Articles Posted in I-130

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In this post, we bring you great news regarding COVID-19-related flexibilities for responses to Requests for Evidence, NOIDs, and such related notices issued by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.


What do I need to know about this new update?


USCIS RFE/NOID Flexibility Continued for Responses to Agency Requests


USCIS 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.

On January 24, 2023, USCIS made the announcement that it will grant one FINAL extension to 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 23, 2023. 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 23, 2023 can take advantage of the additional 60 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;
  • Notices of Intent to Withdraw Temporary Protected Status; and
  • Motions to Reopen an N-400 pursuant to 8 CFR 335.5, Receipt of Derogatory Information After Grant.

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Welcpuzzle-g75f3e575f_1920ome back to Visalawyerblog! We hope you had a wonderful holiday break and wish you a prosperous new year ahead.

We kick off the new year with some important updates in the world of immigration.

Today, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officially announced a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that will be posted in the Federal Register tomorrow Wednesday, January 4, 2023 that will increase filing fees for certain types of immigration benefits. An unpublished version is already available in the Federal Register.

A 60-day public comment period will follow the publication of the NPRM on January 4, 2023 and will close on March 5, 2023.

Fees will not change until the final rule goes into effect, and only after the public has had the opportunity to comment and USCIS finalizes the fee schedule in response to such public comments. USCIS will host a public engagement session on the proposed fee rule on January 11, 2023.

According to USCIS, the proposed fee increases are necessary to ensure that the agency will have enough resources to provide adequate services to applicants and petitioners moving forward. The agency has said that after having conducted a review of current fees, it has determined that it cannot cover the full cost of providing adjudication and naturalization services without a fee increase.

The agency cited the COVID-19 pandemic as one of the factors leading the agency to increase its fees. As you may recall, the pandemic caused a dramatic reduction in the filing of new applications, leaving USCIS with a substantial decrease in revenues of 40 percent. This unfortunate drop in applications led USCIS to reduce its workforce accordingly.

With current resources, the agency has said it is incapable of adjudicating applications in a timely manner, when considering that agency caseloads are now returning to pre-pandemic levels.

Among the new proposals included in the NPRM are measures that:

  • Incorporate biometrics costs into the main benefit fee and remove the separate biometric services fee
  • Require separate filing fees for Form I-485 and associated Form I-131 and Form I-765 filings
  • Establish separate fees for Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, by nonimmigrant classification.
  • Revise the premium processing timeframe interpretation from 15 calendar days to 15 business days
  • Create lower fees for certain immigration forms filed online.

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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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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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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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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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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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This week in immigration news, we share new developments for Afghan nationals. The Biden administration recently announced its plan to launch a new portal that would facilitate the reunification of Afghans immigrants with their family members.


What is it all about?


The U.S. Department of State run portal would provide a place for Afghans in the United States to search for family members who were separated from them following the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan last year.

Previously, Afghans needed the help of nonprofit groups such as the United National Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and U.S. Department of State liaisons to help them locate family members left behind. Individuals were required to complete lengthy questionnaires, provide information, and submit documentation that would be independently verified by state department liaisons.

Now, the state-run portal will provide a central location where users can upload information to help locate their family members. Users will be able to enter their own status on the website, and complete forms to enable their relative to gain entry to the United States.

Additionally, the Biden administration is said to be considering waiving the $535 government filing fee associated the filing of Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative, which allows a U.S. citizen to petition the entry of their relative to the United States.

According to a Department of State spokesperson, through the resettlement effort known as Operation Allies Welcome, immediate family members of Afghans who relocated to the United States are strongly being considered for parole. Immediate relatives of U.S. Citizens, lawful permanent residents, formerly locally employed staff members of the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, and certain Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) applicants are also being prioritized to receive parole.

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In this blog post, we share with you new immigration updates including major steps being taken by the Biden administration to support the people of Cuba, and the recent suspension of the NVC public inquiry telephone line.


Biden Administration Measures to Support the Cuban People


The Biden administration has taken new measures to provide relief to the people of Cuba as they face a humanitarian crisis. Among the major announcements, the government has said that it will be reinstating the Cuban Family Reunification Parole (CFRP) program to promote family reunification and increase capacity for consular services at the U.S. Embassy in Havana, Cuba.

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The ongoing turmoil in Ukraine, Afghanistan, and Ethiopia has prompted the U.S. Department of State to issue new guidance regarding the possibility of filing a Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative at U.S. Embassies and Consulates overseas for Afghan, Ethiopian, and Ukrainian immediate relatives fleeing conflict zones.

DOS has clarified that U.S. Citizens who are physically present with their Afghan, Ethiopian, or Ukrainian, immediate family members overseas, who have not yet filed the Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), may do so by filing the application locally at their nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate that processes immigrant visas.

Only U.S. Citizens impacted by the large-scale disruptive events in Afghanistan, Ethiopia, and Ukraine, are allowed to locally file Form I-130 at U.S. Embassies or Consulates overseas. It is required that the U.S. Citizen be physically present in the country where they wish to file their petition.


Who can you petition for with Local Filing?


DOS has stated that U.S. Citizens may locally file Form I-130 on behalf of their spouses, unmarried children under the age of 21, and parents, provided their relative fled:

  • Afghanistan after August 2, 2021
  • Ethiopia after November 1, 2020 or
  • Ukraine after February 1, 2022

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