitions and process them in the order in which they are received. USCIS will resume issuing U visas on Oct. 1, 2013, the first day of fiscal year 2014 and is when visas will be available again.

TPS – Syria

In light of the conditions in Syria, we would like to reiterate the re-designation of Temporary Protected Status for Syrian nationals. A Syrian national, or an individual having no nationality who last habitually resided in Syria, may be eligible for TPS under the re-designation if he or she has continuously resided in the United States since June 17, 2013 and has been continuously physically present in the United States since Oct. 1, 2013. In addition to the continuous residence date requirement, applicants must meet all other TPS eligibility and filing requirements.

To learn more, contact Agarwal Law Offices at 978-905-9992.

How-To Series: Family-Based Greencard (outside US)

  • Assembling the I-130 Package:
    a. Applicable Fees
    b. Cover Letter including description of what petitioning
    c. Form I-130
    d. Copy of full birth certificate for USC or all pages of USC passport
    e. Copy of petitioner’s proof of naturalization (if applicable)
    f. Copy of petitioner’s proof of permanent residency (if applicable)
    g. Marriage Certificate (if applicable)** and/or legal termination documents/prior spouse’s death certificate
    h. G-325A filled out by both parties, signed and dated
    i. Two passport-type photos of both parties.
    j. Evidence of a bonafide marriage if applicable

  • Mail the I-130 Package to the USCIS; Note the PO Box address for your filing type: stand alone. Mail the package with return receipt requested delivery confirmation. Send via USPS.
  • When your I-130 petition is finally approved, the service center that processed your petition will send you a Notice of Action letter indicating your approval, and the forwarding of your approved petition to the National Visa Processing Center, along with a phone number to contact the NVC with. Here you will pay the appropriate fees to the National Visa Center and retain a copy of the receipt for your records. Your case will now only be dealt with by the NVC. The service center that you filed with will have no more knowledge on the status of your petition or case.
  • A few weeks after you have received your last Notice of Action indicating the approval and forwarding of your I-130 application to the NVC, the NVC will send your relative a packet of forms that you and your relative must fill out before your relative can be given an interview date with a consulate abroad. An I-864 form is included that must be filled out by the petitioner (living in the US). The I-864 is the Affidavit of Support form that requires copies of the petitioners past 3 U.S tax returns (or tax transcripts which are free from the IRS) as well as any bank or financial records available.
  • After the NVC or Consulate Abroad receives the above forms and supporting documents (which may not all be required to mail back at that time), an interview date will be scheduled for the intending immigrant at a consulate abroad.
  • The interview can last for as little as 10 minutes or up to an hour depending upon your specific case. You relative will take an oath under US law to tell the truth, and it is very important that your relative answer every question as truthfully as possible.

Visa Bulletin for September 2013

The updated bulletin summarizes the availability of immigrant numbers during September. Consular officers are required to report to the Department of State documentarily qualified applicants for numerically limited visas; U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in the Department of Homeland Security reports applicants for adjustment of status.

The Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs publishes the monthly Visa Bulletin on their website at under the Visas section. Alternatively, visitors may access the Visa Bulletin directly by going to:

To view the current bulletin, refer to the Department of State here.