May 24, 2024 - Weekly Immigration News Update

Posted by Keshab R. Seadie | May 24, 2024 | 0 Comments

Dear Clients and Colleagues,

We hope this newsletter finds you well. In this edition, we bring you important updates on various immigration matters. Please take a moment to review the following key highlights:

USCIS Updates Guidance for Family-Based Immigrant Visas

Effective May 22, 2024, USCIS has updated its guidance on family-based immigrant visa petitions, including Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative) and, in certain situations, Form I-360 (Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant). This update explains how USCIS handles correcting approval notice errors, requests for consular processing or adjustment of status on the beneficiary's behalf, and routing procedures for approved petitions.

Key Updates:

  • Current Address and Processing Preference: Petitioners must inform USCIS of the beneficiary's current address and whether the beneficiary prefers consular processing with the Department of State National Visa Center (NVC) or adjustment of status within the United States. This ensures that USCIS either keeps the approved petition for adjustment of status processing or sends it to the NVC for consular processing. Providing accurate information is crucial to avoid delays in the immigrant visa or adjustment of status process. Incorrect information may require filing Form I-824 (Application for Action on an Approved Application or Petition) with the appropriate fee to transfer the petition to the NVC.

  • Clarified Procedures: Previously, USCIS generally kept approved petitions that did not clearly indicate whether the beneficiary preferred adjustment of status or consular processing. The new update clarifies these procedures, promoting more efficient processing when the beneficiary's preference is unclear or has changed, or a correction is needed.

  • USCIS Discretion: If a petitioner does not clearly indicate whether the beneficiary wants consular processing or adjustment of status, USCIS will use discretion to decide based on evidence of the beneficiary's most recent location, including the address provided on the petition.

  • Correcting Errors and Updates: The updated guidance details how petitioners can contact USCIS to correct errors or update pending or approved Form I-130 petitions. This includes updating the beneficiary's location and indicating their preferred processing method.

  • General Guidance on Petition Decisions: The guidance also provides general information on how USCIS decides whether to approve or deny family-based immigrant petitions, including relevant notices.

These updates aim to streamline the processing of family-based immigration petitions and ensure that beneficiaries' preferences for consular processing or adjustment of status are clearly indicated and accurately processed. For more detailed information, petitioners are encouraged to review the updated USCIS Policy Manual or contact USCIS directly for assistance.

NVC Resolves Issues in CEAC Creating Error Messages

Recently, the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) received reports from members experiencing technical issues and error messages when attempting to access cases at the National Visa Center (NVC) through the Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC) system. These issues affected the ability to manage applications and upload necessary documents.

Upon receiving these reports, AILA promptly raised the issue with the NVC. On May 21, 2024, AILA received confirmation from the NVC that there was indeed a problem within the system. The NVC has now resolved the issue, allowing applicants and their representatives to manage applications and upload documents without encountering these technical difficulties.

If you continue to experience issues with the CEAC system, please contact the NVC for further assistance. 

Options for F-1 Visa Holders Not Selected in the H-1B CAP Lottery

F-1 visa holders who were not selected in the H-1B lottery have several options to consider:

  1. Utilize OPT and STEM OPT Extensions

    Standard OPT: If you haven't used your Optional Practical Training (OPT) period yet, you can apply for it. This allows you to work in your field of study for up to 12 months.

    STEM OPT Extension: If you have a degree in a STEM field (Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics), you can apply for a 24-month extension of your OPT. This gives you a total of up to 36 months of work authorization.

  2. Rejoin a Higher Degree Program

    Enroll in a Higher Degree: Consider enrolling in a higher degree program (e.g., Master's or Ph.D.). This not only enhances your qualifications but also resets your eligibility for CPT and OPT.

    Day One CPT: Look for programs that offer Curricular Practical Training (CPT) from the first day. This allows you to work while studying.

    Apply for H-1B Again: You can apply for the H-1B lottery again in the next cycle. If not selected, you can continue with your studies and work on CPT.

    New OPT and STEM OPT: After graduating from the new program, you become eligible for a new period of OPT and, if applicable, another STEM OPT extension.

  3. Explore Other Visa Options

    O-1 Visa: For individuals with extraordinary ability or achievement in their field.

    L-1 Visa: For intra-company transferees who work in a managerial or executive position or have specialized knowledge but must overseas and work at least one year with the parent, subsidiary or affiliate of the U.S. company. 

    E-2 Visa: For investors from countries with treaties with the U.S., provided you have substantial investment in a U.S. business or able to find managerial jobs at company which is majority owned by treaty country national or corporations. 

    H-3 Visa: For trainees or special education exchange visitors.

    J-1 Trainee visa: For trainees with a degree or professional certificate from a foreign post-secondary academic institution and at least one year of prior related work experience in his or her occupational field outside the United States

    EB-5 Green Card: Direct investment or regional center investment amounting to $800,000 or $1,050,000.

  4. Consider Other Pathways

    CAP-Exempt H-1B: Some employers, such as universities and certain non-profit organizations, are exempt from the H-1B CAP and can sponsor H-1B visas throughout the year.

    Work in a Different Country: Consider gaining international work experience, which can enhance your resume and potentially improve your chances of securing an H-1B or L-1 visa in the future.

  5. Consult with an Immigration Attorney

    Legal Advice: Given the complexity of immigration laws, it's advisable to consult with an experienced immigration attorney to explore all available options and to ensure compliance with all legal requirements.

By considering these options, F-1 visa holders can navigate their career paths and maintain their legal status in the United States while seeking future opportunities.

We hope you find this information valuable. If you have any questions or require legal assistance related to any of these updates, please don't hesitate to contact us. We are here to help.


Keshab Raj Seadie, Esq.
Law Offices of Keshab Raj Seadie, P.C.

Disclaimer: This newsletter is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Always consult an attorney for personalized advice.

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