Police Certificates Now Valid for 2 Years, Says U.S. State Dep’t

Applicants for U.S. immigrant visas and K-1 (fiancée) visas are required to submit a set of civil documents in support of their application. This includes, for example, birth, marriage, and police certificates. Effective June 15, 2021, the U.S. State Department has extended the validity of police certificates to 2 years. See 9 FAM 504.4-4(A) and…

319(b) Expeditious Naturalization: USCIS Washington DC Field Office Procedures Update

The USCIS Washington DC Field Office has provided an update regarding their procedures for appointments and oath ceremonies for applicants for expeditious naturalization under section 319(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Section 319(b) allows the spouses of U.S. citizens employed abroad by certain U.S. employers to qualify for naturalization without completing the normally required…

The Importance of A-Files

Borderless Magazine recently ran an informative story about “A-files” and the importance of a filing a request under FOIA (the Freedom of Information Act) to USCIS for copies of one’s A-file. A-files contain records of all interactions between a noncitizen and immigration agencies and officers. This includes copies of previously filed applications and petitions. This…

Cato Institute on Welcoming Immigrants from China

“The United States Should Welcome Immigrants from China,” proclaims an article on the Cato Institute website by Alex Nowrasteh and John Glaser. The authors see that competition with China is dominating America’s foreign policy discourse in a way reminiscent of the Cold War. The authors blame this poisoned discourse in part on President Biden’s failure…

Is a Utah Marriage Over Zoom Valid for Immigration Purposes?

Generally speaking, a proxy marriage is a wedding in which one or both of the individuals being united are not physically present, and perhaps are being represented instead by other persons (“proxies”). If both partners are absent a “double proxy marriage” occurs. During COVID-19, proxy marriages have proliferated because lockdowns and international travel restrictions have made it harder…

Immigrant Visa Issuances at the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou (Apr. 2021)

The Visa Office has published the following statistics for immigrant visa issuances at the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou in April 2021. The first thing that stands out is the huge increase in issuance of FX visas (for spouses and children of permanent residents, and their children). In April 1,324 FX visas were issued, compared to…

Green Card Holders Staying Abroad Over 6 Months Risk Abandonment

What do you need to do to preserve your status as a lawful permanent resident (LPR)? This question is critical now more than ever for persons unable to travel due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic or related travel restrictions. U.S. Customs and Border Protection has not provided any special guidance related to readmission to the…

USCIS Processing Times for Immediate Relatives (I-130s) and Fiancé(e)s (I-129Fs)

This post includes two tables: Table 1 shows processing times at all Service Centers for: Forms I-130, Petitions for Alien Relatives, filed by U.S. citizens for immediate relatives (i.e., spouses, parents, or children under 21). More specifically, these processing times are for standalone I-130s, meaning I-130s not filed together with Form I-485, Application to Adjust…

U.S. Retaliates Against China for Failure to Repatriate Deportees

The U.S. has imposed visa sanctions on certain Chinese nationals in retaliation for the Chinese government’s failure to repatriate deportees from the U.S. By 2017, there was a backlog of nearly 40,800 Chinese nationals who had been ordered deported by the U.S. but who had not been removed because China was dragging its feet in issuing travel documents,…

U.S. State Department Loosens Citizenship Requirements for Children Born Abroad thru Assisted Reproductive Technology

The State Department announced on May 18 that it is easing restrictions on the ties children born abroad must have with their parents in order to automatically acquire citizenship at birth abroad under section 301 of the Immigration and Nationality Act. The U.S. will now only require children born abroad to have a “genetic or…

Biden Revokes Trump’s Health Insurance Requirement for Immigrant Visa Applicants

On May 14, President Biden revoked former President Trump’s proclamation requiring that immigrant visa applicants buy health insurance. Proclamation 9945 had never gone into effect because it was tied up in litigation. Plaintiffs in Doe vs. Trump that the proclamation was an unlawful exercise of power reserved for Congress. It would have required immigrant visa…

Students and Academics in China Exempted from COVID-Related U.S. Visa and Entry Ban

The State Department has just announced an exception to the COVID-related visa and entry ban for persons present in China. Namely, applicants for F-1 student visas and J-1 exchange visitor visas for academic programs will qualify for a “national interest exception” (NIE) to the ban, so they may be issued visas and enter the United…

State Dep’t Creates National Interest Exceptions for Regional COVID Entry Bans

The Secretary of State has opened up cracks in the the entry bans for foreign nationals who have been in China, Iran, Schengen Area, United Kingdom, Ireland, Brazil, or South Africa within 14 days of applying for a visa or seeking entry to the United States. These entry bans were created by Presidential Proclamations 9984…

State Dep’t Update on Public Charge

Trump’s USCIS public charge rule is dead, and his State Department public charge rule is at death’s door. Here’s the latest announcement, dated Mar. 26, 2021, from the State Department: On July 29, 2020, the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York enjoined the Department of State from “enforcing, applying, implementing,…

USCIS Stops Applying Trump’s 2019 Public Charge Rule

It’s time to celebrate! USCIS has stopped applying the Trump administration’s 2019 public charge rule, also known as the “wealth test.” As background information, the United States has long refused to admit foreign nationals who are likely to become a “public charge.” According to 1999 Interim Field Guidance, a public charge was defined as a…

USCIS Lockbox Delays

USCIS lockbox delays are the topic of a Mar. 10 update to the agency’s COVID-19 webpage: “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…

DHS to Stop Defending Trump’s Public Charge Rule in Court

DHS has released the below statement that it will no longer pursue appellate review of judicial decisions invalidating or enjoining the Trump administration’s 2019 public charge rule. Once the judicial invalidation of the 2019 rule becomes final, the 1999 interim field guidance on public charge will apply. This is fantastic news, but it does not…

Biden Rescinds Presidential Proclamation 10014, Which Prohibited Entry of Immigrants Who Are “Risk” to Labor Market

On February 24, 2021, President Biden rescinded Presidential Proclamation 10014, which prohibited the entry of certain immigrants into the United States due to possible harm to economic interests due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Biden asserts that the ban “harms the United States, including by preventing certain family members of United States citizens and lawful permanent residents from…

USCIS Rolls Back Trump-Era Civics Test Changes for Naturalization Applicants

On Feb. 22, USCIS announced it is rolling back Trump-era changes to the civics test for naturalization applicants. The purpose of the civics test is for a naturalization applicant to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the fundamentals of the history, and of the principles and form of government, of the United States. As background, on…

Guide to Naturalization in the United States

1. Introduction This Guide summarizes the requirements and procedures to apply to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for naturalization. Naturalization is the manner in which a person not born in the U.S. voluntarily applies for citizenship.[1] This Guide does not cover the special naturalization provisions for members of the U.S. Armed Forces and veterans.…