Articles Posted in Global Immigration

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If you are considering applying for U.S. Citizenship in the new year, you may be interested to learn that yesterday December 15, 2022, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), published a notice in the Federal Register announcing that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) plans to conduct trial testing of a newly redesigned naturalization examination for N-400 naturalization applicants in the year 2023.

The main purpose of the trial is to test an updated format of the civics component that evaluates an applicant’s knowledge and understanding of the fundamentals of U.S. history, as well as introduce a brand-new English-speaking component that may become the new standard of the N-400 examination.


Why the change?


The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has implemented this change in response to President Biden’s Executive Order 14012, Restoring Faith in Our Legal Immigration Systems and Strengthening Integration and Inclusion Efforts for New Americans, which includes a directive to review the naturalization process. To align with the goals of this Executive Order, USCIS has called for a review of the naturalization examination and recommended redesigning the speaking and civics test to improve testing standards.


How will the trial testing occur?


USCIS has said that the trial will be rolled out with the assistance of nationwide volunteer community-based organizations known as CBOs working with immigrant English language learners and lawful permanent residents preparing for naturalization. USCIS will seek approximately 1,500 individuals enrolled in adult education classes to take the trial test. The agency may use the results of the trial to support its proposed changes to the naturalization test.

The trial will test both the standardized English-speaking test as part of the requirement to demonstrate an understanding of the English language, and the civics examination with updated content and format. The trial testing will not include the reading or writing portions of the naturalization examination.

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We start off the week with some exciting news for naturalization applicants filing N-400, Application for Naturalization.

On December 9, 2022, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced new updates to its policy guidance including a new procedure that will allow USCIS to automatically extend the validity of a Permanent Resident Card for a period of 24-months, through the issuance of an N-400 Application for Naturalization, receipt notice. This means that generally Permanent Residents with a pending N-400 Application, will no longer need to file Form I-90 to renew their green cards.

This policy is effective as of today, Monday, December 12, 2022, and applies to all applications filed on or after December 12, 2022.

Lawful permanent residents who filed for N-400 naturalization PRIOR to December 12, 2022, will NOT receive an N-400 receipt notice with the 24-month extension, and will be required to file Form I-90 if their green card expires, or request an appointment to receive an ADIT stamp in their passport to maintain valid evidence of their status as required under the law.


What You Need to Know


Previously, naturalization applicants who did not apply for naturalization at least six months before the expiration date on their green cards needed to file Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card, (green card) to maintain proper documentation of their lawful status.

Applicants who applied for naturalization at least six months prior to their green card expiration were eligible to request an appointment to receive an Alien Documentation, Identification, and Telecommunications (ADIT) stamp in their passport, which served as temporary evidence of their LPR status.

This policy is no more.

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We close off the week with some new announcements from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) regarding TPS extensions for Haitian nationals, and USCIS commitments to improve immigration in the new year – fiscal year 2023.


TPS Extended for Haitian Nationals


On December 5, 2022, the Secretary of Homeland Security, Alejandro N. Mayorkas, announced that the TPS designation for Haiti will be automatically extended for 18 additional months. Haitian nationals with TPS benefits will have the opportunity to re-register for an extension of their TPS benefits for a period of 18 months from February 4, 2023, through August 3, 2024.

This automatic extension has been granted because the Secretary has determined that conditions continue to exist to support Haiti’s TPS designation due to extraordinary and temporary conditions in the country including a prolonged political crisis, insecurity, gang violence, and catastrophic earthquakes. According to Secretary Mayorkas, “The conditions in Haiti, including socioeconomic challenges, political instability, and gang violence and crime – aggravated by environmental disaster – compelled the humanitarian relief we are providing today.”

As a reminder, Haitians entering the United States after November 6, 2022, are not eligible for TPS benefits and, will be subject to removal from the United States if they have no legal basis to remain in the country.

TPS will apply only to those individuals who have already been residing in the United States as of November 6, 2022, and who meet all other requirements to receive the TPS extension. Those who attempt to travel to the United States after November 6, 2022, are NOT eligible for TPS benefits.

Soon, the Department of Homeland Security will publish a notice in the Federal Register explaining the eligibility criteria and procedures to re-register for TPS, renew Employment Authorization Documents (EADs), and submission of initial TPS application under the re-designation.

For more information, please click here.

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Welcome to the start of a brand-new week. In a recent announcement, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Carrier Liaison Program, revealed that United States visas issued at all U.S. embassies and consulates worldwide will now have a new look.

Foreign nationals seeking to visit, work, or remain temporarily in the United States must apply for U.S. visas at foreign consulates or embassies overseas. Once a U.S. visa has been approved following the in-person visa interview, consulates stamp and issue the U.S. visa in the applicant’s foreign passport.

Previously, U.S. visas were printed with the image of Abraham Lincoln, but now U.S. visas will debut a new design.

To ensure the security of documents and protect against counterfeiting, the government has said it will begin issuing new visa foils in the year 2023, replacing the prior image of Abraham Lincoln with the iconic San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge. These new visas are referred to as “Bridge” visa foils. Visas with the new “Bridge” foil are expected to be rolled out as early as 2023.

According to CBP’s announcement:

  • The U.S. has begun issuing a new Bridge visa foil
  • This is a redesigned visa foil that will replace the Lincoln visa.
  • As each consular posts depletes Lincoln visa stock, they will begin to issue Bridge visas.
  • All Lincoln visas will remain valid until the printed expiration date, unless revoked or canceled.
  • The Lincoln visas that will gradually be phased out were first issued in 2022.
  • Revisions to visa designs make altering and counterfeiting more difficult, officials state.

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Welcome back to Visalawyerblog!

In this blog post, we bring you the latest information regarding Diversity Visa reassignment procedures for Afghan nationals.

Recently, the State Department announced the appropriate procedures for Diversity Visa lottery case reassignment for Afghan nationals.

Due to the suspension of visa operations at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Diversity Visa selectees for the 2023 Diversity Visa program year are advised to request reassignment of their cases to another embassy or consulate abroad that processes Diversity Visa applications.

To understand which Consular posts can accept your case, you must carefully review the U.S. Embassy webpage where you are seeking reassignment. For case reassignment to occur, you must be physically present in the consular district where the consulate or embassy is located at the time of your visa interview. Additionally, you must have permission from the consulate for case reassignment and the ability to remain in that country for a period of time sufficient to complete the processing of your visa application.


How Can I Request Reassignment?


To request reassignment, you must send an e-mail to KCC at KCCDV@state.gov with the subject line “Kabul Reassignment Request.”  Your email must include the following information: (1) full name, (2) date of birth, (3) case number, and (4) the name of the embassy or consulate where you would like your case to be reassigned.  After the KCC reviews your request, you will receive an email confirmation that your reassignment request was successful or, alternatively, requesting more information.  All emails are reviewed in the order they are received.

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

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 December 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 December 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 December 2022.


December 2022 Visa Bulletin Dates for Filing Cutoff Dates


Employment-Based Categories


DATES FOR FILING FOR EMPLOYMENT-BASED PREFERENCE CASES


According to the Department of State’s December 2022 Visa Bulletin, the following Dates for Filing cutoff dates will apply for the issuance of an immigrant visa for employment-based categories:

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On behalf of all of us at the Sapochnick Law Firm, we would like to wish you and your family a very safe and Happy Thanksgiving.

We thank you for your trust and support these past years. We take this time to reflect on the stories of our clients. Day in and day out, we draw inspiration from your struggles, and most of all, we recognize the great impact that we have on your lives and those of your loved ones. We are grateful to have a community that supports our mission and pushes us to set the bar even higher. It is a privilege to serve you.

Indeed, we have much to be thankful for. We invite you to share with us what you are grateful for this holiday season.

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We kick off the Thanksgiving week with some exciting news.

Recently, the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) met with representatives from the Department of State to address some issues of concern relating to several different immigration topics.

We provide a summary of the questions asked and responses from the Department of State down below that was part of a recent roundtable with representatives from Consular Affairs.


Nonimmigrant and Immigrant Visa Applications from Third Country Nationals


Representatives reminded nonimmigrant visa applicants, including students, that they can apply for their visas at any embassy or consulate where they are physically present and obtain a visa appointment.

Additionally, immigrant visa applicants can request to transfer their case to another embassy or consulate if they are unable to travel to the post where their case is assigned.

As to the possibility for virtual visa interviews, the State Department has said immigrant visa applicants are required to appear in person before a consular officer to provide fingerprints, therefore video interviews would be of limited utility.


Interview Waivers


AILA informed the State Department that it appears that some appointment scheduling systems incorrectly identify applicants that are clearly not eligible for interview waivers as eligible and invite them to send in their passports for visa issuance.

In these instances, once the passport is submitted to the post, it is determined that the applicant is not eligible for an interview waiver, the applicant has to be contacted, their passport has to be returned, and they have to then schedule an in-person interview appointment.

The State Department has said it is not aware of this issue happening at posts and recommended that those experiencing issues with applications submitted via interview waiver processes should contact the relevant post for information.


E-2 Treaty Investor Visas  


Question: 9 FAM 402.9-6(A)(a)(4) informs officers that one of the determinations in evaluating E-2 Treaty Investor applications is that the: “Enterprise is a real and operating commercial enterprise,” and is then referred to 9 FAM 402.9-6(C) for further discussion.

The first sentence of 9 FAM 402.9-6(C) states: “The enterprise must be a real and active commercial or entrepreneurial undertaking, producing some service or commodity.” The third sentence of 9 FAM 402.9-6(C) continues the description of the enterprise to state, “It cannot be a paper organization or an idle speculative investment…”Especially in the context of start-up businesses, defining these terms will provide greater clarity and guidance to E-2 visa applicants.

Please confirm: Are the words “operating” at 402.9-6(A)(a)(4) and “active” at 402.9-6(C) used interchangeably?

Answer: Almost. The term “active” at 402.9-6(C) was used to ensure that new enterprises that had not yet begun producing services or commodities, but which were actively taking steps to become operational, could also provide a basis for E visa issuance.

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In this blog post, we share with you the list of countries whose nationals are eligible to participate in the H-2A and H-2B visa programs next year.

By law, DHS has the authority to update the eligible countries lists at any time by publishing a notice in the Federal Register, if the agency determines that a country fails to meet the requirements for continued designation.

The H-2A and H-2B visa programs enable U.S. employers to bring foreign nationals to the United States to fill temporary agricultural and nonagricultural jobs, respectively.

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 publication of the Federal Register Notice, for nationals of countries not on the lists on a case-by-case basis only if doing so is determined to be in the interest of the United States.

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Happy Veterans Day! On behalf of our law office, we would like to thank the servicemen and women who have dedicated their lives to protect our country. We are grateful to you for the sacrifices you have made and your service.

We close off the week with a recent update from the U.S. Department of State regarding immigrant visa processing in Havana, Cuba.

According to a new announcement made yesterday, the U.S. Embassy in Havana, Cuba, will fully resume immigrant visa processing beginning January 4, 2023.

This will include processing of immigrant petitions for immediate relatives, other family preference categories, diversity visas, and K fiancé(e) visas.

For its part, the U.S. Embassy in Georgetown, Guyana, will continue processing of Cuban immigrant visa applications for those individuals who were scheduled to attend in-person interviews there through the end of December of this year.

Immigrant visa applicants whose appointments were originally scheduled in Georgetown will complete case processing in Georgetown.

Sadly, case transfers from Georgetown to U.S. Embassy, Havana are not available for applicants who have already been scheduled to attend interviews in Georgetown.

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