Category Archives: USCIS

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USCIS Issues Limited Help to Employers Facing RFEs and NOIDs

On March 27, 2020 and March 30, 2020, USCIS announced limited help to employers facing requests for evidence (RFE) and notices of intent to deny (NOID) during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The announcement will permit employers who receive an RFE, NOID, Notice of Intent to Revoke (NOIR), Notice of Intent to Terminate (NOIT), or appealable … Continue Reading

COVID-19 and U.S. Immigration Updates: Considerations for Those Who May Be Stuck Abroad or Can’t Make a Scheduled Appointment

The United States is now under a national emergency due to the COVID-19 epidemic. While USCIS remains open and is accepting all mail at the time of writing, it has canceled all in-person appointments, including interviews, biometrics and InfoPass appointments, through April 7, 2020. All appointments will be automatically rescheduled by USCIS when possible. While all … Continue Reading

Closure Updates for U.S. Immigration Agencies and Restrictions on International Travel

Update: USCIS Closure extends until at least April 7. With the spread of COVID-19 and the attempt to prevent its spread, in addition to the travel bans in place by the President, U.S. government agencies are starting to shut down.  Furthermore, other countries are starting to follow suit and shut its borders in an attempt … Continue Reading

USCIS Will Accept Electronic Signatures

Due to COVID-19, USCIS will accept benefit forms and documents without an original, wet signature for submissions dated after March 21, 2020, but with no announced end date. This means the document can be scanned, faxed, or photocopied from an original signature. USCIS notes that the documents with the original signatures must be retained if USCIS … Continue Reading

USCIS Encourages Rescheduling of Appointments Due to Sickness

The USCIS website has links to its various field offices where biometrics and interviews take place around the country.  The website has now been updated to include a link that designates USCIS Office Closings.  This is helpful when there are last minute closures and a rescheduling notice has not been sent in time:  See USCIS … Continue Reading

U.S. Extends Travel Restrictions to U.K. and Ireland – Department of Homeland Security Outlines New Re-Entry Process for U.S. Citizens, U.S. Legal Permanent Residents and Other Exempted Individuals from Certain European Countries, China, and Iran, including Mandatory 14-Day Self-Quarantine Period

Effective Monday, March 16, 2020, 11:59 p.m. EST, the U.S. will extend the same travel restrictions to the U.K. and Ireland as are already in effect for other European countries, China and Iran. The Department of Homeland Security also issued a Fact Sheet outlining the return process for persons affected by the March 11 presidential … Continue Reading

U.S. Immigration and Coronavirus Disease 2019 – Facts, Thoughts, Questions and Answers

Travel to the U.S. – Suspensions and Restrictions (Updated March 15, 2020) The White House has published three Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)-related proclamations relating to travel to the United States: Jan. 31, 2020: Proclamation 9984, Proclamation on Suspension of Entry as Immigrants and Nonimmigrants of Persons who Pose a Risk of Transmitting 2019 Novel Coronavirus. … Continue Reading

Leadership Changes at USCIS

There are reported leadership changes at USCIS.  According to reports, Joe Edlow, chief counsel of USCIS, has been appointed deputy director for policy, assuming responsibilities of Mark Koumans, deputy USCIS director and interim leader, who takes a new deputy director for operations role.  According to reports, Mr. Koumans may return to DHS in a new … Continue Reading

Update – U.S. Embassy and Consulates General in China Suspended Regular Visa Services as of Feb. 3

On Feb. 7, 2020, the official visa information website of the U.S. mission in China (http://cdn.ustraveldocs.com/cn/index.html?firstTime=No) announced that as of Feb. 3, 2020, regular visa services at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing and Consulates General in Chengdu, Guangzhou, Shanghai, and Shenyang are all suspended. The notice further states that the U.S. Embassy and Consulates in … Continue Reading

USCIS Revises Forms in Response to Public Charge Inadmissibility Final Rule

The Public Charge Inadmissibility Final Rule was issued in August 2019 and was to go into effect October 2019, when a preliminary injunction with national scope was granted that prevented the Department of Homeland Security from implementing the rule. On Jan. 27, 2020, the Supreme Court stayed the national injunction, and DHS may now implement the … Continue Reading

Update on Cancellation of Visa Appointments at U.S. Embassy and Consulates in China, and USCIS Response to the Coronavirus

As a follow-up to our Jan. 31 blog post, we have yet to see an official announcement from the U.S. Embassy & Consulates in China regarding visa appointment cancellations for the week of Feb. 10 or later. However, this week, we began receiving non-immigrant and immigrant visa appointment cancellations for the week of Feb. 10. Likewise, … Continue Reading

Effective Feb. 1, Form I-130 Petitions Only Processed Domestically by USCIS or Internationally by DOS

Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, one of the most widely filed USCIS forms, is filed by a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident petitioning for an immediate or close relative intending to immigrate to the United States. Until now, petitioners had the option of filing Form I-130 with the USCIS, directly with the USCIS … Continue Reading

USCIS Releases a New Form I-9

On Jan. 31, 2020, U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) published in the Federal Register a notice announcing a new version of the Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification (I-9 Form). The I-9 Form is required to be used by certain employers to verify each individual they hire for employment in the United States is legally … Continue Reading

USCIS Announces Significant Change to EB-5 Adjudications Processing

On Jan. 29, 2020, USCIS announced that it would be making a significant change to the processing of I-526 Petitions, commonly referred to as EB-5 Petitions. USCIS previously had a policy to adjudicate EB-5 Petitions on a “first-in, first-out” basis. This meant that USCIS was to review and decide EB-5 Petitions based solely on the date the … Continue Reading

Immigration Issues for Chinese Travelers to the United States During the Coronavirus Outbreak

As many of our readers are aware, the novel coronavirus1 outbreak in China is a major public health concern. At the time of publishing this blog post, the U.S. has not restricted travel for visitors who may be coming from Wuhan, Hubei Province, China, the now-quarantined city that is the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak. … Continue Reading

Important Update on Visa Rescheduling Due to the Coronavirus

Due to the coronavirus outbreak throughout China, a number of heavily infected Chinese cities, including Wuhan, are under quarantine, whereas many other parts of China have imposed certain types of travel restrictions in an attempt to limit the spread of the virus. On Jan. 28, 2020, the U.S. Consulate General of Hong Kong & Macau … Continue Reading

Iranian Nationals No Longer Eligible for Changes to E-1 and E-2 Status or Extensions of E-1 and E-2 Status

As of Jan. 23, 2020, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will no longer accept requests for changes to E-1 or E-2 status or extensions of E-1 or E-2 status from Iranian nationals and their dependents (see USCIS notice concerning termination of eligibility). This change applies to Iranian nationals who are already in the United … Continue Reading

Continued Delays in Employment Authorization Document USCIS Processing Times

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) processing times for Employment Authorization Document (EAD) applications continue to increase despite already being at record highs. EADs are relied upon by many categories of foreign nationals to allow them to work lawfully in the United States. The processing times vary by USCIS Service Center, in addition … Continue Reading

Registration Requirement for Petitioners Seeking to File H–1B Petitions on Behalf of Cap-Subject Aliens

On Jan. 9, 2020, USCIS posted a Notice in the Federal Register announcing the implementation of the H-1B registration process for H-1B cap-subject petitions. USCIS notes: The initial H-1B petition registration period will begin on March 1, 2020. Starting on that date, USCIS will require H-1B cap-subject petitioners, including those eligible for the advanced degree … Continue Reading

USCIS Announces More Fees and Fee Increases—UPDATE: Extension of Comment Period

As we previously reported here, USCIS published a notice of proposed rulemaking for an adjustment of fees to meet operational needs. Today, USCIS announced an extension of the comment period on the proposed fee increases for future years from Dec. 16 to Dec. 30, 2019. USCIS stated: SUMMARY: The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is … Continue Reading

OMB Releases Fall 2019 Unified Regulatory Agenda; DHS & USCIS Expect Active Rulemakings

Twice a year, the Office of Management and Budget, in concert with the General Services Administration and its own Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, publish the Unified Regulatory Agenda (Unified Agenda). The Unified Agenda is a transparency program that publishes federal agency rulemakings in process. It is not a process set in concrete but … Continue Reading

EB-5 Update – New Regulations to Take Effect and Regional Center Program to be Extended Through Dec. 20, 2019 

The EB-5 Regional Center Program was set to expire on Nov. 21, 2019. On Nov. 18, Congress introduced a Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the government and extend vital programs such as EB-5 through Dec. 20, 2019. Leaders hope to use the additional time to extend current operations and complete fiscal matters and other priorities before … Continue Reading

The Department of State (DOS) December 2019 Visa Bulletin Released

In the EB-1 category, the Dates of Filing is now current for all countries of chargeability except for China and India. For November, USCIS allowed I-485 filings based on Dates of Filing rather than Final Action dates; however, EB-1 was retrogressed for all categories, allowing only certain applicants to file. USCIS has not issued the … Continue Reading

USCIS Announces More Fees and Fee Increases

Nearly 96% of the USCIS budget derives from fees. In our coverage of Congress, appropriations, continuing resolutions, and government shutdowns, we are reminded that USCIS is a fee-driven agency, as it does not depend on appropriations for its operations and, for example, remains open during government shutdowns over appropriations. We wrote last week about a … Continue Reading
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