Articles Posted in Employment Based Immigration

Welcome back to Immigration Lawyer Blog! In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick discusses what you can expect after filing Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative, used by U.S. Citizens or Legal Permanent Residents (LPRs) to lawfully immigrate a qualifying relative to the United States, and how long it is taking for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to process these applications.

Want to know more? Just keep on watching.


Overview


The first step of the process to immigrate a foreign national involves the filing of Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative. This application forms the basis of the foreign national’s eligibility to apply for a green card, based upon what is known as a qualifying family relationship. Not all family members may qualify.

If you are a U.S. citizen, you may file Form I-130 only for your eligible relatives. This includes your spouse, your children, your siblings, and your parents. If you are a permanent resident, you can petition for your spouse and any child under the age of 21.


What happens after filing Form I-130?


Once you have filed Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative either by mail or online, you will receive a receipt notice in the mail known as Form I-797C Notice of Action. This notice will serve as proof that your application was received and properly filed with USCIS. The Notice will also include your Form I-130 receipt number where you can track the progress of your case online, and the date the case was received by USCIS also known as the priority date.

If you have filed Form I-130 by mail, you will receive the Notice of Action approximately 1-2 weeks after mailing the application. If you filed Form I-130 online, the Notice of Action will appear in your USCIS online account portal approximately 1 week after submission.

If you fail to include the correct filing fees with your application or your application is deficient in any other way, your case may be rejected and sent back to you. In such case, you would not receive a Notice of Action, and instead would receive a rejection notice along with your package being returned to you. Therefore, it is very important for applicants to review the Form I-130 instructions very carefully and provide all necessary fees and documentation with the filing. Failure to do so can result in the rejection of your case. If your case has been rejected, you are allowed to re-file your application with USCIS having corrected the mistake.

Thereafter, if any additional documentation is missing from your application, or if USCIS needs further information to process your Form I-130, they will issue a Request for Evidence (RFE) outlining the documentation and/or information they need from you to continue processing your case. Requests for Evidence (RFE) are sent by mail and include the deadline for responding to the Request for Evidence in the Notice. When an RFE is issued, the case is halted until you respond to the request. For this reason, it is important to respond in a timely manner and no later than the deadline indicated in the notice. Remember, the longer you delay in responding to an RFE, the more time it will take for your case to be adjudicated.

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Welcome back to Immigration Lawyer Blog! In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick discusses the current status of the immigrant visa backlog at the National Visa Center and Department of State, as of April 2022. In this video you will learn more about what you can expect over the next few months if you have a pending immigrant visa case waiting to be scheduled for an interview at a Consulate overseas.

Want to know more? Just keep on watching.


Overview


Every month when the National Visa Center releases its Immigrant Visa Backlog report, we take notice and breakdown exactly what the backlog report means for immigrant visa applicants.

In its latest release for the month of April 2022, the National Visa Center has provided information that highlights the dramatic backlogs caused by the Coronavirus pandemic, causing delays in the processing of immigrant visa applications.

Since the emergence of the Coronavirus, U.S. Embassies and Consulates worldwide have struggled to accommodate the growing demand for visa interviews with a very limited number of personnel and resources. Posts have also faced severe limitations including the inability to process a large number of cases due to local country conditions and lockdowns. The reality is that things have not gotten back to normal in many countries, and unfortunately this is causing applicants more headaches.

In an effort to be as transparent as possible, the National Visa Center has provided the total number of immigrant visa applicants still waiting for interview appointments.

These numbers are extremely concerning. Of 453,797 immigrant visa cases that were documentarily complete and ready to be scheduled for interviews as of March 31st, only 32,439 were actually scheduled for interviews in the month of April, leaving a backlog of 421,358 immigrant visa applicants still waiting for an interview.


Number of IV applicants whose cases are documentarily complete at NVC and ready for interview as of March 31 453,797
Number of documentarily complete IV applicants scheduled for April 2022 interview appointments 32,439
Number of eligible IV applicants still pending the scheduling of an interview after April 2022 appointment scheduling was completed 421,358

Sadly, this means that the State Department has not increased the volume of monthly interviews that can be scheduled at posts overseas, leaving the issue of the immigrant visa backlog unresolved.

Unfortunately, the future ahead does not look very promising. When looking at the March and April backlog reports, we see that the immigrant visa backlog decreased by only 3.5%.

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Welcome back to Immigration Lawyer Blog! In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick talks about an exciting new announcement released by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) regarding new initiatives the agency is taking to reduce the application backlogs, expand premium processing to broader categories of applications, and provide much needed relief to those waiting for their work permits to be processed.


Overview


As of March 29, 2022, USCIS is unveiling a trio of actions that will help improve the processing of applications and petitions currently awaiting adjudication by the agency. As you may know at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, USCIS along with other government agencies suspended in-person services at its field offices and Application Support Centers (ASCs) nationwide to help slow the spread of the virus. The agency also took precautions to slow its spread by limiting the number of people that could enter federal buildings for immigration interviews. The consequence of these closures has been a backlog of cases across the board that the agency has been working to reduce.

To help ease the number of pending cases at USCIS, the agency has introduced 3 new actions.


What are these new actions all about?


(1) Cycle Time Goals


First, the agency has said that it will be implementing agency-wide goals to reduce the substantial backlogs.

USCIS has established a new system known as “internal cycle time goals,” to process applications that remain pending with USCIS. According to USCIS, these “internal cycle time goals,” are internal metrics that the agency will now be using to help guide the reduction of the current backlog. These cycle times will determine how long it will take USCIS to process immigration benefits going forward.

To accomplish the stated “cycle time goals,” the agency has said that it plans to increase its capacity, adopt technological improvements (such as e-filing systems), train, and hire more staff to ensure that applications are processed within the stated “cycle time goals.” USCIS estimates that these new actions will help the agency reach its stated cycle time goals by the end of fiscal year 2023.

For easy reference, the new USCIS cycle time goals are listed down below.

The new cycle time goals provided by USCIS are as follows:


  • Processing of I-129 premium processing cases – 2 weeks
  • Processing of I-140 premium processing cases –2 weeks
  • Processing of I-129 non-premium processing cases –2 months
  • Processing of I-765, I-131 advance parole, I-539, I-824 applications – 3 months

Other types of applications – 6 months including

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Welcome back to Immigration Lawyer Blog! In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick goes over the upcoming April 2022 Visa Bulletin and what you can expect in terms of movement or retrogression in the employment based and family sponsored preference categories.

The visa bulletin is issued every month by the Department of State. It shows which green card applications can move forward, based on when the immigrant petition that starts the green card process was originally filed. The visa bulletin allows you to estimate how long it will take before you will be able to get your green card, based on how quickly the “line” is moving now. You can check the visa bulletin on a monthly basis to determine your place in line.

Want to know more? Keep on watching for all the details.


Overview


What’s happening in the employment-based categories?


FINAL ACTION DATES FOR EMPLOYMENT-BASED PREFERENCE


According to the Department of State’s April 2022 Visa Bulletin, the following final cutoff dates will apply for the issuance of an immigrant visa for employment-based categories:

  • EB-1: All countries, including India and China, will remain current.
  • EB-2: India will advance by more than 2 months to July 8, 2013, and China will remain at March 1, 2019. All other countries will remain current.
  • EB-3 Professionals and Skilled Workers: EB-3 India and China will remain unchanged from the previous month, at January 15, 2012, and March 22, 2018, respectively. All other countries will remain current.
  • EB-4: All countries are current, except El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras at May 01, 2017, and Mexico at April 01, 2020.
  • EB-5: The Non-Regional Center program will be current for all countries, including China. The Regional Center program has been reauthorized by recent legislation but is still listed as Unavailable in the April Visa Bulletin Final Action Date chart, given that certain provisions of the reauthorizing legislation have not yet taken effect.
Employment-
based
All Chargeability
Areas Except
Those Listed
CHINA-
mainland
born
EL SALVADOR
GUATEMALA
HONDURAS
INDIA MEXICO PHILIPPINES
1st C C C C C C
2nd C 01MAR19 C 08JUL13 C C
3rd C 22MAR18 C 15JAN12 C C
Other Workers C 01JUN12 C 15JAN12 C C
4th C C 01MAY17 C 01APR20 C
Certain Religious Workers U U U U U U
5th Non-Regional Center
(C5 and T5)
C C C C C C
5th Regional Center
(I5 and R5)
U U U U U U

DATES FOR FILING FOR EMPLOYMENT-BASED PREFERENCE CATEGORIES


Employment-
based
All Chargeability
Areas Except
Those Listed
CHINA-
mainland
born
EL SALVADOR
GUATEMALA
HONDURAS
INDIA MEXICO  PHILIPPINES 
1st C C C C C C
2nd C 01APR19 C 01SEP14 C C
3rd C 01APR18 C 22JAN12 C C
Other Workers C 01AUG15 C 22JAN12 C C
4th C C 15JUN17 C C C
Certain Religious Workers C C 15JUN17 C C C
5th Non-Regional Center
(C5 and T5)
C C C C C C
5th Regional Center
(I5 and R5)
C 15DEC15 C C C C

Which filing chart do I use if I want to apply for adjustment of status based on employment within the USA?


All employment-based preference categories, except EB-5 petitions based on the Regional Center Program, may apply for adjustment of status using the Dates for Filing Chart in the Department of State Visa Bulletin for April 2022.

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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 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.


Overview


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.

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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 USCIS backlogs and current USCIS processing times in the year 2022. You can expect information about the specific increase in processing times for I-130 family petitions, N-400 applications for citizenship, I-485 adjustment of status applications, and I-140 applications for employment based green cards.

Want to know more? Keep on watching for all the details.


Overview


The USCIS Backlogs

In this video we talk about the latest statistics with respect to USCIS backlogs and case delays impacting many of the people watching our videos. As you know, the Coronavirus pandemic has severely impacted the processing times of USCIS petitions with many service centers facing unprecedented delays. As time goes on, we expect the USCIS backlogs to continue to grow. It is estimated that the agency will take at least a year to catch up to current demand.

According to an August 2021 government accountability report, it is estimated that the number of cases pending adjudication at USCIS grew by over 81% since fiscal year 2015.

Looking at the second quarter of fiscal year 2020, USCIS had a backlog of approximately 3 million cases which swelled to 5.8 million cases by fiscal year 2021.

Essentially, the report indicates that USCIS processing delays have continued to grow since fiscal year 2017, increasing by approximately 50% in fiscal year 2021. This has happened despite only a slight 3.6% increase in cases received annually by USCIS. Over the last fiscal year alone (FY 2020 to 2021), there was about an 11% increase in USCIS processing times.

This information is crucial to understand the reasons behind the current USCIS backlogs caused partially by the COVID-19 pandemic, the inefficiencies on the part of USCIS, budgeting issues, and other contributing factors. The fact is, USCIS is facing a crisis.


So, what are the main types of applications being impacted by the backlogs?


According to the report, certain “high volume” forms filed with USCIS have been disproportionately impacted.

These include Form I-730 Refugee/Asylee petitions, that are now facing processing time increases of 20 months when compared to 12.4 months in fiscal year 2019.

Form I-485 green card applications also increased to 12.9 months when compared to 10.9 months in fiscal year 2019.

Similarly, N-400 application processing times increased to 11.5 months when compared to 10 months in fiscal year 2019.

Form I-130 petitions for alien relative increased to 10.2 months when compared to 8.6 months in fiscal year 2019.

Finally, processing times for Form I-140 immigrant petitions for alien workers increased to 8.2 months when compared to 5.8 months in fiscal year 2019.

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Welcome back to Immigration Lawyer Blog! In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick goes over the upcoming March 2022 Visa Bulletin and what you can expect in terms of movement or retrogression in the employment based and family sponsored preference categories.

The visa bulletin is issued every month by the Department of State. It shows which green card applications can move forward, based on when the immigrant petition that starts the green card process was originally filed. The visa bulletin allows you to estimate how long it will take before you will be able to get your green card, based on how quickly the “line” is moving now. You can check the visa bulletin on a monthly basis to determine your place in line.


Overview


What’s happening in the employment-based categories?


FINAL ACTION DATES FOR EMPLOYMENT-BASED PREFERENCE

According to the Department of State’s March 2022 Visa Bulletin, the following final action cutoff dates will apply for the issuance of an immigrant visa for employment-based categories:

  • EB-1: All countries, including India and China, will remain current.
  • EB-2: India will advance by 4 months to May 1, 2013, and China will remain at March 1, 2019. All other countries will remain current.
  • EB-3 Professionals and Skilled Workers: EB-3 India and China will remain unchanged from the previous month, at January 15, 2012, and March 22, 2018, respectively. All other countries will remain current.
  • EB-5: The Non-Regional Center program will be current for all countries, including China. The Regional Center program has expired and is listed as unavailable in the March 2022 Visa Bulletin. If reauthorized, the Regional Center category will also be current for final action for all countries except China, which would be subject to a November 22, 2015 final action date.
Employment-
based
All Chargeability
Areas Except
Those Listed
CHINA-
mainland
born
EL SALVADOR
GUATEMALA
HONDURAS
INDIA MEXICO PHILIPPINES
1st C C C C C C
2nd C 01MAR19 C 01MAY13 C C
3rd C 22MAR18 C 15JAN12 C C
Other Workers C 01MAY12 C 15JAN12 C C
4th C C 01MAY17 C 01APR20 C
Certain Religious Workers U U U U U U
5th Non-Regional Center
(C5 and T5)
C C C C C C
5th Regional Center
(I5 and R5)
U U U U U U

Which filing chart do I use if I want to apply for adjustment of status based on employment within the USA?


All employment-based preference categories, except EB-5 petitions based on the Regional Center Program, may apply for adjustment of status using the Dates for Filing Chart in the Department of State Visa Bulletin for March 2022.


What can be expected moving forward from the employment-based categories?


In this month’s visa bulletin, the most important highlight is that EB-3 China Other Workers advanced by one-month to July 1, 2015, and EB-4 El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras retrogressed by almost 2 years.

Additionally, DOS estimates that it may soon be necessary to establish EB-5 Non-Regional Center Final Action and Dates for Filing cutoff dates for China. DOS predicts this may occur as early as April 2022, which would make the category no longer current for China-mainland born nationals.

DOS also predicts that EB-2 India might soon retrogress in the coming weeks.

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Welcome back to Immigration Lawyer Blog! Are you an entrepreneur wishing to work in the United States temporarily? In this video, Jacob Sapochnick discusses how you can live and work in the United States as an entrepreneur on an O-1A visa.

Want to find out more? Just keep on watching.


Overview


As you know there is no clear pathway in U.S. immigration law for entrepreneurs to obtain a U.S. visa to work in the United States. While many had hoped that comprehensive immigration reform would bring about much needed changes in our current immigration system to afford entrepreneurs the opportunity to build their businesses in the U.S., no “start-up” visa has yet been legislated. However, entrepreneurs are increasingly turning to the O-1A visa as an alternative.


What is the O-1A visa?


The O-1A nonimmigrant visa is suitable for individuals who possess extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics (not including the arts, motion pictures, or television industry which is known as the O-1B visa).

To be eligible, applicants must demonstrate extraordinary ability by sustained national or international acclaim and must be coming to the United States temporarily to continue work in an area of extraordinary ability. Extraordinary ability under U.S. immigration law means that you are one of a small percentage who has arisen to the very top of your field.

One of the main drawbacks of the O-1A visa is that you cannot self-petition for an O-1A. You must have a contract with a U.S. employer to establish a valid employer-employee relationship. As an entrepreneur, however, you may form a company in the U.S. which can petition you for an O-1A, so long as a valid employer-employee relationship has been created.

A valid employer-employee relationship exists where other individuals in the business entity can hire, fire, pay, or control your work. At all times, the company (petitioning entity) must be in control of the work conditions. If it is impossible to fire the employee, then no valid employer-employee relationship can be said to exist.

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Welcome back to Immigration Lawyer Blog! We kick off the start of a brand-new week with new White House initiatives expanding the post-completion Optional Practical Training program for STEM international students, as well as other government initiatives to attract entrepreneurs and highly skilled professionals to the United States seeking O-1 visas and National Interest Waivers.

Want to know more? Just keep on watching!


Overview


White House Releases Initiative Expanding STEM OPT


We are excited to share that just last week, the White House announced a series of policy changes designed to attract and retain the knowledge and training of international students working toward science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) related fields in the United States. Among these new initiatives, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has announced the expansion of the STEM Optional Practical Training (OPT) program, with the addition of 22 new fields of study to the STEM Degree Program List, including economics, computer science, mathematical economics, data science, business and financial analytics.

Currently, the F-1 STEM optional practical training (OPT) extension program grants F-1 students with a qualifying STEM degree, the ability to work in the United States with OPT work authorization for a period of up to 36 months. This expansion of the program will now increase the pool of candidates eligible to receive employment authorization.

Some of the newly added fields of study include: Bioenergy; Forestry, General; Forest Resources Production and Management; Human Centered Technology Design; Cloud Computing; Anthrozoology; Climate Science; Earth Systems Science; Economics and Computer Science; Environmental Geosciences; Geobiology; Geography and Environmental Studies; Mathematical Economics; Mathematics and Atmospheric/Oceanic Science; Data Science, General; Data Analytics, General; Business Analytics; Data Visualization; Financial Analytics; Data Analytics, Other; Industrial and Organizational Psychology; Social Sciences, Research Methodology and Quantitative Methods. To view a complete list of qualifying fields, please click here to view the Federal Register notice. Continue reading

Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick discusses the February 2022 Visa Bulletin and what you can expect in terms of movement or retrogression in the employment based and family sponsored preference categories.

Want to know more? Just keep on watching.


Overview


What’s happening in the employment-based categories?

According to the Department of State’s February 2022 Visa Bulletin, the following final action cutoff dates will apply for the issuance of an immigrant visa for employment-based categories:

  • EB-1: All countries, including India and China, will remain current.
  • EB-2: India advanced by nearly 6 months to January 1, 2013, and China advanced by more than 5 weeks to March 1, 2019. All other countries will remain current.
  • EB-3 Professionals and Skilled Workers: EB-3 India and China will remain the same as the previous months at January 15, 2012 and March 22, 2018 respectively. All other countries will remain current.
  • EB-4 Certain Religious Workers: All countries, except El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico, will remain current. El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras remains at March 15, 2019, and Mexico remains at April 1, 2020
  • EB-5: The Non-Regional Center program will be current for all countries, including China. The Regional Center program has expired and is listed as unavailable in the February 2022 Visa Bulletin. If reauthorized, the Regional Center program will mirror the Non-Regional Center final action dates, except China, which would be subject to a November 22, 2015, final action date.

Which filing chart do I use if I want to apply for adjustment of status based on employment within the USA?


All employment-based preference categories, except EB-5 petitions based on the Regional Center Program, may apply for adjustment of status using the Dates for Filing chart in the Department of State Visa Bulletin for February 2022.


What’s happening in the family-sponsored categories?


According to the Department of State’s February 2022 Visa Bulletin, the following final cutoff dates will apply for the issuance of an immigrant visa for family-sponsored categories:

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