Articles Posted in DOS

Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick provides an important update from the National Visa Center regarding immigrant visa processing times, the status of Embassies and Consulates reopening, and expedite request information for immigrant visas.

The information provided in this video is based on the minutes of a meeting that took place between the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and the National Visa Center (NVC). In this meeting the NVC answered many of your burning questions regarding the resumption of visa services at U.S. Consulates and Embassies worldwide, current immigrant visa processing times, and expedite request information.

Want to know more? Just keep on watching.


NVC & AILA Questions and Answers on Consular Processing  


What has the NVC responded regarding Consular Processing at Embassies and Consular posts worldwide? How will NVC handle cases that are documentarily qualified? In what order will applicants be scheduled for immigrants?

Check out the Q & A below to find out.

Q: What is the volume of immigrant visa cases currently being processed at NVC?

A: During FY 2020, NVC reviewed and processed 77,000 cases per month.

Q: What was the number of non-immigrant K-1 visas processed on a monthly basis at the NVC in FY 2020?

A: Every month the NVC processed 2,500 K-1 visas during fiscal year 2020.

Q: Of all cases processed at the NVC how many applications are represented by attorneys?

A: 25% of all cases at the NVC are represented by attorneys

Q: How is the NVC handling cases that are documentarily qualified but unable to move forward due to U.S. Embassies and Consular posts that have not yet resumed normal processing?

A: The NVC is continuing to schedule cases only for posts able to conduct interviews.

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Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick provides an important update from the Department of State regarding immigrant visa processing following the cancellation of Presidential Proclamations 9645 and 9983, also known as “the Muslim travel ban.”

In this video we will talk about the new procedures for applicants who were previously affected by these Proclamations and what the immigrant visa application process will look like going forward now that these Proclamations have been rescinded.

Keep on watching to find out more.


Overview


On his first day in office, President Biden signed the Presidential Proclamation entitled, “Ending Discriminatory Bans on Entry to the United States,” which rescinded the travel restrictions of Presidential Proclamations 9645 and 9983 also known as “the Muslim travel ban.” As you may recall, these Proclamations blocked the entry of certain foreign nationals from predominantly Muslim countries into the United States, including Burma, Eritrea, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Libya, Nigeria, North Korea, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tanzania, Venezuela, and Yemen.

Biden’s new proclamation now makes it possible for these individuals to immediately proceed with visa processing as before the ban went into effect.

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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: President Biden has issued an executive order immediately revoking Presidential Proclamation 10014 issued by the Trump administration.

What does this revocation mean for you and what will happen next?

Keep on watching to learn more.


Overview


We are very excited to report that President Biden has lifted the immigration visa ban known as Presidential Proclamation 10014, “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.”

Proclamation 10014, issued on April 23, 2020, immediately stopped the issuance of visas at U.S. Consulates and Embassies worldwide for the following individuals:

  • Spouses and children of green card holders (US citizens were 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 (meaning over 21 years old) of US citizens applying at the consulate (children under 21 years old of US citizens were not affected)
  • Sons and daughters (meaning over 21 years old) of green card holders applying at the consulate
  • Diversity visa winners
  • EB1A extraordinary abilities and their family applying at the consulate
  • PERM EB3, PERM EB2, NIW employment based and their family applying at the consulate
  • EB4 religious workers immigrants applying at the consulate
  • H1B and H4 dependents applying at the consulate
  • L1 and L2 applying at the consulate
  • J1 applying at the consulate  

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Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick provides an important update regarding K-1 litigation and the status of K-1 status around the world.

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


Overview


What is happening with K-1 visas?

As you know, the Department of State suspended routine visa services worldwide in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was not until July of 2020 that the Department of State announced that U.S. Embassies and Consulates would begin a phased resumption of routine visa services. Unfortunately, this phased resumption has occurred only on a post-by-post basis, as country conditions have allowed.

For the most part, the majority of visa services have remained suspended at U.S. Embassies and Consulates worldwide except in cases of emergency, mission-critical visa services, and where applicants have been able to qualify for a national interest exception or expedited interview request.

When pressed for answers, the response from Consulates has been the same. The majority have refused to provide a specific date as to when each mission will resume visa services or when each mission will return to processing visas at pre-pandemic workload levels.

To make matters worse, there are a number of COVID-19 related Presidential Proclamations that remain in force which prevent the entry of foreign nationals who have been physically present in the Schengen Area, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Brazil, China, and Iran, within the 14 days preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States. These individuals remain barred from traveling unless they qualify a national interest exception. Those who do not qualify will not be able to obtain a visa until the Proclamations have been lifted by the President.

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Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick talks about President Biden’s newly signed executive orders on immigration and his administration’s new legislative bill.

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


Overview


On January 20, 2021, in his first day in office, President Biden signed a series of executive orders relating to immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick discusses what these executive orders will mean for you and what we may expect to see from the Biden administration in the months ahead with respect to comprehensive immigration reform.


Fact Sheet on Immigration


The Biden administration unveiled a brand new immigration reform bill entitled, the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021, which proposes to overhaul the United States immigration system.

The bill includes a number of new reforms designed to streamline the immigration system and create a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. To become law, the bill must still pass both houses of Congress including the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate.

These reforms are as follows:

  • Offers an 8-year path to citizenship for millions of people who were living in the United States unlawfully on Jan. 1, 2021. They would be eligible to apply for a green card after 5 years in a temporary status if they pass background checks and pay their taxes and could then apply for citizenship 3 years later.
  • Allows people with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) protection, a group known as “Dreamers”, who were brought to the United States illegally as children, farmworkers and people with Temporary Protected Status to immediately apply for a green card if they meet specific requirements. They would have a 3-year path to citizenship.
  • Permits certain immigrants who were deported during the Trump administration and had previously lived in the United States for three years to return to reunite with family or for other humanitarian reasons.
  • Raises annual per-country limits on family-based immigration and eliminates them for employment visas.
  • Introduces changes to ease the U.S. citizenship application process.
  • Increases the diversity visa lottery program visa quota from 55,000 to 80,000.
  • Exempts spouses and children of green card holders from employment-based immigration quotas, expanding the number of green cards available to employment-based immigrants.
  • Scraps multi-year bars to re-entry for certain people who lived in the United States illegally and then left.
  • Clears family-based and employment-based visa backlogs.
  • Provides work permits to dependents of H-1B visa holders.
  • Authorizes regional processing centers in Central America to register and process people for refugee resettlement and other legal migration programs.
  • Authorizes funding for legal counsel for vulnerable populations of migrants, such as children.
  • Increases the number of immigration judges working in the court system.
  • Eliminates the 1-year filing deadline for asylum applications.
  • Changes the word “alien” to “noncitizen” in U.S. immigration laws.
  • Immigrants with approved family-sponsored petitions (I-130) can join family members on a temporary basis while they wait for their green cards to become available.
  • New immigration protections for widows and children of second World War veterans.

For more detailed information about the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 please click here.

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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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