Archives for January 2009

SENATE PASSES BILL PROVIDING HEALTH COVERAGE FOR IMMIGRANT KIDS


The House passed this even before the President was sworn in. The bill now brings in a large number of legal immigrant children in to the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Pro-immigrant groups are applauding the measure. From a press release from the National Conference of La Raza:



Legal immigrant children in the U.S. are today one step closer to accessing critical health care services. The Senate approved the “Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act,” (SCHIP) a bill that will provide more health insurance opportunities for approximately four million children in the U.S. and includes legal immigrant children and pregnant women in the scope of its coverage. The National Council of La Raza (NCLR), the largest Latino civil rights and advocacy organization in the U.S., fought to end a five-year waiting period for legal immigrant children and pregnant women that has shut hundreds of thousands out of Medicaid and SCHIP for a decade. The bill was passed by a vote of 66-32. The bill’s passage affirms President Barack Obama’s recent actions and statements supporting healthcare for every child in the U.S.

“Including legal immigrant children in the reauthorization of SCHIP affirms American values. America is not a country that chooses which children get health coverage and which do not,” said Janet Murguía, NCLR President and CEO. “Latino children continue to be the most uninsured ethnic group in the country. Yesterday’s vote provides a strong signal that the new Congress is committed to addressing the issues that affect the Latino community.”

Murguía also lauded the leadership of several Senators who helped advance the legislation in spite of receiving public criticism for their support of the bill. “We are glad that Congress chose not to play games with the health care of America’s children. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D–NV) and Assistant Majority Leader Richard Durbin (D-IL), and Senators Jay Rockefeller (D–WV), Olympia Snowe (R–ME), and Robert Menendez (D–NJ) should be especially commended for their sustained efforts in the fight to achieve healthcare for our littlest ones,” noted Murguía.

If you have any questions about an immigraton matter, the Law Office of Robert F. Mirque, Jr. has 18 years of experience you can trust. Please call my office at 616-233-9300 or email me at rfmirque@mirquelaw.com 

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Why Do I Need an Immigration Lawyer?

An attorney is trained in understanding and applying laws and regulations. Immigration and nationality laws, regulations, and administrative procedures are extremely complex. Congress and the different federal and state agencies, such as the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, Department of State and Department of Labor are continually enacting and amending regulations and administrative procedures that have far reaching immigration consequences. An immigration attorney will be aware of new and amended laws, regulations, and administrative procedures, thus affording a client the best possible results with his particular case.

Even with today’s technology and access to voluminous legal and other resources via the worldwide web, one can become confused and entangled with the information and data presented requiring clarification and guidance. An experienced immigration attorney can evaluate and determine the best course of action for obtaining an immigrant or nonimmigrant visa. 

The Law Office of Robert F. Mirque, Jr. has over 18 years of experience helping people with immigration matters. If you have an immigration issue and you want legal assistance, please call me at (616) 233-9300 to schedule a free, no obligation appointment or email me at rfmirque@mirquelaw.com

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A Quick Lesson on K Visas

American Citizens wishing to bring their foreign spouses to reside within the United States can do it through an Immigrant Visa for a Spouse of a U.S. Citizen (IR-1 or CR-1) or a Non-Immigrant Visa for a Spouse (K-3). Similarly, U.S. citizens can bring their foreign fiancé(e)s to the country to live and get married through a Non-Immigrant Visa for a Foreign Fiancé(e) (K-1).


K1 / K-1 VISA: Non-Immigrant Visa for a Foreign Fiancé(e)


American citizens wishing to bring their foreign fiancé(e)s to get married and to live in the United States must file an (I-129F) Petition for Alien fiancé(e) in the United States. The I-129F petition must be filed with the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services at the USCIS Immigration Field Office in the area of residence. This petition cannot be filed at an embassy, consulate, or U.S. Immigration Office abroad.


IR-1 or CR-1 Visa:
Immigrant Visa for a Spouse of a U.S. Citizen


American citizens can obtain immigrant visas for their spouses by filing a Petition for a Relative Alien (Form I-130) with the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services within the United States at the USCIS Immigration Field Office in the area of residence. Because the petitioner must fill an affidavit of support (Form I-864) that is required for all (IR1) immigration cases, the applicant must have a residence within the U.S. before an immigrant visa can be issued to the spouse.


K3 / K-3 Visa: Non-Immigrant Visa for a Spouse


Spouses of U.S. Citizens, along with the spouse’s children, are eligible to enter the United States and remain in the country to complete their immigration process on non-immigrant visas (K-3 and K-4). K-4 visas are issued to a child only after the parent has obtained a K-3 visa or is in K-3 status. The application for a non-immigrant visa for spouse (K-3) must be filed in the country where the marriage took place, because it is there that the visa must be issued. After the spouse has completed the visa process and obtained the visa, the spouse is able to travel to the U.S. to wait for the immigrant visa case to be processed. This process requires two petitions:


  • Petition for Alien Relative, Form 1-130
  • Petition for Alien Fiancé(e), Form I-129F

    If you have a question about a K visa or any other question regarding an immigration issue, call my office at 616-233-9300 or email me at rfmirque@mirquelaw.com

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    Common Questions Regarding the Marriage Based Adjustment of Status

    When a couple comes to my office, I have tried to cover most of the key issues they will face when applying for the marriage based green card. But with a topic as involved and ever changing as this one, there are always questions that couples forget to ask while in my office. I have compiled a list of the most common questions that couples ask me when attempting to file the Marriage based Green Application in the United States. I hope the following Questions and Answers will make your journey through this process a little less confusing.

    1. How soon can an applicant that entered the US as a tourist or under the Visa Waiver Program marry a US Citizen? Could they apply for the Green Card while in the United States?


    Answer: A US citizen can marry a tourist or VW visitor and apply for the Green Card from within the US. It is better to marry at least 60 days after entry to lift the presumption that the immigrant entered the US in order to get married.


    2. How soon after marriage can the US Citizen petition and file the immigration paperwork for the immigrant spouse?


    Answer: There is no waiting period that must pass before the immigration petition can be filed. Make sure to have the certified Marriage Certificate registered with the county before you can file.


    3. How long will it take to get the work permit after filing the case? How long will it take to get to the final interview after filing?


    Answer: Currently it takes 90 days after filing the Marriage based Green Application for the Government to issue the work permit. In some cases the final interview is scheduled even before the Work permit can be issued. In this case, if there is an approval at the interview, there will be no need for the work permit at that time. In most cases though, interviews are scheduled, 5 months or so after filing.


    4. What if there is a mistake in your name or date of birth on the Green Card?


    Answer: If there is a mistake on your new Green Card you must take steps to correct it immediately. If you fail to do so, you will not be able to receive your social security number and any other documents as a result. You must file form I-90 (get it from USCIS.GOV website) with USCIS. Make sure to Check box d in part 2.2 of the application. There is NO FEE to pay as it was not your fault. You will need to mail the original card to the following address:


    National Benefits Center
    Attn: I-551 Corrections
    705B SE Melody Lane, Box 2000
    Lee’s Summit, MO 64063


    5. How do you know what taxes to file now that you are a Green Card holder?


    Answer: The Internal Revenue Service has several publications you can obtain from a local IRS office or download from www.irs.gov 

    Publication 519…..US Tax Guide for Aliens 
    Publication 514…..Foreign Tax Credit for Individuals 
    Publication 501…..Exemptions, Standard Deduction, and Filing Information 
    Publication 54…….Tax Guide for US Citizens and Resident Aliens Abroad

    6. How long does a person need to wait after getting the Conditional Green Card before Applying for US Citizenship?


    Answer: If the Immigrant is still married to the US Citizen and living together 3 years after getting the Conditional Green, they may apply for Citizenship. If the couple is no longer married and living together, the immigrant must wait 5 years after getting the Conditional Green in order to apply.

    If you have questions about marriage-based adjustment of status or questions involving any immigration issue, please call my office at (616) 233-9300 or email me at rfmirque@mirquelaw.com

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    FY 2009 H-2B Cap Reached on January 7, 2009

    U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on January 7, 2009 that it has received a sufficient number of petitions to reach the congressionally mandated H-2B cap for the second half of Fiscal Year 2009. The USCIS notified the public that January 7, 2009 was the “final receipt date” for new H-2B worker petitions requesting employment start dates prior to October 1, 2009. The “final receipt date” is the date on which the USCIS determines that it has received enough cap-subject petitions to reach the limit of 33,000 H-2B workers for the second half of FY 2009.

    As such, the USCIS will reject petitions for new H-2B workers seeking employment start dates prior to October 1, 2009 that arrive after January 7, 2009.

    If deemed necessary, the USCIS may apply a computer-generated random selection process to all petitions that are subject to the cap an received on January 7, 2009 in order to select the number of petitions needed to meet the cap. The USCIS will reject, and return the fee, for all cap-subject petitions not randomly selected.

    Petitions for workers who are currently in H-2B status do not count towards the congressionally mandated bi-annual H-2B cap. The USCIS will continue to process petitions filed to:



    • Extend the stay of current H-2B workers in the United States;
    • Change the terms of employment for current H-2B workers and extend their stay; or
    • Allow current H-2B workers to change or add employers and extend their stay.

    If you have questions about the H-2B work program or questions about any other immigration-related matter, call me at 616-233-9300 or email me at rfmirque@mirquelaw.com

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    Extending B-1 and B-2 Visas.

    Frequently, holders of B-1 and B-2 visitor visas ask my assistance in requesting extensions of their visas, usually for an extra six months. Often, however, it takes the USCIS at least that long to make a decision on the application (the I-539), leaving the applicant wondering whether he or she must depart the U.S. so as not to incur any period of unlawful presence.


    The Vermont Service Center has now issued some guidance on this very issue. It has stated that it will adjudicate an approvable extension application to the date of approval, plus one day, where the adjudication takes place after the requested extension date has been reached – but only if the requested date was for a period of no more than 6 months.


    Unfortunately, even this assurance still exposes an applicant to being unlawfully present.


    To be absolutely safe, a B-1 B-2 extension applicant should depart the United States prior to adjudication on the extension application. Alternatively, the applicant should file a second I-539 and include a copy of the receipt notice of the first, still-pending extension application. If the applicant files for this 2nd extension, he or she should also provide a good explanation as to why they will not be able to depart within the original time requested and they should provide written documentation to support their claim.

    If you have any questions about your B-1 or B-2 Visa or a question about some other immigraton matter, call my office at 616-233-9300 or email me at rfmirque@mirquelaw.com 

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    USCIS HIRES ADDITIONAL WORKERS TO SPEED UP PROCESSING TIMES

    In an effort to tackle an increasing backlog in citizenship applications, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently began a dramatic hiring increase of USCIS personnel. Data indicate that these measures have already significantly alleviated the backlog of citizenship applications that have overwhelmed the agency. In 2007, it was estimated that the USCIS, which is a part of the Department of Homeland Security, took an average of 18 months to process applications. Current processing times, however, are much lower with an average time of nine to 10 months. Within the past 2 years, the USCIS hired over 2,000 new employees, and designated over half to evaluate and process citizenship applications. The USCIS completed an estimated 1.1 million citizenship applications in 2008, over 400,000 more applications than last year. While this marks a considerable improvement, immigration experts remark that the USCIS still has many improvements to make such as continuing to reduce the amount of time citizenship applications remain pending. Reportedly, over 100,000 applications have been pending for over two years.

    If you have questions about an immigration matter, call the Law Office of Robert F. Mirque, Jr. at 616-233-9300.

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    USCIS Revises Direct Mail Program for the Application for Naturalization

    The USCIS announced recently that it is revising the Direct Mail Program for the Application for Naturalization (Form N-400). The revision is effective January 22, 2009. The notice advises the public to file non-military N-400’s with the appropriate Lockbox and provides a 30-day transition period after the effective date for the USCIS service centers to forward N-400 applications to the appropriate Lockbox location.

    Therefore, effective January 22, 2009, for anyone residing in Michigan, you should mail your N-400 application to:

    USCIS Lockbox Facility
    US Citizenship and Immigration Services
    PO Box 21251
    Phoenix, AZ  85036

    If you are mailing your N-400 by courier or express mail:

    USCIS, Attn: N-400
    1820 Skyharbor Circle S.  Floor 1
    Phoenix, AZ  85036

    Military applicants should continue to file their N-400 cases with the Nebraska Service Center. The Nebraska Service Center will also accept and process N-400’s filed by spouses of military members.

    If you have questions about applying for naturalization or any question regarding immigration, call me at 616-233-9300 or email me at rfmirque@mirquelaw.com

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