Articles Posted in Green card

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If you are an EB-5 investor in a Regional Center project, you may be interested to learn of new information released by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) regarding Regional Center audits.

In March 2022, with the passage of the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act of 2022, Congress implemented new reforms designed to increase the oversight of Regional Centers to prevent fraud and abuse within the immigrant investor program.

Among these fraud prevention mechanisms, USCIS established the EB-5 Integrity Fund, funded by annual regional center fees and immigrant petition fees, to detect and investigate fraud and other crimes related to the program, ensure compliance, conduct regional center audits (every five years) and site visits (for each new NCE or JCE).

USCIS recently released information confirming that the agency must audit each designated regional center at least once every five years.


What is done during a Regional Center audit?


Audits are performed during a site visit which include a review of documentation required to be maintained by the regional center and a review of the flow of immigrant investor capital into any capital investment project.

Effective April 23rd audits will be utilizing the Generally Accepted Government Auditing Standards, also known as the Yellow Book. The Yellow Book provides standards and guidance for auditors and audit organizations.


What is the purpose of Regional Center audits?


Regional center audits are conducted to strengthen the integrity of the EB-5 program by verifying information in regional center applications, annual certifications, and associated investor petitions.

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The long-awaited May 2024 Visa Bulletin has arrived! If you’d like to know all about the projected movement of the employment-based and family-sponsored categories in the month of May, we’ve got you covered.


Highlights of the May 2024 Visa Bulletin


Dates for Filing Chart


For the family-sponsored preference categories, the Dates for Filing Chart remains unchanged from the previous month, with the exception of the F2B category for Mexico which will advance by 1 month to September 1, 2004. Additionally, F3 Worldwide, China, and India will advance by 3 months to June 1, 2010. Finally, F4 India will advance by 2.2 months to June 15, 2006, F4 Mexico will advance by 1 week to April 22, 2001, and F4 Philippines will advance by over 1 month to June 1, 2005.

For the employment-based petitions, the Dates for Filing remain unchanged from the previous month.


Employment-based categories Final Action Chart


The Final Action Dates Chart shows no movement for all employment-based preference categories.


Family-sponsored categories


Movement in the Final Action Dates


On the other hand, the Final Action Dates Chart for the family-sponsored categories advanced in almost all categories as follows:

  • F1 Mexico will advance by 5.5 months to October 15, 2001
  • F1 Philippines will remain the same at March 1, 2012
  • F1 All other countries will advance by 4.9 months to July 8, 2015
  • F2A Mexico will advance by 2.8 months to November 8, 2020
  • F2A Philippines will advance by 8.7 months to June 1, 2021
  • F2A All other countries will advance by 8.7 months to June 1, 2021
  • F2B Mexico will advance by 4.3 months to March 1, 2004
  • F2B Philippines will remain at October 22, 2011
  • F2B All other countries will advance by 4.3 months to April 1, 2016
  • F3 Mexico will advance by 10.4 months to July 22, 1999
  • F3 Philippines will advance by 1.8 months to August 1, 2002
  • F3 All other countries will advance by 3 months to January 1, 2010
  • F4 Worldwide and China will advance by 1.4 months to July 22, 2007
  • F4 India will advance by 1 month to January 15, 2006
  • F4 Mexico will advance by 3.3 months to January 22, 2001
  • F4 Philippines will advance by 2.8 months to September 8, 2003

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This week we bring you new updates regarding the I-693 medical examination.

On April 4, 2024, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that any Form I-693, Report of Immigration Medical Examination and Vaccination Record, that was properly completed and signed by a civil surgeon on or after November 1, 2023, does not expire and can be used indefinitely as evidence to show that the applicant is not inadmissible on health-related grounds.


What is Form I-693?


The Form I-693 is a medical examination report that must be completed by a USCIS approved civil surgeon. It is a required document for certain noncitizens who must prove to USCIS that they are free of any health-related conditions that would make them inadmissible to the United States. This includes applicants applying for adjustment of status on Form I-485 (green card applicants).

Beginning December 9, 2021, USCIS recognized the validity of Form I-693 for a period of 2 years from the date the civil surgeon signed the form, regardless of when the underlying application was submitted.


What changed?


Medical Examinations Completed On or After November 1, 2023

USCIS has consulted with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and determined that the validity of Form I-693 will no longer be limited to a certain period, so long as it was properly completed and signed by a civil surgeon on or after November 1, 2023.

Effective November 1st, the CDC has required civil surgeons to share certain medical data from the Form I-693 directly with CDC electronically. CDC and USCIS have also collaborated to improve the reporting of public health information collected on Form I-693 by civil surgeons to local U.S. health departments.

Before this policy update, civil surgeons were not required to share such information with CDC electronically.

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We are pleased to announce that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will soon publish a new temporary final rule in the federal register aimed at streamlining the processing of renewal applications for Employment Authorization Documents (also known as EADs) and increasing the automatic extension period of EADs.


What does this new rule propose?


The new temporary final rule (TFR) proposes an increase of the automatic extension period of certain employment authorization documents (EADs) from up to 180 days to up to 540 days from the expiration date printed on EADs.


Who will benefit?


This automatic extension will benefit employment-authorized noncitizens to prevent workforce interruption for those that have pending employment authorization renewal applications with USCIS, which were timely and properly filed on or after October 27, 2023.

Additionally, to be eligible for the automatic extension, the EAD renewal application must still be pending with USCIS on the date of the rule’s publication in the Federal Register on April 8, 2024.

It will also benefit any eligible applicant who files a renewal EAD application during the 540-day period beginning on or after April 8, 2024 (the date of the rule’s publication in the Federal Register).

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The Department of State has published the April 2024 Visa Bulletin, bringing significant advancements in the final action dates for most employment-based categories, and modest advancement for the family-sponsored categories when compared to the previous month.


Highlights of the April 2024 Visa Bulletin


Dates for Filing Chart

For the family-sponsored preference categories, the Dates for Filing Chart remains unchanged from the previous month, with the exception of the family sponsored fourth preference category (F4) for India which will advance by 1.5 months to April 8, 2006, and Philippines which will advance by 1 year to April 22, 2005.

Additionally, for employment-based petitions, the employment based first preference category (EB1A) India will advance by 3 months to April 1, 2021, and the employment-based third (EB3) preference category for India will advance by 1.5 months to September 15, 2012. Finally, the employment based fourth preference category (EB-4) will advance by 11 months to December 1, 2020.

All other preference categories remain unchanged from the previous month.

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Recently, the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) requested an update from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) regarding the delayed adjudication of Form I-829 petitions filed by EB-5 investors seeking to remove their conditions on permanent residence.

AILA suggested two alternatives for providing evidence of continued lawful permanent residence which consisted of making simple adjustments to the language of Form I-829 receipt notices.

On January 19, 2024, USCIS responded to these concerns indicating their awareness of the issue and ongoing efforts to reduce the burden on investors.

USCIS pointed out that beginning on January 11, 2023, the agency extended the validity of Permanent Resident Cards (also known as Green Cards) for petitioners who properly filed Form I-829, for 48 months beyond the green card’s expiration date.

This extension was made in consideration of the long processing times USCIS has been experiencing to adjudicate Form I-829, which have increased over the past year.

They also note that USCIS field offices also recently began issuing and mailing the Form I-94 (arrival/departure record) with ADIT (temporary 1-551) stamps as temporary evidence of Legal Permanent Resident status without requiring an in-person appearance at field offices, for investors who have requested evidence of their LPR immigration status from USCIS.

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The March 2024 Visa Bulletin is finally here, and with it we have big advancements in the family sponsored preference categories, and minor advancements in the employment-based categories.


Highlights of the March 2024 Visa Bulletin


Dates for Filing Chart

The Dates for Filing Chart remains unchanged from the previous month, for both the family sponsored and employment-based categories, with the exception of the employment-based fourth preference category, EB-4 which will advance by 4 months to January 1, 2020.


Employment-based categories


Movement in the Final Action Dates

The Final Action Dates Chart shows some modest advancements in some of the employment-based preference categories, specifically:

  • EB-1 China will advance by two weeks to July 15, 2022
  • EB-1 India will advance by 1 month to October 1, 2020
  • EB-2 Worldwide, Mexico, and the Philippines will advance by 1 week to November 22, 2022
  • EB-3 Worldwide, Mexico, and the Philippines will advance by 1 week to September 8, 2022
  • EB-3 Other Workers, Worldwide and Mexico will advance by 1 week to September 8, 2020
  • EB-4 will advance by more than 6.5 months to December 1, 2019

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On January 30, 2024, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published a final rule in the Federal Register making significant fee increases for various immigration applications and benefit requests. This fee increase will be the first major adjustment in the filing fees since 2016. The increase is meant to address the agency’s operational and financial challenges to support the timely processing of new applications.

The fee increase will take effect starting April 1, 2024. All applications postmarked after this date will be subject to the fee increases in the final rule.

TIP: To avoid paying the higher fees, USCIS must receive applications before April 1, 2024.


Highlights


  • Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative), used to petition for family members, including marriage green cards, will increase by 26% to $675 for paper filing, and $625 for online filers.
  • Form I-129F (Petition for Alien Fiancé(e)), used by U.S. Citizens to petition for their fiancé(e) to enter the U.S., will increase by 26 percent from $535 to $675
  • Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status), used by immigrants seeking a green card for permanent residency, will increase by 18% from $1,225 to $1,440. Employment authorization, and advance parole, will now cost an additional $260 and $630, respectively. Previously these applications carried no additional cost when filing them alongside adjustment of status applications

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In this blog post, we provide new insights recently shared by Charlie Oppenheim, the former Chief of Immigrant Visa Control and Reporting at the U.S. Department of State, who oversaw the monthly publication of the Visa Bulletin until his retirement in 2022.

In a recent Chatting with Charlie webinar, he provided his expertise regarding the future movement of the employment based and family preference categories on the Visa Bulletin.

The Dates for Filing for the employment based and family sponsored preference categories have remained the same since the publication of the October Visa Bulletin with no forward movement to be seen.

In the month of February, the Final Action Dates progressed only slightly as follows:

Employment-based

  • EB-2 Worldwide advanced by two weeks to November 15, 2022
  • EB-3 India advanced by one month to July 1, 2012
  • EB-3 all other countries advanced by one month to September 1, 2022 (except China)
  • EB-5 China (Unreserved) advanced by one week to December 15, 2015.

Family-sponsored

  • F2A all categories (except Mexico) advanced by more than 3 months to February 8, 2020
  • F2A Mexico advanced by more than 3 months to February 1, 2020

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According to recent data released by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), applications for U.S. Citizenship surpassed pre-pandemic levels in fiscal year 2023, welcoming 878,500 new citizens from all over the world.

To be eligible for naturalization, applicants must meet certain eligibility requirements set forth in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

The requirements generally include being a lawful permanent resident (LPR) for at least five years or at least three years for spouses of U.S. Citizens. Applicants must establish that they have good moral character, have continuously and physically resided in the United States as a green card holder, be proficient in basic spoken and written English, pass the required civics and English examination, among other requirements. Please note that there are other special naturalization provisions that exempt certain applicants, including certain spouses of U.S. citizens and applicants with military service, from one or more of the general requirements for naturalization.

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