April Visa Bulletin and Guidance from Charlie Oppenheim

imagesThe April Visa Bulletin was released last week as was some additional guidance from Charlie Oppenheim of the Department of State.  I will go through the highlights below.

Family Based Immigration

F1 (Unmarried Sons and Daughters of US Citizens):  Most countries moved from June 1, 2010 to October 15, 2010, a fairly big jump.  The exceptions were Mexico (which moved about 1 week to May 22, 1995) and the Philippines (which moved forward one month to January 15, 2006)

F2A (Spouses and children of Permanent Residents): Most countries moved forward 1 month to June 8, 2015.  The only exception was Mexico, which also moved one month forward to May 22, 2015.

F2B (Unmarried Sons and Daughters of Permanent Residents): Most countries moved forward 1 month to September 15, 2010.  The only exceptions were Mexico (which moved forward 1 month to December 22, 1995) and the Philippines (which moved forward 1.5 months to June 15, 20016).

F3 (Married Sons and Daughters of US Citizens): Most countries moved forward about 3 weeks to May 15, 2005.  The only exceptions were Mexico (which moved forward about 2 weeks to January 8, 1995) and the Philippines (which moved forward about 1 week to September 15, 1994.

F4 (Siblings of US Citizens): Most countries moved forward about 2.5 months to May 8, 2004.  India moved forward only about 3 weeks to August 15, 2003.  Mexico moved forward about 2 weeks to June 15, 1997.  The Philippines moved forward about 1 month to September 8, 1993.

Charlie Oppenheim Guidance:  FB-1, FB-2 and FB-3 are expected to continue to advance at the same pace as this month in the future  because of the low rate at which applicants are becoming documentarily qualified. The FB-4 advancement in April was sufficient to meet Charlie’s target for this category for the next two to three months. This allowed the overall desired allocation level through April to be met, and should prevent excessive allocations once demand in the other categories increases those desired levels. No further advancement of FB-4 Worldwide is expected until July.

Employment Based Immigration

EB1: Current for all countries (but see guidance below for India and China)

EB2: Current for most countries.  China moved forward about 1 month to January 15, 2013 and India moved forward about 3 weeks to June 22, 2008.

Eb3: Worldwide numbers moved forward about two months to February 15, 2017. China moved forward about 5 months to August 15, 2014.  India moved forward 2 days to March 22, 2005 and the Philippines moved forward about 1 month to September 15, 2012.

Charlie Oppenheim Guidance:  

EB-1:  India has already used over 9,000 immigration visas in this category (its per country limit is 2,800) and China has used over 4,500.  There will be backlogs for both of these countries in this category in the near future.

EB-3: At some point Charlie expects there to be more demand for China EB-3 because of the downgrades from EB-2s.  However, to date, this demand has not materialized.  This is why he moved the final action date forward.  You may notice that the Date for Filing for EB-2 China is actually several months behind the Final Action Dates.  As USCIS is using the Final Action Dates, this date is irrelevant.  EB-3 Worldwide will continue to remain about 2 months behind being current.

Please remember, as always, this blog does not offer legal advice. If you need legal advice, consult with a lawyer instead of a blog. Thank you.

 

 

 

 

 

Temporary Injunction Issued against Travel Ban

Just yesterday, a Federal District Court Judge in Hawaii issued a temporary restraining order against part of the Executive Order issued by President Trump.  The District Court Judge stopped the suspension of issuance of visas to citizens of the six listed countries as well as stopped the suspension of the refugee program.  USCIS and DOS have issued notices that they will not implement either part of the ban that was enjoined by the District Court.

Please remember, as always, this blog does not offer legal advice. If you need legal advice, consult with a lawyer instead of a blog. Thank you.

New Travel Ban Issued Today

President Trump signed a new executive order instituting a new travel ban slightly different than the last one.  Below is a list of the major parts of the law, and how they are different from the previous order:

  1. The ban is only against six countries, not seven.  The ban covers nationals of Sudan, Yemen, Somalia, Iran, Syria and Lybia.  Iraq, while called out for increased vetting, is not part of the actual ban itself. 
  2.  While Iraq is removed from the ban, there will be additional vetting.  Specifically, additional checks in regards to whether the person has any contacts with ISIS or other terrorist organizations.

  3. The ban specifically excludes: green card holders; those whith current visas; those who had a current visa as of the date of the first executive order, or as of March 6, 2017; dual citizens as long as they do not travel on the passport of one of the six listed countries; asylees, refuges already admitted to the US, and individuals granted withholding of removal or protection under the Convention Against Torture.

  4. The ban is still for 90 days while new vetting procedures are being developed.

  5. There will be a worldwide review of documentation needed for proper adjudication of visas.  A list of countries that do not provide such documentation shall be made.  Those countries shall be contacted and informed of the documentation needed for such vetting.  If the countries do not provide the documentation, they may be addded to the list of countries in the ban, and the ban will extend to those countries until they agree to provide the required documentation.

  6. A full waiver process has been developed.  You are able to apply at the consulate when you apply for a visa and several grounds for the waiver are listed (if you have previously been admitted, you are seeking admission to resume previous activity and denial of admission would impair that activity, family visits to US Citizens and permanent residents and those on temporary visits, etc.).

  7. Refugee admission will be limited to 50,000 and all refugee admissions (except for those who have already been approved to enter the US) for 120 days.

  8.  The completion of the biometric entry/exit system will be expedited.

  9.  All persons seeking a US Visa will need to be interviewed.

  10.  The provisions of the previous order regarding making public information about those foreigners in the US charged or convicted of terrorist related charges was kept in this order as well.

  11.  All persons with visas revoked because of the previous executive order are entitled to a travel document confirming that they are permitted to travel to the US and the revocation (as long as it was solely because of the executive order) cannot be used in the future to deny entry or admission to the US.

  12.  The previous order is revoked.

  13.  The new order goes into effect as of March 16, 2017.

Please remember, as always, this blog does not offer legal advice. If you need legal advice, consult with a lawyer instead of a blog. Thank you. 

Update from Charlie Oppenheim on Visa Avalability

unknownAILA met with Charlie Oppenheim (the Department of State Employee in charge of the Visa Bulletin and determining Visa availability) on February 15th of this year.  Below is some of the information Charlie gave us.

EB-1:

According to Charlie, despite the high usage of this category, he is now expecting it to remain current for the Worldwide numbers.  However, as stated previously, he still feels that there will be cut off date imposed for China and India.  In contrast to his earlier prediction of having a cut off date imposed by June or July, he now believes it will be in August (or, perhaps, not at all).  Demand for EB-1s from Indian and Chinese persons has declined from October/November.  If this demand increases again, this may change.

EB-2 and EB-3 for China:

EB-2 will go up about 1 month next month, but EB-3 dates will move forward about 5 monhts.  This will put EB-3 for China about 15 months ahead of EB-2.  Demand for EB-3 is increasing, and the biggest increases usually occur in April and May, so there wil most likely be a retrograde in EB-3 for China at that time.

EB-2 and EB-3 for India:

EB-2 will move forward about 1 month.  As long as there is not significantly higher deman from EB-3 upgrades to EB-2, Charlie sees EB-2 for India moving forward about 1 month every month.

EB-2 and EB-3 Worldwide:

EB-2 is expected to remain current.  EB-3 will continue progressing quickly as demand is still low in this category.

NIW Adjudications on Hold

Unknown-1.jpegA couple of weeks ago we informed you that the AAO decided a case in which they changed the standard for adjudicating NIW cases (See this blog post).  USCIS has confirmed today that ALL pending NIW cases are on hold pending training for officers on the new standard.  USCIS did indicate, however, that processing of these cases should resume by the end of February of this year.

What does this mean for your case?  The chances are that USCIS has not adjudicated any cases since the decision was handed down, more than 1.5 months ago.  The backlog created by this stoppage will take some time to clear out, and will probably delay adjudications by up to 2 months. We will update you if additional information is made available.

Please remember, as always, this blog does not offer legal advice. If you need legal advice, consult with a lawyer instead of a blog. Thank you.

Travelling in and Out of the US

 

Unknown.jpegGenerally those with valid visas, permanent residency and citizens should not have problems travelling in and out of the US.  However, considering the issues we have seen recently, I think it is worthwhile to keep certain things in mind if you are going to travel (and remember, the below is just general information about travelling and is not specific to any case).

First, for those from countries affected by the travel ban.   If you are currently a US Citizen or permanent resident you should have no problem travelling.  You may face extra scrutiny (by all accounts, they are doing more searches, especially of electronic devices (phones and computers)), but the current orders do not affect your travel.  Those on temporary visas are taking a chance by travelling.  Even though the travel ban has been suspended, the Court could remove the temporary stoppage order at any time, we just do not know.  Alternatively, Trump could issue a new executive order that is more narrowly focused, we just do not know.  You just need to weigh the potential risks and benefits of travelling.

For those from countries not affected by the travel ban.  Currently, there are no restrictions on your travel.  As stated above, there could be extra scrutiny and additional searchers, but whether you have a temporary visa or permanent residence, the current orders do not affect your travel at all.

Remember, the specific facts of your case may also affect your ability to travel so always check with an attorney before travelling to make sure that it will ok for your particular case.

 

Washington State Judge Halts Enforcement of Executive Order Travel Ban

On Friday, a Judge in Washington State issues a nationwide injunction against enforcement of President Trumps Executive Order banning certain immigrants, non-immigrants and refugees from traveling to the United States.  While the Trump administration has said that they will defen the ban in court, steps have been taken to come in compliance with the ruling.  First, the Department of State rescinded its preliminary revocation of all non-immigrant and immigrant visas for those covered by the executive order.  It also allowed all such individuals to board plans and come to the United States.  Officers at airports have also been instructed to allow all such people to enter the United States.  While the Court has yet to rule on the actual order itself and whether it is constitutional and legal, the granting of such a wide injunction does indicate that the Judge feels that the plaintiffs will be successful in their bid to overturn the executive order.  We will update you when more information is known.