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.
Did you know that if you are going through the green card process based on marriage to a U.S. Citizen in the United States, sometimes an immigration official from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) may show up at your home unannounced. How often does this happen and how can you prepare?
We invite you to learn more about this important topic.
The USCIS Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate (FDNS) was established to combat and investigate immigration-related fraud including marriage fraud. The FDNS also operates the Fraud Detection and National Security data system which tracks and manages cases which are under review for potential immigration fraud. Reports are generated by the FDNS data system and distributed to other government agencies for further investigation depending on the severity of the case, such as the Department of State (DOS), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), or Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Surprise Home Visits: When do they happen and how do they happen?
Part of the responsibilities of the FDNS are to conduct site visits for both employment-based and family-sponsored immigration petitions. Most commonly, site visits are conducted at places of worship as part of the process to petition an R-1 nonimmigrant religious worker. Site visits are also frequently conducted at places of employment for H-1B workers. With respect to family-sponsored cases, the FDNS may conduct home visits in adjustment of status filings where marriage fraud is suspected.
This can happen in several different ways. In the most common scenario, the married couple has already been questioned at their in-person interview before a USCIS officer. In such instance, the immigration officer is not convinced by the responses provided by the couple during the interview and believes the marriage to be fraudulent. In some cases where marriage fraud is suspected, the couple is separated and questioned separately regarding facts about their relationship. At the conclusion of the interview, the officer may call upon FDNS to conduct an unannounced site visit at the couple’s home to confirm whether the information provided at the interview is authentic.
In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick answers some of your burning questions including whether you can expedite your marriage or fiancé(e) visa case in 2023, how long the process is currently taking, and other related questions.
If you would like to know more about this topic, please keep on watching!
The Coronavirus pandemic has caused a number of obstacles for fiancé(e)’s and spouses of United States citizens residing overseas. As many of our readers know, at the height of the pandemic, the Department of State announced the suspension of all routine visa services including immigrant and nonimmigrant visa appointments worldwide. Since Embassies and Consulates were shuttered for a significant period of time, this created a backlog of cases piling up at the National Visa Center due to visa interviews not being scheduled during the suspension.
It was not until July 2020, that U.S. Embassies and Consulates began a phased resumption of routine visa services on a post-by-post basis. Despite this announcement, many Consular posts have continued to place restrictions on their operating capacity due to local country conditions, workforce limitations, and public safety protocols.
In the past year or so, the processing of marriage and fiancé(e) visas has been impacted by this slow return to a sense of normalcy. U.S. Consulates and Embassies in certain countries have eased pandemic restrictions and are working normally, while others have struggled to catch up with the rest of the world. As a result, visa interview appointments for spousal and fiancé(e) visas have been very limited.
In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick answers one of your most frequently asked questions: how long is it currently taking for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to adjudicate marriage-based adjustment of status applications (green cards) in May of 2023?
If you would like to know the answer to this question, please keep on watching!
Did You Know? USCIS processing times vary depending on the workload of the Field Office and/or Service Center where the I-130/485 applications are being adjudicated. USCIS reports the processing times of each Field Office and Service Center directly on its website, including time estimates of how long it took the agency to process 80% of adjudicated cases over the past 6 months. However, USCIS cautions that each case is unique, and some cases may take longer than others to be adjudicated. Due to this, processing times should be used as a reference point, not an absolute measure of how long your case will take to be completed.
Additionally, remember to consider the processing time of your local USCIS Field Office, where you will eventually be called to appear for an in-person interview before an immigration officer to prove that you have a bona fide marriage, and meet all other requirements for a green card.
Service Centers Processing Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative
Have you ever wondered whether you can obtain a green card once you have overstayed your visa? In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick, answers precisely this question, along with related topics that might interest you. For instance, what should a person do once they have overstayed? What are the options to cure an overstay to obtain lawful status in the United States?
To understand more about this complicated topic, please keep on watching.
In most cases, a foreign national will come to the United States lawfully, meaning that they arrived on a valid visa type such as a student, visitor, or work visa and were inspected and admitted to the United States. Unfortunately, in some situations individuals fall out of status and overstay their period of authorized stay. Whether it is because they lost their job, failed to attend school, or could not leave the United States in time before the expiration of their I-94 arrival/departure record, there are many situations that can cause an overstay to happen.
By contrast, some individuals enter the United States unlawfully, meaning that they entered the United States without being inspected and without a valid visa. The issue of whether the foreign national entered lawfully or unlawfully is crucial when it comes to the options that may be available once an overstay has occurred.
How do I know if I overstayed my U.S. visa?
First, let’s discuss the threshold question of how one can know whether they have overstayed their visa.
This may seem like a complicated question, but in fact is very easy to resolve. A person overstays their visa if they have remained in the United States past the authorized period of stay stamped in their passport. When a person is admitted to the United States, they receive a stamp issued by a Customs and Border Protection official which provides the exact date when the individual’s period of stay expires, and consequently when they must leave the United States.
In addition to the passport stamp, foreign nationals can retrieve their I-94 arrival/departure record on the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) website which includes their most recent date of entry, and the date their period of authorized stay expires. The date of expiration is the date at which the foreign national must depart the United States. Failure to depart by the date indicated means that the applicant has overstayed their period of authorized stay.
In some cases, the I-94 stamp, or I-94 record will include the notation “D/S” most commonly for individuals on student visas. This notation means that the applicant is expected to leave the United States, when their program of study has ended. The end date of the program of study can be found on the Form I-20 Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status. Students should contact their Designated School Official for this information.
Welcome back to Immigration Lawyer Blog! In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick discusses what you can expect after filing Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative, used by U.S. Citizens or Legal Permanent Residents (LPRs) to lawfully immigrate a qualifying relative to the United States, and how long it is taking for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to process these applications.
Want to know more? Just keep on watching.
The first step of the process to immigrate a foreign national involves the filing of Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative. This application forms the basis of the foreign national’s eligibility to apply for a green card, based upon what is known as a qualifying family relationship. Not all family members may qualify.
If you are a U.S. citizen, you may file Form I-130 only for your eligible relatives. This includes your spouse, your children, your siblings, and your parents. If you are a permanent resident, you can petition for your spouse and any child under the age of 21.
What happens after filing Form I-130?
Once you have filed Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative either by mail or online, you will receive a receipt notice in the mail known as Form I-797C Notice of Action. This notice will serve as proof that your application was received and properly filed with USCIS. The Notice will also include your Form I-130 receipt number where you can track the progress of your case online, and the date the case was received by USCIS also known as the priority date.
If you have filed Form I-130 by mail, you will receive the Notice of Action approximately 1-2 weeks after mailing the application. If you filed Form I-130 online, the Notice of Action will appear in your USCIS online account portal approximately 1 week after submission.
If you fail to include the correct filing fees with your application or your application is deficient in any other way, your case may be rejected and sent back to you. In such case, you would not receive a Notice of Action, and instead would receive a rejection notice along with your package being returned to you. Therefore, it is very important for applicants to review the Form I-130 instructions very carefully and provide all necessary fees and documentation with the filing. Failure to do so can result in the rejection of your case. If your case has been rejected, you are allowed to re-file your application with USCIS having corrected the mistake.
Thereafter, if any additional documentation is missing from your application, or if USCIS needs further information to process your Form I-130, they will issue a Request for Evidence (RFE) outlining the documentation and/or information they need from you to continue processing your case. Requests for Evidence (RFE) are sent by mail and include the deadline for responding to the Request for Evidence in the Notice. When an RFE is issued, the case is halted until you respond to the request. For this reason, it is important to respond in a timely manner and no later than the deadline indicated in the notice. Remember, the longer you delay in responding to an RFE, the more time it will take for your case to be adjudicated.
Welcome back to Immigration Lawyer Blog! In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick teaches you how you can reschedule a biometrics appointment for fingerprints if you were unable to attend a previously scheduled appointment.
As you may know, for certain types of immigration applications filed with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), such as applications for a work permit on Form I-765, travel permit on Form I-131, changes of status on Form I-539, citizenship on Form N-400, green card on Form I-485, etc. a biometrics appointment is required.
Several weeks after filing the application in question, the applicant receives a biometrics appointment notice in the mail requesting that the applicant appear in-person on the day and time stated, for capture of their biometrics. Biometrics refers to the process of taking a person’s photograph, fingerprints, and signature to establish a person’s identity and perform the necessary criminal background checks required by the government. A biometrics appointment is not an interview. It is a quick 15-minute appearance where fingerprinting and taking of the applicant’s photograph takes place.
So, how can you reschedule your biometrics appointment?
In general, USCIS recommends that the applicant appear in-person on the stated day and time of the scheduled biometrics appointment. However, there are times when the applicant is unable to attend the appointment and rescheduling becomes necessary, for instance due to illness. It is important to note that if an applicant misses his or her biometrics appointment, it is their duty to reschedule in a timely matter, otherwise the applicant will risk delay and, in some circumstances, even administrative closure of their case.
USCIS no longer accepts written requests to reschedule the appointment. Instead, applicants must call USCIS at 1-800-375-5283 (TTY 1-800-767-1833) preferably before the date and time of the original biometrics appointment and follow the prompts to reschedule the biometrics appointment. Applicants must demonstrate that there is “good cause” for rescheduling the appointment such as illness, travel conflicts, emergencies, etc. If applicants fail to establish “good cause,” USCIS may not reschedule the biometrics appointment.
Those who can establish “good cause” will receive a telephone call from a USCIS officer with the new date, time, and location of their biometrics appointment. With the current backlog, it may take several days or several weeks to receive a callback. Those who do not receive a call back within a reasonable period of time, should call USCIS again to request a new biometrics appointment. It is the applicant’s responsibility to be diligent and make sure a new biometrics appointment is scheduled.
Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick discusses the long processing times to adjudicate applications and petitions filed with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The backlog of cases has been especially significant for certain types of applications and petitions where demand is greatest, such as I-539 applications to extend/change nonimmigrant status, I-360 petitions for Amerasians, Widow(er), or Special Immigrants, I-765 Applications for Employment Authorization, I-751 Removal of Conditions applications, and many others. According to previous data, in 2014 an average green card case took about 5 months to be processed by USCIS, while in 2020 it has taken over 10 months to process the same type of application.
The reason behind these high processing times leads back to the crippling effects caused by COVID-19. Since the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic, USCIS has been experiencing a financial crisis as more and more people have found it difficult to afford paying costly fees for their immigration processes. To make matters worse, USCIS has also been experiencing a shortage in personnel and resources, making it difficult for the agency to efficiently adjudicate immigration benefits.
Many of these limitations have been caused by conditions in various states around the country, as well as local government mandates. States with high rates of coronavirus for example have been especially hard hit, making it difficult for USCIS to continue to operate at previous levels. The Biden administration has taken steps to try to improve conditions and reduce the backlogs by reinstating deferential immigration policies mandating immigration officers to defer to prior approvals where immigration benefits involve the same parties and facts. The agency has also lengthened the status of removal of conditions applicants from 18 to 24 months while their applications remain pending with the USCIS and implemented flexibility policies to respond to requests for evidence. Despite these changes there is much more that needs to be done.
Want to know more about these important updates? Just keep on watching.
Massive Delays at USCIS Reach Crisis Levels
According to USCIS data, from fiscal year 2017 to fiscal year 2021, processing times for all I-539 applications to change or extend status rose from about 2.8 months in 2017 to 9.8 months in 2021 (an increase of more than 250%)
In the same period, processing times for family-based adjustment of status (I-485) applications rose from 7.9 months in fiscal year 2017 to 13.2 months in fiscal year 2021 (an increase of more than 67%)
Also during the same period, processing times for naturalization applications (N-400) increased from 7.9 months in 2017 to 11.6 months in fiscal year 2021 (an increase of nearly 47%)
Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick shares a recent update from USCIS regarding a new policy that will extend evidence of status for green card holders who are applying to remove the conditions on their green card with the filing of either Form I-751 Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence or Form I-829 Petition by Investor to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status. Jacob also provides some cautionary information for conditional permanent residents who have divorced and are returning to the U.S. after temporary foreign travel, as well as added scrutiny for those applying for naturalization who initially gained their green card through marriage to a U.S. Citizen.
Keep on watching to find out more.
2 Year Extension of Status for Conditional Permanent Residents with Pending Form I-751 or Form I-829
USCIS has recently shared important information for conditional permanent residents who have been issued a two-year green card by USCIS and are now seeking to remove the conditions on their residence. Starting September 4, 2021, USCIS is extending the time that receipt notices can be used to show evidence of lawful status from 18 months to 24 months for those who have properly filed Form I-751 Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence or Form I-829 Petition by Investor to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status.
Previously, after filing Form I-751 or Form I-829, USCIS was issuing receipt notices which included an automatic 18-month extension of lawful status, allowing applicants to lawfully remain in the United States 18-months past the expiration of their green cards while their applications were under review with the agency. These extensions were issued for 18-months because that was the estimated processing time for removal of conditions applications prior to the COVID-19 outbreak.
USCIS will now be issuing 24-month extensions to reflect the current processing times more accurately for these applications, which has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic.