Articles Posted in AskMyLawyer TV

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could get your U.S. Visa renewed inside of the United States without having to visit a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad?

This may soon become a reality based on a new pilot program announced by the Department of State for certain workers renewing their visas.


Overview


Visa stamping refers to the process of renewing a U.S. visa for foreign nationals working in the United States in certain visa categories. Traditionally, foreign workers must return to their home country and visit their local U.S. Embassy or Consulate to schedule an appointment and renew their U.S. visas. However, the vast majority of U.S. Embassies and Consulates have significant visa interview backlogs which delays the visa renewal process significantly and increases the visa backlog.

To provide relief for visa renewal applicants, the State Department recently announced the launch of a new pilot program that will allow a limited number of H-1B specialty occupation workers the opportunity to renew their visas from inside the United States, effectively decreasing work interruptions and such visa stamping delays.

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In this blog post, we discuss an important topic: can you apply for U.S. Citizenship if you are still waiting to receive a decision for a pending Form I-751 Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence, filed with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

We will discuss a client’s hypothetical case for you to consider under what circumstances it may be possible to apply for U.S. Citizenship with a pending I-751 petition.


Overview


As our readers may be aware, the Form I-751 Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence is subject to lengthy processing times, with 80 percent of cases receiving a decision within 20 to 30 months of filing, depending on the USCIS Field Office or Service Center that is processing the petition.

Due to these long wait times, back in January of 2023, USCIS announced that it would be extending the validity of Permanent Resident Cards (Green Cards) for applicants with a pending Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence, or Form I-829, Petition by Investor to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status for a period of 48 months (4 years) beyond the green card’s printed expiration date.

USCIS began implementing this change by providing a 48-month automatic extension on Notices of Action mailed to applicants beginning on January 11, 2023, for Form I-829 applicants, and on January 25, 2023, for Form I-751 applicants.

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In this blog post, we will discuss the top five ways that foreign investors can get a green card in the United States. This post will benefit potential investors or foreign nationals who want to maximize their chances of gaining permanent residence in the United States.


Overview


If you are a foreign investor or an entrepreneur there are essentially five ways to self-petition for permanent residence without the requirement of a job offer or employment sponsorship.


Option One: Green Card through the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program


The first option is the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program. This program allows qualifying investors to obtain conditional permanent residence through an EB-5 visa. To qualify, investors must make a capital investment of $800,000 (in a Targeted Employment Area Regional Center Project) or $1,050,000 (in a new commercial enterprise that you create or buy into – also known as direct EB-5 investments). You must also demonstrate that the capital you are investing comes from a lawful source, and that your investment will create at least 10 new jobs for U.S. workers. Additionally, your capital investment must be committed to the project for at least five to seven years.

Once an investor’s EB-5 petition has been approved, he or she will receive a 2-year conditional green card. Before the expiration of the green card, the investor must remove the conditions on his permanent resident status by filing an I-829 petition with USCIS. When removing the conditions on permanent residence, investors must prove that they made the required investment and that all EB-5 requirements were satisfied such as job creation.

Once USCIS approves the I-829 petition, the applicant’s residency status is no longer conditional and the investor will be issued a 10 year green card.

EB-5 Direct Investments

EB-5 direct investments are those where the capital is invested in a new commercial enterprise such as a franchise operation, hotel real estate development projects, large restaurants, IT projects, retail chain operations, and large construction projects.

One of the most important components of the EB-5 application process is that you must be prepared to demonstrate the source/origin of your investment funds through documentary evidence. In other words, your investment funds must be traceable to their originating source.

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One of the most common questions that we receive from applicants who are applying for a green card is what happens when your priority date becomes current?

In this video we will discuss what it means for a priority date to become current, and the general steps that you need to take once this happens.


What is a priority date?


First let’s clarify what a “priority date” is. A priority date is a legal term used in immigration law which generally refers to the date when your immigrant petition was filed with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

A “priority date” is important because it determines your place in line in the visa queue for those preference categories that are subject to annual numerical visa limitations. As we have mentioned in previous videos, the Visa Bulletin is published every month and allows applicants to estimate how long they need to wait in “line” before they are eligible to apply for their green card based on their preference category and country of nationality.


Family Sponsored Preference Categories


If you are applying for a green card under family sponsorship and you are not applying as the spouse, unmarried child (under 21 years of age), or parent of a U.S. Citizen, then you must wait in “line” in the visa queue until a visa becomes available to you before you can apply for a green card, according to your priority date on the Visa Bulletin.

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In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick discusses the grim outlook of the December Visa Bulletin. While we had hoped to see more forward movement for the month of December, very little changes can be seen when compared to the previous month.

However, we hope that this video will be useful in providing some of our predictions for the Visa Bulletin in the coming months.


Adjustment of Status Filing Chart December 2023


As in the previous few months, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will continue to use the Dates for Filing chart in the month of December to determine eligibility for I-485 adjustment of status filings (green card filings inside the US).


What Changes Can Be Seen Next Month?


Sadly, the Dates for Filing Charts for both the employment-based and family-sponsored categories remain identical to those from the month of November. The Final Action Dates for family sponsored categories also remain identical to the previous month.

The only forward-movement that can be seen is in the Final Action Dates chart for EB-2 China which will advance by three weeks to October 22, 2019, and EB-3 China which will advance by three weeks to January 22, 2020. All other countries will remain the same.

In other news, the EB-4 Non-Minister Religious Worker program will become unavailable for all countries in December until it is reauthorized by legislation.

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If you are applying for an immigrant visa through Consular processing, you will encounter the National Visa Center (NVC). The NVC is an agency located in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, that is responsible for pre-processing your application after your immigrant petition has been approved by USCIS. The agency functions as an intermediary to collect further documentation from you before your interview can be scheduled at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate overseas.

In this video, Jacob Sapochnick discusses what can happen when the National Visa Center closes your case when no action has been taken.


Overview


What should you do if the NVC closes your case?


It is important to understand that once your petition has been approved by USCIS, your case will be forwarded to the National Visa Center (NVC). When your priority date is current on the Visa Bulletin, and a visa number is available, the NVC will contact you to collect certain documentation to continue processing your case. This includes the submission of various civil documents such as photocopies of your birth certificate, marriage certificate, military records, police clearance certificates, payment of your visa fee, etc.

If you ignore or do not reply to requests from NVC to submit your documentation within one year of receipt, the NVC can terminate your case under section 203(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which can lead to your case being destroyed and potentially losing your priority date.

Your priority date is essentially your place in line for a green card. Losing your priority date would have devastating consequences, especially for preference categories with extremely long wait times because you would lose your place in line and have to start the immigration process all over again.

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Have you ever wondered how you can apply for a green card renewal while outside of the United States? In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick tells you everything you need to know about this process.

We also discuss how you can travel internationally if your green card has already expired.

If you want to know more about this topic, please keep on watching!


Overview


This topic will be of interest to permanent residents who are overseas and now have an expired green card, as well as those who want to travel abroad but have an expired green card.

When you are issued a green card (Permanent Residence), it essentially means that you have the right to live permanently in the United States for a renewable period of 10 years.

Some of the benefits of being a lawful permanent resident are that you can accept employment without restriction, own property, receive financial assistance at public colleges and universities, and join the Armed Forces. Before the expiration of your permanent resident card, you must apply to renew it by filing Form I-90 with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

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Are you applying for an immigrant visa (green card) or fiancé(e) visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad? Then you won’t want to miss the important tips we share in this video.

One of the most important pieces of evidence you will need to take to your visa interview is a police clearance certificate from your country of nationality to prove that you do not have a criminal record.

While the process of obtaining a police clearance certificate may seem simple enough, it is very important to know how to properly request one to avoid delays following your interview.

To know more about this topic, please keep on watching!


Overview


What is a Police Clearance Certificate?


A police clearance certificate is an official government document typically issued by a state police agency that documents any arrests for an individual, while that person was living in a particular area.

Those who are applying for an immigrant visa (green card) while living abroad, as well as K-1 fiancé(e) visa applicants, are required to submit a police certificate, issued by a police authority, from all countries where they have lived in the past, even if they have no criminal record in any of those countries.

Applicants with a criminal history must discuss their criminal record with an immigration attorney to determine if they are admissible to the United States.

Note: if you are applying for adjustment of status (green card) inside of the United States, you do not need to provide a police clearance certificate. Instead, you must provide any arrest records.

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Did you know? The Department of State is accepting online registrations for the Diversity Visa Program (Green Card Lottery) for fiscal year 2025 now through Tuesday, November 7th at noon EST. 

You won’t want to miss the opportunity to win one of 55,000 green cards available to certain nationals of countries with historically low rates of immigration to the United States.

To find out if you qualify for this program, just keep on watching this video!


Overview


What is the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program?


Every year, the Department of State runs the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program also known as the “Green Card Lottery.” It is a U.S. government program for obtaining permanent residency in the United States (a green card). The program is open to nationals from designated countries that have low rates of immigration to the United States and who meet specific educational requirements. It provides an inexpensive and relatively simple path to obtain a green card for individuals who may not otherwise qualify for permanent residence through any other alternative under U.S. immigration law.

Nationals of qualifying countries may register for the program for free at dvprogram.state.gov. You can apply for the green card lottery whether you live overseas or are currently inside the United States. Once the registration period has closed, the Department of State will conduct a random lottery to select those who will be eligible to apply for their green cards beginning October 1, 2024.

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In this post, we share exciting news for Israeli nationals. The U.S. government recently designated Israel as the 41st country to join the Visa Waiver Program (also known as ESTA) effective November 30, 2023.

In this video attorney Jacob Sapochnick discusses what this means and how it can benefit you.

If you want to know more about this exciting news, please keep on watching!


Highlights


To travel under the Visa Waiver Program (ESTA) you must:

  • Be a citizen or eligible national of a Visa Waiver Program country.
  • Not be in possession of a visitor’s visa.
  • Your travel to the USA must be for 90 days or less.
  • You must plan to travel to the United States for business or pleasure.
  • Not be inadmissible to the USA nor previously denied a U.S. visa

Overview


Did you know that the United States operates a Visa Waiver program? This special program allows nationals from participating countries to travel to the United States for tourism or business purposes without a U.S. visa, for a period of up to 90 days. Temporary stays under the Visa Waiver Program cannot be extended for periods longer than 90 days.

Recently, Israel was given the privilege of participating in this program. That means that starting November 30th Israeli nationals will be able to apply for travel permission to the United States online using the Electronic System for Travel Authorizations (ESTA). Once approved, this travel permission is valid for a period of two years once it has been issued. You cannot travel to the United States until your ESTA has been approved and issued to you.

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