Articles Posted in Visa Backlogs

As we near the end of the month, attorney Jacob Sapochnick discusses the release of the February 2023 Visa Bulletin and the trends and projected movement you can expect to see in the family-sponsored and employment-based preference categories for the month of February.

If you are interested to know about the cutoff dates and visa availability for the upcoming Visa Bulletin, please keep on watching.

Did you know? Every month the Department of State releases the Visa Bulletin, which summarizes the availability of immigrant visa numbers for that particular month. The “Final Action Dates” and “Dates for Filing Applications,” charts indicate when immigrant visa applicants can assemble and submit the required documentation to the National Visa Center (for those residing overseas), or USCIS (for those residing in the United States).

The primary purpose of the Visa bulletin is to provide an updated waiting list for immigrants that are subject to the numerical visa quota system.


Overview


USCIS Adjustment of Status Filing Charts for the February Visa Bulletin (for those residing in the USA)


To be eligible to file a family or employment-based adjustment of status application in the month of February (for those residing inside the United States), foreign nationals must have a priority date that is earlier than the date listed below for their preference category and country.

For Family-Sponsored Filings:


Pursuant to guidance released by USCIS, for all family-sponsored preference categories, applicants must use the Dates for Filing chart in the Department of State Visa Bulletin for February 2023 to determine when you can apply for adjustment of status.

For Employment-Based Preference Filings:


All applicants, falling under employment-based preference categories, must use the Dates for Filing chart in the Department of State Visa Bulletin for February 2023 to determine when you can apply for adjustment of status.

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In this blog post, attorney Jacob Sapochnick talks about a brand-new proposal to increase the government filing fees for certain types of immigration benefits filed with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Following the announcement, on January 4, 2023, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) in the Federal Register outlining the proposed fee schedule which seeks to increase the filing fees of certain nonimmigrant visa classifications, as well as adjustment of status (green card) applications.

The government will be accepting public comments for the proposed rule until March 6, 2023. After the comment period has closed, the agency will review the public comments and issue a final version of the rule.

TIP: If you know that you will be applying for an immigration benefit that is subject to the proposed fee increase, you should apply as soon as possible to avoid incurring the higher fee.

Want to know more? Just keep on watching.

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Do you have a case waiting to be processed by the National Visa Center? In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick discusses the latest updates on visa processing and interview scheduling in the new year.

This includes information regarding current visa backlogs and what you can expect from the National Visa Center.

If you would like to learn more about this important topic, just keep on watching.

Did you know? For immigrant visa petitions, the National Visa Center (NVC) functions as an intermediary between USCIS and the Embassy or Consulate that will eventually schedule your immigrant visa interview.

After the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has approved your I-130 or I-140 immigrant visa petition, USCIS will forward your petition to the National Visa Center (NVC) in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The NVC will complete immigrant visa pre-processing once your priority date becomes current pursuant to the Visa Bulletin.

Immediate relative categories do not have yearly numerical limits and pre-processing can begin once your case has reached the NVC. However, other family preference and employment-based immigrant categories have annual numerical limits, preventing pre-processing from taking place until the priority date is current.

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As we enter the month of December, we share with you the latest Visa Bulletin, highlighting the new trends and projections in the family sponsored and employment-based preference categories. If you would like to know more about what you can expect in terms of visa numbers, please keep on watching.

Did you know? Every month the Department of State releases the Visa Bulletin, which summarizes the availability of immigrant visa numbers for that particular month. The “Final Action Dates” and “Dates for Filing Applications,” charts indicate when immigrant visa applicants can assemble and submit the required documentation to the National Visa Center (for those residing overseas), or USCIS (for those residing in the United States).

The primary purpose of the Visa bulletin is to provide an updated waiting list for immigrants that are subject to the numerical visa quota system.


Overview


USCIS Adjustment of Status Filing Charts for the December Visa Bulletin (for those residing in the USA)


For Family-Sponsored Filings:

Pursuant to guidance released by USCIS, for all family-sponsored preference categories, applicants must use the Dates for Filing chart in the Department of State Visa Bulletin for December 2022 to determine when you can apply for adjustment of status.

For Employment-Based Preference Filings:

All applicants, falling under employment-based preference categories, must use the Dates for Filing chart in the Department of State Visa Bulletin for December 2022 to determine when you can apply for adjustment of status.


Employment-Based Categories


DATES FOR FILING CHART EMPLOYMENT-BASED PREFERENCE CASES


The December Visa Bulletin shows the following Dates for Filing cutoff dates will apply for the issuance of an immigrant visa for employment-based categories:

  • EB-1: All countries, including India and China, will remain current.
  • EB-2: EB-2 China will remain at July 8, 2019 and EB-2 India at May 1, 2012. All other countries will remain current.
  • EB-3 Professionals and Skilled Workers: EB-3 India will advance to August 1, 2012, and EB-3 China will advance to September 1, 2018. All other countries will remain current.
  • EB3 Other Workers: EB-3 China will remain at November 1, 2015, and EB-3 India will advance to August 1, 2012. A Date for Filing cut-off date of September 8, 2022, applies to all other countries.
  • EB-4: EB-4 El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras will remain at April 15, 2018, and EB-4 Mexico at October 15, 2020. All other countries remain at July 22, 2022.
  • EB-5: For the EB-5 Unreserved categories (C5, T5, I5, and R5), the Date for Filing for China will remain at January 1, 2016, India will have a Date for Filing cut-off imposed of December 8, 2019, and all other countries will remain current. For the EB-5 “Set-Aside” categories (Rural, High Unemployment, and Infrastructure), the Date for Filing will remain current for all countries.

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In this video, we bring you a new update from the State Department, based on recent conversations between State Department officials and representatives of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA).

We will specifically cover topics such as visa processing for third country nationals wishing to secure interview appointments at Consulates and Embassies worldwide, the fate of E-2 visa renewal applicants who previously applied for loans under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), the permissible activities of B-1 visa holders while in the United States, issues relating to visa inadmissibility, and nonimmigrant visa denials.

Did You know? We help clients in all 50 states and all countries of the world. If you are interested in discussing your immigration options, we invite you to contact us for a consultation.

If you would like to know more about the recent updates from the State Department, just keep on watching.


Overview


The U.S. Department of State recently met with representatives of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) to discuss several immigration topics that have been frequently asked by our viewers. Here we provide a summary of those updates and useful information that may be helpful to you.


Visa Appointments for Third Country Nationals


Applicants of certain nationalities have been experiencing difficulties obtaining visa interviews in their home country. For instance, recent political demonstrations in Iran have made it more and more difficult for applicants to travel to neighboring countries, leading applicants to seek visa appointments elsewhere.

Since the United States does not maintain a diplomatic presence in Iran, applicants can travel and apply at any U.S. Embassy or Consulate that processes their visa type. The U.S. Embassies in Ankara, Yerevan, and Dubai are staffed with Farsi-speaking consular officers who are most familiar with Iranian visa applicants, and therefore are encouraged to apply there. However, visas for Iranian applicants can also be processed at other U.S. Embassies such as Abu Dhabi, Frankfurt, Naples, and Vienna.

For others, obtaining a visa interview in their home country has been nearly impossible leading many to ask whether they can apply elsewhere as a third country national.

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In this video, we bring you the latest update from the State Department regarding the status of worldwide consular visa operations as of October 2022, including statistics and what you can expect in the coming months as it relates to visa processing.

If you are waiting for your immigrant visa to be processed at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate overseas, then this video is right for you.

Did You know? The State Department recently announced that it has reached pre-pandemic visa processing.

If you would like to know more about this important topic, just keep on watching.


Overview


The State Department recently provided a report on the status of consular visa operations and what the agency has been doing to cut down the waiting periods for immigrant and nonimmigrant visa applicants at Consulates worldwide. We provide the highlights of the report down below.

One of the major ways in which the State Department is improving visa processing times is by hiring more U.S. foreign service workers at Consulates overseas.

As you may be aware, visa backlogs at Consulates overseas piled up during the COVID-19 pandemic after the Department of State announced a worldwide suspension of routine visa services. Due to the restrictions on travel to the United States, as well as several other factors including social distancing protocols, Consulates were unable to schedule applicants for in-person visa interviews. The result was that virtually no visas were issued in the family preference categories during the temporary suspension of visa services, which caused the backlogs to increase significantly.


What is happening with visa operations now?


The State Department is almost back to pre-pandemic processing.

New initiatives like interview waivers are providing relief to Consulates and Embassies, while making available much needed interview slots for other applicants who need appointments.

The State Department estimates that approximately 30 percent of worldwide nonimmigrant visa applicants may be eligible for an interview waiver. This is a very positive development that could very well increase in the months ahead.

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Do you have a U.S. employer willing to sponsor your employment in the United States? If so, you may be interested to learn more about the EB-3 employment-based category for skilled workers, professionals, or other unskilled workers. The EB-3 is the most common employment sponsorship category to start work in the United States. In this video, we will cover the EB-3 requirements, application process, and other important information you may want to know.

Did you know? The EB-3 comprises 3 sub-categories of foreign nationals: (1) skilled workers, whose jobs require a minimum of 2 years training or experience, and must meet the educational, training, or experience requirements of the job opportunity (2) professional workers whose job requires at least a U.S. baccalaureate or foreign equivalent degree and (3) other workers, performing unskilled labor requiring less than 2 years training or experience, not of a temporary or seasonal nature.

Want to learn more? Just keep on watching.


Overview


What is EB-3?


The EB-3 is an employment-based category for United States permanent residency. It is intended for “skilled workers,” “professionals,” and “other [unskilled] workers.”

Unlike persons with extraordinary abilities as in the EB-1 category, EB-3 applicants require a sponsoring U.S. employer to complete a labor certification process. There is no “self-petition” category under EB-3. You must have a permanent, full-time job offer from a U.S. employer and your employer must file a labor certification application on your behalf.

The EB-3 requirements are less stringent when compared to the EB-1 and EB-2 categories, typically reserved for individuals that can demonstrate extraordinary achievements (EB-1) or exceptional ability in a field that is in the national interest (EB-2).

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The month of September has come and is nearly gone. That means that it is time to discuss next month’s Visa Bulletin for October 2022. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick shares with you the trends and movement you can expect to see during the month of October for both employment based, and family sponsored preference visa categories, and our predictions for interview appointment availability. October’s Visa Bulletin is also important because it marks the end of the fiscal year.

Did you know? Every month the Department of State releases the Visa Bulletin, which summarizes the availability of immigrant visa numbers for that particular month. The “Final Action Dates” and “Dates for Filing Applications,” charts indicate when immigrant visa applicants can assemble and submit the required documentation to the National Visa Center (for those residing overseas), or USCIS (for those residing in the United States).

The primary purpose of the Visa bulletin is to provide an updated waiting list for immigrants that are subject to the numerical visa quota system.

Want to know more? Just keep on watching.


Overview


USCIS Adjustment of Status Filing Charts for the October Visa Bulletin (for those residing in the USA)


For Family-Sponsored Filings:

Pursuant to guidance released by USCIS, for all family-sponsored preference categories, applicants must use the Dates for Filing chart in the Department of State Visa Bulletin for October 2022 to determine when you can apply for adjustment of status.

For Employment-Based Preference Filings:

All applicants, falling under employment-based preference categories, must use the Dates for Filing chart in the Department of State Visa Bulletin for October 2022 to determine when you can apply for adjustment of status.

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Welcome back to our blog! In this video, we are excited to cover new updates from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) with respect to missing and/or delayed Requests for Evidence also known as “RFEs.”

Did You Know? Where an application or petition is deficient, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) may issue a Request for Evidence asking for additional information or documentation to be provided before the adjudicating officer can make a final decision for your case. Requests for Evidence are sent to the applicant’s mailing address and specifically identify the information or documentation needed, as well as the deadline for responding to the Request for Evidence.

Want to know more? Just keep on watching.


Overview


More and more individuals have been reporting their case status change to “Request for Evidence” issued but have not received the request in the mail. In this post, we talk about what you should do in this situation and the latest recommendations from USCIS.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, we have seen many operational delays at the USCIS level. From interview scheduling delays to the slow issuance of receipt notices, the agency has been struggling to keep up with its workload. In the last year alone, the biggest obstacle has been the slow issuance of Requests for Evidence especially for cases pending at the Texas Service Center (TSC) and the Vermont Service Center (VSC). The agency has said that eventually all Requests for Evidence will be sent by mail. The issue has been that the agency has been experiencing severe mailroom backlogs leading to such delays.

So, what should you do if you have not yet received your Request for Evidence in the mail?

USCIS has acknowledged these delays and has advised applicants to contact USCIS to speak to a customer service representative about the issue by calling 800-375-5283 (TTY 800-767-1833) Monday to Friday 8 am to 8 pm Eastern Standard Time. Applicants should continue to inquire until they have received their Request for Evidence by mail.

Once your Request for Evidence has arrived, if the stated deadline is not sufficient time to respond to the Request, you may still respond to the RFE, and include evidence proving that you received the Request for Evidence very late. This is very easy to prove because your envelope will include a stamp showing the date the Request for Evidence was mailed to you.

Applicants should also note that USCIS has extended its flexibility policy and will accept a response to a Request for Evidence received within 60 calendar days after the due date, so long as the RFE was issued between March 1, 2020, and October 23, 2022. This policy will also apply to late and missing RFEs that are re-issued by USCIS.

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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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