Articles Posted in F1 Visa

 

In this video attorney Jacob Sapochnick explains how you can apply for an F-1, J-1, or M-1 international student visa in 2023 in 10 easy steps.

In 2022 we saw a significant rebound in the number of international students applying for visas to study in the United States with over 1.3 million students coming to the United States from 227 countries.


Overview


Essentially there are 3 types of student visas: the F-1 visa for academic students, J-1 visa for exchange visitors, and M-1 visa for vocational students. We discuss each of these visa categories in turn down below.


F-1 Visa for Academic Students


The F-1 nonimmigrant visa category allows you to enter the United States as a full-time student at an accredited college, university, seminary, conservatory, academic high school, elementary school, or other academic institution or in a language training program. You must be enrolled in a program or course of study that leads to a degree, diploma, or certificate and your school must be authorized by the U.S. government to accept international students.


J-1 Visa for Exchange Visitors


The J non-immigrant visa category is for individuals approved to participate in work-and study-based exchange visitor programs. Such programs may be for the purpose of teaching, instructing, or lecturing, studying, observing, conducting research, consulting, demonstrating special skills, receiving training, or to receive graduate medical education or training.

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In this video attorney Jacob Sapochnick shares some good news for international students seeking to change their status to F-1, F-2, M-1, M-2, J-1, or J-2 nonimmigrant status while in the United States.

Separately, we are happy to report that international student enrollment has returned to pre-covid numbers according to statistical information provided in the last year.


Overview


For the first time in many years, international student enrollment has made a comeback since the pandemic began. Visa numbers have continued to increase from 2021 all the way through 2023.

By way of illustration, in the year 2022 alone, there were over 1.3 million active students in F-1, M, and J status in the United States. This represents an increase of over 10% from the previous year.

International students were one of the biggest groups of applicants that were adversely impacted during the pandemic. This was due to the suspension of in-person instruction at colleges and universities nationwide, and the temporary suspension of visa services at Consulate and Embassies worldwide.

We have seen a dramatic change in the past year with record increases in student visa applications and student visa approvals for international study.


Statistics of the International Student Rebound


Here are some of the statistics of the international student rebound this past year:

  • California attracted the most international students in the year 2022
  • In the year 2022, international students came to the United States from over 227 countries
  • 70% of these students came from Asia (China and India)
  • India issued the most student visas in the year 2022

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In this video, and just like every month we cover the movement in the family-sponsored and employment-based preference categories of the July 2023 Visa Bulletin.

We are seeing some big advancements in the family-sponsored categories next month, as well as some retrogressions in the final action dates for the employment based third preference category (EB-3) for all countries except China.

Before we jump into our analysis, let’s first go over some of the highlights of the July 2023 Visa Bulletin starting with the family-sponsored categories.


Family-sponsored categories Highlights


*Dates for Filing cutoff dates – Advancements in July:

  • F-1 Mexico will advance by 1 month
  • F-1 China, India, World will advance by 8 months
  • F2B Mexico will advance by 3 months
  • F3 China, India, World will advance by 3 weeks
  • F4 China and World will advance by 1 month
  • F4 Mexico will advance by 2 weeks

Final Action cutoff dates – Advancements in July:

  • F1 Mexico will advance by 3 weeks
  • F2B Mexico will advance by 2 months
  • F3 China, India, World will advance by 2 weeks
  • F3 Mexico will advance by 2.5 months
  • F4 China and World will advance by 2 weeks

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Are you going through the immigrant visa process, waiting for your interview to be scheduled at a Consulate or Embassy overseas? Then this video is right for you. We will provide the latest updates including which Consular posts are open, their processing times, and which posts are experiencing long wait times as of June 2023.


Overview


Embassies and Consulates around the world are beginning to ramp up their processing of immigrant visas, with the hiring of additional personnel to reduce the visa backlogs.

During the Coronavirus pandemic, immigrant visa cases have been warehoused at the National Visa Center (NVC) while awaiting interview scheduling at U.S. Embassies and Consulates abroad. Due to the high demand for visa interviews, most Consular posts have not been able to accommodate the majority of applicants who are still waiting for their appointments to be scheduled.

Unfortunately, the National Visa Center (NVC) is not able to forward cases to Embassies and Consulates until they have received confirmation that the post has available interview slots.

This is the case even if your case is documentarily qualified and even if your priority date is current on the Visa Bulletin. Your case cannot be forwarded to the Embassy or Consulate until they have confirmed that an interview slot is available for you.

On the other hand, if your case has not been documentarily qualified (meaning all documentation has been received by the NVC), or your priority date is not current on the Visa Bulletin, then your case will not be scheduled for an immigrant visa interview.

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Are you or a family member interested in applying for a B1/B2 Visitor Visa to the United States? Would you like to know some useful tips that may help you schedule your tourist or non-immigrant visa interview appointment faster in 2023?

If so, then this is the right video for you! Learn all about this important topic and how you can minimize visa interview wait times with our helpful tips.


Overview


The Department of State recently announced that they will be allowing B1/B2 visitor visa applicants and certain other types of nonimmigrants, the ability to schedule their visa interview appointments outside of their home country at some select American embassies as a third country national (TCN).

For example, if you are a foreign national of a country experiencing very high visa demand such as India, China, etc., you may be allowed to schedule your visa interview appointment in another country as a third country national (such as a neighboring country with shorter waiting periods).

This new announcement will be useful for applicants who have been waiting over a year to get a tourist visa interview appointment in their home countries.

U.S. Embassies in India are now encouraging certain applicants to apply for their tourist visas at Consular posts such as Bangkok, Thailand, which is among the U.S. missions where Indian nationals can get an appointment for B1/B2 tourist visas in 2023 outside of India.

As an example, the current wait time to get a B1/B2 tourist visa interview appointment at the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand is about 30 to 35 days, compared to a wait time of over one year at most missions throughout India. This will benefit Indian nationals who are already residing in Bangkok, or who have the ability to travel there for their appointments.


Non-immigrant Visa Processing for Third Country Nationals


A third-country national (TCN) is a citizen of a “third” country that seeks to apply for a non-immigrant visa type in a country where they are not ordinary resident (and where they do not hold citizenship) with their third-country passport.

Certain U.S. Consular posts and Embassies accept and process non-immigrant visa applications from third-country nationals. For instance, non-immigrant visas for Ukrainian and Russian nationals may be processed and scheduled at the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw, Poland.

Likewise, Pakistani nationals who had their cases at the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, have been able to transfer them to U.S. Consular posts in neighboring countries for interview scheduling.

While this practice has been occurring for at least the past year, previously it was not widely available for non-immigrant visa types, because U.S. Consular posts required applicants to maintain residency in the countries in which they applied.

Due to the growing non-immigrant visa backlogs caused by the pandemic, U.S. Embassies and Consulates have shown greater flexibility in allowing third country nationals to seek appointments outside of their home countries, despite not residing there. This is the case especially in countries with substantial visa delays like India, Pakistan, and the Philippines. Foreign nationals from these countries can apply for their B1/B2 tourist visas and non-immigrant visas in neighboring countries where interview wait times are much more reasonable.

As the summer approaches, applicants simply cannot afford to wait over a year for a visa interview appointment. Therefore, applying as a third country national outside your home country, can greatly improve your chances of receiving an interview appointment in much less time with fewer headaches.

If you found this information helpful, please share it with a friend or family member.


Contact us. For help applying for a non-immigrant visa as a third-country national, we invite you to schedule a consultation, please text 619-483-4549 or call 619-819-9204.


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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.


Overview


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.

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In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick delivers some good news to immigrant visa applicants—as of March 2023 the National Visa Center has reported a decrease in the backlogs of about 6,000 cases.

If you would like to know more about this important update, please keep on watching.

Did you Know? Every month the Department of State’s National Visa Center (NVC) publishes an Immigrant Visa Backlog report, which provides data and statistics relating to the current status of worldwide visa operations, including the number of documentarily complete immigrant visa cases currently at the National Visa Center waiting for interviews, the number of cases that were scheduled for interviews at the end of each month, and the number of immigrant visa cases still waiting to be scheduled for a visa interview after interview appointment scheduling was completed at the end of each month.


Overview


What is the National Visa Center?


The National Visa Center (NVC) is an agency that forms part of the U.S. Department of State, located in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The main responsibility of the Nationality Visa Center (NVC) is to act as an intermediary between the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and U.S. Embassies and Consulates abroad. The NVC receives approved cases from USCIS and collects further documentation from applicants and petitioners to prepare cases for immigrant visa processing at U.S. Embassies and Consulates overseas. Part of this process includes making sure cases are documentarily complete to request immigrant visa interview scheduling from U.S. Embassies and Consulates abroad.

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In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick tells you everything you need to know about the H-1B visa cap season for fiscal year 2024. We have been receiving questions from our followers regarding the application process and upcoming deadlines that applicants should be aware of.

In this post, we cover what the H-1B visa program is, why there is an annual cap on the number of H-1B visas available each year, and everything you need to know about the H-1B visa application process in 2023.


Overview


What is the H-1B Visa Program?

The H-1B visa is a nonimmigrant work visa that allows U.S. employers to hire foreign workers with specialized skills to work in the United States for a specific period of time. Generally, the job being offered by the U.S. employer must (1) require a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent (2) the degree should be common to the industry (3) and the duties required should be so specialized or complex that the knowledge required to perform them is usually associated with the attainment of a bachelor’s or its equivalent.

Professionals with job offers in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and math) are the most common applicants for H-1B visas, although other fields may also qualify for the H-1B visa, such as finance, architecture, accounting, health, education, social sciences, physical sciences, medicine, among others.

Professionals who do not possess a bachelor’s degree or higher, but have at least 12 years of relevant experience, may still qualify for the H-1B visa without having a bachelor’s degree.

Once approved, an H-1B visa is valid for an initial period of 3 years and can be extended for an additional 3 years for a maximum period of 6 years in H-1B visa status. Thereafter, employers may sponsor workers for a green card.


Why is there a numerical cap on H-1B visas?


One of the drawbacks of the H-1B visa is that there is an annual numerical limit (cap) to the number of visas that can be issued each year. The annual cap for the H-1B visa program which has been set by Congress is 65,000 visas each fiscal year. An additional 20,000 petitions are set aside for beneficiaries with a master’s degree or higher from a U.S. institution of higher education.

H-1B workers who are petitioned for or employed at an institution of higher education or its affiliated or related nonprofit entities, a nonprofit research organization, or a government research organization, are not subject to the H-1B numerical cap.

In order to select enough petitions to meet the H-1B numerical cap of 85,000 visas per fiscal year, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) conducts a visa lottery, selecting from properly submitted electronic registrations to fill the cap.

Historically, competition for the H-1B visa is very strong. As an example, in FY 2022 U.S. employers submitted roughly 308,613 H-1B registrations, and by 2023 this figure increased to 483,927 registrations.

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In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick provides an update regarding the recent increase in the Immigrant Visa backlogs, which grew to more than 21,000 additional cases in the month of February alone.

If you would like to know more about this important update, please keep on watching.

Did you Know? Every month the Department of State’s National Visa Center (NVC) publishes an Immigrant Visa Backlog report, which provides data and statistics relating to the current status of worldwide visa operations, including the number of documentarily complete immigrant visa cases currently at the National Visa Center waiting for interviews, the number of cases that were scheduled for interviews at the end of each month, and the number of immigrant visa cases still waiting to be scheduled for a visa interview after interview appointment scheduling was completed at the end of each month.


Overview


According to the National Visa Center’s Immigrant Visa Backlog Report for the month of February 2023, there has been a substantial increase in the immigrant visa (IV) backlog rising from 386,787 pending cases in January to 408,456 cases in February — nearly a 6% increase amounting to a jump of 21,669 additional cases added to the backlog in just a one-month period. 

Additionally, when comparing the January and February Immigrant Visa backlogs, we can see that the number of immigrant visa applicants whose cases were documentarily complete and therefore ready to be scheduled for an interview at Consulates and Embassies increased by 21,874 cases, from 422,954 (in January) to 444,828 (in February).

  • A case is considered documentarily complete by the National Visa Center, when the applicant has paid all necessary fees and submits all necessary documents to meet the formal visa application requirements, such that the case is ready to be scheduled for a visa interview. When a case becomes documentarily complete, the NVC sends applicants an email to notify them that their case is complete and pending scheduling at the local Consulate or Embassy.

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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.


Overview


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.

Meaning: 

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

(4) Issued


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.

Meaning:

The visa has been issued

(5) Refused


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.”

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