Articles Posted in Immigrant Visas

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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 cover the release of the September Visa Bulletin 2022 and what you can expect for employment based and family preference categories during the upcoming month of September.

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 September 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 September 2022.

For Employment-Based Preference Filings:

All applicants, falling under employment-based preference categories, must use the Final Action Dates chart in the Department of State Visa Bulletin for September 2022.


September 2022 Visa Bulletin Final Action Cutoff Dates


Employment-Based Categories


FINAL ACTION DATES FOR EMPLOYMENT-BASED PREFERENCE CASES

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

  • EB-1: All countries, including India and China, will remain current.
  • EB-2: India remains unchanged at December 1, 2014, and China remains unchanged at April 1, 2019. All other countries will remain current.
  • EB-3 Professionals and Skilled Workers: EB-3 India and EB-3 China will remain unchanged from the previous month, at February 15, 2012 and April 22, 2018, respectively. All other countries will remain current.
  • EB3 Other Workers: For this category, the Department of State has established a worldwide cutoff date of May 8, 2019, to avoid exceeding the annual numerical limits. EB-3 India and China will remain unchanged at February 15, 2012 and June 1, 2012, respectively.
  • EB-5: The Department of State has taken corrective action by establishing a Final Action cutoff date which has advanced by one month to December 22, 2015, for the EB-5 China Unreserved Non-Regional Center (C5, T5, I5, and R5) categories. EB-5 Final Action dates will remain current for all countries and for all EB-5 “Set-Aside” categories (Rural, High Unemployment, and Infrastructure).

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It is not every day that one of our very own paralegals is honored for her work in immigration law, helping provide a voice to those who do not speak the English language. It is with great pride that we celebrate Kely Martell, for her recent feature in the American Bar Association’s Commission on Immigration (COI), profiling her work as an interpreter volunteer.

Ms. Kely Martell works as a case manager in the business department of our law office, but what you may not know is that for the past year and a half, she has also been dedicating her time as a volunteer Spanish language interpreter and translator for the Immigration Justice Project (IJP). There, she has been working closely with attorneys on pro bono defensive asylum cases, helping reduce barriers to justice for the most vulnerable members of our society.

Growing up in Lima, Peru, Kely immigrated to the United States at a young age with no knowledge of the English language. These struggles shaped her early interest in immigration law and her desire to make a difference in the lives of others. At the height of the asylum crisis when thousands of migrant caravans made their way to the United States, Kely was inspired to action and decided to volunteer as an interpreter for several immigration organizations. She immediately made a positive impression for going beyond what was expected of her, not only helping clients understand their legal rights, but also helping clients and their families navigate the complex intricacies of the immigrant detention system. She displayed an extraordinary commitment to handling these complexities with ease.

Kely first became involved with the ABA’s Immigration Justice Project after reaching out to Senior Staff Attorney and Pro Bono Coordinator Ambreen Walji and the rest was history. She describes her experience working for the Immigration Justice Project as being truly rewarding because of the opportunity she has helping detained immigrants on a day-to-day basis, which are some of the most underserved individuals that are most in need of translator services. Continue reading

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Welcome back to Visalawyerblog! In this post, we bring you the latest 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 these new updates?


USCIS RFE/NOID Flexibility Continued for Responses to Agency Requests


USCIS has 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.

Today, Monday, July 25, 2022, USCIS made the announcement that it will continue to grant 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 October 23, 2022. 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 October 23, 2022 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.

In addition, USCIS will consider a Form I-290B, Notice of Appeal or Motion or Form N-336, Request for a Hearing on a Decision in Naturalization Proceedings, if:

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Former President Donald Trump’s legacy continues to leave a lasting mark on U.S. immigration policy. On July 21, 2022, the conservative leaning Supreme Court blocked the Biden administration from implementing a new immigration policy that would prioritize deportation for those residing in the country illegally who pose the greatest public safety risk. At least for now that means the Biden administration’s measure will be halted.

The Supreme Court justices were almost nearly split in their decision. In a 5-4 vote, the decision stated that Justices Barrett, Sotomayor, Kagan, and Jackson would have allowed the Biden administration to pursue the policy.

The decision sets the stage for arguments in the case United States, et al. v. Texas, et al. to begin in late November.


Why the decision?


The Supreme Court’s decision was made in response to the Biden administration’s emergency request for the court to settle once and for all the legality of enforcing the policy after conflicting decisions were made by federal appellate courts. In September of last year, the Biden administration had implemented a policy calling for a pause to deportation unless individuals had committed acts of terrorism, espionage, or were egregious threats to public safety.

This directive prompted a flurry of lawsuits by Arizona, Ohio, and Montana, and a separate lawsuit by the state of Texas and Louisiana.

Texas and Louisiana argued that the Biden administration had violated federal law by halting the detention of people in the U.S. illegally convicted of serious crimes. The states also argued that they would be burdened by the administration’s decision because they would need to set in to detain such individuals.

For more information about this decision please click here.

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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 ability seeking 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.

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In this blog post, we share with you new developments related to immigration law.


Uniting for Ukraine: USCIS Extends Completion of Medical Screening & Attestation Within 90 Days of Arrival to the United States 


Effective immediately, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that it will extend the amount of time that beneficiaries paroled into the United States under the “Uniting for Ukraine” program must comply with the medical screening and attestation requirements for required vaccinations such as tuberculosis and COVID-19. Previously, parolees were required to complete the medical screening and attestation requirements within 14 days of their arrival to the United States.

Now, Uniting for Ukraine parolees will be given 90 days from the date of their arrival to the United States to fulfill the attestation requirement, which is one of the conditions of being granted parole. The attestation can be completed in the beneficiary’s USCIS online account. USCIS notes that beneficiaries are responsible for arranging to have their vaccinations and medical screening for tuberculosis, including an Interferon-Gamma Release Assay (IGRA) blood test.

Those who test positive for tuberculosis, may be subject to additional procedures such as undergoing additional screening (a chest radiograph, isolation, and treatment if applicable).

Beneficiaries will also be required to complete the tuberculosis screening attestation for their minor children within 90 days of arrival to the United States, even if the child is under the age of 2 years old and qualifies for an exception to the tuberculosis test screening.

For more information and resources, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Uniting for Ukraine: Information for TB Programs page.

For more information about the Uniting for Ukraine program please click here.

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Have you ever wondered: can I apply for a visa to the U.S., as a musician from a foreign country, a major social media influencer, or a serious business entrepreneur with recognition in the major media, with features in Vogue Magazine, YouTube, and Oprah Winfrey’s Supersoul Class?

In this blog post, we share with you how our office was able to prove how these different types of extraordinary individuals qualified for the O1 Visa category, resulting in victories for these clients. We also describe how we were able to accomplish these objectives, by presenting an abundance of documentary evidence to help these individuals prove their extraordinary abilities in arts and business.


An Overview: What are the O1-A and O1B Visa Requirements?


Commonly referred to as the “artist” visa or “athlete” visa, we must first discuss the general requirements to qualify for the O1 visa.

An O1-A visa petition must demonstrate the applicant is an individual of extraordinary ability in the areas of business, science, education, and athletics, with supporting documentation showing receipt of a major internationally recognized award, like a Nobel Prize. However, if the applicant has not received such an award, the applicant must prove they meet at least three of the following criteria:

  • Receipt of lesser nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in the field.
  • Membership in associations in the field that require outstanding achievements of their members, as judged by recognized experts in the field.
  • Evidence of authorship of scholarly articles in the field, in professional journals, or other major media.
  • Published material in professional or major trade publications or major media about applicant’s work.
  • Evidence of participation on a panel, or individually, as the judge of the work of others in the field.
  • Evidence in the form of five or six letters and affidavits from prominent colleagues who can confirm applicant’s original scientific or scholarly contributions of major significance to the field. Certain regulations require a “peer group” must attest to the applicant’s outstanding qualifications. We have found that this requirement may be fulfilled by letters of recommendation in which the referees outline their own standing in the field.
  • Evidence of employment in a critical or essential capacity for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation.
  • Evidence of commanding a high salary or other compensation for services (this category does not usually apply to academic positions).

Similarly, an O1-B visa petition must demonstrate the applicant is an individual who can prove extraordinary achievement in the areas of art, television, and film. If the applicant has received an internationally recognized award like an Oscar or Grammy, then the applicant will qualify for the O1-B visa. However, if the applicant has not received such award, then the applicant must prove they have at least three of the following:

  • Evidence that the beneficiary has performed, and will perform, services as a lead or starring participant in productions or events that have a distinguished reputation, as evidenced by critical reviews, advertisements, publicity releases, publications, contracts, or endorsements.
  • Evidence that the beneficiary has achieved national or international recognition for achievements, as evidenced by critical reviews or other published materials by or about the beneficiary in major newspapers, trade journals, magazines, or other publications;
  • Evidence that the beneficiary has performed, and will perform, in a lead, starring, or critical role for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation, as evidenced by articles in newspapers, trade journals, publications, or testimonials;
  • Evidence that the beneficiary has a record of major commercial or critically acclaimed successes, as evidenced by such indicators as title, rating, standing in the field, box office receipts, motion pictures or television ratings, and other occupational achievements reported in trade journals, major newspapers, or other publications;
  • Evidence that the beneficiary has received significant recognition for achievements from organizations, critics, government agencies, or other recognized experts in the field in which the beneficiary is engaged. Such testimonials must be in a form which clearly indicates the author’s authority, expertise, and knowledge of the beneficiary’s achievements; or
  • Evidence that the beneficiary has either commanded a high salary or will command a high salary or other substantial remuneration for services in relation to others in the field, as evidenced by contracts or other reliable evidence

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On behalf of our Law Office, we would like to wish you and your family a very happy Fourth of July. We hope that you have a relaxing holiday weekend with your loved ones. We look forward to providing you with more immigration updates in the coming week.

For those who are U.S. Citizens, let us know, what makes you proud to be an American? What are you most grateful for?

For those who are not yet Americans, what is your American dream? Let us know in the comments below.

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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.