November 2022 was a very active month for US Immigration. GLF provided updates via Google, LinkedIn, Twitter on numerous US Immigration matters including:
- USCIS further extends deadline for RFE response by 60 days
- Duplicate copies of Form I-129 stalls Consular processing
- Delays in PIMS Updation
- ACICS is no longer recognized – impacts F-1 students
- Visa appointment wait times are now shown on state dept website
- Full resumption of Immigrant Visa appointments from January 2023 in Havana
- State department’s December 2022 Visa Bulletin Summary
- Inconsistent adjudication of Form 9089 resulting from Item H.10-B.
We at GLPO post regular updates on our Google, LinkedIn, Twitter 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 Google, LinkedIn, Twitter, handles for November 2022.
USCIS FURTHER EXTENDED DEADLINE FOR RFE RESPONSE BY 60 DAYS
USCIS extended the flexibility to its announcement issued on March 30, 2020 until January 24, 2023. It allows the applicants to Respond to Notices, Requests and Decisions issued between March 1, 2020, and July 25, 2022, beyond the pre-determined period. Now if the issuance date specified on the request or notification would be between March 1, 2020 and January 24, 2023, USCIS will consider a response submitted within 60 calendar days of the due date before taking any further action.
The flexibility period is extended to certain agency requests comprising of:
- Requests for Evidence
- Continuations to Request Evidence (N-14)
- Notices of Intent to Deny, Revoke and Rescind
- Notices of Intent to Terminate regional centers
- Notices of Intent to Withdraw Temporary Protected Status; and
- Motions to Reopen an N-400 Pursuant to 8 CFR 335.5, Receipt of Derogatory Information After Grant.
USCIS would also consider Form I-290B, Notice of Appeal or Motion if the decision was made between November 1, 2021, and January 24, 2023 and if the form was filed up to 90 calendar days from the issuance of a decision made.
DUPLICATE COPIES OF FORM I-129 STALLS CONSULAR PROCESSING
USCIS through an alert on its Form I-129 Webpage confirmed that the Petitioners are no longer required to submit a duplicate copy of Form I-129 or a duplicate copy of any supporting documents unless specifically asked.
Given the sophisticated Electronic Scanning undertaken by USCIS and Data-Sharing with US Department of State on a regular basis, are sufficient for making any appropriate adjudications. USCIS further advised Petitioner’s to avoid submitting duplicate copies of forms or supporting documents to prevent prolonged delays in Consular Processing.
DELAYS IN PIMS UPDATION
There were reports of delays in uploading the H-1B approvals and duplicate petition copies to Petition Information Management Service (PIMS) database, USCIS and the Department of State(DOS) have developed a process that will facilitate the entry of non-immigrant petition-based employment visa petitions into the PIMS system. PIMS acts as a Consular Consolidated Database(CCD) for US Consulates across the world. Upon approval of a petition, USCIS will send a duplicate copy to the State Department’s Kentucky Consular (KCC) for scanning and entry into the PIMS database provided the Petitioner provides duplicate original copies to USCIS.
It was confirmed that the delays are not from the Petitioner/Applicants but from the USCIS. There are several factors which are contributing to the delays impacting its ability to scan and upload documents to the network on a real – time basis. USCIS seems to have identified the root cause of the issue and is working towards addressing the delays. They are also working towards creating an efficient process to reduce potential delays that are underway.
ACICS IS NO LONGER RECOGNISED – IMPACTS F-1 STUDENTS
On August 19, 2022, U.S. Department of Education announced that the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) will no longer be recognized as an accrediting agency. This loss of recognition means that the colleges and universities solely accredited by ACICS will no longer be accredited institutions.
- Students enrolled at ACICS-accredited schools are advised to contact their respective DSOs so that they can finish their current sessions. Unless the school provides evidence of ED-recognized accrediting agency or evidence in lieu of accreditation, the student will not be allowed to complete their program of study.
- STEM OPT extension requires F-1 students to use a degree from SEVP certified school for their STEM OPT extension. The STEM OPT extension will be denied if I-20 gets issued on or after August 19, 2022 from any ACIS-accredited school. However for applicants with Form I-20 having DSO recommendation prior to August 19,2022 will not be affected.
- The loss of recognition also affects the I-140 petitions filed under the advanced degree and professional classifications that mandates an U.S. degree or foreign equivalent degree filed before August 19,2022.
- Any degree conferred by ACIS-accredited school on or after August 19, 2022, will no longer qualify as U.S. degree to file under H-1B Master Cap.
VISA APPOINTMENT WAIT TIMES ARE NOW SHOWN ON STATE DEPT WEBSITE
Visa Appointment Wait Times page (https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/visa-information-resources/wait-times.html) will present wait times for below types of Interview waiver cases:
- Visitors – B1/B2
- Students/Exchange Visitors (F, M, J)
- Petition-Based Temporary Workers (H, L, O, P, Q).
Given the backlogs and uncertainty with regards to Appointment availability, applicants are advised to get in the line by submitting their DS-160 application, create their profile in the CGI portal, make the required visa fee, and schedule the first available Interview appointment. They can then try expediting their Appointment.
State Department Consulate websites frequently post new information and updates on a weekly basis. Expedited Visa Requests continue to vary from each post. To request an Expedited Visa Appointments, applicants are advised to review the Visa Section of their respective Post. Applicants are also advised to check the website for Interview waiver or Expedited Visa Appointments.
FULL RESUMPTION OF IMMIGRANT VISA APPOINTMENTS FROM JANUARY 2023 IN HAVANA
US Embassy in Havana will allow full resumption of Immigrant Visa Interviews beginning January 4, 2023, to all Immediate relatives, Family preference, Diversity visas and K Fiancé visas. Immigrant visa applicants scheduled for January 2023 appointments in Havana will begin receiving appointment notices on or after November 10, 2022.
U.S. Embassy Georgetown in Guyana will continue to process Cuban Immigrant Visa applicants scheduled for appointments through the end of December 2022. Immigrant visa applicants whose appointments were originally scheduled in Georgetown will complete case processing in Georgetown.
For any IR/CR-1 and IR/CR-2 applicants who are notified on or after June 8, 2022 about their scheduled appointments will have their interview at Embassy Havana and not at Embassy Georgetown. For those IR/CR-1 and IR/CR-2 applicants who have been notified prior to June 8, 2022 will have their interviews at Embassy Georgetown.
U.S. Embassy in Havana’s Consular Section will continue to provide essential American Citizens Services and limited emergency Nonimmigrant Visa Services. Based on the further evaluations, visa processing will be expanded.
STATE DEPARTMENT’S DECEMBER 2022 VISA BULLETIN SUMMARY
State Department has issued the December 2022 Visa Bulletin and here are the highlights:
- Adjustment of Status for Family Sponsored filing and Employment Based filing – Dates for Filing chart to be used.
- Final Action dates and Dates for Filing chart for family sponsored preference cases for India remain unchanged. For the F–2A category the dates are current – as such, use Final Action Dates chart.
- Final action dates for EB-2 category have retrogressed from April 01, 2012, to October 08, 2011; however, filing dates for EB-2 category remain unchanged (May 01, 2012).
- Final Action Dates for EB-3 category have advanced from April 01, 2012 to June 15, 2012, and Dates for Filing from July 01, 2012 to August 01, 2012 respectively.
- Final Action Dates and Dates for Filing chart for Certain Religious Workers have retrogressed from “Current” to June 22, 2022 and July 22, 2022 respectively.
- The DV-2022 annual limit was reduced to 54,850.
- R. 6833, enacted on September 30, 2022, extended the Employment Fourth Preference Certain Religious Workers (SR) category until December 16, 2022.
INCONSISTENT ADJUDICATION OF FORM 9089 RESULTING FROM ITEM H.10-B
In ETA 9089, when an Employer is accepting experience in an alternate occupation, the form asks to list the Job Titles of the alternate occupation(s) in item H.10-B. Not providing Job Titles of alternate occupations or merely referencing item H.14 in item H.10-B is not accepted. AILA is asking members to be sure to list specific Job Titles or even the statement “any occupation in which the required experience was gained” in item H.10-B.
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