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New Rule on Notices From USCIS

January 29, 2015

New Rule on Notices From USCIS  effective 01/27/2015

Author: New York Immigration attorney Alena Shautsova

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services  published its new rule on notices USCIS issues to applicants and petitions.  Notices are extremely important: they confirm the receipt of an application or petition; valid status in the US or a date for an interview. Currently, the notices are sent  to an applicant or petitioner and a copy is sent to an attorney of record.  USCIS now clarifies its rules in that:

” First, USCIS will clarify that it will send notices only to the applicant or petitioner when the applicant or petitioner is unrepresented. See new 8 CFR 103.2(b)(19)(i). Second, if USCIS has been properly notified that the person or entity filing the benefit request is represented by an attorney or accredited representative recognized by the Department of Justice, Board of Immigration Appeals, USCIS will send notices to the applicant or petitioner who filed the benefit request and to their attorney or accredited representative of record. See new 8 CFR 103.2(b)(19)(ii)(A). Third, if provided for in the applicable form, form instructions, or regulations for a specific benefit request, an applicant or petitioner may request that USCIS send original notices and documents only to the official business address of their attorney or accredited representative, as reflected on a properly executed Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Accredited Representative, with a courtesy copy being sent to the applicant or petitioner for their records.”

Finally, in case of electronic applications, the person has options: the notices may be sent electronically to both the applicant and the attorney or via mail.

Most importunately, the official documents such as EAD (work authorization card) or permanent resident card currently are being sent to the applicants only unless the applicant or self-petitioner designates  their attorney’s official address as the delivery address.

These rules of notice delivery may seem trivial, however when a notice is not delivered it causes delays, denials and frustration. For more information see





Mexican Consulate to Issue Copies of Birth Certificates

January 16, 2015


Mexican Consulate to Issue Copies of Birth Certificates

Author: New York Immigration Attorney Alena Shautsova


The Mexican government announced that starting today, Mexican consulates in the U.S. will issue copies of birth certificates registered in Mexico. To obtain certified copies, Mexican nationals should visit the nearest consulate, present an official proof of identity, fill out an application and pay a fee of $13 per certified copy, and, if they have it, provide their Clave Única de Registro de Población (CURP). This new initiative should be very helpful to thousands of immigrants with valid DACA and DAPA claims. 


A partir del 15 de Enero de este año las Embajadas y los Consulados de México podrán emitir copias certificadas de actas de nacimiento generadas en territorio nacional, en beneficio de todos los mexicanos en el exterior.

Esta medida se da en el marco de las acciones anunciadas por el Presidente Enrique Peña Nieto el pasado 5 de enero, con el objetivo de facilitar a los mexicanos la obtención de sus actas de nacimiento generadas en territorio nacional en cualquier oficialía de registro civil en el país y en las Representaciones de México en el Exterior.

En este sentido, el Consulado General de México en Nueva York convocó a líderes comunitarios mexicanos y medios de comunicación al lanzamiento del programa “Actúa y ven por tu acta”, encabezado por la Embajadora Sandra Fuentes Berain, Cónsul General, quien además dio hizo entrega de la primera copia certificada de Acta de Nacimiento.

Para obtener sus copias certificadas, los mexicanos deberán presentarse en una oficina consular, portar una identificación oficial que acredite que es el titular del acta de nacimiento, proporcionar su Clave Única de Registro de Población (si cuenta con ella), llenar una solicitud y cubrir el pago de derechos correspondientes ($13 dólares por acta).

El gobierno de México invita a todos los mexicanos residentes en el exterior que lo requieran a beneficiarse de este servicio y acudir al Consulado para obtener una copia certificada de su acta.

En caso de que solicite mayor información, comuníquese al Departamento de Prensa del Consulado General de México en Nueva York:


Contacto de Prensa:

Gerardo Izzo;; (212) 217 6471

Gabriela Rodriguez,; (212) 217 6470

Laura Celaya;; (212) 217 6470

New York City Municipal Identification Card

January 13, 2015

New York City Municipal Identification Card

Author: New York Immigration lawyer Alena Shautsova

New York City is ready to issue municipal Ids to all its residents, regardless of Immigration status.

While the NYC ID card will unlikely to pass the test for Real ID act, its benefits include access to NYC social programs and services. In addition, the card can be used for identification purposes in order to gain access to the City   buildings.

The NYC Id comes with one year free membership at selected museums.

One may read about it at



January 6, 2015


Author: New York Immigration Lawyer Alena Shautsova

The US government announced re-registration of the Temporary Protected Status for the nationals of Syria. In addition, the previously designated TPS has been extended for another 18 months.

It means that newly arrived Syrians can now apply for TPS for the first time, and those who already hold the status, need to apply to renew it.

Please visit official Immigration website for details: .

I- 9 and E Verify : What Employer Needs to Know

December 29, 2014

I- 9  and E Verify : What Employer Needs to Know

Author: New York Immigration Attorney Alena Shautsova

I-9 form is one of the form used by the US government to verify employment eligibility of a worker. An employer regardless of size must have I-9 forms for each employee. The form has been in use since 1986. For many, an I -9 audit comes as a surprise: employers  claim they have never heard of such a form at all! However, this is a perfect example of ignorance not serving as an excuse..

I-9 form must be filled out for every worker: part I must be filled out no later than the first day of work by the employee and part II no later than the 3rd business day of hire of a new worker.

It is very important that an employer CANNOT ask form an employee to present a particular form of employment eligibility verification. However, an employer can and should point out to the list of documents as per form I-9 from which an employee can choose what forms / documents he/she can wishes to present.  An employer who asks for  a particular proof, can be charged with discrimination and subjected to severe penalties.

Further, once I-9 form is filled out, it should be kept by the employer during the time the employee is working and after he/she stops the work as well. If you are an employer, you must retain the I-9 for 3 years after the date employment begins or 1 year after the date the person’s employment is terminated, whichever is later. 

E-verify is based on I-9 form but is an electronic system that compares the information an employer provides with the Federal databases. E- verify is different from I-9 as it asks for different information and is processed differently. Not every employer has to use E-verify. Most employers have a choice if to use E- verify.

Department  of Homeland Security checks the I-9 forms compliance.  For more information on I-9 forms and I-9 audit, visit


Glitches in USCIS System

December 4, 2014

Glitches in USCIS System

Author: New York Immigration Lawyer

USCIS stands for the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services and is a government body that accepts and processes all petitions and applications related to any and all immigration benefits.

The process of communication with USCIS boils down to exchange of papers and on rare occasions, includes phone calls and infopass appointments.

That is why it is very important to submit correctly filled out forms; timely respond  to request of more evidence and organize the papers in the most convenient way for the adjudicator.

In cases that do not require an interview, the petitioner or applicant will never meet the person who makes a decision on his/her case. However, often, an applicant or an attorney would receive correspondence from the adjudicator: request for more evidence; notice of intend to deny, etc. Often such notices are mere duplicates of the instructions for the form submitted; sometimes a person gets a notice twice; or receives something that does not make a sense at all.

Recently, USCIS revealed that some of such notices are sent automatically due to the “glitches” in their system.  For the past year, the glitches are to blame for RFEs for I 864 affidavit of support form; double notices for fingerprint appointments and receipts of filing with the RFE in it (this one is a hybrid, a new “monster”  created by glitches).

The unfortunate thing is that an attorney or petitioner/applicant still has to address these babies of the glitches even if they do not make any sense, because, if for example, an attorney fails to respond to an RFE, the case almost surely will be denied on the basis of failure to response to an RFE, even if the RFE itself did not make any sense.

Glitches or not, submission to the USCIS is a serious matter, and should not be taken lightly as any mishap will result in frustration, loss of money and time!




Obama’s Immigration Reform Plan Revealed

November 21, 2014

Obama’s Immigration Reform

From New York Immigration Lawyer

President Obama today announced his plan for the reform of the broken Immigration system in the US.  While the details of the action will be revealed in the months to come, the President stated that he would start a new Deferred Action Plan, now for parents of the US citizens and permanent residents regardless of age.  The plan should,  undoubtedly, affect many, but it should not be the only President’s action.

If implemented like DACA, the plan should allow undocumented parents of the US citizens and permanent residents to receive protection  from  removal, work authorization and ability to travel internationally.

Answering President’s rhetorical question,  we can say that “We are the nation who finds a way to welcome hardworking and striving individuals, and we are the nation of immigrants.”

It remains everybody’s hope that the President’s plan will become ACTION in the nearest future, and maybe, will be even  broader than the initial announcement.


November 14, 2014


Author: New York Immigration Attorney Alena Shautsova

Good news can be shares with all immigrant visas applicants: the NVC will no longer require submission of the original documents in support of the immigrant visas.  Usually,  when  a person applies for an immigrant visa (a spousal visa; visa for an immediate relative; work related visa; etc) as a part of the visa process, the applicant must submit certain documents not to the consulate directly, but to the National Visa Center first.

NVC often required that original of certain documents be submitted to it, such as original of birth and/or marriage certificates. This requirement would significantly delay the process as in some countries it is simply illegal to mail original of the birth or marriage certificates (Russia, for example). As such, the applicant would have a really hard time trying to follow  NVC instructions and stay on track with the timing of the application.

However, NVC stated that as of November 12, 2014,  it will change its instructions.  The only document that will still have to be in the original would be an affidavit of support form.

Only after the appointment is scheduled, NVC will tell the applicant to bring the originals to the consulate.


DMV Denial of License

October 21, 2014

DMV Denial of License

New York Immigration lawyer Alena Shautsova

Have you recently moved from another state and had difficulties getting NY driver’s license? Were you totally confused? Were you blamed you are not a US citizen?

It happened to my client: a born US citizen who has spent several years in a different state, and when she came back to NY and decided to apply for NY driver’s license and report a change of her address, a lady at the DMV Manhattan office told her that …. she needs to present “more proof” that she in fact was a US citizen… hmm

My client actually presented a social security card; different state ID card; a US birth certificate; bank statements from different banks and utility bills. According to the DMV point system table she had enough points to get her NYS driver’s license.  Nevertheless, the clerk told her to apply for a US passport and come back…

The question was: did the DMV clerks look at their own point table? Or is it just anther document issued to confuse everybody and make people’s life more difficult?

This client is a US citizen, and eventually, after visiting a different DMV  location, she was able to get her license.

Many non-citizens, however, experience the same issue. The government passed the Real ID act which requires the DMV offices to check for the lawful immigrant status before issuing an ID to the applicant. However, DMV clerks are not attorneys and often they lack training to ascertain if a person is in fact in lawful immigration status or status that allows a person to receive a state ID or driver’s license.  For example, another client of mine, an applicant for asylum was denied Chicago State ID because the clerk there decided that his documents showing pending case with the Immigration Court were not sufficient to prove authorized stay in the US…

At the same time, there are people without lawful immigration status who were able successfully to extend their 8 years DMV licenses even after the Real ID act…

Recently, New York City voted to issue Id-s to everybody, regardless of their immigration status.

Maybe, it is time to change the rules?

What Happens if I 751 Petition Filed Late?

October 14, 2014

What Happens if I 751 Petition Filed Late ?

Author: New York Immigration lawyer Alena Shautsova

I-751 petition is an Immigration form that is sued to remove the condition from permanent residency for those non-citizens whose marriage with a USC was younger than 2 years old at the time adjudication of adjustment of status application or issuance of an immigrant visa.

I-751 must be filed within 90 days prior to the second anniversary of the conditional residency.  Sometimes, the petition is submitted late. A jointly filed I-751 petition filed after the second anniversary of the CPR’s admission or adjustment may be considered only if the CPR is able to demonstrate good cause and extenuating circumstances for the failure to timely file. The instructions to the Form I-751 clearly state that a CPR may file a petition untimely only if he or she includes a written explanation for his or her failure to timely file and a request that USCIS excuse the late filing. The law provides for broad discretion as to what constitutes good cause and extenuating circumstances. Some examples of what constitutes good cause and extenuating circumstances may include but are not limited to: hospitalization, long term illness, death of a family member, the recent birth of a child (particularly if there were complications), and a family member on active duty with the U.S. military.

Please note that there is no limit as to how many I 751 petitions can be filed.

Those filers who request  a waiver from joint filing, also can file multiple petitions. If an immigration officer encounters a waiver request petition subsequent to the denial of a previous waiver request petition based on the same ground (termination of a marriage entered in good faith, extreme hardship, or battery or extreme cruelty), the he/she  will review the new petition to determine if the applicant has presented additional evidence different from the first petition. If a waiver request I-751 petition filed subsequently to a previously denied waiver request petition is based on a different ground than the previous petition, the immigration officer will evaluate the new petition separately from the previous denial.

If the petition is denied, then the USCIS has to issue a Notice to Appear, because person’s conditional resident status gets terminated.

Also, sometimes it is apparent the couple will separate or will file for divorce.  Nevertheless, the non-citizen still has to file I 751 petition, sometimes prior to the divorce proceedings being finalized. If a CPR files a waiver petition based on termination of marriage, but the CPR is legally separated or in pending divorce or annulment proceedings, USCIS shall issue an RFE requesting documents
terminating the marriage. If the CPR provides within the allotted 87 days responsive information, the service center shall adjudicate the petition on the merits. Otherwise, the I-751 will be denied.

It is always a good idea to consult with an attorney prior to filing of I 751, or if after a joint filing, the couple separated.  Denial of the I 751 petition leads to the removal proceedings and can be avoided if mistakes are corrected early.