USCIS ANNOUNCES TRIAL OF NEW VERSION OF THE NATURALIZATION TEST
The citizenship test for naturalization consists of two parts, an English test that evaluates an applicants ability to read, write and speak, and a civics test that assesses the applicant's knowledge of U.S. government and history. In the new trial version of the naturalization test, reading and writing will not be covered and changes have been made to the speaking assessment. Whereas in the past immigration officers asked applicants about their citizenship application and eligibility in order to test their speaking ability, the new assessment will require applicants to describe three color photographs depicting everyday life and they will be judged on their responses. Additionally, changes have been made to the civics portion of the citizenship test, instead of being read 10 questions by the USCIS officer and having to answer six correctly, applicants would instead have to answer 10 multiple choice questions that will be displayed on a tablet. This trial will involve 1,500 adult applicants currently preparing for the citizenship test and will take place over a five-month period in 2023.
AUTOMATIC EXTENSION FOR GREEN CARDS FOR 24 MONTHS FOR NATURALIZATION APPLICANTS
As of December 12, 2022, USCIS will automatically extend expired green cards for 24 months when the lawful permanent resident who holds the green card applies for naturalization. The Form N-400 will serve as evidence of the expired green card holders continued lawful status. This change is in an effort to meet USCIS's new policy goal of processing Form N-400s within six months and means that those who file Form N-400 on or after December 12, 2022 will not have to file the accompanying Form I-90. This update is expected to help lessen the wait time for naturalization applicants.
EB-5 REGIONAL CENTERS SHOULD FILE FORM I-956G ANNUAL REPORT BY DEC. 29, 2022
The EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act which was passed in March 2022 reauthorized the expired Regional Center program through September 2027. As part of this new legislation, Form I-956G will replace the old Form I-924A which is the annual compliance form. All regional centers designated on or before Sept. 30, 2022 should file form I-956G regardless of whether they plan to sponsor new offerings or not. While the Act was intended to clarify and ease the EB-5 process for foreign investors, many EB-5 stakeholders are still looking to USCIS for more clarification. Stakeholders report having attempted to confirm that there will be no termination of Regional Centers not sponsoring new projectors or new investors that have yet to file Form I-956 but USCIS has failed to give such confirmation. As a result, it is highly suggested that Regional Centers file Form I-956 as a safety precaution.
U.S. VISA APPROVAL REBOUNDS AFTER COVID-19 STAGNATION
According to the U.S. State Department, during FY 2022 which ended on September 30, 2022, the Department issued 493,000 visas to overseas immigrants who were applying for permanent visas. This is a 73% increase from FY 2021 and a nearly 100% increase from FY 2020. Additionally, in FY 2022, the State Department issued 212,000 immigrant visas to parents, children and spouses of U.S. citizens which is the highest number of approved visas in this category since 2018. The total number of temporary U.S. visas approved for FY 2022 was nearly 7 million, a significant increase from peak pandemic numbers but still notably lower than pre-pandemic years. These statistics are encouraging and suggest that U.S. immigration is slowly but steadily recovering.