USCIS Updated Fee Payments

On Feb. 25, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) expanded the fee payment system used in field offices to 16 additional offices: 

  • Albuquerque, New Mexico;
  • Buffalo, New York;
  • Cincinnati, Ohio;
  • Cleveland, Ohio;
  • Columbus, Ohio;
  • El Paso, Texas;
  • Harlingen, Texas;
  • Hartford, Connecticut;
  • Indianapolis, Indiana;
  • Jacksonville, Florida;
  • Louisville, Kentucky;
  • Mt. Laurel, New Jersey;
  • Newark, New Jersey;
  • Raleigh, North Carolina;
  • Sacramento, California; and
  • San Antonio, Texas.

Our fee payment changes started in November 2018 with the Los Angeles, Santa Ana, and San Fernando Valley field offices. These changes have increased security and traceability of payments for applicants and reduced processing errors that caused us to reject applications for non-payment. As of Feb. 25, we will only accept payments at the offices using the new system in the form of a: Personal check; Attorney check; Business check; Debit card; Credit card; or Reloadable prepaid credit or debit card.

USCIS Service Tools

Many of our clients have questions about case processing, next steps after filing, or timelines of applications. We try to provide as much information about a respective immigration process at the start of services as well as at time of filing. We are available to assist throughout the process.

In addition, USCIS has recently updated their online service tools as a way to assist clients get answers to their inquiries in a timely fashion.

https://www.uscis.gov/tools

These self-service applicant tools could save you a phone call or a trip to one of our offices. These helpful resources include:

  • The USCIS online account;
  • Case Status Online;
  • Change of Address; and
  • Emma, our online virtual assistant.

H1B Premium Processing Update

USCIS will resume premium processing on Tuesday, Feb. 19, for all H-1B petitions filed on or before Dec. 21, 2018. Per USCIS:

If you received a transfer notice for a pending H-1B petition, and you are requesting premium processing service, you must submit the premium processing request to the service center now handling the petition. You should also include a copy of the transfer notice with your premium processing request to avoid possible delays associated with the receipt of your premium processing request. Additionally, if you received a request for evidence (RFE) for a pending petition, you should also include the RFE response with the premium processing request. If your petition was transferred and you send your premium processing request to the wrong center, USCIS will forward it to the petition’s current location. However, the premium processing clock will not start until the premium processing request has been received at the correct center. 

H1B Premium Processing Update

USCIS will resume premium processing on Tuesday, Feb. 19, for all H-1B petitions filed on or before Dec. 21, 2018. Per USCIS:

If you received a transfer notice for a pending H-1B petition, and you are requesting premium processing service, you must submit the premium processing request to the service center now handling the petition. You should also include a copy of the transfer notice with your premium processing request to avoid possible delays associated with the receipt of your premium processing request. Additionally, if you received a request for evidence (RFE) for a pending petition, you should also include the RFE response with the premium processing request. If your petition was transferred and you send your premium processing request to the wrong center, USCIS will forward it to the petition’s current location. However, the premium processing clock will not start until the premium processing request has been received at the correct center. 

USCIS Guidance on Minors

USCIS is publishing guidance for its officers to consider when adjudicating spousal petitions involving minors.

The guidance, published as an update (PDF, 210 KB)to the USCIS Adjudicator’s Field Manual (AFM), clarifies age requirements for a petitioner filing an Affidavit of Support for a spouse in conjunction with a concurrently filed I-485, and identifies factors officers should consider when adjudicating a Form I-130 spousal petition involving a minor.

The updated guidance stresses to adjudicators that marriages involving a minor warrant special attention. When considering a petition, USCIS officers should ensure that: The marriage was lawful in the place it was celebrated; If the couple resides outside the place of celebration, the marriage is recognized as valid in the U.S. state where the couple currently resides or will presumably reside and does not violate the state of residence’s public policy, and; The marriage is bona fide, and the minor(s) provided full, free, and informed consent to enter into the marriage.

Revised Form I539

USCIS has revised Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status and will publish the revised form on our website on March 11, 2019. Starting on March 11, 2019:

We will only accept the revised Form I-539 with an edition date of 02/04/19. We will reject any Form I-539 with an edition date of 12/23/16 or earlier. We will also be publishing a new Form I-539A, Supplemental Information for Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status, on the Form I-539 webpage on March 11. Form I-539A replaces the Supplement A provided in previous versions of Form I-539. Form I-539A can only be submitted with Form I-539; it cannot be filed as a standalone form.

USCIS Requests Update

As part of the agency’s efforts to streamline requests for case assistance, we are discontinuing the use of USCIS service center e-mail boxes for case-specific questions on Jan. 21, 2019. Instead, USCIS is focusing our resources online via self-help tools at uscis.gov/tools and my.uscis.gov, and through the USCIS Contact Center. These changes are a part of our overall modernization efforts to provide a more efficient and effective user experience

The service center e-mail addresses being discontinued are:

AOS Filing Chart 02/19

If USCIS determines that there are more immigrant visas available for a fiscal year than there are known applicants for such visas, USCIS will state whether you may use the Dates for Filing Visa Applications.

Otherwise, they will indicate that you must use the Application Final Action Dates to determine when you may file your adjustment of status application.

See the following link here for the month of February 2019:

https://www.uscis.gov/visabulletininfo

Visa Bulletin 02/19

The Visa Bulletin provides updated priority date information for family-based and

employment-based green cards.

Immigrants to the US are classified into two categories – those requiring placement on a waiting list and those not through their

relationship to a US immediate relative.

Further, there are numerical quotas on the green cards that require a priority date. If the number of applicants in a year is over the available visa numbers, those applicants are placed on a waiting list and are given a priority date, which estimates when an applicant would get a visa based on the number of previous applicants on the waiting list. Below are preference category information and visa allocations.

FAMILY-SPONSORED PREFERENCES
First: (F1) Unmarried Sons and Daughters of U.S. Citizens: 23,400 plus any numbers not required for fourth preference.

Second: Spouses and Children, and Unmarried Sons and Daughters of Permanent Residents: 114,200, plus the number (if any) by which the worldwide family preference level exceeds 226,000, plus any unused first preference numbers:

A. (F2A) Spouses and Children of Permanent Residents: 77% of the overall second preference limitation, of which 75% are exempt from the per-country limit;

B. (F2B) Unmarried Sons and Daughters (21 years of age or older) of Permanent Residents: 23% of the overall second preference limitation.

Third: (F3) Married Sons and Daughters of U.S. Citizens: 23,400, plus any numbers not required by first and second preferences.

Fourth: (F4) Brothers and Sisters of Adult U.S. Citizens: 65,000, plus any numbers not required by first three preferences.

EMPLOYMENT-BASED PREFERENCES

First: Priority Workers: 28.6% of the worldwide employment-based preference level, plus any numbers not required for fourth and fifth preferences.

Second: Members of the Professions Holding Advanced Degrees or Persons of Exceptional Ability: 28.6% of the worldwide employment-based preference level, plus any numbers not required by first preference.

Third: Skilled Workers, Professionals, and Other Workers: 28.6% of the worldwide level, plus any numbers not required by first and second preferences, not more than 10,000 of which to “*Other Workers”
Fourth: Certain Special Immigrants: 7.1% of the worldwide level.

Fifth: Employment Creation: 7.1% of the worldwide level, not less than 3,000 of which reserved for investors in a targeted rural or high-unemployment area, and 3,000 set aside for investors in regional centers by Sec. 610 of Pub. L. 102-395.

Below is the link for the Visa Bulletin for February 2019.

https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/law-and-policy/bulletin/2019/visa-bulletin-for-February-2019.html

For more information, contact ALO at 978-905-9992.