In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick addresses a very important question: I want to apply for a U.S. visa, but my country does not have a U.S. Embassy or Consulate (or it is closed at this time), how can I apply for a visa in this situation?

Did You Know? The United States has a diplomatic presence in more than 190 countries around the world. During the COVID-19 pandemic, certain U.S. Embassies and Consulates have temporarily suspended certain U.S. visa services or have been operated at a very limited capacity due to local country conditions and regulations. In countries where the United States does not have a diplomatic presence, other U.S. Embassies or Consulates have been responsible for the processing of visas from those country nationals.

Want to know more? Just keep on watching.


Overview


There is no U.S. Embassy or Consulate in my home country (or the post nearest me is closed) what can I do to get a U.S. visa? What are my options?

Options for Nonimmigrant and Immigrant Visa Applicants


In countries where the United States has no diplomatic presence, or where the U.S. diplomatic mission has limited or suspended its activities, often times the U.S. Department of States will accommodate visa seekers by processing their applications at U.S. Embassies or Consulates in nearby countries.

However, the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in a nearby country must be willing to accept applications from third-country nationals for the visa type sought. Please note that certain U.S. Embassies or Consulate may not be able to accommodate applicants if the officer is not trained to speak the third-country language or is not familiar with the process for third-country nationals. Third country nationals should also be aware that they bear the responsibility for paying their own costs of transportation and hotel stay in a nearby country, during the visa interview and visa issuance process. Medical examinations for immigrant visas may also need to be conducted by a civil surgeon in the nearby country, therefore applicants should contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where they wish to apply to understand the requirements and procedures for third-country nationals.

Due to the recent closure of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, Russia, for instance, the Department of State designated U.S. Embassy Warsaw in Poland as the processing post for Russian immigrant visa applications.

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In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick tells you everything you need to know about a brand-new government proposal seeking to issue national identification cards to undocumented immigrants as part of the “ICE Secure Docket Card Program.” Under the program, those who regularly cross the U.S. Mexico border, and those without legal status would be eligible to receive temporary identification cards, granting them access to their immigration files and information relating to removal court proceedings entirely online.

Did you know?

The Biden administration is planning to test the Secure Docket Card Program by first providing temporary I.D. cards to unauthorized immigrants who are still waiting for a final decision on their cases.

Want to know more about this exciting new proposal? Just keep on watching.


Overview


What is this new proposal all about?


The Biden administration has been busy working on a brand-new initiative to introduce a new national identification card specifically for the undocumented immigrant population. The program known as the “ICE Secure Docket Card program,” would initially grant temporary ID cards to migrants crossing the U.S./Mexico Border and then expand issuance to other types of immigrants without legal status in the United States.


What will the card include?


While the details of the pilot program are still being finalized, we know that the ID cards (known as Secure Docket Cards) will include the individual’s photo identification, biographical information including country of nationality, and contain a unique QR code that will allow the holder of the card to access immigration court information and immigration documents entirely online. This is an important step in helping modernize the immigration process, as well as making it easier for immigrants to obtain important information regarding their immigration process in the United States. The QR code will allow individuals to gain access to a portal where they can easily and conveniently update their information and check in with USCIS.

Additionally, individuals who did not previously possess a form of photo identification, can use the Secure Docket Card to access important state benefits such as health care, a driver’s license, housing, etc. The government is also calling upon the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to allow travelers to use these cards as a form of identification when traveling by plane within the United States. It is also expected that the Secure Docket Cards will be made available to immigrants currently in detention.

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In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick shares recent legislation that would provide a pathway to permanent residency for certain undocumented immigrants that have resided in the United States for at least 7 years. We explain everything you need to know about this new proposal and how it might impact you.

Did you know? On July 20, 2022, several members of Congress introduced a proposed law, known as “Renewing Immigration Provisions of the Immigration Act of 1929,” that if passed would allow people who have been living in the US for at least seven years to be able to obtain their green card through “registry.”

Want to know more? Just keep on watching.


Overview


What is this bill about?


The proposed bill known as “Renewing Immigration Provisions of the Immigration Act of 1929,” introduced by Democrats Zoe Lofgren, Lou Correa, and Norma Torres, would change just one line of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) known as the “registry,” which was previously frozen since 1986.

“Registry,” is a section of immigration law that enables certain individuals who have been present in the United States for a specified period of time, the ability to apply for a Green Card (permanent residence), even if they are currently in the United States unlawfully.

To be eligible for a green card under the registry provisions, applicants must have entered the United States by a certain period of time, have continuously resided in the United States since entering, be a person of good moral character, and otherwise not be deportable or inadmissible to the United States.

The registry date under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) essentially functions as a sort of statute of limitations for illegal entry, allowing Congress to set arbitrary dates that determine which undocumented immigrants would be allowed to adjust their status to permanent residency inside the United States.

Congress first statutorily legalized the status of undocumented immigrants who arrived by 1921, then 1924, then 1928, then 1940 and finally 1972. No change in the law has been made since then. But now, Congressional democrats are seeking to adjust the registry date to open a pathway to permanent residency for millions of undocumented immigrants.

While this is only a proposal, that has not yet become law, the bill has the opportunity to create dialogue among both political parties in Congress. The first attempt at renewing the registry provisions came under the Biden administration’s Build Back Better Act, which unfortunately failed to gain enough support to become law.

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We are delighted to announce the Department of State has published the Visa Bulletin for August 2022. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick shares with you the trends and movement that has occurred in the most recent visa bulletin for both employment based, and family sponsored preference categories, as well as what you can expect in the coming months.

Did you know? Every month the Department of State releases the Visa Bulletin, which summarizes the availability of immigrant visa numbers for that particular month. The “Final Action Dates” and “Dates for Filing Applications,” charts indicate when immigrant visa applicants should be notified to assemble and submit the required documentation to the National Visa Center.

The primary purpose of this bulletin is to provide an updated waiting list for immigrants that are subject to the numerical visa quota system.

Want to know more? Just keep on watching.


Overview


USCIS Adjustment of Status Filing Charts for the July Visa Bulletin (for those residing in the USA)


Every month, the US Citizenship, and Immigration Services (USCIS) releases information regarding which filing chart applicants must use in order to apply for adjustment of status to permanent residence, while in the United States. This information can be found on the USCIS webpage. In general, if there are more immigrant visas available for a fiscal year than there are known applicants for such visas, USCIS will indicate that AOS applicants may use the Dates for Filing chart.

Otherwise, applicants will be asked to use the Final Action Dates chart.

If a particular immigrant visa category is “current” on the Final Action Dates chart or the cutoff date on the Final Action Dates chart is later than the date on the Dates for Filing chart, applicants in that immigrant visa category may file using the Final Action Dates chart during that month.


Which chart should I refer to for the month of August 2022?


For Family-Sponsored Filings:

Pursuant to guidance released by USCIS, for all family-sponsored preference categories, applicants must use the  Dates for Filing chart in the Department of State Visa Bulletin for August 2022.

For Employment-Based Preference Filings:

All applicants, falling under employment-based preference categories, must use the Final Action Dates chart in the Department of State Visa Bulletin for August 2022.

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Have you ever wondered how you can work in the United States as the founder of your very own startup? If so, you may be interested in learning more about the O-1A visa. In this video attorney Jacob Sapochnick discusses the criteria for individuals who possess extraordinary ability in business and are seeking to open a venture-backed startup in the United States.

Did you know? An approved O-1A visa applicant can remain in the United States for an initial period of 3 years working for the petitioning entity and bring their family members to live with them in the United States. The O-1A visa also opens a pathway for applicants to apply for permanent residency by filing for the EB-1A employment-based immigrant visa category.

Want to know more? Just keep on watching.


What is the O-1A visa?


First let’s discuss the O-1A nonimmigrant visa. The O-1A visa is designed for individuals who possess extraordinary abilities in the field of business, science, education, or athletics, and who can meet a specified set of criteria that must be demonstrated in the application package to ensure the applicant’s success.

Those who successfully attain the O-1A visa can live and work in the United States for an initial 3-year period, and pitch ideas to venture capitalists interested in supporting their company.


How can you demonstrate extraordinary ability in business?


To demonstrate extraordinary ability, applicants must be prepared to show evidence of a major internationally recognized award (such as a Nobel Peace Prize), or if the applicant does not have such an award, they must meet at least three of the following criteria which we discuss in turn below:

  1. AWARDS—Documentation of the beneficiary’s receipt of nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in the field of endeavor

The first criterion is providing documentation showing that you have received nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence.

How does this translate to the startup world? There are several ways that one can qualify for this criteria as a startup founder. For instance, if you have received a grant from the government recognizing your proposed endeavor as one that is exceptional, you may be able to use the grant as evidence to meet this criteria. Alternatively, if you were a participant in a prestigious or distinguished event or competition, and you were one of the winners or finalists in the competition, you may also use documentary evidence of your participation to meet this criteria.

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It’s that time of the month again, the July Visa Bulletin is here. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick discusses the movement you can expect to see for employment based and family sponsored preference categories in the month of July. Also covered are the trends and projections as we move forward the next few months.

Did you know? Every month the Department of State releases the Visa Bulletin, which summarizes the availability of immigrant visa numbers for that particular month. The “Final Action Dates” and “Dates for Filing Applications,” charts indicate when immigrant visa applicants should be notified to assemble and submit the required documentation to the National Visa Center.

The primary purpose of this bulletin is to provide an updated waiting list for immigrants that are subject to the numerical visa quota system.

Want to know more? Just keep on watching.


Overview


USCIS Adjustment of Status Filing Charts for the July Visa Bulletin (for those residing in the USA)


Every month, the US Citizenship, and Immigration Services (USCIS) indicates the appropriate filing chart that must be used by applicants residing inside the United States, who wish to apply for adjustment of status to permanent residence. This information can be found on the USCIS webpage. In general, if there are more immigrant visas available for a fiscal year than there are known applicants for such visas, USCIS will indicate that AOS applicants may use the Dates for Filing chart.

Otherwise, applicants will be asked to use the Final Action Dates chart.

If a particular immigrant visa category is “current” on the Final Action Dates chart or the cutoff date on the Final Action Dates chart is later than the date on the Dates for Filing chart, applicants in that immigrant visa category may file using the Final Action Dates chart during that month.

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Do you have a case currently pending review at the National Visa Center? In this video, we discuss the growing backlogs at the National Visa Center and explain the reason it is taking so long for the NVC to process immigrant visa cases and prepare them for a visa interview at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate overseas.

Did you know? Every month the National Visa Center releases their Immigrant Visa Backlog Report, which provides important information including the number of immigrant visa applicants being scheduled for interview appointments, the number of applicants whose cases are documentarily complete and ready for interviews, and the number of eligible applicants still pending the scheduling of an interview.

Want to know more? Just keep on watching.


Overview


First, let’s discuss: What is the National Visa Center?

Once U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has approved your immigrant visa petition, USCIS will forward your petition to the National Visa Center (NVC) in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, where your application will undergo immigrant visa pre-processing once your priority date has become current according to the Visa Bulletin.

Essentially, the National Visa Center serves as an intermediary between USCIS, where the immigrant visa petition was first approved, and the U.S. Consulate, where the foreign national will eventually undergo their immigrant visa interview.

Once your case is received by the National Visa Center (if your priority date is current and a visa number is available) you will be instructed to submit the DS-260 Immigrant Visa Application, submit civil documents in support of your immigrant visa application, and pay the necessary visa fees. Once you have completed this process, your case will be considered “documentarily complete,” and your application will be placed in line for interview scheduling, at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate nearest your place of residence.


What are the current visa backlogs at the NVC?


As our readers will know, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a disastrous impact on the processing of cases at the NVC and Consular level. The majority of U.S. Embassies and Consulates continue to operate on a limited basis, due to local country conditions and restrictions, local and national lockdowns, travel restrictions, local regulations, and measures taken by Consular posts to reduce the spread of COVID-19. This has caused challenges to interview scheduling, given that the volume of interviews that can be scheduled has been drastically decreased, to prevent the spread of the virus, and ensure public health and safety for applicants and Consular officers.

While Embassies and Consular posts have tried to return processing to pre-pandemic levels, they simply have been confronted with an overwhelming demand of cases waiting to be scheduled for in-person visa interviews.

Due to the operational crisis at Embassies and Consulates worldwide, the National Visa Center has been unable to forward immigrant visa cases to posts overseas, because posts have not had the capacity to accommodate all those waiting for an interview.

The data shows that things have not gotten better. In fact, they have gotten worse.

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In this video attorney Jacob Sapochnick addresses a somber but important topic: What happens when a U.S. Citizen dies, can a LPR spouse still apply for naturalization after 3 years?

To know more about this topic, just keep on watching.


Overview


Applying for Naturalization After the Death of an Immediate Relative

In this post we answer one of your frequently asked questions:

Q: I became a green card holder through my husband, who was born in the U.S. and was a U.S. citizen. Sadly, my husband died last year. I would like to apply to become a U.S. citizen as soon as possible. Can I still apply for naturalization after 3 years of having my green card?

A: This question comes up more often than we would like to admit.

As you may know as a general rule, a legal permanent resident (LPR) is eligible to apply for naturalization after being a green card holder for at least 5 years.

However, there is an exception to the rule. Spouses of U.S. Citizens are eligible to apply for naturalization after 3 years of being a permanent resident, so long as they are still married and living in the same household as their U.S. Citizen spouse. Couples that are no longer living together (such as where a separation occurs) do not qualify for the 3-year exception.

But what happens when the spouse dies?

This situation recently happened to one of our clients. She was able to prove that she was living with her U.S. Citizen spouse up until the time of his death and wanted to know if she could still take advantage of the 3-year rule to apply for naturalization.

Sadly, under section 319(a) of the INA, “A person is ineligible for naturalization as the spouse of a United States citizen, if, before or after the filing of the application, the marital union ceases to exist due to death or divorce….”

That means that where a marital union ended due to the U.S. Citizen spouse’s death, the legal permanent resident cannot take advantage of the 3-year rule and must wait to reach their five-year anniversary as a legal permanent resident (LPR) before they can apply for naturalization. It is permissible to file your application 90 days before reaching your fifth anniversary as a permanent resident.

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Are you a green card applicant filing Form I-485 Adjustment of Status? Have you ever wondered when you should complete your medical examination? If so, this is the right video for you. This has been a point of contention for many years. Many applicants have been left wondering, is it better to file the medical exam with the adjustment of status application, or should the medical exam be brought to the interview? In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick tells you all you need to know about this important topic.

Did you know? Due to COVID-19 related processing delays, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services extended the validity period of Form I-693 Report of Medical Examination, from 2 years to now 4 years for those who meet certain requirements. As of August 12, 2021, USCIS will consider a Form I-693 valid if: (1) the civil surgeon’s signature is dated no more than 60 days before the applicant files Form I-693 (2) no more than four years have passed since the date of the civil surgeon’s signature; and (3) a decision on the applicant’s Form I-485 is issued on or before September 30, 2021. Otherwise, the medical exam is valid for 2 years.

Want to know more? Just keep on watching.


Overview


The green card medical examination is a fundamental step in the immigration process for all applicants seeking permanent residency in the United States. The medical exam, must be completed by a U.S. civil surgeon, meaning a doctor who is authorized by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to perform medical examinations for green card applicants. Not all physicians will be eligible to complete the medical exam. You can find an authorized doctor by visiting the USCIS webpage here.


During your exam


The medical examination consists of a review of your medical history and a physical examination. As part of the exam, the doctor will test for communicable diseases such as tuberculosis, syphilis, and gonorrhea, test for drugs and alcohol, and other diseases and illnesses.

Once the exam is complete, the doctor will sign and complete the Form I-693 and seal the form in an envelope for you to submit to USCIS. You must ensure that the doctor provides you a sealed envelope containing their report. The envelope cannot be opened or altered.


What is the purpose of the medical exam?


The medical examination is required for any applicant filing for adjustment of status to establish that the applicant is not inadmissible to the United States on public health-related grounds. This means that applicants must be screened to ensure that they do not have any health conditions that could make them ineligible for the green card. Failure to provide an adequate medical examination could result in processing delays, and in some cases a denial of the green card application.

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What is Temporary Protected Status and who can qualify for the program? In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick provides information about the Temporary Protected Status program including which countries have received a Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation, how to register, and much more.

Did you know? Individuals who qualify for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) are allowed to lawfully live and work in the United States without fear of deportation, during the period of their country’s TPS designation (typically this is anywhere between 6 to 18 months depending on the country). To qualify for work authorization, individuals must file Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization to request an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). With the EAD, applicants can lawfully work in the United States. Additionally, TPS eligible nationals may qualify for travel authorization.

Want to know more? Just keep on watching.


Overview


What is Temporary Protected Status

Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is a special program made possible by the United States Congress that allows foreign nationals of certain countries that are considered unsafe, the right to live and work in the United States temporarily. TPS does not provide a pathway to citizenship, and instead is utilized by individuals from participating countries as a humanitarian solution because they cannot safely return to their home countries.

Under the program, the Secretary of Homeland Security is authorized to designate a specific foreign country for TPS if they determine that conditions exist in that country that prevent its nationals from safely returning to their countries of origin.

The Secretary may designate a country for TPS if any of the following temporary conditions exist in the foreign country:


  • Ongoing armed conflict (such as civil war)
  • An environmental disaster (such as earthquake or hurricane), or an epidemic
  • Other extraordinary and temporary conditions

In order to participate in the TPS program, you must:


  • Be a national of a country designated for TPS, or a person without nationality who last habitually resided in the designated country;
  • File during the open initial registration or re-registration period for your country, or meet the requirements for late initial filing during any extension of your country’s TPS designation;
  • Have been continuously physically present (CPP) in the United States since the effective date of the most recent designation date of your country announced by the Department of Homeland Security; and
  • Have been continuously residing (CR) in the United States since the date specified for your country.
  • Pass the necessary security and background checks.

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