USCIS announces important changes to green card application process

Updated 9/12/15

New Immigrant Visa Application Procedures

As part of President Obama’s executive actions the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and U.S. Department of State have been working to streaHow-to-obtain-a-green-card-by-PERMmline the family and employment-based immigrant visa processes. Now applicants with approved immigrant visa petitions who are subject to backlog will, under specified circumstances, be able to file their adjustment of status (green card) applications BEFORE their priority dates are current.  This is significant because this will allow backlogged applicants to port to new employers and file for employment authorization and advance parole.

The USCIS has posted a Fact Sheet on its website entitled “When To File Your Application For Family-Based or Employment-Based Immigrant Visas” which describes the new procedure in detail.

New Visa Bulletin Charts

The Visa Bulletin will now have two different charts because of the revised procedures. DOS will post two charts per visa preference category in the DOS Visa Bulletin. The charts are:

Application Final Action Dates (dates when visas may finally be issued); and
Dates for Filing Applications (earliest dates when applicants may be able to apply).
When USCIS determines there are immigrant visas available for the filing of additional adjustment of status applications, the Dates for Filing Applications chart may be used to determine when to file an adjustment of status application with USCIS. Otherwise, the Application Final Action Dates chart must be used to determine when to file an adjustment of status application with USCIS.

In coordination with the DOS, USCIS will monitor visa numbers each month and post the relevant chart on this page under When to File.

PLEASE NOTE: This information is posted solely for informational purposes and is not legal advice. Transmission of this information does not create, and receipt by you does not constitute, the formation of an attorney-client relationship. Any on-line readers should not act upon any information contained in this post without first seeking advice from a qualified attorney. For more information please contact our office at 216.696.4676.

.@USCIS Posts Updated L-1B Adjudications Policy for Public Feedback

From U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

USCIS Posts Updated L-1B Adjudications Policy for Public Feedback

WASHINGTON – U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director León Rodríguez today announced the release of an updated policy memorandum on the L-1B nonimmigrant visa classification for workers with specialized knowledge. The memorandum, which clarifies for USCIS officers how L-1B petitioners may demonstrate that an employee has specialized knowledge, will be posted online for a 45-day public feedback period. The memorandum will go into effect on Aug. 31, 2015.

“This policy memorandum, once it goes into effect, will help companies in the United States better use the skills of talented employees in the global marketplace,” said Rodríguez. “These changes maintain the integrity of the L-1B program while recognizing the fluid dynamics of the 21st century business world. We listened to the concerns of our partners to develop this policy and look forward to the public’s feedback.”

Issuing a final policy memorandum on L-1B adjudications is one of the executive actions on immigration that President Obama announced in November 2014. Release of the memorandum is part of the Administration’s effort to modernize, improve and clarify visa programs to grow the U.S. economy and create jobs.

The policy memorandum consolidates previous guidance and provides updated guidance to USCIS officers in adjudicating petitions filed by employers seeking to transfer employees to the United States. Employees who work in any industry and serve in any type of position may be classified as L-1B nonimmigrants, so long as the position described in the L-1B petition requires specialized knowledge.

Officers make the adjudications on a case-by-case assessment, based on the totality of the circumstances and a preponderance of the evidence presented.

DHS Press release and links on work authorization for H-4 Spouses–>

DHS Extends Eligibility for Employment Authorization to Certain H-4 Dependent Spouses of H-1B Nonimmigrants Seeking Employment-Based Lawful Permanent Residence

WASHINGTON – U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director León Rodríguez announced today that, effective May 26, 2015, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is extending eligibility for employment authorization to certain H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B nonimmigrants who are seeking employment-based lawful permanent resident (LPR) status. DHS amended the regulations to allow these H-4 dependent spouses to accept employment in the United States.

Finalizing the H-4 employment eligibility was an important element of the immigration executive actions President Obama announced in November 2014. Extending eligibility for employment authorization to certain H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B nonimmigrants is one of several initiatives underway to modernize, improve and clarify visa programs to grow the U.S. economy and create jobs.

“Allowing the spouses of these visa holders to legally work in the United States makes perfect sense,” Rodríguez said. “It helps U.S. businesses keep their highly skilled workers by increasing the chances these workers will choose to stay in this country during the transition from temporary workers to permanent residents. It also provides more economic stability and better quality of life for the affected families.”

Eligible individuals include certain H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B nonimmigrants who:

  • Are the principal beneficiaries of an approved Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker; or
  • Have been granted H-1B status under sections 106(a) and (b) of the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-first Century Act of 2000 as amended by the 21st Century Department of Justice Appropriations Authorization Act. The Act permits H-1B nonimmigrants seeking lawful permanent residence to work and remain in the United States beyond the six-year limit on their H-1B status.

DHS expects this change will reduce the economic burdens and personal stresses H-1B nonimmigrants and their families may experience during the transition from nonimmigrant to lawful permanent resident status, and facilitate their integration into American society. As such, the change should reduce certain disincentives that currently lead H-1B nonimmigrants to abandon efforts to remain in the United States while seeking lawful permanent residence, which will minimize disruptions to U.S. businesses employing them. The change should also support the U.S. economy because the contributions H-1B nonimmigrants make to entrepreneurship and science help promote economic growth and job creation. The rule also will bring U.S. immigration policies more in line with those laws of other countries that compete to attract similar highly skilled workers.

Under the rule, eligible H-4 dependent spouses must file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, with supporting evidence and the required $380 fee in order to obtain employment authorization and receive a Form I-766, Employment Authorization Document (EAD). USCIS will begin accepting applications on May 26, 2015. Once USCIS approves the Form I-765 and the H-4 dependent spouse receives an EAD, he or she may begin working in the United States.

USCIS estimates the number of individuals eligible to apply for employment authorization under this rule could be as high as 179,600 in the first year and 55,000 annually in subsequent years. USCIS reminds those potentially eligible that this rule is not considered effective until May 26, 2015. Individuals should not submit an application to USCIS before the effective date, and should avoid anyone who offers to assist in submitting an application to USCIS before the effective date.

For more information on USCIS and its programs or about this rule and filing procedures, please visit uscis.gov or follow us on Facebook (/uscis), Twitter (@uscis), YouTube (/uscis) and the USCIS blog The Beacon.

– USCIS –

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