Immigration News

by Breanne Johnson Breanne Johnson No Comments

Extension of I-693 Medical Exam Validity Granted Through March 31, 2023

In order to become a permanent resident of the United States, applicants must undergo a medical exam to ensure that they will not trigger any of the health-related grounds of inadmissibility. For example, having a contagious disease such as measles, mumps or tuberculosis could render someone unable to become a permanent resident. Normally, USCIS considers a completed Form I-693 medical exam to remain valid for 2 years after the U.S. civil surgeon signs the form, so long as the civil surgeon’s signature is no more than 60 days old when USCIS receives the application for permanent residence.

Because of COVID-related delays, USCIS has excused this 60-day signature requirement. This is a temporary exception that was set to expire today. However, USCIS announced yesterday that the exception to the 60-day signature requirement will be extended until March 31, 2023. This is a welcome extension that will help ease filings timelines and processing delays caused by COVID. For more information about the requirements to become a lawful permanent resident of the United States, reach out to our attorneys for a consultation.

by Caroline Lee Caroline Lee No Comments

Expansion of Premium Processing Continues

Immigration processing times are not known for being quick – the opposite is sadly true as processing times for many case types have ticked up substantially over the past few years.  However, good news is at hand for at least a few more categories of employment-based permanent residence, as USCIS continues its phased approach to expanding the cases that are eligible for premium processing.  Premium processing allows for the payment of an extra fee to the agency; in return USCIS will adjudicate the petition within a greatly reduced time frame, the length of which depends on the case type.  However, the types of cases that are eligible for premium processing have been narrowly defined in the past.  With this third phase of premium process expansion, USCIS is permitting certain petitioners who have a pending Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers, under the EB-1 and EB-2 classifications, to interfile premium processing on the pending cases.

As of September 15, USCIS will accept premium processing requests for:

  • Multinational executive and manager petitions received on or before January 1, 2022 (EB-1); and
  • National Interest Waiver petitions received on or before February 1, 2022 (EB-2).

USCIS has stated that it will reject premium processing requests for these Form I-140 classifications if the receipt date is after the above-mentioned dates.

Is your case eligible for premium processing?  If you have questions, reach out to the attorneys at Curray York & Associates for a consultation.

by Breanne Johnson Breanne Johnson No Comments

Within the Next Two Decades Population Growth in the United States will be Fully Fueled by Immigration

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) predicts that within the next two decades population growth in the United States will be fully fueled by immigration. “As the effects of the pandemic wane and economic conditions in the U.S. improve, net immigration flows are projected to rise.” In a new report released in July 2022, the CBO concludes that immigration will soon drive all of the United States’ population growth.  By 2043 deaths will outnumber births in the U.S., and immigration will be the only source of the United State’s population gain.

In CBO’s assessment, pandemic-related travel restrictions and reduced visa-processing capabilities resulted in 160,000 fewer net immigrants in 2020 and 110,000 fewer net immigrants in 2021. From 2022 to 2051, however, the annual net flow of immigrants is predicted to be higher. CBO now estimates 10,000 more people per year, on average, than the agency projected last year. If your family or business is amongst those looking to bring immigrants to the U.S., reach out to talk with one of our attorneys.

by Caroline Lee Caroline Lee No Comments

The H-1B Cap Has Been Reached for FY2023

That’s a wrap on this year’s H-1B season! On August 23, US Citizenship & Immigration Services announced that the agency had received a sufficient number of applications to meet the congressionally mandated allotment of H-1B visas for FY2023. The H-1B program for specialty occupations is highly sought after by visa applicants, with a large number of registrations each year. Annually, there is a limit of 65,000 H-1B visas which may be granted under the regular cap and 20,000 H-1B visas which may be allocated under the U.S. advanced degree exemption. With this announcement USCIS also notified potential applicants of their non-selection from the lottery. It is not anticipated that any further lottery selections will be made in this fiscal year.

Didn’t receive a cap number in this year’s lottery? Be sure to reach out to our firm in January 2023 to enter the lottery for next year!

by Breanne Johnson Breanne Johnson No Comments

USCIS Updates its Interpretation of “Under Honorable Conditions” for Citizenship based on Military Service

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced that it will be making an important update to its Policy Manual for those who seek to apply for U.S. citizenship based on their military service. This update clarifies that a current or former service member who received an “uncharacterized” discharge is eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship. Former USCIS policy held that an “uncharacterized” discharge did not qualify the service member under the legal requirements for military-based citizenship. This is a welcome change in USCIS policy that will enable more military service members to qualify for U.S. citizenship based on their military service to our country. To learn more about this update and discuss eligibility for U.S. citizenship based on military service, please contact our office for a consultation.

by Breanne Johnson Breanne Johnson No Comments

USCIS Rescinds Matter of Z-R-Z-C-

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has rescinded Matter of Z-R-Z-C-, holding that individuals in temporary protected status (TPS) who apply for permission to travel abroad will now be found to have been inspected and admitted for purposes of adjustment of status. Individuals in TPS who would like to travel abroad will now be issued a new TPS-specific travel authorization document that enables international travel. Individuals in TPS who have been admitted back into the U.S. using this travel document following international travel will satisfy the “inspected and admitted” requirement to apply for adjustment of status. This is true even if the initial entry was without inspection. Happily, this new policy enables TPS holders to apply for permanent residence in the U.S. if they have a family-based petitioner, a qualifying employment visa petition or another option for permanent residency. To find out more about this process, please contact us for a consultation.

by Breanne Johnson Breanne Johnson No Comments

Department of Homeland Security Announces an Expansion of Grant Funding for Citizenship Preparation Programs

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced on Monday that the agency is providing up to $20 million in grant funding for citizenship preparation programs. This amounts to a $10 million increase from last year. These grants are awarded to organizations that provide naturalization preparation courses, English courses and U.S. civics instruction so that applicants can best prepare to apply for U.S. citizenship.  DHS Secretary Mayorkas summarized the intention behind this increase in funding as follows: “By adding additional funding opportunities, organizations will be able to reach more communities and ensure noncitizens have access to the tools and resources needed for citizenship education.”

To apply for these funding opportunities, visit www.grants.gov. USCIS encourages applicants to visit www.grants.gov before the application deadline to obtain registration information needed to complete the application process.

For additional information on the Citizenship and Integration Grant Program for fiscal year 2022, visit www.uscis.gov/grants or email the USCIS Office of Citizenship at citizenshipgrantprogram@uscis.dhs.gov.

by Caroline Lee Caroline Lee No Comments

CDC Lifts Order Requiring International Air Travelers to Present a Negative COVID-19 Test

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has rescinded a 17-month-old requirement that people arriving to the United States by air test negative for COVID-19. The order rescinding the requirement of a negative COVID-19 test is effective as of June 11, 2022.

Pursuant to a January 26, 2021 CDC Order, all air passengers ages 2 and older traveling to the U.S. from a foreign country were required to present a negative COVID-19 test result taken from a sample taken no more than one day before departure, or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 in the past 90 days, prior to boarding a flight. Citing changed circumstances, including the “widespread uptake of effective COVID-19 vaccines and accompanying vaccine- and infection-induced immunity,” the CDC concluded that it was no longer necessary to leave the Order in place, but continued to recommend that travelers remain up to date with vaccination against COVID-19 and get tested for infection with a viral test before and after traveling.

by Breanne Johnson Breanne Johnson No Comments

Premium Processing Service Expanded

USCIS’s premium processing service is in the process of being expanded. Specifically, USCIS announced that as of June 1, 2022 it will begin this expansion by accepting premium processing requests for Form I-140 Multinational Executive and Manager Petitions received on or before January 1, 2021. USCIS further announced that beginning July 1, 2022, it will accept premium processing requests for Form I-140 on behalf of National Interest Waiver Petitions received on or before June 1, 2021, as well as Form I-140 Multinational Executive and Manager Petitions received on or before March 1, 2021. Applying for premium processing under these expanded options carries a 45 day processing timeframe and a $2,500 government filing fee.

by Caroline Lee Caroline Lee No Comments

USCIS Issuing New I-797 Approval Notices for L-2 and E-2 Spouses

Pursuant to a recent USCIS policy change whereby the Service is now acknowledging that L-2, E-1, E-2, and E-3 spouses have employment authorization incident to their immigration status, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) has confirmed that it is updating all L-2 I-94s for L-2 spouses, 22 years of age or older, to add “S” to the status for those who entered prior to 1/31/22. Those entering on January 31, 2022 or later have had the “S” added upon entry to the U.S. CBP did not add the “S” to L-2 I-94 cards for foreign nationals ages 18-21 at time of entry, due to uncertainty about whether they were dependent spouses or children. For this group of L-2 dependents, the “S” will need to be added to applicable I-94s on next entry to the U.S., by presenting evidence of spousal relationship, or through the next filing with USCIS. CBP has been unable to make this adjustment for E-2 spouses given the difficulty in distinguishing between an E-2 principal and an E-2 dependent spouse. To seek the “S,” E-2 spouses will need to follow the same instructions as for the L-2 dependents ages 18-21.

USCIS is now issuing I-797 approval notices for L-2 and E-2 spouses that specifically state the notice may be used to document work authorization and for completion of Form I-9.

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