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If my N-400 Application for Naturalization (U.S. Citizenship) has been denied by USCIS, what should I do now, what can I do now? What chances do I have to still become a U.S. citizen?  What will happen next? Will I be deported? Do I lose my status and my green card?

These are all very common questions that lawful permanent residents ask themselves after they receive a denial letter after an N-400 citizenship interview. Receiving a denial letter from USCIS telling you that you will not become a citizen may be heartbreaking to people who have held a life-long dream to become a U.S. citizen. But an N-400 denial letter is often not the end of the road and there are many options available to people who receive an N-400 denial letter.

The first thing to remember is that you do not only get one opportunity to apply for U.S. citizenship. That’s right, even if you are denied, most of the time, you can reapply; you do not get just one bite at the apple. So depending on why you were denied, you may be able to wait a few days, months or years and apply again.

It has finally happened, USCIS announced that as of Monday, March 8, 2021, Venezuelans in the United States may qualify for Temporary Protected Status, also known as TPS.

WHO WILL QUALIFY FOR VENEZUELAN TPS?

As I thought, here are the TPS requirement for Venezuelans:

It has finally happened, President Biden is set to announce that as of Monday, March 8, 2021, Venezuelans in the United States may qualify for Temporary Protected Status, also known as TPS.

WHO WILL QUALIFY FOR VENEZUELAN TPS?

The exact requirements for Venezuelan TPS have not yet been published (they should be soon), but based upon the TPS law and past TPS announcements, here is what I anticipate will be the TPS requirement for Venezuelans:

On his last full day as President, Donald Trump issued a “Memorandum on Deferred Enforced Departure for Certain Venezuelans.” There is much confusion about what this means for Venezuelan citizens in the United States. USCIS, the agency that handles applications for immigration benefits like Deferred Enforced Departure (DED), has not yet issued guidance or instructions for how to apply for Deferred Enforced Departure. However, other countries and regions have benefited from Deferred Enforced Departure in the past and that can provide guidance for how Venezuelan Deferred Enforced Departure will be rolled out by the Department of Homeland Security.

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Here is what we do know about Venezuelan Deferred Enforced Departure:

  • It will last for at least 18 months and can be renewed;

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Beginning on December 1st, 2020, applicants for naturalization will be required to take an expanded civics test at their naturalization interview.  The current test requires the applicant to answer 6 out of 10 questions correctly to pass.   Applicants study from a list of 100 possible questions.  The new test will require the applicant to answer 12 out of 20 questions correctly.  There will be 128 questions that the applicant will study and USCIS will choose 20 questions out of those 128 possible questions.  The applicant will have two chances to pass the test.  If the applicant does not answer 12 questions correctly at the first interview, they will be rescheduled for an additional interview where they will get one more opportunity to pass the test.  If the applicant does not pass the second time, he or she will have to start the entire naturalization process over by filing a new N-400 form along with new filing fees.


What kind of questions will they ask me during the civics exam at my naturalization interview?


The civics exam is designed to test your knowledge of  U.S. government and history topics.  Here are some of the questions that might be asked:

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USCIS is set to increase their filing fees on immigration benefit cases, beginning on October 2nd, 2020.  This means that anyone who wants to file for an immigration benefit, including a greencard, work permit, naturalization, asylum and more should consider filing their forms before the October 2nd date, or there could be a substantial increase in cost.


What are the new filing fees for a greencard application?


Don’t be fooled by the $10 decrease in filing fee for the I-485 application for a greencard from $1140 to $1130.  The total fees have actually dramatically increased.  The old fee used to include the I-765, which is an application for a work permit while the greencard application is pending.  Because the processing time for the greencard can be so long, currently up to 3 years in our jurisdiction, almost everyone is going to have to file an I-765 to obtain a work permit, which is usually approved within about 6 months.  The new fee for the I-765 is $550.

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There was a national victory yesterday in the ongoing litigation involving DACA – Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.  And while immigrants and immigration attorneys alike cheered the important U.S. Supreme Court decision, the jubilation has been tempered by the revelation of what the decision does and does not actually do for DACA eligible recipients.  So, let’s take an in-depth look at the case, the issues before the Court and the Court’s holding.


What was the actual issue before the Supreme Court?


Under the Obama administration, DACA was expanded and a new form of deferred action called DAPA was announced.  Many states filed for injunctions to prevent the expansion of DACA and the implementation of DAPA.  When the Trump administration came to power, the Attorney General told the Acting Director of Department of Homeland Security that DAPA and DACA were illegal and therefore, she should discontinue DACA.  So, DHS allowed for a renewal for those whose DACA was about to expire, but no new DACA applications would be accepted and no other DACA renewals would be accepted.  Multiple petitioners filed for injunctions claiming that the decision was a violation of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) because it was “arbitrary and capricious.” Various Circuit Courts agreed with the Petitioners and the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear the case.

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Few things have a more dramatic effect on a person’s immigration case than an allegation of False Claim to U.S. citizenship.  A recent Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) decision and resulting policy change by USCIS further ensnare people into this ground of inadmissibility.  Let’s take a look:


What is a False Claim to U.S. Citizenship?


Under §212(a)(6)(C)(ii) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, any person who falsely represents, or has falsely represented himself or herself to be a citizen of the United States for any purpose or benefit under this Act (including section 274A) or any other Federal or State law is inadmissible. Under §237(a)(3)(D)(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, a person who falsely claims to be a United States citizen is deportable.   This often comes up in the context of a non-citizen who registers to vote or checks a box on the I-9 form stating that they are a U.S. citizen in order to get a job or in some other non-immigration related situation where the person is asked for evidence that they are in the United States lawfully.  Then when the person applies for a greencard or naturalization, the the issue comes up.


I’m a Canadian Citizen and have a prior criminal conviction.  How can I obtain a waiver to get into the United States?


Canadian and the United States citizens enjoy relaxed immigration policies when traveling between the two countries.  But those relaxed policies can sometimes cause people to falsely believe that they are not going to be denied admission into the country.  One area where this often happens is when a person has a prior criminal conviction and then tries to enter the United States.  Customs and Border Protection (CBP) may deny admission and tell you that you must apply for a waiver.  So, let’s discuss that process.

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A new Board of Immigration Appeals decision, Matter of J-J-G, 27 I&N Dec. 808 (BIA 2020) has made it more difficult for foreign nationals to obtain Cancellation of Removal.  Cancellation of Removal is a form of relief from deportation where the foreign national, even if he or she entered the United States without any papers, has been in the United States for 10 years or more, has had good moral character for 10 years, has not been convicted of certain crimes, warrants a favorable exercise of discretion, and finally, has a United States citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse, parent or child that would incur exceptional and extremely unusual hardship if the foreign national were deported.  This form of relief is extremely valuable for many people who entered the United States a long time ago without papers.  In fact, if the Immigration Judge grants the cancellation of removal, the foreign national will get a greencard.  So, why did it just become more difficult to get Cancellation of Removal?


How do I get Cancellation of Removal?


Cancellation of removal is a form of relief from deportation only available in Immigration Court.  That means that you can’t apply for it unless you are already in removal (deportation) proceedings.  For many foreign nationals who have no options available to them to apply for affirmatively, cancellation of removal in immigration court can be a godsend. Once you are in Immigration Court, you would apply for Cancellation of Removal by submitting form EOIR-42B and applicable evidence.  The Immigration Judge would schedule your case for an Individual Hearing, which would be like a bench trial before the judge where you would present witnesses and evidence.  Lawful permanent residents would submit Form EOIR-42A and applicable evidence.  Lawful permanent residents do not have to establish that their removal would result in Exceptional and extremely unusual hardship, so this blog and the J-J-G case applies only to nonpermanent residents.

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