April 2020 Newsletter
1. Continuation of EB-1 Worldwide Backlog, Mainland China Moved Forward 7 Days; EB-2 Rest of the World (ROW) Continues to be “Current”, Mainland China Moved Forward 1 Month
The U.S. Department of State’s (DOS) most recently released Visa Bulletin for April 2020 shows a continuation of worldwide backlog for EB-1, and cutoff dates for issuance of an EB-1 immigrant visa for Mainland China born applicants moved forward 7 days to June 8, 2017.
On the other hand, the Visa Bulletin for April 2020 shows that EB-2 for Rest of the World (ROW) is “current”, and cutoff dates for issuance of an EB-2 immigrant visa for Mainland China born applicants have moved forward 1 month to September 15, 2015.
Apart from all employment-based cases and F2A Spouses and Minor Children of Green Card Holders, USCIS will accept Mainland China born adjustment of status applications for all other family-based cases based on the “Dates for Filing” charts.
The April 2020 Visa Bulletin can be found here.
2. USCIS Announces Temporary Suspension of Premium Processing
FY 2021 H-1B Cap-Subject Petitions
On March 16, 2020, USCIS announced that it will temporarily suspend premium processing for FY 2021 cap-subject H-1B petitions.
Starting today (April 1, 2020), USCIS will begin accepting cap-subject H-1B petitions that were selected in the electronic registration process. Until further notice, USCIS will not be accepting premium processing applications submitted with FY 2021 cap-subject H-1B petitions.
USCIS’ alert can be found here.
All I-129 and I-140 Petitions
On March 20, 2020, USCIS further announced that, with immediate effect, it will temporarily suspend premium processing for all I-129 and I-140 petitions due to the coronavirus pandemic.
This temporary suspension includes petitions filed for the following categories:
I-129: E-1, E-2, H-1B, H-2B, H-3, L-1A, L-1B, LZ, O-1, O-2, P-1, P-1S, P-2, P-2S, P-3, P-3S, Q-1, R-1, TN-1 and TN-2.
I-140: EB-1, EB-2 and EB-3.
USCIS’ alert can be found here.
3. USCIS and DOS Response to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
On March 17, 2020, USCIS announced that it is suspending all in-person services at its field offices, Application Support Centers (ASCs), and asylum offices to help slow the spread of COVID-19, effective March 18, 2020 until at least April 1. On March 25, 2020, USCIS provided an updated announcement that office closures are further extended until at least April 7, 2020.
Field Offices:USCIS staff will continue to perform duties that do not involve contact with the public. USCIS domestic field offices will send notices with instructions to applicants and petitioners with scheduled interview appointments or naturalization ceremonies impacted by this closure. Interviews and naturalization ceremonies will be automatically rescheduled once normal operations resume. Individuals who have InfoPass appointments with a Field Office must reschedule through the USCIS Contact Center.
Application Support Centers (ASCs):All biometric appointments have been suspended. Upon resuming normal operations, USCIS will automatically reschedule ASC appointments affected by this closure. If you do not receive a new appointment notice by mail within 90 days, please call USCIS.
Asylum Offices:USCIS asylum offices will send interview cancellation notices, automatically reschedule asylum interviews, and send new interview notice with new time, date and location for the rescheduled interview.
Furthermore, USCIS announced that for applicants and petitioners responding to a Request for Evidence (RFE), Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID), Notice of Intent to Revoke (NOIR), Notice of Intent to Terminate (NOIT) regional investment center, as well as filing date requirements for Notice of Appeal or Motion, dated between March 1 and May 1, 2020, USCIS will consider responses submitted within 60 calendar days after the response date set forth in the notices.
On the other hand, on March 20, 2020, the Department of State announced that in response to significant worldwide challenges related to the COIVD-19 pandemic, it is temporarily suspending routine visa services at all U.S. Embassies and Consulates. Effectively immediately, embassies and consulates will cancel all routine immigrant and nonimmigrant visa appointments until further notice.
Services to U.S. citizens, however, will remain available.
DOS’ alert can be found here.
ALG SUCCESS STORIES
NIW Advanced Degree Petition Approved in 7 Months for Cognitive Science Expert and Researcher
Ms. H is an outstanding cognitive expert and researcher who holds a Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Philosophy in Science. Because of her work in, and contributions to, the field of Cognitive Science in both academia and in related projects that have real world applications, Ms. H is recognized as one of the pioneers in China for Embodied Cognition. Given Ms. H’s outstanding cognitive science research skills that will fundamentally benefit U.S. education, health and cultural interests, ALG filed and obtained NIW approval for her as a person whose admission to permanent residence and employment in the U.S. will be in the national interest of the nation.
To demonstrate: 1) Ms. H’s proposed endeavor has both substantial merit and national importance; 2) Ms. H is well positioned to advance the proposed endeavor; and 3) on balance, it would be beneficial to the U.S. to waive Ms. H’s job offer and labor certification requirements, ALG submitted evidence of her scholarly article publications that have over 40 citations; published materials about Ms. H and her achievements in major media; the results of her work as a dissertation reviewer and judge of her peers’ academic articles; her original contributions as one of the first scholars in China to introduce the concept of Embodied Cognition; her leading and critical role for the Philosophy Department at a prestigious university; and invited membership into a selective committee of a cognitive science association.
Even with a request for additional evidence, which ALG attorneys swiftly responded to, USCIS approved this NIW petition within 7 months from initial submission. Note: Premium Processing is not available for NIW petitions.
OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS & UPDATES
U.S. Travel Restrictions for Foreign Nationals
In an effort to control the spread of COVID-19, the United States has implemented travel restrictions on foreign nations as announced in several Presidential proclamations.
Foreign nationals who have been in one of these countries at any point the preceding 14 days before their scheduled arrival to the U.S. will not be allowed entry:
China; Presidential proclamation issued on January 31, 2020
Iran; Presidential proclamation issued on February 29, 2020
European Schengen Area (Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland); Presidential proclamation issued on March 11, 2020
United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland); Presidential proclamation issued on March 14, 2020
Republic of Ireland; Presidential proclamation issued on March 14, 2020
U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, and their families are exempted from this restriction. If you are returning from one of these countries, you should stay home and monitor your health.
For more information about the novel coronavirus, please visit the CDC’s website. Please do not hesitate to contact ALG attorneys should you have any questions or concerns relating to these travel restrictions.