Articles Posted in Immigrants

As we near the end of the month, attorney Jacob Sapochnick discusses the release of the February 2023 Visa Bulletin and the trends and projected movement you can expect to see in the family-sponsored and employment-based preference categories for the month of February.

If you are interested to know about the cutoff dates and visa availability for the upcoming Visa Bulletin, please keep on watching.

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.


Overview


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


To be eligible to file a family or employment-based adjustment of status application in the month of February (for those residing inside the United States), foreign nationals must have a priority date that is earlier than the date listed below for their preference category and country.

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 February 2023 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 February 2023 to determine when you can apply for adjustment of status.

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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.

Want to know more? Just keep on watching.

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Do you have a case waiting to be processed by the National Visa Center? In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick discusses the latest updates on visa processing and interview scheduling in the new year.

This includes information regarding current visa backlogs and what you can expect from the National Visa Center.

If you would like to learn more about this important topic, just keep on watching.

Did you know? For immigrant visa petitions, the National Visa Center (NVC) functions as an intermediary between USCIS and the Embassy or Consulate that will eventually schedule your immigrant visa interview.

After the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has approved your I-130 or I-140 immigrant visa petition, USCIS will forward your petition to the National Visa Center (NVC) in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The NVC will complete immigrant visa pre-processing once your priority date becomes current pursuant to the Visa Bulletin.

Immediate relative categories do not have yearly numerical limits and pre-processing can begin once your case has reached the NVC. However, other family preference and employment-based immigrant categories have annual numerical limits, preventing pre-processing from taking place until the priority date is current.

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In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick discusses the final rule, “Public Charge Ground of Inadmissibility” announced by the Biden administration on December 19, 2022.

The final rule applies to adjustment of status applications postmarked on or after December 23, 2022.

The new public charge rule was issued in response to President Biden’s Executive Order 14012, entitled, “Restoring Faith in Our Legal Immigration Systems and Strengthening Integration and Inclusion Efforts for New Americans.”

As you might recall, in 2018 former President Trump expanded the public charge rule making it more difficult for green card applicants to immigrate to the United States. Later in 2021, the Biden administration rescinded the Trump administration’s public charge rule and restored the original public charge of inadmissibility guidance that was in place before Donald Trump became President.

To help green card applicants prepare for the change, the Biden administration released a new edition of Form I-485 to better implement the regulations.

Want to know more about this topic? Just keep on watching.


Overview


How can the public charge rule impact me?


Biden’s public charge rule will impact all those who are filing Form I-485 Application to Register Permanent Resident or Adjust Status on or after December 23, 2022, with few exceptions.

Although new policy updates are being implemented by the Biden administration, it is important to understand that the “public charge” concept has been around since 1999 when Congress made it a matter of law for a noncitizen’s application for a visa, admission, or adjustment of status to be denied if the applicant is “likely at any time to become a public charge,” on the United States government.

We would like to highlight that in our practice, we have rarely seen an applicant denied solely on public charge grounds, however it is still important to understand what the public charge rule is about and what factors USCIS considers when analyzing whether a green card applicant is currently or likely to become a public charge.

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In this blog post, we provide you with the latest details regarding upcoming changes to the N-400 Application for Naturalization in the new year. USCIS recently announced that it is planning to conduct trial testing of a newly redesigned naturalization examination that seeks to update the civics component of the N-400 examination, and potentially introduce a new English-speaking element to the examination. Trial testing is expected to begin in January 2023 and last for a period of 5 months.

Want to know more? Just keep on watching.

Did you know? During your naturalization interview, you will be asked to undergo a naturalization examination which is made up of two components, an English, and civics test. During the English examination, you must demonstrate an understanding of the English language and the ability to read, write, and speak basic English. During the civics test, you will be asked to answer questions about American government and history.


Overview


As you might be aware, this year the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) revealed that it received the highest number of naturalization applications since fiscal year 2008. According to statistics, approximately 1,047,000 permanent residents became U.S. Citizens in 2022, with naturalization applications rebounding to pre-pandemic levels.


What are the proposed changes to the N-400 Application for Naturalization?


Starting in January 2023, USCIS will conduct trial testing to introduce a new standardized English-speaking test as part of the requirement to demonstrate an understanding of the English language.

Additionally, the trial testing will include an updated civics examination with new content and a new multiple-choice format. The reading and writing portions of the English examination will remain unchanged.

USCIS will conduct the trial testing with volunteer community-based organizations (CBOs) that work with immigrant English language learners and lawful permanent residents (LPRs) preparing for naturalization.

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As we enter the month of December, we share with you the latest Visa Bulletin, highlighting the new trends and projections in the family sponsored and employment-based preference categories. If you would like to know more about what you can expect in terms of visa numbers, please keep on watching.

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.


Overview


USCIS Adjustment of Status Filing Charts for the December 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 December 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 December 2022 to determine when you can apply for adjustment of status.


Employment-Based Categories


DATES FOR FILING CHART EMPLOYMENT-BASED PREFERENCE CASES


The December Visa Bulletin shows the following Dates for Filing 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: EB-2 China will remain at July 8, 2019 and EB-2 India at May 1, 2012. All other countries will remain current.
  • EB-3 Professionals and Skilled Workers: EB-3 India will advance to August 1, 2012, and EB-3 China will advance to September 1, 2018. All other countries will remain current.
  • EB3 Other Workers: EB-3 China will remain at November 1, 2015, and EB-3 India will advance to August 1, 2012. A Date for Filing cut-off date of September 8, 2022, applies to all other countries.
  • EB-4: EB-4 El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras will remain at April 15, 2018, and EB-4 Mexico at October 15, 2020. All other countries remain at July 22, 2022.
  • EB-5: For the EB-5 Unreserved categories (C5, T5, I5, and R5), the Date for Filing for China will remain at January 1, 2016, India will have a Date for Filing cut-off imposed of December 8, 2019, and all other countries will remain current. For the EB-5 “Set-Aside” categories (Rural, High Unemployment, and Infrastructure), the Date for Filing will remain current for all countries.

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Are you applying for a green card or immigrant visa? Want to know whether the COVID-19 vaccine is required to immigrate to the United States?

Then this is just the right video for you. In this video you will learn all about the COVID-19 vaccination requirement from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), as well as other useful information regarding the Form I-693, Medical Examination and religious exemptions to the vaccination requirement. This information is being provided to help you understand the medical examination requirements and prevent the issuance of a Request for Evidence.

Did You know? Last year, USCIS announced the COVID-19 vaccination requirement which impacted all adjustment of status applications and medical examinations, filed on or after October 1, 2021.

If you want to know more just keep on watching.


Overview


What are the COVID-19 vaccination requirements?


Effective October 1, 2021, USCIS announced that applicants for adjustment of status subject to the immigration medical examination must complete the COVID-19 vaccination series before their civil surgeon can complete and sign the Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record.

This means that if you submit your Form I-693 medical examination on or after October 1, 2021, you are required to complete the entire COVID-19 vaccine series (1 or 2 doses depending on formulation) and submit evidence of vaccination to your civil surgeon. During your medical examination appointment, your civil surgeon will inspect your vaccination record to make sure you have all of the necessary vaccinations, and discuss your vaccination history with you before signing the I-693 medical examination.

If you submitted your Form I-693 before October 1, 2021, then are not required to complete the COVID-19 vaccine series in order to obtain your adjustment of status.

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In this video, we bring you a new update from the State Department, based on recent conversations between State Department officials and representatives of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA).

We will specifically cover topics such as visa processing for third country nationals wishing to secure interview appointments at Consulates and Embassies worldwide, the fate of E-2 visa renewal applicants who previously applied for loans under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), the permissible activities of B-1 visa holders while in the United States, issues relating to visa inadmissibility, and nonimmigrant visa denials.

Did You know? We help clients in all 50 states and all countries of the world. If you are interested in discussing your immigration options, we invite you to contact us for a consultation.

If you would like to know more about the recent updates from the State Department, just keep on watching.


Overview


The U.S. Department of State recently met with representatives of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) to discuss several immigration topics that have been frequently asked by our viewers. Here we provide a summary of those updates and useful information that may be helpful to you.


Visa Appointments for Third Country Nationals


Applicants of certain nationalities have been experiencing difficulties obtaining visa interviews in their home country. For instance, recent political demonstrations in Iran have made it more and more difficult for applicants to travel to neighboring countries, leading applicants to seek visa appointments elsewhere.

Since the United States does not maintain a diplomatic presence in Iran, applicants can travel and apply at any U.S. Embassy or Consulate that processes their visa type. The U.S. Embassies in Ankara, Yerevan, and Dubai are staffed with Farsi-speaking consular officers who are most familiar with Iranian visa applicants, and therefore are encouraged to apply there. However, visas for Iranian applicants can also be processed at other U.S. Embassies such as Abu Dhabi, Frankfurt, Naples, and Vienna.

For others, obtaining a visa interview in their home country has been nearly impossible leading many to ask whether they can apply elsewhere as a third country national.

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In this video, we bring you the latest update from the State Department regarding the status of worldwide consular visa operations as of October 2022, including statistics and what you can expect in the coming months as it relates to visa processing.

If you are waiting for your immigrant visa to be processed at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate overseas, then this video is right for you.

Did You know? The State Department recently announced that it has reached pre-pandemic visa processing.

If you would like to know more about this important topic, just keep on watching.


Overview


The State Department recently provided a report on the status of consular visa operations and what the agency has been doing to cut down the waiting periods for immigrant and nonimmigrant visa applicants at Consulates worldwide. We provide the highlights of the report down below.

One of the major ways in which the State Department is improving visa processing times is by hiring more U.S. foreign service workers at Consulates overseas.

As you may be aware, visa backlogs at Consulates overseas piled up during the COVID-19 pandemic after the Department of State announced a worldwide suspension of routine visa services. Due to the restrictions on travel to the United States, as well as several other factors including social distancing protocols, Consulates were unable to schedule applicants for in-person visa interviews. The result was that virtually no visas were issued in the family preference categories during the temporary suspension of visa services, which caused the backlogs to increase significantly.


What is happening with visa operations now?


The State Department is almost back to pre-pandemic processing.

New initiatives like interview waivers are providing relief to Consulates and Embassies, while making available much needed interview slots for other applicants who need appointments.

The State Department estimates that approximately 30 percent of worldwide nonimmigrant visa applicants may be eligible for an interview waiver. This is a very positive development that could very well increase in the months ahead.

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Did you know? Online registration for the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program (green card lottery) is now open for fiscal year 2024 (DV-2024) and will remain open until Tuesday, November 8, 2022, at 12 noon Eastern Standard Time. In this video attorney Jacob Sapochnick discusses what the diversity visa program is, who is eligible to register for DV-2024, and how you can apply.

Interested in learning whether you qualify? Just keep on watching.


Overview


What is the Diversity Visa Program?


The Diversity Immigrant Visa Program (DV Program) administered by the Department of State is an annual green card lottery for individuals who are from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States. If your country qualifies for the program, the government provides 50,000 immigrant visas that are up for grabs each year.

Those who register during the online registration period and are selected can immigrate to the United States through consular processing or by applying for adjustment of status with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) if they are residing in the United States. Adjustment of status filings must be completed by September 30 of the fiscal year the lottery pertains to. Visas cannot be carried over to the next fiscal year.


What are the requirements?


You are eligible to participate if you meet the following 3 requirements.

Requirement #1: You must be a native of a country with historically low rates of immigration to the United States to enter.


Click here for the complete list of countries eligible (p. 16 to 20).

If you are not a native of a country with historically low rates of immigration to the United States, there are two other ways you might be able to qualify.

  • Is your spouse a native of a country with historically low rates of immigration to the United States? If yes, you can claim your spouse’s country of birth – provided that you and your spouse are named on the selected entry, are found eligible and issued diversity visas, and enter the United States at the same time.
  • Are you a native of a country that does not have historically low rates of immigration to the United States, but in which neither of your parents was born or legally resident at the time of your birth? If yes, you may claim the country of birth of one of your parents if it is a country whose natives are eligible for the DV-2024 program.

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