Monday, November 28, 2022

HOW DOES CGFNS FIT INTO US NURSE IMMIGRATION

We often receive questions about the role of CGFNS in nurse immigration.  CGFNS has a number of different product lines which overlap and add to the confusion.

Here are three of the most common uses of CGFNS within the US visa processing system.  It is best to think of these three product lines as independent:

CGFNS credentials evaluation (CES) – Many US state licensing bodies call on CGFNS to review and evaluate foreign nurse’s credentials in advance of qualifying the nurses to sit for the NCLEX exam.  CES is the process by which applicants can have their nursing education evaluated by CGFNS for clearance to sit for the state’s nursing exam (NCLEX).

CGFNS Predictor (Qualifying) Exam – This is an older, legacy exam that is now rarely used to assess a foreign nurse’s competence in nursing.  It was more widespread before the expansion of international NCLEX testing centers. 

CGFNS Visa Screen – This is the Healthcare Worker Certificate (HWC) that is needed by RNs at the very end of their immigration process, at their consular interview.  CGFNS’ HWC is branded the Visa Screen.  All nurses and allied healthcare workers must have:

·        Passed the US licensing exam;

·        Graduated from a university that is equivalent to a US school in the same profession;

·        Passed an English fluency examination; and

·        Hold a spotless overseas professional license. 

In recent years USCIS approved a second issuer of HWCs, Josef Silney. 

Thursday, November 17, 2022

DECEMBER 2022 VISA BULLETIN: ANALYSIS AND PREDICTIONS

The Department of State has recently issued the December 2022 Visa Bulletin.  This blog post analyzes this month's Visa Bulletin.  The FY 2023 employment-based immigrant visa limit is 197,000, as compared with 281,507 in FY 2022.  These quotas are greater than the usual 140,000 employment-based limit because of spillovers of unused family-based immigrant visas in the prior fiscal year.  Slowdowns related to COVID caused the allocation of family-based visas to be short of the limit.

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

Worldwide

CHINA

INDIA

PHILIPPINES

1st

C

C

C

C

2nd

01NOV22

08JUN19

08OCT11

01NOV22

3rd

C

01AUG18

15JUN12

C

Other workers

01JUN20

22JUN13

15JUN12

01JUN20

Table B: Dates of Filing

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

MU Law Analysis

As expected, there was a retrogression in India EB2 in the coming months due to high demand.  All categories of EB-2 retrogression, which reflects a smaller allocation of employment based immigrant numbers than in the past two years. 

On the other hand, India EB-3 progressed two months, which was unexpected good news. 

The WW and Philippine EB-3 remain current. We expect these categories to be current through much of the current fiscal year. 

EB-3 Other Workers, which is the category for occupations such as Nurse Aides, remains retrogressed but held steady to June 2020 for Philippines and ROW.  We do not expect further retrogression in these two categories.  We would not be surprised to see some progression in these categories throughout this fiscal year.

China EB-3 advanced by six weeks, but a note at the end of the Visa Bulletin said that EB-1 China and India should expect a retrogression in the in the coming months.


Friday, November 4, 2022

ACICS No Longer Recognized by Dept. of Education: Impact on Immigration-Related Student Programs

As of August 19, 2022, the US Department of Education no longer recognizes the accreditation of institutions by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS).

On November 1, 2022, the USCIS explained in a News Alert how this loss of recognition will affect the following immigration-related student programs:

  •  24-Month STEM OPT Extension Program
    • USCIS will issue a denial to any F-1 student filing a Form I-765 STEM OPT extension if:
      • The STEM degree that is the basis for the STEM OPT extension was obtained from a college or university that was accredited by ACICS; and
      • The student’s DSO recommendation for a STEM OPT extension, as indicated on Form I-20, is dated on or after August 19, 2022 (the date when ACICS ceased to be recognized as an accrediting agency).
    • STEM-OPT students whose Forms I-20 have a DSO recommendation date prior to August 19, 2022 are not affected.
  • H-1B Master’s CAP Eligibility and I-140 Advanced Degree/Professional Eligibility
    • Students who obtain their degree after August 19, 2022 from an institution that is solely accredited by ACICS may NOT use that degree to qualify for the H-1B Master’s CAP or to qualify for an I-140 petition filed under the advanced degree and professional classifications.
    • If a student’s degree was conferred prior to August 19, 2022 from an ACICS-accredited school, that degree may still be used to qualify for the H-1B Master’s CAP or to qualify for an I-140 petition filed under the advanced degree and professional classifications, as long as all other requirements are met.
  •  H-1B CAP Exemption/ACWIA Fee Exemption
    • An institution accredited solely by ACICS no longer qualifies for an exemption from the H-1B cap or the ACWIA fee, unless the institution is exempt on another basis.

 ACICS’s website provides a list of institutions currently accredited by ACICS.


Wednesday, October 12, 2022

CEAC MALFUNCTIONS CAUSE DELAYS TO CONSULAR CASES

The Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC) is the online platform where one submits fees, forms, and documents to the National Visa Center (NVC). In the last two months, MU has observed two primary malfunctions on CEAC. Please note, these malfunctions are seemingly random and do not affect every case.

The most prominent malfunction prevents the payment of IV fee bills, causing delays for many cases. This malfunction causes CEAC to reject fee bill payments or causes payments to be “in process” for long periods of time.

MU has submitted inquiries to the NVC about the payment malfunction, requesting a solution. In reply, the NVC stated it is working to correct the malfunction. The NVC provided no estimate for when it would fix this malfunction.

The second malfunction mislabels dependents as Follow-to-Join instead of Accompanying, and vice versa. This prevents the completion of case, even if fee bills have already been paid.

MU has submitted inquiries to the NVC about these and other malfunctions but has yet to receive a response. MU is working to resolve these issues through other contacts and hopes the NVC will act soon to move the cases forward.  If you have questions about your specific case, please contact your MU attorney. 

Monday, October 10, 2022

NOVEMBER 2022 VISA BULLETIN: ANALYSIS AND PREDICTIONS

The Department of State has recently issued the November 2022 Visa Bulletin.  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

Worldwide

CHINA

INDIA

PHILIPPINES

1st

C

C

C

C

2nd

C

08JUN19

01APR12

C

3rd

C

15JUN18

01APR12

C

Other workers

01JUN20

01SEP12

01APR12

01JUN20

Table B: Dates of Filing

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

MU Law Analysis

All dates remained the same as in the October 2022 Visa Bulletin.  USCIS has stated that the USCIS expects retrogression in India EB2 in the coming months due to high demand.  It remains to be seen if India EB-3 will also retrogress at some point.

The WW and Philippine EB-3 remain current. We expect these categories to be current through the fiscal year.

EB-3 Other Workers, which is the category for occupations that require less than two years of education or experience to perform the job, remains retrogressed but did move forward from May 2019 to June 2020 for Philippines and ROW.  We do not expect further retrogression in these two categories.


Wednesday, October 5, 2022

USCIS EXTENDS GREEN CARD VALIDITY EXTENSION TO 24 MONTHS FOR GREEN CARD RENEWALS

On September 28, 2022, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a news alert, announcing, effective September 26, Lawful Permanent Residents who properly file Form-I-90 to replace an expired or expiring green card will receive an automatic 24-month extension, as opposed to the previous 12-month extension.

Receipt notices for Form I-90 should now include updated language granting Lawful Permanent Residents the automatic 24-month extension. USCIS is in the process of printing amended receipt notices for those individuals with pending I-90s.

To evidence their lawful status, Lawful Permanent Residents may present the updated I-90 receipt notice with their expired green card. This will allow Lawful Permanent Residents to continue working and traveling, despite experiencing long processing delays to replace their expired green card.

If an individual no longer has their Green Card, they will need additional evidence of their lawful permanent resident status while waiting to receive a replacement green card.

Friday, September 30, 2022

USCIS EXTENDS WAIVER OF 60 DAY MEDICAL EXAM REQUIREMENT

In December 2021, USCIS announced that it would waive the requirement that the medical exam, Form I-693, be signed by the civil surgeon no more than 60 days prior to filing the I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status (green card application).  This waiver of the 60-day rule was set to expire on September 30, 2022. USCIS just announced that this waiver has been extended to March 31, 2023.

This extension will provide additional flexibility to I-485 applicants and allow them to avoid having to undergo a second medical exam in many instances while still encouraging applicants to file the I-485 as soon as possible after completing the medical exam.

The I-693 medical exam will continue to remain valid for two years from the date of the civil surgeon’s signature, regardless of when the I-485 is filed.


Thursday, September 22, 2022

PREMIUM PROCESSING WILL EXPAND TO INCLUDE ADDITIONAL PENDING EB-1 AND EB-2 I-140 PETITIONS: PHASE 3

In the third phase of its initiative to expand premium processing eligibility, on September 15, 2022, USCIS issued a news alert that its premium processing program will be expanded again to include additional pending I-140 petitions filed under the EB-1 and EB-2 categories.

MU issued updates on the first phase and second phase of the initiative earlier this year.

Beginning September 15, 2022, USCIS will accept Form I-907 requests for:

·       EB-1 multinational executive and manager petitions received on or before January 1, 2022; and

·        EB-2 NIW petitions received on or before February 1, 2022.

New (initial) I-140 filings for the categories above are not eligible for premium processing at this time.

USCIS has 45 days to issue an RFE, approval, or denial on cases that request premium processing for these newly included Form I-140 classifications. Per USCIS’s I-907 webpage, the fee for filing Form I-140 requesting EB-1, EB-2, or EB-3 immigrant visa classification is $2,500.

USCIS will reject any premium processing requests for the classifications above that are filed before the appropriate start date. 


Tuesday, September 20, 2022

EMPLOYMENT-BASED GREEN CARD CASES FOR THE COMING YEAR

The USCIS recently posted updated processes and procedures for green card cases filed during Fiscal Year 2023 (FY2023) which ends on September 30, 2023.  Below is a short summary of the key issues regarding the coming fiscal year’s green card cases.

The US Department of State estimates the annual allotment of employment-based green cards will be approximately 200,000 due to unused family-based visa numbers from FY 2022 (ending September 30, 2022).  Please see our previous blog post for an explanation of the unused family-based numbers flowing into the employment-based category.  Each year there are 140,000 green cards allocated for employment-based cases by statute; the coming year’s allotment of 200,000 is a large increase in available green cards.

Q: If there is an increase in available green cards, why have the Indian EB2 numbers retrogressed in October 2022?

A: The DOS and USCIS estimate the annual usage of green cards based on the number of pending applications.  When estimating how many green cards will be approved, the DOS and USCIS consider the following factors:

  • A percentage of the pending applications will not be approved for a variety of reasons;
  • An accounting for applicants who have more than one green card application pending;
  • An estimate of the number of dependents who will be included on the   application; and
  • How far along in the application process the pending cases are, e.g. how     likely it is to result in the use of a green card during the coming months.

Given these factors, the DOS and USCIS estimate the Indian EB2 category is still oversubscribed and so applied a cut-off date.

Q: Does retrogression affect my priority date or place in line for a green card?

A: No, retrogression does not impact or change your priority date or place in line.  Retrogression only means a green card is not immediately available to applicants in certain categories. 

Q: My category retrogressed, what is my path forward to a green card if I am in the US and have filed my I-485?

A: The USCIS will hold your pending I-485 until your priority date becomes current and a green card is available.  During the time your I-485 is pending with the USCIS, even if your category is retrogressed, you can:

  • Apply for a work authorization card also called an EAD;
  • Apply for a travel authorization card also called Advance Parole or AP;
  • Once your I-485 has been pending with the USCIS for more than 180 days, you can “port” your pending green card application to a new employer who provides a qualified job offer; and
  • Your dependent children may be eligible for benefits under the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA) (for more specific information abut the CSPA please contact your MU attorney).

You are considered to be in a “period of authorized stay” while your I-485 is pending.

Q: I did not file my I-485 with a medical exam (form I-693), should I affirmatively send in a medical exam or wait until the USCIS issues an RFE (request for evidence) or deficiency notice asking for a medical exam?

A: The USCIS requests applicants not send in a medical exam until the USCIS requests the medical exam via RFE or deficiency notice.  Immigration files are often transferred between USCIS offices to process the cases as quickly as possible.  USCIS indicates it is difficult to match an unsolicited medical exam to a pending case.

Q: How does the transfer of underlying basis request work?

A: If an applicant has two or more approved I-140s, the applicant can request that the USCIS move the pending I-485 from one I-140 to another.  This request must be made in writing and include a form I-485j where appropriate.  Applicants must affirmatively request a transfer of underlying basis; the USCIS does not review the applicant’s files and transfer the I-485 automatically when an I-140 becomes current in a different category.  All transfer requests are reviewed and granted at the discretion of the USCIS.

Q: When the USCIS adjudicates the principal applicant’s I-485, does the USCIS also adjudicate the I-485 of the dependent family members?  What happens if a dependent family member’s I-485 is not approved and the priority date of principal retrogresses?

A: USCIS makes every effort to adjudicate all family members’ cases together.  However, each case is treated independently and has unique factors of review.  If a principal applicant’s I-485 is approved, but a dependent applicant’s I-485 remains pending, and the priority date of the principal applicant retrogresses, the dependent’s I-485 will remain pending with the USCIS until the principal’s priority date becomes current again.

Friday, September 16, 2022

MUSILLO UNKENHOLT FINALIST FOR BEST PLACES TO WORK

MU was recognized by the Cincinnati Business Courier as one of the best places to work in the Greater Cincinnati area for 2022. MU was one of just 77 finalists! Businesses that are finalists for this award all ranked exceptionally high in workforce satisfaction by a very large percentage of their employees.

To celebrate being nominated as a finalist, MU was invited to an award ceremony this past Tuesday, September 13, 2022, at TQL Stadium, home of FC Cincinnati Football Club. MU strives to be an enjoyable and diligent workplace and was very honored to receive this recognition. MU hopes to always be a great place to work for all its employees!


Wednesday, September 14, 2022

OCTOBER 2022 VISA BULLETIN: ANALYSIS AND PREDICTIONS

The Department of State has recently issued the October 2022 Visa Bulletin.  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

Worldwide

CHINA

INDIA

PHILIPPINES

1st

C

C

C

C

2nd

C

08JUN19

01APR12

C

3rd

C

15JUN18

01APR12

C

Other workers

01JUN20

01SEP12

01APR12

01JUN20

Table B: Dates of Filing

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

MU Law Analysis

There have been reports that India EB1 and EB2 are now “unavailable” through October 1, 2022.  However, there has been no specific announcement from the DOS that visas are unavailable.  USCIS has stated (in court filings) that the USCIS expects retrogression in India EB2 in the coming months due to high demand.

Once visas become unavailable on Chart A, USCIS will be unable to approve any more green card cases (I-485) in those specific categories.  All I-485s will remain pending until the applicable priority date becomes current again on Chart A.  However, while cases are retrogressed, those with a pending I-485 are still eligible for AC21 portability and can renew their I-485-based EAD (work authorization) and Advance Parole (travel authorization).

EB-3 Other Workers, which is the category for occupations that require less than two years of education or experience to perform the job, remains retrogressed but did move forward from May 2019 to June 2020 for Philippines and ROW.