Welcome back to Visalawyerblog! In this post, we share with you an exciting new update from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that will provide relief to those who have received a Request for Evidence, Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID), or such similar request.
USCIS RFE/NOID Flexibility Continued for Responses to Agency Requests
USCIS has announced that it will continue its flexibility policy giving applicants and petitioners more time to respond to Requests for Evidence during the COVID-19 pandemic and such related requests.
Today, Thursday December 30, 2021, USCIS made the announcement stating it will continue to give applicants who have received a request for evidence, notice of intent to deny, or such a related document,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 through March 26, 2022.
This is great news because it will allow applicants and petitioners more time to gather documents that are hard to obtain during the COVID-10 pandemic.
What documents qualify for this flexibility in responding?
Applicants who receive any of the below mentioned documents dated between March 1, 2020 and March 26, 2022can take advantage of the additional 60 calendar 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;
Notices of Intent to Terminate regional investment centers; and
Motions to Reopen an N-400 pursuant to 8 CFR 335.5, Receipt of Derogatory Information After Grant.
In addition, USCIS will consider a Form I-290B, Notice of Appeal or Motion or Form N-336, Request for a Hearing on a Decision in Naturalization Proceedings, if:
A new House reconciliation bill adds new language that could open a path to permanent residency for highly skilled immigrants without waiting for their priority date to become current.
The new bill, known as H.R. 5376 “the Build Back Better Act,” is the latest initiative backed by the Biden administration to strengthen the middle class and enhance economic ingenuity. Interestingly, the bill provides a framework that would improve and reform our immigration system with particular benefits for highly skilled immigrants.
If passed section 60003 of the reconciliation bill would exempt an alien (and the spouse and children of such alien) from the numerical limitations described in the employment-based immigration section of the Immigration and Nationality Act, and allow the alien and any follow-to-join dependents to adjust their status to permanent residence provided such alien submits or has submitted an application for adjustment of status and . . . is the beneficiary of an approved petition . . . that bears a priority date that is more than 2 years before the date the alien requests a waiver of the numerical limitations; and pays a supplemental fee of $5,000.” (Emphasis added.)
If passed these legislative measures would be extremely beneficial to highly skilled workers because it would allow employees in the visa backlogs to file for adjustment of status without waiting for a priority date to become available. Following this proposal, once a labor certification application would be approved by the Department of Labor, an employee could be eligible to file his or her I-485 adjustment of status application concurrently with his or her I-140 petition for alien worker and apply for temporary work authorization while the applications would remain pending with USCIS.
The House reconciliation bill would also allow family-based immigrants inside the United States to gain permanent residence outside the numerical limits if their priority date is “more than 2 years before” and the individual pays a $2,500 supplement fee. EB-5 category (immigrant investor) applicants would need to pony up a $50,000 supplement fee. The provisions to pay a supplemental fee to receive a green card outside the numerical limits would expire on September 30, 2031.
The National Interest Waiver, a subcategory of the EB-2 employment based, second preference visa, is a great option for professionals who can demonstrate possession of an advanced degree or exceptional ability in their proposed field or endeavor. The National Interest Waiver is an extremely attractive choice for those who qualify because it allows applicants to self-petition for permanent residence without having to submit a Labor Certification Application (LCA) with the Department of Labor.
It is also an interesting choice because the professions that qualify for a National Interest Waiver are not defined by statute, however, to be successful applicants must demonstrate their exceptional ability and prove that their employment in the United States would be of benefit to the nation. Without the filing of a National Interest Waiver, applicants must have employment sponsorship and their employers must go through the lengthy PERM (Program Electronic Review Management) Labor Certification process.
Why is NIW an attractive choice over traditional Labor Certification?
Simply put the National Interest Waiver takes a lot less time and is much easier to file when compared to the traditional EB-2 visa requiring labor certification. Obtaining approval of a labor certification application is no easy task. It can take anywhere from 6 months to more than 1 year to obtain approval, depending on a variety of different factors.
The PERM process is also time consuming for both the U.S. employer and the applicant, making the National Interest Waiver option extremely advantageous. For instance, during the PERM process, the U.S. employer is required to undergo a series of recruitment activities to test the labor market before filing the labor certification application. As part of these activities, the employer must go through a recruitment process where the employer must prove that there is not a sufficient number of able, qualified, and willing applicants, whether U.S. citizens or permanent residents, to fill the position. The employer must also go through an advertising period for the position and wait a mandatory 30-day period after the last advertisement runs before the PERM application can be filed.
The National Interest Waiver does away with these arduous steps, and instead allows an applicant to request a waiver of the Labor Certification process, by demonstrating that his or her proposed endeavor is in the interest of the United States. The applicant does not need employment sponsorship but must demonstrate possession of an advanced degree (master’s or bachelor’s) or exceptional ability in their field or endeavor. Exceptional ability is defined as having a degree of expertise that is significantly above that ordinarily encountered in the profession. That means that you must be prepared to prove to USCIS that you are an expert in your field and have attained a level of mastery in your field and/or achievements such that that you are considered “exceptional.”
Welcome back to Visalawyerblog! In this blog post we share with you an overview of the State Department’s August 2021 Q&A answer session with Charlie Oppenheim, Chief of the Immigrant Visa Control and Reporting Division of the U.S. Department of State, also known as “Chats with Charlie,” broadcasted every month on the State Department’s YouTube channel.
This new series features a monthly Question-and-Answer session with Mr. Charles Oppnheim and a Consular officer, where they answer many of the public’s frequently asked questions and provide a monthly analysis of each month’s Visa Bulletin. This discussion will provide details regarding what to expect in terms of the movement or retrogression of both family and employment-based preference categories on each month’s Visa Bulletin.
Questions for Charlie can be emailed in advance to VisaBulletin@state.gov ahead of each monthly session with “Chat with Charlie Question” in the subject line.
Be sure to subscribe to the State Department’s YouTube Channel and turn on your notifications so you do not miss any of these important updates.
Below are the highlights of the trends and visa projections for August 2021 and beyond.
DOS Q&A Session with Charlie Oppenheim: August 2021 Visa Bulletin Projections & Beyond
Charlie Oppenheim advises against sending “mass like” chain emails to the Charlie Chats email address
Before we get into the questions for this session, I wanted to add that I have seen a significant number of questions being received that maybe online chat groups have provided in a suggested “copy this text” approach that were sent to the Charlie Chat email address. I want to say that this is a very unproductive approach to asking questions, since we must open a significant number of messages with the same question, and that diminishes our ability to review the hundreds and hundreds of questions which are coming in each month. Therefore, it’s likely that we may miss important questions which listeners would like addressed. I am happy to see questions come in but this massive number of duplicates is unproductive to the listener group.
The Top 8 Advance Questions Sent in By Listeners
Q: I submitted all my documentation to NVC a long time ago and I confirmed on their website that everything is completed correctly. My priority date became eligible in March, but I have not yet been scheduled for my final visa interview. Why haven’t I been scheduled despite the eligibility and when can I expect to be scheduled?
A: This is a question we have been getting a lot. It’s important to say that throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the NVC has continued to schedule appointments and is warehousing cases for Consular sections that have not been able to resume the routine Immigrant Visa processing. Depending on the country’s local restrictions and resources, the Consular sections abroad provide their projected capacity for scheduling to the NVC about 30-60 days in advance.
This allows NVC to begin scheduling those appointments and getting the information out to the applicants early. Other than age-out cases, inter-country adoption cases, and expedite requests, based on certain FAM regulations upon visa availability, the NVC schedules their Immigrant Visa appointments for visa categories in chronological order, based on the date in which the case was deemed “documentarily qualified,” meaning they have been asked to submit certain required documents, all those documents have been received, and have been verified. Then the NVC fills the available appointment slots in a first come, first out manner within each visa class, in accordance with each Consular section’s capacity.
I would advise listeners to refer to the guidance on the NVC Immigrant Visa backlog report website to view the worldwide data count of applicants which have been processed by NVC. Then that will determine how many have become documentarily complete. NVC and the overseas posts are trying to get to all the appointments and applicants as quickly as possible. It’s being done in chronological order and basically, they’re having to catch up on cases that could have been scheduled as far back as March 2020.
Welcome to the start of a new week! In this blog post we share with you some good news regarding the continuing flexibility policy being followed by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for applicants who have received a Request for Evidence, or Notice of Intent to Deny between March 1, 2020, and September 30, 2021, as well as new guidance for FY 2021 H-1B cap-subject petitioners, whose petitions were rejected or administratively closed solely because the requested start date was after Oct. 1, 2020.
USCIS RFE/NOID Flexibility Continued for Responses to Agency Requests
On June 24, 2021, USCIS announced that it will continue its flexibility policy and grant applicants who have received a request for evidence, notice of intent to deny, or such a related document,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 through September 30, 2021.
What documents qualify for this flexibility in responding?
Applicants who receive any of the below mentioned documents dated between March 1, 2020 and September 30, 2021can take advantage of the additional 60 daysto respond to the request or notice:
Welcome back to Visalawyerblog! The Department of State recently released the visa bulletin for July 2021 outlining the availability of immigrant visa numbers for the upcoming month.
Remember to stay on the lookout for the next “Chats with Charlie” on the DOS YouTube Channel, a monthly series recently launched with the State Department and Charlie Oppenheim to discuss Visa Bulletin projections.
NOTE: Adjustment of Status Filing Charts July 2021
For Family-Sponsored Filings:
Per USCIS, applicants falling within the F2A category, may use the Final Action Dates Chart in the Department of State Visa Bulletin for July 2021. While there is a cutoff date on the Dates for Filing chart, the category is “current” on the Final Action Dates chart, allowing F2A applicants to rely on it.
In this blog post, we bring you some long-awaited news. In a much-anticipated move, the Biden administration decided on Wednesday, February 24, 2021, to immediately revoke Presidential Proclamation 10014, a controversial order passed under former President Donald Trump that halted the issuance of most U.S. visas at Consulates and Embassies worldwide.
Our office has known since early January that the Biden administration was planning to revoke this Proclamation, and yesterday the rumors were finally put to rest.
Presidential Proclamation 10014 is no more.
What was Presidential Proclamation 10014 about?
P.P. 10014 essentially imposed a 60-day ban on the issuance of visas for most immigrant and nonimmigrant visa categories. The Proclamation began on April 23, 2020 and was set to continue by President Trump until March 31, 2020.
P.P. 10014 proved to be exceedingly harmful given the wide variety of immigrants to which it applied.
Specifically, the order halted the issuance of U.S. visas for the following classes of immigrants at U.S. Consulates and Embassies worldwide as of the date of the proclamation (April 23, 2020):
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
Individuals residing in the United States and those who had a valid visa or travel document to enter the United States, on or before the date of the proclamation, were not impacted.
The H-1B cap season for FY 2022 is almost upon us!
USCIS has announced that the H-1B initial registration period for the FY 2022 cap is scheduled to open at noon ET on March 9, 2021 and will remain open until noon ET on March 25, 2021.
As our readers are aware, USCIS recently implemented a new mandatory H-1B electronic registration system for the H-1B cap.
Under this new electronic registration process, prospective petitioners (also known as registrants), and their authorized representatives, who are seeking authorization to employ H-1B workers subject to the cap, must complete an electronic registration process on the USCIS website that requires basic information about the prospective petitioner and each requested worker.
The H-1B selection process will then be run on properly submitted electronic registrations. Only those with selected registrations will be eligible to file H-1B cap-subject petitions.
That means that in order to have a chance of being selected, from now on all prospective petitioners and their authorized representatives seeking to file H-1B cap-subject petitions for FY 2021, including for beneficiaries eligible for the advanced degree exemption, must first register during the registration period (March 9, 2021 to March 25, 2021) and pay the associated $10 registration fee for each beneficiary.
Happy Monday! Welcome back to Visalawyerblog. We start off the week with some interesting immigration updates.
USCIS Updates – ASC and Interview Appointments Scheduled on January 19th and 20th will be Rescheduled
In anticipation of the Presidential inauguration on January 20, 2021, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced the temporary suspension of in-person services at all field offices, asylum offices, and application support centers (ASC biometrics offices) on January 19th and January 20th to ensure the safety of employees and individuals with appointments on these dates.
Accordingly, for individuals who had appointments on these dates (either for biometrics or for an interview) USCIS will be rescheduling these appointments and sending notices with the new appointment dates.
Please keep a look out for these notices in the mail within the next few weeks.
Nationals Eligible to Participate in the H-2A and H-2B Visa Program
In other news, last week the Department of Homeland Security released the list of countries eligible to participate in the H-2A and H-2B visa programs in the Federal Register.
The H-2A and H-2B visa programs allow U.S. employers to bring foreign nationals to the United States to fill temporary agricultural and nonagricultural jobs.
Typically, USCIS approves H-2A and H-2B petitions only for nationals of countries that the secretary of Homeland Security has designated as eligible to participate in the programs.
However, USCIS may approve H-2A and H-2B petitions, including those that were pending as of the date of the Federal Register notice, for nationals of countries not on the list on a case-by-case basis only if doing so is determined to be in the interest of the United States based on the evidence submitted.
According to USCIS this new rule will only affect H-1B cap-subject petitions. It will be enforced against both the H-1B regular cap and the H-1B advanced degree exemption beginning March 9, 2021 (its effective date).
The final rule is scheduled to be published on January 8, 2021, however an advance copy has already been posted in the Federal Register for review.
The final rule will become effective 60 days after its date of publication in the Federal Register (falling on March 9, 2021).
What are some of the highlights of this new rule?
The USCIS final rule creates a wage-based selection process for H-1B registrations, instead of a randomized computer generated process which is currently in place.
Ranking by Wage Level
DHS will amend regulations governing the process by which USCIS selects H-1B registrations for the filing of H-1B cap-subject petitions by generally first selecting registrations based on the highest Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) prevailing wage level indicated on the petition, where the proffered wage equals or exceeds the relevant Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) code and area(s) of intended employment, beginning with OES wage level IV and proceeding in descending order with OES wage levels III, II, and I.
The proffered wage is the wage that the employer intends to pay the beneficiary.