Hello and welcome to the August 2013 Immigration Newsletter!
August began with an ominous start - an announcement from the U.S. Department of State (DOS) that it was temporarily closing 19 U.S. Embassies and Consulates across Asia and Africa due to a potential threat of terrorist attacks. The DOS issued the Worldwide Travel Alert indicating that certain terrorist organizations may focus efforts to conduct attacks during August and temporarily closed 19 Consular posts and Embassies from Monday, August 5 through Saturday, August 10. Subsequently, on August 11, the DOS reopened 18 of the 19 embassies and consulates that were closed. The US Embassy in Sana, Yemen was reopened with limited services subsequently. As we near the end of August, we are very relieved and happy to report that nothing untoward happened during the period.
It’s just over a year since USCIS announced that it has begun accepting requests for consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). As our readers may recall, the provisions of DACA allowed for individuals whose case is deferred under DACA not to be placed into removal proceedings or removed from the United States for a period of two years, unless it was otherwise terminated. USCIS has reported that in the period from August 15 2012 to June 30, 2013, it received more than 550,000 applications – at a rate of over 2400 applications a day! Out of them, over 530,000 applications have reportedly been accepted and 400,562 applications approved. These figures are notable, and in some sense, should be considered a reflection of the significance of the program.
August 2013 also saw the official implementation of the process to expand eligibility for participation in Global Entry to citizens from the Republic of Korea, Germany, Qatar, and the United Kingdom. The Global Entry program allows pre-approved, low-risk travelers the ability to bypass traditional CBP screening and use and automated kiosk to complete their entry into the U.S. upon arrival. Citizens of these countries must satisfy current program and application requirements in order to qualify. To become a member of Global Entry, interested individuals must fill out an online application, pay the $100 application fee, undergo a background investigation and complete an interview with a CBP officer at a Trusted Traveler enrollment center which includes submission of fingerprints. Upon approval, membership will be valid for five years.
In other exciting immigrant visa news, the EB-2 priority date for India advanced again from 01/01/08 to 06/15/08 in the September 2013 Visa Bulletin. Furthermore, the F2A Family-based immigration category (the spouse and unmarried children under 21 of legal permanent residents) remained “Current.” It is important to note that the DOS has warned that these priority dates may be retrogressed again based on response in October. Contact VisaPro immediately if you need any assistance in filing for an Adjustment of Status application or for an Immigrant Visa in these categories, if your priority date has become current, or if would like to file an I-130 and AOS application concurrently in the F2A category.
In USCIS news, many individuals may have noticed a slow-down in USCIC processing of many types of applications, including the I-130. USCIS has announced that it has begun transferring some cases between the service centers to balance workload processing capacity. The affected cases include:
- I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé(e) – Transfer of workload from Vermont Service Center (VSC) to Texas Service Center (TSC)
- I-130, Petition for Alien Relative (F2A category for spouses and children of permanent residents) – Transfer of workload from VSC to Nebraska Service Center (NSC)
- I-821D, Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (with accompanying Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization) – Transfer of workload from VSC to NSC
- I-751, Petition to Remove the Conditions on Residence – Transfer of workload from VSC to California Service Center (CSC)
These transfers are in addition to the I-130’s that continue to be transferred from the National Benefits Center to the Field Offices for adjudication.
In the case of transferred cases, USCIS customarily sends a notice listing the transfer date and where the case will be processed. The original receipt number will not change and petitioners should reference the original receipt number and indicate that the case was transferred to a new location when making any case status inquiries. If you have filed one of the affected form types and you receive a request for evidence or any other type of communication from USCIS, please read the notice carefully to ensure that you respond to the same service center that sent you the RFE notice.
Other Developments in Immigration Law:
September 2013 Visa Bulletin: EB-2 Priority Dates Further Advance for India
In the recently published U.S. Department of State Visa Bulletin for September 2013, the EB-2 priority dates remained current in respect of all countries other than India and mainland China. The EB-2 priority date advanced from 01/01/08 to 06/15/08 in respect of India, but remained at 08/08/08 for mainland China. While, EB-1, EB-4, and EB-5 numbers continue to remain current for all countries, EB-3 priority dates also advanced in respect of all countries.
U.S. Immigration Benefits for Same-Sex Couples: How to Apply?
A U.S. Citizen or LPR who is in a same-sex marriage to a foreign national can now sponsor his or her spouse for a family-based immigrant visa by filing a Form I-130 and any applicable accompanying application(s). A U.S. Citizen who is engaged to be married to a foreign national of the same sex can also file a fiancé(e) petition (K-1 visa petition) on behalf of the foreign national. Learn more about the immigration options that are now available to same-sex couples and their family members and how to apply for immigration benefits based on a same-sex marriage.
and Other Fun Stuff:
Our ‘Featured Video’ for this month is“Adjustment of Status vs. Consular Processing”. Green Cards are conferred either through issuance of an immigrant visa at an American Consulate abroad or through approval of an 'Adjustment of Status' application by the USCIS in the U.S. For those present in the U.S., both alternatives may be available. In this video, we discuss the relative advantages of either option to help permanent residence applicants make an informed judgment. Please check out and subscribe to our YouTube channel to take advantage of another great service provided to you by VisaPro.
Check out our ‘In Focus’ article for this month titled “Obtaining U.S. Immigrant Visa for Family Members: Filing the Form I-130 From Outside the U.S.” to learn more about how U.S. Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents may initiate the I-130 process by filing the Form I-130 outside the U.S., to enable qualifying foreign national relatives to come to and live permanently in the U.S.
Every month we introduce a new and interesting question for our opinion poll. Results of our previous poll indicate that a majority of respondents (54%) thought that the EB-2 priority dates for India will not remain at January 2008 for a significant period of time without retrogressing again. Interestingly, in the recent September 2013 Visa Bulletin the EB-2 priority dates for India did advance from January 2008 to June 2008 with a warning, however, that it may retrogress in coming months based on demand. We continue to appreciate that people take interest in the opinion question and cast their votes to give us their feedback. Keep it up! And continue to cast your vote to express Your Opinion.
We also congratulate Alex for winning last month’s Immigration Quiz. While we received more than one correct response to the quiz question, Alex gave the best answer and won a free online consultation to discuss the concerned Immigration issues. It’s time to get ready for this month’s quiz. If you know the correct answer your name might be featured in next month’s newsletter. All the Best!!!
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See you next month with a lot more noise from the Immigration World!