July 21, 2023 - Weekly Immigration News Update

Posted by Keshab R. Seadie | Jul 21, 2023 | 0 Comments

**Advance Copy: USCIS Notice of a New Version of Form I-9**

USCIS has released a new version of Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification. Major changes include the introduction of a checkbox to verify that an employee's Form I-9 documentation was examined using a DHS-authorized alternative procedure. The updated Form I-9 is available for use from August 1st, 2023, while the previous version remains effective through October 31st, 2023.

**VISA Bulletin August 2023**

The procedures for filing the "adjustment of status" applications depend on their type: family-based applicants should refer to the "Dates for Filing" on the State Department's website, whereas employment-based applicants should follow the "Final Action Dates".

For a detailed breakdown of changes to the green card backlogs for both family-based and employment-based applicants, please see the attached document. Notably, changes have been made in the F-2A family-based category and in the EB-1, EB-2, and EB-3 employment-based categories.

Review of Green Card Backlogs for Family-Based Applicants

F-1: For the adult, unmarried children of U.S. citizens, the cut-off dates have not changed except for Mexico, which has seen a waiting period reduction by 2 years and 3 months.

F-2A: For the spouses and minor, unmarried children of U.S. green card holders, there has been no change in waiting times; all countries remain current.

In April, significant changes were seen in the F-2A family-based category due to an increasing backlog of cases. “Final Action Dates” are no longer “current” for F-2A applications, a shift seen for the first time in several years. Nevertheless, “Dates for Filing” remain current, which means the relevant applicants can still submit their green card applications, although adjudication won't happen until the priority date becomes current. This change could potentially lead to longer waiting times in the F-2A category. We'll keep an eye on this and provide updates.

F-2B: For the adult, unmarried children of U.S. green card holders, no change is observed except for Mexico, which has experienced a 2-year shift in wait time.

F-3: For the married children of U.S. citizens, there is no change across all countries.

F-4: For the siblings of U.S. citizens, no changes have been observed across all countries.

Review of Green Card Backlogs for Employment-Based Applicants

EB-1: For extraordinary individuals, outstanding researchers/professors, and multinational executives/managers, a 9-year, 11-month regression is seen for India. There's no change for China, while for the General Category, Central America, Mexico, and the Philippines, the waiting period has been changed from “no wait” to August 1, 2023.

EB-2: For exceptional individuals and advanced degree holders, a 1-month, 2-week change has been observed for the General Category, Central America, Mexico, and the Philippines. China has seen a 1-month change, while there's no change for India.

EB-3: For bachelor's degree holders, skilled workers, and unskilled workers, there is a retrogression of -1 year, 9 months for General Category, Central America, Mexico, and the Philippines. China has seen a 2-month change, and there's no change for India.

There are no changes for the EB-4 “special immigrants” and EB-5 “investors” categories this month.

If you're in line for a green card, monitoring the Visa Bulletin for changes and potential future developments is crucial. To make the process smoother once a green card is available, prepare all necessary documents for your green card application in advance. Failing to file in a month when a green card is available may expose you to a surprise backward movement, or “retrogression,” closing your window of opportunity. Stay tuned for next month's update! We'll highlight all the important changes for you.

**Immigration Relief in Emergencies or Unforeseen Circumstances**

Unpredictable events can disrupt the processing of your USCIS application, petition, or immigration request. If impacted by unforeseen circumstances, you can request case-by-case assistance from USCIS. When doing so, detail how these circumstances created the need for the requested relief. Keep your address updated with USCIS to ensure timely receipt of all correspondence and benefits. 

USCIS has discretion to take the below measures on a case-by-case basis upon request, if you have been affected by an unforeseen circumstance. You can request assistance by calling the USCIS Contact Center at 800-375-5283. For people with disabilities: (TTY) 800-767-1833 or (VRS) 877-709-5797 When you request help, please explain how the impact of an unforeseen circumstance created a need for the requested relief. For example, if you lost all evidence of status or employment authorization, include an explanation in your description and a copy of a police report, insurance claim, or other report, if available, to support your request.

**How to Use Ombudsman to Expedite Your Pending Case at the USCIS?**

The USCIS Ombudsman's Office can assist individuals and employers who are experiencing difficulties with USCIS applications or petitions. The following protocol outlines a simple process to request help from the USCIS Ombudsman for a delayed visa application. 
1. Prepare your case: Collect all relevant information about your visa application. This may include receipt numbers, dates of filing, any responses you have received from USCIS, and all relevant personal information (name, date of birth, country of origin, etc.).
2. Submit a request: Navigate to the USCIS Ombudsman's website and look for instructions on submitting a request for assistance, often called a ‘case assistance request by completing DHS Form 7001 and submitting it online. Be sure to clearly explain your situation, including details about the delay and any impact it may have on your life or work.
3. Wait for a response: Once you've submitted the form, you should receive an automatic email confirmation. A case assistance officer should then contact you to follow up on your request. The timeframe for this can vary depending on the volume of requests they receive.
4. Cooperate: The case assistance officer will likely ask you to provide additional information or documents related to your case. Be sure to provide these promptly and cooperate fully with any requests they make. They may use this information to liaise with USCIS on your behalf.
5. Follow up: If you don't hear back after a reasonable amount of time, consider following up to ensure your case is being processed.

Remember, the Ombudsman's office provides an independent viewpoint and can recommend changes to USCIS processes and policies based on their findings. However, the Ombudsman cannot make USCIS decisions, nor can they change or overturn any decisions made by USCIS. They serve as a mediator to help resolve issues with USCIS.

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