Monday, September 20, 2021

FORTHCOMING BUDGET RECONCILIATION BILL MAY DRAMITICALLY INCREASE GREEN CARDS

A potential amendment to the forthcoming budget bill may dramatically raise the employment-based visa quota, if Senate Democrats can rewrite it in a way to appease the Senate parliamentarian.  Over the weekend, Senate Democrats attempted to pass a positive immigration bill, but the Senate parliamentarian said that it was inappropriate to include wide-ranging immigration language in a budget bill.  Senate Democrats are said to be working on a back-up plan.

A budget bill is expected to pass before October 1, 2021 to prevent a federal government shut down.  Between now and then, the budget negotiations are expected to consume Washington.  As part of the process, House and Senate committees propose and suggest language to place into the bill. 

The House Judiciary Committee last week approved immigration language for the budget bill, which included several positive immigration measures.  Notably, the HJC language included a “recapture” of immigrant visas that were authorized but unused by DHS from 1992-2021.  A 2010 report by DHS found that between 1992-2010 about a half million employment based visas were authorized by Congress but unused simply because of bureaucratic delays and inefficiencies.  Recapturing these visas would dramatically clear up most retrogressed green cards and would be an amazing piece of legislation for foreign nationals, US employers, and the US economy as a whole.

The language included a few other positive items:

-A legalization path for a large number of undocumented people in the US

-A similar recaptured visas for family-based visas

-A liberalized Adjustment of Status process for those with priority dates that are 2 years old

-An increased budget allocation for USCIS


Tuesday, September 14, 2021

OCTOBER 2021 VISA BULLETIN: ANALYSIS FOR FY 2022

The Department of State has just issued October 2021 Visa Bulletin.  This is the first Visa Bulletin of Fiscal Year 2022. This blog post analyzes this month's Visa Bulletin.

Visa Bulletin

Table A: Final Action Dates -- Applications with these dates may be approved for their Green Card (Permanent Residency card) or Immigrant Visa appointment.

EB

All Other

CHINA

INDIA

PHILIPPINES

1st

C

C

C

C

2nd

C

1-Jul-18

1-Sep-11

C

3rd

C

8-Jan-19

1-Jan-14

C

Table B: Dates of Filing

The USCIS will be using the Table B chart for I-485 employment-based filings. See: USCIS Visa Bulletin Dates

MU Law Analysis

The DOS’ comments at the end of this Visa Bulletin confounds.  They predict that the DOS will enact priority date cut-offs (retrogression) with the November Visa Bulletin.  Most prior DOS predictions did not call for a retrogression.

It remains to be seen if this prediction holds true, and if it does, how long it lasts.  It seems certain that there are many numbers available.  This could be the DOS trying to slow inquiries by being able to point to the retrogression.

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

UPDATED EXPEDITED IV CRITERIA FOR HEALTHCARE WORKERS

The Department has just updated their guidance on emergency IV appointments for healthcare workers.  U.S. embassies and consulates now may prioritize as emergencies immigrant visa cases of healthcare professionals who will work at a facility engaged in pandemic response.  Healthcare professionals should review the website of the relevant U.S. embassy or consulate for procedures to request an emergency visa appointment.

If the case is being processed at the National Visa Center (NVC), the applicant may request expedited processing by emailing NVCExpedite@state.gov, including the case or receipt number on the subject line, along with at least one of the following: (1) petitioner’s name and date of birth, (2) beneficiary’s name and date of birth, and/or (3) invoice ID number.

Thursday, August 26, 2021

IMMIGRANTS REQUIRED TO HAVE COVID VACCINE STARTING OCT 1

Applicants for US permanent residency (green card) will be required to obtain the COVID vaccine as part of the medical examination starting October 1, 2021.  Both consular process and adjustment of status applicants will be required to be vaccinated.  Only age-appropriate applicants will be subject to the requirement.  Some children may have the requirement waived, depending on the US government guidelines that are applicable at the time of the immigrant visa medical exam.

This new vaccine requirement is required by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) / Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regulation.

Thursday, August 19, 2021

PLEASE CONTACT YOUR REPRESENTATIVES TO HELP US PATIENTS

Hospitals in every corner of the country are once again buckling under the weight of the coronavirus. But unlike earlier surges when intensive care capacity flexed to grow the number of available beds or acquire additional ventilators, the challenge for health systems today is neither space nor supplies—it's staff.

Even before the coronavirus, US hospitals were short about 200,000 nurses. The situation is far worse today. One survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation found 3 in 10 health care workers are considering or already have left the bedside. Nurses are superheroes of this pandemic. But they're not superhuman. Tired and traumatized after more than a year on the front lines, nurses are vacating the practice in historic numbers.

Absent a massive infusion of qualified nurses, patient care—and, crucially, patient outcomes—will plummet because nurse staffing directly influences patient mortality. Increasing a nurse's workload by just one patient increases patient mortality by 7 percent.

Hospitals need reinforcements. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services has approved green cards for at least 5,000 qualified, skilled international nurses. These nurses all have sterling clinical records and have passed English language tests, but they cannot emigrate because their visa processing has stalled at the final step due to a bureaucratic backlog.

Under the US State Department's visa processing schedule, there are four priority tiers. Nurses are fourth—dead last—in this framework. In practice, it means they're at the end of a very long, slow-moving line. Meanwhile, ICU beds are filling, and hospitals are struggling to staff them.

The Department of State must fast-track nurse visa processing. American patients deserve nothing less.

We urge you to take just a few minutes and contact your elected representatives in Washington and ask them to elevate this issue with the State Department so we can expediate the approval of these desperately needed nurses.

Contact Your House member:

https://www.house.gov/representatives/find-your-representative

Contact your Senator:

https://www.senate.gov/senators/senators-contact.htm

 

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

SEPTEMBER 2021 VISA BULLETIN: ANALYSIS AND PREDICTIONS

The Department of State has just issued September Visa Bulletin.  This is the final Visa Bulletin of Fiscal Year 2021. This blog post analyzes this month's Visa Bulletin.

Visa Bulletin

Table A: Final Action Dates -- Applications with these dates may be approved for their Green Card (Permanent Residency card) or Immigrant Visa appointment.

EB

All Other

CHINA

INDIA

PHILIPPINES

1st

C

C

C

C

2nd

C

1-Jul-18

1-Sep-11

C

3rd

C

8-Jan-19

1-Jan-14

C

Table B: Dates of Filing

The USCIS will be using the Table A: Final Action Dates chart for I-485 employment-based filings. A beneficiary must be current on the above Table A chart in order to file their I-485, Adjustment of Status applications.  See: USCIS Visa Bulletin Dates

MU Law Analysis

Both the Philippines and Worldwide (All Other) EB-3 continue to be current. Our opinion remains that these categories will stay current for the foreseeable future and into 2022.

EB-1 remains current for all categories.  This will certainly be the case for the rest of the fiscal year and into FY 2022.  India EB-2 advanced by three months, which shows that the demand for this category remains strong.  India EB-3 again moved ahead by six months in spite of widespread reports of downgrades from EB-2 to EB-3.  This category has advanced by one year in just two months, meaning that the DOS is trying to encourage EB-3 applications.

China EB-2 showed a three-month advancement, which is encouraging. 

On the other hand, EB-3 remained the same, indicating exhaustion of this category’s visas for FY 2021.

Monday, August 16, 2021

REMINDER-BIDEN – AT SIX MONTHS

Join us for a review of some of the immigration changes in the first six months of the Biden Presidency. 

MU Law will be hosting a free webinar for our clients and friends on Tuesday, August 17, 2021 at 2PM Eastern (1PM Central).


Join us for this FREE webinar to learn more about:

-          Visa Bulletin predictions

-          Consular backlogs

-          Deference to prior approvals by USCIS

-          RFEs and NOIDs

-          Expediting cases

-          Biometrics and EAD policies for dependents

-          Additional updates and policy proposals

 

PLEASE JOIN US!

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

REMINDER-BIDEN – AT SIX MONTHS

Join us for a review of some of the immigration changes in the first six months of the Biden Presidency.  Interested clients and friends can register for our webinar by clicking on the link below.

REGISTER HERE

MU Law will be hosting a free webinar for our clients and friends on Tuesday, August 17, 2021 at 2PM Eastern (1PM Central).

Join us for this FREE webinar to learn more about:

-          Visa Bulletin predictions

-          Consular backlogs

-          Deference to prior approvals by USCIS

-          RFEs and NOIDs

-          Expediting cases

-          Biometrics and EAD policies for dependents

-          Additional updates and policy proposals

 PLEASE JOIN US!

Monday, August 9, 2021

USCIS Extends Flexibilities to Certain Applicants Filing Form I-765 for OPT and STEM OPT

Pursuant to a court order, USCIS has extended flexibilities for certain foreign students affected by delayed receipt notices issued for Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. These flexibilities apply only to those applications filed on or after Oct. 1, 2020, through Oct. 31, 2021, inclusive.

As acknowledged by USCIS, filers of I-765 EAD applications for OPT and STEM OPT extensions have experienced significant delays in the issuance of receipt notices. In an attempt to assist certain applicants impacted by the delays, USCIS first enacted flexibilities for certain applicants filing form I-765 for OPT on February 26, 2021, which applied to cases received through May 1, 2021. However, those flexibilities were extended by court order on July 23, 2021, and now apply to cases received through October 31, 2021.

Until October 31, 2021, USCIS will allow for the following flexibilities:

Guaranteed Processing of Form I-765 OPT/STEM OPT applications in 120 days

  • USCIS will process all applications for OPT and STEM OPT within 120 days of receipt. Processing means that the application will be approved, denied or an RFE will be issued within 120 days.

Grant of post-completion OPT EAD validity period

  • USCIS will grant a full 12 months of post-completion OPT irrespective of the requirement that OPT be completed within 14 months of graduation.
  • USCIS will grant OPT for the full period originally recommended by the DSO on Form I-20, irrespective of the time of adjudication.

 Retroactive correction of OPT EADs already issued

  • Upon eligible applicants’ request, USCIS will issue a CORRECTED EAD for any post-completion OPT EAD application received between Oct. 1, 2020, through Oct. 31, 2021, inclusive, that was issued with a validity period that was less than the DSO’s recommended validity period.

Acceptance of previously-rejected OPT/STEM OPT applications

  • USCIS will accept re-filed I-765 applications for OPT/STEM OPT that were originally filed on time between October 1, 2020 and October 31, 2021 and later rejected.
  • Resubmitted applications must be received prior to November 30, 2021.
  • Resubmitted applications will be processed as if received on the original date (i.e. the full period of OPT will be granted, but the original I-20 will be accepted without the requirement of a new I-20).

o   If the case was rejected for missing or deficient signature(s), a request for Evidence will be issued instead of a denial.

Acceptance of Form I-765 post-completion OPT applications 120 days before completion of program

  • From July 23, 2021 until October 31, 2021, USCIS will accept I-765 post-completion OPT applications submitted up to 120 days (instead of 90) before completion of the respective program.

Thursday, August 5, 2021

APPROVAL OF A NEW CREDENTIALING ORGANIZATION FOR NURSES

Immigration regulations require that when filing a nonimmigrant or immigrant petition for certain health care occupations, including Registered Nurses, the Petitioner must include a healthcare worker’s certificate (sometimes called a VisaScreen) from an authorized credentialing organization for the Beneficiary listed in the petition.

The Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS), the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT), and the Foreign Credentialing Commission on Physical Therapy (FCCPT), were previously the only authorized credentialing organizations listed in the immigration regulations.

On July 22, 2021, USCIS approved the application for Josef Silny Associates, Inc., to be added to the list of organizations authorized to issue certificates and certified statements for Registered Nurses.

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

BIDEN – AT SIX MONTHS

Join us for a review of some of the immigration changes in the first six months of the Biden Presidency.  Interested clients and friends can register for our webinar by clicking on the link below.

REGISTER HERE

MU Law will be hosting a free webinar for our clients and friends on Tuesday, August 17, 2021 at 2PM Eastern (1PM Central).

Join us for this FREE webinar to learn more about:

-          Visa Bulletin predictions

-          Consular backlogs

-          Deference to prior approvals by USCIS

-          RFEs and NOIDs

-          Expediting cases

-          Biometrics and EAD policies for dependents

-          Additional updates and policy proposals

 PLEASE JOIN US!

Friday, July 16, 2021

AUGUST 2021 VISA BULLETIN: ANALYSIS AND PREDICTIONS

AUGUST 2021 VISA BULLETIN: ANALYSIS AND PREDICTIONS

The Department of State has just issued August Visa Bulletin.  This is the eleventh Visa Bulletin of Fiscal Year 2021. This blog post analyzes this month's Visa Bulletin.

Visa Bulletin

Table A: Final Action Dates -- Applications with these dates may be approved for their Green Card (Permanent Residency card) or Immigrant Visa appointment.

EB

All Other

CHINA

INDIA

PHILIPPINES

1st

C

C

C

C

2nd

C

1-Apr-18

1-Jun-11

C

3rd

C

8-Jan-19

1-Jul-13

C

Table B: Dates of Filing

The USCIS will be using the Table A: Final Action Dates chart for I-485 employment-based filings. A beneficiary must be current on the above Table A chart in order to file their I-485, Adjustment of Status applications  USCIS Visa Bulletin Dates

MU Law Analysis

Both the Philippines and Worldwide (All Other) EB-3 continue to be current. Our opinion remains that these categories will stay current for the foreseeable future and into 2022.

EB-1 remains current for all categories.  This will certainly be the case for the rest of the fiscal year.  India EB-2 did not move, which shows that the demand for this category remains strong.  On the other hand, India EB-3 moved ahead by six months in spite of widespread reports of downgrades from EB-2 to EB-3.  This could mean that the reports are overblown.

China EB-2 showed a four month advancement, but EB-3 only advanced one week, a reverse of the situation for the Indian categories.

Thursday, July 15, 2021

MU LAW BLOG SWITCHES EMAIL SUBSCRIPTION SERVICERS

Due to Google shuttering it’s feedburner service for email subscriptions, the Musillo Unkenholt Law Blog is transitioning over to use Follow.It as our new email subscription servicer. 

There shouldn’t be anything that needs to be done, but you will note that the subscribe widget on our blog has change to reflect this switch.

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

SIGN THE CHANGE.ORG PETITION FOR FOREIGN EDUCATED NURSES

Today, there are thousands of high-skilled international nurses who have already qualified for visas but their issuance has stalled amid unprecedented delays at US embassies and consulates, which have effectively de-prioritized green card approval for essential healthcare workers under US State Department rules.

Will you join thousands of people and sign a Change.org petition demanding the State Department fast-track nurse visas? 

SIGN THE PETITION

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

USCIS TO ISSUE 2 YEAR EADs

The USCIS has released updated policy guidance stating that it will grant EADs valid for 2 years to certain green card applicants including those applying based on an approved Form I-130 (family-based green card) or Form I-140 (employment-based green card).   

Both initial and renewal EAD applications will be eligible for the 2-year validity period. However, replacement EADs will not be issued for 2-year validity period but will rather be issued with the same validity dates as the original EAD that is being replaced.

The USCIS has historically issued EADs that are valid for a 1-year period to green card applicants. While there is generally no fee for a filing an EAD application for green card applicants, almost 370,000 green card related EAD applications were filed with the USCIS in fiscal year 2020. It is hoped that by issuing EADs valid for 2 years instead of 1 year, the USCIS will be able to redistribute limited resources to alleviate current processing backlogs.


Friday, June 18, 2021

JULY 2021 VISA BULLETIN: ANALYSIS AND PREDICTIONS

The Department of State has just issued the July 2020 Visa Bulletin.  This is the tenth Visa Bulletin of Fiscal Year 2021. This blog post analyzes this month's Visa Bulletin.

Visa Bulletin

Table A: Final Action Dates -- Applications with these dates may be approved for their Green Card (Permanent Residency card) or Immigrant Visa appointment.

Employment

All Chargeability 

CHINA

INDIA

PHILIPPINES

1st

C

C

C

C

2nd

C

1-Dec-17

1-Jun-11

C

3rd

C

1-Jan-19

1-Jan-13

C

Table B: Dates of Filing

The USCIS will be using the Table A: Final Action Dates chart for I-485 employment-based filings. A beneficiary must be current on the above Table A chart in order to file their I-485, Adjustment of Status applications.  USCIS Visa Bulletin Dates

MU Law Analysis

Both the Philippines and Worldwide (All Other) EB-3 continue to be current. Our opinion remains that these categories will stay current for the foreseeable future and into 2022.

India EB-1 remains current, which continues to lead to extra visas will flowing down to India EB2 and EB3.  India EB-2 again moved ahead, this time by 6 months, a positive trend that has continued and can be expected to continue.  Similarly, India EB-3 leapt ahead 14 months.  We will see favorable processing times for the rest of 2021 and into 2022.

China EB-2 and EB-3 again both moved forward by seven and four months, respectively.  This trend should continue into 2022.  China EB-1 remains current.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

USCIS RESCINDS POLICY THAT ALLOWED OFFICERS TO DENY A CASE INSTEAD OF ISSUSING A REQUEST FOR EVIDENCE

In 2013 USCIS issued a policy memorandum that allowed USCIS officers to issue a Request for Evidence (RFE) or Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID) for a case that included insufficient evidence, before denying the case. 

In 2018 USCIS rescinded this 2013 policy and issued a new policy, stating that USCIS officers could deny a case for lack of initial evidence without first sending an RFE or NOID.

On June 9, 2021 USCIS issued a policy update, stating that the USCIS would revert back to the 2013 policy.  The USCIS will now issue RFEs and NOIDs where additional evidence could demonstrate eligibility for an immigrant benefit. This policy will give petitioners and beneficiaries the opportunity to correct mistakes and minor errors. This policy is effective immediately.