As published in the Immigration Daily on June 20, 2022
Some movement on July visa bulletin.
Finally, some movement on family-based (FB) cases on the dates of filing chart although the employment-based (EB) categories hardly moved with the exception of the China and India EB-2 categories on both dates of filing and final action charts. The July visa bulletin is out with the following developments – FB final action dates – Only Mexico advanced, F-1 moved 1½ months to 3/15/00, F-2B two months to 4/1/01, F-3 one month to 10/15/97, and F-4 three months to 6/1/00. FB dates for filing had a lot of movement as worldwide F-1 advanced 1½ months to 7/1/16, F-2B one week to 10/1/16, F-3 one month one week to 10/1/09, and F-4 one week to 11/8/07. The rest of the action here was Mexico’s F-1 moving forward seven months to 12/1/01, F-2B three months one week to 8/8/01, F-3 1 ½ months to 4/15/01, and F-4 two weeks to 3/15/01. It should be noted that F-2A remains current for all countries under both charts. EB final action dates – China EB-2 moved one month forward to 4/1/19, and the big story is that India EB-2 moved three months to 12/1/14. EB dates of filing saw China EB-2 moving forward one month to 5/1/19 and India’s EB-2 moving forward one month to 1/1/15. The Central American countries El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras EB-4 and certain religious workers categories advanced almost 6 months to 12/8/17. Diversity cases – all DV numbers in July are current for all countries except Egypt, Nepal, and the Bahamas, and all numbers for all countries will be current for August.
It should be noted that USCIS is using dates of filing for FB cases and final action dates for EB adjustment of status applications.
Renewed guidance on distance learning.
ICE reaffirmed to all SEVIS users on 5/31/22 that the policy of allowing schools and students to engage in distance learning in excess of regulatory limits due to Covid-19 only applies to students who were actively enrolled on 3/9/20, and have continually complied with the terms of their nonimmigrant status. Students enrolling after 3/9/20 must adhere to the existing regulations regarding online learning. Under the March 2020 guidance, active F and M students are permitted to temporarily count online courses towards a full course of study in excess of the regulatory limits. Under the regulatory limits, online courses cannot count toward a full course of study for M and English language training students, and only one online or distance learning class can count toward a full course of study for an F-1 student during each term or semester.
Changed lockbox for some I-485 EB filings.
Be aware that for cases with pending or approved I-140s, there is a change of address for I-485’s beginning on 6/6/22 for persons residing in New Jersey or New York. The I-485’s must now be sent to the Elgin lockbox. If filing concurrent I-140/I-485’s, those still go to the Dallas lockbox. The address of the Elgin lockbox is:
PO Box 4115
Carol Stream, IL 60197-4115
Attn: NFB (Box 4115)
2500 Westfield Dr.
Elgin, IL 60124-7836
NVC current processing times.
In responses provided to the American Immigration Lawyers Association in lieu of the National Visa Center participating in the Spring 2022 liaison meeting, NVC acknowledged that its processing times continue to be lengthy due to substantial backlogs and that practitioners should refer to the NVC time frames page on travel.state.gov to track the current public inquiry form response time and that the processing dates are updated weekly. It should be noted that NVC is also no longer answering its telephones so that it can catch up on the backlog. NVC now wishes everyone to look at its site for processing times before sending in inquiries which are not yet up to the date of processing. The site can be accessed at https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/immigrate/nvc-timeframes.html, or you can just type in on Google “NVC processing times”.
Currently NVC is taking two weeks to create a visa case and enter the data from the petition into the system after getting the file from USCIS (working on cases received 6/2/22 as of 6/13/22); taking 2 ½ months to review documents being sent to them (reviewing documents sent to NVC on 3/30/22 as of 6/13/22); taking one month and three weeks to respond to inquiries (responding to inquiries received on 4/22/22 as of 6/13/22).
USCIS says “go Fish”
We realize that USCIS is behind the 8 ball in many areas, but it should improve especially in providing information to individuals on the status of their cases. The superficial improvements to the published processing times are not very helpful, especially when applicants are given an unrealistic distant date in the future on which they can inquire about their cases after putting in their receipt dates and clicking onto “Get Inquiry Date”. Also the site’s assurance that a person’s case is processing normally is based on no actual knowledge whatsoever. More disturbing is the lack of accommodation in the local USCIS offices with the mantra that everything has to go through the USCIS Contact Center before appointments can be scheduled locally. The difficulty here is that live representatives in the Contact Center are hard to reach and ofttimes unwilling to set up appointments for people to go to the local field office. A further problem is the nonsensical and essentially “go Fish” answers that are being given by USCIS on case inquiries that take about a month to respond to and can come from a variety of immigration offices and service centers that clearly have not even looked at or studied the case, most likely have not even accessed the file, and do not know what to do except to give platonic and not useful answers. For example, on an I-212 (Application for permission to reapply for admission into the US after deportation or removal) case remanded to the New York District office over a year ago, our most recent response last week was from the California Service Center thanking us for the inquiry with the message, “We will review your request and provide notification if additional information is needed.” At the very least, USCIS should make an effort to really solve people’s problems than to provide answers from a service center having nothing to do with the case, having no knowledge of it, and giving the appearance of merely satisfying a USCIS scorecard by racking up robot answers.