A blog about U.S. immigration matters by Paul Szeto, a former INS attorney and an experienced immigration attorney and counsel. Contact Info: 732-632-9888, http://www.1visa1.com/ (All information is not legal advice and is subject to change without prior notice.)

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

New Portal for Foreign Students to Update SEVIS

Many students come to America seeking quality education and employment opportunities. To keep track of all this movement, the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) maintains an immense amount of data. A newly implemented portal system alleviates some of this administrative strain.

The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) portal allows for a more direct approach for optional practical training (OPT) students to manage their personal information. OPT refers to the post-study status an F-1 student can hold to allow them to work for one year for the purpose of gaining experience (STEM OPT status holders get two years).

Basically, with the SEVP portal, they can modify their phone number, address, mailing address, and employer information on file directly instead of through their school officials. The information is more accurate and quickly updated. Also, this eliminates mix-ups regarding the rule on reporting address changes within 10 days in order to maintain nonimmigrant status.

All students need to gain access to the portal is a valid e-mail address with SEVIS and their SEVIS identification number, found on the top of their I-20 forms.

It is very important for foreign students to report any changes in their address and personal information.  

Pilot Program for Canadian L-1 Multinational Executives and Managers

Applying for nonimmigrant statuses can be a lengthy process with long wait times coming one after another. A recent program exclusive to Canadians seeking L-1 status seeks to mitigate this. A temporary joint program exclusively for Canadian citizens applying for L-1 status under NAFTA will span from April 30, 2018 to October 31, 2018. USCIS California and Customs and Border Protection in Blaine, Washington are coordinating L-1 nonimmigrant status processing and admission to the United States to allow Canadians to enter the country under L-1 status.

What is "L-1 status"? It is a visa category for foreign executives and high-level managers of multinational companies. It allows the company to bring an executive or manager to an office in the States. The employee can stay an initial three years, with two-year extensions capping at seven total years.  The pilot program aims to encourage U.S. employees to move their executive employees in by expediting the total process.

Participation in this program allows an employer to file I-129 (L-1) forms ahead of time. When the employee goes to the port of entry (POE) for admission, they can have the application adjudicated and enter under L-1 status following approval. 

Outside of the program, adjudication can also happen at Class A POEs or pre-clearance airports (PC). Bringing an unprocessed I-129 (L-1) form to Blaine POE would then commence the adjudication process, with results coming out at a later date (at Class A POEs or PC). Stations nearest to Blaine are Class A POEs Point Roberts, Washington, and Sumas, Washington, and the Vancouver, Washington, PC. Applicants should remember that bringing an I-129 application still under processing to a POE could cause delays.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

May 2018 Visa Bulletin



May's Visa Bulletin has no notable movements.   EB-2 China continues to be significantly ahead of EB-3 China, allowing many Chinese applicants to continue"downgrading" their applicants to EB-3 and filing their I-485 applicants a lot sooner.

  • EB-1 continues to retrogress (not current) for EB-1 China and India
  • EB-2 China advances one month
  • EB-3 India advances 3 months

Filing Dates:  (May not apply to U.S. filings)

  • EB-2 India advances 7 weeks
  • EB-3 India advances 5 months

AD: Dates for Final Action (Approval)  FD : Dates for Filing Applications
      Family
Other Countries
      China
India
Mexico
Philippines
F1
AD
04/08/2011
04/08/2011
04/08/2011
11/15/1996
01/22/2006
FD
01/08/2012
01/08/2012
01/08/2012
07/15/1998
10/08/2007
F2A
AD
06/01/2016
06/01/2016
06/01/2016
04/22/2016
06/01/2016
FD
09/22/2017
09/22/2017
09/22/2017
09/22/2017
09/22/2017
F2B
AD
05/15/2011
05/15/2011
05/15/2011
12/01/1996
12/15/2006
FD
09/08/2011
09/08/2011
09/08/2011
05/22/1997
09/08/2007
F3
AD
02/01/2006
02/01/2006
02/01/2006
09/01/1995
04/01/1995
FD
09/08/2006
09/08/2006
09/08/2006
09/22/1998
07/22/1995
F4
AD
10/01/2004
10/01/2004
03/01/2004
01/08/1998
02/01/1995
FD
04/01/2005
04/01/2005
12/01/2004
05/08/1998
10/15/1995
1st: Unmarried Sons and Daughters of Citizens (about 23,000 per year).
2A: The 2 "A" preference is for Spouses and Children (under 21 & unmarried) of LPR's.
2B: The 2 "B" Preference is for Unmarried Sons and Daughters (21 or older) of LPR's.
3rd: Married Sons and Daughters of Citizens (about 23,000 per year)
4th: Brothers and Sisters of Adult Citizens.(about 65,000 per year)


Employment
Other Counties
China
El Salvador
Guatemala
Honduras
India
Mexico
Philippines
EB1
AD
C
  01/01/2012
C
  01/01/2012
C
C
FD
C
C
C
C
C
C
EB2
AD
 C
09/01/2014
C
  12/22/2008
C
C
FD
C
02/01/2015
C
04/01/2009
C
C
EB3
AD
C
06/01/2015
C
05/01/2008
C
01/01/2017
FD
C
01/01/2016
C
09/01/2008
C
07/01/2017
Other Workers
AD
C
05/01/2007
C
05/01/2008
C
01/01/2017
FD
C
06/01/2008
C
09/01/2008
C
07/01/2017
EB4
AD
C
C
12/15/2015
C
10/22/2016
C
FD
C
C
04/15/2016
C
C
C
EB5
AD
C
07/22/2014
C
C
C
C
FD
C
09/01/2014
C
C
C
C
1st: Priority Workers (Extraordinary ability aliens, multinational companies executives/managers, outstanding prof./researchers)
2nd: Members of the Professions Holding Advanced Degrees or Persons of Exceptional Ability.
3rd: Skilled Workers, Professionals, and Other Workers (Unskilled.)
4th: "Special Immigrants" (Religious & others) 
5th: Employment Creation (Investors)


Thursday, April 12, 2018

H-1B Lottery Complete: 190,098 Petitions Received

USCIS received 190,098 H-1B petitions this year during the first five business days, about 9,000 cases less than last year. Visa lottery has been completed too as of 04/12/2018.  Notifications will be sent out gradually.  Receipt notices will be mailed out first to the lucky winners, and unselected cases will be returned later on.  Applicants should not lose hope until the end as it will take weeks for USCIS to process and send out all filing receipt notices. 

Sunday, April 8, 2018

2018 Poverty Guidelines for Affidavit of Support (I-864)


Every year, USCIS published the most current income requirements for completing the I-864 Affidavit of Support for immigrant petitions. These guidelines are based on the current poverty guidelines published by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).  

To support an intending immigrant and his/her family members, the sponsor(s) must generally show that their income level is above 125% of the U.S. poverty line for the family unit.  For example, as shown by the 2018 guidelines below, for an immigrant family of 2, the sponsor's income must be at least 20,575 in most states and U.S. territories except Alaska and Hawaii, which have higher income requirements.

Size of Household
48 Contiguous States,D.C.U.S. Virgin Islands,Guam & CNMI
Alaska
Hawaii
125% of Poverty Line (U.S. dollars)
2
20,575
25,725
      23,662
3
25,975
32,475
      29,875
4
31,375
39,225
      36,087
5
36,775
45,975
      42,300
6
42,175
52,725
      48,512
7
47,575
59,475
      54,725
8
52,975
66,225
      60,937

Add $5,400 for each additional person
Add $6,750 for each additional person
Add $6,212 for each additional person


If the financial sponsors' income level is below the guidelines, the intending immigrant may be found to be inadmissible to the United States as a "public charge."  Section 212(a)(4) of Immigration Act requires that family-based immigrants and the dependents of an employment-based immigrant must prove that they will not likely become a financial burden (public charge) to the U.S. society.

The I-864 Affidavit of Support form is used to determine if there is sufficient financial support for intending immigrants. The I-864 form turns out to be an extremely challenging document to handle. In fact, a good number of immigrant petitions are delayed or denied because of errors relating to the I-864 form. Normally, the petitioner must act as the sponsor.  If the petitioner's income level is insufficient, a joint sponsor may provide additional financial support.  Both petitioner and the beneficiary may also use their assets such as real estate, stocks, bonds, cash, etc., to meet the I-864 requirements.