This week in immigration news, we share new developments for Afghan nationals. The Biden administration recently announced its plan to launch a new portal that would facilitate the reunification of Afghans immigrants with their family members.
What is it all about?
The U.S. Department of State run portal would provide a place for Afghans in the United States to search for family members who were separated from them following the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan last year.
Previously, Afghans needed the help of nonprofit groups such as the United National Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and U.S. Department of State liaisons to help them locate family members left behind. Individuals were required to complete lengthy questionnaires, provide information, and submit documentation that would be independently verified by state department liaisons.
Now, the state-run portal will provide a central location where users can upload information to help locate their family members. Users will be able to enter their own status on the website, and complete forms to enable their relative to gain entry to the United States.
Additionally, the Biden administration is said to be considering waiving the $535 government filing fee associated the filing of Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative, which allows a U.S. citizen to petition the entry of their relative to the United States.
According to a Department of State spokesperson, through the resettlement effort known as Operation Allies Welcome, immediate family members of Afghans who relocated to the United States are strongly being considered for parole. Immediate relatives of U.S. Citizens, lawful permanent residents, formerly locally employed staff members of the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, and certain Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) applicants are also being prioritized to receive parole.
Welcome back to Visalawyerblog! In this blog post we share with you an overview of the State Department’s September 2021 Q&A answer session with Charlie Oppenheim, Chief of the Immigrant Visa Control and Reporting Division of the U.S. Department of State, also known as “Chats with Charlie,” broadcasted every month on the State Department’s YouTube channel.
This new series features a monthly Question-and-Answer session with Mr. Charles Oppenheim and a Consular officer, where they answer many of the public’s frequently asked questions and provide a monthly analysis of each month’s Visa Bulletin. This 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 in advance to VisaBulletin@state.gov ahead of each monthly session with “Chat with Charlie Question” in the subject line.
Welcome back to Visalawyerblog! In this blog post we share with you an overview of the State Department’s August 2021 Q&A answer session with Charlie Oppenheim, Chief of the Immigrant Visa Control and Reporting Division of the U.S. Department of State, also known as “Chats with Charlie,” broadcasted every month on the State Department’s YouTube channel.
This new series features a monthly Question-and-Answer session with Mr. Charles Oppnheim and a Consular officer, where they answer many of the public’s frequently asked questions and provide a monthly analysis of each month’s Visa Bulletin. This 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 in advance to VisaBulletin@state.gov ahead of each monthly session with “Chat with Charlie Question” in the subject line.
Be sure to subscribe to the State Department’s YouTube Channel and turn on your notifications so you do not miss any of these important updates.
Below are the highlights of the trends and visa projections for August 2021 and beyond.
DOS Q&A Session with Charlie Oppenheim: August 2021 Visa Bulletin Projections & Beyond
Charlie Oppenheim advises against sending “mass like” chain emails to the Charlie Chats email address
Before we get into the questions for this session, I wanted to add that I have seen a significant number of questions being received that maybe online chat groups have provided in a suggested “copy this text” approach that were sent to the Charlie Chat email address. I want to say that this is a very unproductive approach to asking questions, since we must open a significant number of messages with the same question, and that diminishes our ability to review the hundreds and hundreds of questions which are coming in each month. Therefore, it’s likely that we may miss important questions which listeners would like addressed. I am happy to see questions come in but this massive number of duplicates is unproductive to the listener group.
The Top 8 Advance Questions Sent in By Listeners
Q: I submitted all my documentation to NVC a long time ago and I confirmed on their website that everything is completed correctly. My priority date became eligible in March, but I have not yet been scheduled for my final visa interview. Why haven’t I been scheduled despite the eligibility and when can I expect to be scheduled?
A: This is a question we have been getting a lot. It’s important to say that throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the NVC has continued to schedule appointments and is warehousing cases for Consular sections that have not been able to resume the routine Immigrant Visa processing. Depending on the country’s local restrictions and resources, the Consular sections abroad provide their projected capacity for scheduling to the NVC about 30-60 days in advance.
This allows NVC to begin scheduling those appointments and getting the information out to the applicants early. Other than age-out cases, inter-country adoption cases, and expedite requests, based on certain FAM regulations upon visa availability, the NVC schedules their Immigrant Visa appointments for visa categories in chronological order, based on the date in which the case was deemed “documentarily qualified,” meaning they have been asked to submit certain required documents, all those documents have been received, and have been verified. Then the NVC fills the available appointment slots in a first come, first out manner within each visa class, in accordance with each Consular section’s capacity.
I would advise listeners to refer to the guidance on the NVC Immigrant Visa backlog report website to view the worldwide data count of applicants which have been processed by NVC. Then that will determine how many have become documentarily complete. NVC and the overseas posts are trying to get to all the appointments and applicants as quickly as possible. It’s being done in chronological order and basically, they’re having to catch up on cases that could have been scheduled as far back as March 2020.
On April 25, 2020, the first of what is sure to be many lawsuits, Doe v. Trump, was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Oregon challenging the President’s new executive order.
The lawsuit was filed by several individuals and the organization Latino Network against President Trump and the federal government.
Plaintiffs in this case have filed an emergency motion for a temporary restraining order to block the government from enforcing the new executive order, because the executive order does not contain exceptions that preserve the opportunity to request urgent or emergency services for immigrant visa applicants, including for children of immigrants who are at risk of aging out of their current visa eligibility status “by the simple passage of time.”
The lawsuit is concerned specifically with children who are in danger of aging out of their place in the visa queue because they do not have access to emergency services that would have otherwise been available had the proclamation not been issued.
“Without access to such emergency services, children whose underage preference relative status will result in unnecessary and prolonged family separation “for years—or even decades,” the lawsuit says.
In this blog post, we discuss visa bulletin trends and projections for the month of March. The U.S. Department of State (DOS) recently released the March 2020 Visa Bulletin revealing some good and bad news for employment based categories and family preference categories.
Adjustment of Status Filing Charts March 2020:
For Family-Sponsored Filings:
In the F2A category, there is a cutoff date on the Dates for Filing chart. However, the category is “current” on the Final Action Dates chart. Accordingly, applicants in the F2A category may file using the Final Action Dates chart for March 2020.
For all other family-sponsored preference categories, applicants must use the Dates for Filing chart in the Department of State Visa Bulletin for March 2020.
For Employment-Based Preference Filings:
For all employment-based preference categories, applicants must use the Dates for Filing chart in the Department of State Visa Bulletin for March 2020.
Employment-based Categories: The Highlights
China: This month, employment based categories for China experienced varying degrees of forward movement, with EB-3 experiencing the most advancement.
EB-1 China advanced ten days to June 1, 2017
EB-2 China advanced one month to August 15, 2015
EB-3 China advanced nearly three months to March 22, 2016
PLEASE NOTE: THE INFORMATION IN THIS POST NO LONGER APPLIES. ON FEBRUARY 21, 2020, THE SUPREME COURT ISSUED A RULING ALLOWING THE GOVERNMENT TO IMPLEMENT THE PUBLIC CHARGE RULE TO RESIDENTS IN THE STATE OF ILLINOIS. USCIS HAS ANNOUNCED THAT THE PUBLIC CHARGE RULE WILL BE IMPLEMENTED NATIONWIDE INCLUDING IN THE STATE OF ILLINOIS TO APPLICATIONS POSTMARKED ON OR AFTER FEBRUARY 24, 2020.
In this blog post we will discuss whether the public charge rule applies to individuals living in Illinois.
The Supreme Court’s decision on January 27, 2020 lifted all lower court injunctions preventing the government’s implementation of the public charge rule, with the exception of an injunction preventing the government from imposing the rule in the state of Illinois.
USCIS has clearly stated that although the agency will implement the public charge rule on February 24, 2020, the agency is prohibited from implementing the rule in the state of Illinois, where it remains enjoined by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.
Accordingly, at this time, the public charge rule does not apply to individuals living in the state of Illinois. In the event the injunction in Illinois is lifted the public charge rule may apply. If this occurs, USCIS will provide additional guidance for individuals residing in the state of Illinois on its website.
The following frequently asked questions have been prepared to better inform applicants and petitioners living in the state of Illinois regarding the public charge rule.
Q: Does the rule apply to adjustment of status applicants in State of Illinois?
A: No. USCIS has clearly stated on its website that, “applicants for adjustment of status who live in Illinois and who are subject to the public charge ground of inadmissibility are not subject to the final rule.”
In this blog post we answer your frequently asked questions regarding the public charge rule.
On October 10, 2018, the Department of Homeland Security first published the final rule “Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds” which dramatically changes the way in which an individual is determined to be a “public charge.” Although five separate courts issued injunctions to stop the government from implementing the final rule, on January 27, 2020, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in favor of the Trump administration, allowing the government to implement the public charge rule, except in the state of Illinois where a state-wide injunction remains in place.
The new regulations will make it more difficult for certain adjustment of status and immigrant visa applicants to prove that they are not likely to become a public charge to the United States government.
The following frequently asked questions have been prepared to better inform our readers and address concerns regarding the effect of the public charge rule.
Q: When will the public charge rule take effect?
A:Shortly after the Supreme Court’s ruling, USCIS formally announced on its website that the public charge rule will affect all applications for adjustment of status (green card applications) postmarked on or after February 24, 2020 (except in the state of Illinois, where the rule remains enjoined by a federal court).
Q: Who does the public charge rule apply to?
A: In general, all applicants for admission to the United States are subject to the public charge ground of inadmissibility under INA § 212(a)(4) unless specifically exempted.
The following non-citizens are affected by the public charge rule:
Applicants for adjustment of status in the United States
Applicants for an immigrant visa abroad
Applicants for a nonimmigrant visa abroad
Applicants for admission at the U.S. border who have been granted an immigrant or nonimmigrant visa, and
Nonimmigrants applying for an extension or change of status within the United States (new policy under the final rule).
Applicants seeking lawful permanent resident status (applicants for adjustment of status) based on a family relationship are most affected by the public charge rule.
We kick off a brand-new week with breaking news handed down by the United States Supreme Court.
Today, in a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that the Trump administration may enforce the controversial rule entitled, “Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds” which expands the scope of public benefits that will render a permanent resident or immigrant visa applicant ineligible for immigration benefits. The public charge rule makes certain individuals inadmissible to receive permanent residence on public charge grounds based on their use of certain government assistance programs.
As we reported, on January 13, 2020 the Trump administration filed an emergency appeal asking the Supreme Court to lift a remaining lower court injunction preventing the government from enforcing the public charge rule. Today, the conservatives on the Supreme Court overpowered the four liberal justices on the court, in favor of the Trump administration, ruling that the government may now begin to enforce the public charge rule despite challenges to the rule pending in the lower courts.
Under current immigration law, an individual who, in the opinion of DHS is likely at any time to become a public charge is (1) ineligible for a visa (2) ineligible for admission to the United States and (3) ineligible for adjustment of status (permanent residence).
In determining whether an applicant is or will likely become a public charge USCIS has always considered the receipt of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and Medicaid, benefits that make an applicant ineligible for permanent residence.
The public charge rule goes further and expands the list of benefits that make a foreign national ineligible to obtain permanent residence or an immigrant visa (in addition to the benefits listed above). These additional benefits include:
Welcome back to Visalawyerblog! In this post, we bring you the latest immigration news for the week.
USCIS Announces Workload Transfers
In an effort to manage heavy workloads, increase efficiency, and decrease processing times, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has been transferring cases between service centers.
In this post, we will discuss our top ten tips to help you survive the marriage fraud interview also known as the “STOKES” interview. An applicant filing for adjustment of status to permanent residence may be scheduled for a second interview, known as the “STOKES” interview if the immigration officer is not convinced at the initial I-485 interview that the applicant has a bona fide marriage.
Our first tip to avoid being scheduled for a second interview also known as the STOKES interview is simple. Be honest with yourself, with your partner (the U.S. Citizen or LPR spouse), and your attorney if you have one. Before walking into your initial I-485 interview you should be careful not to misrepresent the facts in your relationship and ensure that you and your partner are both being honest and truthful regarding all aspects of your marriage. If you or your spouse misrepresent any facts about your relationship, the immigration officer will presume that you do not have a bona fide/genuine marriage, and it will be very difficult to overcome this presumption at the second interview.
The second tip to avoid the STOKES interview is to be well prepared. You and your spouse should prepare all of your documentation proving bona fide marriage well in advance of your I-485 interview, so that you have enough time to review your documentation with your spouse and your attorney in preparation of your interview. This well make you feel more confident and prepared when it comes time to your I-485 interview.
Never Lie, Misrepresent, or Provide False Information
If you do not know the answer to a question asked by an immigration officer, DO NOT under any circumstances LIE, MISREPRESENT, or provide FALSE information. If you do not know the answer, simply tell the officer that you do not know. Always be honest. If you are not honest with an immigration officer this will indicate not only that you are a person of bad moral character, but that you are committing fraud in order to obtain an immigration benefit. Do not under any circumstances, invent facts that are not true. Remember that immigration has various tools to uncover fraud including the ability to visit you and your spouse at your home unexpectedly if they believe that you are lying or are not being honest about your marriage.