October 2022 was a very active month for US Immigration. GLF provided updates via Google, LinkedIn, Twitter on numerous US Immigration matters including:
- Asylum seekers sue Florida governor DeSantis
- LPRS to get 24 months validity on their Green Card renewals
- USCIS to accept new I-485 and I-765 forms
- Extension of Temporary Waiver on “60-day rule” for Form I-693
- Updates on USCIS Field offices around the Country
- Diversity Visa Program (DV-2024) is now open
- State Department’s November 2022 Visa Bulletin Summary
- Tips and tricks for “Ask Emma” chat feature
- Increase in Visa slots to cope up high demands
- Increased PWD processing times for FY 2022
- Update on flawed H-1B SEVIS termination
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 Google, LinkedIn, Twitter, handles for October 2022.
ASYLUM SEEKERS SUE FLORIDA GOVERNOR DESANTIS
Venezuelan Asylum seekers had filed a class action lawsuit against Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. The Complaint alleged that Governor Ron DeSantis lured Venezuelan immigrants who sought asylum to accept an offer to fly to Martha’s Vineyard and promised them cash assistance, employment services, housing assistance and transportation to Boston and Washington DC. When the migrants arrived, there was no one to meet them and none of the promises made were kept. The blame for the incident was being misdirected back at asylum seekers, putting an already vulnerable group at risk. After initial processing and review of their asylum claims, these migrants were released from Federal custody in Texas and Arizona by the DHS and were free to pursue their asylum claims. Often claims for asylum can span over extended periods of time, and it was unfortunate that they were subjected as a political pawn.
LPRs TO GET 24 MONTHS VALIDITY ON THEIR GREEN CARD RENEWALS
Since September 26, 2022, USCIS extended the validity of Permanent Resident Cards (Green Cards) to 24 months for Lawful Permanent Residents who accurately filed their Application to Replace Permanent Resident card. Prior to this New Extension Policy, Form I-90 Receipt Notices were allowed for an extension only up to 12 months.
Any LPRs who filed Form I-90 for renewal of their expiring Green Card, or the expired Green card were eligible for 24 months extension. USCIS modified I-90 Receipt Notices to validate the use of Green cards up to 2 years for applicants who freshly filed Form I-90. For the pending Form I-90s, USCIS started printing Amended receipt notices for individuals, allowing them to present the same as an evidencing of their continued status.
Applicant using this method could prove their Lawful Permanent Residence and avoid longer processing times. Applicants who required the evidence of their Lawful Permanent Resident status while waiting to receive the replacement Green card, could request for an appointment at USCIS Field office, where an Alien Documentation, Identification and Telecommunications (ADIT) Stamp would be issued once the Form I-90 had been filed.
USCIS TO ACCEPT NEW I-485 AND I-765 FORMS
USCIS decided to accept only the 07/15/2022 edition of I-485 forms September 21, 2022. Similarly, with I-765 forms edition 8/25/2020 and 5/31/2022 are no longer being accepted. Chicago Lockbox and Texas Service Center confirmed that if pages of different editions of the form are combined in a single filing, the applications will be rejected right way. Applicants are recommended to verify that all pages in a single filing are from the same edition.
If the applications gets rejected irrespective of the edition not being the issue, applicants can contact the USCIS Contact Center at 1-800-375-5283, for cases related to c8 category, and the Lockbox for cases related to c9 category at firstname.lastname@example.org.
EXTENSION OF TEMPORARY WAIVER ON “60-DAY RULE” FOR FORM I-693
USCIS requires civil surgeons to sign the Form I-693 within 60 days of filing applications requiring the Medical Examination for I-485, Application for Adjustment of Status to Permanent Resident. This requirement that the civil surgeon sign Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record within 60 days of filing an application, had been temporarily waived.
The temporary waiver was effective from December 9, 2021 until September 30, 2022 and was further extended until March 31, 2023. Extension was intended to aid applicants who are having difficulty in completing the Immigration Medical Examination within the prescribed time frame due to difficulties beyond their control.
Temporary Waiver applies to all Form I-693 associated with applications for underlying Immigration benefits that have not been adjudicated, regardless of when the application was submitted or when the Form I-693 was signed.
UPDATES ON USCIS FIELD OFFICES AROUND THE COUNTRY
The USCIS Field Operations Committee provided the following updates on USCIS field offices based on reports it has received:
- The reports revealed that interviews for applications were scheduled at some ASCs, including San Francisco, Dallas, and Albuquerque. The interview notices although looked like a standard interview notice, directed the applicant to appear at the ASC address rather than the field office. In addition, virtual interviews were conducted, with applicants in one field office and the officer located in another field office.
- Multiple reports of interviews being waived in case of family-based cases were received. Attorneys/applicants may receive an RFE for any additional information needed, including medical exams or even bona fides in a marriage-based case.
- Several reports of RFEs were issued by USCIS offices in other jurisdictions (not the jurisdiction of the applicant) for missing items (such as medical exams) were received. This may have been a result of cases being transferred to other jurisdictions for adjudication.
- Filing applications electronically had sometimes resulted in much faster processing times for applications like N-400s, I-130s, and I-90s.
DIVERSITY VISA PROGRAM (DV-2024) IS NOW OPEN
From October 5, 2022, US State Department started accepting applications for the Diversity Visa Program (DV- 2024). The entry submission window for DV-2024 opened from October 5, 2022 12:00PM EST until November 8, 2022 12:00PM EST. The entry form is available for submission during this period only. No late entries will be accepted. DV program is allowing only one entryâ€¯perâ€¯person during eachâ€¯entryâ€¯period. There are no cost for registering oneself for DV Program.
DV program allows more than 50,000 randomly selected people to obtain permanent residency, the selected people must belong to countries with historically low rates of Immigration to the United States. Applicants who are selected in theâ€¯programâ€¯must meetâ€¯the eligibility requirementsâ€¯to qualify for aâ€¯DV. DOS determinesâ€¯selecteesâ€¯throughâ€¯randomized computerized lottery and distributes DV among six geographic regions with no single country to receive more thanâ€¯7% of the available DVs in a year.â€¯â€¯
For FY 2024, DV program has been made electronic and so applicants have to fill DS-5501 online via https://dvprogram.state.gov and no paper-based applications allowed. Upto 55,000 Diversity Visas (DVs) are available for FY 2024. Applicants will receive a unique confirmation number and can track application via ‘Entrant Status Check’ Feature on website. ‘Entrant Status Check’ will be available fromâ€¯Mayâ€¯6, 2023 until Septemberâ€¯30,â€¯2024.
STATE DEPARTMENT’S NOVEMBER 2022 VISA BULLETIN SUMMARY
State Department issued the November 2022 Visa Bulletin and here are the highlights:
- Adjustment of status for Family Sponsored filing and Employment Based filing use Dates for Filing chart.
- Final action dates and Filing dates chart for family sponsored preference cases for India did not change. F-2A is current – meaning Final Action applies
- Final action dates and Filing dates chart for EB-2 category did not change and remained on April 01, 2012 and May 01, 2012, respectively
- Final action dates and Filing dates chart for EB-3 category did not change and remained on April 01, 2012 and July 01, 2012 respectively.
- The Final Action dates for Certain Religious Workers had been listed “Current.”
- The DV-2022 annual limit was reduced to 54,850.
- The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2022, enacted on September 30, 2022, extended the Employment Fourth Preference Certain Religious Workers (SR) category until December 16, 2022.
TIPS AND TRICKS FOR “ASK EMMA” CHAT FEATURE
‘Ask Emma’ chat feature in the USCIS website provides streamlined automated virtual assistant experience when compared to the Contact Center. The ‘Ask Emma’ agent only connects in “chat” with the Attorney of record and is useful for requests of type listed below and helpful for cases with no ‘e-request’ option:
- Check status of application
- Expedite request
- Request for InfoPass and advise on call back time/number
- Rescheduling request- will provide SMRT
- Requests for cases outside of processing times (this can also be done via eRequest)
- RFE Response submitted, 60 days passed, and no adjudication
- Request duplicate notices when not received
Attorney of Record can now talk to ‘Live agent’ by providing the last action or case number along with brief statement including the name of Attorney, Firm name, email, address, phone number along with client’s name, DOB, address.
We at GLF have often seen that multiple keyword search such as ‘Assistance’ or ‘Officer’ or ‘Representative’ or ‘Live Agent’ may get you to one in Emma Chat. One needs to be persistent to get through to a ‘Live Agent’. Upon completion of inquiry, the agent will provide a SMRT number for future purpose and for the records.
INCREASE IN VISA SLOTS TO COPE UP HIGH DEMANDS
U.S Embassy in India reported that US Mission to India had released 100,000+ appointments for H and L visas workers and families to fulfil the high demand for employment-based visas. Bulk appointment paved ways for mass opening of slots in US consulates in India for H and L visas. Waiting period for both Visa interview and interview waiver appointments reduced to half. Workers were benefitted all over India who waited in line. H and L visa applicants continued to remain on the priority list of Visas to be issued in the next 6 months. US Mission to India already processed over 160,000 H and L visa applications over the past nine months although they have plenty of backlogs.
INCREASED PWD PROCESSING TIMES FOR FY 2022
OFLC received a greater number of applications across every program for FY 2022. There was a significant increase in Prevailing Wage Processing times for PERM, H-1B, E-3 programs and other programs such as H-2A, H-2B, H-1B1, CW-1. With record number of incoming H-2A and H-2B applications they had to be prioritized over PERM program filings and as such there were increased delays in processing time for prevailing wage requests and PERM adjudications.
OFLC confirmed that prevailing wage requests were processed on first in-first out basis. Certain applications which relied on Non-OEWS wages required more attention and treated distinctly and will continue to have delay in the processing period. OFLC recommended applicants to submit applications with precise and clear job descriptions and requirements, to eliminate the probability of receiving Requests for Information (RFI) which further delays the process.
Applicants get to track processing times and the volume of the different applications through FLAG. FLAG provides detailed information about the number of prevailing wage requests received by month and the number of requests that remains pending for a month.
OFLC submitted a request for an additional budget for FY2023 along with 30 additional full-time employees to address current delays.
UPDATE ON FLAWED H-1B SEVIS TERMINATION
F-1 students and J-1 Exchange Visitors reported erroneous termination of their SEVIS Records. This was a result of recent adjudication by USCIS where instead of Change of Status adjudication, ‘’Consular Notification’’ decision was given.
Affected F-1 students and J-1 Exchange Visitors were advised to approach the SEVIS Helpdesk at USCIS/SEVP to have their issues rectified. They could request the DSOs/AROs or Program Officers of their respective Academic Institutions to approach the helpdesk. The DSOs/AROs or the program officers had the liberty to initiate the following actions:
- Provide a copy of the Approval Notice showing Consular Notification in PDF version as per the compliance guidelines and
- Request to rectify the error in SEVIS Records.
In case of further assistance, the affected status holders were also directed to contact the SEVP Response Center through SEVP@ice.dhs.gov or (703) 603-3400 and (800) 892-4829 for any technical help. The SRC is open Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET, except federal holidays.
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At GLF, we will continue to follow further developments in the above discussed and other matters, while we provide updates through our Newsletter as and when they become available. GLF receives numerous emails and phone calls every day seeking comments on various proposed bills and media reports that are often inaccurate. It is our job to separate fact from fiction and advice clients on important and relevant updates. The best way to receive accurate information is through GLF Newsletters.
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