May 2020 Newsletter
1. Continuation of EB-1 Worldwide Backlog, Mainland China Moved Forward About 1 Month; EB-2 Rest of the World (ROW) Continues to be “Current”, Mainland China Moved Forward 2 Weeks
The U.S. Department of State’s (DOS) most recently released Visa Bulletin for May 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 about 1 month to July 15, 2017.
On the other hand, the Visa Bulletin for May 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 2 weeks to October 1, 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 May 2020 Visa Bulletin can be found here.
2. Under the COIVD-19 Epidemic: Delay in Processing FY 2021 H-1B Cap-Subject Petitions; Flexibility for Extension and Change of Status Filings
Delay in Processing FY 2021 H-1B Cap-Subject Petitions
On April 13, 2020, USCIS announced that, due to COVID-19, petitioners should expect a delay in data entry and receipt notice generation for FY 2021 H-1B cap-subject petitions until at least May 1, 2020. Due to this delay, there will be a general delay in processing FY 2021 H-1B cap-subject petitions.
The specified filing window on the registration selection notices will not be changed. A Petitioner with a valid selected registration notice must file their H-1B cap-subject petition for the named Beneficiary during the filing window and at the Service Center indicated on that notice, or USCIS will reject or deny the petition.
USCIS’ alert can be found here.
Flexibility for Extension and Change of Status Filings
On April 13, 2020, USCIS issued an announcement with options for nonimmigrants who may unexpectedly remain in the U.S. beyond their authorized period of stay due to COIVD-19. Most nonimmigrants may mitigate immigration consequences of COVID-19 by timely filing an application for extension of stay (EOS) or change of status (COS). USCIS also notes a flexibility for late applications if the delay was due to extraordinary circumstances.
USCIS also provided information for Visa Waiver Program (VWP) entrants who, if unable to depart the United States by the time their authorized period of stay expires, may request a 30-day satisfactory departure from USCIS by calling the USCIS Contact Center. For VWP entrants who have already been granted satisfactory departure and are unable to depart within this 30-day period because of COVID-19 related issues, USCIS has the authority to temporarily provide an additional 30-day satisfactory departure.
USCIS’ alert can be found here.
3. USCIS Offices Preparing to Reopen on June 4, 2020
USCIS previously suspended all in-person services at its field offices, Application Support Centers (ASCs), and asylum offices to help slow the spread of COVID-19 beginning March 18, 2020. On April 24, 2020, USCIS announced that it is readying offices to reopen on or after June 4, 2020.
Field Offices:USCIS staff has been performing 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):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.
USCIS’ alert can be found here.
ALG SUCCESS STORIES
NIW Advanced Degree Petition Approved in 10.5 Months for Expert Economist and Decision-Making Consultant in Regional and Industrial Planning
Ms. P is an outstanding Economist and Decision-Making Consultant in regional and industrial planning who holds a Master of Arts Degree in Economics. Because of her work in, and contributions to, the field of regional and industrial planning that has made significant real-world applications in the economy, Ms. P is recognized as an expert Economist and Decision-Making Consultant. Given Ms. P’s outstanding research skills that will fundamentally benefit the U.S. economy that can branch into regional and industrial development, government, transportation and macroeconomics, 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. P’s proposed endeavor has both substantial merit and national importance; 2) Ms. P is well positioned to advance the proposed endeavor; and 3) on balance, it would be beneficial to the U.S. to waive Ms. P’s job offer and labor certification requirements, ALG submitted evidence of her leading and critical roles for various state-owned offices and research centers; her scholarly article publications that have over 30 citations; her original contributions as shown through her book publications and research projects that have been extremely influential in her field; her receipt of prestigious awards in recognition of her outstanding contributions and achievements; invited memberships into a selective economist associations; and published materials about Ms. P and her achievements in major media.
Even with a request for additional evidence, which ALG attorneys swiftly responded to, USCIS approved this NIW petition within 10.5 months from initial submission.Note: Premium Processing is not available for NIW petitions.
OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS & UPDATES
60-Day Suspension of Entry into the United States for Immigrant Visa Applicants
On April 22, 2020, President Trump issued an executive order suspending immigration from abroad into the United States for 60 days for individuals who do not already hold a valid immigrant visa as of April 23, 2020 11:59 p.m. EST.
Foreign nationals who are outside the United States, do not have a valid immigrant visa as of the effective date, and do not have an official travel document other than a visa (such as a transportation letter, an appropriate boarding foil, or an advance parole document), will not be admitted to the United States as immigrants (to become U.S. permanent residents). The order does not apply to individuals already in the United States who are applying to adjust status to permanent resident status (i.e. I-485 applicants). The order will expire in 60 days but could potentially be extended.
The suspension and limitation on entry shall not apply to:
Lawful permanent residents of the U.S.;
Any alien seeking to enter the U.S. on an immigrant visa as a physician, nurse, or other healthcare professional to perform research or work essential to combating, recovering from, or otherwise alleviating the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak, as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their respective designees, and any spouse and children under 21 years old of any such alien;
Any alien applying for a visa to enter the U.S. pursuant to the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program;
Any alien who is the spouse of a U.S. citizen;
Any alien who is a child of a U.S. citizen under 21 years old, or is a prospective adoptee seeking to enter the U.S. pursuant to the IR-4 or IH-4 visa classifications;
Any alien whose entry would further important U.S. law enforcement objectives, as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their respective designees, based on a recommendation of the Attorney General or his designee;
Any alien who is a member of the U.S. Armed Forces, and any spouse and children under 21 years old of any such alien;
Any alien seeking to enter the United States pursuant to a Special Immigrant Visa in the SI or SQ classification, subject to such conditions as the Secretary of State may impose, and any spouse and children of any such individual; and
Any alien whose entry would be in the national interest, as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their respective designee.
The order does not apply to individuals seeking nonimmigrant visas (eg. F-1, H-1B, L-1, etc.), whether filed from within the U.S or from abroad, or their entry into the United States. However, the order requires that within 30 days of the effective date, the Secretaries of Labor and Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State, shall review nonimmigrant programs and recommend to the President other appropriate measures to stimulate the U.S. economy and ensure the prioritization, hiring and employment of U.S. workers.
The Executive Order can be found here.
As U.S. Embassies and Consulates have already suspended immigrant visa interviews due to COVID-19, this order reasserts that those without valid immigrant visas as of the time of the order face suspension on U.S. entry for 60 days.
Due to the ongoing response to the coronavirus pandemic, U.S. travel and immigration policies are likely to continue changing in the coming days. 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 this Executive Order.