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, January 14, 2019

February 2019 Visa Bulletin: Family and Employment Advance

  
For February, Employment categories advance moderately.
EB-1 China and India advance 55 days; most other EB-1 countries advance about 2 months.
EB-2 China advances 2 months while EB-2 India advances 5 days only.
EB-3 China advances 23 days; EB-3 India advances 52 days; Philippines advance 40 days.

Family categories also advance gradually.
Family 1st advances 1 month for most countries.
F2B, F-3 & F-4 also advance moderately.   F-4 Philippines advance 7+ months to December 8, 1997.

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

      Family
Other Countries
      China
India
Mexico
Philippines
F1
AD
09/22/2011
09/22/2011
09/22/2011
08/01/1997
03/15/2007
FD
04/08/201204/08/201204/08/201209/22/1999
03/15/2008
F2A
AD
12/01/2016
12/01/2016
12/01/2016
11/15/2016
12/01/2016
FD
12/01/2017
12/01/2017
12/01/2017
12/01/2017
12/01/2017
F2B
AD
05/01/2012
05/01/2012
05/01/2012
07/22/1997
07/01/2007
FD
06/22/2014
06/22/2014
06/22/2014
10/08/1997
01/15/2008
F3
AD
08/22/ 2006
08/22/2006
08/22/2006
12/22/1995
08/22/1995
FD
02/01/2007
02/01/2007
02/01/2007
06/08/2000
08/01/1997
F4
AD
06/22/2005
06/22/2005
06/22/2004
02/08/1998
10/01/1995
FD
06/15/2006
06/15/2006
02/01/2005
11/01/1998
12/08/1997

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
      12/01/2017
   02/08/2017
12/01/2017
  02/08/2017
12/01/2017
12/01/2017
12/01/2017
FD
06/01/2018
10/01/2017
06/01/2018
10/01/2017
06/01/2018
06/01/2018
C
EB2
AD
 C
10/01/2015
C
  04/06/2009
C
C
        C
FD
C
11/01/2015
C
05/22/2009
C
C
C
EB3
AD
C
07/01/2015
C
04/22/2009
C
08/01/2017
C
FD
C
01/01/2016
C
04/01/2010
C
10/01/2017
C
Other Workers
  AD
C
08/01/2007
          C
04/22/2009
C
08/01/2017
C
FD
C
06/01/2008
C
04/01/2010
C
10/01/2017
C
EB4
AD
C
C
03/01/2016
C
09/01/2017
C
C
FD
C
C
05/01/2016
C
C
C
C
EB5
AD
C
09/01/2014
C
C
C
C
06/15/2016
FD
C
10/01/2014
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)

Notes:  The following two categories (not listed above) have become "unavailable" in February 2019:- Certain Religious Workers for all countries.- 5th Regional Center (I5 and R5)

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Do you need IRS Transcripts?

Anyone applying for immigration benefits should take heed -- there is a new format for tax transcripts. Tax transcripts are a vital document to many immigration applications, such as N-400 Application for Naturalization, I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status (green card), I-864 Affidavit of Support, and more. The IRS has introduced a new tax transcript format aimed at protecting sensitive information. The changes will affect who can obtain a transcript and what information is shown. 

Sensitive personal information has been partially redacted on transcripts. Only the last four digits of SSN, EIN, and account or telephone numbers will be shown. Similarly, only the first four characters of last names and business names will be shown. The first six characters of a street address will be shown. Otherwise, all money amounts will still be visible.

Also, access to tax transcripts has been restricted. From February 4, 2019 onward, the IRS will stop faxing transcripts to taxpayers, tax professionals, and 3rd parties. Individual taxpayers can get a masked transcript (as described above) online or through mail and can request unmasked ones for doing taxes.

With the above information blocked, how can transcripts and their taxpayers be identified? The IRS has introduced the Customer File Number, an optional 10-digit number for tax transcripts to be matched to their taxpayers. Third parties can create the code and have the taxpayer sign for it, then submit it through Form-4506T Request for Transcript of Tax Return. The taxpayer can also submit the form himself. The number will then mark all future copies of the transcript. This way, a transcript can be matched to its taxpayer even with censored personal information. Taxpayers can use this method to verify income for a lender (e.g., in mortgage applications). The 10-digit number can function as a lender's "loan number" on a transcript request. The loan number will be matched to the taxpayer, and no SSN is needed.

The Customer File Number is also available to authorized tax professionals through the Transcript Delivery System (TDS). The professional can assign 10-digit codes to show on transcripts produced by the TDS. This is a useful way for them to keep track of transcripts.


Tax professionals will still be able to access transcripts for tax preparation purposes. They can request unmasked transcripts, which will be mailed to the taxpayer's address. However, a more complicated process must be undergone to request unmasked Wage and Income transcripts. Starting January 7, 2019, tax professionals may contact the Practitioner Priority Service Line to access these unmasked transcripts for tax preparation. Accessing these unmasked transcripts will require an e-Services account with Secure Access authentication.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

iCERT Portal System is Down Now - No LCAs can be submitted for H-1B petitions

The following is the announcement on the iCERT Portal - 

The iCERT Portal System is currently unavailable.

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT (Updated January 2, 2019, 12:00PM EST): 

Within the first five minutes of opening the semi-annual H-2B certification process on January 1, 2019, the U.S. Department of Labor iCERT system had an unprecedented demand for H-2B certifications with more than 97,800 workers requested in pending applications for the 33,000 available visas. With more than thirty-times the user demand on the iCERT system compared to last year on January 1, the iCERT system experienced a system disruption. The Employment and Training Administration, working with the Department of Labor's Office of the Chief Information Officer, is working diligently to have the system ready within a few days to accept a record number of H-2B applications. Enhancing system capacity and dealing with other factors such as the possible use of automated script programs during the application process are being addressed in iCERT to ensure certifications can be processed. As previously stated, the Department will be giving at least 24 hours' notice before the iCERT system is re-opened. A further update will be provided on Thursday, January 3, 2019. 

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

USCIS Offices Open During Government Shutdown

Most of the U.S. immigration services continue to be available to the public during the government shutdown. The USCIS local offices are open for business.  The USCIS service centers are also open for business and continue to accept applications.  The Department of Labor is also accepting filing of Labor Condition Applications and PERM Foreign Labor Applications. Individuals with appointments for adjustment of status (green card), naturalization, biometrics (fingerprinting) appointments, visa appointments, etc., should show up as usual. 

Monday, December 17, 2018

Stricter N-648 Medical Disability Exemption Policy

The number of applications for naturalization has risen to 754,700 during President Trump’s second year in office, according to USCIS.  This number is the highest since 2013.  There are many benefits that come with U.S. citizenship.  As an American citizen, one has the right to vote and the ability to apply for a U.S. passport; one may also apply for government jobs and other government benefit programs. However, to become an American citizen, one must pass the English and civics test. 

The English and civics test requirement of the naturalization process can be especially challenging for those with cognitive impairments such as dementia and Alzheimer's.  The good news is that one does not have to take the English and civics test if there is medical proof that the person lacks mental ability to learn English or study American civics.  Those that qualify can be exempt with an valid N-648 Medical Disability Exception application. USCIS issued a new policy which will be effective on February 12, 2019, regarding the N-648 form. 

The applicant will need certification from a medical doctor describing their condition and why it exempts the applicant. The doctor's relationship with the patient must also be described. If the regularly treating medical professional is not the one filling out the form, then an explanation why must be included. Other important details include the specific methods and equipment used to diagnose the applicant, dates of examination, and a statement that the condition's duration is at least 12 months. A statement is also required if an interpreter was used. Any anomalies or inconsistencies can make an officer doubt the applicant's legibility.

Immigration Officers are instructed not to judge the medical diagnosis, order specific tests, or to go through the applicant's medical records. Their job is to make sure the form is properly completed. They check for discrepancies in the applicant's file and if sufficient explanation is given. Most important is the connection between the applicant's impairment and an inability to read, write, and speak in the English language or understand U.S. history and government. The details must be tailored to the applicant's condition.

Form N-648 should be submitted with N-400. If it is late, an explanation supported by evidence is required. The N-648 application is accepted or rejected at the initial naturalization interview. If the form N-648 is rejected, the examination continues as if it were not submitted.