Immigration and COVID-19 Updates
- 10/22/2021 - USCIS Expands Credit Card Payment Pilot Program to Vermont Service Center
- 10/12/2021 - COVID-19 USCIS Reaches H-2B Cap for First Half of FY 2022
- 09/14/2021 - COVID-19 Vaccination Required for Immigration Medical Examinations
- 09/09/2021 - DHS to Continue Temporary Protected Status for Certain Beneficiaries
- 09/03/2021 - USCIS Extends Evidence of Status for Conditional Permanent Residents to 24 Months with Pending Form I-751 or Form I-829
- 07/30/2021 - USCIS Tampa Asylum Office Opening
- 07/15/2021 - Individuals in removal proceedings will now be able to seek administrative closure of their case
- 06/23/2021 - USCIS Will Allow Resubmission of Certain FY 2021 H-1B Petitions Rejected or Closed Due to Start Date
- 06/23/2021 - USCIS Launches H-2B Employer Data Hub
- 06/17/2021 - Vermont Service Center Address Change
- 06/16/2021 - USCIS Extends Transitional Parole for CNMI Long-Term Resident Status Applicants
- 06/10/2021 - USCIS Announces Lockbox Filing Flexibilities
- 06/09/2021 - Employment Authorization for Certain Adjustment Applicants
- 06/02/2021 - USCIS Announces Pilot Program for Credit Card Payments Using Form G-1450 When Filing Form I-485
- 05/27/2021 - USCIS Eases Visitor Restrictions for Fully Vaccinated Individuals
- 05/24/2021 - DHS Announces Open Registration for Temporary Protected Status for Burma
- 05/22/2021 - Secretary Mayorkas Designates Haiti for Temporary Protected Status for 18 Months
- 05/11/2021 - Rescheduling Biometric Services Appointments by Phone
- 05/07/2021 - DHS Withdraws Proposed Biometrics Rule
- 05/3/2021 - Biden Reverses Course Again After Backlash and Will Increase Refugee Limit
- 03/24/2021 - USCIS Announces a 60-day extension on deadlines for some type of cases
- 02/22/2021 - USCIS Announces Plans to Revert to the 2008 Version of the Naturalization Civics Test
- 02/04/2021 - DHS Delays Effective Date of H-1B Selection Final Rule
- 01/16/2021 - IMPORTANT: USCIS Closure
- 01/08/2021: USCIS Lockbox Updates
- 05/15/2020: EOIR Stakeholder Update
- 04/24/2020 Update: USCIS services during the COVID-19 crisis
- 04/22/2020 Update: President Donald Trump signed and released an executive order to put a temporary pause on U.S. immigration for 60 days
- 04/01/2020 Update: USCIS Temporary Office Closure Extended until at least May 3
- 03/28/2020 Update: Some COVID-19 Issues that affect certain cases
- 03/27/2020 Update
- ESTA/ Visa waiver program update for those affected by the corona virus
- International Students, possible eligibility for work permit by Unforeseen Circumstances cause by Corona Virus (COVID/19)
- 03/18/2020 Update
- 03/16/2020 Update
10/22/2021 - USCIS Expands Credit Card Payment Pilot Program to Vermont Service Center
As part of our credit card payment pilot program, the Vermont Service Center is now accepting credit card payments using Form G-1450, Authorization for Credit Card Transactions, for petitioners filing Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, for O and P nonimmigrants.
At the end of the pilot, we will evaluate the results and determine the next steps for expanding this payment option for other forms or other service centers. The goal of this pilot is to bring USCIS one step closer to accepting digital payments using a credit card at all service centers.
For more information, please see our Direct Filing Addresses for Form I-129 page.
10/12/2021 - USCIS Reaches H-2B Cap for First Half of FY 2022
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has received enough petitions to reach the congressionally mandated cap on H-2B visas for temporary nonagricultural workers for the first half of fiscal year 2022. Sept. 30 was the final receipt date for new cap-subject H-2B worker petitions requesting an employment start date before April 1, 2022. USCIS will reject new cap-subject H-2B petitions received after Sept. 30 that request an employment start date before April 1, 2022.
USCIS continues to accept H-2B petitions that are exempt from the congressionally mandated cap. This includes petitions for:
- Current H-2B workers in the United States who extend their stay, change employers, or change the terms and conditions of their employment;
- Fish roe processors, fish roe technicians, and/or supervisors of fish roe processing; and
- Workers performing labor or services in the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands and/or Guam from Nov. 28, 2009, until Dec. 31, 2029.
U.S. businesses use the H-2B program to employ foreign workers for temporary nonagricultural jobs. Currently, Congress has set the H-2B cap at 66,000 per fiscal year, with 33,000 for workers who begin employment in the first half of the fiscal year (Oct. 1 - March 31) and 33,000 (plus any unused numbers from the first half of the fiscal year) for workers who begin employment in the second half of the fiscal year (April 1 - Sept. 30).
For more information, visit the Cap Count for H-2B Nonimmigrants page.
09/14/2021 - COVID-19 Vaccination Required for Immigration Medical Examinations
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services today announced that, effective Oct. 1, 2021, applicants subject to the immigration medical examination must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before the civil surgeon can complete an immigration medical examination and sign Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record.
We are updating our policy guidance in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Aug. 17, 2021 update to the Technical Instructions for Civil Surgeons. That update requires applicants subject to the immigration medical examination to complete the COVID-19 vaccine series (one or two doses, depending on the vaccine) and provide documentation of vaccination to the civil surgeon before completion of the immigration medical examination. This requirement is effective Oct. 1, 2021, and applies prospectively to all Forms I-693 signed by the civil surgeons on or after that date. We are working on updating Form I-693 and the form instructions to incorporate this new requirement.
In general, individuals applying to become a lawful permanent resident, and other applicants as deemed necessary, must undergo an immigration medical examination to show they are free from any conditions that would render them inadmissible under the health-related grounds. USCIS designates eligible physicians as civil surgeons to perform this immigration medical examination for applicants within the United States and to document the results of the immigration medical examination on the Form I-693.
USCIS may grant blanket waivers if the COVID-19 vaccine is:
- Not age-appropriate;
- Contraindicated due to a medical condition;
- Not routinely available where the civil surgeon practices; or
- Limited in supply and would cause significant delay for the applicant to receive the vaccination.
Individuals may also apply for individual waivers based on religious beliefs or moral convictions by submitting Form I-601, Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility.
For more information, see the policy alert.
09/09/2021 - DHS to Continue Temporary Protected Status for Certain Beneficiaries
The Department of Homeland Security today published a Federal Register notice (FRN) announcing that it is automatically extending the validity of TPS-related documentation for beneficiaries under the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designations for El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, and Sudan through Dec. 31, 2022.
DHS is ensuring its continued compliance with the preliminary injunction orders of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in Ramos et al. v. Nielsen et al., No. 18-cv-01554 (N.D. Cal. Oct. 3, 2018), and the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York in Saget et al. v. Trump et al., No. 18-cv-1599 (E.D.N.Y. April 11, 2019), and with the order of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California to stay proceedings in Bhattarai v. Nielsen, No. 19-cv-00731 (N.D. Cal. March 12, 2019).
Beneficiaries under the TPS designations for El Salvador, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, and Sudan will retain their TPS while the preliminary injunction in Ramos and the Bhattarai order remain in effect, provided that their TPS is not withdrawn because of individual ineligibility.
Beneficiaries under the TPS designation for Haiti will retain their TPS while either of the preliminary injunctions in Ramos or Saget remains in effect, provided that their TPS is not withdrawn because of individual ineligibility. Beneficiaries of TPS for Haiti whose status is continued by this FRN are strongly encouraged to apply for TPS under the new designation of Haiti to ensure their TPS continues should the courts end their injunctions.
Beneficiaries may show their automatically extended Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) to employers to demonstrate they have employment authorization and may also show this FRN, which explains that DHS has automatically extended their TPS-related documentation through Dec. 31, 2022. Beneficiaries who would like an EAD with the extended validity date of Dec. 31, 2022, displayed on the EAD, must file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, with the appropriate filing fee (or obtain a fee waiver). Applicants may request a fee waiver by completing Form I-912, Request for Fee Waiver, and submitting it with Form I-765.
The FRN also addresses automatic extension of Forms I-94 and I-797 and possible future actions.
We are planning outreach opportunities regarding TPS to provide information and answer questions from the public.
For more information on USCIS and its programs, please visit uscis.gov.
09/03/2021 - USCIS Extends Evidence of Status for Conditional Permanent Residents to 24 Months with Pending Form I-751 or Form I-829
Starting Sept. 4, 2021, USCIS is extending the time that receipt notices can be used to show evidence of status from 18 months to 24 months for petitioners who properly file Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence, or Form I-829, Petition by Investor to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status. We are making the change from 18 to 24 months to accommodate current processing times for Form I-751 and Form I-829, which have increased over the past year.
Conditional permanent residents who properly file Form I-751 or Form I-829 will receive a receipt notice that can be presented with their Form I-551, Permanent Resident Card (also known as a Green Card), as evidence of continued status for up to 24 months past the expiration date on their Green Card, while their case remains pending with USCIS.
Additionally, we will issue new receipt notices to eligible conditional permanent residents who properly filed their Form I-751 or Form I-829 before Sept. 4 and whose cases are still pending. Those receipt notices will also serve as evidence of continued status for 24 months past the expiration date on their Green Card.
As a reminder, conditional permanent residents who plan to be outside of the United States for a year or more should apply for a reentry permit by filing Form I-131, Application for Travel Document, before leaving the country. For more information on International Travel as a Permanent Resident, see our Green Card page.
07/30/2021 - USCIS Tampa Asylum Office Opening
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will open a new asylum office in Tampa on Aug. 2, in response to an increasing asylum workload in Florida. The new office becomes the 11th asylum office in the country and the second in Florida, joining the existing Miami Asylum Office. The Tampa and Miami asylum offices will divide the state’s asylum workload.
Florida currently leads the country in asylum applications filed with USCIS, and more than a quarter of the national pending caseload is from Florida residents. The addition of the Tampa Asylum Office will help USCIS resolve urgent cases quickly and better address the large number of asylum applications pending with USCIS in the state.
USCIS has jurisdiction over the affirmative asylum process in which noncitizens in the United States may file Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal, within one year of their arrival if they seek such protection. USCIS asylum officers interview applicants to determine if they are eligible.
The Tampa Asylum Office will adjudicate asylum claims filed by individuals residing in western and northern Florida as well as portions of central Florida. The Miami Asylum Office will continue to adjudicate asylum claims filed by individuals residing in south Florida and portions of central Florida. Asylum interviews are by appointment only, and appointment notices will direct all applicants to their designated office. USCIS began interviewing a small number of asylum applicants at the Tampa location in late June, but it officially opens on Aug. 2 to a larger workload.
The Tampa Asylum Office, located at 5524 West Cypress Street, Suite B, is temporary until the permanent, stand-alone facility near the Florida State Fairgrounds becomes operational. This opening is currently anticipated for spring 2022. The USCIS Tampa Field Office located at 5629 Hoover Boulevard remains unchanged, and USCIS continues to adjudicate Green Card and naturalization applications at that location.
07/15/2021 - Individuals in removal proceedings will now be able to seek administrative closure of their case
Individuals in removal proceedings (deportation proceedings) will now be able to seek administrative closure of their case. This is a wonderful tool for cases that are in need of discretion.
We will notify our clients, if they are eligible to take advantage of this opportunity. If you know someone in immigration court proceedings, please share this information with them!
06/23/2021 - USCIS Will Allow Resubmission of Certain FY 2021 H-1B Petitions Rejected or Closed Due to Start Date
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced today it will accept resubmitted fiscal year (FY) 2021 H-1B cap-subject petitions that were rejected or administratively closed solely because the requested start date was after Oct. 1, 2020.
If your FY 2021 petition was rejected or administratively closed solely because your petition was based on a registration submitted during the initial registration period, but you requested a start date after Oct. 1, 2020, you may re-submit that previously filed petition, with all applicable fees, at the address below. Such petitions must be resubmitted before Oct. 1, 2021. If properly resubmitted, we will consider the petition to have been filed on the original receipt date.
|USPS||FedEx, UPS, and DHL Deliveries||Forms I-129/I-907 Premium Processing|
Attn: H-1B CAP Filings FY21
6046 N Belt Line Rd. STE 107
Irving, TX 75038-0010
Attn: H-1B CAP Filings FY21
6046 N Belt Line Rd. STE 107
Irving, TX 75038-0010
Attn: H-1B CAP Filings FY21
6046 N Belt Line Rd. STE 907
Irving, TX 75038-002
When resubmitting the petition, you must include your FY 2021 H-1B cap registration selection notice. If you received a rejection or administrative closure notice for the original FY 2021 H-1B cap petition, you should include that as well. We also encourage the use of a brightly colored coversheet indicating that you are refiling an FY 2021 H-1B cap case that was originally rejected or administratively closed solely because your petition was based on a registration submitted during the initial registration period, but you requested a start date after Oct. 1, 2020. This will help ensure that it is reviewed upon receipt.
In 2020, we implemented an electronic registration process for the H-1B cap. Prospective petitioners seeking to file H-1B cap-subject petitions, including for beneficiaries eligible for the advanced degree exemption, must first electronically register and pay the $10 H-1B registration fee for each beneficiary. The electronic registration process has streamlined processing by reducing paperwork and data exchange and provided overall cost savings to employers seeking to file H-1B cap-subject petitions.
For FY 2021, the number of petitions filed during the initial filing period was below the number projected as needed to reach the numerical allocations. This discrepancy was likely related to multiple factors, including the economic, political, and public health uncertainty created by the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the fact that FY 2021 was the first year that we implemented the electronic registration process. Therefore, in August 2020, we selected additional registrations that were held in reserve. The filing period for registrations selected in August ended on Nov. 16, 2020. Some petitioners indicated a start date after Oct. 1, 2020. We rejected or administratively closed those petitions because they were based on registrations submitted during the initial registration period but indicated a start date after Oct. 1, 2020. Upon reconsideration, we no longer believe that the regulations required us to reject or administratively close those petitions.
06/23/2021 - USCIS Launches H-2B Employer Data Hub
USCIS has launched an H-2B Employer Data Hub to provide information to the public on employers or agents petitioning for H-2B workers. The data hub is part of our continued effort to increase transparency in employment-based visa programs, and allows the public to search for H-2B petitioners by cap fiscal year (back to FY 2015), employer (petitioner) name, city, state, ZIP code, worksite state, cap type, North American Industry Classification System code, and Standard Occupational Classification code. This information will help the public calculate approval and denial rates and review which employers are using the H-2B program. Data for individual fiscal years is available to download on the H-2B Employer Data Hub Files page.
To help the public use the data hub and understand the terminology in it, we have also created the Understanding Our H-2B Employer Data Hub page.
We will provide downloadable annual releases of the data, and we anticipate updating the H-2B Employer Data Hub quarterly. For example, we will provide data for the first quarter (October-December) of a fiscal year in April of that fiscal year. Because this data hub is being launched while the FY 2021 H-2B supplemental cap is in progress, supplemental cap petitioner information will not be immediately available. This information will be available in September 2021.
The H-2B program allows U.S. employers or U.S. agents (“H-2B petitioners”) who meet specific regulatory requirements to bring foreign nationals to the United States to fill temporary nonagricultural jobs. The employment must be of a temporary nature for a limited time, such as a one-time occurrence, seasonal, peak load need, or intermittent need. There is a statutory numerical limit, or “cap,” on how many foreign workers may receive an H-2B visa, or otherwise be granted H-2B status, during a fiscal year.
06/17/2021 - Vermont Service Center Address Change
Effective June 25, 2021, the Vermont Service Center will no longer receive any incoming mail at the St. Albans, VT facility, which is being decommissioned. The new addresses will not be in effect until June 25, 2021. Please continue to use the St. Albans addresses through June 24, 2021.
Mail sent to the previous addresses will be forwarded for one year, but any mail sent to the previous addresses after June 2022 may be returned to the sender by the United States Postal Service or the courier service used.
Please refer to the chart below for the updated addresses.
Premium Processing Mail
Premium Processing Service
Premium Processing Service
H-1B Cap Mail
USCIS Vermont Service Center
USCIS Vermont Service Center
All Other Mail
USCIS Vermont Service Center
USCIS Vermont Service Center
06/16/2021 - USCIS Extends Transitional Parole for CNMI Long-Term Resident Status Applicants
USCIS announced today that it will automatically extend parole and employment authorization, if applicable, for parolees who timely applied for Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) long-term resident status.
This specific extension of parole applies only to current parolees who timely filed Form I-955, Application for CNMI Long-Term Resident Status, and Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, and whose applications remain pending on June 30, 2021. USCIS will automatically extend their parole (and employment authorization, if applicable) without interruption through Dec. 30, 2021, or the date that USCIS makes a final decision on their Form I‑955 and Form I-765, whichever is earlier.
For eligible parolees whose timely filed Form I-955 and Form I-765 remain pending on June 30, 2021, and who have an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), if applicable, expiring on or before June 30, 2021, the following documentation will serve as evidence of identity and work authorization for Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, purposes until Dec. 30, 2021 (or the date that USCIS makes a final decision on their long-term resident status application, whichever is earlier):
- A copy of this web alert;
- Form I-766, Employment Authorization Document, bearing category code “C-11” with an expiration date on or before June 29, 2020; and
- Evidence that they filed Form I-955 and Form I-765 on or before Aug. 17, 2020. This may be a copy of Form I-797C, Notice of Action, reflecting that they have filed Form I‑765 requesting the classification (“class”) code of (c)(37), or if unavailable, a copy of their Form I-955 and Form I-765 with a mail receipt.
The CNMI long-term resident status was created by the Northern Mariana Islands Long-Term Legal Residents Relief Act (Public Law 116-24), signed into law on June 25, 2019. The law specifically gave the Department of Homeland Security the discretion to authorize parole, with work authorization, for these individuals during the time period needed to implement the new law. USCIS previously extended this parole three times in 2020, on June 17, Aug. 11, and Dec. 30.
Eligible individuals had 180 days, until Aug. 17, 2020, to apply for CNMI long-term resident status. USCIS announced the Aug. 17 deadline when it opened the application period on Feb. 19, 2020. If USCIS denies a parolee’s Form I-955 and Form I-765, their parole status (and employment authorization, if applicable) will end and they must depart the CNMI.
06/10/2021 - USCIS Announces Lockbox Filing Flexibilities
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will offer filing flexibilities to provide relief to certain applicants and petitioners impacted by delays at a USCIS lockbox. These flexibilities only apply to benefit requests submitted to a USCIS lockbox and not to USCIS service centers or field offices.
The following temporary flexibilities are effective for 60 days from June 10 until Aug. 9, 2021:
- If you submitted a benefit request to a USCIS lockbox between Oct. 1, 2020, and April 1, 2021, and that request was rejected during that timeframe solely due to a filing fee payment that expired while the benefit request was awaiting processing, you may resubmit the request with a new fee payment. If USCIS concurs that it has rejected the benefit request because of the delay, USCIS will deem the request to have been received on the initial filing date it was first received and waive the $30 dishonored check fee.
- USCIS will allow applicants and petitioners to submit documentation with a benefit request resubmission demonstrating that because of the time that elapsed between when a benefit request was originally submitted to a USCIS lockbox and when USCIS rejected it, an applicant, co-applicant, beneficiary or derivative has reached an age that makes them no longer eligible to file for the benefit requested. If USCIS agrees that the delayed rejection caused the person to be ineligible due to age, USCIS will accept the request and deem it to have been received on the date the initial benefit request was received. This flexibility does not apply to Form N-600K, Application for Citizenship and Issuance of Certificate Under Section 322.
Applicants and petitioners can contact USCIS to verify previously filed benefit requests have not been rejected in error. If USCIS concurs, we may allow applicants and petitioners to resubmit an erroneously rejected benefit request and deem the benefit request to have been received on the date the initial benefit request was first received at a USCIS lockbox.
For more information on these filing flexibilities, including how to request them, visit the USCIS website.
06/09/2021 - USCIS Announces Lockbox Filing Flexibilities
Purpose: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is updating policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to increase the amount of time a grant of employment authorization is valid for applicants seeking adjustment of status under Section 245 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
Background: When an applicant applies for adjustment of status, he or she may also apply for employment authorization so that the applicant may work in the United States while waiting for a decision on the adjustment application. Currently, USCIS issues adjustment applicants Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) that are valid for 1 year. However, in the interest of reducing the burden on both the agency and the public, because the current median processing time for certain adjustment of status applications is close to or greater than 1 year, USCIS will now issue initial and renewal EADs to adjustment applicants that are valid for 2 years. Replacement EADs will not be affected by this update; USCIS will continue to issue replacement EADs with the same validity dates as the original EAD.
This guidance, contained in Volume 10 of the Policy Manual, is effective immediately. The guidance contained in the Policy Manual is controlling and supersedes any related prior guidance.
Policy Highlights: Updates the validity period for initial and renewal EADs issued to applicants for adjustment of status under INA 245 from 1 year to 2 years.
Citation: Volume 10: Employment Authorization, Part B, Specific Categories, Chapter 4, Adjustment Applicants Under INA 245 [10 USCIS-PM B.4].
06/02/2021 - USCIS Announces Pilot Program for Credit Card Payments Using Form G-1450 When Filing Form I-485
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services today announced a pilot program for accepting credit card payments using Form G-1450, Authorization for Credit Card Transactions, for U nonimmigrants filing Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.
The pilot program began on May 3 at the Nebraska Service Center and will be limited to this location. The service center started accepting credit card payments from certain Form I-485 applicants using Form G-1450. Applicants must be U nonimmigrants (victims of criminal activity). At the end of the pilot, USCIS will evaluate the results and determine the next steps for possibly expanding this payment option for other forms or other service centers.
For more information, please see our Direct Filing Addresses for Form I-485 page.
05/27/2021 - USCIS Eases Visitor Restrictions for Fully Vaccinated Individuals
Due to updated guidance from the CDC, USCIS has updated its visitor policy. Fully vaccinated individuals no longer have to wear a face covering. Individuals two years old and older who are not fully vaccinated must still wear a face covering.
To be considered fully vaccinated, it must be at least two weeks after receiving a second dose in a two-dose series or at least two weeks after receiving a dose of a single-dose vaccine.
USCIS has eased other requirements for fully vaccinated individuals who do not have COVID-19 symptoms. Those who have returned from domestic air, international air or cruise ship travel in the past 10 days may enter USCIS facilities if they are fully vaccinated. Individuals who have been in close contact (within six feet for a total of 15 minutes or more) with anyone known to have COVID-19 in the previous 14 days may also enter USCIS facilities if they are fully vaccinated. Healthcare workers who consistently wear an N95 respirator and proper personal protective equipment or equivalent when in contact with COVID-19 positive individuals continue to be exempt from reporting close contact.
In DHS-controlled spaces, this guidance supersedes state, local, tribal, or territorial rules and regulations regarding face coverings.
For more information, see our USCIS Visitor Policy.
05/11/2021 - Rescheduling Biometric Services Appointments by Phone
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today that applicants, petitioners, requestors and beneficiaries may now call the USCIS Contact Center (800-375-5283) to reschedule their biometric services appointments scheduled at a USCIS Application Support Center. Previously, applicants had to submit requests in writing to reschedule their biometrics appointments. This change helps eliminate undue paperwork and allows USCIS to track the request through a more efficient process.
Applicants must establish good cause for rescheduling and must call before the date and time of their original appointment to reschedule. If an applicant fails to call before the scheduled appointment or fails to establish good cause, USCIS may consider the application, petition, or request abandoned and, as a result, it may be denied.
For more information, please see the Preparing for Your Biometric Services Appointment webpage
05/07/2021 - DHS Withdraws Proposed Biometrics Rule
The Department of Homeland Security has withdrawn a proposed rule that would have expanded department authorities and requirements for collecting biometrics by removing age restrictions; requiring submission of biometrics for every applicant, petitioner, sponsor, beneficiary, or other individual filing for or associated with any immigration or naturalization benefit or request unless DHS waives or exempts the biometrics requirement; codifying the authority to use DNA test results; and authorizing the use of additional types of biometric modalities.
DHS announced its decision to withdraw the proposed rule, originally published on Sept. 11, 2020, in a Federal Register notice. The withdrawal is consistent with the Executive Order 14012, Restoring Faith in Our Legal Immigration Systems and Strengthening Integration and Inclusion Efforts for New Americans, and additional administration priorities to reduce barriers and undue burdens in the immigration system.
DHS will continue to require submission of biometrics where appropriate and remains committed to national security, identity management, fraud prevention and program integrity.
05/03/2021 - Biden Reverses Course Again After Backlash and Will Increase Refugee Limit - The New York Times
President Biden said earlier on Friday that he would keep the 15,000 limit set by the Trump administration, but said later that he would increase it. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga of Japan met ...
03/24/2021 - USCIS Announces a 60-day extension on deadlines for some type of cases
60-day extension: On March 24th USCIS issued an update informing that they are offering a 60-day extension on deadlines for cases that have received either a denial, a request for evidence, a notice of intent to deny, or a notice of intent to revoke, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
02/22/2021 - USCIS Announces Plans to Revert to the 2008 Version of the Naturalization Civics Test
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced today it is reverting to the 2008 version of the naturalization civics test.
On Dec. 1, 2020, we implemented a revised naturalization civics test (2020 civics test) as part of a decennial test review and update process. On March 1, 2021, we will revert to the 2008 version of the civics test.
We determined the 2020 civics test development process, content, testing procedures, and implementation schedule may inadvertently create potential barriers to the naturalization process. This action is consistent with the framework of the Executive Order on Restoring Faith in Our Legal Immigration Systems, which directs a comprehensive review of the naturalization process to eliminate barriers and make the process more accessible to all eligible individuals.
Applicants who filed their naturalization applications on or after Dec. 1, 2020, but before March 1, 2021, with an initial examination (interview) before April 19, 2021, will have the choice to either take the 2008 civics test or the 2020 civics test. We will notify applicants who are affected by the change. If the initial interview is scheduled on or after April 19, 2021, applicants will take the 2008 civic test.
We will also host a public engagement and conduct other outreach activities to ensure applicants are familiar with the different features of each test and which version of the civics test an applicant will need to take, based on the filing date (also known as a received date) and initial examination.
Additional information and study materials are available on our Citizenship Resource Center page.
02/04/2021 - DHS Delays Effective Date of H-1B Selection Final Rule
On Jan. 7, USCIS announced the H-1B Selection final rule, which amended the regulations governing the process by which USCIS selects H-1B registrations for the filing of H-1B cap-subject petitions.
To give USCIS more time to develop, test, and implement the modifications to the H-1B registration system and selection process, DHS is delaying the effective date of this final rule from March 9, 2021, to Dec. 31, 2021. The delay will also provide more time for USCIS to train staff and perform public outreach as well as give stakeholders time to adjust to the new rule.
For the upcoming H-1B cap season, USCIS will apply the current regulations (random selection) to any registration period that takes place before Dec. 31, 2021.
Additional information on the delayed effective date is available in the Federal Register notice.
01/16/2021- IMPORTANT: USCIS Closure
USCIS will be closed the following days:
Monday, 1/18 -- Martin Luther King birthday – a normal scheduled federal holiday and normal closure – ALL Federal Offices will be CLOSED.
Tuesday and Wednesday 1/19 and 1/20 – Out of an Abundance of Caution -- ALL USCIS Offices will be Closed to the PUBLIC. All Appointments are Canceled and WILL BE RESCHEDULED.
01/08/2021: USCIS Lockbox Updates
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and other factors, USCIS is experiencing delays in issuing receipt notices for some applications and petitions filed at a USCIS lockbox facility. The information below explains the current state of our lockbox operations and the issues affecting receipt notices.
As a result of COVID-19 restrictions, an increase in filings, current postal service volume and other external factors, you may experience a delay of four to six weeks in receiving your receipt notice after properly filing an application or petition with a USCIS lockbox. These delays will not affect the receipt date which is determined pursuant to 8 C.F.R. 103.2(a)(7). Delays may vary among form types and lockbox locations. In some cases, you may experience significant delays if you filed a non-family based Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, or Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, based on eligibility categories described in 8 C.F.R. 274a.12(c)(3), relating to F-1 students.
The health and safety of our workforce remains a top priority. Across all USCIS offices, including lockbox facilities, the agency has taken necessary measures such as increased social distancing and frequent cleaning in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control guidance to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Some lockbox operations in locations that have been severely impacted by COVID-19 must adhere to stricter local guidelines.
What USCIS Is Doing
The USCIS lockbox workforce' is working extra hours and redistributing its workload in order to minimize delays. Once we open and process your application, we print and mail the receipt notice. We do not anticipate any receipting delays that would result in a payment that is past its validity date.
What You Can Do
If you have already filed your application and are waiting for your receipt notice, we appreciate your patience. We are working as quickly as possible to complete the intake of all filings.
You can take steps to decrease the time it takes us to process and send yourreceipt notice or find out the status of your case:
- File online (if this option is available for your form type) and receive immediate confirmation that we have received your form instead of waiting for the mail;
- Create a free USCIS online account and check the status of your case from your mobile device, anywhere, anytime using our case status online tool; or
- Complete Form G-1145, E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance, and clip it to the front of your form when filing at a USCIS lockbox to request a text message and/or email when we accept your form.
¹The USCIS lockbox facilities located in Chicago, Illinois; Phoenix, Arizona; and Lewisville, Texas, are operated by a Department of Treasury designated financial agent, plus federal staff.
05/15/2020: EOIR Stakeholder Update
Non-detained Immigration court will be closed now through Friday, June 12, 2020.
04/24/2020 Update: USCIS services during the COVID-19 crisis
On March 18, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services temporarily suspended in-person services at its field offices, asylum offices, and application support centers (ASCs) to help slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). USCIS is readying offices to reopen on or after June 4. Employees in these offices are continuing to perform mission-essential services that do not require face-to-face contact with the public while the offices are closed.
While offices are temporarily closed, USCIS will continue to provide limited emergency in-person services. Please call the USCIS Contact Center for assistance with emergency services.
USCIS field offices will send notices to applicants and petitioners with scheduled appointments and naturalization ceremonies impacted by the extended temporary closure. USCIS asylum offices will send interview cancellation notices and automatically reschedule asylum interviews. When the interview is rescheduled, asylum applicants will receive a new interview notice with the new time, date and location of the interview. When USCIS again resumes operations for in-person services, USCIS will automatically reschedule ASC appointments due to the temporary office closure. Individuals will receive a new appointment letter in the mail. Those who had InfoPass or other appointments must reschedule through the USCIS Contact Center once field offices are open to the public again. Please check to see if the respective office has been reopened before calling the Contact Center.
Please also visit uscis.gov/coronavirus for updates. For the latest information on the status of an office, visit https://www.uscis.gov/about-us/uscis-office-closings.
04/22/2020 Update: President Donald Trump signed and released an executive order to put a temporary pause on U.S. immigration for 60 days
On the evening of April 20, 2020, President Trump tweeted he would be shutting down the immigration system for 60 days. The official executive order was signed and released on April 22, 2020, a copy can be found here. The order is effective at 11:59PM on April 23, 2020. The following people are affected: immigrant visa applicants outside the United States. Currently non-immigrant visas are not included in the ban. There are a long list of exceptions.
Who will this NOT AFFECT:
- Spouses of US Citizens , Children of US citizens under the age of 2, & Adoptees in the IR-4 or IH-4 categories
- US military members, spouses, and children
- Lawful permanent residents , “green card holders”
- Medical professionals and scientist working on COVID 19
- EB-5 investors, and National Interest Visa Applicants
- SI or SQ special immigrant categories
- Individuals already in possession of their immigrant visas
- The proclamation states it can be renewed or expanded
- Most Consulates abroad are already closed do to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is not clear how much affect this order is really going to have
- It does NOT mean you cannot start a petition process for family members now
- USCIS is still working accepting applications for citizenship, adjustment of status and ore
- Non-immigrant visas currently not affected, will be evaluated within 30days
04/01/2020 Update: USCIS Temporary Office Closure Extended until at least May 3
On March 18, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services temporarily suspended in-person services at its field offices, asylum offices, and application support centers (ASCs) to help slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). USCIS offices will begin to reopen on May 4 unless the public closures are extended further. Employees in these offices are continuing to perform mission-essential services that do not require face-to-face contact with the public.
USCIS will continue to provide limited emergency services. Please call the Contact Center for assistance with emergency services.
USCIS field offices will send notices to applicants and petitioners with scheduled appointments and naturalization ceremonies impacted by the extended temporary closure. USCIS asylum offices will send interview cancellation notices and automatically reschedule asylum interviews. When the interview is rescheduled, asylum applicants will receive a new interview notice with the new time, date and location of the interview. When USCIS again resumes normal operations, USCIS will automatically reschedule ASC appointments due to the temporary office closure. You will receive a new appointment letter in the mail. Individuals who had InfoPass or other appointments must reschedule through the USCIS Contact Center once field offices are open to the public again. Please check to see if the office in your jurisdiction has been reopened before reaching out to the USCIS Contact Center.
Education and precautions are the strongest tools against infection. Get the latest facts by visiting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID-19 website. Continue to practice good health habits, refrain from handshakes or hugs as greetings, and wash hands and clean surfaces appropriately.
USCIS will provide further updates as the situation develops and will continue to follow CDC guidance. Please also visit uscis.gov/coronavirus for updates.Back to Information on COVID-19
Attorney Nayef Mubarak shares important updates regarding COVID-19 in a video, the effects on certain cases. Issues discussed in this video include:
- Satisfactory departure for ESTA
- USCIS closures
- Court closures
- Public Charge
- Essential vs. Nonessential business
In response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced that it is adopting a measure to assist applicants and petitioners who are responding to requests for evidence (RFEs) and notices of intent to deny (NOIDs) dated between March 1 and May 1, 2020.
For applicants and petitioners who receive an RFE or NOID dated between March 1 and May 1, 2020, any responses submitted within 60 calendar days after the response deadline set forth in the RFE or NOID will be considered by USCIS before any action is taken.
USCIS is adopting several measures to protect our workforce and community, and to minimize the immigration consequences for those seeking immigration benefits during this time.
USCIS will provide further updates as the situation develops and will continue to follow CDC guidance. Education and precautions are the strongest tools against COVID-19 infection. Please visit uscis.gov/coronavirus for latest facts and other USCIS updates.Back to Information on COVID-19
ESTA/ Visa waiver program update for those affected by the corona virus
Are you currently in the US on an ESTA, but are unable to depart the US? Normally individuals whom enter the US with ESTA or VWP are not eligible for any extension or change of status. Given the pandemic of COVID/19, and many individuals inability to travel you may be able to obtain what is called a “satisfactory departure.” This will help demonstrate that you did not overstay your visa, and you have done your best to comply with the laws. Contact us today if you need assistance!Back to Information on COVID-19
International Students, possible eligibility for work permit by Unforeseen Circumstances cause by Corona Virus (COVID/19)
The COVID virus is affecting everyone in the United States, and worldwide. If you are in the United States on an F-1 international student visa, and you are experiencing severe economic hardship due to this catastrophe of the pandemic, you may be eligible to apply for a work permit (employment authorization). Contact us today to see if we can help you. We will need to demonstrate the following:
- Loss of financial aid or on-campus employment (through no fault of your own);
- Substantial fluctuations in currency value or exchange rate;
- Inordinate increases in tuition or living costs;
- Unexpected changes in the financial condition of your source of support;
- Medical bills; and
- Other substantial and unexpected expenses.
Our experienced immigration attorneys have extensive experience representing international students, humanitarian applicants, and other foreign nationals. Contact us today at 407-502-3000. We pride ourselves for staying on top of the current laws.
We are only an email or phone call away 📞
Our office is still operating in a virtual capacity, offers telephone and Skype consultations and meetings.
Please contact us if you need a consultation or if you need to file an extension of status. If you are here on ESTA there are certain things we can do to assist.
- Immigration Courts are closed for non detained cases until April 10th.
- All USCIS appointments are canceled until April 1st, for now this includes marriage based interviews, naturalization, oath ceremonies, etc.
- Certain consulates are cancelling visa interviews abroad.
- If you are our client and will be affected by any of the above, we will contact you.
- If you need assistance and are not our client, contact us today so we may help.
Back to Information on COVID-19
Office update/COVID-19: We are open, however, we are doing our best to limit in-person meetings. We are also opting to do consultations over the phone as a measure to protect our clients and our team. Many clients can reach us by phone or email. We ask that you mail any documents to the office. If you need to make a payment, you can click here to do so on our website, or you may mail a check/money order or by telephone. As always, please contact us if you have any questions.
Immigration Courts/EOIR has postponed all non-detained Master Calendar Hearings until April, 10, 2020. Individual Merits Hearings, filings, etc. will continue as scheduled and usual. If you are a client we will contact you if your hearing is canceled, otherwise plan on attending your hearing.
USCIS: has not decided to cancel any interviews at this time, however, rescheduling is being permitted for those who are ill. Please contact us if you have an upcoming interview with USCIS, and are not feeling well.
Personal Injury Cases/Non-immigration: Chief Justice Charles Canady issued an Administrative Order on March 13 limiting most face-to-face legal proceedings and suspending all grand jury proceedings, jury selection proceedings, and criminal and civil jury trials for a minimum of two weeks beginning Monday, March 16.
Additional information regarding international travel, for US citizens/permanent residents and noncitizens can be found at, www.dhs.gov
If you do not already, please follow us on all social media platforms to receive important updates on the law and our office.
For additional information about COVID-19, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at cdc.gov.