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…

USCIS Processing Times for I-129Fs and I-130s for Immediate Relatives

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…

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.…

Will Biden Dump Trump’s Public Charge Rule?

The Immigration and Nationality Act provides that a foreign national who is likely at any time in the future to become a “public charge” is inadmissible. The public charge ground of inadmissibility has existed in some form since at least 1882. The underlying public policy is that, generally, foreign nationals in the U.S. should rely…

Biden Proclamation Continues COVID-Related Entry Suspensions

On January 25, 2021, President Biden signed a proclamation continuing the suspension of entry of certain travelers from the Schengen Area, the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, Brazil, China, and Iran, and expanding restrictions to include travelers from South Africa. U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents are not subject to the proclamations. The full…

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Categorized as COVID-19

Biden Lifts the Travel Ban on Muslim-Majority Countries

On Jan. 20, his first day in office, President Biden issued a Presidential Proclamation revoking the travel ban on Muslim-majority countries first put into place by President Trump in 2017. Biden’s proclamation orders the State Department to resume visa processing and to put into place a plan for (a) adjudicating visa applications by persons who…

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 now critical for persons unable to travel due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic or related travel restrictions. If you are abroad for 6 months or more per year, you risk “abandoning” your green card. This is especially…

USCIS Update: Biometrics Appointment Delays

In a December 29, 2020 Stakeholder Message, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) provided an update on biometrics appointment delays at Application Support Centers (ASCs) due to COVID-19. USCIS collects biometrics for certain kinds of applications, including but not limited to: Form I-485, Application to Adjust Status Form I-131, Application for Travel Document (including reentry permit)…

USCIS Filing Fees Update: Gov’t Withdraws 9th Circuit Appeal

Dec. 29, 2020 Update Yesterday, the government filed a motion for voluntary dismissal of its appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Immigrant Legal Resource Center et al., v. Wolf, et al., a legal challenge to the USCIS final rule from Aug. 20, which increased filing fees and required new versions of…

Common Waivers of Inadmissibility

If a consular officer denies a visa application, there is no appeal. Still, there may be several ways to challenge a visa denial, such as requesting reconsideration, supervisorial review, or an advisory opinion, or resubmitting the application. If a visa denial cannot be overcome, it may be possible to request a “waiver.” A waiver is somewhat analogous to a pardon in criminal law, in that a waiver forgives an ineligibility, allowing visa issuance.