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Welcome back to Visalawyerblog! In this blog post, we celebrate a client’s recent success story and share with you how our office was able to successfully obtain an O-1A visa approval for a jiu jitsu athlete of extraordinary ability.

First, let’s go over the O-1A visa process for individuals of extraordinary ability.

The O-1A is a perfect fit for those who can demonstrate a sustained level of national or international acclaim, as well as recognition for achievements received in their field of expertise. An O-1A applicant must demonstrate that he or she is one of a small percentage of individuals who has risen to the very top of his or her field, and that he or she will work in an area of extraordinary ability.

It is important to note that an O-1A applicant may not self-petition for their visa. A valid employer-employee relationship must exist, and the employer must petition for the applicant’s visa by filing Form I-129 with USCIS. Alternatively, a U.S. agent may file as a petitioner for an O-1 beneficiary if they are the actual employer of the beneficiary, the representative of both the employer or beneficiary, or authorized by the employer to act in place of the employer as its agent.

In general, three of eight criteria must be satisfied to successfully obtain an O-1A visa.

These criteria are as follows:

(1) Documentation of the alien’s receipt of nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in the field of endeavor;

(2) Documentation of the alien’s membership in associations in the field for which classification is sought, which require outstanding achievements of their members, as judged by recognized national or international experts in their disciplines or fields;

(3) Published material in professional or major trade publications or major media about the alien, relating to the alien’s work in the field for which classification is sought, which shall include the title, date, and author of such published material, and any necessary translation;

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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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On November 13, 2020, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced important revisions to the civics examination component of the naturalization test.

Unfortunately, these changes will make it more difficult for at least some immigrants to successfully become U.S. Citizens.

As you may be aware the naturalization test consists of two components. The first is English proficiency – applicants must demonstrate English language proficiency as determined by their ability to read, write, speak and understand English. The second requirement is the civics examination – an oral examination requiring applicants to demonstrate knowledge of U.S. history and government.

As part of the civics examination a USCIS Officer asks the applicant up to 10 of 100 possible civics questions. To successfully pass the examination applicants are required to answer 6 out of 10 questions correctly.

With the new revisions applying to applications filed on or after December 1, 2020, USCIS will increase the number of civics test questions that will be asked from 10 to 20 and applicants will be required to answer 12 questions (instead of 6) correctly in order to pass.


What exactly do the new changes include?

The USCIS policy alert published on November 13, 2020 entitled “Civics Educational Requirement for Purposes of Naturalization,” outlines the changes that will be made to the naturalization civics examination beginning December 1, 2020.

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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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Welcome back to Visalawyerblog! Happy Friday. In this post we bring you very important yet unfortunate news regarding ongoing litigation in the fight to invalidate the public charge rule known as “Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds.”

As we previously reported, on November 2, 2020, a federal judge from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, issued a ruling in the case Cook County Illinois et al. v. Chad Wolf et al. which immediately set aside the public charge rule. The judge’s ruling allowed applicants to proceed with adjustment of status filings without having to include Form I-944 Declaration of Self-Sufficiency.

Now things have changed.

In a stunning rebuke of the lower court’s decision, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has put the public charge rule back in place. As a result, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) may continue to enforce the public charge rule as before.

What did the appellate court decide?

On November 4, 2020, the appellate court placed an “administrative stay” on the November 2nd decision stopping the lower court from invalidating the public charge rule.

What does this mean for applicants for adjustment of status?

As a result of this decision, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) may continue to implement the public charge rule until another order of the Seventh Circuit or another court states otherwise.

Accordingly, all applicants for adjustment of status must include Form I-944 Declaration of Self-Sufficiency as well as all appropriate fees and supporting documentation.

What does this mean for employers and foreign nationals?

Until further notice, adjustment of status applications and nonimmigrant extension and change of status applications must continue to be submitted with public charge forms and documentation.

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Happy Monday! Welcome back to Visalawyerblog. We kick off the start of a brand-new week with an important court ruling, decided today, that invalidates the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) final rule entitled “Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds,” also known as “the public charge,” rule. With this new ruling, the public charge rule has been officially set-aside effective immediately.

As you may recall since October of 2019 the state of Illinois has been involved in a contentious legal battle with DHS over the legality of the public charge rule. In October of last year, a federal court granted residents of Illinois a preliminary injunction temporarily stopping the government from enforcing the public charge rule on its residents. The government thereafter appealed the decision and filed a motion to dismiss Illinois’ lawsuit which was promptly denied.

The Seventh Circuit court later affirmed the issuance of the preliminary injunction holding that the public charge rule was substantively and procedurally invalid under the APA, and the issuance of the injunction was appropriate to stop the government from enforcing the rule.

With the support of the Seventh Circuit, the plaintiffs filed a motion to vacate or “set aside” the public charge rule once and for all in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. See Cook County Illinois et al. v. Chad Wolf et al.

Today, November 2, 2020, federal judge Gary Feinerman ruled in favor of the plaintiffs vacating the public charge rule effective immediately.

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Happy Wednesday! Welcome back to Visalawyerblog. In this post, we share some exciting news for beneficiaries of Temporary Protected Status (TPS), who initially entered the country without inspection or admission, but later received TPS, and are now seeking to apply for adjustment of status to lawful permanent residence.

Yesterday, October 27, 2020, a three-judge panel of circuit judges from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, handed down a ruling in the case, Leymis Velasquez, et al v. William P. Barr, et al. This lawsuit was brought by plaintiffs Leymis Carolina Velasquez and Sandra Ortiz – two beneficiaries of Temporary Protected Status who were denied adjustment of status due to their initial unlawful entry into the United States.

The plaintiffs initially filed lawsuits against the United States government in federal district court and lost their cases, because the lower courts held that TPS recipients must be “inspected and admitted” in order to adjust their status to permanent residence. Because these plaintiffs initially entered the country without lawful inspection, they were deemed ineligible for adjustment of status, and their green card applications were subsequently denied by USCIS.

The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) quickly mobilized and filed an appeal before the three-judge panel to settle once and for all the central issue in the case – whether a noncitizen who entered the country without inspection or admission, but later received TPS may adjust his or her status to lawful permanent residence, when the I-485 application requires the noncitizen to have been “inspected and admitted” into the United States.

The three-judge panel ultimately handed a victory to the plaintiffs finding that TPS beneficiaries may adjust their status to lawful permanent residence, despite having initially entered the country without inspection or admission, based on the applicant’s subsequent TPS status.

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Happy Monday! Welcome back to Visalawyerblog. We kick off the start of a brand-new week with very exciting news about the upcoming Diversity Visa lottery.

On October 7, 2020 the State Department opened its online electronic registration portal for the 2022 Diversity Visa lottery program (DV-2022).

The online registration period for the DV-2022 Program began on Wednesday, October 7, 2020 at 12:00 noon, Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) (GMT-4), and will conclude on Tuesday, November 10, 2020 at 12:00 noon, Eastern Standard Time (EST) (GMT-5).  Please keep in mind that individuals who submit more than one entry during the registration period will be disqualified. Applicants must apply online within the registration period outlined above.

For fiscal year 2022, up to 55,000 Diversity Visas will be available with no cost to register for the DV program.

Who may apply?

The diversity visa lottery program allows nationals from countries with historically low rates of immigration the opportunity to apply for an immigrant visa to enter the United States.

If you are not a native of a country with historically low rates of immigration you may still qualify if your spouse is a native of such a country and you and your spouse are named on the selected entry. Additionally if you are a native of a country that does not have historically low rates of immigration to the United States, but in which neither of your parents was born or legally resident at the time of your birth, you may claim the country of birth of one of your parents if it is a country whose natives are eligible for the DV-2022 program.

What countries have historically low rates of immigration for DV purposes?

The Department of State distributes diversity visas among six geographic regions including Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, Oceania, and South America, Central America, and the Caribbean. No single country may receive more than seven percent of the available DVs in any one year.

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The Coronavirus pandemic has created new obstacles and challenges for immigrants applying for visas at U.S. Consulates and Embassies worldwide. Since the Department of State first announced the phased resumption of routine visa services on July 14, 2020, applicants were thrown into a state of chaos and confusion.

Global conditions have only moderately improved in some regions, while in others they have worsened. This has caused the majority of U.S. Embassies and Consulates to remain shuttered to the general public. As it stands, very few Consular posts and Embassies have resumed scheduling of visa interviews. In the vast majority of cases, posts are only scheduling interviews and issuing visas for those with emergencies and those who qualify for expedited visa issuance.

Unfortunately, there is no specific date for when each mission will resume routine visa services, nor when there will be a sense of normalcy in the operations of U.S. Consulates and Embassies.

Our office has determined that one of the few ways to break through this state of limbo is to submit an expedite request with the National Visa Center. However not everyone will qualify to submit an expedited visa request.

Why aren’t spousal visas cases moving forward?

In normal circumstances once the spouse of a U.S. Citizen is documentarily qualified by the National Visa Center, the file is forwarded to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate near the foreign spouse and prepared for interview scheduling. The NVC is an important agency because it acts as an intermediary to prepare a case for the eventual interview stage.

Since March of this year, files have not been able to move past the NVC stage and have remained with the agency in a sort of “limbo,” given that the majority of U.S. Consulates and Embassies are not opening visa interview slots for applicants until further notice.

As a result, NVC has accumulated a large number of spousal visa cases that are unable to proceed until more Consular posts begin to open their calendars.

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