Visa Bulletin 08/19

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 August 2019.

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

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

USCIS Guidance EAD Parolees

USCIS has issuedpolicy guidance (PDF, 305 KB) in the USCIS Policy Manual to address its discretion to grant employment authorization to foreign nationals who are paroled into the United States:

Certain foreign nationals may be paroled into the United States for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit. Parolees are not entitled to employment authorization solely because they are paroled into the United States, but instead must establish eligibility and apply for employment authorization. USCIS will only consider employment authorization for parolees when,

USCIS International Offices

USCIS plans to maintain operations at its international field offices in Beijing and Guangzhou, China; Nairobi, Kenya; and New Delhi, India.

While retaining these seven international offices, USCIS plans to close the remaining thirteen international field offices and three district offices between now and August 2020. The first planned closures are the field offices in Monterrey, Mexico, and Seoul, South Korea, at the end of September. These organizational changes will allow more effective allocation of USCIS resources to support, in part, backlog reduction efforts.

USCIS Announces Rule Enforcing Public Charge Law

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.

Domestic Travel/Real ID

Here are some updated changes to domestic travel as part of the Real ID Act.

The Real ID Act requires all state-issued identification documents (IDs) to meet a set of minimum security standards. IDs that do not meet these minimum security standards won’t be accepted for federal purposes, including as ID for boarding domestic flights. Your state’s IDs might not meet these minimum security standards. Check your state’s status.

The U.S. passport book and U.S. passport card are both accepted by TSA as ID for domestic flights.

TSA accepts the passport card as ID for domestic flights.

The passport card can be used for entering the United States at land border crossings and sea ports-of-entry from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda.

The passport card only costs $30 for adults if you already have a passport book, and only $65 for first time adult applicants.    

The passport card has the same validity as the passport book: If you’re over 16, your passport card is valid for 10 years. If you’re under 16, your passport card is valid for 5 years.

You can apply for a passport card the same way as you apply for a passport book. Just check the box “Both” at the top of Form DS-11 or DS-82. If you just want a passport card, you can check the “Card” box at the top of your form.

USCIS Parole Update

USCIS announced its intention to terminate two categorical parole programs, consistent with Executive Order (E.O.) 13767, Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements.

Parole is a process that allows foreign nationals to temporarily enter or remain in the United States, including those who are otherwise inadmissible. The programs to be terminated are the Haitian Family Reunification Parole program and the Filipino World War II Veterans Parole program.

Under both of these categorical parole programs, individuals with approved family-based immigrant petitions have been authorized to enter and work in the United States while waiting for their green card to become available. The decision to end these parole programs ends the expedited processing that was made available to these populations in a categorical fashion. It follows an extensive review to better ensure that parole authority under the Immigration and Nationality Act is exercised on a case-by-case basis when there is a significant public benefit or urgent humanitarian reason. Categorical parole refers to programs designed to consider parole for entire groups of individuals based on pre-set criteria.

USCIS U Visa Law Enforcement 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. 

Asylum & Relocation Letter

The following is a message sent by the acting director to USCIS asylum officers regarding asylum and internal relocation guidance.

The crisis at our Southern border continues to be severe. Every day, USCIS faces an unprecedented number of aliens overwhelming our asylum system, many of whom are ineligible for asylum and are attempting to enter and remain in the country in violation of our laws. This guidance further clarifies current regulations and policies that are already in place regarding internal relocation of an alien in their home country, eliciting testimony for credible fear screenings, and documenting outcomes. As detailed in the Department of State country conditions reports for these countries, private violence is not pervasive across the entirety of each Northern Triangle country. I am writing to provide a reminder of the importance of assessing a person’s ability to safely relocate to another part of his or her home country. This is an important regulatory factor in the consideration of credible fear screenings and determinations.

Citizenship Test Revisions

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.

Passport Replacements

Passports that have water damage can no longer be used and should be replaced.  You must apply in person to replace a damaged passport at an acceptance facility or at a passport agency. You will need the following: 

  1. The damaged U.S. passport
  2. A signed statement explaining the damage
  3. Form DS-11 (Application for U.S. passport)
  4. Citizenship evidence*  (e.g. birth or naturalization certificate)
  5. A photocopy of citizenship evidence
  6. Present ID (in person)
  7. A photocopy of ID
  8. One passport photo
  9. Fees

Children under 16 must apply in person with both parents. See Children Under 16 for more information.