Articles Posted in Coronavirus

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The Law Offices of Jacob J. Sapochnick is proud to honor our managing attorney Marie Puertollano’s most recent accomplishment in the field of immigration law, becoming a board-certified immigration specialist with the State Bar of California.

Originally from France, Marie Puertollano joined our law office in 2012 and quickly became a rising star handling complex immigration matters in our private practice. Throughout the years, Attorney Marie Puertollano has been at the forefront of many of our firm’s successes touching on all areas of immigration law, including family immigration, employment immigration, investment visas, nonimmigrant visas, and representing clients before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. She provides direction for all divisions within our practice and is the go-to attorney of our firm.

With this new honor, Marie becomes one of a very limited number of attorneys in the state of California who have been designated as Certified Specialists in the field of immigration law by the State Bar of California. Marie is now one of only 24 immigration attorneys in San Diego to accomplish this feat and joins a small circle of 233 attorneys who have received this honor in the entire state.

Marie’s accomplishment comes as a product of her hard work and dedication. After taking an extensive written examination offered only once every two years, she was able to successfully pass and meet other stringent criteria to gain this honor. Specifically, Marie had to prove her substantial involvement in the area of immigration and nationality law having participated as a principal attorney in 150 cases involving immigrant and nonimmigrant cases, and hearings before immigration judges. Marie was also required to demonstrate participation as a principal attorney in six broad immigration categories including court and bond hearings, appeals, immigrant visas, nonimmigrant visas, consular cases, and PERM petitions.

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Happy Monday! Welcome back to Visalawyerblog! In this blog post, we bring you a recent success story and share with you how our office was able to expedite our client’s fiancé visa to help him reunite with his U.S. Citizen fiancé, despite the suspension of routine visa services at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, Russia.

As you may recall, during March of last year, in an unprecedented move, the Department of State made the decision to suspend all routine visa services at U.S. Embassies and Consulates worldwide, in response to significant worldwide challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thereafter in July of 2020, U.S. Embassies and Consulates began a phased resumption of routine visa services, but only on a post-by-post basis as resources and local conditions would allow.

In reality routine visa services at the majority of U.S. Embassies and Consulates have remained suspended with posts granting appointments only for emergency and mission-critical services.

Due to these visa suspensions, K visa applicants have been unable to proceed with visa issuance, with many applications sitting idle at the National Visa Center (NVC) waiting to be forwarded to the local Consulate for interview scheduling.

Most recently K visa applicants expressed their frustrations by filing a class action lawsuit known as Milligan v. Pompeo in an effort to force visa interview scheduling.

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We are pleased to report that the Department of State has issued new guidance following President Biden’s rescission of Presidential Proclamation 10014, entitled “Suspension of Entry of Immigrants Who Present a Risk to the United States Labor Market During the Economic Recovery Following the 2019 Novel Coronavirus Outbreak.”

As you may recall, President Biden issued an executive order rescinding Proclamation 10014 on February 24, 2021.

The Department of State is now providing instructions for immigrant visa applicants who were previously impacted by the Proclamation.

Instructions for Immigrant Visa Applicants

Those Not Yet Interviewed:  Immigrant visa applicants who have not yet been interviewed or scheduled for an interview will have their applications processed according to the existing phased resumption of visa services framework being followed by the Department of State.

How will the resumption of visa services be prioritized?

According to DOS, the resumption of routine visa services, prioritized after services to U.S. citizens, will occur on a post-by-post basis, consistent with the Department’s guidance for safely returning personnel to Department facilities.

At the moment, U.S. Embassies and Consulates are providing emergency and mission-critical visa services and will continue to do so. As post-specific conditions improve, each mission will decide when it can begin to provide additional services. Eventually each mission will gradually restore a complete resumption of routine visa services. However, Consular posts have not provided any specific date as to when they will resume normal operations.

Those Previously Refused:  Immigrant visa applicants whose petitions remain valid and who were previously interviewed but refused visas due to P.P. 10014 should wait for instructions from the U.S. embassy or consulate where they were interviewed.  According to DOS guidance, Consulates will reconsider cases that were previously refused because of P.P. 10014 and will inform applicants if additional information is needed from them.

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Welcome back to Visalawyerblog! In this post we bring you some breaking news about what you can expect to see from the Biden administration with respect to immigration in the coming days.

Tomorrow January 29th President Biden is expected to issue several important executive orders and memorandums aimed at reversing former President Trump’s damaging policies on immigration.

It is rumored that as part of these new orders, the President will be rescinding Proclamations 10014 and 10052.

As you may recall, Proclamation 10014 established a 60-day ban on the issuance of visas worldwide for a wide variety of immigrants including those who (1) were outside of the United States as of April 23rd and (2) who did not have a valid immigrant visa or official travel document as of that date.

Prior to its expiration, the President signed Proclamation 10052 to extend enforcement of Proclamation 10014 and expanded the categories of immigrants affected.


Overview of Proclamation 10014


When Proclamation 10014 was first issued on April 22, 2020, it rocked the world of immigration because of the wide variety of immigrants that were swept up in its grasp.

Among those impacted were the following classes of immigrants applying for a visa at a United States Consulate or Embassy abroad from April 23, 2020 to the present:

  • Spouses and children of green card holders (US citizens were not affected) applying at the consulate
  • Parents of US citizens applying at the consulate
  • Brothers and sisters of US citizens applying at the consulate
  • Sons and daughters (meaning over 21 years old) of US citizens applying at the consulate (children under 21 years old of US citizens were not affected)
  • Sons and daughters (meaning over 21 years old) of green card holders applying at the consulate
  • EB1A extraordinary abilities and their family applying at the consulate
  • PERM EB3, PERM EB2, NIW employment based and their family applying at the consulate
  • EB4 religious workers immigrants applying at the consulate
  • H1B and H4 dependents applying at the consulate
  • L1 and L2 applying at the consulate
  • J1 applying at the consulate  

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Happy Friday! Welcome back to Visalawyerblog! In this blog post, we bring you a recent success story and share with you how our office was able to expedite our client’s fiancé visa to help him reunite with his U.S. Citizen fiancé, despite the suspension of routine visa services at the U.S. Consulate in Mumbai, India.

As you may recall, during March of last year, in an unprecedented move, the Department of State made the decision to suspend all routine visa services at U.S. Embassies and Consulates worldwide, in response to significant worldwide challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thereafter in July of 2020, U.S. Embassies and Consulates began a phased resumption of routine visa services, but only on a post-by-post basis as resources and local conditions would allow.

In reality routine visa services at the majority of U.S. Embassies and Consulates have remained suspended with posts granting appointments only for emergency and mission-critical services.

Due to these visa suspensions, K visa applicants have been unable to proceed with visa issuance, with many applications sitting idle at the National Visa Center (NVC) waiting to be forwarded to the local Consulate for interview scheduling.

Most recently K visa applicants expressed their frustrations by filing a class action lawsuit known as Milligan v. Pompeo in an effort to force visa interview scheduling.

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Welcome back to Visalawyerblog! We kick off the start of the week with some important updates.

For the past few months, our followers have raised concerns regarding substantial delays they have been experiencing waiting for their receipt notices to arrive in the mail for applications and petitions filed at USCIS lockboxes.

On January 8, 2021, USCIS announced that the agency has indeed been overcome with delays caused by the pandemic and other factors, that has resulted in the delayed issuance of receipt notices for at least some applications and petitions filed at USCIS lockbox facilities.

USCIS lockbox facilities are located in Chicago, Phoenix, Lewisville, and Dallas.

For a list of forms processed at USCIS Lockbox Facilities click here.


What is happening?

Several factors including COVID-19 related restrictions, increases in filings, current postal service volume, and other factors, have caused applicants and petitioners to wait 4-6 weeks on average (after properly filing an application or petition with a USCIS lockbox) to receive a receipt notice in the mail.

USCIS has announced that these delays do not affect the date of receipt of your application. Applicants should be aware that delays vary depending on the type of form submitted and the lockbox location. Cases which are most affected by the delays include non-family based Form I-485 Applications to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, and Form I-765 Applications for Employment Authorization based on eligibility categories relating to F-1 students.


How is USCIS working to improve these delays?

The agency continues to take all necessary COVID-19 related precautions including social distancing and frequent cleaning to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

To help alleviate the workload, USCIS lockbox personnel are working extra hours and redistributing their workload to reduce these delays.

As soon as an application is opened and processed, the agency is printing and mailing receipt notices to the mailing address on file.

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Welcome back to Visalawyerblog! On behalf of our Law Office we wish you and your families a very Happy New Year. We are hopeful that the new year will bring more positive developments and new possibilities for immigrants around the world with the upcoming change in administration.

In today’s blog post we bring you more updates regarding President Trump’s recent decision to extend Presidential Proclamations 10014 and 10052 until March 31, 2021.

Following the unveiling of the new Proclamation, the Department of State issued their own announcement notifying the public that Proclamations 10014 and 10052 will continue to be enforced through March 31, 2021 in compliance with the directive.

As you know P.P. 10014 suspends the entry to the United States of certain immigrant visa applicants, while P.P. 10052 suspends the entry to the United States of certain nonimmigrant visa applicants who present a risk to the U.S. labor market during the economic recovery following the novel coronavirus outbreak.

As a result, with certain limited exceptions, immigrant visa (green card) interviews are suspended at the Consular level (as opposed to within the US) until March 31, 2020 for the following groups of people:

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Welcome back to Visalawyerblog! Happy New Year to all of our readers. We hope that you had a relaxing holiday with your loved ones. We look forward to providing you with the latest updates on immigration as we soon enter the Biden administration on January 20th.

Although Biden’s inauguration looms on the horizon, the Trump administration continues to make last minute efforts to derail the issuance of visa applications for thousands of green card applicants residing abroad.

On New Year’s Eve, President Trump signed a new proclamation extending the enforcement of his previously issued April 22nd Proclamation 10014 entitled, “Suspension of Entry of Immigrants Who Present a Risk to the United States Labor Market During the Economic Recovery Following the 2019 Novel Coronavirus Outbreak,” as well as Proclamation 10052 issued on June 22, 2020.

The new proclamation extends the enforcement of these previously issued Proclamations until March 31, 2021. 


P.P. 10014 Overview

As you may recall the April 22nd Proclamation (10014) imposed a 60-day ban on the issuance of visas at U.S. Consulates and Embassies abroad and limited the entry of certain classes of aliens beginning April 23, 2020 and terminating on June 22, 2020.

Pursuant to P.P. 10014, the entry of the following aliens was suspended and limited until June 22, 2020:

  • Aliens outside of the United States on the effective date of the Proclamation (April 23)
  • Aliens without an immigrant visa that was valid on the effective date of the Proclamation (April 23rd) and
  • Aliens who did not have an official travel document other than a visa on the effective date of the proclamation (April 23rd) or issued on any date thereafter that permitted him or her to travel to the United States and seek entry or admission

The order did not apply to the following classes of aliens:

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Welcome back to Visalaywerblog! We kick off the start of a brand new week with the release of a very interesting Question and Answer session recently published by the Department of State.

This Question and Answer session took place on December 11, 2020, by and between the Department of State and the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA)’s Department Liaison Committee.

The Question and Answer session addressed a broad range of visa-related questions including burning questions regarding the phased reopening of Consulates and Embassies worldwide, national interest exception procedures, expansion of visa interview waivers, information regarding visa cancellations, MRV validity, the treatment of IV applications with approved I-601A Provisional Waivers, expired immigrant visas, pandemic related delays in obtaining documents for Consular related requests, and much more.

We have rounded up the most interesting questions and responses in this post. To read the government’s complete responses to questions asked, please click here.


Phased Reopening of Routine Visa Services


Q: It is AILA’s understanding that consular posts will reopen in phases based on the following Diplomacy Strong Framework included in Appendix A.

Please confirm:

  • Are the phases and priorities listed in Appendix A still accurate, or have there been any modifications to the Diplomacy Strong framework?
  • Are the phases in Diplomacy Strong standard across posts or are they merely guidelines within which posts have some flexibility in terms of setting priorities?
  • Please confirm whether a post will always be at the same phase for both IV and NIV processing, or whether it may be at a certain phase for IV processing and a different phase for NIV processing (e.g., If Sydney is at phase 3 for IV services, must it also be at phase 3 for NIV services?).
  • While we see references to Diplomacy Strong on a variety of post websites, it is not clear what phase the post is operating under. Would DOS advise posts to share their current operating phase on their websites in order to better inform the public of what they are prioritizing?

A: Although phased reopening of routine visa services originally corresponded with phases of Diplomacy Strong, posts were instructed on November 12 that they are no longer obligated to be in a specific Diplomacy Strong phase before providing additional categories of visa services.

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Welcome back to Visalawyerblog! We have an important announcement for applicants who have or may receive a request for evidence, notice of intent to deny, or a related document of such kind, between March 1, 2020 and January 31, 2021.

Today, December 18, 2020, USCIS announced that it will extend its flexibility policy and continue to grant applicants an additional 60 calendar days after the response deadline indicated on the notice or request, to submit a response to a request or notice, provided the request or notice was issued by USCIS between March 1, 2020 and January 31, 2021.


What documents qualify for this flexibility in responding?

Applicants who received any of the below mentioned documents dated between March 1, 2020 and January 31, 2020 can take advantage of the additional 60 days to respond to the request or notice:

  • Requests for Evidence;
  • Continuations to Request Evidence (N-14);
  • Notices of Intent to Deny;
  • Notices of Intent to Revoke;
  • Notices of Intent to Rescind and Notices of Intent to Terminate regional investment centers;
  • Filing date requirements for Form N-336, Request for a Hearing on a Decision in Naturalization Proceedings (Under Section 336 of the INA); or
  • Filing date requirements for Form I-290B, Notice of Appeal or Motion.

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