Articles Posted in USCIS

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Welcome back to Visalawyerblog! In this blog post we share with you an overview of the State Department’s October 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.

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 visa projections for October 2021.


DOS Q&A Session with Charlie Oppenheim: October 2021 Visa Bulletin Projections & Beyond



The Top 9 Advance Questions Sent in By Listeners


Q: Last month, when describing the National Visa Center’s processing of cases, you mentioned a change in terminology from “documentarily qualified” to “documentarily complete.” Why the change and what’s the difference?

A: Well, the terminology means exactly the same thing. It’s my understanding that in changing it to “complete,” the National Visa Center was trying to make it very clear to the applicant that they had submitted all the required documents, that all those documents have been reviewed by the National Visa Center, and the case is considered to be “complete” and ready for the potential processing at an overseas post when an interview can be scheduled.

Q: In the September Visa Bulletin, the application dates for filing which are listed for China and India EB-3 were July 1, 2019, and March 1, 2014, respectively. But in the October Visa Bulletin, the dates for filing for China and India EB-3 were moved back to January 15, 2019, and January 8, 2014, respectively. Why did you move these two application dates backwards?

A: Each month before I’m making the determination of the final action dates and the application dates, I consult with USCIS officials and their inventory projections show that on October 1, 2021, coming up, the pending demand which both the State Department and USCIS has in the employment third preference category for applicants born in India and China will already exceed the amount of numbers that are available to applicants from those countries throughout fiscal year 2022 in the third preference category. Therefore, for that reason we made the decision to retrogress those application dates for filing to limit new applications, which we did not at the time anticipate could be processed during fiscal year 2022. But it is important to remember that as with the final action dates, we always continue to monitor the situation very carefully and that allows us to determine what if any future action will be required.

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The fate of nearly 8 million undocumented immigrants now rests in the hands of Senate Parliamentarian, Elizabeth MacDonough.

On Friday, September 10, 2021, Democratic Congressmen, and women, met with the Senate staffer in hopes of convincing her to allow a piece of legislation to be introduced in the Democratic party’s upcoming $3.5 trillion spending bill, which would, for the first time in decades set in motion the implementation of comprehensive immigration reform.

The spending bill includes a provision that would carve out a pathway to citizenship for “Dreamers” participating in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program (DACA) that were brought to the United States illegally as children. The bill would also open a door for legalization to recipients of Temporary Protected Status, farmworkers, and certain undocumented workers deemed “essential.” It is estimated that nearly 8 million undocumented immigrants would qualify for permanent residence through this proposal, offering the first big victory for comprehensive immigration reform.

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Can you receive a green card under the EB-2 classification (National Interest Waiver) as the developer of an innovative application that improves the health and wellness of chronically ill U.S. Citizens?

In this blog post, we share with you how our office was able to do just that despite initial challenges that were presented in our client’s case and previous unsuccessful filings in other visa classifications, where the adjudicating officer refused to recognize the applicant’s extraordinary ability in the field of health and business development despite a plethora of documentary evidence of his unique skills.


An Overview: What are the EB-2 NIW Requirements?

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Welcome back to Visalawyerblog! We hope our readers had a wonderful Labor Day weekend. We kick off the start of a brand-new week with great news for I-751 Removal of Conditions applicants.

On September 3, 2021, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that effective September 4, 2021, the agency will now be extending the time that receipt notices can be used to show evidence of lawful status for conditional permanent residents who must file Form I-751 Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence or Form I-829 Petition by Investor to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status.

As of September 4, 2021, USCIS will issue receipt notices automatically extending a conditional resident’s period of lawful status from 18 to 24 months, following the proper filing of Form I-751 or I-829 to remove conditions on permanent residence. The additional time period has been given to accommodate the lengthy processing times for both Form I-751 and Form I-829 during the COVID-19 pandemic.


How can I show evidence of my lawful status once I have submitted I-751 or I-829?


Effective September 4, 2021, conditional permanent residents who properly file Form I-751 or Form I-829 will receive a receipt notice (Notice of Action) in the mail that can be presented along with Form I-551, Permanent Resident Card (also known as a Green Card), as evidence of continued status for up to 24 months past the expiration date on the Green Card, while the removal of conditions application remains pending with USCIS.


What if I filed my I-751 case before September 4, 2021?


For those who properly filed their Form I-751 or Form I-829 before September 4, 2021, USCIS has said that it will issue new receipt notices to eligible conditional permanent residents whose cases remain pending. Applicants may use those receipt notices as evidence of continued status for 24 months past the expiration date on their Green Card.

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Welcome back to Visalawyerblog! We hope that you are having a wonderful week and are looking forward to your Labor Day weekend.

In this blog post, we share with you some recent immigration updates relating to automatic renewals for certain categories of applicants filing Employment Authorization Document renewal applications. In this post we also discuss Form I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification flexibilities recently extended due to the COVID-19 health crisis.


DHS Extends Form I-9 Requirement Flexibility (Effective September 1, 2021)


In order to remain in compliance with federal regulations, U.S. employers must complete Form I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification, to verify the identity and employment authorization documents of their employees.

On September 1, 2021, the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, announced that they will be extending previously issued flexibility guidelines for employers and noncitizen employees to comply with Form I-9 requirements due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. DHS has extended these flexibility requirements until December 31, 2021.


What do the flexibility guidelines say?


DHS first introduced the I-9 flexibility guidelines on April 1, 2021, abandoning the requirement that employers inspect employees’ Form I-9 identity and employment eligibility documentation in-person for most employees. Employees who physically report to work at a company location on any “regular, consistent, or predictable basis” are not exempt from the in-person inspection requirement.

The physical inspection requirement would not apply to employees hired on or after April 1, 2021, who are working in a remote setting due to COVID-19-related precautions, under Section 274A of the INA, until they undertake non-remote employment on a “regular, consistent, or predictable basis,” or where the extension of the flexibilities related to such requirements is terminated, whichever is earlier.

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In this blog post we share with you some breaking news for green card applicants applying for adjustment of status on Form I-485, as well as those applying for immigrant visas from abroad.

As part of the green card process, USCIS and the Department of State require applicants to undergo a medical examination with a doctor designated as a civil surgeon, to establish that the applicant is not inadmissible to the United States on public health grounds.

According to new guidelines released by the Centers for Disease Control, beginning October 1, 2021, green card applicants will now be required to establish that they have received a complete COVID-19 vaccine series, in order to be deemed eligible for permanent residence. Following the release of this new guidance, COVID-19 was added to the list of vaccinations required of those seeking U.S. lawful permanent residence.

The new vaccine requirement will apply to routine medical examinations necessary for both adjustment of status applicants applying for green cards in the United States and immigrant visa applicants applying at U.S. embassies and consulates abroad.


Who must take the COVID-19 vaccine?


All applicants (1) applying for I-485 adjustment of status (a green card) or (2) those applying for an immigrant visa abroad, who will receive their medical examination from a Civil Surgeon or Panel Physician on or after October 1, 2021, will be subject to this requirement and are encouraged to complete a COVID-19 vaccine series as soon  as possible.

Eligible applicants must complete the COVID-19  vaccine  series if  a  COVID-19  vaccine  listed  for  emergency  use  by  the World  Health  Organization  (WHO)  or  licensed  or  authorized  for  emergency  use  by  the  U.S. Food  and  Drug Administration  (FDA)  is  available  to  the  applicant  in  the  country  where  the  medical  examination  is  conducted.


How can I show that I have met the vaccine requirement?


Applicants must complete the COVID-19 vaccine series and provide documentation of vaccination to the civil surgeon in person before completion of the medical examination.  The COVID-19 vaccination requirement will differ from previous requirements in that the entire vaccine series (1 or 2 doses depending on formulation) must be completed in addition to the other routinely required vaccines.


How long will the COVID-19 vaccine requirement be in place?


These COVID-19 vaccine requirement will be in place until the CDC determines the vaccine is no longer needed to prevent the importation and spread of COVID-19.

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Exciting news for adjustment of status applicants filing their green card applications! On August 12, 2021, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that the agency will be temporarily extending the validity period of medical examination (known as Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record), from two years to now four years due to COVID-19 related delays in processing applications. For those who are unaware, a sealed medical examination signed by a USCIS authorized civil surgeon on Form I-693 is a required component to receive lawful permanent resident status.


Who Will Benefit from this New Policy?


Effective immediately, USCIS will extend your Form I-693 medical examination if all of the following is true:

  • The civil surgeon’s signature on the medical examination (Form I-693) is dated no more than 60 days before the applicant filed Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status;
  • No more than four years have passed since the date of the civil surgeon’s signature on Form I-693; and
  • A decision on the applicant’s Form I-485 is issued on or before Sept. 30, 2021.

Why is the validity of the medical exam being extended?


According to USCIS, this change is being made temporarily due to COVID-19 related processing delay that have affected the ability of many applicants to complete the required immigration medical examination. Previously, USCIS considered a completed Form I-693 to retain its validity for two years after the date the civil surgeon signed, as long as the date of the civil surgeon’s signature was no more than 60 days before the applicant filed for adjustment of status. Now the validity of the medical examination Form I-693 is being extended to four years (see the criteria above).

USCIS also revealed that it will be approving a record number of employment-based adjustment of status applications, with more approvals than it has issued since FY 2005.  The agency has prioritized the processing and adjudication of employment-based adjustment of status applications during this fiscal year. The agency vows to continue to make processing and resource allocation decisions to increase the pace of adjudications and limit the potential for employment-based visa numbers to go unused.

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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.

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Welcome back to Visalawyerblog! In this blog post, we will cover the release of the September Visa Bulletin 2021 and what you can expect for employment based and family preference categories during the month of September 2021.

The Department of State releases the visa bulletin on a monthly basis, which summarizes the availability of immigrant visa numbers for that particular month. The “Final Action Dates” and “Dates for Filing Applications,” charts indicate when immigrant visa applicants should be notified to assemble and submit the required documentation to the National Visa Center.

If you would like to follow along on each month’s progress for the Visa Bulletin please be on the lookout for the next “Chats with Charlie” on the DOS YouTube Channel, which will take place on August 19, 2021, at 1:00 p.m. ET.

Chats with Charlie is a monthly series recently launched by the State Department where Charlie Oppenheim, Chief of the Immigrant Visa Control & Reporting Division of the U.S. Department of State, answers your frequently asked questions regarding each month’s Visa Bulletin. Questions can be emailed to VisaBulletin@state.gov ahead of the event with “Chat with Charlie Question” in the subject line.


Adjustment of Status Filings for those lawfully residing in the United States


Unless otherwise indicated on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website at www.uscis.gov/visabulletininfo, individuals seeking to file applications for adjustment of status with USCIS must use the “Final Action Dates” charts to determine when they can file such applications. When USCIS determines that there are more immigrant visas available for the fiscal year than there are known applicants for such visas, USCIS will state on its website www.uscis.gov/visabulletininfo that applicants may instead use the “Dates for Filing Visa Applications” charts in this Bulletin.


Adjustment of Status Filing Chart September 2021


For Family-Sponsored Filings:

Pursuant to guidance released by USCIS, 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. This means that applicants in the F2A category only may file using the Final Action Dates Chart in the Department of State Visa Bulletin for September 2021.

For all other family-sponsored preference categories, applicants must use the Dates for Filing Chart in the Department of State Visa Bulletin for September 2021.

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Exciting news for green card applicants! On August 9, 2021, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced a new partnership with the Social Security Administration that will allow most applicants filing for adjustment of status to register lawful permanent residence, to apply for a new Social Security number or replacement Social Security card using the newly updated Form I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.

As many of you know, a foreign national must show evidence of their identity and employment eligibility before they can lawfully work in the United States. An acceptable document showing such employment eligibility is an unrestricted Social Security card issued by the Social Security Administration.

Previously, applicants granted lawful permanent resident status were required to attend their local Social Security office and submit documentation in person in order to obtain their Social Security card.