Articles Posted in I-765

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In this blog post, we bring you some unfortunate news. Recently, the U.S. Department of Education announced that it will no longer recognize the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) as an accrediting agency.

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.

Additionally, this change will impact F-1 students applying for a 24-month science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) optional practical training (OPT) extension, because government regulations now require use of a degree from an accredited, Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) certified school to receive a STEM OPT extension.

The regulations make clear that the school must be accredited at the time of the application (the date of the designated school official’s (DSO) recommendation on the Form I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status).


What happens next?


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by this change will receive notification letters from SEVP informing them that their schools’ certification has been withdrawn.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finish their current session if the ACICS-accredited school chooses to voluntarily withdraw its certification or if is withdrawn by SEVP.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.

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Happy Halloween! In this blog post, we bring you a brand-new immigration update.

On October 21, 2022, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced the designation of Ethiopia for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for a period of 18 months. This decision marks Ethiopia’s first designation for TPS.

This designation was made based on ongoing armed conflict and extraordinary and temporary conditions in Ethiopia that prevent its nationals from safely returning to their country. Concerns relating to conflict-related violence including killings, rape, and gender-based violence prompted the Secretary of Homeland Security to make this decision. Other temporary conditions further complicate the return of Ethiopian nationals including flooding, drought, and disease outbreaks.

In response to the DHS announcement, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas explained, “Ethiopian nationals currently residing in the U.S. who cannot safely return due to conflict-related violence and a humanitarian crisis involving severe food shortages, flooding, drought, and displacement, will be able to remain and work in the United States until conditions in their home country improve.”

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In this blog post, we follow up on our previous reporting relating to a brand-new program launched by the Biden administration that will allow for the admission of up to 24,000 Venezuelans, closely following in the footsteps of the Uniting for Ukraine program.

Today, October 18, 2022, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services updated its “Venezuela” webpage including all the details regarding this new program. Applications are currently being accepted by USCIS.

We break down the details for you down below.


What is this program all about?


USCIS has launched a new process that allows Venezuelan nationals and their immediate family members to come to the United States in a safe and orderly manner.

Like the Uniting for Ukraine program, nationals of Venezuela who are outside the United States and who lack U.S. entry documents will be considered for admission to the United States on a case-by-case basis.

Those who are found eligible, will receive advance authorization to travel to the United States and a temporary period of parole for up to 2 years for urgent humanitarian reasons and significant public benefit.

After being paroled into the United States, beneficiaries are eligible to apply for discretionary employment authorization from USCIS. To apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), applicants must submit Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, using the (c)(11) category code with the required fee or apply for a fee waiver.

Using the same Form I-765 form, applicants can also apply for a Social Security number (SSN) by following the form instructions.

If you request an SSN in Part 2 (Items 13a-17.b) of your Form I-765, and your application is approved, USCIS will electronically transmit that data to the Social Security Administration (SSA), and SSA will assign you an SSN and issue you a Social Security card. SSA will mail your Social Security card directly to the address you provide on Form I-765.

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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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Welcome back to Visalawyerblog. We kick off the start of a brand-new week with unfortunate news for asylum-based applicants for I-765 employment authorization.

New data from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) indicates that the agency has been woefully inadequate at processing work permits, failing to meet the 30-day required processing time for employment authorization cards, also known as EADs, filed by asylum seekers.

By law, USCIS must process work permits (EADs) within 30 days of receipt of an asylum seekers I-765 application for employment authorization. However new data shows that USCIS has not been meeting this required timeline throughout 2022, and processing has been declining to a record low.

Data released by USCIS, as part of ongoing litigation, shows that during the last three weeks of February 2022, 93 percent of I-765 applications had been pending for at least 30 days. In March 2022, this figure plummeted to just 68 percent of I-765’s being processed within the 30 days.  Sadly, in recent months, the data shows that processing of EADs has been getting worse and worse on a monthly basis. For instance, in April of this year, this figure dropped to 41 percent of I-765 applications being processed within 30 days. In May the drop continued to just 21 percent, and in June to just 6 percent. Finally, this past month of July, the agency processed less than 5 percent of EAD applications within the required 30-day window. This trend puts on full display the asylum visa processing crisis with no end in sight.

The drop in EAD processing coincides directly with a court ruling handed down in February. USCIS appears to be clearing out the backlog by first processing work permit applications pending the longest, creating substantial delays for more recent applications for employment authorization.

The data indicates that the vast majority of applications USCIS processed over the past three months had been pending for more than 120 days (nearly 4 months).

Due to the EAD processing crisis, USCIS now faces a backlog of more than 77,000 pending work permit requests received by the agency within the past three months alone.

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In this blog post, we share with you the latest immigration updates from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.


I-589 Application for Asylum and Withholding of Removal Receipt Notice Delays


More blunders are being made at USCIS service centers. On July 28, USCIS announced delays in the issuance of receipt notices for Form I-589, Applications for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal, stating that applicants may not receive their notices in a timely manner.

With respect to the 1-year filing deadline for asylum, the filing date will still be the date that USCIS received your properly filed Form I-589 (not the date it was processed).

Applications that were not properly filed will be rejected and deficiencies will be noted in the filing. USCIS reminds applicants that if they have not received their receipt notices in a timely manner, they should not submit multiple Forms I-589, as it will result in case delays.

USCIS has provided the following reminders to help applicants determine whether their form I-589 was properly filed to prevent further delays:

  • You must submit your application for asylum within one year of arriving in the United States (one-year filing deadline), unless you can establish that there are changed circumstances that materially affect your eligibility for asylum or extraordinary circumstances directly related to your failure to file within one year.
  • You must type or print all of your answers in black ink.
  • You must provide the specific information requested about you and your family and answer all the questions on the form. If any question does not apply to you or you do not know the information requested, answer “none,” “not applicable,” or “unknown.”
  • If you file your application with missing information, we may return it to you as incomplete.

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We kick off the start of a brand new week, with exciting news for nationals of Cameroon. As you may recall, on April 15, 2022, Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas first announced the designation of Cameroon for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for a period of 18 months. Today June 6, 2022, DHS published the Federal Register notice providing further information on how individuals can register for TPS under Cameroon’s designation beginning Tuesday June 7, 2022 until December 7, 2023.


What is Temporary Protected Status?


Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is a statutorily authorized program established by the United States Congress in 1990. The program allows migrants whose home countries are considered unsafe, the right to live and work in the United States for a temporary, but extendable, period of time. Though they are not considered lawful permanent residents (green card holders) or U.S. citizens, they are authorized to live in the United States without fear of deportation under temporary protected status. Applicants may also apply for employment authorization by filing Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization with USCIS along with their application for TPS.

A country may be designated for TPS when conditions in the country fall into one or more of the three statutory bases for designation: ongoing armed conflict, environmental disasters, or extraordinary and temporary conditions.

Cameroon’s recent designation is based on both ongoing armed conflict and extraordinary and temporary conditions in Cameroon that prevent its nationals, from returning safely.


Who can apply?


Individuals eligible for TPS under this 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.

Eligible applicants must be nationals of Cameroon or a person without nationality who last habitually resided in Cameroon.

Any nationals of Cameroon who attempt to travel to the United States after April 14, 2022, will not be eligible for Temporary Protected Status.

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Welcome back to Visalawyerblog! New developments are underway by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to improve the way the agency is communicating case processing times to members of the public.

The agency recently announced new efforts to streamline information provided on its processing times webpage. For each type of immigration benefit, USCIS releases information regarding how much time it is taking the agency to process that particular application, petition, or request. Previously, processing times were estimated based on how long the agency took to approve or deny a certain percentile of forms or petitions over the prior 6-month period.

Now, USCIS has updated their webpage so that users can find the processing time information for their particular type of case, rather than seeing an aggregate of all related case types. This provides applicants with a more accurate picture of how long their particular type of case is taking to be processed.

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USCIS is about to make it a lot easier for certain noncitizens to remain employment authorized. On May 3, 2022, the agency announced a new Temporary Final Rule (TPR) that automatically extends the period of employment authorization on Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) from 180 days up to 540 total days.

The automatic extension time is counted from the expiration date of the employment authorization and/or EAD. This new regulation became effective as of yesterday, May 4, 2022, and will be in effect until October 15, 2025. Once the regulation reaches its time limit, the automatic extension will revert to 180 days.

USCIS decided to issue this new policy to prevent employment interruptions for noncitizens that have pending EAD renewal applications with the agency (Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization).


Who qualifies for the automatic extension?


The additional extension of up to 540 total days will be available only to renewal applicants who timely file a Form I-765 renewal application with USCIS from the period of May 4, 2022, to October 26, 2023, and who were previously eligible to receive the 180-day automatic extension.

For those who file their Form I-765 renewal application after October 26, 2023, the normal 180-day automatic extension period will apply.


You are eligible for the automatic extension if you:

  • Properly filed Form I-765 for a renewal of their employment authorization and/or EAD before their current EAD expired, and
  • Were otherwise eligible for a renewal, meaning that:
    • Their renewal application is under a category that is eligible for an automatic extension (see the list of categories below); and
    • The Category on their current EAD matches the “Class Requested” listed on their Form I-797C Notice of Action, Receipt Notice. (Note: If you are a Temporary Protected Status (TPS) beneficiary or pending applicant, your EAD and this Notice must contain either the A12 or C19 category, but the categories do not need to match each other. In addition, for H-4, E, and L-2 dependent spouses, an unexpired Form I-94 indicating H-4, E, or L-2 nonimmigrant status (including E-1S, E-2S, E-3S, and L-2S class of admission codes) must accompany Form I-797C when presenting proof of employment authorization to an employer for Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, purposes).

Which categories are eligible?


You must be in one of the following employment eligible categories to be eligible to receive an automatic extension of up to 540 days and your renewal application must be timely filed by October 26, 2023:

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In this blog post, we share exciting news in the world of immigration law. On March 29, 2022, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released a much-anticipated announcement explaining the actions it will take to reduce the substantial backlog, and new policy changes that will be implemented to cut down processing times significantly.

The agency has outlined 3 main initiatives that will drastically improve processing times at the USCIS level across the board.

  1. USCIS has announced that it will be setting agency-wide backlog reduction goals
  2. Expansion of Premium Processing Service to other types of immigration petitions and
  3. Improving timely access to Employment Authorization Documents (EADs)

Backlog Reduction Initiatives


USCIS will be establishing a new system of “internal cycle time goals,” which are internal metrics that the agency will now be using to help guide the reduction of the current backlog and will determine how long it will take USCIS to process immigration benefits going forward.

The agency will be making certain efforts such as increasing its capacity, implementing technological improvements, and expanding staffing to improve these “cycle times,” so that processing times will be much quicker. USCIS expects these goals to be accomplished by the end of fiscal year 2023.


Cycle times explained


USCIS has stated that publicly, it releases processing times showing the average amount of time it takes the agency to process a particular form – from when the agency received the application until a decision was made on the case.

However, USCIS has said that it also utilizes internal mechanisms to monitor the number of pending cases in the agency’s workload through a metric called “cycle times.” A cycle time measures how many months’ worth of pending cases for a particular form are awaiting a decision.

According to USCIS, cycle times are generally comparable to the agency’s publicly posted median processing times. Cycle times are what the operational divisions of USCIS use to gauge how much progress the agency is, or is not, making on reducing the backlog and overall case processing times.

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