A blog about U.S. immigration matters by Paul Szeto, a former INS attorney and an experienced immigration lawyer. We serve clients in all U.S. states and overseas countries. (All information is not legal advice and is subject to change without prior notice.)

Contact: 732-632-9888, http://www.1visa1.com/

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Thursday, July 29, 2021

2nd H-1B Lottery Completed on 07/28/21

USCIS announced today that it has completed the second H-1B visa lottery for FY 2022 on 07/28/2021. The second lottery was conducted earlier than last year's H-1B program schedule. Due to some system issues, attorneys and legal representatives are not able to log in to the USCIS online account system to get the results of the second selection.  The system issues do not seem to affact the employer accounts. Employers have been able to log in to the system to find out if their cases have been selected. 

The first visa lottery was performed in late March this year. The initial filing period for the first group of selected registrations was from 04/01/2021 to 06/30/2021. Based on the number of cases filed, approved, abandoned, denied, rejected, etc., USCIS determined that additional applications are needed to reach the FY 2022 numerical cap.  Hence, on 07/28/2021, a second batch of H-1B registrants were selected using a random selection process. The petition filing period for the second selected cases will begin on 08/02/2021 and close on 11/03/2021.  

The selection notices can only be obtained from the USCIS online system.  As noted, the system glitches on the morning of 07/29/2021 have prevented attorneys and legal representatives from accessing the case information and documents.  However, employers have been able to login and retrieve their selection notices. 

It is important to note that registration selection only allows an employer to submit an H-1B petition on behalf of the selected candidate, but it does not guarantee H-1B approval.  As of now, only paper petitions are accepted by USCIS.  The H-1B petition must also meet all the regulatory requirements before it can be approved.  A printed copy of the applicable registration selection notice must also be submitted with the petition.  The employer and employee information as well as the type of selection (regular cap vs. master cap) must match with the information in the selection notice, or else the petition will be rejected. The H-1B petition can only be submitted to the USCIS service center specified in the selection notice. 

If additional information or documents are required, USCIS will issue a formal Request for Evidence notice to employers and applicants.  It is important to respond to the RFE notice completely before the deadline. Although the filing window ends in November, the fiscal year start date of H-1B employment is 10/01/2021. Hence, it is important that the H-1B petitions be submitted as soon as possible.  formal Request for Evidence notice


(Immigration laws and policies change regularly.  If you have any questions regarding this article, please visit www.1visa1.com to schedule legal consultation.) 


Monday, July 26, 2021

New Policy for RFE, Expedited Processing; Adjustment EADs Extended to 2 Years


Recently, the USCIS has announced some important policy updates in the agency's Policy Manual.  The following three are the more important updates: 

EAD Validity Extended to 2 Years

Applicants for adjustment of status usually need to wait for a long period of time before their I-485 is adjudicated and approved.  In the interim, they are eligible to apply for EADs to work and to apply for driver's licenses.  For many years, USCIS only issued EAD cards valid for one year only because the I-485 was expected to be approved within one year.  However, due to the lengthy processing times of the I-485 applications, USCIS has increased the current one-year validity period to two years for adjustment of status applicants. Note, replacement EADs are not covered by this new policy; they only get the validity period of the original EAD.  

Expedited Processing of Applications

1) The meaning of an emergency situation for the purpose of requesting for expedited processing of applications has been expanded by USCIS. As an example given by USCIS, an urgent need to travel to obtain medical treatment is now considered an emergency. This policy change is extremely important for applicants of I-131 travel documents such as advance paroles, refugees travel documents and reentery permits.  The current processing times for these applications range from a few months to more than a year.  Premim processing service is also not available.  Many applicants do have urgent need to travel and expedited processing is the only way that they can use to request for faster processing of their applications. 

2) USCIS also restores the ability for nonprofit organizations to request discretionary expedited service, as long as those requests are in furtherance of the cultural and social interests of the United States.  This service is available even though premim processing service is available for the subject application. 

3) USCIS also allows expedited processing of applications for noncitizens in removal proceedings. Oftentimes, applicants who face removal proceedings depend on a benefit application in order to defend themselves against deportation.  Expediting their applications can be literally a life saver for many of them. 

2013 Guidance on RFEs Restored

1) USCIS restores its 2013 policy guidance regarding issuance of RFEs and NOIDs.  Under that policy, USCIS officers generally must issue RFEs in cases involving insufficient evidence before issuing a denial. The only exception is if the officer determined that there was "no possibility" that additional evidence could overcome the reasons for denial.  By doing so, USCIS has reversed a 2018 policy that has allowed officers to deny an application if an applicant fails to submit the required initial evidence without first sending an RFE or NOID. 

2) Additionally, it also emphasizes that officers should not issue unnecessary RFEs and NOIDs.  If evidence  submitted by applicant is sufficient to establish eligibility, officers should not issue RFEs and NOIDs. 


(Immigration laws and policies change regularly.  If you have any questions regarding this article, please visit www.1visa1.com to schedule legal consultation.) 


US Extended Land Border Travel Restrictions with Canada and Mexico Till 08/21/2021



The US Department Homeland Security announced that the current travel restrictions on the US-Canada and US-Mexico borders will be extended until 08/21/2021.  The restrictions include travel by car through the as well as by ferries through the border ports of entry.  

Travel into the United States through its land border are restricted to "essential travel" only, which includes, but is not limited to:

• U.S. citizens and lawful permanent  residents returning to the United States;

• Individuals traveling for medical purposes (e.g., to receive medical treatment in the United States);

• Individuals traveling to attend educational institutions;

• Individuals traveling to work in the United States (e.g., individuals working in the farming or agriculture industry who must travel between the United States and Canada in furtherance of such work);

• Individuals traveling for emergency response and public health purposes (e.g., government officials or emergency responders entering the United States to support federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial government efforts to respond to COVID–19 or other emergencies);

• Individuals engaged in lawful cross-border trade (e.g., truck drivers supporting the movement of cargo between the United States and Canada);

• Individuals engaged in official government travel or diplomatic travel;

• Members of the U.S. Armed Forces, and the spouses and children of members of the U.S. Armed Forces, returning to the United States; and

• Individuals engaged in military related travel or operations.


(Immigration laws and policies change regularly.  If you have any questions regarding this article, please visit www.1visa1.com to schedule legal consultation.) 


Wednesday, July 21, 2021

August 2021 Visa Bulletin: India EB-3 Advancement Continues

 


The August visa bulletin is bringing good news to EB applicants:

  • EB-1 China and India remain current. 
  • EB-2 China advances 121 days. 
  • EB-3 India advances 6 months.
  • EB-5 Vietnam becomes current.

The I5 and R5 categories in the final action date chart remain unavailable as the EB-5 Regional Center Program expired at the end of June.

Family categories are advancing gradually as well. 

In August, USCIS will use the FD Chart for family-based applications (F2A applicants may file using the Final Action Date Chart) and the AD Chart for employment-based applications for I-485 case acceptance. 

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

      Family    
Other Countries
      China
India
Mexico
Philippines
F1
AD
11/22/2014
11/22/2014
11/22/2014
01/01/1999
03/01/2012
FD
05/15/2016
05/15/2016
05/15/2016
08/01/2000
04/22/2015
F2A
AD
      C
      C
      C
      C
      C
FD
06/01/2021
06/01/2021
06/01/2021
06/01/2021
06/01/2021
F2B
AD
09/22/2015
09/22/2015
09/22/2015
03/01/2000
10/22/2011
FD
09/22/2016
09/22/2016
09/22/2016
08/08/2000
10/01/2013
F3
AD
11/08/2008
11/08/2008
11/08/2008
04/22/1997
06/08/2002
FD
08/22/2009
08/22/2009
08/22/2009
09/08/2000
10/01/2003
F4
AD
03/01/2007
03/01/2007
09/01/2005
01/22/1999
08/08/2002
FD
10/01/2007
10/01/2007
12/01/2005
05/08/1999
02/01/2004

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
C
C
C
C
C
C
C
FD
C
C
C
C
C
C
C
EB2
AD
C
04/01/2018
C
06/01/2011
C
C
C
FD
C
07/01/2018
C
12/01/2011
C
C
C
EB3
AD
C
01/08/2019
C
07/01/2013
C
C
C
FD
C
07/01/2019
C
02/01/2014
C
C
C
Other Workers
AD
C
01/01/2010  
C
07/01/2013
C
C
C
FD
C
05/01/2010
C
02/01/2014
C
C
C
EB4
AD
C
C
01/01/2018
C
02/01/2020
C
C
FD
C
C
03/01/2019
C
C
C
C
EB5
AD
C
11/15/2015
C
C
C
C
C
FD
C
12/15/2015
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) 
 *(IR&R5 are "Unavailable in the August visa bulletin)


(Immigration laws and policies change regularly.  If you have any questions regarding this article, please visit www.1visa1.com to schedule legal consultation.) 

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

USCIS No Longer Requires Applicants for Change of Status to F-1 to "Bridge the Gap"


For the past few years, applicants who file for a change of status application to F-1 student status must maintain their status until the application is approved.  Oftentimes the change of status application would take many months to process and approve, forcing students to miss their program start dates.  Further, USCIS required that the applicants must file multiple change of status applicants to "bridge the gap" of their status up until the point that their F-1 status was approved. This requirement caused confusion and inconvinence for the student applicants.  

Today, USCIS announced that it no longer requires applicants to file multiple change of status (I-539) to bridge the gap of their status.  When the initial change of status application to F-1 is approved, the new status will be effective immediately.   

This new guidance will be extremely helpful to foreign students who aspire to study in the United States.  However, foreign students are reminded that they must still file their change of status applications before their legal nonimmigrant status expires. Further, they must ensure that they continue to be eligible for the new status requested.  


(Immigration laws and policies change regularly.  If you have any questions regarding this article, please visit www.1visa1.com to schedule legal consultation.) 

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

July 2021 Visa Bulletin: India EB-3 advances to January 2013

 

As expected, there are rapid advancements in July's Visa Bulletin.  

EB-2 continues to be current for all countries.
EB-3 India advances about 14 months to 01/01/2013. 
EB-2 India advances about 6 months to 06/01/2011.
EB-3 China advances 4 months to 01/01/2019.
EB-2 China advances about 7 months to 12/01/2017. 

"Downgrading" from EB-2 to EB-3 is still available for Indian and Chinese applicants who want to speed up their green card application process and file their I-485 applications sooner.  We have successfully assisted many applicants in downgrading cases. 

Family visa categories have also advanced nicely in July for almost all countries. 

EB-5 for Vietname (non-regional center) has also advanced almost 2 years to 04/01/2020. 

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

      Family    
Other Countries
      China
India
Mexico
Philippines
F1
AD
11/15/2014
11/15/2014
11/15/2014
10/01/1998
02/22/2012
FD
05/15/2016
05/15/2016
05/15/2016
08/01/2000
04/22/2015
F2A
AD
      C
      C
      C
      C
      C
FD
06/01/2021
06/01/2021
06/01/2021
06/01/2021
06/01/2021
F2B
AD
09/15/2015
09/15/2015
09/15/2015
02/01/2000
10/15/2011
FD
09/22/2016
09/22/2016
09/22/2016
08/08/2000
10/01/2013
F3
AD
11/01/2008
11/01/2008
11/01/2008
03/08/1997
06/08/2002
FD
08/22/2009
08/22/2009
08/22/2009
09/08/2000
10/01/2003
F4
AD
02/08/2007
02/08/2007
08/15/2005
12/15/1998
06/22/2002
FD
10/01/2007
10/01/2007
12/01/2005
05/08/1999
02/01/2004

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
C
C
C
C
C
C
C
FD
C
C
C
C
C
C
C
EB2
AD
C
12/01/2017
C
06/01/2011
C
C
C
FD
C
07/01/2018
C
12/01/2011
C
C
C
EB3
AD
C
01/01/2019
C
01/01/2013
C
C
C
FD
C
07/01/2019
C
02/01/2014
C
C
C
Other Workers
AD
C
12/01/2009  
C
01/01/2013
C
C
C
FD
C
05/01/2010
C
02/01/2014
C
C
C
EB4
AD
C
C
12/01/2018
C
02/01/2020
C
C
FD
C
C
03/01/2019
C
C
C
C
EB5
AD
C
11/08/2015
C
C
C
C
04/01/2020
FD
C
12/15/2015
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) 
 *(IR&R5 are "Unavailable in the July visa bulletin)


(Immigration laws and policies change regularly.  If you have any questions regarding this article, please visit www.1visa1.com to schedule legal consultation.)