Understanding the Visa Bulletin

The government has placed statutory limits on how many people can immigrate to the United States each year, so once you submit your application, you may have to wait until there is a visa available in the category you applied for. Each month, the Department of State (DOS) issues a visa bulletin, which indicates when visas are available based on your priority date and country of birth. Your priority date is the date that your petition was approved by USCIS. If a labor certification was required with your petition, the priority date is the date when the certification was accepted for processing by the Department of Labor.  What chart do I use? The visa bulletin contains two charts for each visa category with different dates: final action dates, and dates for filing applications. If filing via Adjustment of Status, USCIS will determine which chart controls in a given month. If filing via Immigrant Processing, the National Visa Center will reach out once you can begin these steps. In general, the green card cannot be issued until the final action date is current. Visit the USCIS website here to determine what chart you should use.  What do I do when my […]
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Schedule A Nurses and Physical Therapists: A Fast Track to an Employment-based Green Card

Foreign nationals looking to obtain a green card to immigrate to the U.S. who work as either nurses or physical therapists may qualify for a special form of expedited processing. As a result of significant shortages of U.S. workers, the Department of Labor (DOL) established nurses and physical therapists as Schedule A shortage occupations. Schedule A is a list of pre-certified occupations that the DOL has determined that there are not sufficient U.S. workers who are able, willing, qualified and available. This allows foreign nationals to skip the lengthy labor certification process which tests the job market and start working in the U.S. sooner. In order to take advantage of the Schedule A classification, workers in these occupations must have a full-time job offer from an employer. Both nurses and physical therapists must provide proof of licensing or certification qualifications. Employers are responsible for completing the Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker as well as a completed, but uncertified Program Electronic Review Management (PERM) labor certification petition. Furthermore, parties must comply to DOL rules throughout the process.  Process Overview Step One: Prevailing Wage Determination and Notice of Filing A Prevailing Wage Determination must be prepared and filed with the DOL. The […]
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Certain Conditional Permanent Residents Eligible for Interview Waiver

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently provided updated guidance for officers regarding waiving the interview requirement for a Petition to Remove Conditions of Residence.  Conditional permanent residency is granted to qualifying foreign nationals who have been married to their qualifying spouse for less than two years. After a period of two years, a conditional permanent resident must petition to have these conditions removed or face losing their Green Card entirely, as this conditional card cannot be renewed. Generally, in order to complete the process necessary to remove conditions, an officer must interview a conditional permanent resident. However, there are some exceptions, which the recent guidance delves into.   According to USCIS, officers have some discretion to decide if they can waive the interview requirement. They are required to follow certain criteria to make a judgement of whether the interview should be waived or if it is necessary. A USCIS officer must be satisfied that the following conditions are met: The officer is able to make a decision based on the current record because it contains sufficient evidence regarding the bona fides of the marriage and the marriage was not entered into fraudulently for the purpose of avoiding U.S. immigration […]
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Is Your Application for the Advance Parole Travel Document in Jeopardy? USCIS Issues New Guidance

If you are a foreign national present in the U.S. and wish to travel outside of the U.S., you may come across a situation when you need to complete an Application for an Advance Parole Travel Document. Anyone who is applying for or who has already applied for this document should take note of a recent U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USICIS) update to determine if it is applicable to them.  If a foreign national applies for an advance parole travel document and departs the U.S. without possession of this document that is valid for the entire time the applicant is abroad, USCIS will consider the pending application abandoned. In that situation, an applicant would be responsible for beginning the entire application process from scratch.  USCIS also notes that it is possible for an individual to have an approved advance parole document while another advance parole document is pending with the agency. Individuals are permitted to travel on the approved advance parole document, so long as the document is valid for the entire time abroad. In this situation, a pending Application for an Advance Parole Travel Document will not be considered abandoned. The main distinction USCIS highlights with this update […]
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Featured Client of the Month: Joerg Kuehnelt

Berardi Immigration recently helped Joerg Kuehnelt obtain a green card. Before working with Berardi Immigration, Joerg had worked with an attorney who he felt lacked experience and did not fully understand the application process. Ultimately, he was denied the visa because he did not sufficiently qualify for that particular type of visa. He then turned to Berardi Immigration who represented his employer on immigration matters.  Berardi Immigration was able to secure Joerg an L-1 visa through his employer, and then he was able to apply for his green card. Joerg was “happy that Berardi took my concerns seriously and provided extra care to ensure I do sufficiently qualify for a U.S. visa before applying.” He was also impressed that “Berardi took the time to understand my job profile and feed that into the application to ensure it represents my duties correctly. In addition, they took extra care to explain the process and requirements to me so I did feel comfortable submitting my application.” Now that he is a green card holder, Joerg is looking forward to “being able to work a couple of hours on the side as a barista in a top-notch coffee shop. I had great coffees in […]
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Change in TB Test for Green Card Applicants

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released updated instructions regarding medical screening for tuberculosis (TB) for applicants for permanent residency. These new instructions replace the tuberculin skin test (TST) as the first TB screening method with a TB blood test, called an interferon-gamma release assay or IGRA. A TST test will no longer be able to be used as a substitute for IGRA testing.  Civil surgeons are responsible for conducting these tests and examinations for green card applicants. These physicians are authorized by USCIS to conduct the required medical examinations for applicants looking to register for permanent residence or adjust their status while in the United States.  Because TB can be difficult to detect, the CDC now mandates the IGRA test for green card applicants, as this test has been shown to be more dependable and accurate at detecting TB than previously favored skin tests. Given the recent nature of this change, applicants may want to confirm that their civil surgeon is familiar with the new requirements.  If you are interested in applying for a green card, be sure to contact Berardi Immigration Law to explore your options with an attorney today!
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Proposed ‘Public Charge’ Rule Changes Could Impact Immigrants’ Admissibility

The Trump administration has proposed a new set of federal regulations that would redefine a “public charge” and have a direct impact on immigration policy. Prospective immigrants can be deemed inadmissible to the United States if they are deemed a public charge. Current regulations define a public charge as an individual who is likely to become primarily dependent on the government for subsistence. This can be demonstrated by using public cash assistance for income maintenance or institutionalization for long-term cases at the government’s expense.  The new regulations proposed by the Trump administration would change the way the U.S. decides whether or not an immigrant is considered a public charge. Under the proposed regulations, the definition of a public charge would be expanded to mean an immigrant who receives any government aid. Not only would cash programs be scrutinized, but the government would also take into consideration non-cash benefits such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits and Section 8 housing and rental assistance, among others.  If these proposed changes became policy, they would apply to Green Card applicants and many foreign nationals seeking or attempting to extend temporary visas. Proponents of these changes argue that these proposed changes could save […]
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