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Articles Posted in Employment-based Green Cards

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 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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Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick updates you regarding a recent practice followed by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) – the waiver of marriage based green card interviews during the Coronavirus pandemic. Additionally, our office has observed that the agency is processing certain types of applications much more quickly than others.

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


Overview


Green Card Interview Waivers for Employment Based Applicants

Beginning in April of this year, our office began to receive approval notices for employment-based adjustment of status applications, without the need for the applicant to attend the in-person face-to-face interview as is typically required by USCIS.

As you may recall on March 18th USCIS announced the suspension of in-person services at field offices nationwide, which meant the cancellation of face-to-face interviews. It was not until June 4th that USCIS announced that it would begin resumption of services at field offices nationwide.

Presumably to avoid a growing backlog of cases needing to be scheduled for an interview, USCIS began to grant employment-based green card petitions without requiring the applicant to attend the in-person interview due to the suspension of in-person services.

USCIS never officially announced a policy change allowing for these interview waivers, and instead these changes were occurring as a matter of practice based upon the agency’s discretion.

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Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick discusses an important announcement made by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on July 31, 2020 regarding new increases in immigration filing fees for certain applications and petitions.

Stay tuned for more information.


Overview


What is the new announcement about?

USCIS recently announced that the agency will be increasing filing fees for certain applications and petitions in order to meet its operational costs. As many of you are aware, USCIS has been facing a serious financial crisis as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic. The substantial loss of revenue the agency has experienced has forced the agency to resort to a hike in filing fees that will be enforced beginning October 2nd.

Shortly after its announcement regarding the fee increases, USCIS published a final rule in the Federal Register explaining that the price increases are “ intended to ensure that USCIS has the resources it needs to provide adequate service to applicants and petitioners.”

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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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Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick shares the latest update regarding reopening procedures for United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) field offices nationwide.

Keep on watching for more information.


Overview


On May 27, 2020, USCIS announced that some domestic field offices and asylum offices would begin to reopen to the public on or after June 4, 2020. Unfortunately, as June 4th came and went, it became evident that USCIS would not be able to reopen its offices on June 4th. USCIS recently published an office closure webpage which shows that all field offices, asylum offices, and application support centers are still closed to the public, except for those seeking urgent emergency services. Unfortunately, this means that there will be delays in reopening offices nationwide. We have received information that the San Diego Field Office plans to reopen during the month of July. Based on this information we believe that the majority of field offices, asylum offices, and application support centers will also reopen around this time frame.

Even when USCIS offices do reopen, it will not be business as usual. USCIS has said it will be reducing the number of appointments and interviews at its offices to comply with social distancing requirements. As a result, USCIS will not be scheduling nearly as many biometrics appointments and interviews as it did before the coronavirus pandemic. This will result in further delays in the adjudication of applications and petitions that require an interview such as applications for permanent residency and naturalization.

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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.


Overview


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.

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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 and exciting bill proposed by the House of Representatives known as the HEROES Act (Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act) that would provide financial relief for undocumented immigrants, employment authorization for undocumented essential workers, and expedited visa processing for doctors, nurses, and other essential workers.

Please keep in mind that to become law, the HEROES Act still needs to be passed by the U.S. Senate and signed into law by the President.

Keep on watching for more information.


HEROES Act Overview


The new HEROES Act addresses some of the shortcomings of the previous CARES Act, which excluded undocumented immigrants from receiving stimulus checks from the federal government. The HEROES Act is a $3 trillion federal relief package that authorizes a second round of stimulus checks for those who qualify.

Here are the five takeaways of the HEROES Act:

  1. The HEROES Act would provide cash payments to immigrants and their families previously excluded under the CARES Act
  2. The HEROES Act would shield essential workers from deportation and create opportunities for some undocumented immigrants to obtain employment authorization (much like DACA)
  3. THE HEROES Act calls on Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to release low-risk immigrants from detention facilities where detention is not mandatory and where the detainee is not a national security risk
  4. The HEROES Act would allow expedited visa and green card processing for foreign medical professionals fighting Coronavirus and grant flexibility for medical professionals as to where they can work and how they can work
  5. THE HEROES Act would grant health care benefits for undocumented immigrants who do not have health insurance, including free testing, vaccines, and treatment relating to Coronavirus

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Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick shares the latest update regarding the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) field office closures.

Keep on watching for more information.


Overview


On March 18, 2020, USCIS made the decision to temporarily close USCIS field offices, application support centers (ASC), and asylum offices to help slow the spread of COVID-19. This means that since March 18th no green card interviews, asylum interviews, biometrics appointments, nor info pass appointments have taken place.

After making the announcement, USCIS initially planned to reopen its offices on April 7th but the agency ultimately extended the temporary closure until May 4th.

In its most recent update USCIS has said that the agency is readying offices to reopen on or after June 4th.

Please keep in mind that although USCIS offices have been closed to the public, USCIS service centers nationwide continue to accept and process applications for immigration benefits.


Emergency Services


In addition, although USCIS field offices are closed to the public, they are still providing limited in-person services for those with emergencies. These individuals can contact the USCIS Contact Center for emergency assistance.


What will happen to appointments that were cancelled?


USCIS field offices will send notices to applicants and petitioners with scheduled appointments and naturalization ceremonies impacted by the extended temporary closure.

Asylum applicants who had an interview impacted by the closures will receive interview cancellation notices and asylum interviews will be automatically rescheduled.

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Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick goes over each section of President Trump’s new executive order, “Proclamation Suspending the Entry of Immigrants Who Present Risk to the U.S. Labor Market During the Economic Recovery Following the COVID-19 Outbreak,” which suspends and limits the immigration of certain types of aliens for a 60-day period beginning on April 23, 2020.

Keep on watching for more information.

Overview:


Who is impacted by the Executive order?


The suspension applies to individuals who, as of April 23, are:

(1) outside of the United States

(2) do not have an immigrant visa

(3) do not have official travel documents other than visas and

(4) are not otherwise exempted from the Proclamation.


Who will enforce the Executive Order?


The President’s executive order will be enforced by U.S. Consulates worldwide beginning 11:59 p.m. eastern daylight time on April 23, 2020. Consular officials will have the discretion to determine whether an immigrant is eligible to receive a visa and whether they are exempt from the order.


Who is exempt from the Executive Order (not impacted)?


  • Lawful Permanent Residents of the U.S.;
  • Aliens who are the spouses of U.S. Citizens;
  • Members of the U.S. Armed Forces and any spouse and child of a member of the U.S. Armed Forces;
  • Aliens under 21 years of age who are children of United States Citizens and prospective adoptees;
  • Aliens seeking to enter the U.S. on an immigrant visa as a physician, nurse, or other healthcare professional;
  • Aliens seeking to enter the U.S. to perform medical research or other research intended to combat the spread of COVID-19;
  • Any spouse any unmarried child under 21 years of age of any such alien who is accompanying or following to join the alien;
  • Any alien applying for a visa pursuant to the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program;
  • Aliens whose entry furthers important United States law enforcement objectives;

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