dollar-gaf1107580_1920

The bad news continues for the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Regional Center Program. As our readers will know, the EB-5 Regional Center program has been in a period of lapse following Congressional failure to reauthorize the program after its expiration at midnight on June 30, 2021. Such reauthorization was expected to be included in the government’s appropriations funding bills, but no such action has yet taken place to extend the program.

In a glimmer of hope, on December 3, 2021, President Biden signed H.R. 6119 into law, “Further Extending Government Funding Act” which includes a short-term continuing resolution that funds the federal government through February 18, 2022. EB-5 Regional Center legislation extending the program is expected to be included in future appropriation bills.

With its hands tied on the matter, on October 4, 2021, USCIS updated its website to indicate that it would not be accepting new I-526 petitions based on a regional center investment, but would be placing all pending I-526 petitions based on the Regional Center program in “abeyance,” (a temporary hold), as well as placing all pending I-485 green card applications based on a Regional Center investment on hold at least through the end of 2021, pending further action from Congress. No acting is being taken on applications placed on hold.

I-829 Petitions filed by conditional permanent residents under the Regional Center program remain unaffected. USCIS has confirmed that such applications are being accepted and processed by the agency.

Acting upon the government lapse, for its part, the Department of State has stopped processing immigrant visa applications for EB-5 Program applicants altogether.

Continue reading

online-marketing-hIgeoQjS_iE-unsplash-scaled

In this blog post we share with you the latest news for medical examinations filed by green card applicants.

Today, December 9, 2021, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced that it is temporarily waiving the requirement that civil surgeons sign Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record, no more than 60 days before an applicant files an application for the underlying immigration benefit (including Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status). This temporary policy change will be in effect until September 30, 2022.


Why the change?


USCIS has stated that it is offering this “temporary waiver” to help applicants who have been adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and related processing delays brought about by the USCIS office closures that occurred in 2020. Ultimately, all these factors have caused applicants to experience delays in completing the immigration medical examination known as Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record.

The service has said that this new change will allow applicants to submit their underlying application for an immigration benefit (I-485 green card application) with a completed Form I-693, even if the civil surgeon signed the medical examination more than 60 days prior. Such applicants will no longer need to undergo another immigration medical examination provided the completed Form I-693 is otherwise valid.


Who will benefit?


The temporary waiver will benefit all applicants applying for adjustment of status to become lawful permanent residents, including Afghan nationals evacuated under Operation Allies Welcome who have completed immigration medical examinations at government-run facilities who were not able to apply for adjustment of status within 60 days of the completed examination. Form I-693 is a required form to establish that green card applicants are not inadmissible to the United States on public health grounds. The medical examination must be conducted by a designated USCIS civil surgeon. To find a qualified medical office please visit our helpful links below.

Continue reading

alexander-schimmeck-HcI3I8mTaQU-unsplash-scaled

We kick off the start of a brand-new week with some breaking news. On Tuesday, December 2, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its international travel guidance to require all air passengers, regardless of vaccination status, to show a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than 1 day before travel to the United States starting today, Monday, December 6, 2021.

The CDC has also published a new webpage that summarizes the international travel requirements and recommendations for U.S. Citizens, Lawful Permanent Residents, and Immigrants. Another webpage also provides information for non-U.S. Citizens, non-U.S. immigrants traveling by air to the United States.


International Air Travel Guidance for non-U.S. Citizens and non-U.S. immigrants


Starting today, Monday December 6, 2021, all air passengers, regardless of vaccination status, must show a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than 1 day before travel to the United States.

Additionally, non-U.S. citizens and non-U.S. immigrants (those who are not a U.S. citizen, U.S. national, lawful permanent resident, or traveling to the United States on an immigrant visa) must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to travel to the United States by plane. Only limited exceptions apply.

Travelers are required to show a negative COVID-19 test result or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 when traveling to the United States by air.

Wearing a mask over your nose and mouth are also required in indoor areas of public transportation (including airplanes) traveling into, within, or out of the United States and indoors in U.S. transportation hubs (including airports).


What if I am not fully vaccinated?


Non-citizens who are nonimmigrants and seeking to enter the United States by air are required to show proof of being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before boarding a flight to the United States from a foreign country.

If you are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19, you will NOT be allowed to board a flight to the United States, unless you meet the limited criteria for an exception under the Proclamation and CDC’s Order.

Continue reading

announcement-g9fd61cadf_1280

We are happy to share some great news for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) applicants! On November 29, 2021, the United States Citizenship, and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that TPS applicants may now file Form I-821 Application for Temporary Protected Status and I-765 Application for Employment Authorization entirely online for certain country designations.


Who is eligible to apply online?


First-time TPS applicants and TPS beneficiaries who are re-registering are eligible to file Form I-821 and Form I-765 online, provided they are a national under one of the following current designations for TPS:

  • Burma (Myanmar)
  • El Salvador
  • Haiti
  • Honduras
  • Nepal
  • Nicaragua
  • Somalia
  • South Sudan
  • Sudan
  • Syria
  • Venezuela
  • Yemen

Applicants can request an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) by submitting a completed Form I-765 with their Form I-821 online, or they may choose to submit their Form I-765 separately later. TPS applicants are recommended to file both forms together to help receive their Employment Authorization Document more quickly.


Where can I file?


To file Form I-821 online, eligible TPS applicants should visit the myUSCIS page to log into or create a USCIS online account. Through their myUSCIS account, applicants will be able to track the status of their application, review requests for more evidence, download a copy of their receipt notice, and have the ability to communicate with USCIS about their application through a secure inbox.


Why the change?


The new online filing capability is part of USCIS’ efforts to streamline the application process and reduce workloads by easily and conveniently retrieving applications and supporting documentation electronically. Previously, TPS online filing was only available to individuals from certain countries. The expansion of the online filing capability will now give USCIS the ability to process applications and EADs on a more timely basis through its secure and convenient platform.

Continue reading

martin-sanchez-j2c7yf223Mk-unsplash-scaled

Welcome back to Visalawyerblog! We hope that you had a restful Thanksgiving holiday break with your friends and family members.

In this blog post, we share with you some unfortunate new developments relating to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic that will restrict the entry of foreign nationals from certain countries to the United States.

Just as the United States was beginning to ease restrictions on international air travel for the fully vaccinated starting November 8th, the world has once again been thrown into turmoil as a new Coronavirus variant known as “omicron” has been revealed with new cases emerging throughout Europe, Australia, South Africa, and the Netherlands.


President Biden Signs New Travel Ban Proclamation Amid Omicron Variant impacting South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique, and Malawi


President Biden and his Chief Medical Adviser were briefed on the unfolding situation, and on Friday, November 26, 2021, President Biden signed Presidential Proclamation, “A Proclamation on Suspension of Entry as Immigrants and Nonimmigrants of Certain Additional Persons Who Pose a Risk of Transmitting Coronavirus Disease 2019,” that restricts the entry of non- U.S. Citizens who were physically present within the Republic of South Africa, Republic of Botswana, Zimbabwe, Republic of Namibia, Kingdom of Lesotho, Kingdom of Eswatini, the Republic of Mozambique, and Republic of Malawi, during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry to the United States.

The new travel ban becomes effective at 12:01 a.m. eastern standard time on Monday, November 29, 2021, as part of a global effort to reduce the spread of the omicron variant to the United States. The Proclamation does not apply to persons aboard a flight scheduled to arrive in the United States that departed prior to 12:01 am eastern standard time on November 29th.

While no confirmed cases of the variant have yet been announced in the United States, the Chief Medical Adviser has explained that its eventual spread will be inevitable. The new travel ban indicates that the Republic of South Africa informed the World Health Organization (WHO) of the new Omicron variant on November 24, 2021, and two days thereafter the WHO announced the new “Omicron” variant as a cause for concern that has been increasing in almost all provinces in the Republic of South Africa. Based on this information, and the lack of genomic sequencing throughout Southern Arica, the government has imposed the new travel restrictions from the named regions.


How long will the travel ban last?


At this time, we do not know how long the bans will remain in place, however it is very likely that they will remain until the Biden administration believes it is safe to rescind the travel bans. As has occurred with the previous COVID-19 geographic travel bans, it is highly likely that the new travel ban will remain in place until it is determined that current vaccinations approved by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are effective against the emerging Omicron variant. The Proclamation indicates that it will remain in effect until terminated by the President. Within 30 days, the Secretary of Health and Human Services must recommend whether the President should continue, modify, or terminate the Proclamation.

Continue reading

Happy Thanksgiving from Sapochnick Law!

This Thanksgiving, we want to share our genuine appreciation for our clients, subscribers, and faithful readers of our blog. Without your trust and support, we would not be where we are today. We’re so thankful for all of your support throughout the year. 

Today, we take time to reflect upon how grateful we are to have amazing clients from all over the world and from all walks of life. Our firm is also reminded of all the wonderful blessings and hard work that goes into making it possible to achieve the dreams of our clients. We’re thankful for our wonderful staff each and every day. We’re also exceptionally thankful to our social media community. You’ve stuck by us and trusted us to bring you the latest in immigration news, through the good times, and the tough times, we will always be here to serve you. You inspire us and challenge us! You are a constant reminder of why we do what we do, and we’re grateful to be able to serve you.

balls-g3ba217f48_1920
Did you participate in the H-1B electronic registration for Fiscal Year 2022? If so, we have some exciting news for you.

In this post we share with you some exciting news for individuals who submitted H-1B registrations for the fiscal year 2022 H-1B cap. On Friday, November 19, 2021, USCIS issued a news alert informing the public that they have selected additional H-1B registrations to reach the fiscal year (FY) 2022 H-1B numerical allocations, including the advanced degree exemption to reach the mandated cap for the H-1B program.

As our readers may recall, USCIS conducted a second lottery on July 28, 2021, making this the third lottery conducted to meet the Congressionally mandated FY 2022 cap.

megaphone-ge64a5e7b4_1920

We are happy to deliver some amazing news for H-4, E, and L dependent spouses! On November 12, 2021, following a settlement agreement known as Shergill v. Mayorkas, the United States Citizenship, and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a new Policy Memorandum (Policy Alert PA-2021-25) outlining that the agency will automatically allow for employment authorization for dependent E, L, and certain H-4 spouses of principal visa holders, without requiring spouses to file I-765 application for employment authorization to be eligible to work in the United States.

The new Policy Memorandum also rescinds the agency’s previous 2002 Memorandum which did not allow dependent spouses in E, L and certain H-4 visa holders to automatically qualify for work authorization in the United States.

Following this new settlement, E, L, and certain H-4 spouses will be able to work just by having their valid visas, and they will not need to file any separate applications nor need an employment authorization card (work permit) to lawfully work in the United States.

While some doubt initially arose regarding whether E dependent spouses would qualify for automatic employment authorization, USCIS has now explicitly confirmed that it will indeed consider E and L dependent spouses to be employment authorized incident to their valid E or L nonimmigrant status.

The new November 12, 2021, Policy Memorandum outlines the following:

  • Certain H-4, E, or L dependent spouses to qualify for an automatic extension of their existing employment authorization and accompanying employment authorization document (EAD) if they properly filed an application to renew their H-4, E or L-based EAD before the document expires and they have an unexpired Form I-94 evidencing their status as an H-4, E, or L nonimmigrant;
  • The automatic extension of the EAD will continue until the earlier of: end date on Form I-94 evidencing valid status the approval or denial of the EAD renewal application, or 180 days from the date of expiration of the prior EAD document; Form I-94, evidencing unexpired nonimmigrant status (H-4, E or L), Form I797C receipt for a timely – filed EAD renewal application stating “Class requested as “(a)(17),” “(a)(18) or ((c)(26)”, and the facially expired EAD issued under the same category);

Continue reading

guneet-jassal-6gMrc3eeWUw-unsplash-scaled

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


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


In general, if USCIS determines there are more immigrant visas available for a fiscal year than there are known applicants for such visas, the agency will provide instructions on the www.uscis.gov/visabulletininfo webpage that applicants may use the Dates for Filing chart. Otherwise, USCIS will indicate that applicants must use the Final Action Dates chart to determine when they may file their adjustment of status application with USCIS. If a particular immigrant visa category is “current” on the Final Action Dates chart or the cutoff date on the Final Action Dates chart is later than the date on the Dates for Filing chart, applicants in that immigrant visa category may file using the Final Action Dates chart during that month.


Adjustment of Status Filing Chart December 2021


Please note that USCIS has not yet released information on its webpage regarding the appropriate filing chart to be used for family-sponsored adjustment of status filings and employment-based adjustment of status preference filings for December 2021. We recommend that applicants monitor the USCIS webpage below on a regular basis for those updates.

Continue reading

win-gaa7fe7f08_1920

In this blog post we share amazing news with our readers regarding the settlement of a recent class-action lawsuit filed against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The agreement reached under the settlement will immediately allow for automatic renewals of employment authorization for: L-2 spouses of L-1 nonimmigrants and qualifying H-4 dependent spouses who (a) properly file an application to renew their H-4 based employment authorization document before expiration (b) have an unexpired Form I-94 showing their status as an H-4 nonimmigrant and (c) who will continue to have H-4 status beyond the expiration date of their employment authorization document. Shergill v. Mayorkas, No. 21-1296 (W.D. Wash.)


What does this new settlement mean?


 Effective immediately, the Shergill settlement will make it a lot easier for L-2 and H-4 dependent spouses to continue working in the United States without having to apply for a renewal of their employment authorization and without interruptions to their employment. As many are already aware, the processing of I-765 employment authorization applications is currently subject to extreme delays due to the pandemic and burdens on USCIS offices. This new settlement will prevent L-2 and certain H-4 dependent spouses from being stuck in these backlogs. Not to mention L-2 and certain H-4 spouses will no longer have to pay the required $410 filing fee to renew their employment authorization. Following this new settlement, L-2 spouses and certain H-4 spouses will be able to work just by having their valid H-4 and L-2 visas, and they will not need to file any separate applications nor need an employment authorization card (work permit) to work in the United States.


Guidelines for Dependent Spouses under the Settlement Agreement


Under the terms of the Shergill settlement agreement, as it relates to L-2 dependent spouses, USCIS will now interpret 8 CFR § 274a.13(d) to recognize that employment authorization for such spouses is now linked (incident) to their visa status. USCIS will also allow up to 180-day automatic employment authorization extensions when the applicant has already had the H-4 or L-2 status extension granted either through USCIS or through travel.

Automatic Renewals of Employment Authorization for applications that already have valid H-4 status

  • Pursuant to the settlement agreement, USCIS is now interpreting the law so that H-4 nonimmigrants who have timely filed their I-765 EAD renewal applications and continue to have H-4 status beyond the expiration date of their EAD, qualify for the automatic extension based on their (c)(26) EAD.
  • This automatic extension will terminate on the earlier of: the end date of the H-4 status, adjudication of the EAD renewal application, or 180 days from the previous card’s expiration date.

Continue reading