Articles Posted in Updates

Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick shares a recent update from USCIS regarding a new policy that will extend evidence of status for green card holders who are applying to remove the conditions on their green card with the filing of either Form I-751 Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence or Form I-829 Petition by Investor to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status. Jacob also provides some cautionary information for conditional permanent residents who have divorced and are returning to the U.S. after temporary foreign travel, as well as added scrutiny for those applying for naturalization who initially gained their green card through marriage to a U.S. Citizen.

Keep on watching to find out more.


Overview


2 Year Extension of Status for Conditional Permanent Residents with Pending Form I-751 or Form I-829

USCIS has recently shared important information for conditional permanent residents who have been issued a two-year green card by USCIS and are now seeking to remove the conditions on their residence. Starting September 4, 2021, USCIS is extending the time that receipt notices can be used to show evidence of lawful status from 18 months to 24 months for those who have properly filed Form I-751 Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence or Form I-829 Petition by Investor to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status.

Previously, after filing Form I-751 or Form I-829, USCIS was issuing receipt notices which included an automatic 18-month extension of lawful status, allowing applicants to lawfully remain in the United States 18-months past the expiration of their green cards while their applications were under review with the agency. These extensions were issued for 18-months because that was the estimated processing time for removal of conditions applications prior to the COVID-19 outbreak.

USCIS will now be issuing 24-month extensions to reflect the current processing times more accurately for these applications, which has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick shares the most up to date information about the current status of U.S. visa services at Consulates and Embassies worldwide. In this post we cover U.S. Embassies and Consular posts that we have not yet touched on and provide an analysis of their operating capacity during the worldwide COVID-19 health crisis. Want to know which Embassies and Consulates are scheduling visa interviews?

Keep on watching to find out more.


Overview


As a preliminary matter, it is important to consider that the majority of U.S. Embassies and Consulates overseas continue to have very limited operational capacity due to constraints relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some posts have temporarily suspended all routine visa services and have not provided an estimated time frame as to when they will resume at least partial visa services and appointments. The bulk of Consular posts have entered a phased resumption of visa services and are providing visa services as their resources and local country conditions will allow. The health and safety of employees and the public remains a top concern. Emergency and mission critical visa services continue to be prioritized for those facing life and death emergencies, age-out cases where the applicant will no longer qualify due to their age, immediate relative intercountry adoption, and other special cases. Furthermore, expedite requests and National Interest exceptions continue to be considered by Consular posts and Embassies including for health care professionals working to alleviate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.


How are Consular posts and Embassies prioritizing appointments?


The Department of State announced that Consular missions and Embassies are following a four-tier system of prioritization to triage documentarily qualified immigrant visa applications based on the category of immigrant visa as they resume and expand processing. Consular sections are scheduling some appointments within all four priority tiers every month where possible, however the following are the main categories of immigrant visas in priority order:

  • Tier One: Immediate relative intercountry adoption visas, age-out cases (cases where the applicant will soon no longer qualify due to their age), certain Special Immigrant Visas (SQ and SI for Afghan and Iraqi nationals working with the U.S. government), and emergency cases as determined on a case-by-case basis.
  • Tier Two:  Immediate relative visas; fiancé(e) visas; and returning resident visas
  • Tier Three: Family preference immigrant visas and SE Special Immigrant Visas for certain employees of the U.S. government abroad
  • Tier Four: All other immigrant visas, including employment preference and diversity visas*

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Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick talks about which U.S. Embassies and Consulates overseas are scheduling visa interviews during the limited operational capacity resulting from the global COVID-19 pandemic. As a bonus, in this video, we will also help you understand the role of the National Visa Center in preparing your case for transfer to a Consular post abroad and interview scheduling.

Want to know more? Just keep on watching.


Overview


What is the role of the National Visa Center in your immigration journey?

The National Visa Center is an extremely important agency that acts as a middleman between USCIS and the Consular post or Embassy where your visa interview will eventually be scheduled.

After U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) approves your immigrant visa petition, USCIS forwards your petition to the National Visa Center (NVC) located in Portsmouth, New Hampshire to prepare the case for immigrant visa pre-processing. Once your case is received by the National Visa Center, the agency will contact you to collect your visa application, visa fees, and additional supporting documentation known as civil documents. All visa fees and supporting documentation is submitted online via the Consular Electronic Application Center webpage (CEAC). 

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Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick provides his latest immigration update on the operational status of U.S. Embassies and Consulates overseas processing immigrant visa applications.

Want to know what you can expect regarding the COVID-19 related visa backlogs? Just keep on watching for more information.


Overview


The Department of State guidelines on the processing of immigrant visas during the COVID-19 health crisis remains a great obstacle for family reunification. The agency has said that while it is prioritizing the scheduling of immediate relative visas, fiancé(e) visas, and returning resident visa interviews, local country conditions continue to pose challenges. Social distancing protocols, restrictions on movement, and gathering  imposed by host country governments has limited the ability of Consulates and Embassies to schedule sufficient visa appointments to meet the ongoing demand. Separately, the Biden administration has continued to enforce the geographic COVID-19 related Presidential Proclamations that prevent foreign nationals physically residing in the Schengen countries, United Kingdom, Ireland, Brazil, South Africa, India, and China from entering unless they have applied for and received a National Interest Exception.

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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 the current backlogs faced by the National Visa Center for cases that are documentarily qualified. As a separate update, Jacob discusses the status of nonimmigrant visa services, specifically for E-2 Treaty Trader Investor Visa applicants at U.S. Embassies and Consulates overseas. What is happening with these visa types and when can you expect to proceed with your case? What options do you have to speed up your case?

To find out more just keep on watching.


Overview


Visa Backlogs

As you know the COVID-19 pandemic has had disastrous effects on the U.S. immigration system, and especially on visa processing at U.S. Embassies and Consulates abroad. Safety and health concerns have prompted Consular sections worldwide to dramatically scale back visa operations, causing significant visa backlogs for both immigrant and non-immigrant visa applicants. The magnitude of these backlogs has become so severe that the State Department has said that it does not believe these backlogs will be cleared even by the end of 2022.

As you may recall in March of 2020, U.S. Embassies and Consulates made the difficult decision to suspend routine visa services worldwide and began limiting their capacity to schedule visa interview appointments for the vast majority of applicants.

This has caused applicants to become increasingly concerned about when they will be able to reunite with family members in the United States and return to a life of normalcy.

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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 Department of State recently announced that the entry of immigrant and fiancé(e) visa applicants is in the National Interest, despite the COVID-19 Regional Presidential Proclamations, which have prevented those physically present within the Schengen Area, Brazil, China, the United Kingdom, Ireland, South Africa, and Iran from obtaining visas. In addition, the Secretary has carved out exceptions for other special types of nonimmigrants who have been physically presented in the affected countries.

What exactly does this mean for you? Keep on watching for all the details.


Overview


Immigrant and fiancé(e) visa applicants who were previously subject to Presidential Proclamations 9984, 9992, 9993, and 10041, may now breathe a sigh of relief. That is because on April 8, 2021, the Department of State, announced via its website that such Regional Presidential Proclamations will no longer restrict immigrant visa and fiancé(e) visa applicants from obtaining a visa to enter the United States.

The Secretary of State has now determined that the travel of immigrant and fiancé(e) visa applicants is in the National Interest and will approve exceptions for anyone wishing to travel to the United States, from countries which were previously banned from entering the United States due to the COVID-19 Regional Presidential Proclamations.

Prior to this announcement, all immigrant and nonimmigrant visa applicants, physically present within the Schengen Area, Brazil, China, the United Kingdom, Ireland, South Africa, and Iran, during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States, were restricted from entering the United States to contain the prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Such restrictions are no more.

DOS has stated that, Immigrant Visa processing posts may now grant immigrant and fiancé(e) visas to applicants otherwise eligible, notwithstanding these proclamations.

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Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick answers your frequently asked questions on a variety of different topics in the world of immigration including: the resumption of visa services at U.S. Embassies and Consulates worldwide, NVC procedures, the public charge rule, and other immigration updates.

Want to know if we answered your question? Watch this video to find out.


Frequently Asked Questions


Q: When will the National Visa Center start scheduling interviews? I am already Documentarily Qualified by the NVC and I am awaiting an appointment date. It has been three months since I received Documentary Qualification.

A: This is a very common question we receive on a daily basis. To help our viewers with this question, we have made a dedicated video explaining how the NVC is working with U.S. Embassies abroad to send cases and schedule interviews based on cases that have been documentarily qualified by the NVC. NVC has stated that all cases that have been documentarily qualified will be sent to the U.S. Embassy abroad in the order that they have been documentarily qualified by the NVC.

However, please remember that even if your case has been Documentarily Qualified by the NVC, an interview is not necessarily guaranteed. The NVC must rely on the U.S. Embassy to determine whether the Embassy is accepting interview appointments. Their availability to take appointments will largely depend on the country conditions of each post. If your Embassy is not accepting cases for interviews, your case will remain warehoused at the NVC until the Embassy is ready to schedule interviews.

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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 National Visa Center regarding immigrant visa processing times, the status of Embassies and Consulates reopening, and expedite request information for immigrant visas.

The information provided in this video is based on the minutes of a meeting that took place between the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and the National Visa Center (NVC). In this meeting the NVC answered many of your burning questions regarding the resumption of visa services at U.S. Consulates and Embassies worldwide, current immigrant visa processing times, and expedite request information.

Want to know more? Just keep on watching.


NVC & AILA Questions and Answers on Consular Processing  


What has the NVC responded regarding Consular Processing at Embassies and Consular posts worldwide? How will NVC handle cases that are documentarily qualified? In what order will applicants be scheduled for immigrants?

Check out the Q & A below to find out.

Q: What is the volume of immigrant visa cases currently being processed at NVC?

A: During FY 2020, NVC reviewed and processed 77,000 cases per month.

Q: What was the number of non-immigrant K-1 visas processed on a monthly basis at the NVC in FY 2020?

A: Every month the NVC processed 2,500 K-1 visas during fiscal year 2020.

Q: Of all cases processed at the NVC how many applications are represented by attorneys?

A: 25% of all cases at the NVC are represented by attorneys

Q: How is the NVC handling cases that are documentarily qualified but unable to move forward due to U.S. Embassies and Consular posts that have not yet resumed normal processing?

A: The NVC is continuing to schedule cases only for posts able to conduct interviews.

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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.

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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.

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