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Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick discusses what’s ahead for U.S. immigration law in 2021.

Want to know more? Keep on watching for more information.


Overview


As we enter the Biden administration, many of our readers want to know what’s possible in the world of immigration law. What might President Biden do within his first 100 days in office and how might his decisions impact immigration?

We anticipate that U.S. immigration policies will experience an overhaul under the Biden administration beginning on January 20th when he takes office. His administration will likely focus on undoing many of the harmful and restrictive policies passed during the last four years by President Donald Trump. We believe that litigation will slowly die down as the need to challenge President Trump’s policies disappears.

Biden’s policies in general will favor the expansion of temporary work visas for highly skilled professionals which we believe will benefit U.S. companies seeking to hire more foreign talent.

Biden’s transition to the presidency will also have the likely effect of encouraging many families to begin working on their immigration processes to legalize their status in the United States.

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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 President’s recent decision to extend Presidential Proclamations 10014 and 10052.

Want to know more? Keep on watching for more information.


Overview


First and foremost, we would like to wish our readers a very Happy Near Year. We hope that the new year brings many positive developments in the world of immigration law, especially with the changing administration on January 20th.

In this post we update you regarding a recent decision made by President Trump to extend his previously issued Proclamations known as Proclamation 10014 and 10052 until March 31, 2021.


What are these proclamations?


On April 22nd, President Trump issued P.P. 10014 entitled, “Suspension of Entry of Immigrants Who Present a Risk to the United States Labor Market During the Economic Recovery Following the 2019 Novel Coronavirus Outbreak.”

This proclamation created a 60-day ban on the issuance of new visas at U.S. Consulates and Embassies abroad and limited entry to the United States for a wide variety of people. The Proclamation was set to expire on June 22, 2020 but was further extended by the issuance of Proclamation 10052 until December 31, 2020.

Specifically, Proclamation 10014 applied to:

  • Aliens who were outside of the United States on the effective date of the Proclamation (April 23)
  • Aliens who did not have an immigrant visa that was valid on the effective date of the Proclamation (April 23rd) and
  • Aliens who did not have an official travel document other than a visa on the effective date of the proclamation (April 23rd) or issued on any date thereafter that permitted him or her to travel to the United States and seek entry or admission

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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 few new immigration updates regarding flexibility for request for evidence responses, adjustment of status interview waivers, and biometrics appointment waivers.

Want to know more? Keep on watching for more information.


Overview


Extended Flexibility for Responses to Request for Evidence

USCIS recently extended its flexibility policy for applicants who need more time to respond to a request for evidence, notice of intent to deny, and other such related notices.

Applicants who receive any of the below mentioned documents dated between March 1, 2020 and January 31, 2020 are given 60 additional days (after the response deadline indicated) to respond to the request or notice:

  • Requests for Evidence;
  • Continuations to Request Evidence (N-14);
  • Notices of Intent to Deny;
  • Notices of Intent to Revoke;
  • Notices of Intent to Rescind and Notices of Intent to Terminate regional investment centers;
  • Filing date requirements for Form N-336, Request for a Hearing on a Decision in Naturalization Proceedings (Under Section 336 of the INA); or
  • Filing date requirements for Form I-290B, Notice of Appeal or Motion.

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Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick answers a hot topic that has been frequently asked by our followers: what are the top reasons for CR/IR-1 immigrant visa denials and what can you do about it.

Want to know more? Keep on watching for more information.


Overview


What is a CR-1/IR-1 visa?

A CR-1 or IR-1 visa is an immigrant visa for a spouse of a United States Citizen who is residing abroad. The term “CR” in CR-1 stands for “conditional resident” and is issued to foreign spouses who have been married for less than 2 years. By contrast the term “IR” in IR-1 stands for “immediate relative” and is issued to foreign spouses who have been married for more than 2 years. Those who receive a CR-1 visa will eventually receive a 2-year conditional green card after entering the United States, while those who receive an IR-1 visa will receive a 10-year green card (without condition).

The first step to apply for a CR-1/IR-1 visa is for the U.S. Citizen spouse to file a Petition for Alien Relative, Form I-130, with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on behalf of the foreign spouse. This petition initiates the immigration process to the United States. Once Form I-130 is approved by USCIS, the petition is transferred to the National Visa Center for pre-processing. At the National Visa Center stage, the applicant must complete the immigrant visa application and provide civil documentation. After sending all required documents to the National Visa Center, the NVC will forward the case to the U.S. Embassy near the foreign spouse and the applicant will wait to be scheduled for an Embassy interview. The Embassy interview is often a make it or break moment for couples who must prove that they have a “bona fide” marriage to be approved for their visa.


What are the top reasons for CR/IR-1 denials?


#1 Not meeting the income requirement for the affidavit of support

The number one reason for spousal visa denials is failing to meet the income requirement for the affidavit of support. As part of the spousal visa application process, the U.S. Citizen spouse must sign the I-864 Affidavit of Support, which is a legally enforceable contract between the U.S. Citizen and the government wherein the U.S. Citizen must sign under penalty of perjury that they have the adequate means to financial support the alien and the alien will not rely on the U.S. government for financial support.

What is the income requirement?

The minimum amount that the U.S. Citizen must make depends on his or her household size. In general, petitioners must make at least 125% of the federal poverty guidelines. However, exceptions exist for petitioners who are on active duty in the U.S. armed forces. Petitioners who do not satisfy the income requirement must apply with a joint sponsor, who must also sign a separate I-864 Affidavit of Support and provide evidence of financial ability. If the petitioner and joint sponsor do not qualify, the spousal visa application will be denied.

To prevent this situation from happening petitioners must make sure well in advance of filing the I-130 application, that they either meet the income requirement, or that they can obtain a joint sponsor who is willing and able to sign the affidavit of support and provide the necessary documentation.

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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 relating to K-1 visas, the National Visa Center, and consular visa processing during the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic.

Want to know more? Keep on watching for more information.


Your Frequently Asked Questions


Q: How can I contact the National Visa Center?

A: Once your Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative has been approved, your case will be transferred to the National Visa Center for further processing. Once pre-processing has been completed, your case will be forwarded to the U.S. Consulate or Embassy near you. At the NVC stage, you will be asked to provide additional supporting documentation including the affidavit of support, Form DS-260 Immigrant Visa Electronic Application, and other important documents.

To ensure all of your supporting documentation has been received it is very important to maintain contact with the National Visa Center.

You may contact the NVC by email at NVCinquiry@state.gov or by telephone at 603-334-0700.


Q: Will immigration consider my priority date or approval date for interview?

A: For family-sponsored immigrants, the priority date is the date that the Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, or in certain instances the Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant, is properly filed with USCIS.

Depending on the type of relationship you have to the U.S. petitioner, you may need to reference your priority date to determine when an immigrant visa (or green card) will become available to you.

Immigrant visas for immediate relatives of U.S. citizens are unlimited, so they are always available. Immediate relatives include:

  • The spouses of U.S. citizens;
  • The children (unmarried and under 21 years of age) of U.S. citizens;
  • The parents of U.S. citizens at least 21 years old; and
  • Widows or widowers of U.S. citizens if the U.S. citizen filed a petition before they died, or if the widow(er) files a petition within two years of the citizen’s death.

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Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick answers one of your frequently asked questions: how can I apply for an E-2 investor visa despite the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic and suspension of routine visa services at Consulates and Embassies worldwide.

Want to know more? Keep on watching for more information.


Overview

More and more our office is receiving inquiries from prospective E-2 visa applicants who are stuck in the application process due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic.


First, what are the requirements for an E-2 visa?

The E-2 visa is a treaty trader investor visa that allows foreign investors from select countries to invest in an existing or new business enterprise in the United States.

Requirements:

  • The investor, either a person, partnership or corporate entity, must be a citizen of a treaty trade/investment country
  • You must have invested or be in the process of investing in the business and show the path of funds for the investment from your home country to the US account
  • The investment must come from the investor and the money must be “at risk,” meaning that the investor must take action to invest the money into equipment, renting the business premises, and other such investment activities
  • You must actually start the business and hire workers before applying for the E-2 visa
  • You must be in a position to direct the business with your experience and/or skills and be involved in the management or operation of the business. You cannot be a passive investor
  • There is no set investment amount required however the investment must be sufficient to start the particular business (this amount will vary depending on the type of business enterprise)
  • The business cannot be marginal –the business should not be established solely for the purpose of earning a living for the applicant and his or her family.

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Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick updates you regarding the status of K-1 visa interview scheduling at U.S. Consulates and Embassies worldwide, as well as the status of a new lawsuit that seeks to push K-1 visa cases through the pipeline.

Want to know more? Keep on watching for more information.

Overview

Since the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic, U.S. Consulates and Embassies abroad have refused to schedule K-1 visa applicants for interviews and have instead opted to prioritize interview scheduling for certain spouses of U.S. Citizens. As a result, thousands of couples have remained separated for months on end with virtually no end in sight. This has been a very puzzling phenomenon given that foreign fiancés should be given priority for visa issuance based on their qualifying relationship to a U.S. Citizen. In some cases, K-1 visa applicants have had their interviews cancelled with no follow-up from the Consulate or Embassy regarding future rescheduling, while in others K-1 visa applications have not moved past the NVC stage for interview scheduling.

In our own experience very few K-1 visa applicants have received visa interviews and the cases that have been prioritized are because of serious medical emergencies or other urgent needs. We have been successful in receiving interviews only where the applicant has received approval for expedited processing.

In an unexpected turn of events on August 30, 2020, the Department of State released a cable stating that effective August 28th K-1 visa cases would receive “high priority.” The cable directed K-1 visa applications to check the website of their nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for updates on the services offered by the post.

Unfortunately, this cable did not provide applicants with any relief because it was largely ignored by U.S. Consulates and Embassies. Many applicants contacted their posts directly and were given generic messages stating that the post was not able to provide services for K-1 visa applicants until further notice. These new revelations ultimately forced K-1 applicants to seek relief from the courts.

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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 employment and family-based interview waivers during the Coronavirus pandemic. In addition, he discusses a recent trend being followed by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Want to know more? Keep on watching for more information.

Overview

While no official policy or memorandum has been issued by USCIS regarding interview waivers, since at least May of this year, we have seen the agency use their broad discretionary power to waive the interview requirement for at least certain employment and family-based petitions, approving these cases without first scheduling an interview.

What does it mean for USCIS to “waive” the interview requirement?

In general, all adjustment of status applicants must attend an in-person interview at a USCIS field office where an immigration officer will verify whether the applicant understood the questions being asked on the green card application and evaluate whether the applicant qualifies for the immigration benefit requested. The interview is a good opportunity to correct any mistakes on the application form and resolve any issues in the underlying case.

In some instances, USCIS officers may “waive” this interview requirement if they find that it is unnecessary to interview the applicant. In situations where the officer “waives” the in-person interview, he or she relies only on the written evidence provided on the application to approve the applicant for U.S. residence (the green card).

Normally, USCIS uses its discretion to waive interviews for parents of U.S. citizens, unmarried children under 21 years of age of U.S. Citizens, unmarried children under 14 years of age of lawful permanent residents, asylees and refugees who were previously interviewed by a USCIS officer, and applicants who are clearly ineligible for the benefit they seek.

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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 court order that prohibits the government from enforcing a final rule that sought to increase filing fees for certain applications and petitions filed with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). For more information keep on watching.


Overview

As many of you know on August 3, 2020, the Department of Homeland Security published a final rule in the Federal Register which sought to increase filing fees for most applications and petitions for immigration benefits payable to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). These filing fee increases were made by USCIS in order to help the agency meet its operational costs and ensure adequate resources to cover services provided by USCIS to applicants and petitioners.

Just days before the filing fee increase was scheduled to go into effect, a federal judge from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California issued a nationwide temporary injunction blocking the government from implementing the final rule. The court order essentially stops the government from enforcing the fee increases as the government had originally planned beginning October 2, 2020.

The preliminary injunction issued by the court took effect immediately as of the date of the ruling (September 29, 2020) and will remain in effect pending resolution of the lawsuit Immigrant Legal Resource Center, et al., v. Chad F. Wolf.


Why did the Judge Grant the Injunction?

Several nonprofit organizations including the immigrant Legal Resource Center came together to file a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California challenging the government’s planned enforcement of the final rule increasing USCIS filing fees. In their lawsuit, these organizations asked the court to grant a nationwide injunction to block the government from enforcing the rule to applications and petitions postmarked on or after October 2, 2020.

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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 newly released and much anticipated October 2020 visa bulletin. To hear about the availability of immigrant visa numbers for family based and employment-based preference categories for the month of October, keep on watching.


Overview

The release of the October 2020 visa bulletin has been much anticipated because the October visa bulletin kicks off the start of a brand-new fiscal year. The October visa bulletin is also important because it provides some insight into the availability of immigrant visa numbers, including visa numbers that have been unused as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, the suspension of routine visa services at Embassies and Consulates worldwide, and the various presidential proclamations that have halted visa issuance for certain types of immigrants.

As some of you may have noticed, the October visa bulletin was released later than usual, most likely because the Department of State has been scrambling in light of Consular closures to review the data and provide accurate information regarding the number of visas available for each preference category.

Since the suspension of routine visa services at Consular posts worldwide, nearly 100,000 immigrant visa applicants have been unable to obtain their visas, creating a “rollover” of unused visa numbers for the benefit of employment-based preference categories.


Employment Based Categories – October 2020

In order to file for adjustment of status based on employment during the month of October (for applicants lawfully residing in the United States), employment-sponsored applicants must have a priority date that is earlier than the dated listed below for their preference category and country of nationality.

All applicants filing under employment-based preference categories must use the Dates for Filing chart in the Department of State Visa Bulletin for October 2020.

Since Presidential Proclamations 10014 and 10052 have suspended the issuance of immigrant visas for most family-sponsored preference categories, we are seeing a rapid movement in the dates of most employment-based preference categories, because “unused” visas for the family-sponsored categories have shifted or “rolled over” to the employment-based categories as a result of these Proclamations.

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