Articles Posted in Consular Processing

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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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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Are you interested in learning about the green card wait times for family-sponsored and employment-based preference categories subject to the annual limits?

If so, then we invite you to watch this video about the newly released October 2023 Visa Bulletin. This is a Visa Bulletin you won’t want to miss because October is the start of a brand new fiscal year. The Department of State has confirmed that there will be an estimated 165,000 employment-based visa numbers allocated in fiscal year 2024, which ends on September 30, 2024.

USCIS has confirmed that it will accept adjustment of status applications filed in the month of October pursuant to the Dates for Filing chart for both family-sponsored and employment-based preference categories.

The October Visa Bulletin Dates for Filing chart shows advancement from last month for all employment-based categories except EB-3 worldwide, Mexico, and Philippines which will retrogress by 3-4 months; EB-1 India will also retrogress by two months.

The Dates for Filing chart for the family-sponsored categories remains unchanged from last month.


Highlights of the October 2023 Visa Bulletin


Here are some of the highlights of the October 2023 Visa Bulletin which marks the start of the new fiscal year 2024.

Employment Based Categories


Final Action cutoff dates:

  • EB-1: will advance by five years for India to January 1, 2017, and by two weeks for China to February 15, 2022. All other countries will be current in October.
  • EB-2: will advance by one year to January 1, 2012, for India, and by almost three months for China to October 1, 2019. All other countries will advance by one week to July 8, 2022, in October.
  • EB-3:  EB-3 Professional/Skilled Worker will advance by three years and four months for India, to May 1, 2012, and by four months for China to January 1, 2020. All other countries will advance by one year and seven months to December 1, 2021.
  • EB-5: For EB-5 Unreserved categories (C5, T5, I5, and R5) India will advance by one year and eight months to December 15, 2018, and by three weeks for China to October 1, 2015. All other countries will be current in October. The EB-5 set aside categories (Rural, High Unemployment, and Infrastructure) will also be current in October.

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Would you like to know how you can renew your U.S. visa in 2023? If so, then this video is right for you.


Overview


Your U.S. visa has expired and now it’s renewal time. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick discusses the general process of applying to renew your U.S. visa in 2023 at a U.S. Consulate or Embassy overseas.

Please note that there are hundreds of different U.S. visa categories that have their own eligibility criteria and renewal requirements. The information provided here does not, and is not intended, to constitute legal advice. To obtain legal advice on your particular facts, case, or circumstances, please consult with a licensed immigration attorney.

For visa specific information and documentary requirements, applicants may contact their closest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.


Visa Renewal Steps


Here are the main steps that any applicant must take when renewing their visa at a U.S. Consulate or Embassy abroad.

Step One: Make sure that you qualify for your U.S. Visa Renewal

First and foremost, regardless of your visa type you must be prepared to provide documentary evidence to the Consular official to prove that you remain eligible for the renewal of your visa.

For example, if you are renewing a student visa you must provide your updated Form I-20 Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status to show that you remain eligible to study in the United States. If you are applying to renew your tourist visa, you must continue to demonstrate your eligibility such as proof of temporary stay, strong ties to your home country, proof of sufficient finances to cover your temporary stay, etc.

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If you are planning to study in the United States, you should be aware of the increasingly high rate of denials among F-1 and M-1 student visa applicants. If you are interested in learning more about this important topic, please keep on watching.


Overview


According to a new report released by several research institutions, the denial rates for student visas have increased dramatically in recent years. In this video, we will discuss why this has been happening and what you need to know if you are planning to study in the United States.

The report includes a statistical analysis covering a 7-year period from 2015 to 2022, which demonstrates an annual increase in the rate of denials with the greatest impact affecting F-1 student visa applicants. The regions with the highest rates of denial are reportedly Africa, South Asia, the Middle East, and South America.

Africa bore the greatest share of denials, with a denial rate sitting at 54% in 2022. This figure is concerning because over half of all African student visas were denied, when compared to denial rates of just 36% for Asian students and 9% for European students. South America came in second place, with more than a 50% increase in F-1 visa denial rates when compared to a 10% denial rate in 2015 and 24% denial rate in 2022.

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Want to know why the immigrant visa backlog is still a big issue in 2023? Then you won’t want to miss this blog post, where attorney Jacob Sapochnick tells you all you need to know about the visa backlogs.


Overview


So, you’ve filed your green card application and now your case is stuck in the backlogs. In this video we discuss what the green card backlog is and why it is still happening in 2023.


What is a green card backlog?


A green card backlog occurs when there have been significant delays in the processing and approval of applications for adjustment of status to permanent residency (also known as green card applications filed with USCIS) and/or immigrant visa applications awaiting interview scheduling at U.S. Consulates and Embassies abroad.

While the backlog has always existed to some extent, mandatory quarantines and social distancing protocols occurring during the Coronavirus pandemic worsened delays in green card processing. Additionally, the annual numerical limits for family-sponsored and employment-based preference categories limit the number of green cards that can be issued every year, therefore causing delays among millions of applicants who must wait for their “priority date” to become current on the Visa Bulletin, before becoming eligible to apply for their green card. For many of these categories, demand for visas far exceeds the number of available visas which causes a backlog of applicants waiting for their turn at the front of the line.

Furthermore, the Immigration and Nationality Act imposes a per-country limit on the number of green cards that can be issued by country of nationality. Therefore, applicants from countries that experience a high demand for visas such as India, China, Mexico, and the Philippines have much longer wait times when compared to other foreign nationals.

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In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick provides a brand-new update regarding the current Immigrant Visa backlogs for those currently going through Consular processing (waiting for an interview at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate overseas), as well as those with cases at the National Visa Center.

What you need to know is that from the period of June to July 2023, there has been nearly no movement in the Immigrant Visa backlog. At the same time, there has been a decrease in the number of people who were actually scheduled for Immigrant Visa interviews at U.S. Consulates and Embassies overseas from June to July as indicated in the figures below.

Therefore, while the backlog remains the same, more and more people are being scheduled for visa interviews.

If you want to know what you can expect moving forward, 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 each month


Overview


According to the National Visa Center’s Immigrant Visa Backlog Report for the month of July 2023, there has been a very modest increase in the immigrant visa (IV) backlog rising from 351,337 pending cases in June to 351,821 pending cases in July.

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