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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 discusses the new November 2020 visa bulletin, including upcoming visa trends and predictions for family-sponsored and employment-based preference categories.

Want to know more? Keep on watching for more information


Overview

We are very excited about the new release of the November Visa Bulletin. Some exciting advancements have taken place for certain employment-based preference categories. However, visa issuance remains limited for most family-sponsored categories and at least some employment-based preference categories as discussed below.


Impact of April 22nd Presidential Proclamation

As a reminder to our readers, most family-sponsored and some employment-based preference categories remain subject to President Trump’s April 22nd presidential proclamation. This proclamation temporarily suspends the entry and issuance of visas for the following types of immigrants through December 31, 2020.

  • Spouses and children of green card holders (US citizens are not affected) applying at the consulate
  • Parents of US citizens applying at the consulate
  • Brothers and sisters of US citizens applying at the consulate
  • Sons and daughters (over 21 years of age) of US citizens applying at the consulate (children under 21 years of age of US citizens are not affected)
  • Sons and daughters (over 21 years of age) of green card holders applying at the consulate
  • EB1A extraordinary abilities and their family applying at the consulate
  • PERM EB2 employment based (NIW is not affected) and their family applying at the consulate
  • PERM EB3 employment based and their family applying at the consulate
  • EB4 religious workers immigrants applying at the consulate

EB5 investors are not impacted by the April 22nd proclamation.

Certain applicants may still obtain immigrant visas despite enforcement of the presidential proclamation if their entry is in the national interest or if they have a legitimate emergency.

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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 updates you regarding the operational status of U.S. Embassies and Consulates worldwide. As our readers are aware on March 20, 2020, the Department of State announcement the suspension of routine visa services at all U.S. Embassies and Consular posts worldwide in order to deal with the challenges posed by the Coronavirus pandemic. While U.S. Embassies and Consular posts suspended routine visa services, posts continued to remain open to provide emergency and mission critical visa services. These included the processing of applications for “national interest” waivers.

Since then, U.S. Embassies and Consulates have begun a phased resumption of visa services as local country conditions and resources have allowed.

Want to know more? Stay tuned for more information about this important topic.


Overview

In this video, we discuss the status of immigrant visa processing at U.S. Embassies and Consular posts worldwide. The information provided is based on what our office is currently experiencing, official government sources, and information we have received from other attorneys and members of our private Facebook group.

We are now ending fiscal year 2020 and are approaching the start of a new fiscal year that begins on October 2020. The Department of State predicts an overflow of immigrant visas. More than 100,000 additional employment-based visas will become available in the new fiscal year, while nearly 300,000 additional family-based visas will become available in the new fiscal year.


What is responsible for this overflow in visas?

This overflow in visas is the result of a combination of various factors. Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, and the numerous Presidential Proclamations that followed, many immigrant visas were not allowed to be issued. This has left many visas up for grabs in the new fiscal year.


What has the Department of State said about resumption of visa services?

The Department of State previously announced that routine visa services at U.S. Embassies and Consular posts would resume after July 15th however things have not gone as planned. The majority of U.S. Embassies and Consular posts did not resume routine visa services to the public on or after this date.

As months passed, some U.S. Embassies and Consular posts reopened interview scheduling on a limited basis. These actions signal that there is some movement in the scheduling of visa interview appointments, however the situation remains fluid. At any time, even the U.S. Embassies and Consular posts that have reopened their calendars for interview scheduling, can cancel these scheduled interviews based on their continued observance of local health conditions.


Which U.S. Embassies and Consular posts have resumed immigrant visa interviews?

Based on what we are seeing, the following Embassies/Consular posts have resumed immigrant visa interviews:

DISCLAIMER: Please keep in mind the situation continues to remain fluid and Embassy/Consular posts may choose to cancel scheduled interviews at any time based on country conditions.

  • U.S. Embassy in Kenya – open for immigrant visa interviews as of September 2020
  • U.S. Consulate in Mumbai, India – open for biometrics, was open for immigrant visa interviews, but it appears the Consulate has stopped scheduling interviews until further notice. Please continue monitoring the calendar
  • U.S. Consulate Frankfurt, Germany – was open for immigrant visa interviews, but it appears the Consulate has stopped scheduling interviews until further notice. Please continue monitoring the calendar
  • U.S. Embassy Tokyo, Japan- open for immigrant visa interviews as of mid-August 2020
  • U.S. Embassy Seoul, Korea – open for immigrant visa interviews
  • U.S. Consulate Guangzhou, China – only post in China open for immigrant visa interviews
  • U.S. Consulate Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam – open for immigrant visa interviews
  • U.S. Embassy Pakistan – not open for immigrant visa interviews, but emergency interview requests are still being considered
  • U.S. Embassy Paris, France – open for immigrant visa interviews
  • U.S. Embassy Sofia, Bulgaria – open for immigrant visa interviews as of September
  • U.S. Embassy Brussels, Belgium – open for immigrant and non-immigrant visa interviews as of August

Emergency Appointments

Even if your Embassy or Consular post has not resumed routine visa services and interview scheduling, you may request an emergency expedited appointment if your U.S. Citizen spouse or relative is experiencing extreme hardships in your absence, or where there is a medical or other type of emergency. Applicants are encouraged to contact their local Consular post for instructions on how to apply for an emergency appointment.

Our office has been successful in obtaining emergency appointments based on extreme hardship as well as the “national interest” exception for those subject to a Presidential Proclamation. If you would like to know whether you qualify for an emergency appointment or national interest exception, please call us to schedule a consultation.


Questions? If you would like to schedule a consultation, please text or call 619-569-1768.


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Need more immigration updates? We have created a brand new facebook group to address the impact of the new executive order and other changing developments in immigration related to COVID-19. Follow us there.

For other COVID 19 related immigration updates please visit our Immigration and COVID-19 Resource Center here. 

Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick provides new updates regarding previously planned furloughs by the United States Citizenship Immigration Services (USCIS) as well as the expansion of interview waiver eligibility for certain visa applications at United States Embassies and Consulates Worldwide.

For more information on these important topics please keep on watching.


Overview


USCIS Cancels Planned Furloughs

We have great news for our readers. Recently, USCIS announced that it will cancel the agency’s planned furlough of more than 13,000 employees, which was scheduled to take place on August 30, 2020, to help the agency meet its budget quotas and ensure operational capacity.

On August 25th USCIS made the announcement stating that as of now the agency is able to maintain its operations through the end of fiscal year 2020.

What does this mean for applicants?

While the cancellation of these planned furloughs is certainly good news for the American workforce, USCIS has made clear that delays will continue for the foreseeable future, including an increase in backlogs and wait times across the board. USCIS has specifically stated that there is no guarantee that the agency can avoid future furloughs. The only mechanism that will safeguard operations is additional funding from Congress to help the agency meet its operational costs through fiscal year 2021

According to USCIS, the agency has cut costs by reducing the need to work with outside contractors who have in the past assisted USCIS adjudicators to process and prepare case files, and provide support to the agency. Of course, without this additional assistance, delays will continue to be expected.

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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 very important new update regarding the “public charge,” rule. On July 29, a federal judge in the state of New York issued a ruling temporarily blocking the Trump administration from enforcing the public charge rule on noncitizens seeking permanent residency in the United States, as well as nonimmigrant visa applicants abroad, for as long as the coronavirus pandemic remains a public health emergency. The ruling was made in response to a federal lawsuit filed by several states against the government, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (SDNY) in State of New York, et al. v. DHS, et al. and Make the Road NY et al. v. Cuccinelli, et al.

Stay tuned for more information on this topic.


Overview

In response to a lawsuit filed by the states of New York, Connecticut, and Vermont, challenging the “public charge” rule, federal judge George Daniels approved a nationwide injunction, which temporarily blocks the government from “enforcing, applying, implementing, or treating,” as effective the “public charge” rule for any period during which there is a declared national health emergency in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The judge in this case ultimately sided with the states recognizing that the public charge rule ultimately discourages non-citizens nationwide from obtaining the necessary treatment and care they would need during the Coronavirus pandemic. In his opinion, the judge stated that in consideration of the “substantial harm” that the public would suffer from application and enforcement of the public charge rule, it was necessary to issue a temporary injunction to preserve the status quo and allow non-citizens to seek public benefits necessary for their health and well-being. The judge stated, “no person should hesitate to seek medical care, nor should they endure punishment or penalty if they seek temporary financial aid as a result of the pandemic’s impact.”

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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: When will US Embassies and Consulates re-open? Stay tuned to find out more.


Overview

First things first, as many of you know on March 20, 2020 the Department of State announced the temporary suspension of routine visa services at all U.S. Embassies and Consulates worldwide in response to the global pandemic. Since then, U.S. Embassies and Consulates have cancelled all routine immigrant and nonimmigrant visa appointments, and only provided emergency and mission critical visa services. The DOS did not provide an estimated timeframe of when routine visa services would resume stating “we are unable to provide a specific date at this time.”

In addition, beginning January 31, 2020, the President began issuing several presidential proclamations suspending the entry into the United States of certain foreign nationals to limit the spread of the Coronavirus. The entry of foreign nationals who were physically present in the People’s Republic of China, Iran, Brazil, Ireland, or the Schengen countries within the 14 days preceding entry or attempted entry into the United States is suspended until further notice. The Schengen countries include Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.

That means that these individuals will not be issued a U.S. visa or allowed to enter the United States for as long as the presidential proclamations remain in place, even when U.S. Embassies and Consulates resume visa services for the public.

For a complete list of these presidential proclamations restricting travel please click here.

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