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Articles Posted in Immigrant Visas

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Happy Friday! Welcome back to Visalawyerblog! In this blog post, we bring you a recent success story and share with you how our office was able to expedite our client’s fiancé visa to help him reunite with his U.S. Citizen fiancé, despite the suspension of routine visa services at the U.S. Consulate in Mumbai, India.

As you may recall, during March of last year, in an unprecedented move, the Department of State made the decision to suspend all routine visa services at U.S. Embassies and Consulates worldwide, in response to significant worldwide challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thereafter in July of 2020, U.S. Embassies and Consulates began a phased resumption of routine visa services, but only on a post-by-post basis as resources and local conditions would allow.

In reality routine visa services at the majority of U.S. Embassies and Consulates have remained suspended with posts granting appointments only for emergency and mission-critical services.

Due to these visa suspensions, K visa applicants have been unable to proceed with visa issuance, with many applications sitting idle at the National Visa Center (NVC) waiting to be forwarded to the local Consulate for interview scheduling.

Most recently K visa applicants expressed their frustrations by filing a class action lawsuit known as Milligan v. Pompeo in an effort to force visa interview scheduling.

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Welcome back to Visalawyerblog! In this blog post, we provide you with the most recent immigration updates from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).


New Process to Extend Validity of Green Cards (Pending I-90’s)


On January 12, 2021 USCIS announced a new policy that will discontinue the agency’s prior practice of placing a sticker on currently issued permanent resident cards to extend their validity (also known as Form I-551, Permanent Resident Card or “Green Card.”)

Starting in January, USCIS will replace the sticker with a revised Form I-797, Notice of Action, that will automatically extend the resident’s green card validity, as part of the I-90 green card renewal application process

When presented together with the Green Card, the revised Form I-797 will extend the Green Card’s validity for 12 months from the date on the front of the Green Card, and also serve as temporary proof of the LPR’s status in the country.

This change was made to ensure that LPRs with a recently expired Green Card will have documentation of identity, employment authorization, and authorization to return to the United States following any temporary foreign travel.

Biometrics Appointments

Form I-90 applicants who have not been issued a notice for a biometrics appointment and are in possession of their Green Card, will no longer have to visit an application support center (ASC) to obtain temporary evidence of LPR status.

Applicants who have already been scheduled for a biometrics appointment will not receive a revised notice and will be issued an extension sticker at their biometrics appointment.

January I-90 Applicants

Starting in January, applicants who file Form I-90 to replace an expiring Green Card will receive the revised receipt notice in the mail approximately 7-10 days after USCIS accepts their application.

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Welcome back to Visalawyerblog! We kick off the start of the week with some important updates.

For the past few months, our followers have raised concerns regarding substantial delays they have been experiencing waiting for their receipt notices to arrive in the mail for applications and petitions filed at USCIS lockboxes.

On January 8, 2021, USCIS announced that the agency has indeed been overcome with delays caused by the pandemic and other factors, that has resulted in the delayed issuance of receipt notices for at least some applications and petitions filed at USCIS lockbox facilities.

USCIS lockbox facilities are located in Chicago, Phoenix, Lewisville, and Dallas.

For a list of forms processed at USCIS Lockbox Facilities click here.


What is happening?

Several factors including COVID-19 related restrictions, increases in filings, current postal service volume, and other factors, have caused applicants and petitioners to wait 4-6 weeks on average (after properly filing an application or petition with a USCIS lockbox) to receive a receipt notice in the mail.

USCIS has announced that these delays do not affect the date of receipt of your application. Applicants should be aware that delays vary depending on the type of form submitted and the lockbox location. Cases which are most affected by the delays include non-family based Form I-485 Applications to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, and Form I-765 Applications for Employment Authorization based on eligibility categories relating to F-1 students.


How is USCIS working to improve these delays?

The agency continues to take all necessary COVID-19 related precautions including social distancing and frequent cleaning to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

To help alleviate the workload, USCIS lockbox personnel are working extra hours and redistributing their workload to reduce these delays.

As soon as an application is opened and processed, the agency is printing and mailing receipt notices to the mailing address on file.

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Welcome back to Visalawyerblog! Happy New Year to all of our readers. We hope that you had a relaxing holiday with your loved ones. We look forward to providing you with the latest updates on immigration as we soon enter the Biden administration on January 20th.

Although Biden’s inauguration looms on the horizon, the Trump administration continues to make last minute efforts to derail the issuance of visa applications for thousands of green card applicants residing abroad.

On New Year’s Eve, President Trump signed a new proclamation extending the enforcement of his previously issued April 22nd Proclamation 10014 entitled, “Suspension of Entry of Immigrants Who Present a Risk to the United States Labor Market During the Economic Recovery Following the 2019 Novel Coronavirus Outbreak,” as well as Proclamation 10052 issued on June 22, 2020.

The new proclamation extends the enforcement of these previously issued Proclamations until March 31, 2021. 


P.P. 10014 Overview

As you may recall the April 22nd Proclamation (10014) imposed a 60-day ban on the issuance of visas at U.S. Consulates and Embassies abroad and limited the entry of certain classes of aliens beginning April 23, 2020 and terminating on June 22, 2020.

Pursuant to P.P. 10014, the entry of the following aliens was suspended and limited until June 22, 2020:

  • Aliens outside of the United States on the effective date of the Proclamation (April 23)
  • Aliens without an immigrant visa that was valid on the effective date of the Proclamation (April 23rd) and
  • Aliens who did not have an official travel document other than a visa on the effective date of the proclamation (April 23rd) or issued on any date thereafter that permitted him or her to travel to the United States and seek entry or admission

The order did not apply to the following classes of aliens:

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Welcome back to Visalaywerblog! We kick off the start of a brand new week with the release of a very interesting Question and Answer session recently published by the Department of State.

This Question and Answer session took place on December 11, 2020, by and between the Department of State and the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA)’s Department Liaison Committee.

The Question and Answer session addressed a broad range of visa-related questions including burning questions regarding the phased reopening of Consulates and Embassies worldwide, national interest exception procedures, expansion of visa interview waivers, information regarding visa cancellations, MRV validity, the treatment of IV applications with approved I-601A Provisional Waivers, expired immigrant visas, pandemic related delays in obtaining documents for Consular related requests, and much more.

We have rounded up the most interesting questions and responses in this post. To read the government’s complete responses to questions asked, please click here.


Phased Reopening of Routine Visa Services


Q: It is AILA’s understanding that consular posts will reopen in phases based on the following Diplomacy Strong Framework included in Appendix A.

Please confirm:

  • Are the phases and priorities listed in Appendix A still accurate, or have there been any modifications to the Diplomacy Strong framework?
  • Are the phases in Diplomacy Strong standard across posts or are they merely guidelines within which posts have some flexibility in terms of setting priorities?
  • Please confirm whether a post will always be at the same phase for both IV and NIV processing, or whether it may be at a certain phase for IV processing and a different phase for NIV processing (e.g., If Sydney is at phase 3 for IV services, must it also be at phase 3 for NIV services?).
  • While we see references to Diplomacy Strong on a variety of post websites, it is not clear what phase the post is operating under. Would DOS advise posts to share their current operating phase on their websites in order to better inform the public of what they are prioritizing?

A: Although phased reopening of routine visa services originally corresponded with phases of Diplomacy Strong, posts were instructed on November 12 that they are no longer obligated to be in a specific Diplomacy Strong phase before providing additional categories of visa services.

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Welcome back to Visalawyerblog! In this blog post, we celebrate a Nigerian national’s recent visa success story and share with you how our office was able to expedite his immigrant visa (CR-1) to help him reunite with his U.S Citizen spouse in the United States, despite the implementation of Presidential Proclamation 9983 which suspends the entry of Nigerian nationals into the United States.

We recognize that these are truly challenging times in the world of immigration and would like our readers to know that they are not alone. For many, there are alternatives and solutions that can be explored by our knowledgeable immigration attorneys to help them reunite with their family members. From our staff members to our attorneys, we are with you every step of the way on your immigration journey.

For a comprehensive consultation to discuss solutions to your immigration issues, you may contact us at 619-819-9204. 


Suspension of Routine Visa Services Continues at Most Consulates Worldwide

As our readers will know, the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has made it extremely difficult for immigrants residing abroad to secure appointments for visa interviews at U.S. Consular posts and Embassies worldwide.

While some Consulates and U.S. Embassies have resumed routine visa services, these are very few and far in between. At the moment, routine visa services are only available on a “post-by-post” basis as individual country conditions permit operations to return to normalcy. For the most part, Consulates and Embassies have not been able to provide specific dates regarding when each post will completely resume routine visa services. This has left many immigrants in a state of uncertainty during what is already a very difficult time in our history. Many family members remain apart for extended periods of time with no end in sight.

Despite these limitations however, Consulates and Embassies are continuing to accommodate emergency and expedite requests for applicants with urgent matters who need to travel immediately. Where an applicant has been documentarily qualified by the National Visa Center, a U.S. Citizen petitioner may submit a request with the NVC to expedite the consular interview based on extreme hardship to the U.S. Citizen. Extreme hardship to a U.S. Citizen spouse can be demonstrated in several ways including where the USC is suffering from a disability, severe medical and/or psychological condition, as well as other unique circumstances.

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Welcome back to Visalaywerblog! In this blog post we share with you an interesting new piece of legislation that will have a profound impact on the visa quota system for family-based and employment sponsored immigration.

The Fairness for High Skilled Immigrants Act (S. 386) was unanimously passed by the U.S. Senate on December 2, 2020 and sent back to the House of Representatives for approval.

At its core, the bill seeks to eliminate per-country numerical limitations for employment-based immigrants and increase per-country numerical limitations for family-sponsored immigrants.

Previously, the House of Representatives had passed its own version of the bill, but it has since been amended substantially by the Senate.

Amendments were added to Sections 8 and 9 of the bill. These changes are in addition to those amendments previously introduced by Senator Grassley on H-1B visas, Senator Perdue creating a set aside for Schedule A health care professionals and their family members, and Senator Durbin’s amendments which include a delayed effective date of the bill, transition periods for EB-2 and EB-3 immigrants, early adjustment filing provisions, and an age out protection for children.


What does the December 2020 version of this bill look like?

Among its major provisions are the following.

Green card reforms:

  • The bill would phase out employment-based per county limits on green cards: The main purpose of the legislation is to treat all employment-based immigrant visa applicants on a first-come, first-served basis without regard to birthplace. Under current law, immigrants from no single birthplace can receive more than 7% of the total number of immigrant visas or green cards issued in a year unless they would otherwise go unused. The effect of this provision is that while Indians are half the skilled employer-sponsored applicants, they receive just 10 percent of those green cards and—as a result—are nearly 90 percent of the backlogged applicants.
  • The bill would provide for an 11-year phase out period: The bill’s green card changes would take effect on October 1, 2022. For the EB-2 and EB-3 categories for non-executive level employees of U.S. businesses, the bill guarantees immigrants which are not from the top two origin countries (India and China) a certain percentage of the green cards for 9 years: year 1 (30%), year 2 (25%), year 3 (20%), year 4 (15%), years 5 and 6 (10%), and years 7 through 9 (5%). No more than 25 percent of these “reserved” green cards can go to immigrants from any single country. No more than 85 percent of the other “unreserved” green cards can go to a single country (India). In addition, a minimum of 5.75% of all EB-2 or EB-3 green cards will go to immigrants from these non-top 2 countries for 9 years prioritizing spouses and minor children of immigrants already in the United States and immigrants awaiting visas abroad.

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Welcome back to Visalawyerblog! We kick off the start of the weekend with some exciting news for K-1 visa petitioners and their foreign fiancés. Yesterday, November 19, 2020, a federal judge from the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issued a decision finding that the government acted unlawfully in suspending visa issuance for K visa beneficiaries subject to the Coronavirus Presidential Proclamations. See Daniel Milligan, et al., v. Michael Pompeo et al.

The plaintiffs in this case – 153 U.S. Citizens and their foreign fiancés – brought suit against the United States government challenging a series of Coronavirus proclamations passed by President Trump that prohibit certain foreign fiancés from receiving their K-1 visas and entering the United States. Such K visa applicants who have been impacted by these Coronavirus Proclamations include those who have been physically present in the Schengen countries, the United Kingdom, Ireland, China, Brazil, and Iran, within the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry to the United States. As you may be aware, U.S. Consulates and Embassies worldwide have refused to process visas for this class of immigrants because of these Coronavirus proclamations. The issue has now been settled – the government may not stop visa processing simply because these individuals are subject to these proclamations.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit also include couples who have been kept apart during the Coronavirus pandemic due to the State Department’s protracted delays in visa processing and Consular refusal to schedule visa interviews worldwide due to the pandemic.


Plaintiffs Arguments 

In their suit, the plaintiffs requested a preliminary injunction to immediately stop the State Department’s visa processing suspension based on two arguments (1) the State Department has unreasonably delayed visa processing for K visa applicants not subject to the COVID proclamations and (2) the State Department has unlawfully stopped visa processing for K visa applicants subject to the COVID proclamations.

Since the start of the pandemic, the majority of K visa applications have been stuck at the National Visa Center awaiting transfer to the Embassy or Consulate for visa scheduling. Still others have completed the interview process and have been awaiting K visa issuance for months on end with no reassurance from the Consulate regarding visa issuance in the near future.

The central issue for the court to resolve was whether the plaintiffs in the case met their burden of proof to demonstrate a likelihood of success with respect to their arguments.

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Welcome back to Visalawerblog! In this post, we discuss the newly released visa bulletin for November 2020 which outlines the availability of immigrant visa numbers for family-sponsored and employment-based preference categories.

Impact of April 22nd Presidential Proclamation

As a preliminary matter, we would like to remind our readers that presidential proclamation 10014 signed into law on April 22, 2020, temporarily suspends the entry and issuance of immigrant visas at U.S. Consulates and Embassies worldwide for the following types of immigrants until December 31, 2020.

*Note: Applicants residing in the United States are unaffected by P.P. 10014 and may apply for adjustment of status with USCIS provided their priority date is current on the visa bulletin.

  • Spouses and children of green card holders (US citizens are not affected) applying at the consulate
  • Parents of US citizens applying at the consulate
  • Brothers and sisters of US citizens applying at the consulate
  • Sons and daughters (over 21 years of age) of US citizens applying at the consulate (children under 21 years of age of US citizens are not affected)
  • Sons and daughters (over 21 years of age) of green card holders applying at the consulate
  • EB1A extraordinary abilities and their family applying at the consulate
  • PERM EB2 employment based (NIW is not affected) and their family applying at the consulate
  • PERM EB3 employment based and their family applying at the consulate
  • EB4 religious workers immigrants applying at the consulate

Unfortunately, this proclamation applies to the majority of family-sponsored preference categories which means that U.S. Consulates and Embassies worldwide will not issue visas to these individuals until the visa ban is lifted after December 31, 2020.

It is possible that President Trump may choose to extend the proclamation beyond December 31, 2020 if he finds it necessary. However it is unlikely to remain in effect after Joe Biden becomes President on January 20, 2021.


Suspension of Routine Visa Services Continues

As an additional note, although spouses and minor children of U.S. Citizens applying for immigrant visas at the Consulate are not impacted by P.P. 10014, the majority of Consulates and Embassies nationwide have suspended routine visa services until further notice. Applicants with emergencies or urgent travel needs may request expedited visa processing with the National Visa Center. We strongly encourage applicants to obtain legal assistance to help expedite visa interviews where the applicant can demonstrate extreme hardship to the U.S. Citizen relative.


Other Visa Bans May Apply 

Certain immigrant visa applicants who are not impacted by P.P. 10014, may still be impacted by other presidential proclamations restricting visa issuance and travel to the United States.

For instance, beginning January 2020 the President issues a series of Coronavirus proclamations, which similarly restrict and suspend the entry into the United States, of immigrants and nonimmigrants, who were physically present within the Schengen Area, Brazil, China, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Iran, during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States.

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Welcome back to Visalawyerblog! We are very pleased to celebrate yet another client success story.

This time our office was able to expedite a client’s fiancé visa to help her reunite with her partner despite being subject to Presidential Proclamation 9993 also known as the “Schengen” visa ban.

We recognize that these are truly challenging times in the world of immigration and would like our readers to know that they are not alone. For many, there are alternatives and solutions that can be explored by our knowledgeable immigration attorneys to help them reunite with their family members. From our staff members to our attorneys, we are with you every step of the way on your immigration journey.

For a comprehensive consultation to discuss solutions to your immigration issues, you may contact us at 619-569-1768.


The Schengen Visa Ban

With the ongoing coronavirus pandemic fiancé visa applicants have found it increasingly difficult to receive a visa interview appointment at consulates and embassies across the globe. During the start of the pandemic, the Department of State announced widespread consular closures to prevent the rapid spread of the coronavirus. While phased resumption of visa services was scheduled to begin on July 14, 2020 with “high priority” given to K visa applicants, the majority of consulates and embassies have refused to schedule visa appointments. The result has been that fiancé visa cases have been stuck at the National Visa Center with no guarantee of receiving an appointment in the future.

To make matters worse, during the month of March, the President signed a series of coronavirus proclamations designed to limit immigration from certain countries in order to keep the virus at bay.

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