USCIS and Workload Transfers: What you Need to Know

images.jpegUSCIS frequently is juggling around case types between various service centers to try and assure that all case types are adjudicated as quickly as possible.  Fairly recently they started transferring EB-1A Extraordinary Ability cases to Nebraska from the Texas Service Center.    Even more recent certain H-1Bs were sent from Vermont to California and Nebraska.

Recently, USCIS started a new webpage on their site devoted to such transfers.  This webpage lists all recent transfers and gives some information on what the transfer means to your case and how you can check the status of your case online.  In reality, once USCIS transfers files to a new service center, that service center usually slows down slightly for a little while before they are able to catch up on all the new cases they have received.  In some cases, the new service center slows down so much, that it actually takes longer than it appeared to be taking at the old service center.  This is an unfortunate consequence, however there is no way to request that your file be sent back to the old center.  Following the timelines where your case is and filing requests for information once your date has been reached is the best bet to ensure smooth processing in your case.

If you have any questions leave a comment below or send me an email.  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.

Self-Sponsored Green Cards: What are your major findings?

Nobel-PrizeInvariably when working with scientists it becomes apparent that USCIS’s definition of your “most important” work and our client’s definition of their “most important” work are very different.  This leads to issues over what findings should be discussed in the memo and highlighted for the USCIS officer to review.  Scientists, for good reason, feel that the findings with the most scientific merit should be discussed most prominently.  However, this is often not the correct direction to go if you want USCIS to approve the application.

First, it must be remembered that the US officer reviewing the application is not a scientist.  They do not understand, nor will they be able to understand, what is “important” in a scientific way.  They can only determine importance through the other evidence presented in the application.  So, in short, it can accurately be said that USCIS is NOT concerned with the scientific merit of a finding, but rather, is concerned with the “objective evidence” for a finding that shows it has scientific merit.   While this may sound similar, it is very different.  Findings that have just been published, for example, will have very little, if any, objective evidence to back them up.   Other findings may be very important to the field, but, for some reason or another, very little objective evidence of this importance exists.  In both these cases, discussing other findings with more objective evidence, even if they are not as “important” based upon their scientific merit, would be the better way to present the case for the best chance of approval.

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.

February 2016 Visa Bulletin -Not Much Movement

imagesThe Department of State just came out with the Visa Bulletin for February 2016.  Unfortunately there was not much movement on either the family or employment front.  Below we summarize what movement there was.

Family Based Immigrant Visas:

Final Action Dates:  Most categories moved forward between 1-2 months.

Dates For Filing:  Again, they moved 1-2 months forward across the board.

 

Employment Based Immigrant Visas:

Final Action Dates:  EB-2 – China moved forward slightly from February 1, 2012 to March 1, 2012.  India moved forward a good bit from February 1, 2008 to August 1, 2008. a jump of 6 months.  EB-3 – Worldwide and Mexico did not move and are still at October 15, 2015.  China moved from July 1, 2012 to October 1, 2012.  India moved from May 15, 2004 to June 15, 2004 and the Philippines moved from November 1, 2007  to January 8, 2008.

DatesFor Filing:  There was no movement on these dates.

 

Dates Used by USCIS:

As you know, USICS has stated that they will inform the public each month as to whether the Final Action Dates or the Dates for Filing can be used by the public in terms of determining when you can file the I-485.

Last month (for January, 2016), USCIS stated the following:

Family Based Cases:               Dates for Filing
Employment Based Cases:   Final Action Dates

For this month, USCIS has not yet stated what they will be following.  Hopefully this information will be released shortly.  As soon as it is we will update you.

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.

 

Does Hiring an Attorney Increase Your Chances of Success with USCIS?

I have had many potential clients ask me this question, and I wish I could give a simimages-1.pngple “yes” or “no” answer. There are two things I can say for sure. First, just the fact that you have an attorney, while it does not make it more likely, in and of itself that the case would be approved, it does make sure that the officer is aware that they cannot (or should not) play games with your case (try intimidation tactics, raise issues not supportable by the statute or regulations, etc.). Second, hiring an attorney can, in most cases, help you get your case together and filed quicker than you would on your own, help to ensure that USCIS will get all information that they need up front to make their decision, and help to ensure that the application is presented in a way that USCIS prefers. All of these things can make it more likely that your case is approved, and approved quicker.

Complex cases (All employment based and self-sponsored green cards, H-1Bs, L-1s, E-1s, E-2s, E-3s, Os) can benefit quite a bit by having an attorney. Most attorney’s you hire for these types of cases will have filed many of these cases, so they are more familiar with what USCIS is looking for, especially in terms of what documents help and what documents hurt your chances of success. Similarly, they are more aware of how USCIS likes the case to be organized, and how it can be organized to prevent (as much as possible) the USCIS mailroom from loosing documents. A good attorney will also be able to help in terms of ensuring that the best evidence is put forth first, as opposed to evidence that, while it may seem important, does not impress USCIS and could, because it is put up front, obscure the better evidence in the packet.

Some other types of cases, such as family based cases, may not benefit quite as much from an attorney as generally, these types of case are more straight forward. However, there are still a couple of considerations to think of. First, many questions on the forms are not clear and easy to make mistakes on. Sometimes this is fine, but in other cases, it could lead to major issues as USCIS could decide that you are trying to commit fraud or make misrepresentations on major issues (or, at least, what they consider a major issue) to get a green card. Second, when more complex issues arise (crimes, time in the US out of status, illegal work, illnesses, etc.) it may be best to get an attorney to help sort out what they law is, and how these actions can affect your eligibility. Lastly, generally an attorney can help get the application together and filed quicker and can usually assure that all required documents are submitted with the application, preventing potential RFEs down the road (although these cannot always be avoided). In addition, an attorney could certainly help if any other issues arise during the case.

Overall, I would say you are certainly well served to meet with an attorney about your case to determine how they can help you with your case, especially if your goal is to get it filed as quickly, and easily as possible.

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.

Free Webinar on Self-Sponsored Green Cards!

We will be hosting a free webinar for those interested in self-sponsored green card (Extraordinary Ability and National Interest Waiver applications).  It will be on January 27th, 2016 at 12:00 pm.  If you are interested you can sign up by sending your name and email address to webinar@leavyfrank.com.  Space will be limited.

O and P Visa Delays and Premium Processing

images-1.jpegThose who are filing for either O or P status should know that, surprise, the processing time listed on the USCIS website for O and P visas is incorrect.

Currently, USCIS California Service Center is listing a processing time of 2 weeks.  Unfortunately the actual time period is 8-10 weeks, considerable longer.  And this is assuming that there is no RFE.

The Vermont Service Center on its October 15, 2015 timeline report stated it was only taking them 2 weeks to adjudicate O and P visas.  As of the November 17, 2015 timeline report, they are now stating that they are only at June 29, 2015.  This new report is certainly a more accurate date, there is no question of that.  However it should be noted that, as of October 15, 2015 they were NOT processing cases in a two week time frame either.  That report listed an “as of date” (i.e. each report has a date that shows that the timeframes they are discussing are current “as of” a certain date) of August 31,2015.  The November 17, 2015 lists an “as of” date of 9/30/2015.  So, according to all the dates, the Vermont Service Center is saying that, as of August 31, 2015 they were adjudicating cases submitted on August 15, 2015, but then, as of September 30, 2015 they were only adjudicating cases submitted as of June 29, 2015.  I am certain I am not the only one who finds this odd.

Unfortunately, this is par for the course when dealing with posted timeframes and USCIS.  One is never sure if the actual timeframe listed is the actual timeframe, the wished upon timeframe, or somewhere in between.

It is good to remember that, for O and P visa applications one can actually file up to one year in advance of the need, so it pays to plan in advance.  Of course there is always the option of using bribery, I mean Premium Processing, for an additional $1225, in which case USCIS will process your case within 15 days.

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.

 

December Visa Bulletin and Update from Mr. Oppenheim

 

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The Department of State recently released the December 2015 visa bulletin and Mr. Charlie Oppenheim, the person at the Department of State in charge of the Visa Bulletin also recently gave AILA an update on his predictions for future movement of the Bulletin.  I will summarize both of these documents below.

Family Based:

Final Action Date:

Most categories moved forward about 1 months.  The one date to highlight is the F2A Category (Spouses and Children of Permanent Residents) which is now at June 15, 2014.

Application Filing Dates:

No Movement

Guidance:

Here is what Mr. Oppenheim has to say on family based categories:

F-2A and F-2B: Last year, the family-based 2B category advanced very quickly because the demand did not initially materialize. The dates have now advanced to the point where demand is materializing. A similar phenomenon is occurring with regard to F-2A. The agent of choice letters are not spurring sufficient demand, so until demand materializes, we can expect to see continued advancements in this category. As noted previously, the response rate is low in many of the family-based preference categories.

Employment Based:

Final Action Dates:

EB-2: The only real movement was India, which jumped from August 1, 2006 to July 1, 2007.  China stayed in 2012 and the rest of the world is still Current.

EB-3:  Everyone, except India moved forward about 1 month.  China moved to April 15, 2012, the Philippines moved to August 1, 2007 and Mexico and the rest of the World moved to September 15, 2015.  Unfortunately India stayed at April 22, 2004.

Application Filing Dates:

No Movement.  USCIS did indicate they would accept I-485 application based upon these dates in December 2015.

In giving his guidance, Mr Oppenheim stated that the forward movement on the India EB-2 numbers is attributable to correcting the large rollback in the dates that occurred at the end of last fiscal year.  Mr. Oppenheim projects that EB-2 India may advance monthly by as much as eight months over the course of the next few months. However, this would be the best case scenario, and the actual advancement is likely to be around four to six months at a time. On the downside, this forward movement will most likely spur  EB-3 upgrades which will eventually impact demand, slowing EB-2 India advancement. Mr. Oppenheim expects the upgrade demand will start to materialize in December/January which will slow advancement in early 2016. Should the demand fail to materialize at the expected rate, then the “up to eight” month movement could occur.

Guidance:

In terms of China, the EB-2 China final action date will remain the same in December 2015 and Mr. Oppenheim does not anticipate much, if any movement in this category over the next few months as he already expects that number use will exceed the targeted usage for the first quarter of the fiscal year.  Since the final action date for EB-3 China is later than the EB-2 China final action date, Mr. Oppenheim expects that some EB-2 China cases will downgrade to EB-3, which will take some of the demand pressure off of EB-2 China. This phenomenon has happened the last two years and ultimately results in increased EB-3 demand which slows movement or even retrogresses that category, while at the same time allowing EB-2 China to advance once again. Mr. Oppenheim expects this rebalancing to occur at some point next year, possibly as early as April.

 

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.