Articles Posted in Immigrant Visas

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The March 2021 visa bulletin has been released. It is available here.

Employment-based petitions must refer to the Final Action chart, not the Dates for Filing chart. The dates for all employment-based applicants have progressed.

The employment-based dates are as follows: EB-1 is current for all countries except China (August 1, 2020) and India (August 1, 2020).  EB-2 is current for all countries except China (July 15, 2016) and India (January 15, 2010). EB-3 is current for all countries except China (February 8, 2018) and India (July 1, 2010). EB-3 Other Workers is current for all countries except China (May 1, 2009) and India (July 1, 2010). EB-4 is current for all countries except El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras (June 1, 2018), and Mexico (January 1, 2019). EB-5 non-regional centers are current for all countries except China (Aug 15, 2015) and Vietnam (October 22, 2017).

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USCIS updated its Policy Manual with guidance on the final fee rule it issued earlier this month. On August 3, 2020, USCIS published a final rule in the Federal Register. The new policy guidance, effective October 2, 2020, describes the rule’s adjustments in filing fees for some forms. It also provides guidance on a range of topics, including fee exemption, waiver policies, new processing time limits, and modifications to intercounty adoption processing.

USCIS is increasing fees in order to meet operating costs. 97% of USCIS’ budget comes from fees collected. Estimating that keeping fees at current levels will leave USCIS underfunded by $1 billion per year, DHS is increasing USCIS filing fees by a weighted average of 20%. Here is a table of fee changes to some of the more common employment-based immigrant and nonimmigrant petition types:

Petition Current Fee Final Fee Change
I-129CW, I-129E&TN, and I-129MISC $460 $695 + $235
I-129 H1 $460 $555 + $95
I-131 Application for Travel Document $575 $590 + $15
I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker $700 $555 – $145
I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence $1140 $1130 – $10
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant

Status (online filing)

$370 $390 + $20
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant

Status (paper filing)

$370 $400 + $30
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization


$410 $550 + $140
USCIS Immigrant Fee $220 $190 – $30
Biometric Services (Non-DACA) $85 $30 – $55


You can view the full list of changes, and table of fees here.

To view the fee schedule, click here. 

If you have any questions, please contact our office at

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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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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.”


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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As of November 12, 2014, immigrant visa applicants at non-electronic processing posts will be instructed to submit photocopies of their civil documents by mail to the National Visa Center (NVC). When the appointment is scheduled, NVC will instruct applicants to bring their original documents to the interview for evaluation and final case processing. Original Affidavit of Support forms must still be submitted to NVC for initial evaluation. Applicants at designated electronic processing posts will continue to submit their documents via email.

For more information, please visit the Department of State website.

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On June 1, 2014, USCIS limited the validity period for all Forms I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record, to one year from the date of submission to USCIS. Applicants must also submit Form I-693 to USCIS within one year of the immigration medical examination. USCIS also will provide additional ways to submit Form I-693. As outlined in policy alert PA-2014-005, this updated policy applies to any Form I-693 supporting a benefit application that USCIS adjudicates on or after June 1, 2014.

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On April 21, 2014, the Department of State’s Visa Office made statements regarding what might be expected in terms of upcoming Visa Bulletin movement. Its comments included following:

Employment-Based 5th Preference China (EB-5):

• China EB-5 could retrogress later this year, possibly in August or September.

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House Republicans released a draft of principles on immigration reform as House GOP members gathered for their retreat to discuss their position on a range of issues.

Here is a synopsis of the draft on Immigration Reform:

Reforms to Employment-Based Immigration

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At a time when the prospects of the House taking up immigration reform legislation any time soon do not look promising, a new poll finds a solid majority of Americans favor a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

“Today, 63% of Americans favor providing a way for immigrants who are currently living in the United States illegally to become citizens provided they meet certain requirements, while 14% support allowing them to become permanent legal residents but not citizens,” states a new report from the nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute. The report found the number of Americans supporting a pathway to citizenship is even higher when the question mentions certain requirements immigrants must meet in order to qualify.

The results show Americans have remained consistent on the issue for the past year; the institute found the same number (63 percent) in March and August.

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The Department of Homeland Security recently announced the posting of a final rule in the Federal Register that reduces the time U.S. citizens are separated from their immediate relatives (spouse, children and parents), who are in the process of obtaining visas to become lawful permanent residents of the United States under certain circumstances. The final rule establishes a process that allows certain individuals to apply for a provisional unlawful presence waiver before they depart the United States to attend immigrant visa interviews in their countries of origin. The process will be effective on March 4, 2013 and more information about the filing process will be made available in the coming weeks at

“The law is designed to avoid extreme hardship to U.S. citizens, which is precisely what this rule achieves,” USCIS Director Mayorkas said. “The change will have a significant impact on American families by greatly reducing the time family members are separated from those they rely upon.”

Under current law, immediate relatives of U.S. citizens who are not eligible to adjust status in the United States to become lawful permanent residents must leave the U.S. and obtain an immigrant visa abroad. Individuals who have accrued more than six months of unlawful presence while in the United States must obtain a waiver to overcome the unlawful presence inadmissibility bar before they can return to the United States after departing to obtain an immigrant visa. Under the existing waiver process, which remains available to those who do not qualify for the new process, immediate relatives cannot file a waiver application until after they have appeared for an immigrant visa interview abroad and the Department of State has determined that they are inadmissible.

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