On July 16, 2020, the Department of State provided updated information on the availability of exceptions to the June 22 Presidential Proclamation 10052, which extends Proclamation 10014 through Dec. 31, 2020,.

Some travelers and visa applicants who are affected by the Proclamation may qualify for an exception if the purpose of their travel to the United States is for humanitarian reasons, public health response, or national security. Other exceptions include: (1) applicants who are subject to aging out of their current immigrant visa classification; (2) certain H and J visa applicants who are traveling to the United Sates to work in support of a critical U.S. foreign policy; and (3) dependents of applicants who are excepted from, or not subject to, the Proclamations.
Continue Reading Exceptions to Presidential Proclamations – Department of State Guidance

The U.S. Department of State announced on July 13, 2020, via Twitter, that U.S. embassies and consulates are entering a “phased resumption of routine visa services” beginning July 15, 2020.
Continue Reading U.S. Embassies and Consulates Expected to Resume Visa Services Beginning on July 15

On July 6, 2020, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced modifications to the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) exemptions for F-1 and M-1 nonimmigrant students who will be
Continue Reading DHS/SEVP Announce Changes to Temporary Exemptions for F-1 and M-1 Students Taking Online Courses During Fall 2020

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many U.S. Consulates and Embassies closed temporarily. As of June 20, 2020, some U.S. Consulates reopened, while others remain closed until further notice. Below is an outline of current openings:
Continue Reading Status of U.S. Consular Operations

On Jan. 31, 2020, President Trump issued a Proclamation, effective Feb. 21, 2020, imposing even more limitations on visa issuance and travel to the United States for additional countries entitled “Proclamation on Improving Enhanced Vetting Capabilities and Processes for Detecting Attempted Entry.” This Proclamation follows his first travel ban from March 2017 where the Secretary of Homeland Security was ordered to develop an assessment model to assess national security and public safety threats in identifying whether countries would be removed or added to the list. From the March 2017 travel ban, 200 countries were reviewed and assessed, and in September 2017, President Trump issued a revised version of the travel ban.

Since then, DHS has continued to review and assess security concerns from each country, utilizing updated methodologies, which includes a foreign government’s willingness and frequency in sharing information, and working with the intelligence community to assess risk of terrorist travel.  A review of each country’s performance per the criteria established in 2017 was also conducted, and as a result, it has been recommended to President Trump that he exercise his authority to suspend entry into the United States for an additional six countries as follow: Burma (Myanmar), Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Nigeria, Sudan, and Tanzania.


Continue Reading President Trump Issues New Proclamation on Travel Ban, Adding Six Additional Countries

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 petition was filed with USCIS. Today, USCIS announced that it would change this policy and decide EB-5 Petitions using the “visa availability” approach.

What is the “Visa Availability” approach?

The “visa availability” approach outlined by USCIS would prioritize EB-5 Petitions for adjudication based on whether a visa number is available to the investor. This ties the timing of the decision on the EB-5 petition to whether the investor is subject to visa retrogression based on their country of birth. As a reminder, the employment-based fifth preference category “EB-5” is allotted approximately 10,000 immigrant visas annually. This quota includes principal applicants, as well as spouses and dependent children under 21 years of age. No one country can exceed more than seven percent of the total EB-5 visas available in each fiscal year.


Continue Reading USCIS Announces Significant Change to EB-5 Adjudications Processing

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 announced that it would operate at reduced staffing levels through Jan. 31, 2020, and all nonimmigrant and immigrant visa appointments scheduled for Jan. 29 have been cancelled.
Continue Reading Important Update on Visa Rescheduling Due to the Coronavirus

On Jan. 24, 2020, the U.S. Department of State (DOS) posted a final rule, effective immediately, imposing new restrictions on individuals applying for B nonimmigrant visas at U.S. consular posts outside of the United States. A B nonimmigrant visa is used by individuals traveling to the United States for business (B-1 visa) or pleasure (B-2 visa).

Under DOS regulations, the term “pleasure” has long been defined to include legitimate activities of a recreational character, including tourism, amusement, visits with friends or relatives, rest, medical treatment and activities of a fraternal, social or services nature. The new rule now explicitly excludes travel under the B visa category for those applicants traveling to the United States with the primary purpose of obtaining U.S. citizenship for a child by giving birth in the United States, also referred to by the DOS as “birth tourism.”
Continue Reading U.S. Department of State Announces Prohibition on ‘Birth Tourism’