USCIS Eases Visitor Restrictions for Fully Vaccinated Individuals

June 14, 2021 Leave a comment

USCIS has updated its visitor policy recently. Fully vaccinated individuals against COVID virus no longer have to wear a face covering. Individuals two years old and older who are not fully vaccinated must still wear a face covering. To be considered fully vaccinated, it must be at least two weeks after receiving a second dose in a two-dose series or at least two weeks after receiving a dose of a single-dose vaccine.

USCIS has eased other requirements for fully vaccinated individuals who do not have COVID-19 symptoms. Those who have returned from domestic air, international air or cruise ship travel in the past 10 days may enter USCIS facilities if they are fully vaccinated. Individuals who have been in close contact (within six feet for a total of 15 minutes or more) with anyone known to have COVID-19 in the previous 14 days may also enter USCIS facilities if they are fully vaccinated. Healthcare workers who consistently wear an N95 respirator and proper personal protective equipment or equivalent when in contact with COVID-19 positive individuals continue to be exempt from reporting close contact.
In DHS-controlled spaces, this guidance supersedes state, local, tribal, or territorial rules and regulations regarding face coverings.

USCIS to Issue Two-Year Validity EADs for Certain Adjustment Applicants

June 14, 2021 Leave a comment

Starting June 9, 2021, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will issue two-year validity Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) to adjustment applicants whose Form I-485 is pending adjudication. The SUCIS states that in the interest of reducing the burden on both the agency and the public, because the current median processing time for certain adjustment of status applications is close to or greater than 1 year, USCIS will now issue initial and renewal EADs to adjustment applicants that are valid for 2 years.

National Interest Exceptions (NIE) for COVID-related Travel Bans

June 12, 2021 Leave a comment

Dept. of State announced that the Secretary of State made a national interest determination regarding categories of travelers eligible for exceptions under Presidential Proclamations (PPs) 9984, 9992, 10143, 10199 [India], and similar subsequent PPs related to the spread of COVID-19. As a result of this determination, together with national interest determinations already in place, travelers subject to these proclamations due to their presence in China, Iran, India, Brazil, South Africa, the Schengen area, the United Kingdom, and Ireland, who are seeking to provide vital support or executive direction for critical infrastructure; those traveling to provide vital support or executive direction for significant economic activity in the United States; journalists; students and certain academics covered by exchange visitor programs; immigrants; and fiancés may now qualify for a National Interest Exception (NIE). Qualified travelers who are applying for or have valid visas or ESTA authorization may travel to the United States following the procedures currently in place, even as PPs 9984, 9992, 10143, and 10199 remain in effect.

EB-2 and EB-3 India to Advance in the Coming Months

June 12, 2021 Leave a comment

At the AILA conference, the State Dept. announced that there will be huge advancements in the EB-2 and EB-3 Final Action date for India in the month of July (i.e. July Bulletin).   India EB-2 will advance by 8 months to July 1, 2011 when India EB-3 will rocket ahead by over one year from November 1, 2011 to January 1, 2013.  Charlie Oppenheim of State Dept. predicts that the employment-based green card limit will rise to at least 290,000 in fiscal year 2022.

Employment-Based Visa Numbers – Eligibility to File Adjustment of Status Applications

June 4, 2021 Leave a comment
Employment-
based
All Chargeability
Areas Except
Those Listed
CHINA-
mainland
born
EL SALVADOR
GUATEMALA
HONDURAS
INDIA
Mexico
Philippines
Vietnam
1st
C
C
C
C
C
C
C
2nd
C
01MAY17
C
01DEC10
C
C
C
3rd
C
01SEP18
C
01NOV11
C
C
C
Other Workers
C
01OCT09
C
01NOV11
C
C
C
4th
C
C
01NOV18
C
01NOV19
C
C
Certain Religious Workers
C
C
01NOV18
C
01NOV19
C
C
5th Non-Regional Center
(C5 and T5)
C
15SEP15
C
C
C
C
15APR18
5th Regional Center
(I5 and R5)
C
15SEP15
C
C
C
C
15APR18

USCIS Updates Policy Pertaining to Adjustment of Status Adjudications

November 19, 2020 Leave a comment

On November 17, 2020, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) updated its policy guidance regarding discretionary factors to consider when making a decision pertaining to adjustment of status applications. In adjustment cases, the applicants have the burden of demonstrating eligibility, including that a favorable exercise of discretion by USCIS is warranted.

If an applicant otherwise establishes eligibility and USCIS finds the positive discretionary factors in a particular case outweigh the negative factors, the officer should exercise favorable discretion and approve the adjustment application. Conversely, if the negative factors outweigh the positive factors an exercise of discretion to deny is appropriate.

USCIS considers the totality of the circumstances, which may include factors such as an applicant’s conduct, character, family or other lawful ties to the United States, immigration status and history, or any other humanitarian concerns, to determine whether the applicant warrants a favorable exercise of discretion.

The Nov 17 2020 guidance consolidates existing guidance on the privileges, rights, and responsibilities of lawful permanent residents and it the updated guidance provides a list of factors and factual circumstances for adjustment of status that officer consider when undertaking discretionary analysis.  For example, in employment-based adjustment cases – the officers could look at following (the list is not exhaustive):

  • Positive Factor: Employment history, including type, length, and stability of the employment.
  • Positive Factor: Education, specialized skills, and training obtained from an educational institution in the United States relevant to current or prospective employment and earning potential in the United States.
  • Negative Factor: History of unemployment or underemployment
  • Negative Factor: Unauthorized employment in the United States
  • Negative Factor: Employment or income from illegal activity or sources, including, but not limited to, income gained illegally from drug sales, illegal gambling, prostitution, or alien smuggling.

In family-based adjustment cases – the officers could look at following (the list is not exhaustive):

  • Positive Factor: Family ties to the United States and the closeness of the underlying relationships.
  • Positive Factor: Hardship to the applicant or close relatives if the adjustment application is denied.
  • Positive Factor: Length of lawful residence in the United States, status held and conduct during that residence, particularly if the applicant began his or her residency at a young age.
  • Negative Factor: Absence of close family, community, and residence ties

USCIS Updates Policy Guidance Pertaining to Naturalization Process

November 19, 2020 Leave a comment

On November 18, 2020, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) updated its policy guidance to effectuate changes regarding prerequisite of Lawful Admission for Permanent Residence under all applicable provisions for purposes of Naturalization.

Applicants for naturalization must meet the fundamental requirements as lawful permanent residents (LPR) such physical presence, continuous residence among other criteria. In addition to meeting other requirements under the pertinent naturalization rules, an applicant has the burden of establishing that he or she was lawfully admitted to the United States for permanent residence. Key updates to the Policy:

  • An applicant is ineligible for naturalization in cases where the applicant did not obtain LPR status lawfully (including cases where the U.S. government was unaware of disqualifying material facts and had therefore previously granted adjustment of status to that of an LPR or admitted the applicant as an LPR).
  • Provides further guidance on circumstances under which USCIS may find an applicant to not have been lawfully admitted for permanent residence and therefore ineligible for naturalization.
  • USCIS will review to determine whether an applicant has abandoned his or her LPR status during the adjudication of the naturalization application.
  • USCIS may deny naturalization applications, filed on or after November 18, 2020 (effective date of policy), if the applicant is in removal proceedings because USCIS lacks the authority to consider the merits of a naturalization application if the applicant has a pending removal proceeding initiated by a warrant of arrest.

October 2020 Employment-Based Visa Numbers – Eligibility to File Adjustment of Status Applications

October 1, 2020 Leave a comment
Employment-
based
All Countries 
Except
Those Listed
in the Table
CHINA-
mainland
born
EL SALVADOR
GUATEMALA
HONDURAS
INDIA
MEXICO 
PHILIPPINES 
1st
C
01SEP20
C
01SEP20
C
C
2nd
C
01OCT16
C
15MAY11
C
C
3rd
C
01JUN18
C
01JAN15
C
C
Other Workers
C
01OCT08
C
01JAN15
C
C
4th
C
C
01FEB18
C
C
C
Certain Religious Workers
C
C
01FEB18
C
C
C
5th Non-
Regional
Center
(C5 and T5)
C
15DEC15
C
C
C
C
5th Regional
Center
(I5 and R5)
C
15DEC15
C
C
C
C
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