In this blog post, attorney Jacob Sapochnick talks about a brand-new proposal to increase the government filing fees for certain types of immigration benefits filed with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Following the announcement, on January 4, 2023, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) in the Federal Register outlining the proposed fee schedule which seeks to increase the filing fees of certain nonimmigrant visa classifications, as well as adjustment of status (green card) applications.
The government will be accepting public comments for the proposed rule until March 6, 2023. After the comment period has closed, the agency will review the public comments and issue a final version of the rule.
TIP:If you know that you will be applying for an immigration benefit that is subject to the proposed fee increase, you should apply as soon as possible to avoid incurring the higher fee.
Do you have a U.S. employer willing to sponsor your employment in the United States? If so, you may be interested to learn more about the EB-3 employment-based category for skilled workers, professionals, or other unskilled workers. The EB-3 is the most common employment sponsorship category to start work in the United States. In this video, we will cover the EB-3 requirements, application process, and other important information you may want to know.
Did you know? The EB-3 comprises 3 sub-categories of foreign nationals: (1) skilled workers, whose jobs require a minimum of 2 years training or experience, and must meet the educational, training, or experience requirements of the job opportunity (2) professional workers whose job requires at least a U.S. baccalaureate or foreign equivalent degree and (3)other workers, performing unskilled labor requiring less than 2 years training or experience, not of a temporary or seasonal nature.
Want to learn more? Just keep on watching.
What is EB-3?
The EB-3 is an employment-based category for United States permanent residency. It is intended for “skilled workers,” “professionals,” and “other [unskilled] workers.”
Unlike persons with extraordinary abilities as in the EB-1 category, EB-3 applicants require a sponsoring U.S. employer to complete a labor certification process. There is no “self-petition” category under EB-3. You must have a permanent, full-time job offer from a U.S. employer and your employer must file a labor certification application on your behalf.
The EB-3 requirements are less stringent when compared to the EB-1 and EB-2 categories, typically reserved for individuals that can demonstrate extraordinary achievements (EB-1) or exceptional ability in a field that is in the national interest (EB-2).
Are you interested in learning all about the EB-1A visa for aliens of extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics? Then this video is right for you. Here we break down the EB-1A eligibility criteria and what types of individuals qualify for this visa type.
Did you know? Individuals can self-petition for the EB-1A visa category. No employment sponsorship or labor certification is needed. If your EB-1A visa petition is approved by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), you are eligible to apply for a green card by filing Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence (if legally residing in the United States) or through Consular processing (if you are residing abroad). You may include your dependent family members on your I-485 application.
Want to know more? Just keep on watching.
The EB-1A is an employment-based visa type for individuals who can demonstrate extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics through sustained national or international recognition in their field. To qualify, individuals must meet at least 3 of the following 10 criteria or provide evidence of a one-time achievement such as a Pulitzer Prize, Oscar, or Olympic Medal. EB-1A applicants must also be prepared to provide evidence that they will continue to work in their area of expertise in the United States once approved.
The main benefit of the EB-1A is that you can self-petition. You do not need sponsorship from a U.S. employer or labor certification to apply. As you might recall, earlier this year, USCIS issued a news alert encouraging employment-based applicants to consider transferring the underlying basis of their adjustment of status application to EB-1A or EB-2 if eligible, because of the exceptionally high number of employment-based immigrant visas available in those categories.
Are you in the United States on an E-2 visa or would like to apply for an E-2 visa? Would you like to know how to transition from an E-2 visa to a green card? If so, this is the right video for you. Here you will find information on the different paths to permanent residency that may be suitable for investors to consider in 2022/2023.
Did you know? The E-2 is a nonimmigrant visa type that is available for individuals from certain treaty countries that wish to remain in the United States on a temporary basis to manage their businesses in the United States. Qualified investors are granted an initial stay of 2 years in E-2 status, with additional extensions of up to 2 years each up to the visa’s validity. E-2 investors who wish to make the United States their permanent home, may wish to consider the following options. If you would like to know more information about these options, we invite you to schedule a consultation.
What is the E-2 visa?
The E-2 Treaty Investor visa is a nonimmigrant visa type, that allows a national of a participating treaty country to gain entry into the United States, for the purpose of managing their business. To be eligible, applicants must invest a substantial amount of capital in their U.S. business, demonstrate at least 50% ownership, and seek to work in a position to develop and direct their business.
The E-2 visa is issued for an initial period of 2 years. However, the main benefit is that there is no limit to the number of extensions an E-2 nonimmigrant may be granted. All E-2 nonimmigrants, however, must maintain an intention to depart the United States when their status expires or is terminated.
With that being said, circumstances sometimes lead E-2 investors to consider making the United States their permanent home, which leads to a common question – how can E-2 investors transition from a nonimmigrant visa type to permanent residency in 2022/2023?
Options for Permanent Residency
Employment Sponsored Green Card also known as “PERM” Labor Certification
The first option that may be considered is obtaining permanent residency through employment-sponsorship through a process known as “PERM” labor certification.
To proceed with this option, the applicant must first have a job offer of future employment from a U.S. employer and the employer must be willing to sponsor the applicant’s employment-based petition.
E-2 investors may find this to be a suitable option if they have an associate, partner, client, etc. interested in hiring them for a future position and acting as their sponsor throughout the PERM process.
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.
USCIS Adjustment of Status Filing Charts for the October Visa Bulletin (for those residing in the USA)
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.
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.
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.
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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 a major new development in immigration law: H.R. 5376, the Build Back Better Act was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on November 19, 2021 and will now move to the U.S. Senate for consideration.
In this blog post, we break down all the major immigration provisions of the Build Back Better Act, including the introduction of new fees that will apply to certain categories of immigrants to request a waiver of the numerical limitations under the law.
Want to know more? Just keep on watching.
What are the major immigration provisions of the Build Back Better Act?
If passed section 60001 of the House bill would amend certain provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act and open a path to permanent residency for four classes of immigrants allowing them to adjust their status to permanent residence (a green card). To be eligible, applicants would be required to pay a supplemental fee of $1,500, have no criminal background, and have no inadmissibility issues.
Under the bill, the following individuals would be eligible to apply for permanent residency:
Dreamers: young undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children before 2007, who have continuously resided in the United States, gone to school, and who otherwise have no criminal record
Essential Workers: The Act would also extend an opportunity to individuals in our workforce who have played an essential role in our society, especially throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, such as health care workers, energy and transportation workers, public works employees, and manufacturing workers, among others.
Temporary Protected Status recipients: recipients of Temporary Protected Status would also be eligible to apply for permanent residency. Temporary Protected Status is a temporary designation given to eligible nationals of designated countries affected by armed conflict or natural disaster. The TPS designation allows recipients to live and work in the United States on a lawful temporary basis
Deferred Enforcement Departure applicants: those who have received a grant of Deferred Enforced Departure would also be eligible to apply for permanent residency. Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) (formerly Extended Voluntary Departure) is a form of relief from removal that allows certain individuals from designated countries and regions facing political or civic conflict or natural disaster to live and work in the United States on a lawful basis.
Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick answers your frequently asked questions regarding the Employment-Based First Preference immigrant visa category also known as EB-1A, reserved for individuals of extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics through sustained national or international acclaim. In this video, we talk about some of the major advantages of the EB-1 visa category including the direct path to permanent residency it offers without the need for sponsorship by a U.S. employer or qualifying family petition.
Want to know more? Just keep on watching.
EB-1A Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Who Qualifies for the EB-1A visa category.
The EB-1 visa is an immigrant visa category, that allows foreign nationals with extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics to obtain permanent residency in the United States. The foreign national’s extraordinary ability must be shown through documentation evidencing sustained national or international acclaim by recognition in his or her field. Applicants who are successful are those that are at the top of their field and are known as individuals of extraordinary ability in their industry.
The general criteria are as follows:
#1: The person has extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, which has been demonstrated by sustained national or international acclaim, and whose achievements have been recognized in the field through extensive documentation.
#2: The person seeks to enter the United States to continue work in the area of extraordinary ability.
#3: The person’s entry into the United States will substantially benefit the United States in the future.
Q: How does USCIS define extraordinary ability?
USCIS defines a person of extraordinary as one of that small percentage of individuals who has risen to the very top of his or her field of endeavor, and that has sustained national or international acclaim. An individual’s extraordinary ability is demonstrated by providing documentation that supports the applicant’s claim of achievements and recognition in their field. Examples of documentation that is typically provided to support an EB-1A application includes evidence of a one-time achievement (major internationally recognized award) or at least 3 of the 10 listed criteria below (or comparable evidence if any of the criteria do not readily apply):
Evidence of receipt of lesser nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in your field of endeavor
Evidence of membership in associations in the field which demand outstanding achievement of their members
Evidence of published material about you in professional or major trade publications or other major media
Evidence that you have been asked to judge the work of others, either individually or on a panel
Evidence of your original scientific, scholarly, artistic, athletic, or business-related contributions of major significance to the field
Evidence of your authorship of scholarly articles in professional or major trade publications or other major media (typically provided by scientists or researchers)
Evidence that your work has been displayed at artistic exhibitions or showcases
Evidence of your performance of a leading or critical role in distinguished organizations
Evidence that you command a high salary or other significantly high remuneration in relation to others in the field
Letters of recommendation from recognized experts in the field
Evidence of major grants, patents, or intellectual property awarded to the applicant
Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. We hope you spent a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday with your loved ones. We are grateful for all our viewers and the support you give us on this platform. We thank you for your trust and support.
In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick answers one of your frequently asked questions: I have a green card, why should I become a U.S. Citizen? In this blog post, you will find out what your rights are as a permanent resident versus a U.S. Citizen, and some of the key advantages you have as a U.S. Citizen.
Keep on watching to find out more.
What is the difference between having a green card and U.S. Citizenship?
First, let’s discuss the basics. When a person wants to immigrate to the United States permanently, the first step is to apply for a green card (also known as permanent residence). There are various different ways a person can qualify for a green card. The most common avenues to obtain a green card are family sponsorship through a qualifying relative (U.S. Citizen or LPR spouse, child, parent, or sibling) or employment-based sponsorship, where an individual will first obtain a work visa based on a job offer and then become eligible to apply for permanent residence through their employer. There are also other special categories of immigrants such as asylum seekers, Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) victims of domestic violence, diversity visa lottery winners, and many others who also qualify for a green card. There also green card avenues for individuals of exceptional ability (EB-1), those whose employment is in the national interest (EB-2), and EB-5 immigrant investors who invest at least half a million dollars in a new business enterprise or Regional Center project. While there are many ways to obtain a green card, the ultimate goal is to obtain permanent residency.
Once a person has obtained a green card, typically that person must wait a number of years before being eligible to apply for U.S. Citizenship. For instance, those who obtained their green card based on marriage to a U.S. Citizen and continue to remain married, must wait 3 years from the date they became a permanent residence to apply for citizenship. All others must wait 5 years from the date they became a permanent resident to become eligible to apply for U.S. Citizenship.