Articles Posted in Permanent Residents

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We are pleased to announce that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will soon publish a new temporary final rule in the federal register aimed at streamlining the processing of renewal applications for Employment Authorization Documents (also known as EADs) and increasing the automatic extension period of EADs.


What does this new rule propose?


The new temporary final rule (TFR) proposes an increase of the automatic extension period of certain employment authorization documents (EADs) from up to 180 days to up to 540 days from the expiration date printed on EADs.


Who will benefit?


This automatic extension will benefit employment-authorized noncitizens to prevent workforce interruption for those that have pending employment authorization renewal applications with USCIS, which were timely and properly filed on or after October 27, 2023.

Additionally, to be eligible for the automatic extension, the EAD renewal application must still be pending with USCIS on the date of the rule’s publication in the Federal Register on April 8, 2024.

It will also benefit any eligible applicant who files a renewal EAD application during the 540-day period beginning on or after April 8, 2024 (the date of the rule’s publication in the Federal Register).

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SSN Updates for New N-400 Applicants


If you have been thinking of applying for U.S. Citizenship, you may be pleased to learn that starting April 1st applicants will have the option of requesting an original or replacement Social Security number (SSN) or card and have the chance to update their immigration status with the Social Security Administration (SSA), without having to visit an SSA office in person.

This is all part of the new edition of Form N-400, Application for Naturalization (edition date 04/01/24) which will allow these requests to be made when submitting the application with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Previously, green card holders were required to visit an SSA office in person to notify them of their new U.S. Citizenship status and apply for a replacement SSN card reflecting their new immigration status.

Unfortunately, this new update only applies to applicants filing the new edition of the N-400 application (04/01/24) on or after April 1st.  Those who applied using the previous edition of the form (09/17/19) cannot take advantage of this option.


When will the new edition of the N-400 be available for use?


The new edition of the Form N-400 (04/01/24) will be available for online filing on April 1.

To file Form N-400 online, applicants must first create a USCIS online account, a convenient and secure method to submit forms, pay fees, and track the status of any pending USCIS immigration request throughout the adjudication process.


H-1B FY 2025 Cap Season Updates: What to Expect


You may be aware that the electronic registration period for the FY 2025 H-1B cap season closed at noon Eastern on March 25, 2024.

Within the next few days, USCIS will conduct a lottery to randomly select within the pool of properly submitted registrations to reach the FY 2025 H-1B annual numerical allocations, including the advanced degree exemption (master’s cap). USCIS will notify the public once the lottery has been completed.

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The Department of State has published the April 2024 Visa Bulletin, bringing significant advancements in the final action dates for most employment-based categories, and modest advancement for the family-sponsored categories when compared to the previous month.


Highlights of the April 2024 Visa Bulletin


Dates for Filing Chart

For the family-sponsored preference categories, the Dates for Filing Chart remains unchanged from the previous month, with the exception of the family sponsored fourth preference category (F4) for India which will advance by 1.5 months to April 8, 2006, and Philippines which will advance by 1 year to April 22, 2005.

Additionally, for employment-based petitions, the employment based first preference category (EB1A) India will advance by 3 months to April 1, 2021, and the employment-based third (EB3) preference category for India will advance by 1.5 months to September 15, 2012. Finally, the employment based fourth preference category (EB-4) will advance by 11 months to December 1, 2020.

All other preference categories remain unchanged from the previous month.

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Recently, the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) requested an update from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) regarding the delayed adjudication of Form I-829 petitions filed by EB-5 investors seeking to remove their conditions on permanent residence.

AILA suggested two alternatives for providing evidence of continued lawful permanent residence which consisted of making simple adjustments to the language of Form I-829 receipt notices.

On January 19, 2024, USCIS responded to these concerns indicating their awareness of the issue and ongoing efforts to reduce the burden on investors.

USCIS pointed out that beginning on January 11, 2023, the agency extended the validity of Permanent Resident Cards (also known as Green Cards) for petitioners who properly filed Form I-829, for 48 months beyond the green card’s expiration date.

This extension was made in consideration of the long processing times USCIS has been experiencing to adjudicate Form I-829, which have increased over the past year.

They also note that USCIS field offices also recently began issuing and mailing the Form I-94 (arrival/departure record) with ADIT (temporary 1-551) stamps as temporary evidence of Legal Permanent Resident status without requiring an in-person appearance at field offices, for investors who have requested evidence of their LPR immigration status from USCIS.

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The March 2024 Visa Bulletin is finally here, and with it we have big advancements in the family sponsored preference categories, and minor advancements in the employment-based categories.


Highlights of the March 2024 Visa Bulletin


Dates for Filing Chart

The Dates for Filing Chart remains unchanged from the previous month, for both the family sponsored and employment-based categories, with the exception of the employment-based fourth preference category, EB-4 which will advance by 4 months to January 1, 2020.


Employment-based categories


Movement in the Final Action Dates

The Final Action Dates Chart shows some modest advancements in some of the employment-based preference categories, specifically:

  • EB-1 China will advance by two weeks to July 15, 2022
  • EB-1 India will advance by 1 month to October 1, 2020
  • EB-2 Worldwide, Mexico, and the Philippines will advance by 1 week to November 22, 2022
  • EB-3 Worldwide, Mexico, and the Philippines will advance by 1 week to September 8, 2022
  • EB-3 Other Workers, Worldwide and Mexico will advance by 1 week to September 8, 2020
  • EB-4 will advance by more than 6.5 months to December 1, 2019

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In this blog post, we provide new insights recently shared by Charlie Oppenheim, the former Chief of Immigrant Visa Control and Reporting at the U.S. Department of State, who oversaw the monthly publication of the Visa Bulletin until his retirement in 2022.

In a recent Chatting with Charlie webinar, he provided his expertise regarding the future movement of the employment based and family preference categories on the Visa Bulletin.

The Dates for Filing for the employment based and family sponsored preference categories have remained the same since the publication of the October Visa Bulletin with no forward movement to be seen.

In the month of February, the Final Action Dates progressed only slightly as follows:

Employment-based

  • EB-2 Worldwide advanced by two weeks to November 15, 2022
  • EB-3 India advanced by one month to July 1, 2012
  • EB-3 all other countries advanced by one month to September 1, 2022 (except China)
  • EB-5 China (Unreserved) advanced by one week to December 15, 2015.

Family-sponsored

  • F2A all categories (except Mexico) advanced by more than 3 months to February 8, 2020
  • F2A Mexico advanced by more than 3 months to February 1, 2020

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According to recent data released by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), applications for U.S. Citizenship surpassed pre-pandemic levels in fiscal year 2023, welcoming 878,500 new citizens from all over the world.

To be eligible for naturalization, applicants must meet certain eligibility requirements set forth in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

The requirements generally include being a lawful permanent resident (LPR) for at least five years or at least three years for spouses of U.S. Citizens. Applicants must establish that they have good moral character, have continuously and physically resided in the United States as a green card holder, be proficient in basic spoken and written English, pass the required civics and English examination, among other requirements. Please note that there are other special naturalization provisions that exempt certain applicants, including certain spouses of U.S. citizens and applicants with military service, from one or more of the general requirements for naturalization.

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The February 2024 Visa Bulletin was recently published by the Department of State.

While the Dates for Filing Chart remains unchanged from the previous month, the Final Action Dates Chart shows some modest advancements in some of the employment-based preference categories, specifically EB-1 worldwide continues to be current, EB-2 Worldwide will advance by two weeks to November 15, 2022, EB-3 Professional and Skilled Workers, India will advance by one month to July 1, 2012, and the rest of the world will advance by one month to September 1, 2022. EB-5 India will advance by one week to December 15, 2015, while the rest of the world will remain current.

For family-sponsored categories, the Final Action Dates for F2A Worldwide, F2A China, F2A India, and F2A Philippines will advance by more than 3 months to February 8, 2020, while F2A Mexico will advance to February 1, 2020. The February Dates for Filing remain the same as the previous month.

Whether you are applying for an immigrant visa at a U.S. Consulate overseas or applying for adjustment of status to permanent residence in the United States, you won’t want to miss these new updates.


Highlights of the February 2024 Visa Bulletin


Employment-based categories

  • The February Dates for Filing remain the same as January 2024

Final Action Dates

  • EB-1 India: The EB-1 India Final Action Date will remain at September 1, 2020.
  • EB-1 China: The EB-1 China Final Action Date will remain at July 1, 2022
  • EB-1 Worldwide: All other countries will remain current.
  • EB-2 India: The EB-2 Final Action Date for India will remain at March 1, 2012
  • EB-2 China: The EB-2 China Final Action Date will remain at January 1, 2020.
  • EB-2 Worldwide: Final Action Dates for the remaining countries in EB-2 will advance by two weeks, to November 15, 2022.
  • EB-3 Professional/Skilled Workers: The EB-3 Professional/Skilled Worker Final Action for China, will remain at September 1, 2020. India will advance by one month to July 1, 2012. Final Action Dates for the remaining countries in the category will advance by one month to September 1, 2022.

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On January 5, 2024, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released updated policy guidance describing how the agency analyzes an employer’s ability to pay the offered wage to prospective employees with employment-based immigrant petitions requiring a job offer, filed with USCIS under the first, second, and third preference categories, also known as EB-1, EB-2, and EB-3.

Specifically, the policy guidance clarifies how an employer’s ability to pay will be demonstrated where a beneficiary of a pending Form I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, decides to change to a new employer under the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-First Century Act of 2000 (AC-21).

As a general matter, employers must be able to demonstrate their continuing ability to pay the offered wage to employees with petitions filed under the employment first, second, and third preference categories (EB-1, EB-2, EB-3) starting from the priority date of the underlying I-140 petition, until the beneficiary receives lawful permanent resident status (a green card).

Under the updated guidance, when an employee moves to a new employer under AC-21 while the underlying I-140 petition is still pending, USCIS will determine whether the petitioner meets its ability to pay requirement by only reviewing the facts in existence at the time of filing. This means that, USCIS will only consider initial evidence submitted with the petition (and any responses to Requests for Evidence) to determine if the petitioner has established its ability to pay from the priority date to the date of filing the I-140 petition.

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Newly released data from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has shown that thanks to policy guidance released in January 2022, more foreign nationals working in the STEM fields are receiving O-1A visas than ever before.

In just the first year of issuing its revised guidance for example, issuance of O-1A visas soared by 30% to 4,570 and remained steady throughout fiscal year 2023.

USCIS’ clarifying policy guidance also benefitted EB-2 applicants with advanced STEM degrees seeking the National Interest Waiver petition. The number of such visas approved in 2022 increased by 55% over 2021, to 70,240 visas and remained at a high level throughout 2022.

Recent policy clarifications have helped those with advanced degrees in the STEM fields understand whether they meet the qualifying criteria of the O-1A and EB-2 National Interest Waiver petition, because USCIS has been much more transparent in listing examples of the types of evidence that will satisfy the evidentiary criteria, focusing on the highly technical nature of STEM fields and the complexity of evidence typically submitted in these fields.

One of the more interesting updates USCIS provided in its policy guidance, emphasizes that with respect to O-1A petitions, if a particular criterion does not readily apply to the applicant’s field, comparable evidence may be submitted to establish sustained acclaim or recognition, including examples of comparable evidence for those working in the STEM fields, 2 USCIS-PM M.4, Appendices Tab.

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