N400 & I485 Processing

USCIS has announced their strategy to decrease differences in processing times based on location for Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, and Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. 

Since the end of 2015, we have experienced an increase in processing times due to higher than expected volumes received during fiscal years (FY) 2016 and 2017 that did not decrease as originally projected. FY 2017 receipts were up 15.6% from FY 2016, and FY 2016 receipts were up 25.5% from FY 2015. The increased filing volumes did not affect our field offices equally, which resulted in some disparity in the processing times among field offices.

As we shift caseloads between field offices to decrease processing times, we may schedule applicants to appear for an interview at a field office outside of their normal jurisdiction. Applicants may receive an interview appointment notice or other types of notices (such as a Request for Evidence) from a field office outside of their normal jurisdiction. However, these caseload changes will not affect where applicants attend their biometrics appointments. We will still direct them to the nearest application support center. Applicants should follow the instructions on any notices they receive from USCIS.

TPS Syria Update

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today that current beneficiaries of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) under Syria’s designation who want to maintain their status through March 31, 2021, must re-register between Sept. 23 and Nov. 22, 2019. 

Re-registration procedures, including how to renew employment authorization documents (EADs), have been published in the Federal Register and are available at uscis.gov/tps.

All applicants must submit Form I-821, Application for Temporary Protected Status. Applicants may also request an EAD by submitting Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, when they file Form I-821 or separately at a later date. Like all USCIS forms, both forms are free for download from the USCIS website at uscis.gov/forms.

Citizenship Test Update

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced it is revising the current naturalization test.

There will be improvements to ensure it continues to serve as an accurate measure of a naturalization applicant’s civics knowledge and that it reflects best practices in adult education assessments. The goal is to create a meaningful, uniform, and efficient test that will assess applicants’ knowledge and understanding of U.S. history, government and values. This spring, the former USCIS director signed the Revision of the Naturalization Civics Test Memorandum (PDF, 202 KB). This memorandum announces the revision of the naturalization test and formalizes a decennial revision schedule of the naturalization test based on adult education best practices.

Citizenship Day

USCIS announced that it will celebrate Constitution Day and Citizenship Day by welcoming nearly 34,300 new U.S. citizens during 316 naturalization ceremonies across the nation between Sept. 13 and 23.

The USCIS Constitution Week activities will feature a naturalization ceremony at the DAR Constitution Hall on Sept. 17, where USCIS Acting Director Ken Cuccinelli will administer the Oath of Allegiance and provide congratulatory remarks to 1,000 new U.S. citizens. View a list of other notable 2019 Constitution Week-themed naturalization ceremonies.

Two hundred and thirty-two years ago, our great country adopted the United States Constitution, and as we celebrate Constitution Week, it is important to underscore the significance of citizens’ responsibilities for protecting and defending the Constitution,” said Acting Director Cuccinelli. “These nearly 34,300 new U.S. citizens followed the law on their path to naturalization and now call the U.S. home. I can think of no better way to celebrate Constitution Week than to welcome thousands of new U.S. citizens who have assimilated, made a commitment to our great country, and have vowed to support the Constitution.

Visa Bulletin 09/19

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 September 2019.

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

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

Asylum EAD Update

USCIS has announced a proposed regulation to improve the process for granting or denying an initial application for employment authorization documents (EADs) by reforming the current 30-day timeline pertaining to pending asylum applicants.

These proposed changes will allow USCIS the time needed to receive, screen, and process applications, which in turn would strengthen national security, maintain technological advances in identity verification, and further deter those who may be attempting to defraud the legal immigration system under an improved process.

The original 30-day timeline was enacted more than 20 years ago. Since then, there have been additional requirements in background screening and vetting procedures to reduce fraud and identify threats to national security and public safety. 

Residence for USCs

USCIS has recently defined “residence” as it relates to citizenship for children of certain U.S. government employees and members of the U.S. armed forces who are employed outside the United States.

This guidance rescinds previously established USCIS policy, which stated that certain children who were living outside the United States were considered “residing in” the United States. As a result, it changes the process that parents of such children must follow to obtain a Certificate of Citizenship for their children. Under the previous policy, parents of those children could file either Form N-600, Application for Certificate of Citizenship, or Form N-600K, Application for Citizenship and Issuance of Certificate Under Section 322, on behalf of their children. As of Oct. 29, 2019, these parents must file Form N-600K to obtain U.S. citizenship for any child who did not acquire citizenship at birth or while residing in the United States. Therefore, we will apply current guidance to all applications filed before Oct. 29, 2019.

USCIS Re-Opens Pending Deferral Requests

Today, USCIS announced it has stopped its consideration of deferred action for non-military requestors.

USCIS sent out letters informing those who had requested deferred action that USCIS was no longer entertaining such requests. Deferred action is a discretionary determination to defer the deportation of an individual who is illegally present in the United States as an act of prosecutorial discretion on a case-by-case basis.  Those denied requests that were pending on August 7 did not have removal orders pending, and have not been targeted for deportation. By way of background, “deferred action” is a discretionary decision to temporarily postpone the removal from the United States of a person who is illegally present.  In the deferred action determinations at issue here, the Department of Homeland Security will make case-by-case, discretionary decisions based on the totality of the evidence and circumstances.  Such cases will be decided based on the discretion of career USCIS employees, including but not limited to considerations similar to the Department of State’s consideration of B-2 visas when such visas are requested for medical purposes.  Deferred action does not grant an alien lawful immigration status, nor does it excuse any past or future periods of unlawful presence.