Security Advisory Opinions Taking Longer

According to the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, “[t]he average processing time for [security advisory opinion] clearances has increased to 6-7 weeks.” The increased processing time will apparently affect U.S. Consulates worldwide because it is due to a shortage of personnel in Washington, DC.

Update: Consular Recommendations to Revoke Visa Petitions

Our law firm is often retained to represent clients where a U.S. Consulate has returned the visa petition to USCIS to consider revocation. This process is slower and less transparent than it should be. Still, this update explains that recently there have been some minor improvements in the process. These improvements were mentioned by Jonathan…

USCIS Beijing Office Refuses to Accept Fathers’ Visa Petitions

Today was the fourth time in four years that U.S. citizen fathers have told me that the Beijing office of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has refused to accept immigrant visa petitions (Forms I-130) on behalf of their children. On all four occassions, USCIS stated reason for the refusal was that the fathers failed…

Map of Schools Approved to Sponsor Students with F-1 Visas

A map of schools approved for admission of students with F-1 visas has been posted on U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s webpage. If you know where you want to live but need help choosing a school, this map will tell you what schools in that location have been authorized by the government to sponsor students…

Don’t Be Misled by the USCIS Instructions for Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative

From: Gary Chodorow Sent: Tuesday, April 01, 2008 8:06 PM To: uscis.webmaster@dhs.gov Subject: Message from a Nitpicky Lawyer Dear USCIS Communications Office: I’ve read your recent announcement that “[e]ffective immediately, all petitioners filing stand-alone Form I-130s [Petitions for Alien Relatives] must file their petitions with the Chicago Lockbox (emphasis added). USCIS Press Room, USCIS Revising…

Tourism Agreement Should Be Applauded, But Does It Create an Unfair Monopoly?

On Dec. 11, 2007, the U.S. and China signed a memorandum of understanding on group leisure travel from China to the United States. This MOU should be applauded because it lifts prior Chinese rules restricting the travel industry. Still, a question remains whether travel agencies designated by the China National Tourism Agency (CNTA) will receive…

Visa Statistics from the U.S. Embassy in Beijing

U.S. visa-issuing posts in China include the U.S. Embassy in Beijing and the Consulates in Shanghai, Guanghzou, Shenyang, and Chengdu. In calendar year 2007, the U.S. Embassy and Consulates in china issued 417,146 nonimmigrant visas, a 17% increase over 2006. The vast majority, 417,146 or 69%, were B1/B2 visas (visitors for business and pleasure). Student…

U.S. Visa Application Fee Increase

NONIMMIGRANT VISA APPLICATION FEE WILL INCREASE TO $131 Effective January 1, 2008, the application fee for a U.S. nonimmigrant visa will increase from $100 to $131. Those applicants who paid the prior $100 application fee before January 1, 2008 will be processed without further payment only if they appear for a visa interview before January…

How to Improve America’s Image in the World

In a recent article in Slate, Fred Kaplan summarizes readers’ ideas of how to improve America’s image in the world: Many readers [point out] the rudeness and paranoia on display at U.S. embassies and customs desks. Americans living in Europe say that some of their friends, even those who studied in American universities, refuse to…

GAO Report: Growing Visa Demand a Challenge for State Department

A new report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office highlights several challenges the State Department faces in keeping up with growing visa demand at consular posts in China. GAO, Border Security: Long-Term Strategy Needed to Keep Pace with Increasing Demand for Visas, GAO-07-847 (July 2007). INACCURATE ESTIMATES OF VISA APPOINTMENT WAIT TIMES One challenge is…