In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick discusses the end of the selection process for the H-1B Visa Lottery for fiscal year 2024. If you were not selected in the lottery but would like to know more about your immigration options, then this is the right video for you.
Did you Know? The H-1B visa program allows American companies and/or organizations to employ foreign workers who possess both a theoretical or practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge and a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent, for a temporary period of time. A congressionally mandated cap limits the number of new H-1B visas that can be issued to 65,000 per year, and 20,000 for those who have earned a U.S. master’s degree or higher.
On March 27, 2023, the U.S. Citizenship, and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced it received enough electronic registrations to reach the congressionally mandated cap for fiscal year 2024. After the registration period closed on March 17th, USCIS completed a randomized lottery from among registrations submitted, to select qualifying petitions for the 65,000/20,000 H-1B regular visa cap and advanced degree exemption.
Registrants who were selected were notified via email or text message stating that an action was taken on their myUSCIS online account. Account holders could then log in to see the full notice and determine whether they were selected to file paper applications with USCIS.
The period for filing a paper H-1B cap-subject petition with USCIS will be at least 90 days. USCIS began accepting H-1B submissions from selected registrants (Form I-129 with supporting documentation) beginning April 1, 2023.
USCIS has not yet disclosed whether they will conduct additional randomized lotteries to fill the H-1B visa cap. In previous years, additional lotteries have sometimes taken place, where USCIS has determined that it has not received sufficient mail-in applications to fill the H-1B visa cap by June 30, 2023. Historically, second randomized lotteries (if any) have occurred during the month of July, with accountholders being notified in the month of August.
Many of our followers have been asking a very important question, what does a visa “refusal” mean and what is 221(g) Administrative Processing?
The situation unfolds something like this. You’ve applied for a non-immigrant visa and have attended your Consular visa interview. After attending your interview, you check the status of your visa on the State Department’s Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC) webpage, and you see the dreaded words “Refused.”
What does this all mean and what can you expect if you find yourself in this predicament? In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick walks you through the meaning of a “refusal” and how you can still be successful in obtaining a visa despite this obstacle.
Applicants for nonimmigrant visas can check the status of their visa cases by visiting the State Department’s Consular Electronics Application Center CEAC launch page .
To check your status, you must enter your DS-160 confirmation number and the Consular location (Country and City) where you were interviewed.
The DS-160 confirmation number can be found on the DS-160 confirmation page and starts with AA followed by 8 digits.
Once you have successfully entered the online CEAC visa check system, you will receive one of the following results:
(1) Application receipt pending
If you have submitted your online non-immigrant visa application (DS-160), it has not yet been processed into the visa system. At some locations, your application will remain in this status until you appear for an interview or until your application is ready for review. Please see the Embassy or Consulate website for information on the next steps required for visa processing.
The application data has not been entered into the Embassy system.
For interview cases, the application will remain in this status until the applicant appears for an interview.
For mail-in cases, this means the Embassy has not received the application.
(2) Application Received
Your case is open and ready for your interview, fingerprints, and required documents. If you have already had your interview, please check your status after two business days. If no interview was required, please check back in two business days for the updated status of your application.
For mail-in cases: The visa application has been received by the Embassy and is undergoing review.
This also includes cases that are pending for additional documents
(3) Administrative Processing
Your visa case is currently undergoing administrative processing. This processing can take several weeks. Please follow any instructions provided by the consular officer at the time of your interview. If further information is needed, you will be contacted. If your visa application is approved, it will be processed and mailed back within two business days.
This status includes:
The visa issuance process (visa has been approved but not yet printed)
Pending for additional documents/information
Your visa is in final processing. If you have not received after 10 working days, please see the webpage for contact information of the Embassy or Consulate where you submitted your application.
The visa has been issued
A U.S. consular officer has adjudicated and refused your visa application. Please follow any instructions provided by the consular officer. If you were informed by the consular officer that your case was refused for administrative processing, your case will remain refused while undergoing such processing. You will receive another adjudication once such processing is complete. Please be advised that the processing time varies and that you will be contacted if additional information is needed.
This includes cases that are:
Pending for additional documents/information
* Administrative Processing (See below for details)
Cases with a waiver request pending.
Denied under Section 214(b) of the INA.
For E-visa new company registration cases: The visa application has been received by the Embassy and is ready for review. Please wait for further instructions from the Embassy or Consulate. Processing time for new company registration typically takes at least 3 weeks.
For the purposes of this video, we will focus on what the visa status “refused” really means.
Applicants can receive a visa “refusal” for a number of different reasons.
In many cases, applicants are left confused upon seeing a visa “refusal,” especially where the Consular officer has told the applicant that their visa has been approved following their visa interview. In other situations, applicants have received a “refusal” after following the Consulate’s instructions to submit documents via dropbox (for instance for applicants seeking H-1B visa stamping). Applicants who have been told their cases have been placed in 221(g) administrative processing also receive a visa “refusal.”
Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog! In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick shares the most up to date information regarding the current status of U.S. visa services at U.S. Consulates and Embassies worldwide.
Many of our viewers have been asking us to provide a new update regarding visa operations in the year 2023. Here we provide a roundup of everything we know about this important topic.
Keep on watching to find out more.
As you might remember, the Department of State first suspended routine visa services at U.S. Consulates and Embassies worldwide during March of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Slowly, but surely, Embassies and Consulates began a phased resumption of routine visa services, scheduling visa interviews according to local country conditions.
Today, Coronavirus restrictions have been lifted worldwide. Approximately 96 percent of U.S. Embassies and Consulates are interviewing visa applicants, while processing nonimmigrant visa applications at 94 percent of pre-pandemic monthly averages, and immigrant visa applications at 130 percent.
In the past 12 months (through September 30, 2022), DOS reported processing 8 million non-immigrant visas. The agency expects to soon meet or exceed pre-pandemic visa processing capacity.
The waiver of in-person visa interviews for several key visa categories has been an important part of driving down the substantial visa backlogs. For instance, DOS has been waiving in-person interviews for many students and temporary workers integral to supply chains. In addition, applicants renewing nonimmigrant visas in the same classification within 48 months of their prior visa’s expiration can apply for visas without an in-person interview in their country of nationality or residence. This has dramatically reduced the wait time for an interview appointment at many Embassies and Consulates.
The State Department estimates that 30 percent of worldwide nonimmigrant visa applicants may be eligible for an interview waiver, freeing up in-person interview appointments for those applicants who still require an in-person interview.
In this video attorney Jacob Sapochnick, brings you the latest updates regarding the rates of immigrant and non-immigrant visa approvals at U.S. Consulates and Embassies worldwide.
The latest Immigrant and Non-immigrant Visa Issuance Reports recently published by the State Department demonstrate that both immigrant and non-immigrant visa approvals are increasing significantly, nearly returning to pre-pandemic visa processing levels.
If you want to know more just keep on watching.
Did you know? Every fiscal year, the Department of State releases the Immigrant and Non-immigrant Visa Issuance Reports which include important statistics and data relating to current immigrant and non-immigrant visa backlogs at U.S. Consulates and Embassies worldwide. The data includes information regarding the number of immigrant and non-immigrant visas being issued at each Consular post worldwide, and a complete breakdown of visa issuance numbers by visa category.
In this video, we bring you a new update from the State Department, based on recent conversations between State Department officials and representatives of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA).
We will specifically cover topics such as visa processing for third country nationals wishing to secure interview appointments at Consulates and Embassies worldwide, the fate of E-2 visa renewal applicants who previously applied for loans under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), the permissible activities of B-1 visa holders while in the United States, issues relating to visa inadmissibility, and nonimmigrant visa denials.
Did You know? We help clients in all 50 states and all countries of the world. If you are interested in discussing your immigration options, we invite you to contact us for a consultation.
If you would like to know more about the recent updates from the State Department, just keep on watching.
The U.S. Department of State recently met with representatives of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) to discuss several immigration topics that have been frequently asked by our viewers. Here we provide a summary of those updates and useful information that may be helpful to you.
Visa Appointments for Third Country Nationals
Applicants of certain nationalities have been experiencing difficulties obtaining visa interviews in their home country. For instance, recent political demonstrations in Iran have made it more and more difficult for applicants to travel to neighboring countries, leading applicants to seek visa appointments elsewhere.
Since the United States does not maintain a diplomatic presence in Iran, applicants can travel and apply at any U.S. Embassy or Consulate that processes their visa type. The U.S. Embassies in Ankara, Yerevan, and Dubai are staffed with Farsi-speaking consular officers who are most familiar with Iranian visa applicants, and therefore are encouraged to apply there. However, visas for Iranian applicants can also be processed at other U.S. Embassies such as Abu Dhabi, Frankfurt, Naples, and Vienna.
For others, obtaining a visa interview in their home country has been nearly impossible leading many to ask whether they can apply elsewhere as a third country national.
Are you in the United States on an E-2 visa or would like to apply for an E-2 visa? Would you like to know how to transition from an E-2 visa to a green card? If so, this is the right video for you. Here you will find information on the different paths to permanent residency that may be suitable for investors to consider in 2022/2023.
Did you know? The E-2 is a nonimmigrant visa type that is available for individuals from certain treaty countries that wish to remain in the United States on a temporary basis to manage their businesses in the United States. Qualified investors are granted an initial stay of 2 years in E-2 status, with additional extensions of up to 2 years each up to the visa’s validity. E-2 investors who wish to make the United States their permanent home, may wish to consider the following options. If you would like to know more information about these options, we invite you to schedule a consultation.
What is the E-2 visa?
The E-2 Treaty Investor visa is a nonimmigrant visa type, that allows a national of a participating treaty country to gain entry into the United States, for the purpose of managing their business. To be eligible, applicants must invest a substantial amount of capital in their U.S. business, demonstrate at least 50% ownership, and seek to work in a position to develop and direct their business.
The E-2 visa is issued for an initial period of 2 years. However, the main benefit is that there is no limit to the number of extensions an E-2 nonimmigrant may be granted. All E-2 nonimmigrants, however, must maintain an intention to depart the United States when their status expires or is terminated.
With that being said, circumstances sometimes lead E-2 investors to consider making the United States their permanent home, which leads to a common question – how can E-2 investors transition from a nonimmigrant visa type to permanent residency in 2022/2023?
Options for Permanent Residency
Employment Sponsored Green Card also known as “PERM” Labor Certification
The first option that may be considered is obtaining permanent residency through employment-sponsorship through a process known as “PERM” labor certification.
To proceed with this option, the applicant must first have a job offer of future employment from a U.S. employer and the employer must be willing to sponsor the applicant’s employment-based petition.
E-2 investors may find this to be a suitable option if they have an associate, partner, client, etc. interested in hiring them for a future position and acting as their sponsor throughout the PERM process.
In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick addresses a very important question: I want to apply for a U.S. visa, but my country does not have a U.S. Embassy or Consulate (or it is closed at this time), how can I apply for a visa in this situation?
Did You Know? The United States has a diplomatic presence in more than 190 countries around the world. During the COVID-19 pandemic, certain U.S. Embassies and Consulates have temporarily suspended certain U.S. visa services or have been operated at a very limited capacity due to local country conditions and regulations. In countries where the United States does not have a diplomatic presence, other U.S. Embassies or Consulates have been responsible for the processing of visas from those country nationals.
Want to know more? Just keep on watching.
There is no U.S. Embassy or Consulate in my home country (or the post nearest me is closed) what can I do to get a U.S. visa? What are my options?
Options for Nonimmigrant and Immigrant Visa Applicants
In countries where the United States has no diplomatic presence, or where the U.S. diplomatic mission has limited or suspended its activities, often times the U.S. Department of States will accommodate visa seekers by processing their applications at U.S. Embassies or Consulates in nearby countries.
However, the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in a nearby country must be willing to accept applications from third-country nationals for the visa type sought. Please note that certain U.S. Embassies or Consulate may not be able to accommodate applicants if the officer is not trained to speak the third-country language or is not familiar with the process for third-country nationals. Third country nationals should also be aware that they bear the responsibility for paying their own costs of transportation and hotel stay in a nearby country, during the visa interview and visa issuance process. Medical examinations for immigrant visas may also need to be conducted by a civil surgeon in the nearby country, therefore applicants should contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where they wish to apply to understand the requirements and procedures for third-country nationals.
Due to the recent closure of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, Russia, for instance, the Department of State designated U.S. Embassy Warsaw in Poland as the processing post for Russian immigrant visa applications.
Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick provides a brand-new update from the U.S. Department of State regarding the status of E-2 Treaty Investor Visa processing at Consulates and Embassies worldwide. Please note that this information is being provided as of March of 2022.
Want to know more? Keep on watching for all the details.
In the past few months, E-2 visa processing times have varied significantly due to the suspension of routine visa services at all U.S. Embassies and Consulates, a move that was announced by the Department of State in July of 2020. This suspension occurred in response to significant worldwide challenges posed by the Coronavirus pandemic. Since then, operational capacity has continued to be limited for non-immigrant visas at most U.S. Embassies and Consulates resulting in delays in providing visa interview appointments, including for E-2 visa investors. To make matters worse, the Department of State put the processing of non-immigrant visas on the back-burner, giving priority to immigrant visa petitions including family-based petitions and fiancé(e) visas. In this post, we provide you with the most up to date information regarding current processing times as of March 2022 for E-2 investors to receive an appointment at Consular posts abroad.
Not only has there been a sharp decline in E-2 visa processing at most Consulates and Embassies worldwide, but some posts have refused to accept E-2 visa applications altogether. Such Embassies that have refused to accept E-2 visa applications include U.S. Embassy Ankara, Turkey; U.S. Embassy Bogota, Colombia; and U.S. Embassy Bridgetown, Barbados.
The U.S. Embassy in Bogota, Colombia for instance has not adjudicated any E-2 visa applications for more than 1 year, according to recent information provided by the U.S. Department of State.
In a recent meeting between the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and the U.S. Department of State, the government provided more information regarding E-2 visa processing delays. Here is what they had to say.
Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog! It’s the start of a brand-new year and as always, we at the Law Offices of Jacob J. Sapochnick, are committed to bringing you the latest in immigration news. We are happy for you to join us.
In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick shares his top predictions for U.S. immigration in the new year. In this blog post we cover the following topics: What will happen to visa processing during the COVID-19 pandemic? Will there be immigration reform in the new year? Will any new changes be made to the H-1B visa program? What about fee increases? Stay tuned to find out more.
What are some of our key immigration law predictions for the upcoming year?
Increase in Filing Fees for USCIS petitions and DOS Non-Immigrant Visa Fees
Our first prediction for the new year is an increase in filing fees at both the USCIS and Department of State levels, to help increase government resources during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. As you might recall, back in October of 2020, USCIS attempted to increase its filing fees to meet its operational costs. Among the petitions that were to be the most impacted were N-400 applications for naturalization, L visa petitions, O visa petitions, and petitions for qualifying family members of U-1 nonimmigrants.
Fortunately, in September of 2020, a federal court struck down the planned USCIS increase in fees arguing that the new fee increases would adversely impact vulnerable and low-income applicants, especially those seeking humanitarian protections.
We believe that early in the new year USCIS will again publish a rule in the Federal Register seeking to increase its fees to help keep the agency afloat. USCIS previously insisted that the additional fees were necessary to increase the number of personnel at its facilities to meet the increasing demand for adjudication of certain types of petitions. It is no secret that USCIS has experienced severe revenue shortfalls since the start of the pandemic as more and more families found it difficult to afford filing fees. Once those details have been made public we will provide more information right here on our blog and on our YouTube channel.
Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick discusses some exciting news. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has submitted for federal review, a final regulation that if passed would expand premium processing services to additional categories of immigrants. The rule is currently under review at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). While the rule has not yet been published in the Federal Register, it has the potential to substantially improve processing times for more categories of immigrants that have been waiting extended periods of time for their applications to be approved during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In this post, we break down exactly who may benefit from this new regulation and what fees might apply once the rule becomes final.
Want to know more? Just keep on watching.
Many have been eagerly awaiting news regarding the expansion of premium processing services and it seems the time has almost come. For those who may be wondering, premium processing service is a special type of fee-based service offered by USCIS that allows for expedited processing of certain Form I-129, Petitions for Nonimmigrant Worker, and Form I-140, Immigrant Petitions for Alien Worker. With this service, applicants can pay an additional fee and submit Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service, to guarantee the adjudication of their applications within 15 calendar days.
The current categories of applicants who can request premium processing service and the required filing fees are as follows:
$2,500 if you are filing Form I-129 requesting E-1, E-2, E-3, H-1B, H-3, L (including blanket L-1), O, P, Q, or TN nonimmigrant classification.
$1,500 if you are filing Form I-129 requesting H-2B or R nonimmigrant classification.
$2,500 if you are filing Form I-140 requesting EB-1, EB-2, or EB-3 immigrant visa classification.
Outside of the above categories of visa applicants, premium processing service has not been made available to other applicants. But this may all be about to change.
While we are still awaiting the rule’s official publication in the Federal Register to study its complete details, we know that the rule will identify additional categories of applicants who can request premium processing service and will provide in detail the processing times, and associated fees for each type of applicant.