Articles Posted in Immigrants

Want to know how to change your address with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services? In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick walks you through the process with a step-by-step guide and answers some of your frequently asked questions.

Did you know? By law, most temporary U.S. visa holders and even lawful permanent residents are required to inform USCIS every time they change their residential address. The address change notification must be sent to USCIS within 10 days of moving.

Failing to notify USCIS of an address change can have serious consequences, including making a foreign national subject to deportation. In addition, it could lead to non-delivery of very important correspondence from USCIS such as delivery of a green card, requests for evidence, and/or denial notices associated with a pending application or petition.

Want to know more? Just keep on watching.


Overview


home-gbb57f5a14_1920While you are going through your immigration process with USCIS, there may come a time where you must move to a new residence. Whether it’s moving to a different city or state, you are required to notify USCIS of your move within 10 days by filing a change of address form on the USCIS webpage or by mail.

It is very important to file your change of address for two reasons. First, by failing to change your address you might miss out on receiving critical correspondence from USCIS such as Notices of Action on your case, requests for additional evidence needed from you (RFEs), interview appointment notices, biometrics appointment notices, notices of intent to deny, and such related documents. Many of these notices are subject to time limits, requiring applicants to respond or appear by specific dates. Failure to respond by the stated deadline on a notice, or failure appear for an appointment could not only result in the closure and denial of your case, but also potential removal from the United States.

Secondly, you must change your address with USCIS because it is the law. As stated, under the law, you are required to notify USCIS every time that you move. In fact, failure to notify USCIS of a change of address can be a misdemeanor offense, could lead to fines, jail time, and in some instances even deportation for those who have never ever reported an address change.

The reality is that often times people are not penalized for failing to report a change of address with USCIS, because the vast majority of people who go through the immigration process do in fact submit a change of address online.


What if I am a green card holder, do I need to notify USCIS of my change of address?


Absolutely. Even legal permanent residents (LPRs) must notify USCIS every time that they move within 10 days of the move. The rules are the same regardless of whether you are a conditional permanent resident (2-year green card holder) or legal permanent resident (10-year green card holder). It does not matter that you do not have a pending case with immigration. You must still notify USCIS every time that you move.

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What’s happening with the status of green card processing with USCIS? In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick, discusses an exciting new update for green card applicants recently handed down by the Presidential Advisory Commission.

Want to know more? Just keep on watching.


Overview


Things are looking up in the world of immigration. We have recently learned that a U.S. Presidential Advisory Commission has voted to reduce the processing time of green card applications to a period of 6 months. The Advisory Commission has recommended these recommendations be enacted by President Biden, to provide relief to applicants waiting in the enormous backlogs to attain permanent resident status.


What is this all about?


The President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders (PACAANHPI) has recommended that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) establish a new internal cycle time goal by eliminating inefficiencies such as redundancies, facilitating automation of approvals, and improving internal systems. The Advisory Commission hopes that the new cycle time for processing forms will drastically reduce green card processing times to just 6 months for all forms related to all green card applications, family-based green card applications and DACA renewals. The Commission has also recommended for the National Visa Center (NVC) to hire additional officers to support additional capabilities to schedule immigrant visa (IV) interviews.

The objective is to increase processing capacity by 100% by August 2022 and reach 150% capacity by April of 2023.

Once the National Visa Center is able to catch up with pent up demand, U.S. Embassies and Consulates worldwide should also increase capacity by hiring more officers and become more efficient to meet the 6-month time cycle proposed by the Presidential Advisory Commission.

If this recommendation is adopted, it will speed up the processing of thousands of green card applications currently stuck in the backlogs and result in faster approvals.

The Advisory Commission reviewed I-485 green card applications pending in the United States and requested USCIS to try to process associated I-765 work permits and I-131 travel permits also within 90 days.

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Have you ever wondered whether you can obtain a green card once you have overstayed your visa? In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick, answers precisely this question, along with related topics that might interest you. For instance, what should a person do once they have overstayed? What are the options to cure an overstay to obtain lawful status in the United States?

To understand more about this complicated topic, please keep on watching.


Overview


In most cases, a foreign national will come to the United States lawfully, meaning that they arrived on a valid visa type such as a student, visitor, or work visa and were inspected and admitted to the United States. Unfortunately, in some situations individuals fall out of status and overstay their period of authorized stay. Whether it is because they lost their job, failed to attend school, or could not leave the United States in time before the expiration of their I-94 arrival/departure record, there are many situations that can cause an overstay to happen.

By contrast, some individuals enter the United States unlawfully, meaning that they entered the United States without being inspected and without a valid visa. The issue of whether the foreign national entered lawfully or unlawfully is crucial when it comes to the options that may be available once an overstay has occurred.


How do I know if I overstayed my U.S. visa?


First, let’s discuss the threshold question of how one can know whether they have overstayed their visa.

This may seem like a complicated question, but in fact is very easy to resolve. A person overstays their visa if they have remained in the United States past the authorized period of stay stamped in their passport. When a person is admitted to the United States, they receive a stamp issued by a Customs and Border Protection official which provides the exact date when the individual’s period of stay expires, and consequently when they must leave the United States.

In addition to the passport stamp, foreign nationals can retrieve their I-94 arrival/departure record on the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) website which includes their most recent date of entry, and the date their period of authorized stay expires. The date of expiration is the date at which the foreign national must depart the United States. Failure to depart by the date indicated means that the applicant has overstayed their period of authorized stay.

In some cases, the I-94 stamp, or I-94 record will include the notation “D/S” most commonly for individuals on student visas. This notation means that the applicant is expected to leave the United States, when their program of study has ended. The end date of the program of study can be found on the Form I-20 Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status. Students should contact their Designated School Official for this information.

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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 teaches you how you can reschedule a biometrics appointment for fingerprints if you were unable to attend a previously scheduled appointment.

As you may know, for certain types of immigration applications filed with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), such as applications for a work permit on Form I-765, travel permit on Form I-131, changes of status on Form I-539, citizenship on Form N-400, green card on Form I-485, etc. a biometrics appointment is required.

Several weeks after filing the application in question, the applicant receives a biometrics appointment notice in the mail requesting that the applicant appear in-person on the day and time stated, for capture of their biometrics. Biometrics refers to the process of taking a person’s photograph, fingerprints, and signature to establish a person’s identity and perform the necessary criminal background checks required by the government. A biometrics appointment is not an interview. It is a quick 15-minute appearance where fingerprinting and taking of the applicant’s photograph takes place.


So, how can you reschedule your biometrics appointment?


In general, USCIS recommends that the applicant appear in-person on the stated day and time of the scheduled biometrics appointment. However, there are times when the applicant is unable to attend the appointment and rescheduling becomes necessary, for instance due to illness. It is important to note that if an applicant misses his or her biometrics appointment, it is their duty to reschedule in a timely matter, otherwise the applicant will risk delay and, in some circumstances, even administrative closure of their case.

USCIS no longer accepts written requests to reschedule the appointment. Instead, applicants must call USCIS at 1-800-375-5283 (TTY 1-800-767-1833) preferably before the date and time of the original biometrics appointment and follow the prompts to reschedule the biometrics appointment. Applicants must demonstrate that there is “good cause” for rescheduling the appointment such as illness, travel conflicts, emergencies, etc. If applicants fail to establish “good cause,” USCIS may not reschedule the biometrics appointment.

Those who can establish “good cause” will receive a telephone call from a USCIS officer with the new date, time, and location of their biometrics appointment. With the current backlog, it may take several days or several weeks to receive a callback. Those who do not receive a call back within a reasonable period of time, should call USCIS again to request a new biometrics appointment. It is the applicant’s responsibility to be diligent and make sure a new biometrics appointment is scheduled.

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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 discusses an important new update to the USCIS Policy Manual clarifying the circumstances under which a USCIS officer may waive the in-person interview requirement for family-based conditional permanent residents filing to remove their conditions on permanent residence on Form I-751 Removal of Conditions. Conditional permanent residents are those who have received a 2-year conditional green card from USCIS and are seeking to remove those conditions to obtain the 10-year permanent resident card.

Want to know more? Just keep on watching!


Overview


As you may be aware, foreign nationals who apply for a green card based on a marriage to a U.S. Citizen that was less than 2 years old at the time of approval, receive a conditional green card valid for a 2-year period. This is done as a fraud prevention mechanism to ensure that the foreign national married the U.S. Citizen for the right reasons, and not solely to obtain an immigrant benefit. Foreign nationals who receive a 2-year conditional green card must file Form I-751 to remove their conditions, within the 90-day window before their conditional green card expires.

To ensure that the foreign national has a bona fide marriage, USCIS requires the conditional green card holder to appear for an in-person interview so that the officer has the opportunity to evaluate whether the marriage was entered on a genuine basis, and not to circumvent U.S. immigration laws.

The policy manual now clarifies that USCIS officers have the discretionary power to waive the in-person interview requirement for I-751 Removal of Conditions applicants, under certain circumstances.

According to the new guidance, USCIS officers may consider waiving an interview, if, generally, the applicant meets all eligibility requirements for removal of conditions, and the record contains sufficient evidence for approval, and there is no indication of fraud, misrepresentation, criminal bars, or such factors that would require the in-person interview to take place.

In practice this means that the conditional permanent resident must have provided sufficient documentary evidence to establish their eligibility for removal of conditions, including proof of cohabitation, joint ownership and responsibility for assets and liabilities such as joint federal income tax returns and joint checking and savings accounts, photographs of the couple throughout their relationship, children born to the marriage, and any other relevant documentation. The information stated on the I-751 Removal of Conditions application must also be free of any inconsistencies when compared to information provided in the applicant’s initial green card filing. For instance, inconsistencies in residential history or inconsistencies in facts stated can lead to an interview being required. Recent criminal offenses since the filing of the initial green card can also be a reason for an in-person interview to be required.

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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 discusses an exciting new procedure for individuals arriving at the United States border to apply for asylum, specifically with respect to those asylum seekers who are subject to expedited removal.

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


Overview


What is Asylum?

Asylum is a form of protection which allows an individual to remain in the United States instead of being removed to a country of feared persecution. To apply for asylum in the U.S., individuals must file the required application, form I-589, and submit it with the appropriate documentation within one year of arriving to the United States. To be successful, individuals must establish that they have suffered persecution or fear that they will suffer persecution based on their race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.

Under current immigration law, individuals applying for defensive asylum at the border (meaning that they do not have a valid visa at the time of entry) are detained by the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and become subject to removal proceedings. Once an immigration hearing is scheduled, the asylum seeker is given the opportunity to make his or her case for asylum before an immigration judge.

Currently, the defensive asylum process is taking over 7 years to complete in the United States, including the required scheduling of a hearing before an immigration judge.


New Interim Final Rule


To streamline the defensive asylum application process at the border, the Biden administration recently published a new interim final rule in the federal register entitled, “Procedures for Credible Fear Screening and Consideration of Asylum, Withholding of Removal, and CAT Protection Claims by Asylum Officers.”

Under the new interim final rule, released on March 29, 2022, the Biden administration seeks to overhaul the current defensive asylum system to drastically reduce backlogs in the immigration courts and improve filing procedures.

The final rule proposes sweeping changes to current asylum law including allowing asylum claims to be heard and evaluated by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) asylum officers instead of immigration judges.

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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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