Articles Posted in Consular posts

In this video and blog post, we discuss a recent Supreme Court decision finding that U.S. Citizens do not have a fundamental right in having their noncitizen spouses admitted to the United States.

What is this ruling all about?


Department of State v. Muñoz

On June 21, 2024, the Supreme Court ruled in a 6-3 decision in Department of State v. Muñoz that U.S. citizens petitioning for their foreign spouses do not have a constitutional liberty interest in their spouses being admitted to the country.

What’s worse, the court upheld the doctrine of consular nonreviewability, which says that there can be no judicial review of a consular officer’s decision finding a visa applicant inadmissible, except in a very limited class of constitutional cases.

About the Case


The plaintiff in the case, Sandra Muñoz, married her husband, a Salvadoran citizen in 2010, and shared a U.S. Citizen child with him. Thereafter, her husband applied for an immigrant visa at the U.S. Consulate in El Salvador so that they could live together in the United States and sought a waiver of inadmissibility. He denied having any gang affiliations despite being heavily tattooed.

After undergoing several interviews, the consular officer denied his application, citing §1182(a)(3)(A)(ii), a provision that renders inadmissible a noncitizen whom the officer “knows, or has reasonable ground to believe, seeks to enter the United States to engage solely, principally, or incidentally in” certain specified offenses or “any other unlawful activity.”

The plaintiff’s husband assumed that he had been denied a visa based upon the erroneous finding that he was a member of the gang MS-13. He denied being a member and requested the Consulate to reconsider its findings.

After the consulate refused, they appealed to the Department of State, which ultimately agreed with the consulate’s determination.

The couple then sought Congressional intervention and sued the State Department, claiming that they violated the plaintiff’s constitutional liberty interest in her husband’s visa application by failing to give a sufficient reason why he was inadmissible under the “unlawful activity” bar.

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Did you register for the Diversity Visa Lottery in fiscal year 2025? If so, then you won’t want to miss this important video where attorney Jacob Sapochnick shares how you can check the status of your entry online to know whether you have been chosen to apply for a Diversity Visa (DV). Checking the status of your entry is an important step in the application process because the State Department does not notify lottery winners directly.

Learn more about how to check your status in this video.


Overview


Earlier this month, the State Department selected the winners of the fiscal year 2025 Diversity Visa lottery. Registrants can now check whether they have been chosen by navigating to the 2025 Entrant Status Check webpage.

To check your status, you will need to have your confirmation number, enter your last/family name, and year of birth.

Once you have confirmed that you have been selected in the DV lottery, the State Department webpage will include detailed information on how and when you must apply for permanent residence in the United States.

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In this video attorney Jacob Sapochnick discusses the State Department’s release of the June 2024 Visa Bulletin. Learn all about the changes we are seeing in the family-sponsored and employment-based categories for the month of June in this video.


Adjustment of Status Filing Chart June 2024


For the month of June 2024, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will continue to use the Dates for Filing Chart for all family-sponsored preference categories, and the Final Action Dates Chart for all employment-based preference categories, when applying for adjustment of status to permanent residence in the United States.


Top Highlights of the June Visa Bulletin


Employment-Based Categories

Unfortunately, for the employment-based categories, the June Visa Bulletin shows no movement.

  • The Dates for Filing chart in June remains unchanged from the previous months.
  • The Final Action Dates for EB-1, EB-2, and EB-5 remain unchanged.
  • Only EB-3 India will advance by one week.

Family-Sponsored Categories

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In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick provides a new update regarding the recent increase in the Immigrant Visa backlogs, which grew to more than 25,000 additional cases in the month of April alone.

To find out why this is this happening and what can you expect, please keep on watching.

Did you Know? Every month the Department of State’s National Visa Center (NVC) publishes an Immigrant Visa Backlog report, which provides data and statistics relating to the current status of worldwide visa operations, including the number of documentarily complete immigrant visa cases currently at the National Visa Center waiting for interviews, the number of cases that were scheduled for interviews at the end of each month, and the number of immigrant visa cases still waiting to be scheduled for a visa interview after interview appointment scheduling was completed at the end of the month.


Overview


According to the Department of State’s Immigrant Visa Backlog Report for the month of April 2024, there has been a substantial increase in the immigrant visa (IV) backlog rising from 326,415 pending cases in March to 351,624 cases in April —  nearly a 10% increase amounting to a jump of 25,209 additional cases added to the backlog in just a one-month period. 

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Did you know? The May 2024 Visa Bulletin was recently released by the Department of State. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick talks about the exciting movement we are seeing in almost all the family-sponsored categories in the month of May, and what we can expect to see for the employment-based categories in the coming months.


Adjustment of Status Filing Chart May 2024


For the month of May 2024, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will continue to use the Dates for Filing Chart for all family-sponsored preference categories, and the Final Action Dates Chart for all employment-based preference categories, when applying for adjustment of status to permanent residence in the United States.


What Can We Expect to see in the Month of May?


Family-sponsored categories


FINAL ACTION DATES FOR FAMILY-SPONSORED PREFERENCE CASES


The Final Action Dates Chart for the family-sponsored categories advanced for nearly all categories as follows:

  • F1 Mexico will advance by 5.5 months to October 15, 2001
  • F1 Philippines will remain the same at March 1, 2012
  • F1 All other countries will advance by 4.9 months to July 8, 2015
  • F2A Mexico will advance by 2.8 months to November 8, 2020
  • F2A Philippines will advance by 8.7 months to June 1, 2021
  • F2A All other countries will advance by 8.7 months to June 1, 2021
  • F2B Mexico will advance by 4.3 months to March 1, 2004
  • F2B Philippines will remain at October 22, 2011
  • F2B All other countries will advance by 4.3 months to April 1, 2016
  • F3 Mexico will advance by 10.4 months to July 22, 1999
  • F3 Philippines will advance by 1.8 months to August 1, 2002
  • F3 All other countries will advance by 3 months to January 1, 2010
  • F4 Worldwide and China will advance by 1.4 months to July 22, 2007
  • F4 India will advance by 1 month to January 15, 2006
  • F4 Mexico will advance by 3.3 months to January 22, 2001
  • F4 Philippines will advance by 2.8 months to September 8, 2003

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In this video attorney Jacob Sapochnick touches upon an important debate in immigration law, is it better to keep your green card or apply for U.S. Citizenship once you are eligible to do so?

This video will explain the types of circumstances in which an individual may prefer to maintain his or her green card and opt out of becoming a U.S. Citizen.

To learn more about this important topic, please keep watching.


Overview


Differences between U.S. Citizenship versus Permanent Residence


U.S. Citizenship


Applying for U.S. Citizenship leads to a variety of legal rights and privileges that are not available to permanent residents (green card holders). For some, these benefits are a compelling reason to apply for citizenship to have access to the wide variety of opportunities that are only available to naturalized citizens.

Some of these benefits include but are not limited to:

  1. Having the Right to Vote in state and federal elections
  2. Applying to federal jobs that are only available to U.S. Citizens such as law enforcement positions, and occupations that require a high security clearance such as working in the defense industry or for the U.S. military
  3. Sponsorship of Family Members: U.S. Citizens can petition to immigrate their immediate relatives to the United States without being subject to the numerical limitations of the Visa Bulletin. Permanent residents on the other hand may only petition for certain relatives and such applications are subject to numerical limitations.
  4. International Travel Benefits: U.S. Citizens may also engage in international travel without having to worry about placing their legal status in jeopardy. Unlike citizens, permanent residents must maintain continuous residence and physical presence in the United States, or risk losing their immigration status
  5. Criminal Offenses: Certain criminal offenses can lead to the deportation of a green card holder as well as other serious issues including being permanently barred from entering the U.S. that do not affect U.S. Citizens in the same manner.

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If you are holding any crypto assets, such as bitcoin, Ethereum, or any other blockchain cryptocurrency, can you use those assets to move to the United States?

In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick discusses the use of crypto assets as the source of funds for E-2 visa investment purposes and everything you need to know about this topic.


Overview


Is there a way to move to the United States using crypto assets?


Yes. The visa type that can be used for this purpose is the E-2 Treaty Investor nonimmigrant visa, which allows qualifying applicants to start and manage their businesses in the United States, by making an irrevocable investment in their business and hiring U.S. workers.

The E-2 visa allows foreign nationals to live and work for their U.S. business for an initial duration of two years. Thereafter, investors may apply for E-2 extensions in increments of up to two years each. One of the great advantages of the E-2 visa is that there is no limit to the number of extensions you can apply for, so long as you maintain a sincere intention to depart the United States when your visa status expires.

Additionally, this visa allows your spouse and unmarried children under age 21 to accompany you to the United States by seeking the E-2 classification as your dependents.

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yz6vWTjLjuQ

If you are going through the immigrant visa process and are waiting for your interview to be scheduled at a U.S. Consulate or Embassy overseas, then you won’t want to miss this important video. Attorney Jacob Sapochnick shares the latest updates regarding the operational capacity of U.S. Consular posts and Embassies worldwide as of March 2024.


Overview


As the spring and summer months are approaching, U.S. Embassies and Consulates worldwide are accelerating the processing of immigrant visas to reduce the visa backlogs.

As we have seen, the Department of State has advanced the Final Action Dates for most employment-based categories in the April Visa Bulletin. Additionally, significant advancements were also made in the March Visa Bulletin for the family-sponsored categories.

These advancements will keep the Department of State busy in the coming months, as more and more immigrant visa cases that are documentarily complete are scheduled for interviews at U.S. Embassies and Consulates worldwide for those with current priority dates.

As our readers will know, during the height of the Coronavirus outbreak, there was an enormous demand for visa interviews, but not enough interview slots for applicants to be scheduled. But now things are improving.

As a reminder, please remember to tune into our monthly videos where we analyze the Visa Bulletin, explaining the availability of visas for family-sponsored and employment-based preference categories, numerical limitations, and how to know when your priority date is current during any given month.

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In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick analyzes the April 2024 Visa Bulletin and discusses the significant movement in the employment based categories and modest movement in the family-sponsored preference categories for the month of April. We also discuss our predictions on what to expect from the Visa Bulletin in the coming months.

If you would like to know more about this topic, we invite you to watch our video.


Adjustment of Status Filing Chart April 2024


For the month of April 2024, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will use the Dates for Filing chart for family-sponsored filings to determine eligibility for I-485 adjustment of status filings (green card filings inside the US).

For employment-based preference categories, USCIS will use the Final Action Dates chart to determine eligibility for I-485 adjustment of status filings (green card filings inside the US).


What Changes Can Be Seen Next Month?


Family-sponsored categories

Dates for Filing

The Dates for Filing chart remains unchanged from the previous month except for the following categories:

  • F4 India will advance by 1.5 months to April 8, 2006, and
  • F4 Philippines will advance by 1 year to April 22, 2005

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Do you have a visa that has been pending for an unreasonable period at a U.S. Consulate or Embassy abroad, or perhaps that has been stuck in administrative processing for years with no decision? If so, you may be interested to learn of possible solutions to resolve your case matter.

In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick tells you everything you need to know about this important topic, including a discussion about the writ of mandamus lawsuit, and how it can help compel a decision in certain cases where there has been an unreasonable delay.

If you would like to know more about this topic, we invite you to watch our video.


Overview


Mandamus Lawsuits for Immigration Delays


A mandamus lawsuit also known as a writ of mandamus, is filed in federal court to compel a government body to fulfill their legal duty, for instance by issuing a decision on a visa application or immigration benefit, that has been unreasonably delayed by the agency.

The purpose of the mandamus lawsuit is to hold the government accountable where they have failed to act, as required by U.S. immigration law, to make a decision on an application. In cases where the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) or the Department of State (DOS) has failed to fulfill its duty, the mandamus lawsuit may be appropriate to help move a case forward to its final decision.

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