USCIS began implementing this change by providing a 48-month automatic extension on Notices of Action mailed to applicants beginning on January 11, 2023, for Form I-829 applicants, and on January 25, 2023, for Form I-751 applicants.
In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick explains the process for a United States Citizen to petition his or her parents for a green card, through adjustment of status (for those lawfully residing in the U.S.) or Consular processing (for those residing overseas).
If you want to know more about the eligibility requirements to do so, and how long it is currently taking for USCIS to approve green card applications for parents, please keep on watching.
Every year, thousands of people apply for green cards in different categories. One of the most common filings are green cards for parents of U.S. Citizens.
First, let’s discuss the requirements to file your parent’s green card.
To file the green card petition for your parents, you must be a U.S. Citizen that is 21 years of age or older. As proof of your qualifying family relationship to your parent, you will be required to provide a photocopy of your birth certificate.
As the petitioner (the U.S. Citizen family member filing the green card application with USCIS), you will also be required to file what is known as the I-864 Affidavit of Support. Form I-864 is your contract with the U.S. government promising to provide adequate financial support for your parent until they become a U.S. Citizen. As part of this process, you must prove to the U.S. government that you meet 125% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines according to your household size by providing verification of employment, and income verification documents.
Finally, your parent must intend to reside in the United States upon approval and issuance of their green card.
In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick answers some of your burning questions including whether you can expedite your marriage or fiancé(e) visa case in 2023, how long the process is currently taking, and other related questions.
If you would like to know more about this topic, please keep on watching!
The Coronavirus pandemic has caused a number of obstacles for fiancé(e)’s and spouses of United States citizens residing overseas. As many of our readers know, at the height of the pandemic, the Department of State announced the suspension of all routine visa services including immigrant and nonimmigrant visa appointments worldwide. Since Embassies and Consulates were shuttered for a significant period of time, this created a backlog of cases piling up at the National Visa Center due to visa interviews not being scheduled during the suspension.
It was not until July 2020, that U.S. Embassies and Consulates began a phased resumption of routine visa services on a post-by-post basis. Despite this announcement, many Consular posts have continued to place restrictions on their operating capacity due to local country conditions, workforce limitations, and public safety protocols.
In the past year or so, the processing of marriage and fiancé(e) visas has been impacted by this slow return to a sense of normalcy. U.S. Consulates and Embassies in certain countries have eased pandemic restrictions and are working normally, while others have struggled to catch up with the rest of the world. As a result, visa interview appointments for spousal and fiancé(e) visas have been very limited.
In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick provides an update regarding the recent increase in the Immigrant Visa backlogs, which grew to more than 21,000 additional cases in the month of February alone.
If you would like to know more about this important update, please keep on watching.
Did you Know? Every month the Department of State’s National Visa Center (NVC) publishes an Immigrant Visa Backlog report, which provides data and statistics relating to the current status of worldwide visa operations, including the number of documentarily complete immigrant visa cases currently at the National Visa Center waiting for interviews, the number of cases that were scheduled for interviews at the end of each month, and the number of immigrant visa cases still waiting to be scheduled for a visa interview after interview appointment scheduling was completed at the end of each month.
According to the National Visa Center’s Immigrant Visa Backlog Report for the month of February 2023, there has been a substantial increase in the immigrant visa (IV) backlog rising from 386,787 pending cases in January to 408,456 cases in February — nearly a 6% increaseamounting to a jump of 21,669 additional cases added to the backlog in just a one-month period.
Additionally, when comparing the January and February Immigrant Visa backlogs, we can see that the number of immigrant visa applicants whose cases were documentarily complete and therefore ready to be scheduled for an interview at Consulates and Embassies increased by 21,874 cases, from 422,954 (in January) to 444,828 (in February).
A case is considered documentarily complete by the National Visa Center, when the applicant has paid all necessary fees and submits all necessary documents to meet the formal visa application requirements, such that the case is ready to be scheduled for a visa interview. When a case becomes documentarily complete, the NVC sends applicants an email to notify them that their case is complete and pending scheduling at the local Consulate or Embassy.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.