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In an effort to modernize and streamline the application process, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has finally announced that it will begin to accept payment via credit card for all 41 fee-based forms. Previously, applicants were required to make filing fee payments by personal check or money order for most fee-based forms. Now applicants will be able to use their credit cards to pay their filing fees using Form G-1450 Authorization for Credit Card Transaction.Accepted credit cards include Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover cards.  Applicants for naturalization and those renewing or replacing their Green Cards can pay via credit card using the e-file system.

Applicants filing any of the following forms with a USCIS Lockbox facility may now utilize the credit card payment option. Please remember to include Form G-1450 along with your application when filing by mail:

*Most frequently used forms appear in bold.

For a complete list of filing fees please click here.

Form Number Form Name
EOIR-29 Notice of Appeal to the Board of Immigration Appeals from a Decision of a DHS Officer
G-1041 Genealogy Index Search Request
G-1041A Genealogy Records Request
I-102 Application for Replacement/Initial Nonimmigrant Arrival-Departure Document
I-129F Petition for Alien Fiance(e)
I-130/A Petition for Alien Relative
I-131 Application for Travel Document
I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker
I-212 Application for Permission to Re-apply for Admission into the U.S. After Deportation or Removal
I-290B Notice of Appeal or Motion
I-360 Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er) or Special Immigrant
I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status
I-485 Supp A Supplement A to Form I-485, Adjustment of Status under Section 245(i)
I-526 Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur
I-539/A Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status
I-600 Petition to Classify Orphan as Immediate Relative
I-600A Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition
I-601 Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility
I-601A Application for Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver
I-690 Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility
I-694 Notice of Appeal of Decision Under Sections 245A or 210 of the INA
I-698 Application to Adjust Status from Temporary to Permanent Resident (under Section 245A of the INA)
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization
I-800 Petition to Classify Adoptee as an Immediate Relative
I-800A Application for Determination of Suitability to Adopt a Child from a Convention County
I-817 Application for Family Unity Benefits
I-821 Application for Temporary Protected Status
I-824 Application for Action on an Approved Application or Petition
I-829 Petition By Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status
I-90 Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card
I-910 Application for Civil Surgeon Designation
I-941 Application for Entrepreneur Parole
N-300 Application to File Declaration of Intention
N-336 Request for Hearing on a Decision in Naturalization Proceedings under Section 336 of the INA
N-400 Application for Naturalization
N-470 Application to Preserve Residence for Naturalization Purposes
N-600 Application for Certificate of Citizenship
N-600K Application for Citizenship and Issuance of Certificate Under Section 322

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Various news media outlets are reporting that the Supreme Court will hold a closed-door meeting today Friday, February 16, 2018 to decide whether the Supreme Court will hear a challenge to a lower court opinion which temporarily blocked the President’s move to end the Obama era program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, making it possible for DACA recipients to apply for a renewal of their DACA benefits.

The closed-door meeting was prompted after the Justice Department formally asked the Supreme Court to review a federal judge’s January ruling, blocking the administration’s effort to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. The Justice Department in making such a request is seeking to bypass lower court proceedings, asking the Supreme Court for direct review, instead of appealing the lower court’s decision before a federal appellate court.

According to a law professor from the University of Texas School of Law, the court has not granted certiorari before judgment since the year 2004, and has not done so without a circuit-level ruling since 1988.

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IMPORTANT UPDATE: On February 14, 2018 USCIS announced that due to federal court orders issued on January 9, 2018 and February 13, 2018, USCIS will resume accepting requests to renew a grant of deferred action under the DACA program. Please read our post below to determine whether you qualify for a renewal request. 

File Your DACA Renewal Request Immediately

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On Sunday night, a group of Republican Senators met to draft the Republican party’s version of the President’s immigration framework, in preparation for a floor debate that will take place Monday night on immigration. The Republican bill is one of many proposals that will be considered by the Senate as part of the ongoing immigration debate. The proposed bill, known as the Secure and Succeed Act of 2018, drafted by Republican Senators Chuck Grassley, John Cornyn, James Lankford, Thom Tillis, David Perdue, Tom Cotton, and Joni Ernst, mirrors the Trump administration’s immigration framework.

Over the next few weeks Senators will vigorously debate and amend proposals on immigration with the goal of coming up with a piece of legislation that can garner at least 60 votes in the Senate to advance to the House of Representatives. The process will involve a free-for-all debate on the Senate floor that will allow Senators to propose amendments, with the goal of coming up with a bipartisan solution to shield Dreamers from deportation.

The GOP currently has a 51-49 majority in the Senate, making it necessary for Republicans to obtain support from Democratic Senators to reach the 60-vote threshold. Republicans have a large enough majority in the House of Representatives that they do not need a single Democratic vote to pass desired legislation.

Path to Citizenship for Dreamers

The Republican proposal focuses on providing a 12-year path to citizenship for up to 1.8 million people including DACA eligible recipients. Undocumented immigrants currently enrolled in DACA would receive a 2-year credit allowing them to obtain citizenship within 10 years. The criteria to obtain citizenship would require an individual to have:

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In this post, we will discuss the limited circumstances in which applicants may request a fee exemption for Form I-765 filed in connection with a renewal request for consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

In most cases the filing fee to request a renewal of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals cannot be waived, but fee exemptions are available in the following limited circumstances:

  • Applicants under 18 years of age who are homeless, in foster care, or otherwise lack parental or other familial support, with income that is less than 150% of the U.S. poverty level may seek a fee exemption
  • Applicants who cannot care for themselves because of a serious chronic disability with an income that is less than 150% of the U.S. poverty level may claim a fee exemption
  • Applicants, who at the time of their request, have accumulated $10,000 or more in debt in the past 12 months, as the result of unreimbursed medical expenses for themselves or family members, receiving an income that is less than 150% of the U.S. poverty level may claim an exemption of the filing fee

To determine whether your income is less than 150% of the U.S. poverty level please reference the chart below:

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In order to be considered for a fee exemption, applicants must submit a letter and supporting documentation demonstrating that they fall into one of the above-mentioned categories. Applicants must first file a request for a fee exemption and receive an approved fee exemption, before filing a request for consideration of deferred action on Form I-821D.  Applicants may not submit Forms I-821D, I-765, and I-765WS without a record that a fee exemption has been approved.

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Now is the time to begin preparing for the upcoming H-1B visa lottery. USCIS will begin to accept H-1B cap-subject petitions for fiscal year 2019 beginning Monday, April 2, 2018. Please note: employers cannot file an H-1B petition for an employee more than 6 months before the employee’s intended start date. If accepted, H-1B visa workers can begin employment by October 1st. The H-1B visa is issued for up to three years but may be extended for another three years.

By law, a congressionally mandated cap exists which limits the issuance of H-1B visas to 65,000 per year. That is why the H-1B visa is commonly referred to as a ‘lottery’ visa.

Individuals (such as F-1 students) who hold advanced degrees (U.S. master’s or higher) are exempted from the 65,000 visa cap. Such applicant’s must demonstrate that they have obtained an American master’s degree or higher to be exempted from the cap, however only the first 20,000 petitions received by USCIS will benefit from this cap exemption. Initial H-1B petitions that are received by USCIS after that limit will count towards the regular 65,000 cap.

In order to qualify for an H-1B visa:

  • a foreign worker must possess both a theoretical or practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge;
  • an employer-employee relationship must exist. Only a U.S. employer can petition the entry of a foreign employee by filing USCIS Form I-129 Petition for Non-immigrant Worker. An employer-employee relationship exists if the U.S. employer has the right to hire, pay, fire, supervise or control the work of the employee;
  • the foreign worker must possess a bachelor’s degree, its foreign equivalent, or relevant work experience. If the foreign worker does not have formal education, but has at least 12 years of relevant work experience related to the specialty occupation, they may still qualify for an H-1B visa;
  • the foreign worker must be employed in a specialty occupation related to their field of study. A specialty occupation is an occupation that requires a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent;
  • the foreign worker must be paid at least the prevailing wage for the specialty occupation in the area of intended employment;

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This week the President of the United States delivered his much-anticipated State of the Union to unite the Democratic and Republican parties on a range of contentious issues still unresolved in Congress. One of those hot-button issues has been immigration. As you may recall the President has given Congress until March 5, 2018 to pass legislation protecting Dreamers from deportation.

Ahead of the President’s speech the White House unveiled an immigration framework thought to gain support from Democrats in Congress, however the Democratic response in the room to the President’s remarks on immigration was somber.

While the President’s speech focused largely on improving the economy and helping small American businesses, the President also touched on immigration. President Trump opened his remarks on immigration by calling for immigration policies that will put American workers and their families first.

To highlight the importance of border security and implementing tougher immigration policies the President recounted the tragic story of Kayla Cuevas and Nisa Mickens, two close friends that were brutally murdered by adolescent gang members of MS-13, who the President said took advantage of the country’s loopholes to gain entrance into the country as unaccompanied minors. The parents of Kayla and Nisa Mickens stood tearfully to receive applause from members of Congress in the room.  The President called on members of Congress to “close the deadly loopholes that have allowed MS-13 and other criminals” to enter into the country. The President touted that his administration has proposed new legislation to fix the country’s immigration laws and support ICE and Border Patrol Agents in their efforts to apprehend dangerous criminals.

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In this post, we bring you information regarding the major provisions of the Immigration Innovation Act of 2018 affecting H-1B workers and employment-based immigrants. The Immigration Innovation Act of 2018 is a piece of legislation that was recently introduced before Congress by Republican Senators Orrin Hatch and Jeff Flake on January 25, 2018.

Much of the legislation centers around the H-1B visa worker program.

The major provisions of the Immigration Innovation Act currently being proposed in Congress are as follows:

Increases the number of H-1B visas available. Section 101 of the legislation would raise the current 65,000 H-1B statutory visa cap to 85,000 with 20,000 of those visas to be set aside for applicants possessing a U.S. Master’s and above. This provision includes a market escalator up to 195,000 and de-escalator that is based on prior fiscal years, but not lower than the statutory base. 

Exemption for U.S. Masters. Section 101 includes a provision that creates an unlimited number of exemptions for individuals with a U.S. Master’s degree or above if the U.S. employer attests that it will begin green card processing for the beneficiary within one year.

H-1B Prioritization. Per Section 101, the H-1B visa lottery would be prioritized as follows in fiscal years where enough petitions have been received within the first 5 business days of the filing period of reaching the cap:

  • Individuals with a U.S. Master’s, or higher who are subject to the numerical limitations
  • Individuals who have earned a doctoral degree outside of the U.S.
  • Individuals who have earned a U.S. Bachelor’s degree or higher in a STEM field and
  • Other petitions

Penalties for Failure to Withdraw. Section 101 proposes monetary penalties and debarment for employers who have 5 or more cap-subject petitions approved in a fiscal year, where the visa holder works in the U.S. less than 25% during the first year of approval. In cases involving higher volume users where at least 20 H-1B petitions have been approved in a fiscal year the employer may not avoid penalties even if they withdraw a percentage of approved petitions.

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450171693_de7e193cd1_zYesterday January 25, 2018, the White House unveiled a framework on Immigration Reform and Border Security outlining the Trump administration’s proposals on immigration. As we previously reported, members of Congress have 16 days to hash out their disagreements, and come up with a piece of legislation that would protect more than 700,000 Dreamers from deportation. As part of that deal, the Trump administration has unveiled a framework containing their wish list for what the administration would like to see incorporated into legislation proposed by Congress.

Dreamers

The White House framework openly supports a 10 to 12-year pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients and other DACA-eligible immigrants, legalizing a population of approximately 1.8 million young undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children. In order to be eligible, DACA recipients would be required to fulfill requirements for work, education, and good moral character. Under the proposal, an individual’s legal status could be subject to revocation for criminal conduct, public safety and national security concerns, public charge violations, fraud, etc.

Border Security

In exchange for supporting a path to citizenship for Dreamers, the administration is asking Congress for $25 billion in funding to construct a border wall, secure United States ports of entry and exit, and beef up security in the northern border. The administration also seeks to expedite the deportation of criminals, gang members, violent offenders, aggravated felons, and those who have overstayed their visas.

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As you may know, Republicans and Democrats have been engaged in heated discussions regarding the future of DACA during the last few days, with Democrats threatening to send the country into a government shutdown if Republicans refused to resolve key issues regarding immigration. The debates came on the heels of the President’s deadline, giving members of Congress until March 5th to come with a plan to protect Dreamers from deportation.

The government shutdown however has been averted, but with no clear plan regarding what the Republican-led Congress plans to do to meet the President’s March 5th deadline to protect Dreamers from deportation.

On Monday, members of Congress voted to pass a measure to fund the federal government through February 8th following a brief three-day government shutdown, in which Democrats refused to vote in favor of a funding bill without Republican support for a bill that would shield Dreamers from deportation. Ultimately Democrats gave in with a majority voting for the measure largely after receiving assurances from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that an immigration bill would be brought before Congress to protect more than 700,000 Dreamers from deportation.

Although the federal government is now back in business, the fight for Dreamers and comprehensive immigration reform has just begun. Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer explained that in exchange for Democratic support of the funding bill, the Republican-led Congress has 16 days to work with Democrats to write a bill that would receive at least 60 votes in the Senate to survive, and prevent Dreamers from being at risk for deportation. At the same time Congress will have to vote on a long-term funding plan, which will not be easy given that immigration has been a hot button issue and Democrats have already shown their resistance.

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