How Lawfully Tracker works (IV)

Step 7 : Case Prediction

If you scroll down below your “Your Status”, you will see your “Expected Decision Date”; this is a prediction made by Lawfully based on years of immigration data.

This prediction gives you a sense of how long you may have to wait and at what time you are most likely to see your case processed.

 

Step 8 : Case History

At the bottom of your case details, you’ll find your case history; this is is where you can see when you completed the various steps of your immigration case and the result of each step.

 

How Lawfully Tracker Works (III)

Step 5: Check Your Case

After you’ve entered at least one case, if you return to the “My Cases” screen, you will see your case listed for selection; select the case you’d like to review to see the details.

Note: you can monitor multiple cases at a time, just enter each one individually and then select the case you’d like to review from the “My Cases” screen.

Step 6: Case Status

Once you’ve selected a case you’d like to review,you will see the “Your Status” at the top of the screen; this lets you know the progress that’s been made on your case already and what the next steps are. You can tap on individual circles to see details of each step in the case process.

You can also send an “e-Request” if you have questions or concerns about your case (more on this later).

 

 

How Lawfully Tracker Works (II)

Step 3:  Navigation

If you swipe down to the bottom of the screen, you’ll notice buttons for other sections of the app.

Step 4: Case History

The first time you use Lawfully Tracker, you will need to enter the details of your immigration case.

You can do this by tapping on the large “+” button on the top right of the screen. From there, just type your case receipt number and it will automatically identify the correct case type, then manually enter your information

 

 

 

How Lawfully Tracker Works

Welcome to Lawfully Tracker!
Step 1 : Sign Up or Log In

The first time you start the app, you will be asked to sign up
for a Lawfully account or Log In if you already have one.
To create an account, simply tap “Sign Up” and you will be guided through the process.
If you already have an account, tap “Log In” and enter your e-mail and password to start reviewing your cases.
Step 2:
Once you’ve logged in, you’ll be brought to the “My Cases” screen;this is where you can enter your immigration case information or review the status of cases you’ve already entered. You can think of this as the home screen of Lawfully Tracker.

On the bottom of the screen, you’ll notice buttons for other sections of the app.

Happy Immigrating!

Lawfully Tracker puts the immigration process in the palm of your hand, helping you to stay on top of your journey to the United States at all times.
With personalized, step-by-step instructions on how to navigate the official US immigration process, the ability to review your case history at any time, and A.I.-power predictions to help you get a sense of when your case may be decided, Lawfully Tracker provides clarity and peace of mind for what has traditionally been a confusing and frustrating process.
We know that every immigration case is unique: Lawfully Tracker offers robust coverage of every possible immigration scenario and will assist you in making sense of your particular immigrant experience, all within a single app.
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Download “Lawfully Tracker” on Google Play
          
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Key features
1. Prediction of processing time, tailored for your individual case
2. Automatic status tracking of multiple cases and push notification whenever there is an update
3. Big picture Indication of current status in the whole immigration process specific for your case
4. Detailed description of your current status and necessary action items
5. Stores your case history and displays it in a single page
6. Shows up-to-date Visa Bulletin, USCIS processing time, and PERM processing time
7. e-Request to send online inquiry to USCIS when you have a question or concern
8. Latest immigration news from various sources
Stop by and learn more at:http://www.lawfully.com
Follow us on LinkedIn:  https://www.linkedin.com/company/lawfully/
Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/lawfullytweet

Lawfully is launching our CaseTracker app

Lawfully is launching our CaseTracker app for Android… and we’re looking for your feedback!

If you’re immigrating to the United States, have a pending case, and use an Android phone, then we’d love to hear from you:

-Download “Lawfully Tracker” on Google Play
-Try out the app using your own immigration case
-Contact us and we’ll send you our app experience survey

 

 

In return for your insights, we’ll send you a $10 Starbucks e-card (to help you stay awake while you work on your case).

If you’re interested in helping Lawfully improve the immigrant experience, e-mail us at ben@lawfully.com and we’ll get you our survey.

Happy immigrating!

USCIS updates processing time estimates, but are they accurate?

If you are considering petitioning or to applying to USCIS to gain entry to the United States, your primary concern will be processing times, your expectations regarding when your case will be decided. Accurate projection of processing time is crucial for individuals making future plans and for employers undertaking looking to hire.

A month ago, USCIS officially announced that their new processing times webpage launched to share more accurate processing times – reflecting a new methodology for collecting and calculating processing times that is automated and more accurate. USCIS started analyzing four (4) forms, to start, using the new methodology for processing time estimates as a pilot: N-400 (Application for Naturalization), I-90 (Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card), I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status), and I-751 (Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence).

According to USCIS, this new process allows USCIS to collect relevant and automated data and to post data on processing times within two (2) weeks for more accurate results. Previously, USCIS would take more than six (6) weeks to generate an approximate processing time, increasing the period of uncertainty for applicants and businesses. Thus, this new process should theoretically reduce time lags while providing more up-to-date information.

But is USCIS’s analysis accurate?

Upon receiving the news, we checked several pending cases with our affiliated immigration attorneys via the new system from the USCIS.

        

For I-485 processing at Baltimore’s field office, the estimated time range is from 8 months to 64.5 months under the new estimate system. For the I-751 processing at field office, the estimated time range is from 21.5 months to 46.5 months.

Do you find these USCIS estimate helpful, or are they far too broad?

As we’ve stated, the ability to obtain more accurate, reliable, and timely processing status is so vital for immigration attorneys and their clients. Lawfully remains hopeful that USCIS will continue improving the system and be able to provide meaningful estimates that are particular to each case. Lawfully will also continue monitoring this subject and developing our own system to provide more accurate information to our clients while we wait for USCIS to improve its offering.

 

How long will my immigration case take? Sorry, not sure.

When I meet clients who want to start their immigration cases, one of the questions I am most frequently asked is: how long it will take for my case to be adjudicated? At this point, my answer is more vague than I would like it to be; the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website provides an estimated time range between 9 months and 21 months for the Adjustment of Status to permanent residence, and 4 to 6 months for work authorization (though I know from personal experience that some cases take longer than 7 months). My client asks again, “I need to make a plan for the future. Will it be 9 months or 21 months? And for a valid work authorization, is it 4 months, 6 months, or longer? I got a job offer and need to let my employer know.”

USCIS processes millions of petitions and applications each year such as temporary and permanent visa classifications, adjustment of status to permanent residence, work authorization, naturalization, and so on. Depending upon the filing type, adjudication may occur at one of more than 100 locations across the country, including the National Benefits Center, 5 service centers, more than 80 field offices, and several other international operations offices. USCIS seems to have more applications coming their way than they can possibly handle in a reasonable time. If USCIS cannot offer an approval based on the received materials, they may send what is called a Request for Additional Evidence, or RFE. Because of this inefficiency, adjudications are backlogged or delayed. It also causes a lack of reliable data provided by USCIS for processing times

Unclear expectations of processing time is more than just inconvenience. Those who file with USCIS or could be affected by the application – employers, individuals and their family members, and attorneys – have a strong interest in knowing the status of their filings and how long it will take to complete the process. Due to inaccurate, outdated, and unreliable data predicting processing times, individuals can lose jobs and various benefits like health care while they wait for the process to unfold. Foreign individuals and their families may face separations and financial hardship. They may be forced to postpone or cancel employment opportunities. They may have to postpone or cancel travel plans and miss important events. They may have to give up any chance to get academic scholarship or may not be able to renew their driver’s licenses. For employers, they may not be able to hire new or retain existing employees, forcing them to use additional resources to hire and train replacements for those who could not continue to work.

In recent years, there have been efforts in private industry to provide more reliable methods for predicting processing times and/or tracking USCIS case status. USCIS has also announced and launched a pilot to test a redesigned processing time estimator and a new way of collecting data and calculating the processing times. Recent technologies have the potential to remove a great deal of uncertainty from the US immigration process; big data and predictive analytics with machine learning and AI are increasingly impacting the way we process legal documents.

Improvements for reliable processing times and the ability to accurately track the status of immigration cases will have very positive effects on foreign workers, their employers, and the US economy. Further, these new technologies will benefit immigration lawyers like me, too.

Changes to Social Security / Government Benefits for Immigrants

In United States immigration law, there is a notion of a “public charge”. A public charge is presently defined as a person who depends on government assistance for survival. If classified as a public charge, a given person can be denied entry into the US or barred from applying for permanent residence. Until recently, immigration agencies have narrowly interpreted “public charge” as those receiving cash relief and long-term institutionalization rather than those receiving general medical benefits, meals, and food stamps.

On January 4, 2018, the State Department began to amend this longstanding definition more broadly defining public charge.  In February, the Trump Administration proposed amendments to the legal definition of public charges. A new bill looks to broaden the scope of what is considered to be “public charge”.  All the health and education aid received for children, US- or foreign-born, can now potentially be treated as government aid. Because of this, immigrant families are anxious about the benefits they receive or have received in the past – will this prevent immigrants from attaining permanent status?

The proposed amendment may be finalized by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) by July 2018.

If this bill is passed, almost all social security benefits (Medicaid, CHIP, SNAP, WIC, traffic vouchers, heating support programs, Head Start, Obama Care Grants, etc.) may become categorized as government relief and may become cause for immigration prohibition or immigration application rejection. Currently, the proposal would not categorize unemployment benefits and emergency/disaster assistance as government aid.

Many wonder if government aids they received in the past can be considered a public charge.  The proposal in its current state does not cover benefits one received before the law becomes enacted.  As well, if a permanent resident received similar benefits, it does not affect their eligibility for naturalization.

As we emphasize the importance of ‘legitimate immigration’, we must recognize that while many foreigners in the United States do their best to maintain legal status, the process of reaching legal permanent residence is an extremely lengthy process (up to a decade). Also, among those who once had legal status but lost it for some minor infraction are placed in queues with those who never had legal status to begin with, making changes to the law overly onerous for those who have made great effort to abide by US immigration laws.

Statistics show that immigrants have lower unemployment, lower incomes, and receive less government relief than US-born nationals. It is widely believed that the definition of government relief as it is now, clearly and narrowly interpreted as cash relief and long-term institutionalization, benefits the American public and society in a productive way that does not warrant dismantling.

We are all from shitholes

Before we were Americans, we all emigrated from shithole countries. With great fortune hard work, and a willingness to welcome those who dream of becoming American, we have established a national tradition of rewarding those with the ambition and bravery to seek a better life for themselves and their families. However, America’s sitting President, when speaking in an Oval Office meeting on Immigration with the peoples’ representatives, asked why we should accept immigrants from shitholes like Haiti and Africa rather than from places like Norway.

Some people have defended these comments, stating that if the countries insulted by the President are not shitholes, then their people wouldn’t be leaving those countries to come to the US.

I challenge everyone who agrees with the above statement to look deep into their heart and consider, for a moment, the humanity and aspirations of a person who comes from a struggling nation looking to better their life: by calling the homeland of this person a shithole, you are suggesting that they themselves are shit.

US immigration laws are written out of economic self-interest and already create significant barriers for anyone looking to enter. With stringent security measures and limited routes for immigration, we prioritize accepting immigrants who possess skills that are needed in this country (employment based immigration), who invest substantially in our economy and create jobs (investor immigrant), who come from underrepresented countries such as Norway (through a diversity visa which Mr. Trump, ironically, spoke of abolishing), or who are close family members of current US citizens (spouses, parents, children, and siblings of US Citizens or spouse and children of permanent residents).

While we are sometimes willing to admit immigrants who may immediately boost our economy, we accept very few refugees compared to other advanced nations – European countries, Canada, or countries close to the current Syrian refugee crisis. While the US once called to the “huddled masses” to seek refuge within its borders, we are now abdicating our position of leadership by replacing efforts at humanitarian aid with “America first” policies.

Therefore, the President’s remark shows his ignorance of our already limited willingness to help those entangled in our world’s greatest crises, suggesting not that we do more, but that we already do too much for people are dark and poor (Haitians and Africans) instead of providing assistance for those who are white and prosperous (Norwegians).

I do not write these words out of any political party loyalty or agenda; I am writing as a concerned citizen of the world that I live in.

In my 20 years of practice as an immigration lawyer, I have not met a single person who immigrated to another country to lower their quality of life. Historically, immigrants seek to become Americans because they are seeking something better. That is, they make the difficult, painful decision to leave their home because they have acknowledged that their home cannot provide the opportunities they desire for themselves and their families. This is not a trivial decisions and it is not a blanket condemnation of their country of origin, but rather a hopeful effort to improve lives.

Immigrants come to the USA to seek religious freedom, to seek food out of hunger, to seek life out of war, to seek freedom from political oppression, to seek better economic opportunities, and to seek better education for their children. All Americans, including the President, originated from troubled countries, but that does not make immigrants shit; that makes them just as American as the rest of us.

Yes, it is true some countries have extremely poor conditions – politically and economically. And yes, it is true that immigration policies need to be realistic and that making human migration unrestricted cannot solve the world’s problems.

Yet ultimately, when we write our immigration policies, the basic principles should be: all humans deserve equal consideration whether they happen to be born in troubled circumstances or not; all humans are human whether they have the fairest skin or darkest skin. Skin color and race must not have a place in our immigration policy or we risk transforming America into a true shithole, one where we promote the failure of those who are less fortunate instead of helping them to rise to freedom and happiness.