Premium Processing Fee

Beginning on 12/2/19, USCIS is adjusting the fee to request premium processing for certain employment-based petitions.

The premium processing fee will increase to $1,440 from the current fee of $1,410 for Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, and Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker. This increase, which is done in accordance with the Immigration and Nationality Act, reflects the full amount of inflation from the implementation of the premium processing fee in June 2001 through August 2019 based on the Consumer Price Index for all Urban Consumers (CPI-U). USCIS last increased the fee in 2018.

Fee Waiver Update

USCIS has revised Form I-912, Request for Fee Waiver, by removing the means-tested benefit criteria that was previously used as a factor in determining whether an applicant was exempt from paying a government fee.

A means-tested benefit is a public benefit—offered by federal, state, or local agencies—for which eligibility and amount considerations are based on a person’s income and resources. USCIS formerly considered Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, and Supplemental Security Income during eligibility evaluations.

Public Charge Update

On October 11, 2019, DOS published an interim final rule that amends 22 CFR 40.41, Ineligibility Based on Public Charge Grounds.

Visa applicants are not requested to take any additional steps at this time and should attend their visa interviews as scheduled.  The Department is seeking approval for use of a new form before it implements any changes to our processes. We will inform applicants of any changes to current visa application procedures. 

U Visa Certification Guide

USCIS has published the U Visa Law Enforcement Resource Guide (PDF, 1.58 MB) to provide law enforcement and other certifying agencies with helpful information and best practices for the U visa certification process.

This guide will assist law enforcement and other certifying agencies, who play a critical role in the U visa adjudication process, and will ensure they have the resources they need to provide a properly completed certification for immigrant victims of crime. 

Law enforcement authorities and other certifying agencies provide certifications for U nonimmigrant status (U visa) petitioners. Individuals seeking a U visa because they have been a victim of a serious crime resulting in substantial mental or physical abuse must establish their eligibility. 

USCIS Form I-918, Supplement B, U Nonimmigrant Status Certification, is a required certification to establish eligibility for U nonimmigrant status. The Form I-918, Supplement B, must be signed by an authorized official of the certifying agency (PDF, 1.58 MB) and the official must confirm the petitioner was helpful, is currently being helpful, or will likely be helpful in the detection, investigation or prosecution of a case. 

Public Charge Update

USCIS has released the following information re: the public charge rule:

On Oct. 11 and Oct. 14, 2019, judges in eight separate cases before U.S. District Courts for the Southern District of New York, Northern District of California, Eastern District of Washington, Northern District of Illinois, and District of Maryland enjoined DHS from implementing and enforcing this final rule and postponed the effective date until a final resolution of the litigation.

Social Media Disclosure

This is a reminder that the Department of State updated its immigrant and nonimmigrant visa application forms to request additional information, including social media identifiers, from most U.S. visa applicants worldwide.

This update – which we initially announced last year in the Federal Register – is a result of the President’s March 6, 2017, Memorandum on Implementing Heightened Screening and Vetting of Applications for Visas and other Immigration Benefits and Section 5 of Executive Order 13780 regarding implementing uniform screening and vetting standards for visa applications. 

Reminder – Public Charge Rule 10/15/19

USCIS has announced a final rule to better ensure that aliens seeking to enter and remain in the United States are self-sufficient and rely on their own capabilities rather than on public resources.

This final rule amends DHS regulations by prescribing how DHS will determine whether an alien is inadmissible to the United States based on his or her likelihood of becoming a public charge at any time in the future, as set forth in the Immigration and Nationality Act. The final rule addresses U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) authority to permit an alien to submit a public charge bond in the context of adjustment of status applications. The rule also makes nonimmigrant aliens who have received certain public benefits above a specific threshold generally ineligible for extension of stay and change of status.

DHS has revised the definition of “public charge” to incorporate consideration of more kinds of public benefits received, which the Department believes will better ensure that applicants subject to the public charge inadmissibility ground are self-sufficient. The rule defines the term “public charge” to mean an individual who receives one or more designated public benefits for more than 12 months, in the aggregate, within any 36-month period (such that, for instance, receipt of two benefits in one month counts as two months). The rule further defines the term “public benefit” to include any cash benefits for income maintenance, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), most forms of Medicaid, and certain housing programs.

Sponsor Obligations

The May 2019 Presidential Memo on Enforcing the Legal Responsibilities of Sponsors of Aliens emphasizes that certain requirements apply to you if you have sponsored (or will sponsor) an immigrant. USCIS has highlighted these obligations given the public charge rules set to begin on October 15, 2019:

Since 1997, U.S. immigration law has required an alien’s sponsor to sign an Affidavit of Support Under Section 213A of the Immigration and Nationality Act, pledging financial support for the sponsored immigrant. By signing and submitting this affidavit or a Contract Between Sponsor and Household Member, you agree to use your financial resources to support the immigrants named on the forms and to reimburse the cost of any means-tested public benefits that the sponsored alien receives while your obligation is in effect. 

Reimbursing Means-Tested Public Benefits

Sometimes, sponsored immigrants apply for and receive means-tested public benefits from federal, state, local or tribal agencies. Means-tested public benefits include Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and the State Child Health Insurance Program. See 8 CFR 2131.1.  

Sponsored immigrants may be ineligible for certain means-tested public benefits because the agency will consider your resources and assets, and those of your household members, when determining the immigrant’s eligibility for the benefits. This is called “income deeming.”

However, if an immigrant named on your affidavit of support receives a means-tested public benefit while the affidavit is enforceable, you, as the sponsor, will be responsible for reimbursing the agency providing the benefit. If you do not reimburse the agency, the agency can obtain a court order for repayment.

AOS Filing Chart 10/19

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 October 2019:

https://www.uscis.gov/visabulletininfo

Visa Bulletin 10/19

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 October 2019.

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

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