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U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued an updated policy memo with guidance to adjudicators regarding the discretion to deny an application, petition, or request without first issuing a Request for Evidence (RFE) or Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID) if initial evidence is not submitted or if the evidence in the record does not establish eligibility.

The updated policy was effective September 11, 2018, and applies to most applications, petitions, and requests received after the effective date.  Petitions and applications not subject to the policy are those received on or before September 11, 2018; and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), asylum, and refugee cases.

The previous policy instructed USCIS adjudicators to issue statutory denials without an RFE or a NOID only if there was no legal basis for the benefit requested or the benefit requested was nonexistent.  The policy also stated that adjudicators should issue an RFE unless there was “no possibility” that the deficiency could be cured by submission of additional evidence.  This provided filers the opportunity to submit additional requested evidence to prove eligibility and achieve case approval.  In addition, adjudicators were instructed to issue NOIDS which provide filers the opportunity to rebut evidence of ineligibility or derogatory information that has been discovered by USCIS and may affect eligibility.

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The visa bulletin is out at this link: Visa Bulletin for November 2018

For the Application Final Action Dates, employment-based categories are as follows: EB-1 is at April 1, 2017 for all countries except India and China (June 1, 2016); EB-2 is current for all countries except India (March 26, 2009) and China (May 15, 2015); EB-3 is current for all countries except India (January 1, 2009), China (June 1, 2015), and the Philippines (June 8, 2017); EB-3 other workers is current for all countries except India (January 1, 2009), China (May 1, 2007), and the Philippines (June 8, 2017); EB-4 and religious worker visas are current for all countries except El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras (February 15, 2016) and Mexico (November 22, 2016); EB-5 non-regional centers and regional centers are current for all countries except China (August 15, 2014) and Vietnam (February 1, 2016).  Family based petitions are backlogged, with the most recent date at September 15, 2016 for F2A (spouses and children under 21 of lawful permanent residents), and the longest queue for F4 Philippines (brothers and sisters of U.S. Citizens) is June 15, 1995.

For the Date for Filing, employment-based categories are as follows: EB-1 is at June 1, 2018 for all countries except India and China (October 1, 2017); EB-2 is current for all countries except India (May 22, 2009) and China (June 15, 2015); EB-3 is current for all countries except India (October 1, 2009), China (August 8, 2015), and the Philippines (July 1, 2017); EB-3 other workers is current for all countries except India (October 1, 2009), China (June 1, 2008), and the Philippines (July 1, 2017); EB-4 and religious worker visas are current for all countries except El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras (May 1, 2016); and EB-5 non-regional centers and regional centers are current for all countries except China (October 1, 2014).  Family based petitions are backlogged, with the most recent date at December 1, 2017 for F2A (spouses and children under 21 of lawful permanent residents) and the longest queue for Philippines F4 (brothers and sisters of U.S. Citizens) at April 8, 1996.

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Information on the 2020 Diversity Immigrant Visa Program (DV-2020), 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-2020 is now available.  Entries must be submitted electronically between Wednesday, October 3, 2018, and November 6, 2018.

The congressionally mandated Diversity Immigrant Visa Program (DV Program) makes up to 50,000 immigrant visas available annually.  Diversity Immigrant Visas are drawn from random selection among all entries to individuals who meet strict eligibility requirements, and who are from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States.

Successful Diversity Immigrant Visa entrants must have at least a high school education or its equivalent, or two years of work experience within the past five years in an occupation requiring at least two years of training or experience.

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On September 21, 2018, the Department of Homeland Security proposed new regulations related to public charge grounds of inadmissibility. The proposed regulations expand U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) grounds to deny permanent resident applications based upon a green card applicant’s use of public benefit programs such as food assistance and section 8 housing vouchers.  The regulations will also apply to individuals seeking nonimmigrant visas and change of status applicants.

Background on Public Charge:

When reviewing Permanent Residence applications, USCIS determines whether applicants are likely to become a public charge or primarily dependent on the government for subsistence. Applicants found likely to become a public charge may be denied lawful permanent resident status.

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Work Authorization Extension Only Valid Through September 30, 2018

F-1 students who have an H-1B petition that remains pending on October 1, 2018, risk accruing unlawful presence if they continue to work on or after October 1 (unless otherwise authorized to continue employment), as their “cap-gap” work authorization is only valid through September 30.

“Cap gap” regulations allow an F-1 student who is the beneficiary of a timely filed H-1B cap-subject petition requesting a change of status to H-1B on October 1, to have his or her F-1 status and any current employment authorization extended through September 30.

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Starting October 1, 2018, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will implement its June 28, 2018, policy memo that updated guidance on the issuance of Notices to Appear (NTAs).  This policy will be implemented based on the Executive Order 13768, Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States issued on January 25, 2017, which set forth the administration’s enforcement priorities “against all removable aliens.”

Background

A Notice to Appear is the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Form, I-862, that is issued to a noncitizen whom the federal government believes to be removable from the United States. This document instructs them to appear before an immigration judge on a certain date and commences removal proceedings.

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The visa bulletin is out at this link: Visa Bulleting for October 2018

For the Application Final Action Dates, employment-based categories are as follows: EB-1 is at April 1, 2017 for all countries except India (June 1, 2016) and China (June 1, 2016); EB-2 is current for all countries except India (March 26, 2009) and China (April 1, 2015); EB-3 is current for all countries except India (January 1, 2009), China (June 1, 2015), and the Philippines (June 1, 2017); EB-3 other workers is current for all countries except India (January 1, 2009), China (May 1, 2007), and the Philippines (June 1, 2017); EB-4 is current for all countries except El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras (February 15, 2016) and Mexico (October 22, 2016); Religious Worker visas are currently unauthorized; EB-5 non-regional centers are current for all countries except China (August 15, 2014) and Vietnam (January 1, 2016); EB-5 regional centers are currently unauthorized.  Family based petitions are backlogged, with the most recent date at August 22, 2016 for F2A (spouses and children under 21 of lawful permanent residents), and the longest queue for F4 Philippines (brothers and sisters of U.S. Citizens) is June 8, 1995.

For the Date for Filing, employment-based categories are as follows: EB-1 is June 1, 2018 for all countries except China and India (October 1, 2017); EB-2 is current for all countries except India (May 22, 2009) and China (June 15, 2015); EB-3 is current for all countries except India (October 1, 2009), China (August 8, 2015), and the Philippines (July 1, 2017); EB-3 other workers is current for all countries except India (October 1, 2009), China (June 1, 2008), and the Philippines (July 1, 2017); EB-4 and religious workers are all current except for El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras (May 1, 2016); and EB-5 non-regional centers and regional centers are current for all countries except China (October 1, 2014).  Family based petitions are backlogged, with the most recent date at December 1, 2017 for F2A (spouses and children under 21 of lawful permanent residents) and the longest queue for Philippines F4 (brothers and sisters of U.S. Citizens) at April 8, 1996.

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The visa bulletin is out at this link: March 2018 Visa Bulletin

For the Application Final Action Dates, employment-based categories are as follows: EB-1 remains current for all countries; EB-2 is current for all countries except India (December 15, 2008) and China (December 8, 2013); EB-3 is current for all countries except India (January 7, 2007), China (November 15, 2014), and the Philippines (May 1, 2016); EB-3 other workers is current for all countries except India (January 1, 2007), China (March 1, 2007), and the Philippines (May 1, 2016); EB-4 are current for all countries except El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras (December 1, 2015) and Mexico (July 1, 2016); Religious Worker visas are current for all countries except El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras (December 1, 2015) and Mexico (July 1, 2016). EB-5 non-regional centers and regional centers are current for all countries except China (July 22, 2014).  Family based petitions are backlogged, with the most recent date at March 22, 2016 for F2A (spouses and children under 21 of lawful permanent residents), and the longest queue for F4 Philippines (brothers and sisters of U.S. Citizens) is November 22, 1994.

For the Date for Filing, employment-based categories are as follows: EB-1 remains current for all countries; EB-2 is current for all countries except India (February 8, 2009) and China (February 1, 2015); EB-3 is current for all countries except India (January 1, 2008), China (January 1, 2016), and the Philippines (October 1, 2016); EB-3 other workers is current for all countries except India (January 1, 2008), China (June 1, 2008), and the Philippines (October 1, 2016); EB-4 and religious workers are all current except for El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras (April 15, 2016); and EB-5 non-regional centers and regional centers are current for all countries except China (September 1, 2014).  Family based petitions are backlogged, with the most recent date at May 1, 2017 for F2A (spouses and children under 21 of lawful permanent residents) and the longest queue for F4 Philippines (brothers and sisters of U.S. Citizens) of March 1, 1995.

 

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The visa bulletin is out at this link: February 2018 Visa Bulletin

For the Application Final Action Dates, employment-based categories are as follows: EB-1 remains current for all countries; EB-2 is current for all countries except India (December 08, 2008) and China (October 1, 2013); EB-3 is current for all countries except India (December 1, 2006), China (September 15, 2014), and the Philippines (March 1, 2016); EB-3 other workers is current for all countries except India (December 1, 2006), China (February 1, 2007), and the Philippines (March 1, 2016); EB-4 are current for all countries except El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras (December 1, 2015) and Mexico (June 22, 2016); Religious Worker visas are presently unauthorized for all countries. EB-5 non-regional centers are current for all countries except China (July 22, 2014).  EB-5 regional centers are presently unauthorized for all countries.  Family based petitions are backlogged, with the most recent date at March 1, 2016 for F2A (spouses and children under 21 of lawful permanent residents), and the longest queue for F4 Philippines (brothers and sisters of U.S. Citizens) is October 1, 1994.

For the Date for Filing, employment-based categories are as follows: EB-1 remains current for all countries; EB-2 is current for all countries except India (February 8, 2009) and China (November 15, 2014); EB-3 is current for all countries except India (January 1, 2008), China (January 1, 2016), and the Philippines (August 1, 2016); EB-3 other workers is current for all countries except India (January 1, 2008), China (June 1, 2008), and the Philippines (August 1, 2016); EB-4 and religious workers are all current except for El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras (April 15, 2016); and EB-5 non-regional centers and regional centers are current for all countries except China (September 1, 2014).  Family based petitions are backlogged, with the most recent date at November 1, 2016 for F2A (spouses and children under 21 of lawful permanent residents) and the longest queue for F4 Philippines (brothers and sisters of U.S. Citizens) of March 1, 1995.

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U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has expanded the I-94 website to include a feature which allows Visa Waiver Program (VWP) travelers to check the duration of their stay in the United States.  A new “View Compliance” option provides VWP travelers with the number of days remaining until their status expires, or alternatively, how many days they have overstayed.  To check their status, travelers may go to the I-94 website (https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/), select the “View Compliance” tab, and enter their biographic and passport information.

In addition, CBP will now send email notifications to VWP travelers who are still in the United States 10 days prior to the expiration of their lawful admission period.  Travelers should note that the email notifications will originate from staycompliance-donotreply@cbp.dhs.gov; if the notification email comes from a different address, it may be fraudulent.

Please contact us if you have any questions.