Dear Clients and Partners,
We hope this newsletter finds you well. At the Law Offices of Keshab Raj Seadie, P.C., we are committed to keeping you informed about important updates in the field of immigration law that may affect you or your loved ones.
USCIS Increases Employment Authorization Document (EAD) Validity Period
On September 27, 2023, USCIS updated its guidance in the Policy Manual to extend the maximum validity period for initial and renewal Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) for certain noncitizens who are employment authorized incident to their status or circumstance. This includes individuals admitted as refugees, paroled as refugees, granted asylum, and recipients of withholding of removal.
The new policy extends the validity of these EADs to a maximum of five years, providing greater stability and security for those eligible. This update is a positive step that aligns with USCIS's commitment to supporting individuals who are lawfully present in the United States.
USCIS Exempts Biometric Services Fee for Form I-539 Applicants
Effective September 25, 2023, USCIS announced that it will exempt the biometric services fee for Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status. This exemption is welcome news for individuals seeking to extend or change their nonimmigrant status in the United States.
This change eliminates the associated biometric services fee, making the process more accessible and affordable for applicants. It reflects USCIS's ongoing efforts to streamline processes and reduce financial barriers for those navigating the immigration system.
November 2023 Visa Bulletin Update
Notably, the November 2023 Visa Bulletin hasn't seen significant changes for both employment and family-based green card applicants. While the bulletin contains important information, including notes on the diversity visa and the scheduled expiration for EB-4 religious workers, the final action dates and filing dates remain largely consistent with previous updates.
USCIS Adjustment of Status Filing Dates for November 2023
For those considering family-sponsored filings, it's essential to refer to the Dates for Filing chart in the Department of State Visa Bulletin for November 2023. The same applies to employment-based preference filings, where you should use the Dates for Filing chart to determine your eligibility.
Important Notice: Automatic 540-Day Extension for Certain EAD Renewals
We want to remind you that the Temporary Final Rule (TFR) extending certain Employment Authorization Cards (EADs) by up to 540 days will expire on October 26, 2023. If you are applying for a renewal in one of the eligible categories and file your Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, on or before October 26, 2023, you may qualify for an automatic extension of employment authorization of up to 540 days. However, forms filed after this date will be eligible for an automatic extension of up to 180 days.
This extension was initially introduced in May 2022 due to operational challenges that had caused delays in processing Form I-765 applications. While USCIS has made improvements, some processing times still exceed 180 days in specific circumstances.
USCIS Provides Additional Guidance for EB-5 Required Investment Timeframe and Investors Associated with Terminated Regional Centers
We are pleased to provide you with additional guidance regarding changes to the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program, specifically focusing on the required investment timeframe and the treatment of investors associated with terminated regional centers. These changes are in accordance with the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act of 2022 (RIA), which brought significant modifications to the EB-5 program.
Required Investment Timeframe for EB-5 Investors
The RIA has clarified the required investment timeframe for EB-5 investors who filed Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Standalone Investor, or Form I-526E, Immigrant Petition by Regional Center Investor, on or after March 15, 2022. Under the RIA, post-RIA investors are no longer required to sustain their investment throughout their conditional residence. Instead, the investment must be expected to remain invested for at least two years, provided that the job creation requirements have been met.
We interpret the start date for this two-year period as the date the requisite amount of qualifying investment is made. Thus, if the investment was made more than two years before filing the I-526 or I-526E petition, it should generally still be maintained at the time the petition is filed to evaluate eligibility properly.
Treatment of Investors Associated with Terminated Regional Centers
Prior to the RIA, the termination of a regional center would have had significant implications for investors who had not yet obtained conditional permanent resident status. However, the RIA introduced a new provision at INA 203(b)(5)(M) that allows good faith investors associated with terminated regional centers to retain eligibility in certain circumstances.
For pre-RIA investors associated with a terminated regional center, we interpret INA 203(b)(5)(M) to be applicable. We will extend the deadline for these investors to respond to a regional center termination notification until their Form I-526 petition is adjudicated. If necessary, we may issue Requests for Evidence or Notices of Intent to Deny to establish continued eligibility.
We also have the flexibility to extend response deadlines of 180 days for notices of continued eligibility. When a regional center is terminated for purely administrative noncompliance, we may determine that this termination does not adversely affect a pre-RIA investor's basic eligibility, as their investment and job creation would remain undisturbed. However, if a regional center is terminated for substantive reasons that may affect the continued eligibility of their associated investors, we may not extend applicable response deadlines.
TIPS OF THE WEEK
Immigration Consequences of Criminal Activity for nonimmigrant visa holders
Engaging in criminal activity as a nonimmigrant visa holder can have serious consequences for extending or renewing your visa in the United States:
Visa Ineligibility: Certain criminal convictions can render you ineligible for a visa extension or renewal. Crimes involving moral turpitude, drug offenses, and crimes of violence can make you ineligible for various types of visas.
Deportation: If you are convicted of a serious crime, you may face deportation proceedings. This can result in your immediate removal from the United States, making it impossible to extend or renew your visa.
Visa Revocation: The U.S. government can revoke your visa if you are involved in criminal activity, even if you haven't been convicted. This can affect your ability to remain in the country.
Difficulty Obtaining Future Visas: Criminal activity on your record can make it difficult to obtain any type of visa to the United States in the future, as it can be viewed as a negative factor in your application.
Inadmissibility Waivers: In some cases, individuals with criminal records may be eligible for waivers of inadmissibility. However, obtaining such a waiver can be a complex and lengthy process.
It's essential to consult with one of our attorneys if you have a criminal record and need to extend or renew your nonimmigrant visa. We can provide guidance on your specific situation and help you navigate the immigration process.
These updates from USCIS underscore the importance of staying informed about changes in immigration policies and procedures. At the Law Offices of Keshab Raj Seadie, P.C., we are here to assist you with any questions or concerns related to your immigration matters. Our experienced legal team is dedicated to providing expert guidance and support to help you navigate the complexities of immigration law.
Should you require assistance with any immigration-related matters, please do not hesitate to reach out to our office. We are here to serve you.
Thank you for entrusting us with your immigration needs. We look forward to continuing to assist you on your immigration journey.
Keshab Raj Seadie, Esq.
Founder and Managing Attorney
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.