Visa Bulletin 02/2020

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 PREFERENCESFirst: (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.

Below is the link for the Visa Bulletin for February 2020.


https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/law-and-policy/bulletin/2019/visa-bulletin-for-February-2020.html

Birth Tourism Update

The U.S. Department of State is amending its B nonimmigrant visa regulation to address birth tourism such that U.S. consular officers overseas will deny any B visa application from an applicant whom the consular officer has “reason to believe is traveling for the primary purpose of giving birth in the United States to obtain U.S. citizenship for their child.” Learn more here: Federal Register website

Birth Tourism Update

The U.S. Department of State is amending its B nonimmigrant visa regulation to address birth tourism such that U.S. consular officers overseas will deny any B visa application from an applicant whom the consular officer has “reason to believe is traveling for the primary purpose of giving birth in the United States to obtain U.S. citizenship for their child.” Learn more here: Federal Register website

Public Charge Changes

Beginning Feb. 24, 2020, applicants and petitioners must report certain information related to public benefits.

“Instructions for Form I-944 require aliens subject to the public charge ground of inadmissibility to report and submit information about whether the alien applied for, was certified or approved to receive, or received certain non-cash public benefits on or after Oct. 15, 2019. Instructions for Forms I-129, I-129CW, and I-539 require the petitioner or alien to report whether the alien received public benefits since obtaining the nonimmigrant status the alien seeks to extend or change.”

USCIS Response to Coronavirus

USCIS has issued the following information re: the recent coronavirus outbreak:

“USCIS is actively monitoring the effects of the public health emergency related to the 2019 coronavirus outbreak on agency operations. According to U.S. Department of State guidance, USCIS is temporarily closing its field offices in Beijing and Guangzhou. We will reschedule all affected appointments and will send new appointment notices to applicants.”

USCIS Update Public Charge

USCIS will implement the Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds final rule (“Final Rule”) on Feb. 24, 2020. To that end, form editions will be updated.

USCIS will post updated forms, submission instructions, and Policy Manual guidance on the USCIS website during the week of Feb. 3, 2020, to give applicants, petitioners, and others ample time to review updated procedures and adjust filing methods. After Feb. 24, 2020, everywhere except in the State of Illinois, USCIS will reject prior editions of forms if the form is postmarked on or after Feb. 24, 2020. If USCIS receives an application or petition for benefits using incorrect editions of the forms, USCIS will inform the applicant or petitioner of the need to submit a new application or petition using the correct forms.

Public Charge Rule

U.S. Supreme Court stayed a nationwide injunction that prevented DHS from enforcing its regulatory interpretation of section 212(a)(4) of the Immigration and Nationality Act:

The high court granted DHS’s motion for a stay of the preliminary injunction issued by a single judge in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, and recently upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

The final rule, issued in August 2019, prescribes 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.

USCIS FY 2019 Statistics

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) final fiscal year (FY) 2019 agency statistics are now available online. These statistics include naturalizations, green cards, employment authorizations and protected populations, among other categories.

USCIS naturalized 834,000 new citizens in FY 2019 – an 11 year high in new oaths of citizenship. USCIS granted lawful permanent residence to nearly 577,000 individuals and in FY 2019, the number of applications pending for green cards and naturalizations was reduced by 14 percent and 12 percent respectively.

The agency received nearly 2.2 million employment authorization applications. Furthermore, USCIS approved more than 500,000 petitions for non-immigrant workers in FY 2019, including specialty occupation, temporary agricultural and non-agricultural, and other workers.

USCIS also processed more than 40 million cases through E-Verify. 

USCIS granted immigration relief to more than 25,000 individuals, including victims of trafficking, crime and Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) recipients – an eight percent increase from FY 2018.

USCIS is committed to administering our nation’s immigration system and safeguarding its integrity while fulfilling our mission to efficiently and fairly adjudicate the applications of those seeking lawful status in the U.S.

USCIS Case 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.

Naturalization GMC Update

USCIS has expanded its policy re: unlawful acts that may prevent an applicant from meeting the good moral character (GMC) requirement for naturalization:

On Dec. 10, USCIS issued separate policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual about how two or more convictions for driving under the influence or post-sentencing changes to criminal sentencing might affect GMC determinations.

In the Immigration and Nationality Act, Congress determined that good moral character is a requirement for naturalization,” said USCIS Deputy Director Mark Koumans. “USCIS is committed to faithfully administering our nation’s lawful immigration system, and this update helps to ensure that our agency’s adjudicators make uniform and fair decisions concerning the consideration of unlawful acts on good moral character when determining eligibility for U.S. citizenship.