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Carl Shusterman's Immigration Update

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  1. USCIS Filing Fees to Increase Starting December 23

    Need a good reason to file your application for an immigration benefit sooner rather than later?


    The USCIS will significantly raise filing fees for over 3 dozen types of applications and petitions beginning on December 23, 2016, some by over 100%.


    While the steepest increases will be for EB-5 investors and regional centers, filing fees for commonly-used applications and petitions will also be raised.


    • US Citizenship


    Want to become a US citizen through naturalization? The price for filing an N-400 form (which used to be $15 when I was an INS Citizenship Attorney) is slated to rise from $595 to $640.


    However, there will be a new partial fee waiver for N-400s filed by qualified low-income individuals.


    Do you have foreign-born children who either acquired US citizenship through you at birth or derived citizenship as minors? I hope you are sitting down while you are reading this. The filing fees for forms N-600 and N-600K will almost double, from $600 to $1,170!


    Suggestion: Save your money and apply for a US passport instead.


    • Family-Based Immigration


    Applying for a green card for your spouse? Time to pool your money together.


    The filing fees for forms I-130, I-131, I-765 and I-485 are all rising: (1) by $115 for form I-130; (2) by $215 for form I-131; by $155 for form I-485 and by $30 for form I-765.


    However, if the I-131 and the I-765 are filed together with the I-485, you will be able to continue to pay only the I-485 fee.


    The filing fee for a form I-751 petition to remove conditions for a spouse of a US citizen will be increased to $595.


    The fee for filing a petition for a fiancée of a US citizen will rise from $340 to $535.


    • Employment-Based Immigration


    The filing fee for form I-129 which is used to petition a nonimmigrant worker will increase from $325 to $460 while the fee for an I-140 will rise from $580 to $700.


    • Fees That Will Stay The Same


    1. Biometric Services Fee
    2. Premium Processing
    3. Refugee Travel Documents
    4. Forms I-821 and I-821F


    • What You Should Do


    To the extent possible, make sure that your petitions and applications for immigration benefits are filed with the USCIS before December 23.


    Folks with low incomes will still be able to request fee waivers using form I-912.
  2. April 2012 Visa Bulletin


    On March 9, the State Department released the April 2012 Visa Bulletin.

    The worldwide family-based categories advanced between 4 and 10 weeks when the while the employment-based (EB) categories barely budged.

    For the worldwide family-based categories, the 1st preference category (unmarried adult sons and daughters of US citizens) advanced 8 weeks, the 2A preference (spouses and children of lawful permanent residents) moved forward 10 weeks, the 2B category (unmarried adult sons and daughters of lawful permanent residents) advanced 8 weeks, the 3rd preference category (married sons and daughters of US citizens) moved ahead 6 weeks and those in the 4th preference category (brothers and sisters of US citizens) saw a 4-week advance.

    However, for persons born in Mexico and the Philippines, many categories failed to advance at all, and none moved forward more than 2 weeks.


    FAMILY CATEGORIES


    Categories Worldwide China (PRC) Mexico Philippines
    1st 4-01-05 4-01-05 5-08-93 6-22-97
    2A 10-08-09 10-08-09 9-01-09 10-08-09
    2B 1-15-04 1-15-04 12-01-92 12-08-01
    3rd 2-15-02 2-15-02 1-15-93 7-22-92
    4th 11-08-00 11-08-00 6-01-96 1-08-89

    The April 2012 Visa Bulletin was downright depressing for those in the employment-based categories. EB-2 China and India remain frozen in time, and are likely to regress in coming months. In the worldwide EB-3 category for professionals, skilled and unskilled workers, the numbers moved forward only 3 weeks, and only 1 week for persons born in India. The sole significant advance occurred in the EB-3 category for professionals and skilled workers born in mainland China where the numbers moved forward 8 weeks.


    EMPLOYMENT CATEGORIES


    Categories Worldwide China (PRC) India Mexico Philippines
    1st Current Current Current Current Current
    2nd Current 5-01-10 5-01-10 Current Current
    3rd 4-08-06 3-01-05 9-01-02 4-08-06 4-08-06
    Unskilled 4-08-06 4-22-03 9-01-02 4-08-06 4-08-06
    4th Current Current Current Current Current
    Religious Current Current Current Current Current
    5th Current Current Current Current Current


    See the entire visa bulletin including information about about the movement of the green card lottery numbers.

    Subscribe to our free, monthly e-mail newsletter, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and YouTube.

    Updated 11-20-2013 at 12:39 PM by CShusterman

  3. January 2011 Visa Bulletin: The Great Retrogression


    It's been several years since the employment-based preference categories developed huge backlogs. However, no one was prepared for today's announcement from the State Department that most of the family-based categories will retrogress between one and three years beginning on January 1, 2011.

    Consider the worldwide categories: Beginning in January 1, the 1st preference category (unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens) goes from a 5-year to a 6-year wait. The story is much, much worse in the 2A category (spouses and children of permanent residents) where the wait expands from a mere 4 months to 3 years, a 9-fold increase. In the already beleaguered 2B category (adult sons and daughters of permanent residents), the wait increases from 5 1/2 to nearly 8 years. For married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens (3rd preference category) does the wait remain roughly the same: 9 years.

    What does the State Department have to say about all of this:

    "As reported in the December Visa Bulletin (number 27), the cut-off dates for most family preference categories advanced at a very rapid pace during the past two years. Those movements have resulted in a dramatic increase in the level of applicant demand received in recent months. This has required the retrogression of many Family preference cut-off dates for January in an effort to hold number use within the various numerical limits. Further retrogressions cannot be ruled out should demand continue at the current levels" (emphasis added).

    If you are one of the large number persons negatively affected by these changes, you can console yourself by thanking God that you were not born in either Mexico or the Philippines, where the waiting times are considerably longer. If you are a permanent resident and wish to sponsor your husband or wife who was born in Mexico, be prepared to be separated nearly 6 years. For Filipinos, most of the waiting times for family members will be an incredible 12 to 23 years come 2011.

    There will be no similar retrogression in the employment-based categories come January, probably because the U.S. economy is stagnant, and employers are sponsoring very few foreign-born workers. In any case, the waiting times are already at record highs in the 3rd preference category (professionals, skilled and unskilled workers), particularly if you were born in mainland China or India. In fact, the waiting times in the 2nd preference category (persons with advanced degrees) are a disaster if you were born in either of these two populous countries.


    FAMILY CATEGORIES






    EMPLOYMENT CATEGORIES






    The coming retrogression provides a golden opportunity for the next Congress to ease immigration restrictions which divide families and prevent legal workers from becoming permanent residents, often solely because of their country of birth. As I write these words, many members of Congress are railing against the DREAM Act, characterizing it as "a backdoor amnesty" for undocumented students.

    Will the Congress be more sympathetic to legal immigrants who remain separated from their spouses and parents for years simply because they are abiding by the rules? Perhaps, but I for one am not holding my breath.

    Subscribe to our free, monthly e-mail newsletter, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and YouTube.

    Updated 12-02-2013 at 05:25 PM by CShusterman

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  4. September 2010 Visa Bulletin - The Great Leap Forward?


    http://shusterman.typepad.com/.a/6a0120a639ec4a970c0133f2744fa4970b-120wi For the past three years, all of our articles about the monthly Visa Bulletin have been filled with gloom and doom as the EB numbers continued to retrogress. Absent a legislative fix, we are not about to uncork any bottles of champagne this month.

    However, we would be remiss if we failed to note that the August 2010 Visa Bulletin contains welcome news for many of those waiting for their visa numbers to become current:


    • Family Categories - Worldwide


    • The 1st preference category (unmarried adult sons and daughters of U.S. citizens) moved forward 4 months;
    • The 2A preference category (spouses and unmarried children of permanent residents) jumped ahead 8 months;
    • The 2B preference category (unmarried adult sons and daughters of permanent residents) also jumped ahead by 8 months;
    • The 3rd preference category (married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens) moved forward 4 months; and
    • The 4th preference category (brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens) jumped ahead 5 months.




    • Employment Categories


    • EB-2 (persons of exceptional ability and those with advanced degrees) China moved forward over 3 months while India jumped ahead 5 months;
    • EB-3 worldwide (professionals and skilled workers) sprinted forward by 9 ½ months; and
    • EB-3 worldwide (unskilled workers) charged ahead by almost a full year.


    Does this mean that "Happy Days are Here Again!"? Hardly! Millions of people including many professional workers are forced to wait way too long for green cards.

    However, for a few thousand people, including many of our clients, the August Visa Bulletin is a dream come true.

    What about would-be immigrants from India and China who have been waiting for many years for their green cards?

    The August Visa Bulletin holds out some hope:

    "E. APPLICABILITY OF INA SECTION 202(a)(5)(A)AS IT RELATES TO THE ALLOCATION OF "OTHERWISE UNUSED" NUMBERS

    INA Section 202(a)(5)(A), added by the American Competitiveness in the 21st Century Act (AC21), provides that if total demand will be insufficient to use all available numbers in a particular Employment preference category in a calendar quarter, then the otherwise unused numbers may be made available without regard to the annual per-country limits. This provision helps to assure that all available Employment preference numbers may be used. In recent years, the application of Section 202(a)(5)(A) has occasionally allowed oversubscribed countries such as China-mainland born and India to utilize large quantities of Employment First and Second preference numbers that would have otherwise gone unused.

    For example, let us assume that 11,600 Employment Second preference numbers are available in a calendar quarter. There is heavy Employment Second preference demand by China-mainland born and India applicants; however, each country is oversubscribed and would ordinarily be limited to about 800 of the available numbers due to the prorating provisions of INA Section 202(e). Applicants from other countries that have not yet reached their per-country limit have reported a total demand of 6,500 numbers. After taking the worldwide demand into account, it is determined that as a result of the China-mainland born and India per-country limits only 8,100 of the total available Employment Second preference numbers would be used in that quarter. In this instance, the otherwise unused 3,500 numbers could then be made available to China-mainland born and India regardless of their per-country limits. Should that occur, the same cut-off date would be applied to each country, since numbers must be provided strictly in priority date order regardless of chargeability. In this instance, greater number use by one country would indicate a higher rate of demand by applicants from that country with earlier priority dates."

    English Translation - Although Indian and Chinese EB dates will, no doubt, retrogress come October, in September, the EB dates for these two countries will jump forward, perhaps dramatically.

    Subscribe to our free, monthly e-mail newsletter, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and YouTube.

    Updated 12-02-2013 at 05:30 PM by CShusterman

  5. September 2010 Visa Bulletin - The Great Leap Forward?


    http://shusterman.typepad.com/.a/6a0120a639ec4a970c0133f2744fa4970b-120wi For the past three years, all of our articles about the monthly Visa Bulletin have been filled with gloom and doom as the EB numbers continued to retrogress. Absent a legislative fix, we are not about to uncork any bottles of champagne this month.

    However, we would be remiss if we failed to note that the August 2010 Visa Bulletin contains welcome news for many of those waiting for their visa numbers to become current:


    • Family Categories - Worldwide


    • The 1st preference category (unmarried adult sons and daughters of U.S. citizens) moved forward 4 months;
    • The 2A preference category (spouses and unmarried children of permanent residents) jumped ahead 8 months;
    • The 2B preference category (unmarried adult sons and daughters of permanent residents) also jumped ahead by 8 months;
    • The 3rd preference category (married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens) moved forward 4 months; and
    • The 4th preference category (brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens) jumped ahead 5 months.




    • Employment Categories


    • EB-2 (persons of exceptional ability and those with advanced degrees) China moved forward over 3 months while India jumped ahead 5 months;
    • EB-3 worldwide (professionals and skilled workers) sprinted forward by 9 ½ months; and
    • EB-3 worldwide (unskilled workers) charged ahead by almost a full year.



    Does this mean that "Happy Days are Here Again!"? Hardly! Millions of people including many professional workers are forced to wait way too long for green cards.

    However, for a few thousand people, including many of our clients, the August Visa Bulletin is a dream come true.

    What about would-be immigrants from India and China who have been waiting for many years for their green cards?The August Visa Bulletin holds out some hope:

    "E. APPLICABILITY OF INA SECTION 202(a)(5)(A)AS IT RELATES TO THE ALLOCATION OF "OTHERWISE UNUSED" NUMBERS

    INA Section 202(a)(5)(A), added by the American Competitiveness in the 21st Century Act (AC21), provides that if total demand will be insufficient to use all available numbers in a particular Employment preference category in a calendar quarter, then the otherwise unused numbers may be made available without regard to the annual per-country limits. This provision helps to assure that all available Employment preference numbers may be used. In recent years, the application of Section 202(a)(5)(A) has occasionally allowed oversubscribed countries such as China-mainland born and India to utilize large quantities of Employment First and Second preference numbers that would have otherwise gone unused.

    For example, let us assume that 11,600 Employment Second preference numbers are available in a calendar quarter. There is heavy Employment Second preference demand by China-mainland born and India applicants; however, each country is oversubscribed and would ordinarily be limited to about 800 of the available numbers due to the prorating provisions of INA Section 202(e). Applicants from other countries that have not yet reached their per-country limit have reported a total demand of 6,500 numbers. After taking the worldwide demand into account, it is determined that as a result of the China-mainland born and India per-country limits only 8,100 of the total available Employment Second preference numbers would be used in that quarter. In this instance, the otherwise unused 3,500 numbers could then be made available to China-mainland born and India regardless of their per-country limits. Should that occur, the same cut-off date would be applied to each country, since numbers must be provided strictly in priority date order regardless of chargeability. In this instance, greater number use by one country would indicate a higher rate of demand by applicants from that country with earlier priority dates."


    English Translation - Although Indian and Chinese EB dates will, no doubt, retrogress come October, in September, the EB dates for these two countries will jump forward, perhaps dramatically.

    Subscribe to our free, monthly e-mail newsletter, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and YouTube.

    Updated 12-02-2013 at 05:30 PM by CShusterman

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