Immigration regulations and procedures are in an unprecedented state of ongoing review and change. The following is intended to provide you with information on developments that may impact your travel and/or nonimmigrant status.
Student Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) Announces SEVIS Fee Increase
On May 22, 2019, the Department of Homeland Security announced that I-901 fees will be increased for F-1 & M-1 students from $200 to $350. I-901 fees for J-1 Exchange Visitors will increase from $180 to $220. According to SEVP, the increased fees are needed to fund operations as they receive no Congressional appropriations.
The new fees will go into effect on June 24, 2019.
Investigation of USCIS Backlog Called For
Eighty-two members of Congress have called on the “GAO to thoroughly examine the backlog of immigration cases at United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and work with the agency to fulfill its mission of processing immigration cases”:
Department of State announces 2020 Diversity Visa Lottery
The Department of State announced that it will be opening the 2020 Diversity Visa Lottery. Individuals who wish to enter may apply starting from noon (EST) on Wednesday, October 3, 2018 through noon (EST) Tuesday, November 6, 2018. All applications must be submitted electronically using Form DS-5501 at http://www.dvlottery.state.gov Please note that paper entries will not be accepted and applicants are encouraged to submit as early as possible.
For more information and to see if you qualify for entry, please visit: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/immigrate/diversity-visa-program-entry.html
USCIS Adjusting Premium Processing Fee
Effective October 1, 2018, USCIS will increase the premium processing fee from the current fee of $1,225.00 to $1,410.00, a 14.92 percent increase (after rounding). This increase, which is done in accordance with the Immigration and Nationality Act, represents the percentage change in inflation since the fee was last increased in 2010 based on the Consumer Price Index for all Urban Consumers.
USCIS to Expand In-Person Interview Requirements for Certain Permanent Residence Applications
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin expanding in-person interviews for certain immigration benefit applicants whose benefit, if granted, would allow them to permanently reside in the United States. This change complies with Executive Order 13780, “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States,” and is part of the agency’s comprehensive strategy to further improve the detection and prevention of fraud and further enhance the integrity of the immigration system.
Effective Oct. 1, USCIS will begin to phase-in interviews for the following:
• Adjustment of status applications based on employment (Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status).
• Refugee/asylee relative petitions (Form I-730, Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition) for beneficiaries who are in the United States and are petitioning to join a principal asylee/refugee applicant.
Previously, applicants in these categories did not require an in-person interview with USCIS officers in order for their application for permanent residency to be adjudicated. Beyond these categories, USCIS is planning an incremental expansion of interviews to other benefit types.
Conducting in-person interviews will provide USCIS officers with the opportunity to verify the information provided in an individual’s application, to discover new information that may be relevant to the adjudication process, and to determine the credibility of the individual seeking permanent residence in the United States. USCIS will meet the additional interview requirement through enhancements in training and technology as well as transitions in some aspects of case management.
Executive Order 13780-Enahncing Vetting Capabilities and Processes for Detecting Attempted Entry into the United States by Terrorists and Other Public Safety Threats.
On September 24, the Trump administration released its latest version of Executive Order 13780 in the form of a Presidential Proclamation “Enhancing Vetting Capabilities and Processes for Detecting Attempted Entry into the United States by Terrorists and Other Public-Safety Threats”. The order discusses the results of a 90 day review regarding individual screening and information sharing policies. Eight counties were found to be deficient and each was listed separately as to the restrictions its citizens would face. Two countries were found to require only additional scrutiny, and one was eliminated from the list.
- Chad-No immigrant, DV visas; no temporary visitors or business or tourist visas (B-1/B-2)
- Iran-No immigrant or DV visas; and no nonimmigrants, except F-1 students, M-1 vocational students and J-1 exchange visitors who will be subject to enhanced screening
- Iraq- All nonimmigrant and immigrant visas are still available with enhanced screening
- Libya- No immigrant or DV visas; no temporary visitors or business or tourist visas (B-1/B-2)
- North Korea-No immigrant, nonimmigrant or DV visas
- Somalia-No immigrant visas and all nonimmigrants will be subject to enhanced screening
- Syria-No immigrant, nonimmigrant or DV visas
- Venezuela-Certain government officials and their family members will be suspended from entry on business or tourist visas (B-1/B-2); no other restrictions
- Yemen-No immigrant, nonimmigrant or DV visas
No visas will be revoked and all valid visas may still be used for entry to the United States. Green card holders are exempt from this ban as are dual nationals traveling on third country passports. Waivers may be granted at consulates for undue hardship, students, workers or other long-term activities or for significant business or professional contacts or obligations or medical needs.
Seeking legal counsel
Individuals who may be subject to the ban are advised to get advice from an experienced immigration lawyer if they have questions about the Executive Order, or for questions about any possible relief from the consequences of the Executive Order.
Spouses of H-1B Nonimmigrants Seeking Employment-Based Lawful Permanent Residence
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director León Rodríguez announced today that, effective May 26, 2015, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is extending eligibility for employment authorization to certain H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B nonimmigrants who are seeking employment-based lawful permanent resident (LPR) status. DHS amended the regulations to allow these H-4 dependent spouses to accept employment in the United States.
To learn more, visit our site.
FORM I-94 (ARRIVAL/DEPARTURE RECORD) ISSUANCE AUTOMATED at U.S. AIR AND SEA PORTS
In order to increase efficiency, reduce costs and streamline the admissions process, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CPB) has announced that it will be automating the Form I-94 card at air and sea ports of entry. The paper form will no longer be provided to a traveler upon arrival, except in limited circumstances. The traveler will be provided with a CPB admission stamp on their travel document. If a traveler needs a copy of their I-94 card (record of admission) for verification of alien registration, immigration status or employment authorization, it can be obtained from: www.cpb.gov/I94. Additional information is available at: http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/newsroom/news_releases/national/03212013.xml
This change, which is already in effect at several ports of entry, is expected to take effect at New York air and sea ports of entry on May 7, 2013.
Online Address Change Notification to DHS now Available for Form AR-11
All non-US citizens in the US for more than 29 days are required to report changes of addess to the Department of Homeland Security within 10 days of moving using form AR-11.
SANTA Holiday Tips for Traveling Students