Articles Posted in Immigrant Visas

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Welcome back to Visalawyerblog! In this blog post we share with you the latest immigration news from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).


New USCIS Policies to Improve the Immigration System


We bring you some exciting news regarding new policies adopted by USCIS that have been designed to remove the barriers to immigration and help improve the current immigration system. The following are among the new changes being implemented by USCIS:

Expedited Processing

Under a newly updated expedite criteria policy, USCIS has now expanded the types of expedite criteria or circumstances under which the adjudication of a benefit request can be expedited, including where a request is made by a nonprofit organization whose request is in the furtherance of cultural and social interests of the United States.

According to the new change:

USCIS may consider an expedite request if it meets one or more of the following criteria or circumstance:

  • Severe financial loss to a company or person, provided that the need for urgent action is not the result of the petitioner’s or applicant’s failure to:
    1. Timely file the benefit request , or
    2. Timely respond to any requests for additional evidence;
  • Emergencies and urgent humanitarian reasons;
  • Nonprofit organization (as designated by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)) whose request is in furtherance of the cultural and social interests of the United States;
  • U.S. government interests (such as urgent cases for federal agencies such as the U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Department of Labor, DHS, or other public safety or national security interests); or
  • Clear USCIS error.

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On June 4th, 2021, the interim guidance memorandum (“The Memo”) was publicly released. The reason the memo sent many, like me, into a frenzy was because of the million people currently in immigration court limbo who have just had their lives transformed by these thirteen pages.

This memo is proof the Biden Administration has set a new tone towards immigration. The memo beautifully states, “the government wins when justice is done,” reminding OPLA attorneys they should remain mindful that “immigration enforcement obligations do not consist only initiating and conduction prompt proceedings that lead to removals at any cost.” The memo provides internal direction to OPLA attorney’s regarding the following: 1. Removal Priority Cases, 2. Prosecutorial Discretion, 3. Ability to cancel NTAs, 4. Authority to Administrative closure or Continuance of Proceedings, and 5. Authority to Terminate  Proceedings.

(It is important to note this memorandum was released For Official Use Only by the Department of Homeland Security. You should seek the advice and counsel of an attorney to review your case specifically.)

  1. REMOVAL PRIORITY CASES

It is directed that OPLA attorneys prioritize agency resources in the following priority categories:

A. Noncitizens who engaged in or suspect to engage in terrorism or whose apprehension is otherwise necessary to protect the national security of the United States.

B. Noncitizens who were apprehended at the border or port of entry, while attempting to enter unlawfully into the United States after November 1, 2020.

C. Noncitizens convicted of an “aggravated felony” or convicted of an offense related to a criminal street gang and determined to pose a threat to public safety.

The memo also provides a non-exclusive list of civil immigration enforcement and removal decisions where the agency should identify any opportunities of a non-citizens process to ensure just fair and legally appropriate outcomes.

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We are excited to share with you some new updates regarding the immigrant visa backlog.

On May 25, 2021, the U.S. Department of State: Bureau of Consular Affairs, hosted a live YouTube Question and Answer session with Neal Vermillion, Division Chief at the U.S. Visa Office of the Bureau of Consular Affairs, where he discussed how Consular sections have been prioritizing cases during the phased resumption of visa services, and information about the status of the current immigrant visa backlog worldwide.

Neal Vermillion works directly with the Office of Field Operations, which is a government agency that provides guidance to Consular sections including Embassies and Consulates around the world. He has worked with the Department of State since the early 2000’s in various roles and has invaluable expertise on visa operations at Consular sections around the globe.

In this post, we will share with you the highlights of this session which you may find useful to determine the progress of your visa and what you can expect with regard to visa processing in the coming months.


DOS Q&A Session with Neal Vermillion: Immigrant Visa Backlog Q&A



Neal’s Introductory Remarks

I would first like to say a few remarks before we get to that question and the other specific ones. In terms of the history, here we are almost June 2021. Those of you that follow our immigrant visa processing overseas know, we actually shut down due to the pandemic. Visa processing shut down for several months last year at this time, and we really didn’t start the reopening process until July of last year. This is one significant factor that is leading to this backlog discussion that we are having today.

Another point I want to highlight that is another prong of why we are where we are is, you may recall, last spring as well, then President Trump signed Presidential Proclamation 10014, which President Biden rescinded in late February of this year, but that Proclamation prevented the issuance, even when we were open and our Consular sections were processing some visas, that prevented the issuance and travel of many many different types of immigrant visas.

A third prong as we’re talking about Presidential Proclamations, is … some of you may be aware, there are actually still in effect geographic Proclamations, as we call them, which basically are again Presidential Proclamations that have been issued to help protect the homeland, protect health and security.

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On behalf of our Law Office, we would like to wish you a safe and Happy Memorial Day as you spend it with your loved ones. We would like to extend a thank you to our service men and women and their families this memorial day weekend. Please check back tomorrow for continued updates on the latest news in the world of immigration.


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In this blog post, we share with our readers some exciting new updates and information on travel to the United States for Americans who have found themselves stranded abroad with expired U.S. passports.

On May 24, 2021, the Department of State issued a press release informing members of the public that U.S. Citizens currently overseas whose passports expired on or after January 1, 2020, may be able to use their expired U.S. passports to make direct return travel to the United States, provided they meet a certain set of criteria. This policy will be in effect until December 31, 2021.


What criteria do I need to meet to use my expired passport for direct travel to the United States from overseas?


If you are overseas and your passport expired on or after January 1, 2020, you may be able to use your expired passport to return directly to the United States until December 31, 2021.

You qualify for this exception if all the following are true:

  • You are a U.S. citizen.
  • You are currently abroad seeking direct return to the United States.
  • You are flying directly to the United States, a United States territory, or have only short-term transit (“connecting flights”) through a foreign country on your direct return to the United States or to a United States Territory.
  • Your expired passport was originally valid for 10 years. Or, if you were 15 years of age or younger when the passport was issued, your expired passport was valid for 5 years.
  • Your expired passport is undamaged.
  • Your expired passport is unaltered.
  • Your expired passport is in your possession.

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Welcome back to Visalawyerblog! We kick off the start of a brand-new week with an overview of the June 2021 Visa Bulletin. Follow along as we provide you with an overview of the State Department’s monthly Q&A answer session with Charlie Oppenheim, Chief of the Immigrant Visa Control and Reporting Division of the U.S. Department of State.

In this post, we summarize Charlie’s Visa Bulletin projections for the upcoming month of June 2021 and beyond.

We recommend our followers to subscribe to the State Department’s YouTube Channel to catch all of the details relating to the agency’s new monthly series on its YouTube channel.

This new series will feature a monthly Question-and-Answer session with Charles and a Consular officer, where they will answer many of the public’s frequently asked questions and provide a monthly analysis of each month’s Visa Bulletin. The 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 to VisaBulletin@state.gov ahead of the monthly session with “Chat with Charlie Question” in the subject line.

Reminder: Tomorrow, Tuesday May 25, 2021 at 1:00 p.m. ET, the Department of State will be hosting a YouTube live session relating to the visa backlog. The State Department will also be discussing how Consular sections will be prioritizing visa cases during the phased resumption of services. Make sure to subscribe to the YouTube Channel and turn your notifications on so you do not miss any of these updates.

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Welcome back to Visalawyerblog! The Department of State recently released the visa bulletin for June 2021 outlining the availability of immigrant visa numbers for the upcoming month.

Don’t forget to tune in to the next “Chats with Charlie” on the DOS YouTube Channel on May 24, 2021, at 10:00 am (PT) 1:00 pm (ET) to discuss the June Visa Bulletin. Questions about the June 2021 Visa Bulletin can be emailed to VisaBulletin@state.gov ahead of the event with “Chat with Charlie Question” in the subject line.


NOTE: Adjustment of Status Filing Charts June 2021


For Family-Sponsored Filings:

Per USCIS, applicants falling within the F2A category, may use the Final Action Dates Chart in the Department of State Visa Bulletin for June 2021. While there is a cutoff date on the Dates for Filing chart, the category is “current” on the Final Action Dates chart, allowing F2A applicants to rely on it.

All other family-sponsored preference categories (other than F2A), must use the Dates for Filing chart in the Department of State Visa Bulletin for June 2021.

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 June 2021.

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Welcome back to Visalawerblog! It is another exciting week in the world of immigration. In this blog post, we talk about a new Presidential Proclamation signed on May 14, 2021, by President Biden entitled, “A Proclamation on Revoking Proclamation 9945,” designed to revoke a previously issued Trump era proclamation.


Proclamation 9945


As our readers may recall, back on October 4, 2019, then President Donald Trump passed Proclamation 9945, with the goal of suspending the entry of immigrants found to be a financial burden on the United States health care system. Proclamation 9945 went into effect on November 3, 2019, and required immigrant visa applicants to show to the satisfaction of a Consular officer, that either:

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In its continued efforts to improve communications with the public regarding the status of visa operations worldwide, the Department of State recently provided new insights regarding Immigrant Visa Prioritization at Consular posts overseas.

To reduce the immigrant visa backlog, the Department has announced the adoption of a new four-tiered approach that is designed to triage the processing of immigrant visa applications according to prioritization standards set by U.S. Congress. Such standards will ensure prioritized visa processing for certain categories of immigrant visa applicants, while posts prepare to resume and expand visa processing as local conditions improve.

Prioritization of immigrant visas will begin with a first tier including prioritization of immigrant visas for immediate relative intercountry adoption visas, age-out cases (cases where the applicant will soon no longer qualify due to their age), and certain Special Immigrant Visas (SQ and SI for Afghan and Iraqi nationals working with the U.S. government).

The second tier will include prioritization of immigrant visas for immediate relatives, fiancé(e) visas, and returning resident visas.

While the third tier will prioritize immigrant visas for family preference immigrant visas and SE Special Immigrant Visas for certain employees of the U.S. government abroad.

Finally, the fourth tier will prioritize immigrant visa processing for all other immigrant visas, including employment preference and diversity visas.

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Welcome back to Visalawyerblog! It is the start of a brand new and exciting week in the world of immigration. In this post, we bring you the latest immigration updates from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs.

In a recent post on their Facebook page, the Bureau published a Frequently Asked Questions guide addressing the Immigrant Visa Backlog, including information about what Consulates are doing to help reduce the backlogs, and helpful information for K-1 visa applicants, Diversity Visa lottery applicants, and interview scheduling for employment-based applicants.

Want to know more? Check out the Q & A below:

 


Frequently Asked Questions Regarding the Immigrant Visa Backlog


Q: Why are there still immigrant visa interview backlogs?

A: Our number one priority is the safety of our applicants and our staff. The IV (Immigrant Visa) interview backlog has developed because of limitations in staffing and other COVID-related operational constraints preventing us from processing the same volume of applicants as pre-pandemic. In addition, Presidential Proclamation 10014 and geographic COVID proclamations restricted visa processing for many immigrants for nearly a year; it will take time to process the cases that were impacted by these travel restrictions.

Q: What are you doing to decrease the backlog?

A: We are committed to decreasing this backlog by prioritizing certain visas, creating efficiencies in the visa process, and utilizing all available resources until our task is accomplished. Applicants should check the website of their nearest U.S. embassy or consulate for updates on what visa services are currently available.

Q: Are virtual/Zoom interviews available for Immigrant Visa applicants?

A: No. Current regulations require all immigrant visa applicants to appear in person before a consular officer.

Q: I live near a U.S. Consulate, but they do not process Immigrant Visas at that particular location and therefore I am forced to travel a long distance to appear for my interview. Why don’t you process IV interviews at every U.S. Embassy/Consulate?

A: As the best use of limited U.S. government resources, immigrant visa processing is consolidated in certain embassies and consulates. The Department of State continuously reviews the services we provide to best balance our service standards with efficient use of resources.

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