Articles Posted in US Citizens

Welcome to the start of a brand-new week. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick shares with you some brand-new updates including the status of immigrant visa processing, NVC insider tips, information regarding the transfer of cases from USCIS to the NVC, NVC timeframes, expedite requests, and much more.

If you have an immigrant visa application waiting for interview scheduling at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate worldwide or if your case is stuck at the National Visa Center, then this video is right for you.

Did you know? The Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC) is your one-stop shop to pay your immigrant visa fees and upload any necessary documentation to complete the processing of your application before it is deemed “documentarily complete.”

Want to know more? Just keep on watching.


Overview


The Role of the National Visa Center

As you may know, the National Visa Center (NVC) is operated by the Department of State. Its main role is to administer the processing of immigrant visas after their approval by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), but before the case is actually sent to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate for a final interview. Essentially, the National Visa Center functions as a middleman between USCIS and Consulates overseas.

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In this video attorney Jacob Sapochnick addresses a somber but important topic: What happens when a U.S. Citizen dies, can a LPR spouse still apply for naturalization after 3 years?

To know more about this topic, just keep on watching.


Overview


Applying for Naturalization After the Death of an Immediate Relative

In this post we answer one of your frequently asked questions:

Q: I became a green card holder through my husband, who was born in the U.S. and was a U.S. citizen. Sadly, my husband died last year. I would like to apply to become a U.S. citizen as soon as possible. Can I still apply for naturalization after 3 years of having my green card?

A: This question comes up more often than we would like to admit.

As you may know as a general rule, a legal permanent resident (LPR) is eligible to apply for naturalization after being a green card holder for at least 5 years.

However, there is an exception to the rule. Spouses of U.S. Citizens are eligible to apply for naturalization after 3 years of being a permanent resident, so long as they are still married and living in the same household as their U.S. Citizen spouse. Couples that are no longer living together (such as where a separation occurs) do not qualify for the 3-year exception.

But what happens when the spouse dies?

This situation recently happened to one of our clients. She was able to prove that she was living with her U.S. Citizen spouse up until the time of his death and wanted to know if she could still take advantage of the 3-year rule to apply for naturalization.

Sadly, under section 319(a) of the INA, “A person is ineligible for naturalization as the spouse of a United States citizen, if, before or after the filing of the application, the marital union ceases to exist due to death or divorce….”

That means that where a marital union ended due to the U.S. Citizen spouse’s death, the legal permanent resident cannot take advantage of the 3-year rule and must wait to reach their five-year anniversary as a legal permanent resident (LPR) before they can apply for naturalization. It is permissible to file your application 90 days before reaching your fifth anniversary as a permanent resident.

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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 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 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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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 discusses President Biden’s new plan to make the citizenship application process more accessible and available to more people: what’s happened so far and what plans does the Biden administration have for the future?

Keep on watching for all the details. In addition, please stay tuned for information about big changes coming soon to the United States passport application process, including a new gender option for applicants who are gender non-conforming, and information about a new bill introduced last week called, America’s CHILDREN Act that would open a pathway for permanent residence for certain individuals who came to the United States as children but overstayed their length of authorized stay.


Overview


Biden’s Interagency Strategy for Promoting Naturalization

The Biden administration is launching a nationwide campaign initiative to encourage long time lawful permanent residents (green card holders) to become U.S. Citizens. These efforts stem from President Biden’s February 2nd Executive Order “Restoring Faith in Our Legal Immigration Systems and Strengthening Integration and Inclusion Efforts for New Americans.” A hallmark of this executive order is to “welcome strategies that promote integration, inclusion, and citizenship.” As part of these efforts, the Biden administration is now working closely with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to unveil a new strategy that will encourage an estimated 9 million green card holders living in the United States to apply for U.S. Citizenship. These unprecedented efforts will target those permanent residents who have the ability to naturalize.

How will this be done?

The Biden administration will be strategizing with USCIS to determine the best ways to reach this massive pool of permanent residents by holding naturalization ceremonies at national parks to raise awareness, partnering with the US Postal Service to display promotional posters at Postal Service facilities about becoming a US citizen, and engaging with the Department of Veterans Affairs and veteran service organizations to find ways to educate service members and veterans on citizenship.

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Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick shares with you why more than 100,000 U.S. Citizens are stuck overseas unable to renew their U.S. passports. Additionally, Jacob discusses the reason behind the denied entry of thousands of green card holders who have remained overseas for more than a year, and the status of visa services for U.S. Citizens and legal permanent residents at U.S. Embassies and Consulates abroad. Tune in to learn more about what you can do, if you are a U.S. Citizen or green card holder currently stuck overseas during the Embassy closures.

Want to know more? Keep on watching.


Overview


During the Coronavirus pandemic, Consular appointments for U.S. Citizens have been nearly impossible to obtain. That is because public health and safety remain a paramount concern during the COVID-19 health crisis. The unprecedented circumstances surrounding the Coronavirus pandemic have unfortunately prompted U.S. Consulates and Embassies worldwide to drastically scale back visa operations, including the services that can be provided. Embassies and Consulates have said that visa operations will not resume as normal until it is safe to do so. The social distancing protocols and local quarantines have also had an impact on the volume of people that can be seen for visa appointments, making them a lot more difficult to come by.

This reduction of visa services has not just impacted immigrant and non-immigrant visa applicants, but also U.S. Citizens and legal permanent residents living overseas.

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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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