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Green Cards

Emergency Visa Appointments for RN’s

The Department of State issued a directive last week to provide for emergency visa appointments for medical professionals. The original directive has been modified to include RN’s with approved I-140’s and current priority dates. They may bypass the NVC process and complete visa issuance at the U.S. Consulate. Contact your HLG attorney for assistance.

Premium Processing Suspended

Effective today, the USCIS has suspended premium processing for I-129 and I-140 petitions. Cases previously filed as premium will continue to be adjudicated under the premium guidelines. Cases filed yesterday to be received today by the USCIS will have their premium filing fee returned.

USCIS Cancels Interviews Due to COVID-19

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the need for social distancing in the U.S., the USCIS has closed its offices to the public until at least April 1, 2020. For legal immigrants, the major impacts are the cancellation of I-485 interviews and I-539 biometric appointments for family members. Until the offices are reopened to the public, no rescheduling will be done. If you have an I-485 interview scheduled and were holding off on filing for a renewal of your EAD/AP in anticipation of an approval, I’d recommend you file the extension.

April Visa Bulletin

The Department of State (DOS) has released the April Visa Bulletin There was no forward movement in the Dates for Filing chart and there was very limited movement in the Final Action date chart and when I say limited movement, I mean 3 days forward for India EB2 and up to a few months for EB1 all others. The EB3 all others category remained unmoved. The USCIS has not yet announced which chart they will use for I-485 filings. We will update this post when they announce.

Federal Court Victory for Staffing Firms

A Federal Court in DC has handed the USCIS a stinging defeat saying that its employer-employee definition and practice of issuing shortened approval notices is illegal. Congrats to attorney Jonathan Wasden for his fighting this battle. Read a copy of the decision here. If you have an H-1b petition that was illegally shortened by the USCIS, we may be able to obtain relief for you via this case. Please email me directly at mfh@hammondlawgroup.com We will work with Mr. Wasden to have your case added to this litigation, if appropriate.

Retrogression Strikes Hard at EB3 !

The Department of State (DOS) has released the March Visa Bulletin and as predicted, the Final Action Date for EB3 for all countries has retrogressed back to Jan 1, 2017 (aside from India and China which are at 2009 and 2016 respectively). The Dates for Filing chart remains unchanged at Jan 1, 2019. The USCIS has declared that they will accept I-485 filings in March using the Dates for Filing chart. Retrogression occurs when there is an oversubscription (demand exceeds supply) for a particular category. The DOS went on to state that they do not expect any forward movement in the EB3 category in the foreseeable future meaning that we may get no forward movement until Oct 2020, the beginning of the new fiscal year. New legislation is the only remedy.

New USCIS Forms !

Following its Supreme Court victory, the White House has begun the implementation of the new public charge rules, which will have far-reaching implications for both employment and family based cases. The new forms to be used in all USCIS filings as of Feb 24, 2020 have been released and can be reviewed here.

Travel Ban Explained

On Friday, January 31, 2020, President Trump issued a new set of travel restrictions for nationals of certain foreign countries. This is an expansion of the “travel ban” issued in 2017, as both draw their power from the Immigration and Nationality Act, Section 212(f).
The foreign nationals affected are those from Burma (Myanmar), Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, and Nigeria.
This does not affect nationals of those countries if they are already present in the U.S. For example, if you have a Nigerian employee on H-1B, they may remain employed. You are also perfectly fine to start or continue a permanent residency case (PERM, I-140, I-485) via employment-based sponsorship.
Non-immigrant visas, such as H-1b, TN, L-1, O, etc are not impacted.
Students are also unaffected. For example, you may continue to employ a Kyrgyzstani student on Optional Practical Training. Nationals from affected countries are also permitted to extend or change status in the U.S.—they may apply for a STEM OPT extension, and/or you may place them into the H-1B lottery.
The most heavily affected are those candidates who are outside of the United States and going through National Visa Center processing for an immigrant visa. Nationals of those four countries are no longer able to seek immigrant visas through U.S. embassies and consulates abroad, regardless of the location of the post. If you have candidates who are currently part of the offshore immigrant visa process, you need to inform the candidate as soon as you can that their case may continue to be processed, but that their case will be placed into administrative processing or outright denied if this ban remains in effect.
Dual citizens are unaffected so long as they seek an immigrant visa on their non-affected passport.
This set of restrictions will affect your employees’ family members who are not in the United States and seeking to immigrate under the follow to join rules. Permanent resident or U.S. citizen employees who are attempting to bring their family members—spouses, parents, siblings, and the like—are now unable to bring them here on an immigrant visa if the family member is a national of one of those four countries. H-1B or L-1A/L-1B employees may still bring their spouses and Under-21-Children on H-4/L-2 visas.
If you have specific cases, please contact your HLG atty. to discuss.

February Visa Bulletin

The Department of State (DOS) has recently released the February Visa Bulletin and there is very little forward movement in the Final Action Dates chart. Several categories remained the same and India EB2 jumped forward by 1 single day ! As expected, the Dates for Filing Chart stayed the same. The DOS issued a warning indicating that they expect retrogression in the “rest of the World” EB3 category as early as March. The USCIS has announced which 485 applications they will accept in Feb and they are using a combination of the dates for filing and final action charts depending upon your country of chargeability. Check the language carefully to understand how it may impact you.

By |January 23rd, 2020|Green Cards|0 Comments|

January Visa Bulletin

The Department of State (DOS) has released the January 2020 Visa Bulletin and there is a lot of activity. Most notably, in the Dates for Filing chart, EB3 for the Philippines and all other countries retrogressed to Jan 1, 2019. In the Final Action chart, EB1 for the all other countries jumped forward 4 mos. but, all other categories remained essentially the same with forward movement ranging from 3 days to 2 weeks. The USCIS has announced that they will accept I-485 filings in January based upon the Dates for Filing chart. Also, included in the Visa Bulletin were projections for coming months and there was a lot of bad news with the prediction that EB3 for all other countries is expected to retrogress by March and EB2 may retrogress as early as April.

By |December 30th, 2019|Green Cards|0 Comments|