Certain AOS Applications Can Be Filed Early in the Month of October 2018

USCIS has announced that for the month of October 2018, applicants for adjustment of status in both the family-based and employment-based categories may file their I-485 applications according to the Filing Date Charts. This means that you may file your I-485 application before your priority date is current, a huge benefit for many as this enables applicants and their dependents to obtain Employment Authorization and Advance Parole travel permits.  Here is an example of why this is an important opportunity: Your green card category is EB-1 for Persons of Extraordinary Ability, Outstanding Professors and Researchers, or Executives/Managers of International Companies. Your priority date is January 1, 2018. In October 2018, the priority date for EB-1 Worldwide will be April 1, 2017, which means you are months away from having a current priority date. However, the Filing Date Chart for Worldwide EB-1’s in October 2018 is June 1, 2018. Because USCIS has allowed applicants to use the Filing Date Chart in October, you and your dependents will be able to apply for adjustment of status this month. In this instance, there is no need for your priority date to become current in order to file.  If you have questions on how […]
Continue Reading

U.S. Plans to Pay Mexico to Deport Undocumented Immigrants

The Trump administration recently sent a notice to Congress stating that it intends to use $20 million from foreign assistance funds to help Mexico pay for the deportation of as many as 17,000 undocumented immigrants. Under this program, Mexican authorities would detain undocumented immigrants present in Mexico, provide judicial process and potentially deport them, in compliance with Mexican and international law. U.S. funds would only pay for commercial airline tickets or charter flights and ground transportation.  According to the administration, this would take strain off the U.S. immigration system. This program would increase deportations of Central Americans traveling through Mexico on route to the U.S. Other unauthorized immigrants or known or suspected terrorists in Mexico would also be deported. According to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), this plan is intended to relieve immigration flows at the U.S. border with Mexico. The aim is to reduce the number of immigrants crossing the southwestern border by assisting the Mexican government in addressing and deterring illegal immigration. The hope is that substantial numbers of immigrants would be stopped in Mexico before they are able to reach the U.S. DHS cites a 38% percent increase in family apprehension at the Southern border as […]
Continue Reading

USCIS Set to Speed Up Visa Denials

A new U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) policy goes into effect today and will provide adjudicators with more discretion to deny visa applications. USCIS is no longer required to issue a Request for Evidence (RFE) or Notice of Intend to Deny (NOID) when evidence submitted at the time of filing does not establish eligibility for the benefit sought; adjudicators can simply deny the application.  Background On June 3, 2013, USCIS implemented a policy memorandum titled “Requests for Evidence and Notices of Intent to Deny,” which addressed policies for the issuance of RFEs and NOIDs when initial evidence falls short of establishing eligibility for the benefit sought. The memo established the “no possibility” policy and instructed USCIS adjudicators that a RFE should be issued unless there is “no possibility” that an application could be cured by the submission of additional evidence.  New Policy The new policy is based on a strict reading of 8 CRF 103.2(b)(8), which states that an adjudicator may either deny an application or request/issue an RFE or a NOID when the record does not establish eligibility. Essentially, the new policy is set to restore an adjudicator’s discretion established under the regulations by rescinding the 2013 “no […]
Continue Reading

Proposed Federal Regulation to Allow Detention of Undocumented Families

The Trump administration announced a newly proposed federal regulation on September 6, 2018 that would sidestep the Flores settlement. The 1997 Flores Settlement Agreement requires the government to release children from immigration detention without unnecessary delay to parents, adult relatives or licensed programs. It also requires that detained minors have a certain quality of life, which includes as much separation from unrelated adults as possible.  The newly proposed federal regulation would nullify the Flores settlement and its provisions. The Secretary of Homeland Security has expressed concern with the effects of the settlement, stating that it is a “pull factor” that promotes illegal immigration.  One of the major changes of this regulation would be the creation of a federal license system to allow for detention centers that would be able to hold families. The administration stated that the impetus for this change was to allow families to be kept in detention centers for the duration of their immigration court case. In addition, the government argues that keeping families in detention centers would help expedite the overall legal process.  A 60-day period for public input and comments will follow the publication of the proposed regulation on September 7, 2018 in the Federal […]
Continue Reading

Things to Consider When Applying to Remove Conditions on a Marriage-based Green Card

Foreign spouses applying for a green card based on marriage to a U.S. citizen will be issued a conditional green card, valid for two years, if the couple has been married for less than two years at the time of the green card interview. Before the conditional green card expires, the couple must file Form I-751. An approval of Form I-751 removes conditions on residency by proving a bona fide marriage. A denial can result in the removal of the foreign spouse.  The purpose of the I-751 process is to prove that a marriage was formed with a genuine intent to live together and not to fraudulently obtain a green card. This process is used to provide evidence of a bona fide marriage. Some documents to submit include financial records showing joint ownership of assets and joint responsibility of liabilities, birth certificates of any children born to the marriage, mortgage or lease agreements showing joint occupancy of a residence, and photographs of the couple. Based on the evidence submitted, USCIS will assign a fraud level based on an officer’s judgement of the quality of the petition and evidence provided. If USCIS believes the case does not present a likelihood of […]
Continue Reading

Citing Major Backlogs, USCIS Extends and Expands Suspension of H-1B Premium Processing

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently announced that it will be expanding and extending the temporary suspension of H-1B premium processing. According to USCIS, these suspensions will continue until February 19, 2019. This is an effort to clear the backlog of H-1B visas in the application system. All Request for Premium Processing Service forms will be rejected and if a petitioner submits a combined check for the premium processing and H-1B fees, both forms will be rejected.  Previously, the suspension was expected to last until September 10, 2018, but will now stay in effect until February of 2019. This suspension applies to all H-1B petitions filed at the Vermont and California Service Centers. The premium processing fee will be refunded if premium processing was requested before September 11, 2018, and USCIS did not take adjudicative action on the case within the 15 calendar-day processing period.  It is important to note that there are some exceptions to this expansion. The suspension does not apply to cap-exempt petitions filed exclusively at the California Service center because the employer is cap exempt or because the beneficiary will be employed at a qualifying cap exempt institution, entity or organization. In addition, petitions filed […]
Continue Reading

Premium Processing Fee to Increase Beginning September 30

The Department of Homeland Security is increasing the Form I-907 premium processing fee from $1,225 to $1,410 beginning September 30, 2018. The final rule is scheduled to be published in tomorrow’s Federal Register. Applications postmarked on or after September 30, 2018 must include the new fee. Premium processing is an optional fee that allows employers to request adjudication of an application within 15 calendar days. Premium processing is currently available for certain employment-based immigration petitions filed with USCIS forms I-129 and I-140. According to DHS, the new fee represents a 14.92% increase, the percentage change in inflation since the fee was last changed from $1,000 to $1,225 in 2010. This ultimately means that expedited adjudication of an eligible employment-based petition will become more expensive beginning September 30. Employers should take this increase into consideration when budgeting for immigration-related expenses and determining if premium processing is necessary. If you have questions on premium processing an employment-based application, please contact our office to schedule a consultation with an attorney today!
Continue Reading