First Time Entry with An Immigrant Visa

Whether you are pursuing a marriage based green card, immigrating for your work, or being sponsored by a family member, obtaining a visa to enter the United States can be a time-consuming, stressful, and frustrating process. Every step of the way...
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Online Filing Options Through New FLAG System

The new Foreign Labor Application Gateway, “FLAG”, has been adding new filing capabilities in the past few months. Next on the to-do list is moving H-1B filing over to FLAG, along with filings for H-1B1 and E-3 programs. The shift is scheduled for later this year...
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Tips for Inviting Oath Ceremony Guests

Taking your oath to receive U.S. citizenship is an important moment, one many wish to share with the people in their life that supported them along the way. We want you to have the best experience possible for the day of your ceremony, so we collected the following tips for inviting guests. Who Can Come to my U.S. Citizenship Oath Ceremony? Generally speaking, anyone can come to your U.S. citizenship oath ceremony: family, friends, children, anyone you want! How Many Guests Can I Bring? The number of people you can bring to your ceremony depends greatly on the location and venue of the ceremony itself. For instance, the fire code may limit the number of people allowed in the room. If the number of people taking the oath is close of the maximum number of people allowed in the room, then your guest may not be allowed into the ceremony. It is important to remember that the oath ceremony is long, and so it could be possible that if you bring many guests, they may have to resort to standing in the back, which could be tiresome.  Who Should I Bring? This is completely up to you! We do recommend considering […]
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USCIS Announces Plans to Improve the Naturalization Test

USCIS has announced that it will begin implementing an updated naturalization test beginning December 2020 or early 2021. In order to naturalize, candidates must demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of U.S. civics and the English language by passing a naturalization test.   In December 2018, USCIS formed a naturalization test revision working group with members from across the agency. The working group has been reviewing and updating the naturalization test questions, as well as assessing potential changes to the speaking portion of the test. USCIS is receiving the input of experts in the field to ensure that this process is fair and transparent.  USCIS has the power, granted by Congress, to develop, administer and occasionally revise the naturalization civics test to ensure accuracy and timeliness of content.  It has been 10 years since revisions were last made to the naturalization test. On May 3, 2019, USCIS signed the Revision of the Naturalization Civics Test Memorandum.  As explained in the memorandum, “the purpose of these revisions is to create a meaningful, comprehensive, uniform, and efficient test that will assess applicants’ knowledge and understanding of U.S. history, government, principles, and values.”  Presently, the civics portion of the naturalization test consists of 10 questions out […]
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I-539’s No Longer Eligible for “Courtesy” Premium Processing

On March 1, 2019, USCIS reported that I-539 applications filed concurrently with a qualifying I-129 petition will no longer be eligible for premium processing.  USCIS announced the change was necessary to accommodate wait time on the biometrics appointments necessary for the Form I-539 adjudication. As the result of a new Form I-539, released also in March 2019, each I-539 applicant is required to attend a biometrics appointment for the purpose of verifying applicants’ identities and combatting humanitarian concerns.  The standard applies regardless of age.    It takes approximately three weeks for the biometrics to be completed, meaning I-539 applications can no longer be completed in the 15-day premium processing time frame.  Due to the two different processing time standards, the I-129 and the I-539 applications will no longer be processed together, with the I-539 pending for what may be substantially longer.  The gap between the two processing times proves an issue for some joint I-129, I-539 cases. To avoid the issue of the biometrics appointment, some derivative applicants are opting instead for a nonimmigrant visa issued by a U.S. consulate abroad, filed after the primary I-129 petition is approved. If you have concerns on how the new I-539 processing times may impact your case or […]
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August 2019 Visa Bulletin Reveals Significant Retrogressions in Several Categories

The Department of State (DOS) releases the Visa Bulletin every month which summarizes the availability of immigrant visa numbers. The Visa Bulletin is used to determine when a foreign national’s green card application is eligible to move forward.  DOS has recently released the August 2019 visa bulletin which contains notable retrogressions in employment-based (EB) categories.  Below is a summary of the August Visa Bulletin: China: EB-1 retrogresses to July 1, 2016; EB-2 advances two months to January 1, 2017; and EB-3 moves forward six months to July 1, 2016; India: EB-1 remains stalled at January 1, 2015; EB-2 crawls ahead eight days to May 2, 2009; and EB-3 falls back more than three years to January 1, 2006; Philippines: EB-1 recedes two years to July 1, 2016; EB-2 retrogresses to January 1, 2017; and EB-3 reverts back to July 1, 2016; and  All Other Countries: EB-1 retrogresses two years to July 1, 2016; EB-2 falls back to January 1, 2017; and EB-3 retrogresses to July 1, 2016. The visa bulletin indicates that every effort will be made to return the final action dates to the same as those in the July visa bulletin at the beginning of October 2019.  Berardi Immigration Law monitors the […]
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