Articles Posted in COVID Updates

Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick discusses the August 2021 Visa Bulletin and goes over Charlie Oppenheim’s predictions for movement and retrogression in the family based and employment sponsored categories for August and September 2021.

Keep on watching to find out more!


Overview


What is the Visa Bulletin?


Every month, the Department of State publishes the Visa Bulletin which contains important information regarding immigrant visa availability for family based and employment sponsored preference categories. The Visa Bulletin indicates when statutorily limited visas are available for issuance to prospective immigrants based on their individual priority date and preference category.

Essentially, the Visa Bulletin governs the availability of visas and outlines limitations. By statute, the government imposes an annual minimum family-sponsored preference limit of 226,000 immigrant visas (visa quota).  The worldwide level for annual employment-based preference immigrants is at least 140,000 immigrant visas.


In what order are visas issued?


Family-sponsored and employment-based preference immigrant visas are issued to eligible immigrants in the order in which a petition on behalf of each has been filed (priority date).

Spouses and children of preference immigrants are entitled to the same status, and the same order of consideration, if accompanying or following to join the principal.

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Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick discusses the National Visa Center (NVC) immigrant visa backlog and current NVC processing times in the month of June. Stay tuned for updates on the Department of State’s plan to reopen Embassies and Consulates worldwide, and information on how Consular posts will be prioritizing visa issuance in the next few months for F-1 students, H-1B workers, H-4 spouses, and J-1 Workers.

Want to know more? Keep on watching for all the details.


Overview


The National Visa Center’s Backlog

As many of you know, last year the Department of State made the difficult decision to temporarily suspend routine visa services at U.S. Embassies and Consular posts worldwide to prevent the rapid spread of the Coronavirus. The suspension was necessary to adhere to local regulations such as the mandatory quarantines and social distancing required to contain the virus. Although Embassies and Consulates are now following a phased resumption of visa services framework, limited resources and local country conditions in some regions have prevented Consular posts from providing routine visa services as before. Most Consular sections are not operating at normal capacity, and are prioritizing visa appointments for emergencies, mission critical visa services, and immediate relatives of U.S. Citizens including K fiancé(e)s.

On February 2, 2021, President Biden issued Executive Order, “Restoring Faith in Our Legal Immigration Systems and Strengthening Integration and Inclusion Efforts for New Americans,” which was designed to promote integration and inclusion for foreign born immigrants, including the dismantling of harmful anti-immigrant policies.

Despite the issuance of this Executive Order, Embassies and Consulates have not been able to return to normalcy and routine visa services have remained suspended. Consular officials are still refusing to issue visas for individuals that remain in the lower tier of immigrant visa prioritization, including family preference, employment preference, and diversity immigrant visa applicants. This has prompted hundreds of individuals to join numerous class action lawsuits to force the government to intervene.

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Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick informs you of an exciting new court decision handed down by a federal judge from the Northern District of California. This new court decision immediately vacates the 2019 Modernization Rules passed under the Trump administration. As our readers will be aware, the 2019 Rules sought to raise the minimum investment amount for EB-5 investors from $500,000 to $900,000, narrowing the pool of applicants able to apply for a green card. The good news is that this new ruling reinstates the original rules governing the EB-5 visa program and reverts the minimum investment amount back to $500,000.

In addition to this exciting news, Jacob discusses further updates regarding immigration reform bills before Congress, pending litigation against the State Department, and more!

Want to know more? Keep on watching for all the details.


Overview


New Court Ruling Reinstates $500,000 Minimum Investment Amount for the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program

We are happy to announce that thanks to a new landmark court decision, known as matter of Behring Regional Center LLC V. Chad Wolf et al. EB-5 Immigrant Investors will now have the opportunity to invest a minimum amount of $500,000 in an EB-5 project within a geographic area, considered a Targeted Employment Area. On June 22nd Federal Judge Corley announced in a court ruling that the 2019 Modernization Rule passed under the Trump administration would be vacated immediately, considering that the former acting DHS Secretary, Kevin McAleenan was not properly appointed to his position under the Federal Vacancies Reform Act when he implemented the 2019 Modernization Rule. As a result, Mc Aleenan did not have the authority to issue the rule, and it has now been declared invalid under the eyes of the law.

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Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick brings you a brand-new update available on our YouTube channel, discussing a new policy that will allow U visa victims of criminal activity to apply for employment authorization with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and receive deferred action protecting them from removal from the United States while their applications are pending with USCIS.

Keep on watching for all the details.


Overview


What is the U visa?

The U visa is a special nonimmigrant visa classification specifically created by U.S. Congress for victims of certain crimes who have suffered mental or physical abuse and are helpful to law enforcement or government officials in the investigation or prosecution of criminal activity. The purpose of the U visa is to protect certain victims of crimes while at the same time ensuring that perpetrators of certain crimes are brought to justice.

In general, to qualify for a U visa, you must:

  • Have been the victim of a qualifying criminal activity (such as extortion, felonious assault, rape, sexual assault, domestic violence, sexual exploitation, stalking, torture, and other types of crimes.)
  • Have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of having been a victim of criminal activity.
  • Have information about the criminal activity. If you are under the age of 16 or unable to provide information due to a disability, a parent, guardian, or next friend may possess the information about the crime on your behalf
  • Have been helpful, are helpful, or are likely to be helpful to law enforcement in the investigation or prosecution of the crime. If you are under the age of 16 or unable to provide information due to a disability, a parent, guardian, or next friend may assist law enforcement on your behalf.
  • The crime must have occurred in the United States or violated U.S. laws.
  • Be admissible to the United States. Those who are not admissible, may be eligible to apply for a waiver on a Form I-192, Application for Advance Permission to Enter as a Nonimmigrant.

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Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick provides a brand-new update regarding the current backlogs faced by the National Visa Center for cases that are documentarily qualified. As a separate update, Jacob discusses the status of nonimmigrant visa services, specifically for E-2 Treaty Trader Investor Visa applicants at U.S. Embassies and Consulates overseas. What is happening with these visa types and when can you expect to proceed with your case? What options do you have to speed up your case?

To find out more just keep on watching.


Overview


Visa Backlogs

As you know the COVID-19 pandemic has had disastrous effects on the U.S. immigration system, and especially on visa processing at U.S. Embassies and Consulates abroad. Safety and health concerns have prompted Consular sections worldwide to dramatically scale back visa operations, causing significant visa backlogs for both immigrant and non-immigrant visa applicants. The magnitude of these backlogs has become so severe that the State Department has said that it does not believe these backlogs will be cleared even by the end of 2022.

As you may recall in March of 2020, U.S. Embassies and Consulates made the difficult decision to suspend routine visa services worldwide and began limiting their capacity to schedule visa interview appointments for the vast majority of applicants.

This has caused applicants to become increasingly concerned about when they will be able to reunite with family members in the United States and return to a life of normalcy.

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Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick shares with you why more than 100,000 U.S. Citizens are stuck overseas unable to renew their U.S. passports. Additionally, Jacob discusses the reason behind the denied entry of thousands of green card holders who have remained overseas for more than a year, and the status of visa services for U.S. Citizens and legal permanent residents at U.S. Embassies and Consulates abroad. Tune in to learn more about what you can do, if you are a U.S. Citizen or green card holder currently stuck overseas during the Embassy closures.

Want to know more? Keep on watching.


Overview


During the Coronavirus pandemic, Consular appointments for U.S. Citizens have been nearly impossible to obtain. That is because public health and safety remain a paramount concern during the COVID-19 health crisis. The unprecedented circumstances surrounding the Coronavirus pandemic have unfortunately prompted U.S. Consulates and Embassies worldwide to drastically scale back visa operations, including the services that can be provided. Embassies and Consulates have said that visa operations will not resume as normal until it is safe to do so. The social distancing protocols and local quarantines have also had an impact on the volume of people that can be seen for visa appointments, making them a lot more difficult to come by.

This reduction of visa services has not just impacted immigrant and non-immigrant visa applicants, but also U.S. Citizens and legal permanent residents living overseas.

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Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick discusses a new Presidential Proclamation passed by President Joe Biden, that temporarily restricts and suspends the entry of nonimmigrants into the United States, who were physically present within the Republic of India during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States.

Want to know more? Keep on watching.


Overview


In response to the magnitude and high number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Republic of India, the White House has made the decision to initiate a Regional COVID-19 related Presidential Proclamation, temporarily restricting and suspending the entry of nonimmigrants from the Republic of India into the United States. Those impacted will include any nonimmigrant who has been physically present within the Republic of India during the 14-day period preceding his or her entry or attempted entry into the United States.

As has been the case with previous COVID-19 Regional Presidential Proclamations, the following categories of nonimmigrants will NOT be impacted by this Proclamation:

Section 1 of this Presidential Proclamation does not apply to:

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Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick discusses a new pilot program that will improve the accuracy and reporting of current USCIS processing times. As our readers will be aware, USCIS processing times have increased significantly during the past few years, especially for certain types of petitions, due to severe backlogs and personnel shortages caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Unfortunately, this has made it more and more difficult for applicants to ascertain exactly where they stand in the processing pipeline. To help resolve these issues, USCIS is testing new ways to better calculate processing times for immigration benefit requests with the unveiling of a new pilot program. This new system will help certain applicants determine whether their case is outside of the normal processing time, and when they can inquire about the status of their case. The pilot program will begin with posted processing times for Forms I-90, I-102, I-485, I-526, I-751, I-765, I-817, I-824, I-829, I-914, I-924, N-400, N-600 and N-600K.


Overview


Unfortunately, thousands of applicants have been negatively impacted by the lengthy processing times, currently affecting a broad range of applications and petitions filed at USCIS service centers nationwide. Many have been waiting months on end for interview scheduling, while others have yet to receive a Notice of Action, informing them that their case was properly filed and received by USCIS.

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Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick provides a breaking news update: The Department of State recently announced that the entry of immigrant and fiancé(e) visa applicants is in the National Interest, despite the COVID-19 Regional Presidential Proclamations, which have prevented those physically present within the Schengen Area, Brazil, China, the United Kingdom, Ireland, South Africa, and Iran from obtaining visas. In addition, the Secretary has carved out exceptions for other special types of nonimmigrants who have been physically presented in the affected countries.

What exactly does this mean for you? Keep on watching for all the details.


Overview


Immigrant and fiancé(e) visa applicants who were previously subject to Presidential Proclamations 9984, 9992, 9993, and 10041, may now breathe a sigh of relief. That is because on April 8, 2021, the Department of State, announced via its website that such Regional Presidential Proclamations will no longer restrict immigrant visa and fiancé(e) visa applicants from obtaining a visa to enter the United States.

The Secretary of State has now determined that the travel of immigrant and fiancé(e) visa applicants is in the National Interest and will approve exceptions for anyone wishing to travel to the United States, from countries which were previously banned from entering the United States due to the COVID-19 Regional Presidential Proclamations.

Prior to this announcement, all immigrant and nonimmigrant visa applicants, physically present within the Schengen Area, Brazil, China, the United Kingdom, Ireland, South Africa, and Iran, during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States, were restricted from entering the United States to contain the prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Such restrictions are no more.

DOS has stated that, Immigrant Visa processing posts may now grant immigrant and fiancé(e) visas to applicants otherwise eligible, notwithstanding these proclamations.

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Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick answers your frequently asked questions on a variety of different topics in the world of immigration including: the resumption of visa services at U.S. Embassies and Consulates worldwide, NVC procedures, the public charge rule, and other immigration updates.

Want to know if we answered your question? Watch this video to find out.


Frequently Asked Questions


Q: When will the National Visa Center start scheduling interviews? I am already Documentarily Qualified by the NVC and I am awaiting an appointment date. It has been three months since I received Documentary Qualification.

A: This is a very common question we receive on a daily basis. To help our viewers with this question, we have made a dedicated video explaining how the NVC is working with U.S. Embassies abroad to send cases and schedule interviews based on cases that have been documentarily qualified by the NVC. NVC has stated that all cases that have been documentarily qualified will be sent to the U.S. Embassy abroad in the order that they have been documentarily qualified by the NVC.

However, please remember that even if your case has been Documentarily Qualified by the NVC, an interview is not necessarily guaranteed. The NVC must rely on the U.S. Embassy to determine whether the Embassy is accepting interview appointments. Their availability to take appointments will largely depend on the country conditions of each post. If your Embassy is not accepting cases for interviews, your case will remain warehoused at the NVC until the Embassy is ready to schedule interviews.

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