Articles Posted in DHS

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In this blog post we share with you some great news for lawful permanent residents filing Form I-90 Application to Replace or Renew existing permanent resident cards.

On September 28, 2022, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that beginning September 26th the agency will be automatically extending the validity of Permanent Resident Cards (Green Cards) to 24 months for lawful permanent residents who file the Form I-90.

All green card holders who file Form I-90 to renew an expiring or expired green card will receive this automatic extension on their receipt notice. Previously, Form I-90 receipt notices for green card renewal applicants provided an automatic extension of only 12-months.

USCIS has already started printing amended receipt notices for individuals that have a pending Form I-90 application with USCIS, granting the 24-month extension.

These receipt notices can be presented with an expired Green Card as evidence of continued status to employers, and during international travel. The additional 12-month validity period was provided as a form of relief to those applicants who have been experiencing longer processing times.

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Have you ever wondered: is there an exception to the COVID-19 vaccine requirement mandated by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for those undergoing the green card process?

In this blog post, we share with you how our office was able to obtain successful waivers of the COVID-19 vaccine requirement, information about what exceptions exist to the vaccine requirement, the criteria that must be proven to obtain a vaccine waiver, and the resulting victories we gained on behalf of our clients.

We also describe how we were able to accomplish vaccine waiver approvals, by presenting an abundance of documentary evidence to help these individuals prove their case.


An Overview: What is the COVID-19 Vaccination Requirement


In response to the rapid rise in Coronavirus cases, the U.S. government announced that starting October 1, 2021, those applying for permanent residency (a green card) within the United States, or an immigrant visa abroad, would be required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 (one or two doses depending on the vaccine taken).


The Medical Examination Form I-693

As part of the green card process, applicants are required to complete a medical examination conducted by a civil surgeon on Form I-693, to establish that they are not inadmissible to the United States on public health grounds. The government made it a matter of policy as of October 1, 2021, to require all those subject to the medical examination requirement to complete the COVID-19 vaccination to prove their admissibility (and therefore) receive approval of their green cards.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service announced that this policy would apply “prospectively to all Forms I-693 [medical examinations] signed by the civil surgeons” on or after October 1, 2021. The agency also took steps to revise Form I-693 and its instructions to include the new vaccination requirement.

Its policy guidance followed the recommendations of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) August 17, 2021, update to the Technical Instructions for Civil Surgeons. The CDC update requires applicants subject to the immigration medical examination to “complete the COVID-19 vaccine series [in addition to the other routinely required vaccines] and provide documentation of vaccination to the civil surgeon or panel physician in person before completion of the medical examination.”


Does the COVID-19 vaccination requirement also apply to those seeking immigrant visas at U.S. Embassies and Consulates abroad?


Yes. The government made clear that the COVID-19 vaccination requirement applies to those seeking to adjust their immigration status within the United States, as well as applicants applying for immigrant visas at U.S. Embassies and Consulates abroad. That is because complete vaccination is necessary for a medical examination conducted by a civil surgeon or physician abroad, as part of the green card admissibility process.

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In this blog post, we cover the release of the October Visa Bulletin 2022 and what you can expect for employment based and family preference categories during the upcoming month of October.

The Department of State releases the visa bulletin on a monthly basis, 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 should be notified to assemble and submit the required documentation to the National Visa Center.


Adjustment of Status Filing Chart October 2022


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.

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.

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In this blog post, we share with you some new updates regarding the employment-based numerical limits for immigrant visas in fiscal year 2022.

As a result of the global COVID-19 pandemic and the suspension of visa services at U.S. Consulates and Embassies worldwide, approximately 140,000 family-sponsored visa numbers went unused during fiscal year 2021.

This was due to the pent-up demand for in-person visa interviews that could not be accommodated. Fortunately, these visa numbers have trickled down to the employment-based categories, expanding the number of visa numbers available in fiscal year 2022 to nearly double the usual amount.

Sadly, fiscal year 2022 is nearly coming to a close. To provide the public with more transparency regarding the usage of employment-based visa numbers, the U.S. Citizenship, and Immigration Services (USCIS) has updated its frequently asked questions for employment-based adjustment of status. We breakdown the questions and answers down below.

How many employment-based visas did USCIS and DOS use in FY 2021? How many employment-based visas went unused in FY 2021?


A: The annual limit for employment-based visa use in FY 2021 was 262,288, nearly double the typical annual total. The Department of State (DOS) publishes the official figures for visa use in their Report of the Visa Office.

Overall, the two agencies combined to use 195,507 employment-based immigrant visas in FY 2021.

  • DOS issued 19,779 employment-based immigrant visas, and USCIS used 175,728 employment-based immigrant visas through adjustment of status, more than 52% higher than the average before the pandemic.
  • Despite our best efforts, 66,781 visas went unused at the end of FY 2021.

UPDATED: Can you estimate how many family-sponsored or employment-based immigrant visas USCIS and DOS will use during FY 2022?


A:  DOS has determined that the FY 2022 employment-based annual limit is 281,507 – (slightly more than double the typical annual total) – due to unused family-based visa numbers from FY 2021 being allocated to the current fiscal year’s available employment-based visas.

  • Through July 31, 2022, the two agencies have combined to use 210,593 employment-based immigrant visas (FY2022 data is preliminary and subject to change).
  • USCIS alone approved more than 10,000 employment-based adjustment of status applications in the week ending August 14, 2022, and DOS continues its high rate of visa issuance, as well. USCIS states that it will maximize our use of all available visas by the end of the fiscal year and are well-positioned to use the remaining visas.

NEW: Will my case be processed faster if I file a second Form I-485?


A: Submitting a new adjustment of status application typically does not result in faster adjudication and may have the opposite effect by adding extra burden to the USCIS workload.

  • USCIS is identifying and prioritizing all employment-based adjustment of status applications with available visas and approved underlying petitions, including those received prior to this fiscal year. This includes applications where noncitizens have submitted a transfer of underlying basis requests.

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Are you a national of Cameroon interested in applying for Temporary Protected Status (TPS)?

Then you may be interested to know that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will be hosting a webinar on Thursday September 8, 2022, from 2 to 3 pm Eastern Time all about the application criteria. As previously reported, beginning April 15, 2022, DHS designated Cameroon for TPS benefits for a period of 18 months. The registration period is set to close on December 7, 2023.

Individuals eligible for TPS under Cameroon’s designation must have continuously resided in the United States since April 14, 2022 and demonstrate continuous physical presence in the United States since June 7, 2022.

Any nationals of Cameroon who attempt to travel to the United States after April 14, 2022, will not be eligible for Temporary Protected Status.

TPS applicants must meet all eligibility requirements and undergo security and background checks to gain approval.


What will be discussed during the webinar session?


During the webinar, USCIS will provide an overview of the designation of Cameroon for TPS and then hold a question-and-answer session. USCIS cautions the public that it will not be addressing case-specific questions, questions outside the scope of the engagement, or issues under active litigation.

To Register for the Webinar:

  1. Individuals must visit the registration page.
  2. You will be asked to provide your email address and select “Submit.”
  3. On the next screen, you will see a notification that you successfully subscribed to this event.

Once your registration is complete, you will receive a confirmation email with additional details.

If you have not received a confirmation email within three business days, you may email at public.engagement@uscis.dhs.gov.

For more information about Cameroon’s TPS designation please click here.

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Welcome back to Visalawyerblog! In this post, we bring you the latest H-1B lottery news.

Today, August 23, 2022, USCIS announced that the computer-generated H-1B lottery has been fully completed to select enough petitions to meet the H-1B regular cap and the U.S. advanced degree exemption for fiscal year 2023.

With this announcement, USCIS brings the 2023 fiscal year H-1B lottery to a close. Those wishing to participate in the program must wait until March 2023 to submit new applications for the fiscal year 2024 H-1B visa lottery.

For fiscal year 2023, USCIS previously announced that the agency received 483,927 H-1B registrations and initially selected 127,600 registrations as needed to reach the fiscal year 2023 numerical allocations. No second lottery was conducted. Those with selected registrations received notification of selection through their myUSCIS accounts including a selection notice, with details about when and where to file.

In comparison to fiscal year 2022, USCIS received 308,613 H-1B registrations and initially selected 87,500 registrations to meet the fiscal year 2022 numerical allocations. A second lottery took place which selected an additional 27,717 registrations, and a third lottery selected an additional 16,753 registrations, for a total of 131,970 selected registrations in fiscal year 2022.

What happens next?

At this point, USCIS has completed its selection process and sent out non-selection notifications via the myUSCIS online accounts to those petitioners and their attorneys who were not selected for FY 2023.

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Welcome back to Visalawyerblog. We kick off the start of a brand-new week with unfortunate news for asylum-based applicants for I-765 employment authorization.

New data from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) indicates that the agency has been woefully inadequate at processing work permits, failing to meet the 30-day required processing time for employment authorization cards, also known as EADs, filed by asylum seekers.

By law, USCIS must process work permits (EADs) within 30 days of receipt of an asylum seekers I-765 application for employment authorization. However new data shows that USCIS has not been meeting this required timeline throughout 2022, and processing has been declining to a record low.

Data released by USCIS, as part of ongoing litigation, shows that during the last three weeks of February 2022, 93 percent of I-765 applications had been pending for at least 30 days. In March 2022, this figure plummeted to just 68 percent of I-765’s being processed within the 30 days.  Sadly, in recent months, the data shows that processing of EADs has been getting worse and worse on a monthly basis. For instance, in April of this year, this figure dropped to 41 percent of I-765 applications being processed within 30 days. In May the drop continued to just 21 percent, and in June to just 6 percent. Finally, this past month of July, the agency processed less than 5 percent of EAD applications within the required 30-day window. This trend puts on full display the asylum visa processing crisis with no end in sight.

The drop in EAD processing coincides directly with a court ruling handed down in February. USCIS appears to be clearing out the backlog by first processing work permit applications pending the longest, creating substantial delays for more recent applications for employment authorization.

The data indicates that the vast majority of applications USCIS processed over the past three months had been pending for more than 120 days (nearly 4 months).

Due to the EAD processing crisis, USCIS now faces a backlog of more than 77,000 pending work permit requests received by the agency within the past three months alone.

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Are you a participant of the Uniting for Ukraine parole program? If so, then you may be interested in learning more about the new COVID-19 vaccination requirements recently implemented by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

The agency has announced that effective immediately, all beneficiaries aged 6 months and older must have an attestation submitted, verifying that they have received COVID-19 vaccinations both before traveling to the United States and after arrival in the United States, unless they are eligible for an exception. Previously, beneficiaries younger than 5 years old qualified for an exception to the COVID-19 vaccination requirement because the vaccine was not approved or licensed for use in that age group.

Before Traveling to the United States

To receive travel authorization under the Uniting for Ukraine program, all beneficiaries aged 6 months and older must have an attestation submitted verifying that they received at least 1 dose of a COVID-19 vaccine approved or authorized by the Food and Drug Administration or a COVID-19 vaccine listed for emergency use by the World Health Organization, unless they are eligible for an exception.

After Arrival in the United States

After being paroled into the United States, all beneficiaries aged 6 months and older must have an attestation submitted attesting that they completed or will complete their COVID-19 vaccination series (in other words, they will be fully vaccinated) within 90 days of their arrival or within 90 days of reaching the eligible age for vaccination according to the current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, unless they are eligible for an exception.

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In this blog post, we cover the release of the September Visa Bulletin 2022 and what you can expect for employment based and family preference categories during the upcoming month of September.

The Department of State releases the visa bulletin on a monthly basis, 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 should be notified to assemble and submit the required documentation to the National Visa Center.


Adjustment of Status Filing Chart September 2022


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 September 2022.

For Employment-Based Preference Filings:

All applicants, falling under employment-based preference categories, must use the Final Action Dates chart in the Department of State Visa Bulletin for September 2022.


September 2022 Visa Bulletin Final Action Cutoff Dates


Employment-Based Categories


FINAL ACTION DATES FOR EMPLOYMENT-BASED PREFERENCE CASES

According to the Department of State’s September 2022 Visa Bulletin, the following Final Action 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: India remains unchanged at December 1, 2014, and China remains unchanged at April 1, 2019. All other countries will remain current.
  • EB-3 Professionals and Skilled Workers: EB-3 India and EB-3 China will remain unchanged from the previous month, at February 15, 2012 and April 22, 2018, respectively. All other countries will remain current.
  • EB3 Other Workers: For this category, the Department of State has established a worldwide cutoff date of May 8, 2019, to avoid exceeding the annual numerical limits. EB-3 India and China will remain unchanged at February 15, 2012 and June 1, 2012, respectively.
  • EB-5: The Department of State has taken corrective action by establishing a Final Action cutoff date which has advanced by one month to December 22, 2015, for the EB-5 China Unreserved Non-Regional Center (C5, T5, I5, and R5) categories. EB-5 Final Action dates will remain current for all countries and for all EB-5 “Set-Aside” categories (Rural, High Unemployment, and Infrastructure).

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In this blog post, we share with you new developments related to immigration law.


Uniting for Ukraine: USCIS Extends Completion of Medical Screening & Attestation Within 90 Days of Arrival to the United States 


Effective immediately, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that it will extend the amount of time that beneficiaries paroled into the United States under the “Uniting for Ukraine” program must comply with the medical screening and attestation requirements for required vaccinations such as tuberculosis and COVID-19. Previously, parolees were required to complete the medical screening and attestation requirements within 14 days of their arrival to the United States.

Now, Uniting for Ukraine parolees will be given 90 days from the date of their arrival to the United States to fulfill the attestation requirement, which is one of the conditions of being granted parole. The attestation can be completed in the beneficiary’s USCIS online account. USCIS notes that beneficiaries are responsible for arranging to have their vaccinations and medical screening for tuberculosis, including an Interferon-Gamma Release Assay (IGRA) blood test.

Those who test positive for tuberculosis, may be subject to additional procedures such as undergoing additional screening (a chest radiograph, isolation, and treatment if applicable).

Beneficiaries will also be required to complete the tuberculosis screening attestation for their minor children within 90 days of arrival to the United States, even if the child is under the age of 2 years old and qualifies for an exception to the tuberculosis test screening.

For more information and resources, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Uniting for Ukraine: Information for TB Programs page.

For more information about the Uniting for Ukraine program please click here.

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