1. Where are all the I-601A cases going?
We have had a number of I-601A provisional unlawful presence waiver cases transferred lately, and wonder whether they are headed to the location provided in the transfer notice, the Potomac Service Center, or if they will be headed ultimately to the new virtual remote HART (Humanitarian, Adjustments, Removing Conditions, and Travel Documents) Service Center that is opening at this time in order to speed up processing as a result of pending litigation. Of special interest to us is that the remote center will concentrate on I-601A’s as well as “bona fide determinations” for U visa applicants (I-918), VAWA petitions (I-360), and asylum reunification petitions (I-730). In an article written by a senior fellow at the American Immigration Council, Dara Lind, “New USCIS Center Is Good News For Some Of Its Worst Backlog Victims”, Immigration Daily, 4/19/23, she said that the Council documented in a recent class-action lawsuit that processing times for I-601A grew sixfold from 2017 to 2022, and that of the two service centers handling the waivers, it is taking three years at one center and 3 ½ in another one to decide 80% of the waivers. Attorneys in the lawsuit estimate that the class of people who have waivers pending for more than 12 months would include at least 70,000 people. In favor of the ultimate destination being HART, it otherwise makes little sense to transfer from the Nebraska Service Center to the Potomac Service Center since both have a current published processing time of 44 months for 80% of the cases.
2. Watch out for distance learning.
During the pandemic, USCIS was operating under Covid flexibilities under which distance-learning had been allowed in excess of the regulations under 8 CFR 214.2(f)(6)(i)(G) which states:
(G) For F-1 students enrolled in classes for credit or classroom hours, no more than the equivalent of one class or three credits per session, term, semester, trimester, or quarter may be counted toward the full course of study requirement if the class is taken on-line or through distance education and does not require the student’s physical attendance for classes, examination or other purposes integral to completion of the class. An on-line or distance education course is a course that is offered principally through the use of television, audio, or computer transmission including open broadcast, closed circuit, cable, microwave, or satellite, audio conferencing, or computer conferencing. If the F-1 student’s course of study is in a language study program, no on-line or distance education classes may be considered to count toward a student’s full course of study requirement.
In an ICE SEVP Broadcast Message on 5/11/23: “Termination of SEVP COVID-19 Flexibilities”, ICE said that because of the termination of the Covid public emergency on 5/11/23, the SEVP Covid-19 guidance terminated on that day. Active F and M nonimmigrant students are able to complete the 2022-23 academic year under Covid-19 flexibilities through the 2023 summer semester. But active F and M nonimmigrant students will not be permitted to count online classes toward a full course of study in excess of the regulatory limits for the 2023-24 academic year. Initial or reentering students must enroll in programs complying with the regulatory limits for distance learning. This must give pause now to those students wishing to enroll in schools offering a tenuous connection to physical classroom instruction as USCIS may now be looking harder at these schools’ arrangements for instruction following the ending of the pandemic emergency.
1. After receiving your permanent residence card, you do not need I-131 or I-765
A reader asks:
Eb-1A and I-485 show that new card is being produced, but I-131 and I-765 show that case was received and fingerprints taken respectively. In this case, is there anything I need to do? Will I-131 and I-765 petitions be canceled automatically?
Mr. Lee answers,
It appears as if you received an email or emails from USCIS that your green card is being produced which although unofficial can usually be relied upon. It also appears that you have checked the USCIS online status system and the ancillary applications of I-131 advance parole and I-765 employment authorization application, which shows that the applications have been received and fingerprints taken. The online status system is only as current as the person inputting the data, and it would appear that no action has been taken although the information may not be current. You do not have to do anything at this point. USCIS should at this juncture close or deny both of the ancillary applications as it is granting your permanent residence. We have seen that sometimes when the agency personnel are working on the green card application and ancillary applications at the same time, the ancillary applications are approved as they are being worked on by other officers. Please note that if you receive approvals of advance parole and employment authorization after receiving your permanent residence card, they cannot be used as you are now in another status.
2. It is a common situation that combo cards are not adjudicated together for all members of the family
A reader asks:
I applied for EB-1B, and the principal and dependent had fingerprinted at the end of January. The main applicant’s combo card was approved at the end of February, but we have not heard anything on the dependent’s case yet. Is it normal? Is there a way to solve the situation?
Mr. Lee answers,
It is unfortunately a common situation that combo cards are not adjudicated together for all members of the family who apply for them. The solution is either to wait until the published processing times for 80% of adjudications in the categories of EAD and advance parole have been reached to trace the case through the USCIS Contact Center (1-800-375-5283 or one of the other ways to contact the Contact Center), or prove that the dependent meets the expedite criteria of the agency. The current expedite guidelines are:
- Severe financial loss to a company or person, provided that the need for urgent action is not the result of the petitioner’s or applicant’s failure: (1) to timely file the benefit request; or (2) to timely respond to any requests for additional evidence;
- Emergencies and urgent humanitarian reasons;
- Nonprofit organization (as designated by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)) whose request is in furtherance of the cultural or social interests of the United States;
- S. government interests (including cases identified as urgent by federal agencies such as the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), the U.S. Department of State (DOS), DHS, or other public safety or national security interests); or
- Clear USCIS error.
I note that we had a recent case in which the dependent received the combo card prior to the principal applicant, who had a more pressing need for it, but did not meet the expedite criteria. The principal did finally receive the card, just in time to keep working for the company without a break.