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.
Today, January 12, 2023, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it is implementing the final phase of its expansion of premium processing for Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers, under the EB-1 and EB-2 immigrant classifications.
Who does this phase apply to?
This phase applies to new (initial) petitions, and all previously filed Form I-140 petitions under an E13 multinational executive and manager (EB-1C) classification or E21 classification as a member of professions with advanced degrees or exceptional ability seeking a national interest waiver (NIW) (EB-2).
When does premium processing open for new and pending EB-1C and EB-2 petitions?
Under the final phase of premium processing, effective January 30, 2023, USCIS will begin accepting premium processing upgrades for:
All pending E13 multinational executive and manager petitions (EB-1C) and E21 NIW petitions (EB-2), and
All initial E13 multinational executive and manager petitions (EB-1C) and E21 NIW petitions (EB-2)
The expansion of premium processing was first known to the public with the release of the final rule entitled, “Implementation of the Emergency Stopgap USCIS Stabilization Act,” published in the Federal Register on March 30, 2022. As part of this final rule, USCIS announced the gradual expansion of premium processing to certain additional form types over a three-year period.
Background of the Planned Expansion of Premium Processing
The first phase of the planned expansion of premium processing was announced during May of 2022 and applied to certain pending EB-1 Multinational Executive and Manager and EB-2 NIW petitions.
Later, in July the agency announced a second phase of premium processing expanding premium processing of these categories to EB-1C petitions received by USCIS on or before July 1, 2021, and EB-2 petitions received by USCIS on or before August 1, 2021.
Sadly, this means that certain F-1 student visa applicants will be impacted by this change, including those undertaking an English language study program. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has said that such programs are required to be accredited under the Accreditation of English Language Training Programs Act.
Students who have been impacted by this change will receive notification letters from SEVP informing them that their schools’ certification has been withdrawn.
USCIS has said that students who are enrolled at an ACICS-accredited school should contact their DSOs immediately to understand how this loss of accreditation will impact their status and/or immigration benefits.
To make matters worse, schools accredited by ACICS will not be able to issue program extensions, and students will only be allowed to finish their current session if the ACICS-accredited school chooses to voluntarily withdraw its certification or if is withdrawn by SEVP.
If a student’s ACICS-accredited school can provide evidence of a Department of Education recognized accrediting agency or evidence in lieu of accreditation within the allotted timeframe, the student may remain at the school to complete their program of study.
Requests for Evidence Imminent for I-539 Extend/Change of Status
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will be issuing requests for evidence (RFEs) to individuals who filed Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status, on or after August 19, 2022, requesting a change of status or reinstatement to attend an ACICS-accredited English language study program.
Once the individual receives the RFE, they will be given the opportunity to provide evidence in response, such as documentation showing that the English language study program they are seeking to enroll in meets the accreditation requirements.
If the student does not submit a new Form I-20 from a school accredited by an entity recognized by the Department of Education, USCIS will deny a change of status or reinstatement request.
Our readers will be happy to know that the Department of State has released a new update in the month of October on the status of worldwide consular visa operations.
The COVID-19 pandemic caused a period of uncertainty and created tremendous backlogs at the Consular level. As most of you will remember, Consular missions around the world suspended routine visa services in March of 2020 to combat the rapid spread of COVID-19. Later, the Department of State announced a phased resumption of routine visa services, however some Consulates and Embassies resumed services faster than others. Since then, things have slowly but surely started to turn around.
To help improve visa processing, the State Department has said that worldwide visa operations are now recovering faster than expected. More U.S. foreign service personnel have been hired to reduce visa interview wait times at Consular posts worldwide. It is expected that this year, the Department of State will reach pre-pandemic processing levels. This is amazing news for immigrants that have been waiting for visa interview appointments for months, or even years.
How did COVID-19 impact Worldwide Visa Operations?
The COVID-19 pandemic impacted the agency’s ability to process visa applications in two major ways.
First, restrictions on travel to the United States, social distancing, and local quarantine restrictions made it difficult to accommodate large groups of people inside Consular facilities, such as waiting rooms. This of course reduced the number of people that could be scheduled for in-person visa appointments dramatically, causing a reduction in the number of visa applications that could be processed.
Secondly, due to the suspension of visa services worldwide, the State Department experienced a substantial decrease in funding which led to a declining workforce in 2020 and 2021. This dramatically impacted the number of applications that could be processed.
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 abilityseeking 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 guarantee45 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.
Welcome back to Visalawyerblog! We kick off the start of the week with exciting news from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
On July 15, 2022, USCIS announced the second 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 phase of the premium processing expansion, the second phase of expansion only applies to certain previously filed Form I-140 petitions under the EB-1-3 multinational executive and manager classification, or EB-2 classification as a member of professions with advanced degrees or exceptional abilityseeking 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 August 1, 2022, USCIS will accept Form I-907 Premium Processing requests for:
EB-1-3 multinational executive and manager petitions received on or before July 1, 2021; and
EB-2 NIW petitions for advanced degree or exceptional ability received on or before August 1, 2021.
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.
Welcome back to a brand-new week. We have some interesting news for employment-based adjustment of status applicants.
Today, Monday, June 27, 2022, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a public engagement notice recommending that members of the public submit their Form I-693 sealed medical examinations as soon as possible to ensure efficient processing of employment based green cards.
According to USCIS, the agency is ramping up its efforts to process as many employment-based immigrant visas as possible to avoid wasting visa numbers before the end of fiscal year 2022, which ends on September 30, 2022.
Did you file an EB-2 National Interest Waiver petition on or before June 1, 2021, and still haven’t received a decision? What about an EB-1 petition as a multinational executive or manager filed on or before January 1, 2021? If so, be prepared for some exciting news!
USCIS recently announced the news we have all been waiting for. The agency will soon allow such applicants to upgrade their petition to Premium Processing Service by filing Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service, and paying the required filing fee.
What is this next update all about?
On May 24, 2022, USCIS released a news alert notifying the public that it will expand premium processing service for certain petitioners who have filed a pending Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker under the EB-1 multinational executive/managers and EB-2 NIW immigrant classifications.
Who does this update apply to?
To qualify for premium processing service, you must have applied for your I-140 either under the E13 multinational executive, E13 manager classification, or E21 classification as a member of professions with advanced degrees or exceptional ability seeking a national interest waiver (NIW).
Those who fall under the above categories will be eligible to upgrade their petitions by requesting premium processing service and filing Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service provided they filed their petitions with USCIS within a certain time period as discussed below.
When can I apply?
USCIS will accept premium processing service requests for E13 multinational executive and manager petitions starting June 1, 2022,but only for those E13 executive and manager petitions that were received by USCIS on or before January 1, 2021.
Additionally, USCIS will accept premium processing service requests for E21 National interest Waiver petitions, starting July 1, 2022,but only for those E21 NIW petitions that were received by USCIS on or before March 1, 2021.
Starting July 1, 2021, USCIS will also accept premium processing service requests, but only for those E13 multinational executive and manager petitions that were received by USCIS on or before March 1, 2021.
Welcome back to Visalawyerblog! In this blog post we share with you an overview of the State Department’s August 2021 Q&A answer session with Charlie Oppenheim, Chief of the Immigrant Visa Control and Reporting Division of the U.S. Department of State, also known as “Chats with Charlie,” broadcasted every month on the State Department’s YouTube channel.
This new series features a monthly Question-and-Answer session with Mr. Charles Oppnheim and a Consular officer, where they answer many of the public’s frequently asked questions and provide a monthly analysis of each month’s Visa Bulletin. This discussion will provide details regarding what to expect in terms of the movement or retrogression of both family and employment-based preference categories on each month’s Visa Bulletin.
Questions for Charlie can be emailed in advance to VisaBulletin@state.gov ahead of each monthly session with “Chat with Charlie Question” in the subject line.
Be sure to subscribe to the State Department’s YouTube Channel and turn on your notifications so you do not miss any of these important updates.
Below are the highlights of the trends and visa projections for August 2021 and beyond.
DOS Q&A Session with Charlie Oppenheim: August 2021 Visa Bulletin Projections & Beyond
Charlie Oppenheim advises against sending “mass like” chain emails to the Charlie Chats email address
Before we get into the questions for this session, I wanted to add that I have seen a significant number of questions being received that maybe online chat groups have provided in a suggested “copy this text” approach that were sent to the Charlie Chat email address. I want to say that this is a very unproductive approach to asking questions, since we must open a significant number of messages with the same question, and that diminishes our ability to review the hundreds and hundreds of questions which are coming in each month. Therefore, it’s likely that we may miss important questions which listeners would like addressed. I am happy to see questions come in but this massive number of duplicates is unproductive to the listener group.
The Top 8 Advance Questions Sent in By Listeners
Q: I submitted all my documentation to NVC a long time ago and I confirmed on their website that everything is completed correctly. My priority date became eligible in March, but I have not yet been scheduled for my final visa interview. Why haven’t I been scheduled despite the eligibility and when can I expect to be scheduled?
A: This is a question we have been getting a lot. It’s important to say that throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the NVC has continued to schedule appointments and is warehousing cases for Consular sections that have not been able to resume the routine Immigrant Visa processing. Depending on the country’s local restrictions and resources, the Consular sections abroad provide their projected capacity for scheduling to the NVC about 30-60 days in advance.
This allows NVC to begin scheduling those appointments and getting the information out to the applicants early. Other than age-out cases, inter-country adoption cases, and expedite requests, based on certain FAM regulations upon visa availability, the NVC schedules their Immigrant Visa appointments for visa categories in chronological order, based on the date in which the case was deemed “documentarily qualified,” meaning they have been asked to submit certain required documents, all those documents have been received, and have been verified. Then the NVC fills the available appointment slots in a first come, first out manner within each visa class, in accordance with each Consular section’s capacity.
I would advise listeners to refer to the guidance on the NVC Immigrant Visa backlog report website to view the worldwide data count of applicants which have been processed by NVC. Then that will determine how many have become documentarily complete. NVC and the overseas posts are trying to get to all the appointments and applicants as quickly as possible. It’s being done in chronological order and basically, they’re having to catch up on cases that could have been scheduled as far back as March 2020.
Great news! The Department of State has released the visa bulletin for August 2020 outlining the availability of immigrant visa numbers for the upcoming month.
NOTE: Adjustment of Status Filing Charts August 2020
For Family-Sponsored Filings:
In the F2A category, there is a cutoff date on the Dates for Filing chart. However, the category is “current” on the Final Action Dates chart. This means that applicants in the F2A category may file using the Final Action Dates chart for August 2020.
For all the other family-sponsored preference categories, you must use the Dates for Filing chart in the Department of State Visa Bulletin for August 2020.
For Employment-Based Preference Filings:
For all employment-based preference categories, you must use the Final Action Dates chart in the Department of State Visa Bulletin for August 2020.
August Visa Bulletin Cutoff Dates
Employment Based Categories
According to the Department of State’s August Visa Bulletin, the following cutoff dates will apply for the issuance of an immigrant visa for employment-based categories:
EB-1: All countries remain current during the month of August except for China and India. EB-1 China will advance by almost six months to February 8, 2018, while EB-1 India will advance by nine months to February 8, 2018.
EB-2: All countries except EB-2 China and India remain current. EB-2 China will advance by more than two months to January 15, 2016, and EB-2 India will remain at July 8, 2009.
EB-3 Professional and Skilled Workers: All countries except EB-3 India and China will advance by almost a full year to April 1, 2019. Cutoff dates for EB-3 China will advance by almost 8 months to February 15, 2017, and for India by four months to October 1, 2009.
EB-5: EB-5 India will remain current, joining all other countries except for EB-5 China and Vietnam. China’s cutoff date will advance by two weeks to August 8, 2015, while Vietnam’s cutoff date will advance by more than two months to July 22, 2017