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Welcome back to Visalawyerblog! We have an important announcement for applicants who have or may receive a request for evidence, notice of intent to deny, or a related document of such kind, between March 1, 2020 and January 31, 2021.

Today, December 18, 2020, USCIS announced that it will extend its flexibility policy and continue to grant applicants 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 and January 31, 2021.


What documents qualify for this flexibility in responding?

Applicants who received any of the below mentioned documents dated between March 1, 2020 and January 31, 2020 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 and Notices of Intent to Terminate regional investment centers;
  • Filing date requirements for Form N-336, Request for a Hearing on a Decision in Naturalization Proceedings (Under Section 336 of the INA); or
  • Filing date requirements for Form I-290B, Notice of Appeal or Motion.

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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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We have very exciting news for our DACA community. Yesterday, December 7, 2020, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued the long-awaited public notice we have all been waiting for.

Pursuant to a federal court order issued on November 14, 2020, by Judge Nicholas George Garaufis of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, which invalidates the July 28, 2020 “Wolf memorandum,” DHS has been ordered to immediately reinstate the DACA program to policies that were in effect prior to September 5, 2017 (the attempted rescission of the program by USCIS).


In order to comply with the federal court order, USCIS has issued an official public notice on its webpage confirming that effective December 7, 2020 the agency will:

  • Accept first-time requests for consideration of deferred action under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) based on the terms of the DACA policy in effect prior to September 5, 2017, and in accordance with the Court’s December 4, 2020, order;
  • Accept DACA renewal requests based on the terms of the DACA policy in effect prior to September 5, 2017, and in accordance with the Court’s December 4, 2020, order;
  • Accept applications for advance parole documents based on the terms of the DACA policy prior to September 5, 2017, and in accordance with the Court’s December 4, 2020, order;
  • Extend one-year grants of deferred action under DACA to two years; and
  • Extend one-year employment authorization documents (EADs) under DACA to two years.

Additionally, USCIS will take appropriate steps to provide evidence of the one-year extensions of deferred action and employment authorization documents under DACA to individuals who were issued documentation on or after July 28, 2020, with a one-year validity period under the Wolf Memorandum.

With this announcement, DHS will comply with Judge Garaufis’ order while it remains in effect, but the agency has stated they may seek relief from the order. Therefore, you should take advantage and file your initial request for DACA and/or advance parole as soon as possible.

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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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We are very happy to bring you this late breaking news.

Today December 04, 2020, a federal judge from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, issued a ruling that requires the Trump administration to post a public notice within 3 calendar days that it will accept new initial requests for DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) applications effective immediately.


Overview of DACA Litigation 

This order builds on the judge’s previous ruling which declared the actions of Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf unlawful, given the court’s finding that Wolf was not lawfully serving as acting DHS secretary when he signed rules limiting applications and renewals for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

As you may recall back in 2017 the Trump administration engaged in aggressive tactics to eliminate the DACA program, however the U.S. Supreme Court successfully blocked such attempts, ultimately allowing DACA renewals to continue to be accepted.

In its opinion, the Supreme Court stated that the government did not follow the law – namely the Administrative Procedure Act – when it sought to eliminate DACA. Thus, the court found that because the government did not go through the appropriate process to dismantle DACA it would remain in place. Interestingly, the Supreme Court made clear that while the government did not go through the appropriate process to eliminate DACA, that it had the power to do so provided the government followed the appropriate procedures. The justices also stopped short of requiring the government to accept initial requests for DACA.

The following year on July 28, 2020, the Trump administration continued to stand its ground in blocking acceptance of initial DACA applications with the release of a scathing memorandum authored by Wolf. In it Wolf directed DHS personnel to (1) reject all pending and future initial requests for DACA (2) reject all pending and future applications for advance parole absent exceptional circumstances, and (3) to shorten DACA renewals to a two-year period.

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In the few months remaining in the Trump presidency, the Trump administration continues to pass laws and regulations that make it more difficult for immigrants and nonimmigrants to enter the United States.

Most recently, the administration has targeted the B-1/B-2 temporary business visitor/tourist visa program.

On November 24, 2020, the U.S. Department of State published a temporary final rule in the Federal Register entitled, “Visas: Visa Bond Pilot Program.”


What is this rule about?

The final rule calls for the creation of a temporary 6-month visa bond pilot program that authorizes Consular officials at U.S. Embassies and Consulates worldwide to mandate a bond of $5,000, $10,000, or $15,000 for certain B-1/B-2 visa applicants in order for them to receive visas and travel to the United States.

If a consular official finds that a bond is appropriate, the amount of the bond will be determined by him or her based on the circumstances of the visa applicant.

According to the rule, “the Pilot Program is designed to apply to nationals of specified countries with high overstay rates to serve as a diplomatic tool to encourage foreign governments to take all appropriate actions to ensure their nationals timely depart the United States after making temporary visits.”


When does the final rule go into effect?

The final rule becomes effective December 24, 2020 for a period of 6 months (through June 24, 2021).


Who will be impacted?

According to the final rule, visa applicants potentially subject to the Pilot Program include aliens who are applying for visas as temporary visitors for business or pleasure (B-1/B-2); are from countries with high visa overstay rates; and are already approved by DHS for an inadmissibility waiver.

Aliens traveling under the Visa Waiver Program fall outside the scope of the Pilot Program, since a visa application is not required for their entry to the United States.

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Welcome back to Visalawerblog! We hope you had a relaxing thanksgiving weekend. In this blog post we share an important update for K visa applicants impacted by the Coronavirus proclamations.

The Department of State recently issued a statement explaining how the agency will comply with a preliminary injunction issued by a federal judge in the case Daniel Milligan, et al., v. Michael Pompeo et al.

In that case a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction prohibiting the Department of States from relying on the Coronavirus proclamations to suspend K visa adjudications for those residing in the Schengen countries, the United Kingdom, Ireland, China, Iran, and Brazil.

Unfortunately, the judge stopped short of issuing a broad injunction to lift the ban on entry to the United States for K visa applicants impacted by these proclamations.

This means that while the government must proceed with K visa processing, once a K visa has been issued, applicants residing within an impacted area remain barred from entering the United States unless they meet a national interest exception.

To put it simply – the injunction simply stops the government from refusing to process K visas based on the Coronavirus proclamations. It does not allow K visa applicants from impacted areas to enter the United States once K visas have been issued unless the applicant meets a national interest exception. According to the judge, the government may still prevent entry to such applicants as deemed necessary during the pandemic.


What are the Coronavirus proclamations?

Back in January the President began issuing a series of Coronavirus proclamations that restrict and suspend the entry of immigrants and nonimmigrants, who were physically present within Brazil, China, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Iran, during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States.

These Coronavirus proclamations are as follows:

  • China Visa Ban – Proclamation 9984 issued January 21, 2020 – No termination date
  • Iran Visa Ban –Proclamation 9992 issued February 29, 2020 –No termination date
  • European Schengen Area Visa Ban—Proclamation 9993 issued March 11, 2020—No termination date
  • Ireland and UK Visa Ban –Proclamation 9996 issued March 14, 2020 –No termination date
  • Brazil Visa Ban—Proclamation 10041 issued May 25, 2020 –No termination date

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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 her reunite with her U.S. Citizen fiancé 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 619-819-9204.


Overview of the Schengen Ban

To understand our client’s situation let’s first discuss the Schengen visa ban. Beginning in January of 2020, President Trump issued a series of Coronavirus proclamations to combat the rapid spread of Coronavirus cases in the United States.

Specifically, the President signed “Proclamation 9993,” into law on March 11, 2020, which restricts and suspends the entry into the United States of immigrants and nonimmigrants, who were physically present within the Schengen Area, during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States.

As a result of P.P. 9993, U.S. Consulates and Embassies around the world have refused to issue visas for those residing in the Schengen area including K fiancé visas until further notice. There is unfortunately no termination date for PP 9993 which means that visa applicants residing in the Schengen area will be stuck in “limbo” at least for the time being.

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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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