DOS Announces Tiered Approach to Resuming Immigrant Visa Applications

 

In a recent announcement from the United States Department of State (“DOS”), the Bureau of Consular Affairs reaffirmed its commitment in providing the current status of worldwide immigrant and nonimmigrant visa processing operations. Specifically, DOS has been updating the public on how embassies and consulates affected by the COVID-19 pandemic have started to prioritize immigrant visa applications while DOS continues to reduce the backlog as a result of local travel restrictions and operational limitations.

While embassies and consulates that process both immigrant and nonimmigrant visas have been prioritizing immigrant visa applications, the volume and type of visa applications that each post has been able to process largely depends on the conditions in each country including movement controls and gathering limitations imposed by each country’s government.

The DOS has expressed empathy and compassion for those affected by delayed processing acknowledging that petitioners and beneficiaries in the immigrant visa process are individuals and not just numbers. The agency likewise acknowledges the ongoing stress and hardship both petitioners and beneficiaries have suffered as a result of reduced U.S. embassy and consulate operational capacity. While the guiding principle on which the DOS has based immigrant visa prioritization is family reunification is of greatest importance to the U.S. government’s immigration policy, it’s current prioritization plan is based on clear direction from the U.S. Congress that DOS must adopt a policy of prioritizing immediate relative immigrant visa applicants (the spouse, parents and children of U.S. Citizens) and K-1 fiancés of U.S. citizens followed by family-based preference visa applicants.

As a result of Congress’s direction, DOS has been focusing on a tiered approach as consular operations resume and expand to pre-pandemic levels.

  • Tier One: Immediate relatives, inter-adoption, age-out cases (cases where the applicant child will no longer qualify due to their age) and certain special immigrant visas (i.e. SQ and SI for Afghanistan and Iraqi citizens working for the U.S. government).
  • Tier Two: Immediate Relatives, K-1 fiancé and returning residents.
  • Tier Three: Family preference immigrants and SE Special Immigrant Visas for certain employees of the U.S. government abroad.
  • Tier Four: All other immigrant visas including employment preference and diversity visas.

With embassies and consulates continuing to face significant backlogs in all immigrant visa categories, the prioritization plan aims to maximize limited resources to accommodate as many immediate relatives and fiancé cases (subject to available resources) with a goal of minimizing an ongoing backlog in these categories.

For more information on immigrant visa backlogs in Vietnam, the Philippines and Taiwan, 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 the Enterline Immigration only.

Presidential Proclamation Requiring Incoming Immigrants to Have Health Insurance Revoked

 

The October 2019 Presidential Proclamation requiring incoming immigrants to have health insurance has been revoked by the White House.

The Executive Order (“EO”) signed by then President Donald Trump required incoming immigrants to demonstrate that they will have health insurance within 30 days of their arrival in the United States. Opponents of the EO filed a Temporary Restraining Order (“TRO”) in federal court which was granted in November 2019 by Judge Michael Simon of the U.S. District Court of Oregon. In December 2020, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Judge Simon’s TRO declaring that the proclamation was within the president’s executive powers.

The revocation makes the October 2019 no longer an issue and new immigrants no longer need to prove they have or will obtain health insurance.

For more information, 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 the Enterline Immigration only.

What is a Form I-129F Petition?

 

A Form I-129F is a Petition for Alien Fiancé or Fiancée (hereinafter “Petition” and “fiancé”) filed with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”). The Petition can only be filed by a U.S. citizen over the age of 21.  Non-US citizens including Lawful Permanent Residents (“LPR”) are not able to petition for their foreign fiancés.

Before a U.S. citizen can file for his or her fiancé, he or she must have physically seen each other within two years of filing the Petition. Included in the Petition is proof of such meeting and can include copies of passport stamps showing that the U.S. citizen was in the fiancé’s home country or that they met somewhere, plane tickets showing travel, pictures taken of the couple during their meeting, and other forms of evidence showing that the couple has met in person.

In addition to the supplemental documentation which must be submitted, the U.S. citizen is required to certify whether the couple met through an international marriage broker. If the couple did meet through a marriage broker, the U.S. citizen must disclose this information and provide additional documentation such as forms that the fiancé signed with the marriage broker prior to the couple meeting.

How Much is the Form I-129F Petition Filing Fee?

A $535 filing fee must be included with the Petition. This can be paid by either check payable to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security or by credit card by using a Form G-1450.

When is the Best Time to Submit a Form I-129F Petition?

A Petition can be submitted at any time throughout the year. Once the Petition is received by USCIS, it will be adjudicated according to the date it is received, or the “priority date”.

Is a G-325A Required for an I-129F Petition?

No. A G-325A is not required when submitting a I-129F Petition. A G-325A Biographical Information form is only required when applying to USCIS for Deferred Action.

Where can I download a Form I-129F?

A Form I-129F can be downloaded free of charge through USCIS at https://www.uscis.gov/i-129f.

Where Do You File an I-129F Petition?

The Petition is filed directly with the USCIS Lockbox in either Dallas, Texas or Lewisville, Texas, depending on the location of the U.S. citizens place or residence.  It may be sent through either the U.S. Post Office or through courier such as FedEx or DHL.  An I-129F Petition cannot be submitted online.

Is a Form I-129F only for couples that are located in separate locations?

No, a Petition can be filed by engaged couples living in the same location.

What Visa Type is Issued with a Successful Petition for Alien Fiancé? Is the Visa Issued Immediately or are there Other Forms to Complete?

Upon approval of the Petition by the USCIS, the fiancé is eligible to apply for a K-1 visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

How Can Enterline Immigration Support with the Form I-129F Petition?

The U.S. immigration lawyers at Enterline Immigration have decades of experience in representing clients in Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan and throughout Asia to file I-129F Petitions and representing our clients in the K-1 visa interview at the U.S. Embassies and Consulates.

Contact us today for more I-129F information at info@enterimmi.com and speak with a U.S. immigration attorney based 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 the Enterline Immigration only.

Announcement – Rescheduling USCIS Biometric Services Appointments by Phone

 

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) announced that applicants, petitioners, and beneficiaries may now call the USCIS Contact Center (1-800-375-5283) to reschedule their biometric services appointments that were scheduled at a USCIS Application Support Center (“ACS”).  Previously, applicants had to submit requests in writing to reschedule biometrics appointments. This change helps eliminate undue paperwork and allows USCIS to track the request through a more efficient process.

Applicants must establish good cause for rescheduling and must call before the date and time of the original appointment to reschedule. If an applicant fails to establish good cause or fails to call before the scheduled appointment, USCIS may consider the application, petition, or request abandoned and, as a result, it may be denied.

We strongly recommend that you have your Form I-797C, Notice of Action, “ASC Appointment Notice” with you for your call so that you can identify yourself using the information on the notice.

For further information on the biometrics appointments and scheduling, you can 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 the Enterline Immigration only.

What Documents Are Needed in a Form I-130 Petition for a Foreign Spouse?

 

A USCIS Form I-130 is a Petition for Alien Relative. A U.S. citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident (green card holder) is eligible to petition his or her foreign spouse to immigrate to the United States.

Along with a Form I-130 and accompanying Form I-130A, supporting documentation is also submitted when the petition is filed with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). These include the following:

  • Copy of the U.S. Citizens passport or if the petitioner is a green card holder, a copy of their green card and foreign passport.
  • U.S. size passport photos of the petitioner and beneficiary.
  • Copy of the foreign spouse’s passport.
  • Copy of the foreign spouse’s birth certificate.
  • Marriage certificate between the petitioner and foreign spouse.
  • Copies of previous marriage terminations from the petitioner or beneficiary (divorce or annulment decrees or death certificates).
  • Copies of birth certificates of children born between the petitioner and beneficiary.
  • Family photos of the petitioner and beneficiary taken over the course of their relationship.

All documentation submitted to USCIS must be translated into English if the original document is in a foreign language. For more information or questions regarding the required documentation in petitioning a foreign spouse, 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 the Enterline Immigration only.

USCIS Again Extends Flexibility for Responding to Agency Requests

 

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) is once again extending flexibility the agency announced on March 30, 2020, to assist applicants and petitioners who are responding to these agency requests (USCIS Extends Flexibility for Responding to Agency Requests):

  • Requests for Evidence;
  • Continuations to Request Evidence (N-14);
  • Notices of Intent to Deny;
  • Notices of Intent to Revoke;
  • Notices of Intent to Rescind;
  • Notices of Intent to Terminate regional centers;
  • Motions to Reopen an N-400 Pursuant to 8 CFR 335.5, Receipt of Derogatory Information After Grant;
  • Form I-290B, Notice of Appeal or Motion; and
  • Form N-336, Request for a Hearing on a Decision in Naturalization Proceedings (Under Section 336 of the INA).

This flexibility applies to the above documents if the request, notice or decision is dated March 1, 2020, to June 30, 2021. The USCIS will consider a response to these requests and notices received within 60 calendar days after the due date cited in the request or notice before taking any action.

If you have any questions or concerns about the deadline to response to any of these requests, you can contact us today at info@enterimmi.com and speak with a U.S. immigration lawyer 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 the Enterline Immigration only.

What is a Form I-130 Petition?

 

A Form I-130 is a Petition for Alien Relative filed with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”). The Form I-130 can be filed by either a U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident (“Permanent Resident”) with a valid family relationship. It is the first step in helping relatives immigrate to the United States.

U.S. Citizens over the age of 21 can file a Form I-130 for the following relatives:

  1. Spouse
  2. Parents
  3. Children
  4. Brothers and Sisters

A Permanent Resident over the age of 21 can file a Form I-130 for the following foreign relatives:

  1. Spouse
  2. Unmarried Children

How Much Does a Form I-130 Petition Cost?

When the U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident files a Form I-130, they must include a $535 filing fee which is payable to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Depending on the category that the relative falls under, one filing fee may be sufficient to include multiple family members while in other categories, a separate Form I-130 and separate filing fee is required for each relative.

In addition to the signed form and accompanying filing fees, supplemental documentation is also required. This includes passport size photos of the petitioner and family members, a copy of the U.S. Passport or Green Card of the petitioner, and other documentation needed to establish a family relationship.

Where Can I get a Form I-130 Petition?

The form can be downloaded online at https://www.uscis.gov/i-130.

Where Do I Submit My Form I-130 Petition?

A petition can either be submitted online or mailed to one of three USCIS lockbox facilities in either Arizona, Texas, or Illinois. Submitting through a lockbox facility also depends on whether the file is being sent via courier such as FedEx as well as whether the petitioner is filing a stand-alone Form I-130, residing outside the U.S. or filing a Form I-130 jointly with an I-485 Application to Adjust Status while in the United States.

When is the Best Time to Submit a Form I-130 Petition?

A petition can be submitted at any time during the year. The sooner a Form I-130 is filed with USCIS, the quicker it will be processed based on the priority date.

Who Submits the Form I-130 Petition to the USCIS?

The U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident files the Form I-130 Petition.

How Long Does a Form I-130 Petition Take to Process?

Petitions are processed on a first-come, first-served basis. In general, a petition can be processed in as little as a few months or take up to one year. A Form I-130 submitted with errors can result in delays and possibly a rejection. Please contact us directly to arrange a consultation to ensure your petition is complete to improve your chances for a quick and successful filing.

For more information on filing a Form I-130, 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 the Enterline Immigration only.

Can My Spouse Delay Their EB-5 Visa Application and Apply to Immigrate Later?

 

In most cases, the family member of a principal EB-5 Petitioner, called a “dependent” or “beneficiary”, can delay his or her visa application to immigrate to the U.S. until a later date if the conditions for eligibility are still in place in the future.   The decision for a spouse to delay his or her immigration is common for some EB-5 immigrant investors.

Sometimes. one spouse wants to immigrate immediately and bring the children to the United States while the other spouse will delay his or her immigration.  The most common reasons are that one spouse wants to continue to work and earn income in his or her home country or stay behind and continue to operate a business.  In addition, there may be tax planning strategies available for a spouse not to immigrate at the same time as the EB-5 Petitioner.

There are some important considerations when deciding if the beneficiary spouse will delay his or her immigration.

At the time the beneficiary spouse decides to immigrate, the EB-5 Petitioner spouse must continue to maintain his or her resident status and the couple must also stay married.

The EB-5 “Immigrant Investor Program” also known as the “Regional Center Program” (the “Program”) must continue to exist.   Under EB-5 law, the Program is still temporary.  It has been extended from time to time since its enactment in 1993.  The latest extension is until June 30, 2021.

We expect that the Program will continue to be extended or made permanent by the U.S. Congress. If the Program is terminated, immigrant visas for EB-5 Petitioners and their dependents who invested in EB-5 projects sponsored under the Program – (I5) and (R5) – will no longer exist.  This means that in the unlikely event that the Program ends, anyone who does not have a visa issued by a U.S. Consulate, or who has not yet completed their adjustment of status with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, will no longer be eligible for an EB-5 visa.  A spouse that delays his or immigration might lose his or her opportunity if the Program sunsets.

If the spouse does not follow the EB-5 Petitioner for several years, then the petitioning spouse must also complete the removal of conditions process.  After 21 months of conditional permanent residence, an EB-5 Petitioners must file a Form I-829 Petition to remove the condition from their permanent resident status.   If the EB-5 Petitioner does not file the I-829 Petition or otherwise maintain his or her permanent resident status, then the other spouse will not be eligible to immigrate later.

We usually recommend that immigrant visa applicants always move forward with their visa application process, because it is easier to maintain permanent resident status than it is to obtain it, and we can never predict if there may be changes to U.S. immigration laws that impact a beneficiaries’ eligibility.  However, some families do have compelling reasons for one spouse to stay behind and immigrate at a later time.

If you are considering this, we welcome you to contact 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 the Enterline Immigration only.

NOTICE – TRAVEL ISSUES FOR PERMANENT RESIDENTS IN PANDEMIC TIMES

 

The following is guidance provided by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (“AILA”) for attorneys and their clients to better understand the travel issues for permanent residents during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Enterline Immigration attorneys are proud to be active AILA members and to share this information with you.

Travel restrictions can change quickly for both lawful permanent residents (“LPR”) and others seeking to enter or return to the United States. If at all possible, traveling outside the United States should be avoided except in the most urgent situations.

If you are an LPR, you should consider the following when  traveling outside the United States:

Absence Outside the United States for a Prolonged Period of Time May Result in Abandonment of Lawful Permanent Resident Status.  You Should Understand the Law.

< 180 Days > 180 Days

< 1 year

> 1 year
An absence from the United States of less than 180 days equals no presumption of abandonment of permanent residence.

 

An absence from the United States of more than 180 days, but less than one year creates a rebuttable presumption that you may have abandoned permanent residence (meaning the government presumes you have abandoned your residence and the burden is on you to prove otherwise). An absence from the United States of more than one year could result in automatic loss of LPR status unless appropriate steps were taken prior to departure to preserve your status.

 

 

A Re-Entry Permit is One Way of Preserving Lawful Permanent Resident Status

If you know or believe you will be outside the United States for more than a year, you should apply for a re-entry permit with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) BEFORE you leave. You will need to be physically present in the United States when the application is filed. You will also need to be in the United States for biometrics processing, which is usually scheduled anywhere from several weeks to several months after USCIS receives the application, so plan ahead as much as possible.

What if you did not obtain a re-entry permit before leaving and have remained outside the United States for more than one year because of the pandemic? USCIS has not announced any policy exception regarding this issue. An LPR who has stayed outside of the United States for more than one year, or longer than the validity of their reentry permits, are generally considered to have abandoned their LPR status.

If your situation falls within either of these scenarios and you wish to return to the United States, you will need to consider obtaining an SB-1 Returning Resident visa before traveling to the United States from the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the country where you are residing.

If You Are Unable to Return to the United States Within One Year Due to Pandemic-Related Travel Restrictions, You Should Be Prepared to Provide Evidence of the Following:

□ Timely attempts to travel back to the United States, such as canceled airline travel documents and emails or other correspondence documenting your intent to return to the United States and your inability to travel.

>  If you do not have any of these, be prepared to provide evidence establishing why you could not travel

(such as evidence of local lockdowns or government-mandated travel restrictions).

□ Continued ties to the United States, such as continued payment of any mortgages or rent as well as any associated housing costs. Also, be prepared to document your temporary housing arrangement (i.e. that you own no property) in the foreign country.

□ Evidence that you maintained an employment relationship in the United States, such as an employer letter showing you had a leave of absence or you will be rehired upon your return to the United States. Also, provide evidence that you did not work in the foreign country, except possibly for your U.S. employer.

□ If applicable, evidence of illness, either of yourself or a family member, that kept you from traveling.

If applicable, evidence that other family members stayed behind in the United States while you were abroad and unable to return.

□ Financial evidence of continued U.S. ties, such as U.S. tax returns, banking records, etc.

Seeking U.S. Citizenship After Lengthy Travel

To apply for naturalization, an LPR must have been physically present in the United States for at least half of the required period of continuous residence (i.e., 30 months or 18 months depending on the basis for applying), and must have lived for three (3) months in the state or USCIS district of residence.

The effect of absences of over one year due to the pandemic has not yet been determined by USCIS, but in most cases, you will lose your eligibility for  naturalization based on the 30 month or 18 month continuous residence requirement.   Consult your immigration attorney for possible USCIS policy exceptions due to the large number of LPRs who were unable to return to the United States due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Other Travel Restrictions to Remember

Immigrant and Nonimmigrant Visa Processing Bans Lifted

If you are awaiting entry of a family member, President Biden issued an executive order on February 24, 2021, lifting the immigrant visa ban (Presidential Proclamation 10014), thus allowing family members of U.S. citizens and green card holders to obtain immigrant visas and join their families in the United States. Moreover, on March 31, 2021, the nonimmigrant visa ban (Presidential Proclamation 10052) restricting the entry of temporary workers into the United States was also lifted.

Travel to Other Countries

If you are contemplating other international travel, you should confirm admission requirements and procedures as most countries have implemented travel restrictions for entry, in the form of either: a) Mandatory quarantines; b) Enhanced health screening upon arrival or return; c) Prohibitions on travel for all non-citizens of those countries; and d) Temporary closure of consulates.

What Our Office Is Doing

If you are an LPR and have questions regarding your case, we encourage you to contact our office 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 the Enterline Immigration only.

What do the “Final Action Date” and “Dates for Filing” mean on the Visa Bulletin?

 

For many people who are immigrating to the United States but waiting for a visa to become available, the Department of State (“DOS”) Visa Bulletin is the most important document to watch each month.  The Visa Bulletin helps the applicants understand their place in line for a visa.

In most family immigration visa categories and all employment immigration visa categories, there are annual visa quotas of the number of people who can obtain an immigrant visa and move to the U.S. in each category.

When there is a higher demand for immigrant visas in a category than the number of visas available each year, these immigrant visas categories are referred to as “oversubscribed”.  An applicant’s place in line for an oversubscribed visa is based on the date a petition for them is filed with the United States Immigrant and Citizenships Services (“USCIS”) and is called the Priority Date. The DOS updates the Priority Dates monthly and publishes them in the Visa Bulletin. The USCIS also uses the Visa Bulletin for applicants who are eligible to adjust their status in the United States.

The Visa Bulletin has two tables listing the Priority Date for each visa category and country of chargeability: (1) A “Final Action Dates” table (Table A); and (2) a “Dates for Filing” table (Table B).

What is “Final Action Date”?

Applicants with Priority Dates earlier than the date listed on the “Final Action Dates”, Table A, for their visa category and country of chargeability are now eligible to receive an immigrant visa.   If they have not already done so, they should begin the visa application or file for adjustment of status.

What is “Dates for Filing Application”?

Applicants with Priority Dates earlier than the date listed on the “Dates for Filing”, Table B, for their immigrant visa category and country of chargeability are now eligible to begin the application process.  They should be notified by the National Visa Center (“NVC”) that they are eligible to begin and asked to submit their documentation. However, an interview and final decision on the application cannot take place until the Priority Date is current on the Final Action Date (Table A).

For example, in the Visa Bulletin for April 2021, below, under the F4 category (Brothers and Sisters of U.S. citizens, All Chargeability Areas Except Those Listed), the Table B Dates for Filing Priority Date is 01OCT07 (October 1, 2007) while the Table A Final Action Date Priority Date is 01NOV06 (November 1, 2006). This means that applicants can begin their visa application process and submit their documentation if their Priority Date is on or before October 1, 2007, but they will still have to wait until their Priority Date on Table A becomes current before they can receive a visa.

The implementation of the Dates for Filing table was to create better efficiency for both applicants, who can begin to prepare their application in advance, and for better allocation of visas each month by the Department of State.

If you are in line waiting for a visa to become available, pay attention to the Table B, Dates for Filing to know when you can begin the application process, but understand you might still need to wait many more months before your visa number becomes available.

For more information about the visa bulletin, contact us at info@enterimmi.com .

 

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 the Enterline Immigration only.