Articles Posted in Permanent Residents

Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick provides an important update from the Department of State regarding immigrant visa processing following the cancellation of Presidential Proclamations 9645 and 9983, also known as “the Muslim travel ban.”

In this video we will talk about the new procedures for applicants who were previously affected by these Proclamations and what the immigrant visa application process will look like going forward now that these Proclamations have been rescinded.

Keep on watching to find out more.


Overview


On his first day in office, President Biden signed the Presidential Proclamation entitled, “Ending Discriminatory Bans on Entry to the United States,” which rescinded the travel restrictions of Presidential Proclamations 9645 and 9983 also known as “the Muslim travel ban.” As you may recall, these Proclamations blocked the entry of certain foreign nationals from predominantly Muslim countries into the United States, including Burma, Eritrea, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Libya, Nigeria, North Korea, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tanzania, Venezuela, and Yemen.

Biden’s new proclamation now makes it possible for these individuals to immediately proceed with visa processing as before the ban went into effect.

Continue reading

Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick provides a breaking news update: the government has officially ended the public charge rule.

How did this happen? What does this mean for you?

Keep on watching to find out more.


Overview


On March 9, 2021 the government announced that effective immediately it would be rescinding the Trump administration’s public charge rule, which was first put in place by former President Donald Trump in 2019. That rule is no longer in effect due to the Biden administration’s decision to no longer oppose the rule.

The government revealed its decision by way of a final rule published in the Federal Register that removes the 2019 public charge regulations as of March 9, 2021.

The Department of Homeland Security will now return to its previous policy of following the 1999 Interim Field Guidance to determine whether a person would be likely to become a public charge on the U.S. government. As before, petitioners are still required to submit Form I-864 Affidavit of Support and demonstrate that they meet the income requirement to sponsor their relative in the United States.

For its part, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has also said that it has stopped the immediate enforcement of the rule as a result of the government’s actions.


What does this decision mean for you?


The decision to rescind the public charge rule means that the government is no longer applying the public charge rule to adjustment of status applicants, immigrant visa petitions at U.S. Embassies and Consulates abroad, and applications for extension or change of nonimmigrant status.

Accordingly, such applicants will no longer need to provide information, nor evidence relating to the public charge rule including Form I-944, Declaration of Self Sufficiency.

Additionally, the government will no longer consider a person a public charge who received any of the following benefits for more than 12 months in the aggregate within any 36-month period:

  • Supplemental Social Security Income (SSI)
  • Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF)
  • Medicaid
  • Non-Emergency Medicaid
  • Supplemental Nutrition and Assistance Program (SNAP)
  • Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program
  • Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance and
  • Certain other forms of subsidized housing.

Continue reading

Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick discusses the latest immigration legislation, otherwise known as the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021.

So, what is this new bill all about and how can it benefit your family?

Keep on watching to learn more.


Overview


We have very exciting news for you today. We are pleased to report that Biden and congressional Democrats have introduced a brand-new piece of legislation known as the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021. While his new bill has not yet become law, it is creating a lot of buzz because it proposes an earned path to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants who were in the United States on or before January 1, 2021.

The new bill would create a “fast track” green card application process for certain types of immigrants including DACA recipients, those who qualify for Temporary Protected Status (TPS), and farm workers who can demonstrate their work history.

The introduction of this bill is significant, because it appears that Congress is finally gearing up to compromise and pass a comprehensive immigration reform package for the first time in decades.


What are the main highlights of the bill?


The bill makes the following proposals:

  • Establishes an 8-year path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States by January 1, 2021
  • Provides an expedited path to citizenship for farm workers, those eligible for Temporary Protected Status, and undocumented young people who arrived to the U.S. as children with temporary status under DACA
  • Establishes Lawful Prospective Immigrant Status for 6 years
  • Replaces the word “alien” with “non-citizen” under immigration law
  • Raises the per-country visa caps on family and employment-based legal immigration numbers
  • Repeals the penalty that prohibits undocumented immigrants who leave the country from returning to the U.S. for between 3- and 10-years (repeals the 3 and 10-year bars) to allow for families to stay together without the need to file a waiver of inadmissibility
  • Expands transitional antidrug task forces in Central America
  • Increases funding for technology at the southern border

Continue reading

 

Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick talks about President Biden’s newly signed executive orders on immigration and his administration’s new legislative bill.

Want to know more? Keep on watching for more information.


Overview


On January 20, 2021, in his first day in office, President Biden signed a series of executive orders relating to immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick discusses what these executive orders will mean for you and what we may expect to see from the Biden administration in the months ahead with respect to comprehensive immigration reform.


Fact Sheet on Immigration


The Biden administration unveiled a brand new immigration reform bill entitled, the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021, which proposes to overhaul the United States immigration system.

The bill includes a number of new reforms designed to streamline the immigration system and create a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. To become law, the bill must still pass both houses of Congress including the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate.

These reforms are as follows:

  • Offers an 8-year path to citizenship for millions of people who were living in the United States unlawfully on Jan. 1, 2021. They would be eligible to apply for a green card after 5 years in a temporary status if they pass background checks and pay their taxes and could then apply for citizenship 3 years later.
  • Allows people with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) protection, a group known as “Dreamers”, who were brought to the United States illegally as children, farmworkers and people with Temporary Protected Status to immediately apply for a green card if they meet specific requirements. They would have a 3-year path to citizenship.
  • Permits certain immigrants who were deported during the Trump administration and had previously lived in the United States for three years to return to reunite with family or for other humanitarian reasons.
  • Raises annual per-country limits on family-based immigration and eliminates them for employment visas.
  • Introduces changes to ease the U.S. citizenship application process.
  • Increases the diversity visa lottery program visa quota from 55,000 to 80,000.
  • Exempts spouses and children of green card holders from employment-based immigration quotas, expanding the number of green cards available to employment-based immigrants.
  • Scraps multi-year bars to re-entry for certain people who lived in the United States illegally and then left.
  • Clears family-based and employment-based visa backlogs.
  • Provides work permits to dependents of H-1B visa holders.
  • Authorizes regional processing centers in Central America to register and process people for refugee resettlement and other legal migration programs.
  • Authorizes funding for legal counsel for vulnerable populations of migrants, such as children.
  • Increases the number of immigration judges working in the court system.
  • Eliminates the 1-year filing deadline for asylum applications.
  • Changes the word “alien” to “noncitizen” in U.S. immigration laws.
  • Immigrants with approved family-sponsored petitions (I-130) can join family members on a temporary basis while they wait for their green cards to become available.
  • New immigration protections for widows and children of second World War veterans.

For more detailed information about the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 please click here.

Continue reading

Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick provides a few new immigration updates regarding flexibility for request for evidence responses, adjustment of status interview waivers, and biometrics appointment waivers.

Want to know more? Keep on watching for more information.


Overview


Extended Flexibility for Responses to Request for Evidence

USCIS recently extended its flexibility policy for applicants who need more time to respond to a request for evidence, notice of intent to deny, and other such related notices.

Applicants who receive any of the below mentioned documents dated between March 1, 2020 and January 31, 2020 are given 60 additional days (after the response deadline indicated) to respond to the request or notice:

  • Requests for Evidence;
  • Continuations to Request Evidence (N-14);
  • Notices of Intent to Deny;
  • Notices of Intent to Revoke;
  • Notices of Intent to Rescind and Notices of Intent to Terminate regional investment centers;
  • Filing date requirements for Form N-336, Request for a Hearing on a Decision in Naturalization Proceedings (Under Section 336 of the INA); or
  • Filing date requirements for Form I-290B, Notice of Appeal or Motion.

Continue reading

Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick answers a hot topic that has been frequently asked by our followers: what are the top reasons for CR/IR-1 immigrant visa denials and what can you do about it.

Want to know more? Keep on watching for more information.


Overview


What is a CR-1/IR-1 visa?

A CR-1 or IR-1 visa is an immigrant visa for a spouse of a United States Citizen who is residing abroad. The term “CR” in CR-1 stands for “conditional resident” and is issued to foreign spouses who have been married for less than 2 years. By contrast the term “IR” in IR-1 stands for “immediate relative” and is issued to foreign spouses who have been married for more than 2 years. Those who receive a CR-1 visa will eventually receive a 2-year conditional green card after entering the United States, while those who receive an IR-1 visa will receive a 10-year green card (without condition).

The first step to apply for a CR-1/IR-1 visa is for the U.S. Citizen spouse to file a Petition for Alien Relative, Form I-130, with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on behalf of the foreign spouse. This petition initiates the immigration process to the United States. Once Form I-130 is approved by USCIS, the petition is transferred to the National Visa Center for pre-processing. At the National Visa Center stage, the applicant must complete the immigrant visa application and provide civil documentation. After sending all required documents to the National Visa Center, the NVC will forward the case to the U.S. Embassy near the foreign spouse and the applicant will wait to be scheduled for an Embassy interview. The Embassy interview is often a make it or break moment for couples who must prove that they have a “bona fide” marriage to be approved for their visa.


What are the top reasons for CR/IR-1 denials?


#1 Not meeting the income requirement for the affidavit of support

The number one reason for spousal visa denials is failing to meet the income requirement for the affidavit of support. As part of the spousal visa application process, the U.S. Citizen spouse must sign the I-864 Affidavit of Support, which is a legally enforceable contract between the U.S. Citizen and the government wherein the U.S. Citizen must sign under penalty of perjury that they have the adequate means to financial support the alien and the alien will not rely on the U.S. government for financial support.

What is the income requirement?

The minimum amount that the U.S. Citizen must make depends on his or her household size. In general, petitioners must make at least 125% of the federal poverty guidelines. However, exceptions exist for petitioners who are on active duty in the U.S. armed forces. Petitioners who do not satisfy the income requirement must apply with a joint sponsor, who must also sign a separate I-864 Affidavit of Support and provide evidence of financial ability. If the petitioner and joint sponsor do not qualify, the spousal visa application will be denied.

To prevent this situation from happening petitioners must make sure well in advance of filing the I-130 application, that they either meet the income requirement, or that they can obtain a joint sponsor who is willing and able to sign the affidavit of support and provide the necessary documentation.

Continue reading

Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick discusses a very important topic: what are the top 5 mistakes applicant’s make when applying for citizenship and how can you avoid them?

Want to know more? Keep on watching for more information.


Overview

New changes to the naturalization examination are coming. Beginning December 1, 2020, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), will introduce new changes that will make it more difficult for applicants to pass the civics examination. These new changes will apply to citizenship applications filed on or after December 1, 2020.


What type of changes will be introduced?

In order to obtain U.S. citizenship, applicants must successfully pass two components of the naturalization examination: The first is English proficiency – applicants must demonstrate English language proficiency as determined by their ability to read, write, speak and understand English. The second requirement is the civics examination – applicants must pass an oral examination by demonstrating adequate knowledge of U.S. history and government.

Beginning December 1, 2020 USCIS will:

  • Increase the general bank of civics test questions from 100 to 128 (the possible questions that may be asked)
  • Increase the number of test questions that will be asked for the civics exam to 20 (from 10)
  • Increase the number of correct answers needed to pass the civics test to 12 (from 6)
  • The test score required to pass (60 percent correct) the civics test however will not change

In order to pass the civics examination applicants must correctly answer at least 12 of the 20 questions asked.

Continue reading

Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick provides a brand-new update regarding employment and family-based interview waivers during the Coronavirus pandemic. In addition, he discusses a recent trend being followed by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Want to know more? Keep on watching for more information.

Overview

While no official policy or memorandum has been issued by USCIS regarding interview waivers, since at least May of this year, we have seen the agency use their broad discretionary power to waive the interview requirement for at least certain employment and family-based petitions, approving these cases without first scheduling an interview.

What does it mean for USCIS to “waive” the interview requirement?

In general, all adjustment of status applicants must attend an in-person interview at a USCIS field office where an immigration officer will verify whether the applicant understood the questions being asked on the green card application and evaluate whether the applicant qualifies for the immigration benefit requested. The interview is a good opportunity to correct any mistakes on the application form and resolve any issues in the underlying case.

In some instances, USCIS officers may “waive” this interview requirement if they find that it is unnecessary to interview the applicant. In situations where the officer “waives” the in-person interview, he or she relies only on the written evidence provided on the application to approve the applicant for U.S. residence (the green card).

Normally, USCIS uses its discretion to waive interviews for parents of U.S. citizens, unmarried children under 21 years of age of U.S. Citizens, unmarried children under 14 years of age of lawful permanent residents, asylees and refugees who were previously interviewed by a USCIS officer, and applicants who are clearly ineligible for the benefit they seek.

Continue reading

Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick discusses a new proposed rule published in the federal register that will soon change the regulations governing Form I-864 Affidavit of Support.

Want to know more? Keep on watching for more information.


Overview

On October 2, 2020, the Department of Homeland Security published a new proposed rule in the federal register that seeks to (1) strictly enforce the obligations of sponsors of the affidavit of support (2) tighten the types of documentation required by sponsors to demonstrate sufficient income (3) modify regulations regarding when an applicant is required to submit an affidavit of support from a joint sponsor and (4) enhance interagency reporting and information sharing among various government agencies.


What is the Affidavit of Support?

The affidavit of support is required for most family-based immigrants and some employment-based intending immigrants to show that the foreign national has adequate means of financial support and is not likely to become a public charge while in the United States.

The affidavit of support is essentially a contract between a sponsor and the U.S. government in which a sponsor must demonstrate that he or she has enough income and/or assets to support the intending immigrant. In most circumstances, the sponsor’s income must be at least 125 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines according to the size of the household.

Continue reading

Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick updates you regarding the operational status of U.S. Embassies and Consulates worldwide. As our readers are aware on March 20, 2020, the Department of State announcement the suspension of routine visa services at all U.S. Embassies and Consular posts worldwide in order to deal with the challenges posed by the Coronavirus pandemic. While U.S. Embassies and Consular posts suspended routine visa services, posts continued to remain open to provide emergency and mission critical visa services. These included the processing of applications for “national interest” waivers.

Since then, U.S. Embassies and Consulates have begun a phased resumption of visa services as local country conditions and resources have allowed.

Want to know more? Stay tuned for more information about this important topic.


Overview

In this video, we discuss the status of immigrant visa processing at U.S. Embassies and Consular posts worldwide. The information provided is based on what our office is currently experiencing, official government sources, and information we have received from other attorneys and members of our private Facebook group.

We are now ending fiscal year 2020 and are approaching the start of a new fiscal year that begins on October 2020. The Department of State predicts an overflow of immigrant visas. More than 100,000 additional employment-based visas will become available in the new fiscal year, while nearly 300,000 additional family-based visas will become available in the new fiscal year.


What is responsible for this overflow in visas?

This overflow in visas is the result of a combination of various factors. Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, and the numerous Presidential Proclamations that followed, many immigrant visas were not allowed to be issued. This has left many visas up for grabs in the new fiscal year.


What has the Department of State said about resumption of visa services?

The Department of State previously announced that routine visa services at U.S. Embassies and Consular posts would resume after July 15th however things have not gone as planned. The majority of U.S. Embassies and Consular posts did not resume routine visa services to the public on or after this date.

As months passed, some U.S. Embassies and Consular posts reopened interview scheduling on a limited basis. These actions signal that there is some movement in the scheduling of visa interview appointments, however the situation remains fluid. At any time, even the U.S. Embassies and Consular posts that have reopened their calendars for interview scheduling, can cancel these scheduled interviews based on their continued observance of local health conditions.


Which U.S. Embassies and Consular posts have resumed immigrant visa interviews?

Based on what we are seeing, the following Embassies/Consular posts have resumed immigrant visa interviews:

DISCLAIMER: Please keep in mind the situation continues to remain fluid and Embassy/Consular posts may choose to cancel scheduled interviews at any time based on country conditions.

  • U.S. Embassy in Kenya – open for immigrant visa interviews as of September 2020
  • U.S. Consulate in Mumbai, India – open for biometrics, was open for immigrant visa interviews, but it appears the Consulate has stopped scheduling interviews until further notice. Please continue monitoring the calendar
  • U.S. Consulate Frankfurt, Germany – was open for immigrant visa interviews, but it appears the Consulate has stopped scheduling interviews until further notice. Please continue monitoring the calendar
  • U.S. Embassy Tokyo, Japan- open for immigrant visa interviews as of mid-August 2020
  • U.S. Embassy Seoul, Korea – open for immigrant visa interviews
  • U.S. Consulate Guangzhou, China – only post in China open for immigrant visa interviews
  • U.S. Consulate Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam – open for immigrant visa interviews
  • U.S. Embassy Pakistan – not open for immigrant visa interviews, but emergency interview requests are still being considered
  • U.S. Embassy Paris, France – open for immigrant visa interviews
  • U.S. Embassy Sofia, Bulgaria – open for immigrant visa interviews as of September
  • U.S. Embassy Brussels, Belgium – open for immigrant and non-immigrant visa interviews as of August

Emergency Appointments

Even if your Embassy or Consular post has not resumed routine visa services and interview scheduling, you may request an emergency expedited appointment if your U.S. Citizen spouse or relative is experiencing extreme hardships in your absence, or where there is a medical or other type of emergency. Applicants are encouraged to contact their local Consular post for instructions on how to apply for an emergency appointment.

Our office has been successful in obtaining emergency appointments based on extreme hardship as well as the “national interest” exception for those subject to a Presidential Proclamation. If you would like to know whether you qualify for an emergency appointment or national interest exception, please call us to schedule a consultation.


Questions? If you would like to schedule a consultation, please text or call 619-569-1768.


JOIN OUR NEW FACEBOOK GROUP


Need more immigration updates? We have created a brand new facebook group to address the impact of the new executive order and other changing developments in immigration related to COVID-19. Follow us there.

For other COVID 19 related immigration updates please visit our Immigration and COVID-19 Resource Center here.