Sharlene Sharmila Richards

Sharlene Sharmila Richards

Q: What is USCIS, ICE and CBP?
A: USCIS, ICE and CBP are three different agencies under the Department of Homeland Security. USCIS or United States Citizenship and Immigration Services is the Government agency that oversees lawful immigration to the United States by granting immigration and citizenship benefits. You will deal with USCIS if you file an application seeking immigration benefits. ICE or Immigration and Customs Enforcement enforces federal laws relating to border control, customs, trade and immigration such as those related to the apprehension, detention and removal of illegal and removable aliens. You will most likely deal with ICE if you are in the United States and you have violated U.S. immigration laws which could result in your removal from the United States. Lastly, CBP or Customs and Border Protection is an enforcement agency that is charged with facilitating lawful international travel and trade and protecting the United States border security. You will most likely deal with CBP at the United States port of entry after foreign travel.
Q: How do I obtain the necessary forms to request for an immigration benefit such as to become a US Citizen?
A: You can obtain the forms online at USCIS’s website at www.uscis.gov under “Forms” or you may call USCIS’s National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283 to request for the forms to be mailed to you.
Q: My immigration case has been pending for almost one year. How do I obtain information about the status of my case?
A: You can first go online to USCIS’s website at www.uscis.gov and click on the link for “Check Your Case Status” and enter your receipt number. If the information merely says that the case is still currently being processed, then move to the next online information tool which provides USCIS’ current processing times for that type of case. In order to do this, you will need to scroll down the page and click on the box which says USCIS Processing Times. This will take you to USCIS’s processing times schedule and you will need to select the correct location where your application is currently located. For this information, look at the bottom of your filing receipt and it will indicate where you case is being processed. Select the correct processing location for your case and you will see a chart which provides all the current processing times for each type of case. If your case appears to be outside normal processing time, you may then go back to the Related Tools page and select “Submit a Case Inquiry” to report a problem with your case. The other way is to call USCIS at their National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283 to check if there there is a problem with your case and if your case if outside normal processing time, USCIS will submit a service request for you and will provide you with an update on the status of the case by mail within 30 days.
Q: I have done the USCIS referral for my case and the updates just say my case is still processing. What else can I do to speed up the process?
A: If it is not a priority date issue which is causing the delay in the approval of your case, you may want to do an Infopass appointment to see an immigration officer at the field office to try to find out more information about your case. You will have to go online to www.uscis.gov and click on the Infopass link to make the appointment.
Q: I received my biometrics appointment notice to go for biometrics in two weeks. I have to travel overseas in three days and cannot attend the appointment. What should I do?
A: I advise that you go for the biometrics before you depart from the US and inform them that you need to provide your biometrics early because you have to travel overseas. Take your flight information with you as verification that you have a flight to catch and will be gone overseas.
Q: My father received her Biometrics Notice for biometrics appointment. She fractured her hip and is unable to attend the biometrics appointment. What should she do now?
A: In the Biometrics appointment notice, there is a section which says that if you need to reschedule the appointment, you may write in to request to reschedule. Please follow the instructions on the letter and write to request for the biometrics to be rescheduled.
Q: I petitioned for my mother for permanent residence. She has been scheduled for an interview for her permanent residence. How would they handle the interview if she cannot speak English?
A: Usually for such interviews, USCIS will permit the relative petitioner who is present to translate the questions and answers. However, if USCIS requires sworn statements from an applicant who does not speak English, USCIS will normally provide their own interpreter to assist in getting such testimony from the applicant.
My Bio
Sharlene Sharmila Richards is a licensed Immigration Lawyer practicing in Houston, Texas. She is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. She was admitted to the New York State Bar in 2000 and is a member of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals and a member of the US Supreme Court. If you require advice or assistance, you may contact her at telephone number 713-623-8088 or by email at srichardslaw@aol.com to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.
Disclaimer: Any advice provided in this article is general in nature and not intended to constitute legal advice for any specific case. Please consult with an immigration lawyer about the specific circumstances of your case.

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