Articles Posted in Filing Tips

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In this post, we share with our readers the top five things you need to know before applying for the I-751 Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence.

  1. You must file the I-751 Removal of Conditions if you were granted Conditional Resident status (a 2-year green card) based on marriage to a U.S. Citizen or lawful permanent resident

A conditional permanent resident receives a green card that is valid for a 2-year period. Conditional permanent residence is given to foreign nationals who have been married for less than 2 years, on the day that the application for permanent residence was approved. Conditional permanent residents have “conditional” status instead of “permanent” resident status, because they must prove that they did not marry the US Citizen or LPR spouse solely to obtain an immigration benefit. These individuals must go through the additional hurdle of filing Form I-751 Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence to obtain a permanent resident card (10-year green card).

  1. You must file the I-751 petition in a timely manner

The I-751 Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence must be filed during the 90-day window immediately before the conditional residence will expire (see the conditional green card’s expiration date and subtract 90 days).

  1. Consequences of Failing to File

If you fail to remove your conditions before the 90-day window closes, you will automatically lose your permanent resident status on the second anniversary of the date you were granted conditional status. You are then subject to removal from the United States. You may only file an I-751 petition after the expiration date of your conditional residence if you demonstrate that your delay in filing the petition was due to extraordinary circumstances beyond your control

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In what seems like déjà vu, today, March 20, 2018 the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) formally announced that the agency will be temporarily suspending premium processing service for all fiscal year 2019 cap-subject petitions, including petitions that seek an exemption for individuals who possess a U.S. master’s degree or higher. The suspension is expected to last until September 10, 2018. Based on similar announcements made by USCIS in the past, we expect premium processing service to remain suspended until at least September 10.

As some of you may remember, USCIS suspended premium processing in a similar fashion during April of last year for fiscal year 2018 cap-subject petitions, and lifted the suspension until September 18 of 2017.

Petitions not subject to FY 2019 Cap

Premium processing requests will continue to be accepted for H-1B petitions NOT subject to the FY 2019 cap. USCIS will make an announcement as we get closer to September notifying the public regarding any decision to resume premium processing for cap-subject H-1B petitions. In previous years, USCIS lifted the suspension in July for beneficiaries who were exempt from the cap, because of their employment at a qualifying cap-exempt institution, organization, or entity. We expect USCIS to follow a similar pattern in July of this year, with the temporary suspension for cap-subject petitions being lifted sometime in early September.

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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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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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As you gear up for a chance to win one of the 65,000 coveted H-1B visas that will be up for grabs beginning April 1, 2017 through April 7, 2017, we bring you our top frequently asked questions—H-1B edition—to help you make the most of your H-1B filing. As always, to determine whether you qualify for an H-1B visa, please contact our office to schedule a free first time consultation.

When will USCIS begin to accept H-1B petitions for fiscal year 2018?

USCIS will begin to accept petitions for fiscal year 2018 beginning on April 1, 2017 and from then on will continue to accept H-1B petitions during the first five business days through April 7, 2017 until USCIS has received more than enough petitions necessary to fill the regular cap. An H-1B petition may be filed no more than six months before the employment start date requested for the beneficiary.

How long is the H-1B visa valid for?

The H-1B visa is issued for a three-year period that can be extended for an additional three years. Spouses of H-1B workers may live and work in the United States on an H-4 visa, for as long as the H-1B worker remains in lawful H-1B status.

What happens after USCIS receives the necessary petitions to meet the regular cap?

Once USCIS has received more than enough petitions necessary to meet the regular cap, USCIS will conduct a computer-generated lottery to select the petitions needed to meet the cap.  When the cap has been reached, USCIS will make an announcement (usually made on April 7th) indicating that the cap has been reached and that they will proceed with the selection process to fill the 65,000 cap by a randomized lottery system.

Last H-1B season, USCIS announced that the cap was reached within the first 5 business days of the H-1B filing period.

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26417675520_2b93773995_zLast week, we reported that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) had updated a large number of forms that were to be used immediately from December 23, 2016 forward. USCIS published the updated versions of the forms following the implementation of a new fee schedule affecting certain immigration and naturalization petitions which went into effect on December 23, 2016. USCIS did not notify the public prior to the publication of the new form editions, and no alerts were sent out to interested parties regarding compliance with the new form editions. At the time the new form editions were released, the USCIS website indicated that, apart from the form I-129, older versions of the affected forms would not be accepted.

Today, December 29, 2016, USCIS announced that previous editions of affected forms will continue to be accepted by USCIS until February 21, 2017, except for the N-400 Application for Naturalization. N-400 Application for Naturalization must be filed with the 12/23/16 edition date. No prior editions of form N-400 will be accepted by USCIS. Despite this update, please remember that the new fee schedule will continue to be enforced. Forms filed with previous editions must include the new fees. New form editions will contain an edition date of 12/23/16. Updated forms can be found at uscis.gov/forms. The complete fee schedule can be found at uscis.gov/forms/our-fees.

USCIS has released new form editions of the following forms: I-90, I-102, I-129, I-129CW, I-129F, I-130, I-131, I-131A, I-140, I-191, I-192, I-212, I-290B, I-360, I-485, I-485 Supplement A, I-525, I-539, I-600, I-600A, I-601, I-601A, I-612, I-690, I-694, I-698, I-751, I-765, I-800, I-800A, I-817, I-824, I-910, I-924, I-924A, I-929, I-942, I-942P, N-300, N-336, N-400, N-470, N-600, and N-600K.

UPDATE: Today, December 29, 2016, USCIS announced that previous editions of affected forms will continue to be accepted by USCIS until February 21, 2017, except for the N-400 Application for Naturalization. N-400 Application for Naturalization must be filed with the 12/23/16 edition date. No prior editions of form N-400 will be accepted by USCIS. Please remember that the new fee schedule will continue to be enforced. New form editions will contain an edition date of 12/23/16. Updated forms can be found at uscis.gov/forms. The complete fee schedule can be found at uscis.gov/forms/our-fees.

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There is no denying that the election of Donald Trump as next President of the United States has dealt a huge blow to the immigration reform effort and diminished any hope for the passage of broader legal immigration reform. We had hoped that with the election of Hillary Clinton we would see an increase in immigration levels for highly skilled workers, as well as increased visa opportunities for entrepreneurs and investors. While the news of Donald Trump’s election was a big setback for immigration in general, polling continues to suggest that people across the United States are willing to support fairness in dealing with the undocumented immigrant population in a sensible and human way. By contrast, most Americans disapprove of passing broad legal immigration reform that would benefit foreign workers.

Donald Trump was able to win the favor of a great number of Americans because of his critical view of programs like NAFTA that he believes has allowed American jobs to go overseas. Trump has blamed the U.S. government for allowing programs like the H-1B worker program to exist, saying that foreign workers are taking American jobs. We can expect to see Donald Trump take a restrictive view on legal immigration, keeping immigration levels within historic norms. Donald Trump has until recently softened his tone on illegal immigration, claiming that his priority is to deport only dangerous criminals residing in the United States unlawfully, although his 10-point plan contradicts his recent stance.

It is likely that the Republican House and the Senate will introduce legislation designed to benefit American workers and the economy, and focus less on creating immigration opportunities for foreign workers. Similarly, the Trump administration will likely focus on job creation, and less on passing any meaningful legal immigration reform.

The program that may come under fire by the Trump administration is the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative which began on June 15, 2012 as part of an executive order introduced by President Barack Obama. Donald Trump has repeatedly said that he wants to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program incorrectly calling it an “amnesty.” In actuality, DACA is not amnesty and does not provide a pathway to permanent residency or even citizenship. DACA merely shields the individual from deportation and allows them to legally obtain employment in the United States for a temporary period of time.

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We would like to inform our readers that a new development has been occurring in recent months involving Form I-539 change of status applications filed by prospective students. Students applications wishing to change their status from a B-2 visa classification to F-1 must proceed with caution. USCIS has recently been issuing denials for such change of status applications that request a change of status from a B-2 nonimmigrant visa classification to F-1 student status. These denials have been issued, despite the fact that applicants have seemingly filed their application in a timely and proper manner with USCIS. To submit an application in a timely manner, it is required that the applicant file an I-539 change of status application with USCIS, prior to the expiration of their underlying B-2 status, as indicated on the applicant’s I-94 arrival/departure record. An additional problem that has been occurring involves the delayed adjudication of these applications with the California Service Center. In delaying the processing of these applications, designated school officials (DSO) have been forced to defer student program start dates that appear on the SEVIS form, before adjudication of the applicant’s change of status application has been completed. The unfortunate cause of these delays has resulted in a discrepancy between the deferred program start date and the ending B-2 visa status or the date USCIS adjudicated the I-539 application to change status.

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