Dear Valued Clients,
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:
No Government Shutdown
Relief for Federal Operations: Good news arrived this week as Congress successfully passed a short-term spending bill, ensuring that there won't be a U.S. government shutdown. This decisive action guarantees funding for various federal agencies, including those critical to immigration operations, through February 2, 2024. Another segment of agencies will receive funding until January 19, 2024. This move brings a sigh of relief to many who rely on these essential government services.
December Visa Bulletin
Minimal Changes Ahead: For those closely monitoring the State Department Visa Bulletin, December brings modest adjustments. We will see a slight advancement in the EB-2 and EB-3 Final Action Dates for China. However, other employment-based categories will remain unchanged. In a crucial note for foreign nationals, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will accept employment-based adjustment of status applications from individuals with a priority date that precedes the Dates for Filing listed in the Bulletin.
Expanded Opportunities: Additional H-2B Visas for FY2024
In a significant development, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Labor (DOL) have jointly issued a temporary rule. This rule authorizes the issuance of up to 64,716 additional H-2B visas for the fiscal year 2024. This substantial increase aims to address labor shortages in various industries. Notably, 20,000 of these visas will be exclusively reserved for nationals from Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Haiti, Colombia, Ecuador, or Costa Rica. This initiative, detailed in the Federal Register (88 FR 80394, 11/17/2023), marks a strategic step in bolstering the workforce with international talent.
What is a Waiver and How and When to apply for it?
The I-601 waiver, formally known as the Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility, is a form used in the United States immigration process. It allows individuals who are ineligible for a visa or green card due to certain grounds of inadmissibility to request a waiver (or forgiveness) of these grounds under specific circumstances.
When to Apply for I-601 Waiver:
- After a Finding of Inadmissibility: Typically, you would apply for an I-601 waiver after being deemed inadmissible to the United States by an immigration officer or consular official. This can happen during the visa or adjustment of status process.
- Grounds of Inadmissibility: The waiver is applicable for several grounds of inadmissibility, including certain health-related issues, criminal grounds, immigration fraud or misrepresentation, and prior removals or unlawful presence in the U.S.
- Immediate Relatives: The waiver is often used by immediate relatives (such as spouses, children, or parents) of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents (green card holders) who would experience extreme hardship if the applicant were not allowed to enter or remain in the U.S.
How to Apply for I-601 Waiver:
- Complete Form I-601: The form must be filled out completely and accurately. It is available on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website.
- Provide Evidence of Extreme Hardship: You need to prove that your inadmissibility would cause extreme hardship to your U.S. citizen or permanent resident relative. This requires substantial documentation, such as medical reports, financial statements, and personal affidavits.
- Include Other Supporting Documents: These may include police clearance certificates, medical examinations, or other documents relevant to the grounds of inadmissibility.
- Pay the Filing Fee: Check the latest fee on the USCIS website, as fees can change.
- Submit the Application: The form, along with the fee and supporting documents, should be sent to the address specified by USCIS. This can vary depending on your circumstances and where you are applying from.
- Wait for a Decision: The processing time for I-601 waivers can vary significantly. During this time, USCIS may request additional evidence.
- Possible Interview: In some cases, you might be required to attend an interview.
- Legal Advice: It's highly advisable to seek legal advice from an immigration attorney. Waiver applications can be complex, and the outcome significantly impacts your future.
- Changes in Policy: Immigration policies and procedures can change. Always refer to the most current information available from USCIS or consult with an immigration expert.
- No Guarantee of Approval: Even with a well-prepared waiver application, approval is not guaranteed. USCIS evaluates each application on a case-by-case basis.
- Alternative Waivers: Depending on your situation, other waivers (like the I-601A provisional waiver) might be more appropriate.
The I-601 waiver process requires careful consideration of both the legal aspects and the personal circumstances of the applicant and their family. Therefore, a thorough preparation and understanding of the process are crucial for a successful application.
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.