A blog about U.S. immigration matters by Paul Szeto, a former INS attorney and an experienced immigration attorney and counsel. Contact Info: 732-632-9888, http://www.1visa1.com/ (All information is not legal advice and is subject to change without prior notice.)

Monday, March 18, 2019

April 2019 Visa Bulletin



Movement in April's Visa Bulletin is sluggish.  Family 1st advances 5 weeks for China, India and Other Countries. 
Employment 1st is unchanged for China and India.  
EB-2 and EB3 China advance 3 months and 3 weeks respectfully.  
EB-2 India moves forward by 3 days only. 
EB-3 moves forward by 1 month.  
EB-3 Philippines advances 3 months.

AD: Dates for Final Action (Green Card Approval)              FD: Dates for Filing Applications Only

      Family
Other Countries
      China
India
Mexico
Philippines
F1
AD
12/01/2011
12/01/2011
12/01/2011
08/08/1997
04/08/2007
FD
07/01/201207/01/201207/01/201210/01/1999
04/08/2008
F2A
AD
03/01/2017
03/01/2017
03/01/2017
02/15/2017
03/01/2017
FD
12/15/2017
12/15/2017
12/15/2017
12/15/2017
12/15/2017
F2B
AD
10/22/2012
10/22/2012
10/22/2012
12/01/1997
08/01/2007
FD
07/01/2014
07/01/2014
07/01/2014
07/01/1998
03/01/2008
F3
AD
09/22/2006
09/22/2006
09/22/2006
02/08/1996
06/01/1996
FD
04/22/2007
04/22/2007
04/22/2007
06/15/2000
09/01/1997
F4
AD
01/01/2006
01/01/2006
07/15/2004
02/08/1998
06/01/1996
FD
08/01/2006
08/01/2006
02/15/2005
11/15/1998
01/15/1998

1st: Unmarried Sons and Daughters of Citizens (about 23,400 per year).
2A: The 2 "A" preference is for Spouses and Children (under 21 & unmarried) of LPR's.
2B: The 2 "B" Preference is for Unmarried Sons and Daughters (21 or older) of LPR's.
3rd: Married Sons and Daughters of Citizens (about 23,400 per year)
4th: Brothers and Sisters of Adult Citizens. (about 65,000 per year)
   
Employment
Other Countries
China
El Salvador
Guatemala
Honduras
India
Mexico
Philippines

Vietnam
EB1
AD
      02/01/2018
   02/22/2017
02/01/2018
  02/22/2017
02/01/2018
02/01/2018
02/01/2018
FD
06/01/2018
10/01/2017
06/01/2018
10/01/2017
06/01/2018
06/01/2018
C
EB2
AD
 C
04/01/2016
C
  04/12/2009
C
C
        C
FD
C
07/01/2016
C
06/01/2009
C
C
C
EB3
AD
C
08/01/2015
C
06/22/2009
C
03/01/2018
C
FD
C
01/01/2016
C
04/01/2010
C
07/01/2018
C
Other Workers
  AD
C
08/22/2007
          C
06/22/2009
C
03/01/2018
C
FD
C
06/01/2008
C
04/01/2010
C
07/01/2018
C
EB4
AD
C
C
03/08/2016
C
04/01/2018
C
C
FD
C
C
05/15/2016
C
C
C
C
EB5
AD
C
09/15/2014
C
C
C
C
08/22/2016
FD
C
10/08/2014
C
C
C
C
C









1st: Priority Workers (Extraordinary ability aliens, multinational companies executives/managers, outstanding prof./researchers)
2nd: Members of the Professions Holding Advanced Degrees or Persons of Exceptional Ability.
3rd: Skilled Workers, Professionals, and Other Workers (Unskilled.)
4th: "Special Immigrants" (Religious & others)    
5th: Employment Creation (Investors)


Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Premium Processing Resumed for all H-1B Cases

USCIS announced yesterday that premium processing service has been resumed for all H-1B cases, starting March 12, 2019. This includes all the cap-subject cases to be filed in April too.  Applicants may make the request now or wait till their cases have been selected in the visa lottery to request for premium service. 

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

What to expect at a biometrics (ASC) appointment?

More than 22 million foreign born non-citizens live in the United States.  If you are one of them, you probably have filed one or more immigration petitions for yourself or your family members for one reason or another.  It is also inevitable that you are required to attend a biometrics (or ASC) appointment for your immigration petition. 

What is a Biometrics Appointment?
Depending on what stage your application is at, you may have received a notice from USCIS scheduling a time and place to take your biometrics. This means that your fingerprints, pictures, and other information will be collected for the purpose of background investigation.  After the 911 terrorist attacks, the United States government has greatly tightened its security policy.  

Typically, the notice for biometrics or ASC appointment should arrive in the mail within 3-4 weeks after an application has been submitted to the USCIS.   The appointment notice will provide the date, time and place for the biometrics appointment.  If you use the services of a lawyer in filing the application, your lawyer should also receive a copy of the appointment notice.  The appointment is also called an ASC appointment.  ASC stands for Application Support Center.

How to Prepare for an ASC Appointment?
Some applicants wonder how they should prepare for the biometrics appointment. What kind of questions will they be asked? The function of the ASCs are to provide fingerprinting and related services; they are not involved in the actual examination of the immigration application.   Only simple questions about applicants' name, address, date and place of birth, etc., will be asked.  There will be no questions about the substance of the underlying application.

Still, one must take the appointment seriously. Failure to show up for the appointment will result in the denial of the application.  One must bring a valid photo ID such as passport and driver's license with them, in addition to the USCIS appointment notice. (Note: The ASC workers usually ask to see an applicant's passport if it is available. So bring it with you.)   Applicants applying for green card renewals must also bring their original green cards to the appointment.

Try to make it to the appointment if at all possible.  Rescheduling is possible but it is not recommended as it will cause unnecessary delay.

What to expect at the ASC Appointment?
If you live in a metropolitan area, unless you get up before sunrise, you could approach the ASC facility to find a line of people stretching from the door to the end of the block, then finally enter to a room stuffed with people waiting for their number to be called. If you are really lucky (or live in Hawaii), you could walk into a quiet room with a handful of people spread out on rows of vacant chairs.  Follow instructions and go with the flow, and you should be able to get out within a few hours.



Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Too Young to Marry?

Does love conquer all, including age differences?  Can a person be too young to get married?  USCIS is grappling with this issue in its new guidance regarding marriage petitions that involve minors.

A major problem with the marriage visa system is forced marriage and fraudulent petitions. Typically, a young underage citizen is forced into marriage with a foreign national, who can then attain a visa through a I-130 petition. An I-130 petition is used to sponsor family members for immigration.  If the parties are both present in the U.S., the I-130 is typically filed with the I-485 Adjustment of Status (green card application). There is currently no statutory limit on the couple's ages and no limit on the number of available marriage visas. The immigration officials are always concerned that minors and the marriage petition system are exploited for visas.

What mechanisms are currently in place to combat this? USCIS uses an electronic flagging system to detect minor spouses and fianc├ęs in marriage petitions. Once flagged, the petition is sent to another unit to verify the age and relationship on the petition before processing can proceed. 

The new guidance adds more concrete rules for officers to reference in the Adjudicator's Field Manual (AFM). The marriage must be (1) valid where it is celebrated, (2) valid in the state where the couple resides or will reside, (3) in accordance with the state of residence's public policy, (4) bona fide, and (5) done with the minor's full and informed consent. Officers have also been instructed to pay special attention to marriage petitions involving underage people.  

Other factors USCIS will take into consideration are if the marriage took place in a state or foreign country that allows underage marriage under certain circumstances. These circumstances can include  a judicial order, emancipated minors, pregnancy of the minor, and having parental consent.

Some underage marriages are legitimate, but it is difficult to tell through forms alone. Minors can be groomed or coerced into consenting to marriage, something not always reflected on applications. Immigration officers will use personal interviews and in-depth questioning to determine whether the marriage is legitimate and informed consent is present. Sometimes, officers may even visit the marital address to investigate the couple's habits and lifestyle.  But the addition of stricter guidelines should not otherwise affect truthful and genuine marriages. 

Friday, February 22, 2019

Last Chance to Apply for H-4 EAD Now

If you are holding H-4 dependent status and need employment authorization to work or to apply for a social security number, do not wait any longer and submit the application now!  

As reported before, the Trump Administration intends to cancel H-4 visa holders' EADs and has already started rule making process to do that.  "Removing H-4 Dependent Spouses from the Class of Aliens Eligible for Employment Authorization," was sent to the Office of Management and Budget for review.  After review, the rule will be published in the Federal Register for public comments.  Within a few months, it could become effective.

Here is the absract of the rule - 

On February 25, 2015, DHS published a final rule extending eligibility for employment authorization to certain H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B nonimmigrants who are seeking employment-based lawful permanent resident (LPR) status.  DHS is publishing this notice of proposed rulemaking to amend that 2015 final rule.  DHS is proposing to remove from its regulations certain H-4 spouses of H-1B nonimmigrants as a class of aliens eligible for employment authorization.