Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick talks about which U.S. Embassies and Consulates overseas are scheduling visa interviews during the limited operational capacity resulting from the global COVID-19 pandemic. As a bonus, in this video, we will also help you understand the role of the National Visa Center in preparing your case for transfer to a Consular post abroad and interview scheduling.
Want to know more? Just keep on watching.
What is the role of the National Visa Center in your immigration journey?
The National Visa Center is an extremely important agency that acts as a middleman between USCIS and the Consular post or Embassy where your visa interview will eventually be scheduled.
After U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) approves your immigrant visa petition, USCIS forwards your petition to the National Visa Center (NVC) located in Portsmouth, New Hampshire to prepare the case for immigrant visa pre-processing. Once your case is received by the National Visa Center, the agency will contact you to collect your visa application, visa fees, and additional supporting documentation known as civil documents. All visa fees and supporting documentation is submitted online via the Consular Electronic Application Center webpage (CEAC).
Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick provides an overview of the State Department’s September 2021 Q&A answer session with Charlie Oppenheim, Chief of the Immigrant Visa Control and Reporting Division of the U.S. Department of State. In this monthly YouTube broadcast, Mr. Charles Oppenheim answers many of the public’s questions regarding the upcoming Visa Bulletin and discusses what to expect in terms of the movement or retrogression of the family sponsored and employment-based preference categories in the coming months.
Want to know more about the highlights of the Q&A session? Just keep on watching!
In this blog post, we summarize some of the most interesting questions that were asked during this live Q&A session with Charlie Oppenheim, including frequently asked questions regarding unused employment-based visa numbers for fiscal year 2021 and the future of family-sponsored categories in the coming months.
Q: Are you concerned with the anticipated large amount of unused fiscal year 2021 employment-based numbers which you mentioned last month?
Charlie Oppenheim responded during the live session that the State Department is very concerned about the potential for unused employment-based numbers under the fiscal year 2021 annual limits. According to Oppenheim, this concern was one of the reasons he made the China and India employment first preference categories current back in April and engaged in very aggressive forward movement of the final action dates since that time to prevent the loss of visa numbers in the employment-based categories. Furthermore, Mr. Oppenheim pointed out that both the State and USCIS offices are doing everything in their power to maximize number use before the end of FY 2021 to avoid drastic losses.
Based on recent discussions with USCIS, Charlie Oppenheim said that the agency is on track to approve more adjustment of status applications than at any time since fiscal year 2005. He also reminded listeners to keep in mind that since March of 2020, both the State Department and USCIS offices, have been dealing with a variety of COVID-19 issues which have had a tremendous negative impact on operational status, staffing, and ability to process large amounts of immigrant visa cases. According to Mr. Oppenheim, overseas posts only began returning to some sense of normal processing in April of 2021.
Q: When I look at the chart listing the final action dates, how do I know if my case is eligible to be scheduled for an interview at the overseas post responsible for processing my case?
This is a very common question that our law office is frequently asked as well. Charlie Oppenheim pointed out that applicants must first ensure that they have submitted all the required civil documents to the National Visa Center to become “documentarily qualified,” meaning that all necessary documents and fees have been submitted to proceed with interview scheduling. Submission of all necessary documents would also need to be done in time for the case to be reported to the Visa Office as documentarily completed by the first of each month. In this case, if you are documentarily qualified and your priority date is earlier than the applicable final action date listed in the Visa Bulletin, then you would be eligible to be scheduled for an appointment for final action on your case. However, even while waiting in line to be scheduled for a visa interview after being “documentarily qualified,” applicants must still take into consideration overseas post processing capacity issues relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. The majority of posts overseas continue to have limited operational capacity; therefore, applicants should expect delays to be scheduled for a visa interview. Overseas posts must first notify the National Visa Center that they have an available slot for an interview before the National Visa Center can forward the case to the post overseas.
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!
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.
Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick discusses all the steps and the processing times involved in sponsoring an immigrant worker for a green card in 2021.
There are many different steps involved in the employment-based sponsorship process, but what most people are confused about is the timeline. How long will it take you to get a green from the moment your employer starts to file for you to the moment you have your green card in hand?
To know the answer to this question and much more information on green card processing for a foreign worker, just keep on watching.
The process of immigrating someone through employment is a complex procedure that causes great confusion for many applicants and their petitioners. Most often applicants and their employers do not have a clear idea of how much time the employment process takes from beginning to end. In this post, we will go through the expected timeline for employment based green card sponsorship, as well as the steps involved to successfully sponsor a foreign worker for a green card.
The general processing times can vary greatly from case to case depending on the complexity of each individual case, but in general there is a common time frame of how long it generally takes for a green card to be approved following sponsorship by a U.S. employer.
The usual green card process involves 3 general steps.
Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick gives you the most recent updates in the world of immigration including important information about the continuation of the International Entrepreneur Parole Program, the Department of Homeland Security’s recent decision to withdraw a biometrics rule that would have required biometrics to be taken for every applicant, the current status of interview waivers being granted during the COVID-19 pandemic, and finally new policy guidance issued by USCIS that provides deference to previous decisions for those filing extension requests with the agency.
Want to know more? Keep on watching.
The Continuation of the International Entrepreneur Parole Program
Today, May 10, 2021, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will be withdrawing a notice of proposed rulemaking first initiated under the Trump administration, which sought to terminate the International Entrepreneur Parole Program, a program first proposed by President Obama to facilitate the immigration of foreign entrepreneurs to the United States.
The proposed rule, “Removal of International Entrepreneur Parole Program,” was first issued by the Trump administration on May 29, 2018, shortly after President Trump signed Executive Order 13767 “Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements,” into law. The proposed rule was masterminded by the Trump administration to ultimately delay the planned implementation of the program on July 17, 2017, with the goal of eventually dismantling it altogether.
To hinder the implementation of the program, with the passage of Executive Order 13767, former President Trump narrowed the pool of applicants who could become eligible for “parole,” and directed federal agencies to “ensure that parole authority under section 212(d)(5) of the INA is exercised only on a case-by-case basis in accordance with the plain language of the statute, and in all circumstances when an individual demonstrates urgent humanitarian reasons, or a significant public benefit derived from such parole.”
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
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 22ndpresidential 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick reports on an exciting announcement, premium processing services are resuming for most petitions starting June 1st. Do you want to know more about this new update?
Keep on watching for more information.
As you know, on March 20, 2020, USCIS temporarily suspended premium processing services for all Form I-129 and I-140 petitions due to the Coronavirus. Petitioners who submitted a premium processing request in connection with Form I-129 or Form I-140, before the March 20 suspension, but received no action and no refund, may refile Form I-907 in keeping with the timeline discussed below.
How will premium processing services resume?
Premium processing will resume in a multi-phased approach.
First, effective June 1, 2020, USCIS will accept premium processing requests for all eligible Form I-140 petitions.
Second, effective June 8, 2020, USCIS will accept premium processing requests for:
H-1B petitions filed before June 8 that are pending adjudication and are cap-exempt (for example, petitions filed by petitioners that are cap-exempt and petitions filed for beneficiaries previously counted toward the numerical allocations).
All other Form I-129 petitions (non H-1B petitions) for nonimmigrant classifications eligible for premium processing filed before June 8 that are pending adjudication.
Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick discusses a new and exciting bill called “the Healthcare Workforce Resilience Act” that would speed up the process for nurses and doctors to obtain their green cards.
Keep on watching for more information.
The Healthcare Workforce Resilience Act was introduced by Senators David Perdue (R-GA), Todd Young (R-IN), Dick Durbin (D-IL), and Chris Coons (D-DE) to increase the number of doctors and nurses available to meet the demand of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
While this bill is only a proposal for the time being, it is a great step in the right direction for the future of highly skilled foreign medical professionals. To become law, the bill must be passed by both houses of Congress and signed by the President. The bill is exciting because it is likely to have bipartisan support and has great potential to become law.
Why was the bill passed?
Currently, significant backlogs exist for nurses applying for a green card under the employment-based third preference category (EB-3). As you know Congress has imposed numerical limitations on the number of green cards that can be issued for immigrant workers. For EB-3 there is a waiting period of several years for green cards to become for EB-3 workers, even those with approved I-140 who are prevented from entering the United States because of these numerical limitations. At the moment, the priority date for nurses under EB-3 is stuck around January 2017 which for many nurses means a very long waiting period.
The Health Care Workforce Resilience Act was proposed to alleviate the strain on the U.S. healthcare system. The United States is currently at the epicenter of the Coronavirus pandemic and has an urgent need for doctors and nurses to help flatten the curve.
What does the proposal say?
The bill would authorize USCIS to “recapture” up to 25,000 immigrant visas for nurses and 15,000 immigrant visas for doctors. Additional immigrant visas would also be recaptured for the families of these medical professionalsso that principal applicants and their family members can obtain their green cards at the same time.
This recapturing of unused visas in other preference categories would eliminate the backlog for nurses and doctors with approved I-140’s who are seeking an employment-based green card.