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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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Welcome to the start of a brand-new week. In this blog, we cover new reports from the U.S./Mexico border addressing the growing number of asylum seekers entering the United States from Tijuana into San Diego, through a process known as “humanitarian parole.”

According to a recent report published by the National Institute for Migration in Baja California, in April of 2022, just under 400 migrants were granted permission to cross through Ped West, one of two pedestrian crossings at the San Ysidro Port of Entry.

When compared to crossings in August, that number has skyrocketed to 4,075 migrants entering using their humanitarian parole document.


What is humanitarian parole?

  • Humanitarian parole is a process by which a foreign national (who may be inadmissible or otherwise ineligible for admission into the United States) may enter for a temporary period of time for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit by filing Form I-131 Application for Travel Document and Form I-134 Affidavit of Support including their supporting documentation.

In addition to those entering with humanitarian parole, the Institute reports that more than 2,500 Haitian refugees have been granted permission to cross into the United States, as well as 440 migrants from Honduras fleeing organized crime.

At the same time, the Institute reports that many migrants in Tijuana are being falsely misled to believe that migrant shelters can help them bypass detention upon requesting asylum at the U.S. border.

Sadly, the Biden administration has not done little to address the growing number of asylum seekers. In fact, the Biden administration has been silently asking the Mexican government to allow for the expulsion of thousands of asylum-seeking migrants from Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela through a little-known policy known as “Title 42.” This expulsion policy began under the Trump administration in March 2020 and has continued under President Biden. Since that time, the Mexican government agreed to accept expulsions of its citizens, along with those of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras totaling more than 2 million migrants.

According to the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) the expulsion of migrants from Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras is near the highest-level seen in over 15 years, but has declined from 2021 (154,000 in July 2021, 104,000 in July 2022). It is estimated that the U.S. government has used Title 42 to expel 78 percent of these migrants.

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We hope you are having a wonderful end to your week. In this blog post, we bring you some of the most highly anticipated news from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Yesterday, September 15, 2022, USCIS announced the third phase of the expansion of premium processing service for petitioners who have a pending Form I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers, under the EB-1 and EB-2 employment-based classifications.

As with the first and second phase of the premium processing expansion, the third phase of expansion only applies to certain previously filed Form I-140 petitions under the EB-1 multinational executive and manager classification, and EB-2 classification as a member of professions with advanced degrees or exceptional ability seeking a national interest waiver (NIW) that were filed on certain dates. Only such petitions will be eligible to upgrade to premium processing using Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service.


Who will benefit?


Beginning September 15, 2022, USCIS will accept Form I-907 Premium Processing requests for:

  • EB-1 multinational executive and manager petitions received on or before January 1, 2022; and
  • EB-2 NIW petitions for advanced degree or exceptional ability received on or before February 1, 2022.

USCIS has explicitly made clear that it will reject premium processing requests for these Form I-140 classifications if the receipt date is after the dates listed above. For cases eligible to upgrade to premium processing, USCIS will guarantee 45 calendar days to take adjudicative action for these requests for premium processing service. USCIS will not accept new (initial) Forms I-140 with a premium processing request at this time for petitions that do not explicitly fall under the above categories.

USCIS also cautions members of the public that on May 24, 2022, the agency published a new version of Form I-907 Request for Premium Processing, dated 05/31/22. As of July 1, 2022, USCIS no longer accepts the older 09/30/20 edition of form I-907.

This move is part of USCIS’ commitment to expand premium processing service to additional form types in order to improve processing times and increase efficiency across the agency.

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Welcome back to Visalawyerblog! We hope you had a wonderful weekend.

In this blog post, we share with you some exciting news for Venezuelan nationals receiving benefits under the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program.

The Biden administration has made the decision to extend Temporary Protected Status for Venezuelan nationals currently receiving protections under the program until March 10, 2024. In addition, the re-designation means that certain eligible Venezuelan nationals will be able to apply for TPS protections for the first time.

The main benefit of applying for this program is that those who are approved for Temporary Protected Status can remain in the country on a lawful basis, will receive protection against deportation (deferred status), and are eligible to apply for employment authorization and travel permission by filing, Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization, and Form I-131 Application for Travel Document, with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).


How did this all happen?


Extension of Designation of Venezuela for TPS

On July 11, 2022, the Secretary of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, announced an 18-month extension and redesignation of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for the country of Venezuela. This extension and re-designation will be in effect from September 10, 2022, through March 10, 2024 (an 18-month period).

Secretary Mayorkas made this decision after consulting with government officials and taking into consideration the ongoing conflict in Venezuela, lack of access to food, water, healthcare, and other conditions.

Mayorkas found that these circumstances ultimately prevented Venezuelan nationals from safely returning to their home country stating, “After careful consideration, and in consultation with the Secretary of State, today I am extending that designation. This action is one of many ways the Biden administration is providing humanitarian support to Venezuelans at home and abroad, together with our regional partners. We will continue to work with our international partners to address the challenges of regional migration while ensuring our borders remain secure.”

Currently, there are an estimated 343,000 individuals potentially eligible for TPS under the existing designation of Venezuela. The program’s extension will mean that these beneficiaries can re-register for benefits and retain TPS status through March 10, 2024, so long as they can demonstrate that they continue to meet the TPS eligibility requirements.

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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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We kick off the start of a brand-new week with very good news for Cuban nationals.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently announced that it will be resuming operations under the Cuban Family Reunification Parole program also known as CFRP starting with pending CFRP applications.

CFRP processing was suspended due to the significant decrease in U.S. government personnel at the U.S. Embassy Havana in 2017 and the closure of the USCIS field office in Havana in 2018.


What is the Cuban Family Reunification Parole?


Cuban Family Reunification Parole is a program that was created in 2007 to allow certain eligible U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (LPRs) to apply for parole for their family members in Cuba. If granted parole, family members can come to the United States without waiting for their immigrant visas to become available. Once in the United States, CFRP Program beneficiaries may apply for work authorization while they wait to apply for lawful permanent resident status.


Who is eligible?


You may be eligible to apply for parole for your relatives in Cuba under the CFRP program if:

  • You are either a U.S. citizen or LPR;
  • You have an approved Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, for a Cuban family member;
  • An immigrant visa is not yet available for your relative; and
  • You received an invitation from the Department of State’s National Visa Center (NVC) to participate in the CFRP Program. 

To be eligible, the principal beneficiary must:

  • Be a Cuban national living in Cuba; and
  • Have a petitioner who has been invited to participate in the CFRP Program.

You cannot apply for CFRP until you are invited to do so by the National Visa Center. Additionally, you cannot self-petition for the program.

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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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We close off the week with an immigration roundup summarizing recent news in the world of immigration.

In this week’s post, we have Diversity Visa Program updates. Yesterday, the Department of State provided guidance for Diversity Visa applicants selected for fiscal year 2023. Such applicants are advised to submit to the Kentucky Consular Center (KCC) the DS-260 immigrant visa application form for themselves and any accompanying family members.

After submission of the DS-260 immigrant visa application, the Kentucky Consular Center will review it for completeness, and place your application in a queue to be scheduled for an in-person visa interview, provided that your priority date is current on to the Visa Bulletin.

For now, this will be the procedure required of Diversity Visa selectees for fiscal year 2023.

The Kentucky Consular Center warns applicants not to submit any other required supporting documents, other than the completed DS-260 application. This is because, all supporting documentation for DV-2023 selectees will be collected and evaluated at the time of the applicant’s in-person visa interview at the embassy or consulate where the visa application has been made.

Selected candidates should carefully review the Department of State website for the necessary supporting documentation they must bring on the day of their scheduled interview to establish eligibility for an immigrant visa. Those who are unsure of the requirements, should consider working with an experienced attorney for assistance.

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