Reminder: Updated Form I485

USCIS recently released an updated Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. There will be a 60-day grace period during which USCIS will accept both the 01/17/17 and 06/26/17 editions of Form I-485. Beginning Aug. 25, USCIS will only accept the revised Form.

What’s New? USCIS improved Form I-485 to include:

Better flow and organization of questions to make it user-friendly for both the applicants and USCIS. In addition, readability has significantly improved due to new spacing, columns, flow, white space, and formatting.

The questions about biographic information (Form G-325A) so applicants will no longer need to file a separate form;

A list of 27 immigrant categories, which allows applicants to identify the specific immigrant category under which they are applying; and

A comprehensive, updated list of admissibility-related questions. The added questions to ensure USCIS officers have the necessary information to better assess the applicant’s admissibility and eligibility.

CBP ESTA Info

For travelers entering the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program, refer to the following CBP Guidance re: ESTA: 

ESTA is an automated system that determines the eligibility of visitors to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). Authorization via ESTA does not determine whether a traveler is admissible to the United States. U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers determine admissibility upon travelers’ arrival. The ESTA application collects biographic information and answers to VWP eligibility questions. ESTA applications may be submitted at any time prior to travel, though it is recommended that travelers apply as soon as they begin preparing travel plans or prior to purchasing airline tickets.
IMPORTANT NOTICES!

​e-Passport symbol and passport​As of April 1, 2016, you must have an e-passport to use the VWP. An e-Passport is an enhanced secure passport with an embedded electronic chip. You can readily identify an e-Passport, because it has a unique international symbol on the cover.

The Benefits of US Citizenship

This guide is for eligible green card holders that are considering applying for citizenship. 

Eligibility of U.S. Citizenship

Permanent residents may apply for citizenship upon being a permanent resident for 5 years, or upon being a permanent resident for 3 years if they have been married to a U.S. citizen spouse for at least 3 years.

Benefits of U.S. Citizenship
Voting: Only U.S. citizens can vote in Federal elections. Most States also restrict the right to vote to U.S. citizens.

Petitioning for Family: Citizens generally get priority when petitioning to bring family members permanently to this country.

Traveling with a U.S. passport: A U.S. passport allows you to get assistance from the U.S. government when outside the United States.

Working as a Federal employee: Most jobs with government agencies require U.S. citizenship.

Becoming an elected official: Many elected offices in this country require U.S. citizenship.

Responsibilities of U.S. Citizenship

To become a U.S. citizen you must take the Oath of Allegiance, which includes the following promises:

Give up all prior allegiance to any other nation or sovereignty;

Swear allegiance to the United States;

Support and defend the Constitution and the laws of the United States; and

Serve the country when required.

Tips for Completing Immigration Forms 

The U.S. immigration system can be overwhelming to navigate and understand due to the sheer complexity of the field. To assist with this, Agarwal Law Offices has compiled a list of important tips to keep in mind when completing immigration forms.
Read the Instructions

Every USCIS form has a corresponding instruction manual. Be sure to read this entire manual before beginning the application process as it will give you a general overview of what to expect.

Use the Correct Form

Depending on the benefit you are attempting to acquire, it is most important to use the appropriate form and all supplemental forms. Be sure that these are the most updated versions of the forms as USCIS releases new forms often.

Complete All Sections

Do not leave any part of the application blank. If the answer doesn’t apply to you, simply indicate N/A or “Not Applicable.” This will ensure that USCIS does not return your application for failure to complete the application properly.

Do Not Forget to Sign

It appears like an obvious item, but too often people forget to sign their forms where indicated. Be sure to use black ink and sign and date all forms where requested.

Send the Appropriate Fee

Check the appropriate fees as these often change. Further, if applicable to your case, ensure that the base fee and any biometric fee are properly added. Make sure the check is written out to “U.S. Department of Homeland Security.”

Make a Copy

Do not send your application without a copy for your records — whether by scan or physical copy. This will ensure that you are aware of what you submitted when it comes time for review and interview of your case.

Contact USCIS or Schedule an Infopass Appointment

If you have any questions, USCIS customer service is available to assist or you can schedule an Infopass appointment at your local USCIS service center to speak with an officer in person.

For more information, contact ALO at 978-905-9992.

Summer Travel Tips

With the onset of summer and travel, this guide should provide some helpful tips for travelers.

1. Ensure updated travel documents

Before you travel, ensure that your passport, and green card and travel permit (if applicable) are valid and unexpired for at least three months prior to travel.

2. Ensure there are no bans of any sort prior to travel

The US government has issued an electronics ban from several countries in the Middle East flying into and out of certain airports. Before departing the US, confirm that you are not traveling through these destinations and if so, comply with the ban (i.e. All electronic devices larger than a cell phone must be checked into the cargo rather than being in carry on luggage).

3. Check with the Department of State for any travel warnings

Be aware of any Travel Warnings or Travel Alerts for your destination country, which describe risks to you and may affect your travel plans. Also check the website of the U.S. embassy or consulate where you will be traveling for the latest security messages.

4. Acquire a visa to enter your destination

Much like US immigration law, foreign countries have visa requirements for travel. Check with the foreign embassy in the US for more information about applying for and acquiring the visa.

5. Bring medical documentation if applicable

Many countries have strict rules on carrying medicine into their country. For any prescription medicine, obtain your doctors prescription.

6. Make copies of foreign travel documents

Ensure you have at least two copies of all entry and biographical documents – one with you and each travel companion and the other with a trusted person in the US in case of any issues that occur during travel.

Self-Petitoning I360 Guidance 

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) allows spouses and children of United States citizens or lawful permanent residents to self-petition for permanent resident status, without the abuser’s help or knowledge.

To self-petition for permanent residency under VAWA, an individual must:

Show that s/he lived with a United States citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse;

Show that s/he was battered or subjected to extreme cruelty during the marriage;

Show that s/he entered the marriage in good faith;

Show s/he is otherwise qualified for admission; and

Show that s/he has good moral character.

For more information about these services, please schedule a consultation at 978-905- 9992.

Office Expanding to 2nd Location in Framingham MA

Agarwal Law Offices is very excited to announce the opening of a second location in Framingham, Massachusetts beginning September 1, 2017.

The official address is: 945 Concord Street, Framingham, MA 01701. We will continue to maintain the Andover, MA location at 3 Dundee Park. This expansion will allow Attorney Agarwal to meet and work with clients from Essex and Middlesex Counties. Similar to our convenient Andover office, located directly behind the Commuter Rail Station, the Framingham location is minutes from Route 128 and Interstate 495, and offers optimum access to metropolitan Boston via the Massachusetts Turnpike.

The expansion of Agarwal Law Offices comes after an assessment of the need for quality immigration service providers in the Metro-West region of Massachusetts. Through extensive experience and positive results, Attorney Agarwal is best suited for the needs of this rich population of immigrants. In addition, we hope to provide added convenience to our existing clients who prefer one location over another, as we constantly strive to accommodate our clients. Check back for office hours at each location soon. We look forward to serving the community and hope to see you soon!

Happy 4th of July!

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will celebrate the 241st anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, by welcoming 15,000 new U.S. citizens during more than 65 Independence Day naturalization ceremonies across the country this year.

July Fourth marks the birth of our country, and for 15,000 people, it marks the birth of a new chapter as American citizens,” USCIS Acting Director James McCament said. “These new members of our community will add to the diverse fabric of our nation and will now be able to enjoy the rights, privileges, and responsibilities of U.S. citizenship.”
USCIS’ Independence Day activities this year will feature a naturalization ceremony at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, Louisiana, on July 3. During this event, McCament will administer the Oath of Allegiance and deliver congratulatory remarks to 49 new Americans. Follow us on Facebook to view a live stream of this ceremony.                                                                                                                                      

To view a complete list of 2017 Independence Day-themed naturalization ceremonies, please visit uscis.gov/news.

DOS Statement on Trump Travel Ban Implementation

On June 26, 2017, the United States Supreme Court issued an order agreeing to hear the Administration’s appeals of the two adverse rulings by Federal Appeals Courts and partially granting the government’s request to stay the lower courts’ injunctions. As of June 29, 2017, the Department of State will begin implementing the Executive Order at embassies and consulates abroad.

Per DOS:

We do not plan to cancel previously scheduled visa application appointments. In accordance with all applicable court orders, for nationals of the six designated countries, a consular officer will make a determination in the course of the interview whether an applicant otherwise eligible for a visa is exempt from the E.O. or, if not, is eligible for a waiver under the E.O., and may be issued a visa.

The E.O. provides specifically that no visas issued before its effective date will be revoked pursuant to the Executive Order, and the E.O. does not apply to nationals of affected countries who have valid visas on June 29, 2017. 

The E.O. further instructs that any individual whose visa was marked revoked or cancelled solely as a result of the original E.O. issued on January 27, 2017 (E.O. 13769) will be entitled to a travel document permitting travel to the United States, so that the individual may seek entry. Any individual in this situation who seeks to travel to the United States should contact the closest U.S. embassy or consulate to request a travel document. 

USCIS Case Status Info

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security allows those who have applied for an immigration benefit to check the status of their case online.
If you have applied or petitioned for an immigration benefit, you can check the status of your case online. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) My Case Status webpage allows you to see how far along your case is in the application process. My Case Status is available in Spanish as well.