Articles Posted in Global Immigration Stories

 

The month of September has come and is nearly gone. That means that it is time to discuss next month’s Visa Bulletin for October 2022. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick shares with you the trends and movement you can expect to see during the month of October for both employment based, and family sponsored preference visa categories, and our predictions for interview appointment availability. October’s Visa Bulletin is also important because it marks the end of the fiscal year.

Did you know? Every month the Department of State releases the Visa Bulletin, which summarizes the availability of immigrant visa numbers for that particular month. The “Final Action Dates” and “Dates for Filing Applications,” charts indicate when immigrant visa applicants can assemble and submit the required documentation to the National Visa Center (for those residing overseas), or USCIS (for those residing in the United States).

The primary purpose of the Visa bulletin is to provide an updated waiting list for immigrants that are subject to the numerical visa quota system.

Want to know more? Just keep on watching.


Overview


USCIS Adjustment of Status Filing Charts for the October Visa Bulletin (for those residing in the USA)


For Family-Sponsored Filings:

Pursuant to guidance released by USCIS, for all family-sponsored preference categories, applicants must use the Dates for Filing chart in the Department of State Visa Bulletin for October 2022 to determine when you can apply for adjustment of status.

For Employment-Based Preference Filings:

All applicants, falling under employment-based preference categories, must use the Dates for Filing chart in the Department of State Visa Bulletin for October 2022 to determine when you can apply for adjustment of status.

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Welcome back to our blog! In this video, we are excited to cover new updates from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) with respect to missing and/or delayed Requests for Evidence also known as “RFEs.”

Did You Know? Where an application or petition is deficient, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) may issue a Request for Evidence asking for additional information or documentation to be provided before the adjudicating officer can make a final decision for your case. Requests for Evidence are sent to the applicant’s mailing address and specifically identify the information or documentation needed, as well as the deadline for responding to the Request for Evidence.

Want to know more? Just keep on watching.


Overview


More and more individuals have been reporting their case status change to “Request for Evidence” issued but have not received the request in the mail. In this post, we talk about what you should do in this situation and the latest recommendations from USCIS.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, we have seen many operational delays at the USCIS level. From interview scheduling delays to the slow issuance of receipt notices, the agency has been struggling to keep up with its workload. In the last year alone, the biggest obstacle has been the slow issuance of Requests for Evidence especially for cases pending at the Texas Service Center (TSC) and the Vermont Service Center (VSC). The agency has said that eventually all Requests for Evidence will be sent by mail. The issue has been that the agency has been experiencing severe mailroom backlogs leading to such delays.

So, what should you do if you have not yet received your Request for Evidence in the mail?

USCIS has acknowledged these delays and has advised applicants to contact USCIS to speak to a customer service representative about the issue by calling 800-375-5283 (TTY 800-767-1833) Monday to Friday 8 am to 8 pm Eastern Standard Time. Applicants should continue to inquire until they have received their Request for Evidence by mail.

Once your Request for Evidence has arrived, if the stated deadline is not sufficient time to respond to the Request, you may still respond to the RFE, and include evidence proving that you received the Request for Evidence very late. This is very easy to prove because your envelope will include a stamp showing the date the Request for Evidence was mailed to you.

Applicants should also note that USCIS has extended its flexibility policy and will accept a response to a Request for Evidence received within 60 calendar days after the due date, so long as the RFE was issued between March 1, 2020, and October 23, 2022. This policy will also apply to late and missing RFEs that are re-issued by USCIS.

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It’s that time of the week again. A brand-new video, addressing a very important topic. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick breaks down all the visa options available to individuals who wish to work in the United States for a short-term period of 3 to 6 months.

Did You Know? In order to work in the United States, you must apply for the required visa type that allows your temporary employment. You cannot seek employment while on a visitor visa such as a B1/B2 or Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) under the Visa Waiver Program.

Want to know more? Just keep on watching.


Overview


First, it is important to understand that to work in the United States on a temporary basis, you must apply for the required visa. Foreign nationals cannot enter the United States as visitors with the intention to work in the United States, whether that is on a B1/B2 tourist visa or the Visa Waiver Program. If immigration suspects that you are working without authorization on a visitor visa, you may be barred from re-entering in the future.

Due to the serious consequences that can result from unauthorized employment, it is important to understand which visa types will allow you to work in the United States.

Many nonimmigrant visas allow you to work in the United States for a long duration. One such visa is the H-1B visa program for individuals who will work in a specialty occupation. If selected in the annual lottery, the H-1B visa is valid for 3 years and can be renewed one additional time for a total work period of 6 years. Thereafter H-1B visa applicants can apply for permanent residence based on employment-sponsorship.

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Welcome to the start of a brand-new week. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick shares with you some brand-new updates including the status of immigrant visa processing, NVC insider tips, information regarding the transfer of cases from USCIS to the NVC, NVC timeframes, expedite requests, and much more.

If you have an immigrant visa application waiting for interview scheduling at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate worldwide or if your case is stuck at the National Visa Center, then this video is right for you.

Did you know? The Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC) is your one-stop shop to pay your immigrant visa fees and upload any necessary documentation to complete the processing of your application before it is deemed “documentarily complete.”

Want to know more? Just keep on watching.


Overview


The Role of the National Visa Center

As you may know, the National Visa Center (NVC) is operated by the Department of State. Its main role is to administer the processing of immigrant visas after their approval by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), but before the case is actually sent to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate for a final interview. Essentially, the National Visa Center functions as a middleman between USCIS and Consulates overseas.

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In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick provides a brand-new update from the U.S. Department of State, specifically for applicants who are going through the process of applying for a waiver of the in-person interview requirement, also known as the “Virtual Waiting Queue.” If you would like to know what this is all about and how the Virtual Waiting Queue can help you just keep on watching.

Did You Know? Under the law, all nonimmigrant visa applicants must be interviewed by an officer unless the interview is specifically waived by the U.S. Department of State. Decisions to waive the in-person interview requirement are made on a case-by-case basis.  In normal circumstances, an interview is necessary to verify important information about the applicant to determine their eligibility for permanent residence or an immigrant visa.

During the interview, the officer verifies that the applicant understood the questions on their application and grants the applicant an opportunity to revise any answers completed incorrectly or that have changed since filing the application.


Overview


Recently, our office received information from the U.S. Embassy in London regarding this brand-new visa interview waiver procedure for non-immigrant visa applicants. From what we know, while this procedure is first being implemented in London, more Embassies and Consulates worldwide are expected to adopt the waiver procedure in the coming months. Please note that while some applicants may be eligible for interview waiver under this new program, important considerations must be made along with an experienced immigration attorney to ensure that the applicant can adequately succeed in passing the virtual interview.

Quite a few of our nonimmigrant visa clients who were eligible to have their visa interview waived, have been receiving a specific email notification from the Embassy stating that their applications have been placed in the “Virtual Waiting Queue.”

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In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick tells you everything you need to know about a brand-new government proposal seeking to issue national identification cards to undocumented immigrants as part of the “ICE Secure Docket Card Program.” Under the program, those who regularly cross the U.S. Mexico border, and those without legal status would be eligible to receive temporary identification cards, granting them access to their immigration files and information relating to removal court proceedings entirely online.

Did you know?

The Biden administration is planning to test the Secure Docket Card Program by first providing temporary I.D. cards to unauthorized immigrants who are still waiting for a final decision on their cases.

Want to know more about this exciting new proposal? Just keep on watching.


Overview


What is this new proposal all about?


The Biden administration has been busy working on a brand-new initiative to introduce a new national identification card specifically for the undocumented immigrant population. The program known as the “ICE Secure Docket Card program,” would initially grant temporary ID cards to migrants crossing the U.S./Mexico Border and then expand issuance to other types of immigrants without legal status in the United States.


What will the card include?


While the details of the pilot program are still being finalized, we know that the ID cards (known as Secure Docket Cards) will include the individual’s photo identification, biographical information including country of nationality, and contain a unique QR code that will allow the holder of the card to access immigration court information and immigration documents entirely online. This is an important step in helping modernize the immigration process, as well as making it easier for immigrants to obtain important information regarding their immigration process in the United States. The QR code will allow individuals to gain access to a portal where they can easily and conveniently update their information and check in with USCIS.

Additionally, individuals who did not previously possess a form of photo identification, can use the Secure Docket Card to access important state benefits such as health care, a driver’s license, housing, etc. The government is also calling upon the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to allow travelers to use these cards as a form of identification when traveling by plane within the United States. It is also expected that the Secure Docket Cards will be made available to immigrants currently in detention.

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In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick shares recent legislation that would provide a pathway to permanent residency for certain undocumented immigrants that have resided in the United States for at least 7 years. We explain everything you need to know about this new proposal and how it might impact you.

Did you know? On July 20, 2022, several members of Congress introduced a proposed law, known as “Renewing Immigration Provisions of the Immigration Act of 1929,” that if passed would allow people who have been living in the US for at least seven years to be able to obtain their green card through “registry.”

Want to know more? Just keep on watching.


Overview


What is this bill about?


The proposed bill known as “Renewing Immigration Provisions of the Immigration Act of 1929,” introduced by Democrats Zoe Lofgren, Lou Correa, and Norma Torres, would change just one line of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) known as the “registry,” which was previously frozen since 1986.

“Registry,” is a section of immigration law that enables certain individuals who have been present in the United States for a specified period of time, the ability to apply for a Green Card (permanent residence), even if they are currently in the United States unlawfully.

To be eligible for a green card under the registry provisions, applicants must have entered the United States by a certain period of time, have continuously resided in the United States since entering, be a person of good moral character, and otherwise not be deportable or inadmissible to the United States.

The registry date under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) essentially functions as a sort of statute of limitations for illegal entry, allowing Congress to set arbitrary dates that determine which undocumented immigrants would be allowed to adjust their status to permanent residency inside the United States.

Congress first statutorily legalized the status of undocumented immigrants who arrived by 1921, then 1924, then 1928, then 1940 and finally 1972. No change in the law has been made since then. But now, Congressional democrats are seeking to adjust the registry date to open a pathway to permanent residency for millions of undocumented immigrants.

While this is only a proposal, that has not yet become law, the bill has the opportunity to create dialogue among both political parties in Congress. The first attempt at renewing the registry provisions came under the Biden administration’s Build Back Better Act, which unfortunately failed to gain enough support to become law.

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Have you ever wondered how you can work in the United States as the founder of your very own startup? If so, you may be interested in learning more about the O-1A visa. In this video attorney Jacob Sapochnick discusses the criteria for individuals who possess extraordinary ability in business and are seeking to open a venture-backed startup in the United States.

Did you know? An approved O-1A visa applicant can remain in the United States for an initial period of 3 years working for the petitioning entity and bring their family members to live with them in the United States. The O-1A visa also opens a pathway for applicants to apply for permanent residency by filing for the EB-1A employment-based immigrant visa category.

Want to know more? Just keep on watching.


What is the O-1A visa?


First let’s discuss the O-1A nonimmigrant visa. The O-1A visa is designed for individuals who possess extraordinary abilities in the field of business, science, education, or athletics, and who can meet a specified set of criteria that must be demonstrated in the application package to ensure the applicant’s success.

Those who successfully attain the O-1A visa can live and work in the United States for an initial 3-year period, and pitch ideas to venture capitalists interested in supporting their company.


How can you demonstrate extraordinary ability in business?


To demonstrate extraordinary ability, applicants must be prepared to show evidence of a major internationally recognized award (such as a Nobel Peace Prize), or if the applicant does not have such an award, they must meet at least three of the following criteria which we discuss in turn below:

  1. AWARDS—Documentation of the beneficiary’s receipt of nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in the field of endeavor

The first criterion is providing documentation showing that you have received nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence.

How does this translate to the startup world? There are several ways that one can qualify for this criteria as a startup founder. For instance, if you have received a grant from the government recognizing your proposed endeavor as one that is exceptional, you may be able to use the grant as evidence to meet this criteria. Alternatively, if you were a participant in a prestigious or distinguished event or competition, and you were one of the winners or finalists in the competition, you may also use documentary evidence of your participation to meet this criteria.

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It’s that time of the month again, the July Visa Bulletin is here. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick discusses the movement you can expect to see for employment based and family sponsored preference categories in the month of July. Also covered are the trends and projections as we move forward the next few months.

Did you know? Every month the Department of State releases the Visa Bulletin, which summarizes the availability of immigrant visa numbers for that particular month. The “Final Action Dates” and “Dates for Filing Applications,” charts indicate when immigrant visa applicants should be notified to assemble and submit the required documentation to the National Visa Center.

The primary purpose of this bulletin is to provide an updated waiting list for immigrants that are subject to the numerical visa quota system.

Want to know more? Just keep on watching.


Overview


USCIS Adjustment of Status Filing Charts for the July Visa Bulletin (for those residing in the USA)


Every month, the US Citizenship, and Immigration Services (USCIS) indicates the appropriate filing chart that must be used by applicants residing inside the United States, who wish to apply for adjustment of status to permanent residence. This information can be found on the USCIS webpage. In general, if there are more immigrant visas available for a fiscal year than there are known applicants for such visas, USCIS will indicate that AOS applicants may use the Dates for Filing chart.

Otherwise, applicants will be asked to use the Final Action Dates chart.

If a particular immigrant visa category is “current” on the Final Action Dates chart or the cutoff date on the Final Action Dates chart is later than the date on the Dates for Filing chart, applicants in that immigrant visa category may file using the Final Action Dates chart during that month.

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Do you have a case currently pending review at the National Visa Center? In this video, we discuss the growing backlogs at the National Visa Center and explain the reason it is taking so long for the NVC to process immigrant visa cases and prepare them for a visa interview at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate overseas.

Did you know? Every month the National Visa Center releases their Immigrant Visa Backlog Report, which provides important information including the number of immigrant visa applicants being scheduled for interview appointments, the number of applicants whose cases are documentarily complete and ready for interviews, and the number of eligible applicants still pending the scheduling of an interview.

Want to know more? Just keep on watching.


Overview


First, let’s discuss: What is the National Visa Center?

Once U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has approved your immigrant visa petition, USCIS will forward your petition to the National Visa Center (NVC) in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, where your application will undergo immigrant visa pre-processing once your priority date has become current according to the Visa Bulletin.

Essentially, the National Visa Center serves as an intermediary between USCIS, where the immigrant visa petition was first approved, and the U.S. Consulate, where the foreign national will eventually undergo their immigrant visa interview.

Once your case is received by the National Visa Center (if your priority date is current and a visa number is available) you will be instructed to submit the DS-260 Immigrant Visa Application, submit civil documents in support of your immigrant visa application, and pay the necessary visa fees. Once you have completed this process, your case will be considered “documentarily complete,” and your application will be placed in line for interview scheduling, at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate nearest your place of residence.


What are the current visa backlogs at the NVC?


As our readers will know, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a disastrous impact on the processing of cases at the NVC and Consular level. The majority of U.S. Embassies and Consulates continue to operate on a limited basis, due to local country conditions and restrictions, local and national lockdowns, travel restrictions, local regulations, and measures taken by Consular posts to reduce the spread of COVID-19. This has caused challenges to interview scheduling, given that the volume of interviews that can be scheduled has been drastically decreased, to prevent the spread of the virus, and ensure public health and safety for applicants and Consular officers.

While Embassies and Consular posts have tried to return processing to pre-pandemic levels, they simply have been confronted with an overwhelming demand of cases waiting to be scheduled for in-person visa interviews.

Due to the operational crisis at Embassies and Consulates worldwide, the National Visa Center has been unable to forward immigrant visa cases to posts overseas, because posts have not had the capacity to accommodate all those waiting for an interview.

The data shows that things have not gotten better. In fact, they have gotten worse.

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