October 2015

Sign White House Petition: Restore Original October Visa Bulletin

Sign a White House petition urging the administration to restore the September 9, 2015 Visa Bulletin, which was superseded on September 25, 2015 with a revised Visa Bulletin that rolled back the "Dates of Filing" for several visa categories.

Text of the petition: USCIS and DOS changed the priority dates for categories all of sudden and this is causing financial and mental loss.

USCIS along with DOS released a visa bulletin in accordance to visa modernization per Executive action. While doing this around September 8th the visa bulletin released had a priority date of USCIS accepting AOS application with people having priority dates for EB2 India with people before June 30 th 2011. Suddenly, the USCIS along with DOS have changed these dates to July 1st 2009. This action is so irresponsible on the part of USCIS\DOS and have made many immigrants who paid and did medicals and other process to submit their application go into mental stress. I urge the president to step in and revert back the decision of changing dates and to honor those dates originally published at least until end of Oct 2015.

Sign petition here

Sunset of Public Law 111-230, as Amended by Pub. L. 111-347, Filing Fees (“Border Security Fees”)

Public Law 111-230 required additional filing fees of $2,000 for certain H-1B petitions and $2,250 for certain L-1A and L-1B petitions (often referred to as "border security fees"). On October 1, 2015, collection of these fees sunset, and has yet to be extended by Congress. (Note that this fee was initially due to sunset on October 1, 2014, but was extended through September 30, 2015 by Pub. L. 111-347.) At this point, it is unknown know when this provision will be reauthorized.

September 2015

DOS Global Consular Systems Upgrade – All Embassies and Consulates Closed on 10/9/15

On October 1, 2015, the U.S. Department of State has announced that, due to a consular systems upgrade, all U.S. embassies and consulates will be closed to the public on October 9, 2015, and interviews scheduled on that day will be rescheduled. For more information, visit individual consular post websites at www.usembassy.gov/

Information on the 2017 Diversity Immigrant Visa Program Now Available

The State Department provided information on the 2017 Diversity Immigrant Visa Program (DV-2017), including instructions on submitting an electronic entry, answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs), and a list of countries/areas by region whose natives are eligible for DV-2017. Entries must be submitted electronically between October 1, 2015, and November 3, 2015. Please see here.

U.S. Department of State Rolls Back “Dates for Filing” for Some Visa Categories in Revised October Visa Bulletin

Update: On September 25, 2015, the Department of State published a revised Visa Bulletin for October, rolling back the "Dates for Filing" for several visa categories. This "Revised September 25, 2015 Visa Bulletin" supersedes the previous Visa Bulletin for October, which was published on September 9, 2015.

Please note that the following "Dates for Filing" have changed:

Category (9/9/15) Filing Date NEW (9/25/15) Filing Date Difference
EB-2 China 5/1/2014 1/1/2013 1 year, 5 months
EB-2 India 7/1/2011 7/1/2009 2 years
EB-3 Philippines 1/1/2015 1/1/2010 5 years
FB-1 Mexico 7/1/1995 4/1/1995 3 months
FB-3 Mexico 10/1/1996 5/1/1995 1 year, 5 months

Therefore, individuals who fall under the above-referenced categories will only be permitted to file for adjustment of status in the month of October if they have a priority date that is earlier than the NEW Filing Date listed in the revised September 25, 2015 Visa Bulletin.

USCIS Suspends Final Adjudication of Employment-Based Adjustment Applications for the Remainder of FY 2015

Starting September 24, 2015, USCIS will suspend final adjudication of employment-based Form I-485 applications ( Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status) because the Department of State reports that the statutory cap has been reached for the employment-based preference categories for fiscal year (FY) 2015.

This suspension applies to all employment-based adjustment applications pending with USCIS through September 30, 2015 (the remainder of FY2015).

USCIS will continue to accept adjustment of status applications that are filed when the foreign national’s priority date is earlier than the cut-off date published in the September Visa Bulletin for his or her preference category and country of birth/chargeability. USCIS will resume final adjudication of employment-based adjustment applications beginning October 1, 2015, when visa numbers are again available.

Applicants filing Form I-485 on or after October 1, 2015, should review the “When to File” section on the Visa Bulletin Info Web page to determine whether they are eligible to file Form I-485.

When to File Your Adjustment of Status Application for Family-Based or Employment-Based Preference Visas

USCIS alert that the Visa Bulletin has changed as of the October 2015 bulletin. This notice includes information on when to file an adjustment, information on the new Visa Bulletin structure, and determining visa availability. http://www.uscis.gov/visabulletininfo

Beware of Immigration Scams and Fraudulent “USCIS” Websites

Before you submit an application, petition, or request with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), make sure you are getting the correct information from the right place. Some commercial websites may put you at risk of becoming a victim of an immigration scam.

Please read the information below to learn how to avoid these scams and ensure your immigration applications, petitions and requests go to the right place.

Make Sure You Are On Our Website

Websites run by private companies are not affiliated with us, even if their addresses may be similar to ours. These companies often charge fees for information available for free on our website, such as forms and form instructions. Besides costing you unnecessary fees, visiting these commercial websites may delay your application, petition or request. Such processing delays can possibly lead to removal proceedings.

Go to uscis.gov for free downloadable forms and form instructions, information on filing fees and processing times, as well as a link to the USCIS Electronic Immigration System. NOTE: If you are unable to download forms, you may call 800-870-3676 and ask to have a copy mailed to you.

Consider Using the USCIS Electronic Immigration System

The USCIS Electronic Immigration System is an online, account-based system that allows you to submit some benefit requests electronically. Currently, you can use USCIS Electronic Immigration System to pay the USCIS Immigrant Fee and submit Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card. For more information, visit uscis.gov/uscis-elis.

When filing a form electronically, make sure the website address ends in “.gov.” Additionally, most government websites include a statement somewhere on their page that identifies them as an official U.S. government site. For example, at the top of the USCIS homepage you'll find the statement "Official website of the Department of Homeland Security."

Get Help From Licensed Attorneys or Organizations Recognized by USCIS or the Department of Justice’s Board of Immigration Appeals

USCIS and the Department of Justice, Board of Immigration Appeals, have a list of recognized organizations and accredited representatives who may be able to provide free or low-cost assistance. You may also seek assistance from a licensed attorney. Attorneys and accredited representatives are authorized to represent you once they notify us of their appearance as your legal representative. Go to uscis.gov/avoid-scams/find-legal-services for information on finding an attorney or accredited representative.

Be Careful When Seeking Assistance to Prepare a Form

We are aware of stories about customers who paid a lot of money to have a business or individual prepare or submit immigration benefit requests to us on their behalf. However, many of these businesses or individuals are not authorized to represent USCIS customers.

Some businesses or individuals advertise themselves as “notarios.” In many Spanish-speaking countries "notarios públicos" are lawyers with special credentials. In the United States, however, notary publics are individuals authorized to witness the signing of important documents. They are not authorized to provide legal services related to immigration. If an attorney or accredited representative also provides services as a notary, he or she must submit a G-28, Notice of Entry of Appearance as an Attorney or Accredited Representative to reflect that they are authorized to represent clients before USCIS.

Consider these tips when asking a business or individual to help you fill out or file a form with us:

  • Signing a form – Only you, the customer, can sign an application, petition or request. If a business or individual promises to take care of everything for you, including signing the form on your behalf, know that they are not allowed to do that.
  • Fees for forms – All USCIS forms are available at uscis.gov for free. No individual or business should charge you for a form to file for an immigration benefit.
  • Fees for preparation – As a customer, you can always fill out a form by yourself. Legitimate organizations and businesses can help you prepare your form. Only an attorney or accredited representative can provide legal advice. If you need legal advice on a more complex form, or if you have specific circumstances, we recommend you contact an attorney or accredited representative who can assist you with your legal questions.

For More Information

For more information on how to avoid immigration scams, including how to identify fraudulent immigration websites and find people who are authorized to give legal advice, please visit uscis.gov/avoidscams or uscis.gov/eviteestefas (Spanish).

August 2015

Delays in Production of EADs and Green Cards

Multiple AILA members have reported experiencing delays between the approval of a client's I-765 or I-485 and the client's receipt of the employment authorization document (EAD) or lawful permanent resident card. USCIS has confirmed that the card production facility in Corbin, Kentucky, is undergoing maintenance, and that all card production work was transferred to the facility in Lee's Summit, Missouri. As a result, there is a backlog of cases in Lee's Summit, and clients may not receive their cards until two to three weeks after approval of the underlying application. USCIS anticipates that the backlog will be resolved sometime next month.

July 2015

USCIS Final Guidance on When to File an Amended or New H-1B Petition after Matter of Simeio Solutions, LLC

On April 9, 2015, the precedent decision Matter of Simeio Solutions, LLC (Simeio) was issued. This decision represents the USCIS position that H-1B petitioners are required to file an amended or new petition before placing an H-1B employee at a new place of employment not covered by an existing, approved H-1B petition.

On May 21, 2015, USCIS issued draft guidance on this topic and solicited public comment regarding the implementation of Simeio. After reviewing and carefully considering the feedback submitted, USCIS is now issuing Policy Memorandum 602-0120, USCIS Final Guidance on When to File an Amended or New H-1B Petition After Matter of Simeio Solutions, LLC.

Policy Memorandum 602-0120 is effective immediately. Please note, while this final guidance responds to many of the comments received, some suggestions and inquiries were outside the scope of Simeio and, therefore, are not addressed in this document. USCIS will consider addressing those remaining questions, as necessary, in the near future. Please see here.

USCIS Returns Unselected Fiscal Year 2016 H-1B Cap-Subject Petitions

USCIS announced on July 14, 2015, that it completed processing the return of fiscal year 2016 H-1B cap-subject petitions that were not selected in our computer-generated random selection process.

USCIS previously announced on May 4, 2015, that it completed data entry of all selected cap-subject petitions.

If you submitted an H-1B cap-subject petition between April 1 and April 7, 2015 and have not received a receipt notice or a returned petition by July 20, 2015, you may contact USCIS

June 17, 2015 U.S. Department of State Visa Systems Issues

The Bureau of Consular Affairs continues to experience technical problems with our visa systems. This is a global issue, and we are working around the clock to fix it. More than 100 computer experts from both the private and public sectors across the United States are working on this problem 24/7. That said, we do not expect the system will be online before next week. The problems stem from a hardware failure in a State Department facility in the United States on June 9. That failure is preventing the Department from processing and transmitting biometric data checks at visa-issuing embassies and consulates. We cannot bypass the legal requirements to screen visa applicants before we issue visas for travel. Each visa decision is a national security decision, and we take our obligation to protect the United States seriously.

We regret the inconvenience to travelers and recognize that this is causing hardship to those waiting for visas, and in some cases, their family members or employers in the United States. We will continue to post regular updates on our website, travel.state.gov.

Q: What caused this outage? Was it a malicious action or hack? There is no evidence the problem is cyber-security related.

Q: How long before you restore full system functionality? Public and private sector experts are working around the clock to correct the visa problem, but we do not expect the system will be online before next week. Overseas and domestic passports are being issued.

Q: How many travelers are affected by this outage? Most posts were able to handle visa interviews and some visa printing as usual through the end of last week. This week, many posts have had to reschedule visa appointments. We handle an average 50,000 applications daily worldwide. Many applicants do not have immediate travel plans and will receive visas in time for planned trips. We are prioritizing urgent medical and other humanitarian cases as well as H2A agricultural workers.

Q: Once operational, how will cases be prioritized? We are already prioritizing urgent humanitarian cases and temporary agricultural workers. Once the systems are fully operational, we will work as quickly as possible to clear the backlog of pending visa cases. We apologize to travelers and recognize that this has caused hardship to some individuals waiting for visas.

Q: What about domestic passports? Domestic passport operations are functioning, with some intermittent processing delays. While some of these issues have affected same-day service at our passport agencies, we continue to issue passports to U.S. citizens with urgent overseas travel needs.

May 2015 - USCIS Guidance on When to File an Amended H-1B Petition

USCIS provided guidance on when to file an amended H-1B petition in response to the April 9, 2015, AAO precedent decision, Matter of Simeio Solutions, LLC, which held that employers must file amended H-1B petitions when a new Labor Condition Application for Nonimmigrant Workers (LCA) is required due to a change in the H-1B worker's worksite location. See here for further information.

USCIS Posts FAQs on Employment Authorization for Certain H-4 Dependent Spouses

USCIS FAQs on employment authorization for certain H-4 dependent spouses, including information on eligibility, the application process, how USCIS will adjudicate the Form I-765, processing times, and more. See here for further information.

USCIS Completes Data Entry of Fiscal Year 2016 H-1B Cap-Subject Petitions

USCIS announced May 4, 2015, that it has completed data entry of all fiscal year 2016 H-1B cap-subject petitions selected in our computer-generated random process. USCIS will now begin returning all H-1B cap-subject petitions that were not selected. Due to the high volume of filings, the time frame for returning these petitions is uncertain. USCIS asks petitioners to not inquire about the status of submitted cap-subject petitions until they receive a receipt notice or an unselected petition is returned. USCIS will issue an announcement once all the petitions have been returned.

USCIS Publishes Filing Guidance for Certain H-4 Dependent Spouses

USCIS has published information to help eligible H-4 dependent spouses who want to apply for employment authorization under the Employment Authorization for Certain H-4 Dependent Spouses final rule.

You can view the information on:

Please note that you may not apply for employment authorization under this rule until May 26, 2015. Until the H-4 rule takes effect on May 26, 2015, USCIS will not accept any Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization requesting employment authorization based on your H-4 status. If you submit a Form I-765 before May 26, 2015 USCIS will reject your application and return it and the filing fee to you. You would then need to re-submit the application on or after May 26, 2015.

USCIS Temporarily Suspends Premium Processing for Extension of Stay H-1B Petitions

Starting May 26, 2015, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will temporarily suspend premium processing for all H-1B Extension of Stay petitions until July 27, 2015. During this time frame, petitioners will not be able to file Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service, for a Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, requesting an extension of the stay for an H-1B nonimmigrant. USCIS will continue to premium process H-1B Extension of Stay petitions filed with Form I-907 premium requests prior to May 26, 2015.

USCIS will refund the premium processing fee if:

A petitioner filed H-1B petitions prior to May 26, 2015, using the premium processing service, and USCIS did not act on the case within the 15-calendar-day period.

Premium processing remains available for all other Form I-129 H-1B petitions, including petitions subject to the H-1B cap that are requesting a change of nonimmigrant status or consular notification.

This temporary suspension will allow USCIS to implement the the Employment Authorization for Certain H-4 Spouses final rule in a timely manner and adjudicate applications for employment authorization filed by H-4 nonimmigrants under the new regulations.

March 2015 - USCIS Posts Updated L-1B Adjudications Policy for Public Feedback

"U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director León Rodríguez today announced the release of an updated policy memorandum on the L-1B nonimmigrant visa classification for workers with specialized knowledge. The memorandum, which clarifies for USCIS officers how L-1B petitioners may demonstrate that an employee has specialized knowledge, will be posted on-line for a 45-day public feedback period. The memorandum will go into effect on August 31, 2015".

Learn more here.

USCIS Completes the H-1B Cap Random Selection Process for FY 2016

The records NARA identified as permanent records are the annual disclosure data files currently located on the FLC Data Center at announced on April 7, 2015that it has received enough H-1B petitions to reach the statutory cap of 65,000 visas for fiscal year (FY) 2016. USCIS has also received more than the limit of 20,000 H-1B petitions filed under the advanced degree exemption, also known as the masters cap..

USCIS received about nearly 233,000 H-1B petitions during the filing period, which began April 1, including petitions filed for the advanced degree exemption. On April 13, USCIS used a computer-generated random selection process, or lottery, to select enough petitions to meet the 65,000 general-category cap and the 20,000 cap under the advanced degree exemption. USCIS will reject and return all unselected petitions with their filing fees, unless the petition is found to be a duplicate filing..

The agency conducted the selection process for the advanced degree exemption first. All unselected advanced degree petitions then became part of the random selection process for the 65,000 limit..

As announced on March 12, 2015, USCIS will begin premium processing for H-1B cap cases no later than May 11, 2015..

USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions that are otherwise exempt from the cap. Petitions filed on behalf of current H-1B workers who have been counted previously against the cap will also not be counted towards the congressionally mandated FY 2016 H-1B cap. USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions filed to:

  • Extend the amount of time a current H-1B worker may remain in the United States
  • Change the terms of employment for current H-1B workers
  • Allow current H-1B workers to change employers
  • Allow current H-1B workers to work concurrently in a second H-1B position

U.S. businesses use the H-1B program to employ foreign workers in occupations that require highly specialized knowledge in fields such as science, engineering, and computer programming..

For more information, please see: http://www.uscis.gov/news/alerts/uscis-completes-h-1b-cap-random-selection-process-fy-2016.

February 24, 2015 - DHS Extends Eligibility for Employment Authorization to Certain H-4 Dependent Spouses of H-1B Nonimmigrants Seeking Employment-Based Lawful Permanent Residence

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director León Rodríguez announced today that, effective May 26, 2015, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is extending eligibility for employment authorization to certain H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B nonimmigrants who are seeking employment-based lawful permanent resident (LPR) status. DHS amended the regulations to allow these H-4 dependent spouses to accept employment in the United States. .

Learn more here .

January 15, 2015 - Issuance of certified copies of Mexican birth certificates at Consulates of Mexico

Starting January 15th, 2015, the consulates of Mexico in the United States will issue copies of birth certificates registered in Mexico. To obtain their certified copies, Mexican nationals should visit the nearest consulate, present an official proof of identity, fill out an application and provide their Clave Única de Registro de Población (CURP) in case they have one. The cost of each certified copy will be $13.00 dollars. The issuance of certified copies does not carry any additional costs. Be aware of abuses and scams. Nobody can charge additional fees for this service. Those interested in obtaining a certified copy of their birth certificate can get more information in the free application for smartphones and mobile devices MiConsulmex or at the toll free number Centro de Información y Asistencia a Mexicanos (CIAM): 1-855-463-6395. Mexican consulates will continue offering protection and consular assistance to Mexicans regardless of their immigration status. .

Expedición de copias certificadas de actas de nacimiento mexicanas en consulados de México

A partir del 15 de enero de 2015, los Consulados de México en Estados Unidos podrán emitir copias certificadas de actas de nacimiento generadas en territorio nacional. Para obtener sus copias certificadas, los mexicanos deberán presentarse en una oficina consular, portar una identificación oficial que acredite que es el titular del acta de nacimiento, proporcionar su Clave Única de Registro de Población (si cuenta con ella), llenar una solicitud y cubrir el pago de derechos correspondientes ($13 dólares por acta). La expedición de actas no representa costos adicionales al del pago de derechos de $13 dólares. Evite ser víctima de abusos, ninguna persona puede cobrarle más por este servicio. Los interesados podrán obtener más información sobre este servicio en la aplicación gratuita para dispositivos móviles MiConsulmex, así como llamando al Centro de Información y Asistencia a Mexicanos (CIAM): 1-855-463-6395. Los consulados de México seguirán ofreciendo protección y asistencia consular a los mexicanos que la requieran, sin importar su condición migratoria. .

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