Articles Posted in Policy

thisisengineering-raeng-vGA1ei1yxos-unsplash-scaled

In today’s blog post, we are happy to bring our readers some very exciting news.

On April 26, 2021, the Department of State formally announced a new National Interest Determination for certain categories of nonimmigrant visa applicants currently unable to enter the United States due to COVID-19 related Regional Presidential Proclamations issued earlier this year. This new determination will allow certain travelers to obtain their visas and enter the United States, despite the issuance of COVID-19 related Regional Presidential Proclamations, known as Presidential Proclamations 9984, 9992, and 10143.

These Proclamations were issued early last year to prevent the rapid spread of COVID-19 to the United States, specifically from China, Iran, Brazil, South Africa, the Schengen countries, the United Kingdom, and Ireland.

Such Proclamations had the effect of restricting and suspending the entry into the United States, of both immigrants and nonimmigrants, who were physically present within the Schengen Area, Brazil, China, the United Kingdom, Ireland, South Africa, and Iran, during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States. Few categories of individuals were exempted from these Presidential Proclamations, including lawful permanent residents of the United States (green card holders), spouses of U.S. Citizens or lawful permanent residents, and others who were similarly exempted.

Individuals who have not been specifically exempted from the Regional Proclamations and have remained physically present in the impacted regions, have been unable to proceed with visa processing. Consulates worldwide have refused to grant visas to these individuals due to the enforcement of the Proclamations.

Continue reading

stamp-41655_1280

Welcome back to Visalawyerblog! It is the start of a brand-new week and we are excited to bring you more updates in the world of immigration.

We are happy to report that the Department of State has released important information for nonimmigrant visa applicants who may qualify for an interview waiver. That’s right. Certain nonimmigrant visa applicants will now be eligible to obtain a renewal of their visas without being required to attend a Consulate interview.

Who may take advantage of Non-Immigrant Visa Interview Waivers?

The Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, has consulted with the Department of Homeland Security, and temporarily expanded the ability of Consular officials to waive the in-person interview requirement, which is normally required of all individuals seeking nonimmigrant visas in the same visa classification – in other words renewal applicants.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, interview waivers were only available to those applicants whose nonimmigrant visa was set to expire within 24 months.

The Secretary has now temporarily extended the Interview Waiver eligibility to those whose visas are set to expire within 48 months. This new policy will be in effect until December 31, 2021.

According to the Department of State, “This change will allow consular officers to continue processing certain nonimmigrant visa applications, while limiting the number of applicants who must appear at a consular section, thereby reducing the risk of COVID-19 transmission to other applicants and consular staff.”

Continue reading

visa-3109800_1280

Happy Friday! We bring you an exciting new update about the public charge rule. On Thursday, March 11, 2021, the Biden administration formally rescinded the Trump era “public charge rule,” which has been responsible for causing great headaches among adjustment of status and immigrant visa applicants.

The public charge rule was first announced by the Department of Homeland Security on October 10, 2018, bringing with it a new set of regulations that made it more difficult for certain adjustment of status applicants to gain permanent residence in the United States.

Specifically, it was announced that the public charge rule would apply to all adjustment of status (green card) applications postmarked on or after February 24, 2020. In addition, the public charge rule of inadmissibility was applied to:

  • 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

Individuals applying for a green card or immigrant visa based on family sponsorship were most affected by this rule.

Further, a slew of special types of immigrants were allowed to be excluded from the rule including asylees, refugees, VAWA, TPS, DACA, Special Immigrant Juveniles, T nonimmigrants, U nonimmigrants, and such special types of immigrant classifications.

As a result of this rule, USCIS introduced a mandatory form to be submitted with all green card applications, known as Form, I-944 Declaration of Self Sufficiency, to determine whether a green card applicant would likely become a public charge on the United States government.

Continue reading

work-2317806_1920

Welcome back to Visalawyerblog! We kick off the start of a brand-new week with some important immigration updates.


USCIS Expands Premium Processing Service to E-3 Petitioners


We are happy to report that beginning February 24, 2021, petitioners filing Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, who are requesting a change or extension of status to E-3 classification, will be able to take advantage of premium processing service to expedite processing of their petition. The filing fee for premium processing service for E-3 petitions is $2,500.

What is premium processing?

Premium processing provides expedited processing for Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker and I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers. The main benefit of this service is a guaranteed 15-calendar day processing time for all those who take advantage of it.

When does the 15-calendar period begin?

The 15-calendar day period begins when USCIS properly receives the current version of Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service, at the correct filing address noted on the form.

Once the I-907 is received, USCIS either issues an approval notice, denial notice, notice of intent to deny, or request for evidence within the 15-calendar day period.

Is premium processing available for other petitions?

At the moment premium processing service is only available for I-129 and I-140 petitions. However, H.R. 8337 proposed expanding premium processing service to other types of applications in the future including applications to change or extend nonimmigrant status, applications for employment authorization, and other types of benefit requests.


USCIS Introduces Flexibilities for Certain Students Filing Form I-765 for OPT


We are happy to report that on February 26, 2021, USCIS announced new flexibility policies for certain foreign students who have not received receipt notices for Form I-765 petitions for OPT as a result of USCIS delays.

USCIS has stated that the agency has been experiencing delays at certain lockboxes and has not been able to issue receipt notices for certain Form I-765 applications for optional practical training (OPT) for F-1 students in a timely manner.

As a result, USCIS will provide the following flexibilities to assist certain applicants for OPT who have been impacted by the delays.

Continue reading

refugees-1186359_1920

Welcome back to Visalawyerblog! In this post, we continue with our efforts to provide our readers with an overview of President Biden’s recent executive orders on immigration.

Last week, we discussed the major provisions of Executive Order, “Restoring Faith in Our Legal Immigration Systems and Strengthening Integration and Inclusion Efforts for New Americans.”

In today’s blog post, we continue to break down President Biden’s new executive orders focusing specifically on, “Creating a Comprehensive Regional Framework to Address the Causes of Migration, Manage Migration Throughout North and Central America, and to Provide Safe and Orderly Processing of Asylum Seekers at the United States Border,” and what it means for you.


What is this Executive Order all about?


President Biden signed this executive order on February 2, 2021, to create a multi-pronged approach that will help the United States manage and address the root cause of mass migration from North and Central America.

President Biden plans to work with civil society, international organizations, and govenments in the region to create a strategy that will increase opportunities for vulnerable groups of immigrants to apply for asylum protection closer to home. With this order, his administration hopes to streamline the asylum process in these regions by expanding systems and resettlement capacity.

Among its provisions, the order will increase lawful pathways for vulnerable groups of people to immigrate to the United States, while strengthening our asylum system.

Continue reading

anti-trump-5815909_1280

It’s been an exciting week in the world of immigration. As we had been expecting, on Tuesday President Biden signed a fresh batch of executive orders directly impacting our immigration system.

These include (1) Executive Order on, “Restoring Faith in Our Legal Immigration Systems and Strengthening Integration and Inclusion Efforts for New Americans,” (2) Executive Order entitled, “Creating a Comprehensive Regional Framework to Address the Causes of Migration, Manage Migration Throughout North and Central America, and to Provide Safe and Orderly Processing of Asylum Seekers at the United States Border,” and (3) Executive Order on, “the Establishment of Interagency Task Force on the Reunification of Families.

In this blog post, we will discuss the major provisions of the Executive Order entitled, “Restoring Faith in Our Legal Immigration Systems and Strengthening Integration and Inclusion for New Americans,” and what this order means for you.

*Please note we will discuss the other two orders in separate upcoming blog posts.


EO – Restoring Faith in Our Legal Immigration System and Strengthening Integration and Inclusion for New Americans


First, we will discuss the President’s initiative to create a new task force that will promote integration and inclusion of foreign born immigrants, dismantle harmful policies arising from the public charge ground of inadmissibility, promote naturalization, and initiative to revoke former President Trump’s memorandum on enforcing the legal responsibilities of sponsors of aliens.

Task Force on New Americans

This executive order was created in order to promote integration and inclusion for immigrant communities including asylees and refugees. In line with this new executive order, the President has ordered his cabinet agencies to coordinate their efforts to pass policies that both welcome and support immigrants to the United States. To that end, the government will convene a Task Force on New Americans to positively impact local immigrant communities.

As discussed in section 3 of the order, the Department of State, the Attorney General, and the Department of Homeland Security will review and revise any existing regulations, orders, guidance documents, policies, and agency actions to ensure that they conform with the President’s agenda to welcome and support vulnerable immigrants. As part of this process, the government will be dismantling barriers that make it difficult to receive immigration benefits, including actions taken by the previous administration that do not promote fair access to the legal immigration system – such as potentially rescinding USCIS fee increases, and other such areas of concern.

Continue reading

pete-alexopoulos-JFfDRKlI3hY-unsplash-scaled

Welcome back to Visalawyerblog! We kick off the start of a brand-new week with new immigration updates.


Texas Judge Blocks Bidens’ 100-day pause on deportations


First, let’s discuss some legal challenges the Biden administration is facing. Just last week, a federal judge from the state of Texas issued a nationwide temporary restraining order that temporarily stops the Biden administration from pursuing a 100-day pause on deportations.

As our readers will know, since his inauguration, President Biden has been busy dismantling anti-immigrant policies passed by his predecessor. Among the actions taken by President Biden has been placing a temporary 100-day pause on deportations for most undocumented immigrants with removal orders, except for those who have been suspected of committing acts of terrorism or espionage, and those who present a threat to national security.

The state of Texas took issue with the President’s actions and filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, calling on the court to grant an injunction that would immediately stop the Biden administration from putting a pause on deportations.

The judge in the case, Drew B. Tipton, a Trump appointee, ultimately sided with the state of Texas finding that the state had met its burden of proof that it would suffer irreparable harm if Biden were to pause deportations. The judge agreed that Texas would be financially harmed given the added strain undocumented immigrants would have on Texas’ health care and education system.

Judge Tipton also found that President Biden’s actions violated the law and the Administrative Procedure Act which requires the government to provide adequate justification before enacting such a change in policy.

Continue reading

blogging-guide-K5DY18hy5JQ-unsplash-scaled

Welcome back to Visalawyerblog! In today’s post, we discuss a newly released final rule announced by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on January 7, 2021.

The new rule entitled “Modification of Registration Requirement for Petitioners Seeking to File Cap-Subject H-1B Petitions,” will modify the H-1B cap selection process, amend current lottery procedures, and prioritize wages to ensure H-1B visas are awarded only to the most highly skilled foreign workers according to a new wage level selection process.

According to USCIS this new rule will only affect H-1B cap-subject petitions. It will be enforced against both the H-1B regular cap and the H-1B advanced degree exemption beginning March 9, 2021 (its effective date).

The final rule is scheduled to be published on January 8, 2021, however an advance copy has already been posted in the Federal Register for review.

Click here to view the advance copy.


When does the final rule become effective?


The final rule will become effective 60 days after its date of publication in the Federal Register (falling on March 9, 2021).


What are some of the highlights of this new rule?


The USCIS final rule creates a wage-based selection process for H-1B registrations, instead of a randomized computer generated process which is currently in place.


Ranking by Wage Level


DHS will amend regulations governing the process by which USCIS selects H-1B registrations for the filing of H-1B cap-subject petitions by generally first selecting registrations based on the highest Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) prevailing wage level indicated on the petition, where the proffered wage equals or exceeds the relevant Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) code and area(s) of intended employment, beginning with OES wage level IV and proceeding in descending order with OES wage levels III, II, and I.

The proffered wage is the wage that the employer intends to pay the beneficiary.

Continue reading

sincerely-media-vcF5y2Edm6A-unsplash-scaled

Welcome to the start of a new week! In this blog post we discuss an exciting new announcement and a quick reminder regarding upcoming increases in filing fees.

USCIS Announces Extension of Flexibility for RFE, NOID, and Similar Responses

On September 11, 2020, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) extended its previous policy granting applicants additional time to respond to requests for evidence, notices of intent to deny, and such similar notices.

Specifically, USCIS has stated that an applicant who has received a request, notice or decision dated between March 1, 2020 and January 1, 2021, may respond to such request or notice within 60 calendar days after the due date/deadline provided in the notice or request.

This flexibility is granted for the following types of notices, so long as the notice or request is dated between March 1, 2020 and January 1, 2021:

  • 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;
  • Motions to Reopen an N-400 Pursuant to 8 CFR 335.5, Receipt of Derogatory Information After Grant;
  • 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.

This flexibility has been provided to allow applicants the opportunity to gather important documentation needed to respond to the request or notice, given the extraordinary delays applicants have been facing in obtaining documents during the Coronavirus pandemic.

This policy ensures that USCIS will not take any adverse action on a case without first considering a response to the request or notice issued to the applicant.

USCIS will also consider a Form N-336 and Form I-290B “received” up to 60 calendar days from the date of the decision, before taking any action.

Continue reading

priscilla-du-preez-9vHPCKymSh0-unsplash-scaled

We would like to wish our readers a very great start of the week. In this blog post, we will be covering recent and exciting developments in immigration law.


K-1 Visa Applicants

We have great news for K-1 fiancé visa applicants. Today, August 31, 2020, the Department of State issued an important announcement for K visa applicants. Effective August 28, 2020, the Department of State has given Consular sections the authority to grant K visa cases “high priority.” This directive applies to Consulates and Embassies worldwide and gives Consular posts the discretion to prioritize the scheduling of K visa interviews, as country conditions allow during the Coronavirus pandemic.

DOS has encouraged applicants to check the website of their nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for updates on what services that post is currently able to offer.

Revalidating the I-129F Petition

DOS has also stated that while the I-129F Petition for Alien Fiancé(e) is valid for a period of four months, consular officials have the authority to revalidate the I-129F petition in four-month increments.

In addition, the announcement states that for most cases impacted by the suspension of routine visa services or COVID-19 travel restrictions, it will not be necessary to file a new I-129F petition.


Interview Waiver Eligibility for Certain Non-Immigrant Visa Applicants

The Department of State announced on August 25, 2020, that Consular officials at U.S. Embassies and Consulates abroad can temporarily waive the in-person interview requirement for individuals applying for a nonimmigrant visa in the same classification.

Previously, interview waiver eligibility was limited to applicants whose nonimmigrant visa expired within 12 months. The new announcement temporarily extends the expiration period to 24 months.

Continue reading