DOS Updates on Immigrant Visa Processing Delays

 

The United States Department of State (“DOS”) has announced updates to the tiered approach to remove backlogs and resume normal consular operations at embassies and consulates that have been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to DOS, Tier 1, which includes immediate relative intercountry adoption visas and age-out cases will also accept emergency cases as determined on a case-by-case basis.

While there were no changes to Tiers 2-4, DOS has recognized the role of healthcare providers in the battle against the pandemic and has instructed embassies and consulates to prioritize these healthcare providers with approved immigrant petitions scheduled to work at healthcare facilities engaged in pandemic response.

Healthcare providers in Asia with an approved I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker and have submitted required documentation to the National Visa Center are encouraged to contact us at info@enterimmi.com and speak with a U.S. immigration attorney in Ho Chi Minh City, Manila, and Taipei.

 

Copyright 2021. This article is for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. This article may be changed with or without notice. The opinions expressed in this article are those of Enterline and Partners only.

USCIS Extends Evidence of Status for Conditional Permanent Residents to 24 Months with Pending Form I-751 or Form I-829

 

Starting September 4, 2021, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) is extending the time that receipt notices can be used to show evidence of status from 18 months to 24 months for petitioners who properly filed Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence and Form I-829, Petition by Investor to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status. USCIS is making the change from 18 to 24 months to accommodate current processing times for Form I-751 and Form I-829 which have increased over the past year.

Conditional Permanent Residents who properly file Form I-751 or Form I-829 will receive a receipt notice that can be presented with their Form I-551, Permanent Resident Card (“Green Card”), as evidence of continued status for up to 24 months past the expiration date on their Green Card while their case remains pending with USCIS.

Additionally, USCIS will issue new receipt notices to eligible Conditional Permanent Residents who properly filed their Form I-751 or Form I-829 before September 4, 2021 and whose cases are still pending. Those receipt notices will also serve as evidence of continued status for 24 months past the expiration date on their Green Card.

Conditional Permanent Residents who plan to be outside of the United States for a year or more should consider apply for a reentry permit by filing Form I-131, Application for Travel Document to obtain a reentry permit before leaving the country.

For more information on the extension of conditional resident status or applying for a reentry permit, contact us at info@enterimmi.com and speak with a U.S. immigration attorney in Ho Chi Minh City, Manila, and Taipei.

 

Copyright 2021. This article is for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. This article may be changed with or without notice. The opinions expressed in this article are those of Enterline and Partners only.

What Vaccinations are Applicants Required to Have to Immigrate to the United States?

 

To protect the health of U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and other people in the United States from communicable diseases, intending immigrants to the United States are required to be vaccinated against certain diseases to receive an immigrant visa.   The diseases currently required to be vaccinated against are:

  • Diphtheria
  • Tetanus
  • Pertussis
  • Polio
  • Measles
  • Mumps
  • Rubella
  • Rotavirus
  • Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)
  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Meningococcal disease
  • Varicella
  • Pneumococcal disease
  • Influenza
  • COVID-19

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention determines which vaccines immigrant visa applicants are required to receive based on specific criteria:

  1. The vaccine must be an age-appropriate vaccine, as recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices for the general U.S. population; and
  2. At least one of the following criteria must be met:
    1. The vaccine must protect against a disease that has the potential to cause an outbreak; and,
    2. The vaccine must protect against a disease that has been eliminated in the United States or is in the process of being eliminated in the United States.

While the vaccines from the list above are required for a given applicant, many vaccines have minimum age requirements and some require months to years to complete. Therefore, it is usually not possible for applicants to receive all vaccinations for the diseases listed above prior to departure, and applicants are instead required to receive from the doctor during the medical examination at least one dose of each age-appropriate vaccine for which the applicant is not currently up to date. The doctor should counsel the applicant during their medical evaluation about the importance of completing the series of vaccines after arrival in the United States.

If the applicant is up to date on the required vaccines listed, no additional vaccines are required to be given at the time of the medical exam.

The doctor must review all vaccination records presented by the applicant and, if documentation appears valid, record the vaccination history and vaccines given during the medical evaluation       on the U.S. Department of State Vaccination Documentation Worksheet (DS-3025).  The applicant should be advised that the DS-3025 is the applicant’s vaccination record, and an extra copy must be provided to the applicant.  The applicant will need to provide a copy of the DS-3025 to healthcare providers, schools, and other institutions after arriving in the United States.

If you have questions about the vaccination requirements to immigrate to the U.S., contact us at info@enterimmi.com and speak with a U.S. immigration attorney in Ho Chi Minh City, Manila, and Taipei.

 

Copyright 2021. This article is for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. This article may be changed with or without notice. The opinions expressed in this article are those of Enterline and Partners only.

A DS-261 Online Choice of Agent Form Cannot Be Used as a Substitute to Replace a U.S. Attorney’s G-28 in Immigration Matter

 

United States licensed attorneys representing clients before the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) or the Department of State (“DOS”) submit a Form G-28 Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Accredited Representative (“Form G-28”). Submitting a Form G-28 notifies DHS and DOS that this person is being represented by an attorney.  This is particularly helpful if during the process, problems occur which could result in an adverse decision for the client such as rejection or refusal of the immigration benefit being sought.

The Code of Federal Regulations (“CFR”), which is the law for U.S. federal agencies like DHS or DOS, is very specific on the definition of an “attorney.” Specifically, 8 CFR 1.2 states that an attorney is “any person who is eligible to practice law, and is a member in good standing, not currently being subjected to discipline of the state bar in any state.” Because the definition is expressly clear, it precludes any other person, such as a visa agent or foreign licensed attorney, from meeting that requirement. As such, only representatives (attorneys) who meet the definition may file a Form G-28.

Visa agents and non-U.S. licensed attorneys are precluded from submitting a Form G-28. Instead, many visa agents or foreign attorneys who offer U.S. immigration services often inform their clients that a DS-261, Online Choice of Address and Agent (“DS-261”) filed with DOS is an acceptable substitute for a Form G-28 which allows them to interact with DHS or DOS on the client’s behalf. This unfortunately is misrepresentation even if the visa agent or foreign attorney has been engaging in such practice for years and has never had any problems with either DHS or DOS. In fact, the rules are quite strict and are designed to protect individual petitioners and beneficiaries from unauthorized or fraudulent practitioners while using the generic term “agent” to mislead clients into believing that a DS-261 will allow them to act as an authorized representative.

Within the context of a DS-261, the Foreign Affairs Manual (“FAM”), which is the “operating manual” for DOS, a DS-261 allows the principal applicant to designate an agent for his or her case. The term agent under the FAM means a person who will receive mail from DOS and the agent may be the petitioner, an attorney, friend, or nongovernmental or community-based organization such as one that assists refugees. The agent however cannot complete and sign documents on behalf of the applicant nor assist with fee payments, collect professional fees for such services, nor assist with documentation collection. The applicant may choose to designate him or herself as the agent.

Regretfully, visa agents or foreign attorneys who offer U.S. immigration services often try to circumvent the meaning of “agent” as defined by the FAM by informing their clients that if asked, the visa agent or the foreign licensed attorney is the applicant’s “friend” hiding this repetitive violation and fundamental dishonesty.  Most importantly, such agents are not trained to identify potential problems with an applicant’s case and may not be able to help to solve the problem if it occurs.

For more information on how a U.S. immigration attorney in Asia can help you with your immigrant requirements, contact us today at info@enterimmi.com and speak with a U.S. immigration attorney in Ho Chi Minh City, Manila, and Taipei.

 

Copyright 2021. This article is for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. This article may be changed with or without notice. The opinions expressed in this article are those of Enterline and Partners only.

COVID-19 Vaccinations Required for Immigrant Visa Applicants Beginning October 1 2021

 

Beginning October 1, 2021, all immigrant visa applicants will be required to receive a COVID-19 vaccine as a medical clearance prerequisite. Medical evaluations, which are regulated by the United States Centers for Disease Control (“CDC”), require immigrant visa applicants to meet certain health and vaccination standards before an immigrant visa can be issued. Under CDC regulations, applicants who refuse to accept vaccinations may be determined inadmissible to immigrate to the United States.

The new policy, which comes after the White House announced that foreign visitors would soon be mandated to present proof of COVID-19 vaccination, will require immigrant visa applicants to receive COVID-19 vaccinations during their medical evaluation at overseas CDC approved clinics – called Panel Physicians – that perform examinations for immigrant visa applicants in each country.  Currently, the CDC recognizes vaccines manufactured by Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Jannsen Johnson & Johnson.

It is unclear how visa applicants will be considered if they demonstrate that they have already received approved vaccinations from other than Panel Physicians, such as local Government organized vaccination campaigns.

For more information on this new policy concerning how it will impact immigrant visa applicants in Asia, contact us today at info@enterimmi.com and speak with a U.S. immigration attorney in Ho Chi Minh City, Manila, and Taipei.

 

Copyright 2021. This article is for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. This article may be changed with or without notice. The opinions expressed in this article are those of Enterline and Partners only.

Update on the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program

 

The EB-5 Immigrant Investor “Regional Center” Program (“Program”) lapsed on June 30, 2021 due to the failure of the U.S. Congress to extend or reauthorize it before that date.  Congress has not yet passed a law to reauthorize the Program. Separately

As a result, any investor and family members who do not already have immigrant visas issued by a U.S. Consulate will not be issued immigrant visas to enter the U.S., and any investor and family members who do not yet have an approved Adjustment of Status Application filed with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) will not be eligible to adjust their status to permanent residency.

The USCIS has issued the “Alert” below on its website.

Important information in that alert that you should note is:

  1. The USCIS will not act on any pending Form I-526 Petition or Form I-485 Application that is dependent on a Regional Center for indirect job creation. At least for the time being, it will hold these forms in abeyance.
  2. The USCIS we will begin rejecting all Forms I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, and any associated Forms I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, and Forms I-131, Application for Travel Document, based on an approved Regional Center Form I-526 Petition.

    It is not clear yet whether the USCIS will begin proactively rejecting Form I-485 Applications that have already been filed.  However, it is clear that it will reject any future Form I-756 and Form I-131 Applications.

  3. The USCIS will continue to accept and review Form I-829, Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status, in the normal course, including those filed on or after July 1, 2021. This is consistent with the EB-5 regulations and policy that investors who already have Conditional Permanent Residence are no longer subject to the extension of the Program.

There is talk in the EB-5 industry that a reauthorization may come at the end of September when traditionally it would be extended with other laws that are typically annually extended, but there is no certainty of this.  We all hope that Congress will act to at least provide relief for those tens of thousands of investors such as yourself who have sought to immigrate to the U.S. by investment.   We can only wait and see.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program Alert

Alert: Statutory authorization related to the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Regional Center Program expired at midnight on June 30, 2021. This lapse in authorization does not affect EB-5 petitions filed by investors who are not seeking a visa under the Regional Center Program. Due to the lapse in authorization related to the Regional Center Program, USCIS will reject the following forms received on or after July 1, 2021:

  • Form I-924, Application for Regional Center Designation Under the Immigrant Investor Program, except when the application type indicates that it is an amendment to the regional center’s name, organizational structure, ownership, or administration; and
  • Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Investor, when it indicates that the petitioner’s investment is associated with an approved regional center.

In general, we will not act on any pending petition or application of these form types that is dependent on the lapsed statutory authority until further notice.  If you were issued written correspondence regarding your petition or application on or before June 30, 2021, you should review the written correspondence and respond by the due date (as applicable). Although USCIS is unable to review your response at this time, we will receive and maintain the response for review if circumstances change.

We will continue to accept and review Form I-829, Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status, in the normal course, including those filed on or after July 1, 2021.

We will begin rejecting all Forms I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, and any associated Forms I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, and Forms I-131, Application for Travel Document, based on an approved Regional Center Form I-526.

We will provide further guidance to the public if circumstances change or further guidance becomes necessary.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

If you are an EB-5 investor and have questions about your status, contact us at info@enterimmi.com and speak with a U.S. immigration attorney in Ho Chi Minh City, Manila, and Taipei.

 

Copyright 2021. This article is for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. This article may be changed with or without notice. The opinions expressed in this article are those of Enterline and Partners only.

Deferred Enforcement Departure for Certain Residents of Hong Kong

 

On August 5, 2021, President Biden issued the “Deferred Enforcement Departure for Certain Residents of Hong Kong” memorandum (the “Memorandum”), directing the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) to take appropriate measures to defer for 18 months the removal of Hong Kong residents presently in the United States.   Hong Kong residents in the United States whose removal has been deferred will also be able to request employment authorization through the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”).  The Memorandum further directs Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas to consider suspending regulatory requirements with respect to F-1 nonimmigrant students who are Hong Kong residents.   We must wait to see how USCIS will implement such measures.

According to DHS Secretary Mayorkas, “This decision to offer safety and protection to these individuals was made based on the ongoing assault on democracy, and rights and freedoms in Hong Kong by the People’s Republic of China (PRC)… The United States stands with the people of Hong Kong in support of rights and freedoms.”

The measures will apply to any Hong Kong resident who is present in the United States on the date of the Memorandum except for those:

(1) who have voluntarily returned to Hong Kong or the PRC after the date of the Memorandum;

(2) who have not continuously resided in the U.S. since the date of the Memorandum;

(3) who are inadmissible under Section 212(a)(3) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (“INA”) (association with terrorist organizations) or deportable under Section 237(a)(4) of the INA (deportability for security and related grounds such as espionage, terrorist activities, or participation in genocide or extrajudicial killings);

(4) who have been convicted of any felony or two or more misdemeanors committed in the U.S., or who meet any of the criteria set forth in section 208(b)(2)(A) of the INA;

(5) who are subject to extradition;

(6) whose presence in the U.S. is not in the interest of the U.S. or presents a danger to public safety; or

(7) whose presence in the U.S. would have potentially serious adverse foreign policy consequences for the United States.

One potential issue that needs to be addressed in the measures to be implemented is how a deferral will affect Hong Kong resident’s lawful status.   Nonimmigrants who remain in the U.S. beyond their approved period are considered “out of status”.  Accruing 6 months of time out of status may subject such persons to a 3-year bar to reentering the U.S. at a later time.  Accruing 12 months of time out of status may subject such persons to a 10-year bar to reentering the United States. Hopefully this issue will be addressed by the USCIS measures that will be adopted by extending lawful status or tolling the accrual of unlawful status during the deferment.

If you think you might be eligible for the deferred enforcement and have questions, contact us at info@enterimmi.com and speak with a U.S. immigration attorney in Ho Chi Minh City, Manila, and Taipei.

 

Copyright 2021. This article is for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. This article may be changed with or without notice. The opinions expressed in this article are those of Enterline and Partners only.

Foreign Arrivals to the United States May Soon Require Proof of COVID-19 Vaccination

 

Media outlets in the U.S. have recently reported that the White House has started to develop a policy requiring all foreign visitors to the United States to present proof of COVID-19 vaccination.

According to a senior White House official, interagency work groups have begun working on a new system which will be operational when the country can safely reopen to all visitors, even from countries which the United States currently restricts due to rising COVID-19 infections largely as a result of the Delta variant. The official quoted that the new policy will be a phased approach and that over time, with limited exceptions, foreign visitors from all countries will need to demonstrate proof that they are fully vaccinated.

Prior to the World Health Organization declaring COVID-19 a global pandemic in March 2020, the United States has restricted entry from visitors traveling from China in January 2020. Since March 2020, the United States has enlarged the list of restrictive countries to include 26 Schengen nations, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Iran, Brazil, South Africa and most recently, India as of May 2021.

While White House interagency discussions have focused on  COVID-19 vaccinations for foreign visitors arriving by air, no official announcement has been made on whether proof of vaccination will be required for those arriving by land arriving from Canada or Mexico. Currently, all travelers flying to the United States must present proof of a COVID-19 negative swab test within 72 hours prior to departure.

Critics of the proposed restrictions say that such measures no longer make sense because some countries with high COVID-19 infection rates are not on the restricted list while some countries on the list already have the pandemic under control.

For more information, contact us today at info@enterimmi.com and speak with a U.S. immigration attorney in Ho Chi Minh City, Manila, and Taipei.

 

Copyright 2021. This article is for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. This article may be changed with or without notice. The opinions expressed in this article are those of Enterline and Partners only.

Enterline and Partners Receives Approval for I-130 Proxy Marriage Petition

 

Enterline Immigration Consultants affiliate Enterline and Partners is pleased to share that it has received approval of an I-130 Petition for Alien Relative (“I-130 Petition”) for one of its Philippines clients who was married by proxy

The client, a U.S. citizen (Jack) and his Philippines wife (Jill), were married online with Jack being physically present in the United States and Jill located in the Philippines. Following their online marriage ceremony, Jack was able to travel to the Philippines and met Jill physically for the first time. During Jack’s time in the Philippines, the newlywed couple worked closely with Enterline and Partners, submitting documentation to build a case proving consummation and a valid marriage. After Jack departed the Philippines, Enterline and Partners submitted the I-130 Petition to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) complete with strong supporting documentation in order to minimize the chances that the USCIS adjudicator reviewing the I-130 Petition would issue a Request for Evidence or Notice of Intent to Deny. Less than three months after USCIS received the I-130 Petition, the I-130 Petition was approved and will now move to visa application processing with the National Visa Center.  Jill will then be scheduled for an immigrant visa interview at the U.S. Embassy in Manila.

For more information on proxy online marriages for couples living in Asia, contact us today at info@enterimmi.com and speak with a U.S. immigration attorney in Ho Chi Minh City, Manila, and Taipei.

 

Copyright 2021. This article is for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. This article may be changed with or without notice. The opinions expressed in this article are those of Enterline and Partners only.

Rescheduling Biometric Services Appointments

 

The United States Immigration and Citizenship Services (“USCIS”) has announced it has closed the Biometrics Processing Unit in Alexandria, Virginia and no longer accepts written requests to reschedule biometric services appointments at application support centers. You must now call the USCIS Contact Center to reschedule a biometric services appointment. The USCIS states that this change reduces paperwork and helps it track requests more efficiently.

To reschedule a Biometric Services Appointment, you must call the USCIS Contact Center at 800-375-5283 (TTY 800-767-1833) before the date and time of your original appointment and establish good cause for rescheduling. If you fail to call before your scheduled appointment or fail to establish good cause, USCIS may not reschedule the appointment. If you fail to appear for your originally scheduled biometric services appointment and the appointment is not rescheduled, USCIS will consider the related application, petition, or request abandoned and, as a result, it may deny it.

For the call, you should prepare information about your case, such as your name, date of birth and receipt number (and USCIS Online Account Number and alien registration number, if applicable).  Note that the Call Center now uses an Interactive Voice Response (“IVR”) system which requires the caller to give voice commands.  Only English and Spanish is supported right now.  When prompted for a response, you should say “reschedule interview” and wait for a live person to answer.

If you have questions about your biometrics appointment or other questions about your visa or immigration status, contact us at info@enterimmi.com and speak with a U.S. immigration attorney in Ho Chi Minh City, Manila, and Taipei.

 

Copyright 2021. This article is for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. This article may be changed with or without notice. The opinions expressed in this article are those of Enterline and Partners only.