Understanding the Expanded Provisional waiver

Provisional waiver was developed to shorten the time that qualified family members are separated from their relatives while those relatives are obtaining immigrant visas to become lawful permanent residents of the United States. As of March 4, 2013, immigrant visa applicants who are spouses, children of U.S. citizens could apply for provisional unlawful presence waivers before they leave the United States for their consular interview. On August 29, 2016, the provisional unlawful presence waiver process was expanded to (immediate relatives, family-sponsored or employment-based immigrants as well as Diversity Visa selectees) eligible for an immigrant visa and a waiver of inadmissibility for unlawful presence in the United States. Foreign nationals who are not eligible to adjust their status in the United States must travel abroad and obtain an immigrant visa. Individuals who have accrued more than 180 days of unlawful presence while in the United States must obtain a waiver of inadmissibility to overcome the unlawful presence bars under section 212(a)(9)(B) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. The provisional unlawful presence waiver process allows those individuals who are statutorily eligible for an immigrant visa and who only need a waiver of inadmissibility for Unlawful Presence to apply for that waiver in the United States before they depart for their immigrant visa interview. The applicant needs to show that a qualified relative would experience an extreme hardship if the applicant is refused admission into the U.S.

Summer Travelers’ Reminder. Are you ready for your Trip to the U.S.?

As of January, 2016 the United States implemented changes under the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015 (the Act). According to the Act, the travelers in the following categories are no longer eligible to travel or be admitted to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP):

Nationals of VWP countries who have traveled to or been present in Iran, Iraq, Sudan, or Syria on or after March 1, 2011 (with limited exceptions for travel for diplomatic or military purposes in the service of a VWP country).

Nationals of VWP countries who are also nationals of Iran, Iraq, Sudan, or Syria.

These persons will be able to apply for a visa using the regular immigration process at U.S. embassies or consulates.

For those who need a U.S. visa for urgent business, medical, or humanitarian travel to the United States, U.S. embassies and consulates stand ready to process applications on an expedited basis.

Beginning January 21, 2016, travelers who currently have valid Electronic System for Travel Authorizations (ESTAs) and who have previously indicated holding dual nationality with one of the four countries listed above on their ESTA applications will have their current ESTAs revoked.

Under the new law, the Secretary of Homeland Security may waive these restrictions if he determines that such a waiver is in the law enforcement or national security interests of the United States. Such waivers will be granted only on a case-by-case basis.

As a general matter, categories of travelers who may be eligible for a waiver include:

*Individuals who traveled to Iran, Iraq, Sudan or Syria on behalf of international organizations, regional organizations, and sub-national governments on official duty;

*Individuals who traveled to Iran, Iraq, Sudan or Syria on behalf of a humanitarian NGO on official duty;

*Individuals who traveled to Iran, Iraq, Sudan or Syria as a journalist for reporting purposes;

*Individuals who traveled to Iran for legitimate business-related purposes following the conclusion of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (July 14, 2015);

*Individuals who have traveled to Iraq for legitimate business-related purposes.

Any traveler who receives notification that they are no longer eligible to travel under the VWP are still eligible to travel to the United States with a valid nonimmigrant visa issued by a U.S. embassy or consulate. Such travelers will be required to appear for an interview and obtain a visa in their passports at a U.S. embassy or consulate before traveling to the U.S.

TPS for Nepal citizens.

Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson announced his decision to designate Nepal for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 18 months based on the conditions resulting from the devastating magnitude earthquake that struck Nepal on April 25, 2015.The TPS designation for Nepal is effective June 24, 2015, and will be in effect through December 24, 2016. The designation means that, during the designated period, eligible nationals of Nepal (and people without nationality who last habitually resided in Nepal) will not be removed from the United States and may receive an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). The 180-day TPS registration period begins June 24, 2015 and runs through December 21, 2015.

More posts worldwide resume their work.

On June 25, 2015, U.S. Department of State: Consular Affairs has announced that 165 out of 220 worlwide posts were recoonected.

On June 24, 2015,the Bureau of Consular Affairs has announced that some posts have been reconnected, and issuing nonimmigrant/immigrant visas.

The Following posts are online and issuing visas: Paris, Monterrey, Ciudad Juarez,Guangzhou, Beijing, Shanghai, Tijuana, Nuevo Laredo, Mexico City, Guadalajara, Mumbai, New Delhi, Sao Paolo, Chennai, Manila, Bogota, Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, Tel Aviv, Merida, Hermosillo, Karachi, Seoul, Lima, Santo Domingo, Kingston, Shenyang, Chengdu, Lagos, Guayaquil, London, Brasilia, Moscow, San Salvador, Quito, Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, Kyiv, Djibouti, Cairo, Amman, Toronto, Ankara, Nairobi

Delays with overseas passport and visa processing

On June 12, 2015, The department of states, the Bureau of Consular Affairs alerted about technical problems with overseas passport and visa systems. Due to this technical problem issuance of Visas and U.S. passports is delayed.

Passports

Due to a systems issue affecting global passport operations, there is currently a delay in the printing of U.S. passports that were approved at OVERSEAS passport facilities. Applications accepted on or after May 26, 2015 are affected by this delay. If you applied for a U.S. passport at a U.S. embassy or consulate after May 26 and have travel plans within the next 10 business days, please consider requesting an emergency passport at the embassy or consulate in which you originally applied. Information about how to apply for an emergency passport is available on embassy and consulate websites.

Visas

Due to a hardware failure on June 9, 2015, applicants who submitted online applications or were interviewed for visas on or after June 9, 2015 may experience a delay in the processing. Currently, consulate is seeking to assist nonimmigrant visa applicants with urgent humanitarian travel. If you have urgent humanitarian reasons of travel, contact the embassy or consulate where you applied for additional information. Stay tuned for news updates with the Consular Affairs.

New Form G-28, Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney, allows to attorney to receive secure documents.

If you have a lawyer and want your important and secure documents such as Permanent Resident Card, Work Authorization documents, Travel documents to be send directly to your lawyer. Now you can request that as a new Form G-28, Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney, includes two new boxes that allow applicants/petitioners/requestors to tell USCIS whether they want to receive their notices and secure documents directly, or whether they want USCIS to send them to their Attorney. The new form also collects more biographic data, email addresses and cell phone numbers.

Employment Authorization for Certain H-4 Dependent Spouses

Beginning May 26, 2015, certain H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B nonimmigrants may apply for Employment Authorization, as long as the H-1B nonimmigrant has already started the process of seeking employment-based lawful permanent resident (LPR) status. Specifically, H-4 dependent spouses may apply for employment authorization if: the H-1B nonimmigrant is the principal beneficiary of an approved Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker; OR H-1B non immigrant has been granted H-1B status under sections 106(a) and (b) of the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-first Century Act of 2000 as amended by the 21st Century Department of Justice Appropriations Authorization Act (AC21). AC21 permits H-1B nonimmigrants seeking lawful permanent residence to work and remain in the United States beyond the six-year limit on their H-1B status.

A long waiting line for EB-5 issuance for born in China

EB-5 Retrogression for born in China and what does it mean? This means that the EB-5 China immigrant visa category retrogresses two years and current cut-off date is May 1, 2013. The cut-off date determined by the date I-526 Petition was filed. One can find the priority date on the approval notice as well. Basically, the cut-off date creates a line for the issuance of EB-5 immigrant visas. Based on the June 2015 visa bulletin, only those EB-5 investors and their derivative beneficiaries with a Priority Date of May 1, 2013, or earlier may apply for an EB-5 immigrant visa. The dates in the visa bulletin may move forward, backward, or remain without movement. The changes will be reported monthly and thus, it is important to check the Visa Bulletin on DOS website, on the monthly basis, and see if their Priority Date has become current, meaning earlier than the date listed on the visa bulletin. Please Note that the retrogression effects only born in mainland China and thus individuals born in Hong Kong, Macau or Taiwan are not affected the retrogression. In addition, if the EB-5 investor’s spouse was born in a country other than mainland China, the investor and their family may be “cross-chargeable” to the spouse’s country of birth and will not be effected by retrogression.

The Immigration Innovation Act Bill

On January 13, 2015, Senators introduced TECH IMMIGRATION BILL: A bipartisan group of senators reintroduced immigration legislation focused on tech workers. Their bill, the Immigration Innovation (I-Squared) Act, would increase numbers of both H-1B visas and green cards for high-skill workers etc. For more information visit our Immigration Reform page.

Executive Actions

On November 20, 2014 President Barack Obama announced a series of executive actions, including expanding DACA to individuals of any age who came to this country before turning 16 years old and have been present since Jan. 1, 2010. The actions also extend the period of DACA and work authorization from two years to three years. The new initiative will also extend to parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents who have been present in the county since January 1, 2010 and provided they pass required background check. The new initiative will expand use of the provisional waivers to lawful permanent residents spouses and children of permanent residents. The new initiative will improve immigrant and non immigrant programs. Guidance and details to be provided. The new initiative will promote citizenship education, awareness and provide option of application fee payment with credit card.

NVC will cease to collect original documents.

As of November 12, 2014, The National Visa Center (NVC) will stop collecting original civil documents in support of immigrant visa (IV) applications. Most applicants will be required to submit photocopies of supporting documents (such as birth, marriage, and police certificates) and will be instructed to take their original documents to their interviews for review. This does not include Affidavit of Support forms, which petitioners will still submit to NVC for initial evaluation.

Changes for Immigrant and non immigrant visa processing fees.

Bureau of Consular Affairs announced a number of changes to the fees for U.S. consular services effective September 12, 2014. For Example, Immigrant Visa Processing Fees for Immediate Relative and Family Preference application increased from $230 to $325. Fees for Affidavit of Support increased from $88 to $120. However, Employment based applications went down from $405 to $325, likewise a waiver of Two years Residency requirement went down from $215 to $120. As to non immigrant fees, fees for Fiancé Visa went from $240 to $265. However, Treaty Investor and Treaty trade visas decreased from $270 to $205.

Temporary Protected Status Extended for Honduras.

Effective January 6, 2015 through July 5, 2016, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) has been extended for eligible nationals of Honduras for an additional 18 months. Current TPS Honduras beneficiaries seeking to extend their TPS must re-register during the 60-day re-registration period that runs from October 16, 2014 through December 15, 2014. According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) beneficiaries to re-register as soon as possible once the 60-day re-registration period begins. The 18-month extension also allows TPS re-registrants to apply for a new Employment Authorization Document (EAD). Eligible TPS Honduras beneficiaries (or persons without nationality who last habitually resided in Honduras) who re-register during the 60-day period and request a new EAD will receive one with an expiration date of July 5, 2016.

New Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program.

In order to expedite family reunification for certain eligible Haitian family members of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents of the U.S. and to promote safe, legal and orderly immigration from Haiti to the United States, starting in early 2015, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will start implementation of a Haitian Family Reunification Parole (HFRP) Program.

According to this program U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will offer certain eligible Haitian beneficiaries of already approved family-based immigrant visa petitions, who are currently in Haiti, an opportunity to come to the United States up to approximately two years before their immigrant visa priority dates become current. Under the Haitian Family Reunification Parole program, Haitians authorized parolee will be allowed to enter the United States and apply for work permits but will not receive permanent resident status any earlier.

In early 2015, the Department of State National Visa Center (NVC) will begin contacting certain U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents with approved petitions for Haitian family members and will offer them the opportunity to apply to the program. Only individuals who receive a written notice of program eligibility from NVC will be eligible to apply.

The visa lottery is available from October 1, 2014 until November 3, 2014.

For DV-2016, 50,000 DV visas are available. Because it is likely that some of the first 50,000 persons who are selected will not qualify for visas or pursue their cases to visa issuance, more than 50,000 entries will be selected to ensure that all of the available DV visas are issued.

Please note natives of the following countries are not eligible to apply For DV-2016: Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China (mainland-born), Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, South Korea, United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, and Vietnam. Applicants who are selected in the lottery must meet simple, but strict, eligibility requirements in order to qualify for a diversity visa. An applicant must have evidence of high school education or its equivalent or two years of qualifying work experience.Selectees are chosen through a randomized computer drawing.

If the selected applicant is already in the United States, she/he may apply for adjustment of status to lawful permanent resident provided she/he is eligible to adjust pursuant to Section 245 of the INA. It is important to ensure that USCIS can complete action on your case, including processing of any overseas spouse or children under 21 years of age, before September 30, 2016, since on that date an eligibility for the DV-2016 program expires.

If you need an assistance in submitting your visa lottery application or have questions contact Law Offices of Tsirina Goroshit & Associates,PC

Deferred Action for Childhood arrivals renewal.

Effective immediately, USCIS will begin accepting renewal requests for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. USCIS will also continue to accept requests for DACA from individuals who have not previously sought to access the program. To avoid a lapse in the period of deferral and employment authorization, individuals must file renewal requests before the expiration of their current period of DACA. USCIS encourages requestors to submit their renewal request approximately 120 days (four months) before their current period of deferred action expires.

Outages on the case information.

Due to a hardware failure Executive Office for Immigration Review continues to experience outages on the case information hotline (the 1-800 898 7180 phone number). Immigration Courts are still operating on their normal schedule, but some cases may be continued. The BIA is continuing to process cases each day but is prioritizing its caseload to compensate for reliance on manual processes. Thus, if you call the case information hotline, you will be informed that the information has not been updated as of April 12, 2014.

H-1B 2015

On April 7, 2014 U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it has received a sufficient number of H-1B petitions to reach the statutory cap of 65,000 visas for fiscal year (FY) 2015. USCIS has also received more than the limit of 20,000 H-1B petitions filed under the advanced degree exemption. USCIS received about 172,500 H-1B petitions during the filing period which began April 1, including petitions filed for the advanced degree exemption. On April 10, 2014, USCIS completed a computer-generated lottery, to select enough petitions to meet the 65,000 general-category cap and 20,000 cap under the advanced degree exemption.

Relief for Filipino Nationals-Typhoon Victims

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is currently providing numerous reliefs for Filipino nationals in the United States. These relief measures include: • Expedited processing of pending I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, forms that have been filed by U.S. citizens for their Filipino immediate relatives. USCIS standard security checks remain in place; • Change or extension of nonimmigrant status for an individual currently in the United States, even when the request is filed after the authorized period of admission has expired; • An extension of certain grants of parole made by USCIS; • An extension of certain grants of advance parole, and expedited processing of advance parole requests; • Expedited adjudication and approval, where possible, of requests for off-campus employment authorization for F-1 students experiencing severe economic hardship; • Expedited processing of immigrant petitions for immediate relatives of U.S. citizens; • Expedited adjudication of employment authorization applications, where appropriate; and • Assistance to LPRs stranded overseas without immigration or travel documents, such as Permanent Resident Cards (Green Cards). USCIS and the Department of State will coordinate on these matters when the LPR is stranded in a place that has no local USCIS office.

10,000 U visas have been approved and a cap for fiscal year 2014 was reached.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, USCIS has approved the statutory maximum 10,000 petitions for U-1 nonimmigrant status (U visas) for fiscal year 2014. Each year, 10,000 U visas are available for victims of certain qualifying crimes who have suffered substantial mental or physical abuse and are willing to help law enforcement authorities investigate or prosecute those crimes. Although, USCIS has reached its statutory cap of 10,000 U visas, it will continue to review pending petitions for eligibility. USCIS will resume issuing U visas on Oct. 1, 2014, the first day of fiscal year 2015, when visas become available again.

Diversity Visa Program: DV-2015 (green card lottery).

Diversity Visa Program: DV-2015 (green card lottery) online registration begins on Tuesday, October 1, 2013 at 12:00 noon, Eastern Daylight Time and concludes on Saturday, November 2, 2013 at 12:00 noon, Eastern Daylight Time. The congressionally mandated Diversity Immigrant Visa Program is administered annually by the Department of State. Section 203(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) provides for a class of immigrants known as “diversity immigrants,” from countries with historically low rates of immigration to the United States. For fiscal year 2015, 50,000 diversity visas (DVs) will be available. There is no cost to register for the DV Program. For DV-2015, natives of the following countries are NOT eligible to apply: Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China (mainland-born), Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, South Korea, United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, and Vietnam. Persons born in Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR, and Taiwan are eligible to apply for Diversity Visa Program 2015.

New Customer Identity Verification at USCIS domestic offices.

Beginning September 9, 2013, USCIS starts a new verification tool called Customer Identity Verification (CIV) in its domestic field offices. Customers will now submit biometric data, specifically fingerprints and photographs, when appearing at USCIS offices for interviews or to receive evidence of an immigration benefit. Therefore, after a customer arrives at a field office, clears security, and is called to the counter, USCIS will electronically scan two fingerprints and take a picture to verify their identity. The process applies only to customers who have an interview or receive evidence of an immigration benefit. People who come for InfoPass appointments or to accompany a customer will not undergo this process. After verification the customer’s identity, they can proceed to their interview or receive their document.

On June 27, 2013, U.S. Senate passes Immigration Reform Bill With Strong Majority, and now it is heading to the House.

Green Card for Lesbian and Gay couples.

On June 26, 2013 Supreme Court decision in U.S. v. Windsor ended discriminatory law that denied same-sex couples from immigration benefits. Now Lesbian and Gay couples legally married under the laws of a state or a country that were married will be eligible to apply for the U.S. green card.

Proposal on a New Immigration Law

The “Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act,” or S. 744, is a broad-based proposal for reforming the U.S. immigration system written by 8 Senators.  The bill provides a broad change to the immigration process.  Most importantly Is that it provides a path to become a legal resident status to 11 millions of undocumented immigrants and changes family and employment immigration.

On June 12, 2013, Senators took the floor to make opening statements and statements in support of various amendment to Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act or S.744  To Read more click on Immigration Services "S.744" page.

USCIS reached FY2014 H-1B Cap.

For the first time since 2008, USCIS has reached H-1B cap of 65,000 and 20,000 of persons with advance degree, cap exempt  withing the first days of the filing period. It is estimated that approximately 124,000 H-1B petitions were filed during first week of filing.  On April 7, 2013, USCIS used a computer generated random lottery to select a suffcient number of petitions.

Final Rule in the Federal Register.

WASHINGTON — Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano today announcedthe posting of a final rule in the Federal Register that reduces the time U.S. citizens are separated from their immediate relatives (spouse, children and parents), who are in the process of obtaining visas to become lawful permanent residents of the United States under certain circumstances. The final rule establishes a process that allows certain individuals to apply for a provisional unlawful presence waiver before they depart the United States to attend immigrant visa interviews in their countries of origin. The process will be effective on March 4, 2013.In order to obtain a provisional unlawful presence waiver, the applicant must be an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen, inadmissible only on account of unlawful presence, and demonstrate the denial of the waiver would result in extreme hardship to his or her U.S. citizen spouse or parent. Under the new provisional waiver process, immediate relatives must still depart the United States for the consular immigrant visa process; however, they can apply for a provisional waiver before they depart for their immigrant visa interview abroad. The new process will reduce the amount of time U.S. citizen are separated from their qualifying immediate relatives

On Feb. 1, 2013,U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin collecting a new USCIS Immigrant Fee of $165 from foreign nationals seeking permanent residence in the United States.

In accordance with the Secretary’s memorandum, USCIS has begun accepting requests for consideration of deferred action. USCIS filing fees are $465.

You may request consideration of deferred action for childhood arrivals if you:

  1. Were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012;
  2. Came to the United States before reaching your 16th birthday;
  3. Have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time;
  4. Were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making your request for consideration of deferred action with USCIS;
  5. Entered without inspection before June 15, 2012, or your lawful immigration status expired as of June 15, 2012;
  6. Are currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States; and
  7. Have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.