April 2023 was a very active month for US Immigration. GLF provided updates via Google, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram on numerous US Immigration matters including:
- Filing Fee Processing and Receipt Issuance Delays at Vermont Service Center
- USCIS removes the 60-Day Deadline Rule for Form I-693
- USCIS updates Policy Manual on Mobile Biometrics Collection
- USCIS issues Flexibility on Filing Deadlines
- CBP Reminder on Redesigned EAD Cards
- Automatic Extension of EAD Cards upto 540 Days
- State Department’s Visa Bulletin Summary for May 2023
- Temporary Suspension of Biometrics Extended until September 30, 2023
- Impacts of Changes to EB-4 in the April 2023 Visa Bulletin
We at GLPO post regular updates on our Google, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram handles. Additionally, we also periodically send out GLF Newsletters when the subject matter is extensive and relevant for a detailed analysis. Presented below is a consolidated summary of updates posted on GLF’s various social media handles for April 2023.
FILING FEE PROCESSING AND RECEIPT ISSUANCE DELAYS AT VERMONT SERVICE CENTER
USCIS is currently experiencing delays in processing filing fee and issuing receipts due to filing volumes and intake delays. USCIS has noted that due to these delays the petitioner may not receive a receipt notice (I-797) in a timely manner after properly filing the petition.
However, USCIS has asked for additional time to generate a receipt notice if the petitioner has confirmation from the delivery service that the petition was delivered (for Non Premium and Premium Inquires) and automatic email confirmation (for Premium inquires) and if not generated within 30 days they can follow up with USCIS Contact Center (UCC) at 1-800-375-5283.
USCIS SCOPS anticipates improvements in timeliness for fee receipting and data entry functions within the next 30 days.
USCIS REMOVED THE 60-DAY DEADLINE RULE FOR FORM I-693
USCIS removed the 60-day requirement of Civil Surgeon’s signatures on Form I-693 to be submitted along with their I-485 application. Given the unclear requirement with the issuance of Requests for Evidence (RFEs) earlier to the I-485 applicants, USCIS decided to remove the requirements. Civil surgeons no longer have to sign Form I-693 no more than 60 days before the underlying application for an immigration benefit is filed.
Although a temporary waiver was earlier issued in December 2022 relaxing this requirement, now it has been made permanent. As per the new policy USCIS will adjudicate the I-485 applications with existing Form I-693 in the filing with existing Civil Surgeon’s signatures for upto 2 years.
USCIS UPDATES POLICY MANUAL ON MOBILE BIOMETRICS COLLECTION
USCIS had issued guidance on how it will conduct mobile biometrics collection and Biometrics Collection in remote locations for the benefit of applicants who are unable to attend appointments at ASC due to health or other issues, or due to their remote physical location.
The update provides the circumstances under which USCIS may offer mobile biometrics collection and biometrics collection at remote locations. It also provides an alternative method of fingerprint collection, to include fingerprint cards and coordination with other agencies, for certain applicants who live in remote locations that USCIS mobile biometric services would not be practical.
USCIS ISSUES FLEXIBILITY ON FILING DEADLINES
USCIS has further extended its flexibilities for RFE Responses. If a due date for an RFE Response falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or Federal holiday, USCIS will consider a response submitted by the applicant by end of the next business day. Although the receipt date will reflect the due date USCIS physically received the request, USCIS will still consider the benefit request timely filed.
In scenarios where an applicant is expected to respond to NOID or NOIR within a stipulated time as prescribed by regulation, or form instructions, they are to be duly submitted within specified time for a response.
The policy applies to all responses submitted on or after March 29, 2023.
CBP REMINDER ON REDESIGNED EAD CARDS
CBP had issued a reminder to applicants on the Redesigned EAD cards. USCIS has begun producing redesigned employment authorization cards since January 30 of this year. The redesigned cards are issued concurrently with existing card stock until it gets depleted. It was also notified that the previously issued version of EAD cards will remain valid until their expiration dates.
AUTOMATIC EXTENSION OF EAD CARDS UPTO 540 DAYS
USCIS earlier allowed for an automatic 180-day extension while an EAD renewal application is pending to certain applicants. Given the long processing times, USCIS has temporarily increased the automatic extension period from 180days up to 540 days, while the EAD renewal application is pending. The temporary final rule will remain valid till October 26, 2023. For EAD renewals, applicant will be required to present the proof of expired or expiring EAD along with the Form I-797C receipt notice.
Additional extension on EAD will be available if:
- An EAD renewal application was filed before May 4, 2022, and the previous 180 day auto-extension has expired. In that case an additional 360 days of work authorization will be granted or
- An EAD renewal application filed before May 4, 2022, and the original 180-day extension has not yet expired, then the remainder of the 180-day extension will be issued in addition to 360 days of work authorization or
- An EAD renewal application between May 4, 2022, and October 26, 2022 will be eligible for 180-day extension in addition to 360 days extension for a total of 540 days of extended work authorization.
If the EAD renewal application gets denied, then the automatic extension of work authorization may end before the 540-day period.
STATE DEPARTMENT’S VISA BULLETIN SUMMARY FOR MAY 2023
State Department had issued the May 2023 Visa Bulletin and here are the highlights:
- Adjustment of Status for Family Sponsored filing must use the Dates for Filing chart and Employment Based filing must use the Final Action Dates chart.
- Final Action dates for F1 category have advance through December 01, 2014, to December 15, 2014, and Dates for Filing chart have advance through August 08, 2016, to January 01, 2017.
- Final actions dates (September 08, 2020) and Dates for Filing (Current) for F2A have not changed.
- Final action dates (February 01, 2022) and Dates for Filing for (June 01, 2022) for EB-1 Category have not changed.
- Final action dates (January 01, 2011) and the Dates for filing (May 01, 2012) for EB-2 have not changed.
- Final action dates (June 15, 2012) and Dates for filing (August 01, 2012) for EB-3 category have not changed.
- Final action dates (September 01, 2018) and Dates for filing (October 01, 2018) for Certain Religious Workers have not changed.
- The DV-2023 annual limit was reduced to 54,850.
TEMPORARY SUSPENSION OF BIOMETRICS EXTENDED UNTIL SEPETMBER 30, 2023
USCIS further extends temporary suspension of biometrics submission for certain I-539 applicants requesting for Change of status to H-4, L-2, or E or Extension of their Visa status. Temporary suspension on the biometrics requirements was earlier issued until May 17, 2023 and now it has been further extended until September 30, 2023. USCIS retains the right to request for submission of biometrics from the applicants. Depending on case-to-case basis, the applicants may get issued an ASC Interview Notice for submission of one’s biometrics.
All Form I-539 Applicants are no more required to submit $85 Biometric Services Fee during this period. USCIS will ensure to refund the Biometrics Services Fee if submitted separately from the base fee. If a single payment is made covering both the filing fee and the $85 biometrics services fee, the file will get rejected. In this case, they will have to further refile Form I-539 Applications without the Biometrics fee.
IMPACTS OF CHANGES TO EB-4 IN THE APRIL 2023 VISA BULLETIN
GLF has prepared the following draft referencing AILA Doc. No 23042100, dated April 21, 2023. DOS has published an update in its April 2023 visa bulletin which shows changes in the allocation of Green Cards for EB-4 category including religious workers, special immigrant juveniles, and diplomats. As per the update the EB-4 applications from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala will now be in the column: “All Chargeability Areas Except Those Listed.” This would increase the wait times from a few months to several years as of April 1, 2023, for most applicants. For those who have already applied for AOS under EB-4 category can remain in the country until the date on the Visa Bulletin becomes current. Until then, AOS applicants are eligible to receive extensions of their employment and travel authorization. Non-immigrants, such as non-immigrant religious workers (R-1), who have not yet filed an EB-4 AOS application have to leave the United States when their status expires or otherwise may be eligible for other non-immigrant classification such as H-1B or L-1.
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