Business Immigration in a Minute by Honigman LLP
- Due to COVID-related delays in processing I-485 adjustment of status applications, United States Immigration and Citizenship Services (“USCIS”) announced that it is temporarily extending the validity period for Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record, from two years to four years. Now, USCIS may consider a completed Form I-693 as valid if (1) a civil surgeon’s signature is dated no more than 60 days before the applicant files his or her adjustment of status application, (2) no more than four years have passed since the date of the civil surgeon’s signature, and (3) a decision is issued on the applicant’s adjustment of status application on or before September 30, 2021. In making the announcement, USCIS stated that it is on track to approve more employment-based adjustment of status applications this fiscal year than it has since fiscal year 2005. USCIS is now prioritizing employment-based adjustment of status applications to increase the pace of adjudications and to limit the potential for employment-based visa numbers to go unused as of the end of the fiscal year on September 30, 2021. USCIS has also requested that adjustment of status applicants include their Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record, with their I-485 filing to avoid the adjudication delays associated with issuing a Request for Evidence.
- The U.S. Department of State (“DOS”) released the September 2021 Visa Bulletin. In addition to final action dates and dates for filing for employment-based immigrant visa and adjustment of status cases, it contains notes on the diversity visa category and diversity category rank cut-offs which will apply in October. As predicted by DOS’ Charlie Oppenheim, the India EB-3 final action date for September 2021 is January 1, 2014. Additionally, all first employment-based preference countries of chargeability are current for the month of September. For September 2021, employment-based applicants must use the final action dates chart for adjustment of status applications.
- USCIS announced that applicants filing for lawful permanent resident status are now able to apply for a Social Security number (“SSN”) or a replacement card as part of the adjustment of status application process. Specifically, USCIS has revised Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, to include the additional questions needed to apply for an SSN or a replacement card. After USCIS approves an adjustment of status application, it will electronically transmit the SSN data included in the Form I-485 to the Social Security Administration. Upon receiving the data, the Social Security Administration will automatically assign an original SSN or issue a replacement card, as appropriate. USCIS’ partnership with the Social Security Administration will not increase the filing fee for Form I-485. This new option will be helpful to adjustment of status applicants as it will avoid the need to return to a Social Security Administration Office after a green card is received to obtain an unrestricted Social Security Card. USCIS has indicated that new or replacement Social Security Cards should be received within approximately two weeks after receipt of the green card.
- Recently, U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken confirmed that the U.S. Mission in Russia was compelled to lay off 182 local Russian national employees and dozens of contractors at the U.S. diplomatic facilities in Russia. The layoffs were the last step in the United States’ compliance with a Russian government decree limiting the U.S. Mission’s ability to employ both Russian and third country nationals at its diplomatic facilities. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and these administrative changes, immigrant and nonimmigrant visa services have essentially ceased at the U.S. diplomatic facilities in Russia.
- This past week, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia held in Khedkar v. U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services that USCIS acted improperly when it issued a Request for Evidence (“RFE”) to a beneficiary’s previous employer but failed to issue an RFE to the beneficiary to address the merits of the beneficiary’s underlying I-140 petition. In this case, the beneficiary’s employer, Deloitte Consulting LLP (“Deloitte”), filed an I-140 petition on the beneficiary’s behalf. The beneficiary later changed employers twice under the I-485 portability provision while the I-140 petition was still pending. USCIS subsequently sent an RFE to Deloitte, but never sent a copy of the RFE to the beneficiary. USCIS subsequently denied the beneficiary’s I-140 petition because no one ever responded to the RFE on the beneficiary’s behalf. The court found that USCIS should have treated the beneficiary as a party to the petition adjudication proceedings under these circumstances and sent him any related correspondence. As a result, the court set aside USCIS’ denial of the beneficiary’s I-140 petition.
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