December 2020 Newsletter
1. December 2020 Visa Bulletin: Advancement in Most Employment-based Categories; No Movement in Family-based Categories
The U.S. Department of State’s (DOS) released the Visa Bulletin for December 2020, which shows advancement in most employment-based categories, and no movement in family-based categories. The cutoff dates for issuance of employment-based immigrant visas are as follows:
EB-1: China and India advanced 4 months to April 1, 2019. All other countries are current.
EB-2: China advanced 9 days to May 1, 2016; India advanced 9 days to October 1, 2009. All other countries are current.
EB-3 Professional and Skilled Workers: China advanced 1 month to November 1, 2017; India advanced 2 weeks to March 15, 2010. All other countries are current.
USCIS will accept adjustment of status applications for F2A Spouses and Minor Children of Green Card Holders based on the “Final Action Dates” charts, and all other family-based cases and all employment-based cases based on the “Dates for Filing” charts.
The December 2020 Visa Bulletin can be found here.
2. USCIS To Revise the Naturalization Civics Test
On November 13, 2020, USCIS announced plans to implement a revised naturalization civics test. Applicants who apply for Naturalization on or after December 1, 2020 will take the updated version of the test.
Bank of civics test questions increased from 100 to 128
The passing score remains the same at 60%; however, the number of test questions increased from 10 to 20, and the number of correct answers needed to pass increased from 6 to 12
USCIS will maintain the current guidelines for statutorily established special considerations for applicants who are 65 years old or older and have at least 20 years of lawful permanent resident status. According to USCIS, these applicants must correctly answer a minimum of six out of 10 questions to pass.
The naturalization civics test tests the applicant’s knowledge and understanding of the fundamentals of U.S. history, and of U.S. principles and form of government.
USCIS’ alert can be found here.
3. USCIS Updates Policy Guidance on Naturalization Applicants
On November 18, USCIS announced a policy guidance update on Naturalization applications. Applicants may be ineligible for naturalization if they did not lawfully obtain Permanent Resident status.
Furthermore, applicants are not eligible for naturalization if they are found to have abandoned his or her permanent resident status. If applicants do not meet the burden of establishing that they maintained permanent resident status and meet the requirements of continuous residence in the U.S., USCIS will deny the naturalization application and place those applicants in removal proceedings by issuing a Notice to Appear (NTA).
USCIS’ alert can be found here.
4. Court of Appeals’ Administrative Stay of the DHS Public Charge Rule
On November 3, 2020, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has issued an administrative stay of a lower court decision to vacate the DHS Public Charge Final rule pending an appeal, effective immediately. This administrative stay allows DHS to resume implementing the Public Charge Final Rule nationwide.
The district court previously granted summary judgment on November 2, 2020 in favor of Plaintiffs on their claim that DHS’s Public Charge Rule violates the Administrative Procedure Act, specifically ruling that the public charge rule (1) exceeds DHS’ authority under the public charge provision of the INA; (2) is not in accordance with law; and (3) is arbitrary and capricious. Therefore, the court immediately set aside the DHS Public Charge Rule nationwide without staying its decision pending appeal.
Accordingly, adjustment of status applications, and nonimmigrant visa extension and change of status applications, must be filed with Form I-944 Declaration of Self-Sufficiency and documentation until further notice.
The legality of the public charge rule is being challenged in several ongoing lawsuits. There could continue to be a back and forth on USCIS authority to implement the rule.
The I-944 is designed to collect extensive information and evidence involved in evaluating public charge inadmissibility: age, health, household size, financial resources, education, and skills.
USCIS’ alert can be found here.
ALG SUCCESS STORIES
EB-1A Petition Approved within 6 Months for Urban Rail Transit Engineering Planning Engineer
Ms. F is an engineer in urban rail transit engineering planning. She serves as Associate Chief Engineer for a renowned urban construction engineering company, and is responsible for many important projects that are extremely important to the urban rail transit field. Given Ms. F’s extraordinary skill in urban rail transit engineering planning, ALG filed and obtained EB-1A approval for her as a person of extraordinary ability.
To demonstrate Ms. F’s extraordinary ability, ALG submitted evidence of Ms. F’s scholarly article publications that have over 250 citations; her leading role in a renowned technology-based engineering company that provides professional services for urban construction; her securement of several patents in the field that were applied in the construction of the urban rail transit in Beijing; the results of her work as a judge for urban rail engineering projects and as a reviewer of urban transit periodicals; and her numerous awards and honors in urban rail transit engineering planning.
Under regular processing and without a request for additional evidence, USCIS approved this EB-1A petition within 6 months.
OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS & UPDATES
Further Extension of Restrictions on US-Canada and US-Mexico Borders Until December 21, 2020
In order to limit the further spread of the coronavirus, on March 21, 2020, the U.S. reached agreements with both Canada and Mexico to limit all non-essential travel across borders. These joint initiatives were originally set to be in place for 30 days, subject to reevaluation and further extension in light of coronavirus pandemic developments. “Non-essential” travel includes travel that is considered tourism or recreational in nature.
On November 19, 2020, these measures were further extended until December 21, 2020, which marks the eighth extension since implementation. These restrictions do not apply to entry through U.S. airports.