December 2022 was a very active month for US Immigration. GLF provided updates via Google, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram on numerous US Immigration matters including:
- New B1/B2 Visa Interview Waiver appointment slots
- USCIS extends validity of “Green Cards” to 24 months for Pending Renewals
- USCIS updates policy to extend “Green Cards” for 24 months if filing for Naturalization
- Updates on Naturalization Tests
- Extension of Interview Waiver for Family-Based adjustments
- Interview Waiver Extended for Non-Immigrant Visas
- State Department’s January 2023 Visa Bulletin Summary
We at GLPO post regular updates on our Google, LinkedIn, Twitter handles. Additionally, we also periodically send out GLF Newsletters when the subject matter is extensive and relevant for a detailed analysis. Presented below is a consolidated summary of updates posted on GLF’s Google, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram handles for December 2022.
NEW B1/B2 VISA INTERVIEW WAIVER APPOINTMENT SLOTS
US Embassy in India has informed that several B1/B2 visa Interview Waiver (Dropbox) Appointment slots will be opened in the coming months in Delhi, Mumbai, and Chennai consulates. Particularly B1/B2 visa is for people traveling to the United States temporarily for Business (B-1) or for Pleasure or Medical treatment (B-2). This initiative is taken considering the current waiting period for B1/B2 visa Interview Waiver appointments which is around 233 days in Delhi, 297 in Mumbai and 171 days in Chennai.
Global Median Wait time for tourist visa (B1/B2) Interview appointment is under two months whereas in India, first timers have to wait until 3 years to get their B1/B2 Visa Interview slot. Applicants who are renewing any visa (including B1/B2 visas) within 48 months of expiration can avail themselves of the Interview Waiver option.
Students and Exchange visitors will continue to receive priority for Visa interview and Interview waivers given the stipulated admission sessions. Next in the line are L-1 and H-1B Visa applicants followed by B1/B2 renewal visa seekers whose visas have expired within the last four years.
To enable hassle free visa operations and diminish visa backlogs, the following steps are taken by DOS:
- Broader Dropbox criteria to accommodate maximum Applicants and to make them eligible for Interview Waiver.
- Faster adjudication of cases submitted via Drop Box and.
- Recruiting temporary staff.
USCIS EXTENDS VALIDITY OF “GREEN CARDS” TO 24 MONTHS FOR PENDING RENEWALS
Expired Green Cards are now extended for 24 months based on Form I-90 receipt (effective since September 26, 2022). For pending Form I-90s (with a filing date earlier than September 26, 2022), USCIS is issuing Amended receipt notices indicating 24-month validity.
USCIS is advising that LPRs may present expired green cards along with I-90 receipt to CBP at the POE while returning from a trip abroad. Applicants may also request an appointment with the USCIS Field office, to obtain an “Alien Documentation, Identification and Telecommunications (ADIT) Stamp” based on I-90 receipt for employment and other purposes.
USCIS UPDATES POLICY TO EXTEND “GREEN CARDS” FOR 24 MONTHS IF FILING FOR NATURALIZATION
Since December 12, 2022, USCIS has started extending the validity period of Permanent Resident Cards (or Green Cards) for LPRs who had applied for Naturalization by filing Form N-400 (Application for Naturalization). LPRs are receiving an extension on the LPR status and are not required to file Form I-90, application to replace Green Card. USCIS revises the language on the N-400 Receipt Notices to indicate extension of Green Cards for up to 24 months. Applicants may present the N-400 Receipt Notice with the expired Green Card to show the proof of continuity of status, as well as identity and employment authorization.
24-month automatic extension is available only for those LPRs who filed Form N-400 on or after December 12, 2022. Those who have filed N-400 prior to December 12, will not receive a receipt notice indicating green card extension. USCIS advises LPRs who have an expired Green Card or have lost their Green Card to file Form I-90 and receive ADIT stamp on the passport as valid evidence of their lawful permanent resident status.
UPDATES ON NATURALIZATION TESTS
USCIS is planning to hold a nationwide trial for revising the current naturalization test. The Naturalization test has four components namely – Reading, Writing, Civics and Ability to Speak English. The trial is to test the civics component with the updated and newly developed ‘Ability to Speak English’ component.
Review of existing Naturalization process is being conducted to fulfil the President’s Executive Order 14012, (Restoring Faith in Our Legal Immigration Systems and Strengthening Integration and Inclusion Efforts for New Americans), which lays down the directive to review the current Naturalization process. USCIS initiated reviews and recommended on redesigning the Ability to Speak English and Civics components in order to improve the test standards.
The trial is meant to be a five-month period and about 1500 individuals have enrolled for the trial scheduled sometime in 2023.
EXTENSION OF INTERVIEW WAIVER FOR FAMILY-BASED ADJUSTMENTS
USCIS confirmed the Extension of Interview Waiver to some Family-Based Adjustment of Status application. There is currently no definite way to determine which Family-Based cases may warrant Interview Waivers, USCIS confirmed the interview waiver may occur at several points in the Adjudication process. As such, USCIS urged the applicants to include Form I-693 Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record at the time of filing to avoid RFE and to reduce the processing time. Earlier, USCIS extended the Temporary Waiver on the 60-day Rule through March 31, 2023.
INTERVIEW WAIVER EXTENDED FOR NON-IMMIGRANT VISAS
DOS has made an announcement extending the authority of consular officers to waive In-person Interviews for certain Non-Immigrant Visa categories through December 31, 2023. This has been done to ease out the existing Appointment Wait times.
Consular Officers are authorized to waive In-person interviews till December 31, 2023, on a case-by-case basis for certain first timer / renewal applicants. The extension of Interview Waiver is currently applicable to H-2, F, M, H-1B, H-3, L, O, P, Q, visa categories and their qualifying derivatives. Renewal applicants from these categories can avail the Interview Waiver only if they are applying for renewal within 48 months of their Visa expiration.
Since the last two years Visa Appointment Wait times have been reduced and travel has been eased for nearly 3.5 million Non-Immigrant Visa applicants through Interview Waiver. Using the Interview Waiver does not guarantee visa issuance. The U.S. Embassy/Consulate retains the right to call an applicant in for an interview, if necessary, and the applicant must appear for interview at the post to which they have submitted their renewal application.
STATE DEPARTMENT’S JANUARY 2023 VISA BULLETIN SUMMARY
State Department has issued the January 2023 Visa Bulletin and here are the highlights:
- Adjustment of Status for Family Sponsored filing and Employment Based filing – Dates for Filing chart to be used.
- Final Action dates and Dates for Filing chart for family sponsored preference cases for India remain unchanged. For F-2A category the dates are current – as such, use Final Action Dates chart.
- Final action dates and Dates of Filing for EB-1 Category have retrogressed from current to February 01, 2022, and June 01, 2022 respectively.
- Final action dates (October 08, 2011) and Dates of filing (May 01, 2012) for EB-2 category have not changed.
- Final action dates (June 15, 2012) and Dates of filing (August 01, 2012) for EB-3 category have not changed.
- Final Action Dates for Certain Religious Workers has been listed unavailable and the Dates of filing remains unchanged (July 22, 2022).
- The DV-2022 annual limit was reduced to 54,850.
- R. 6833, the continuing resolution signed on December 16, 2022, extended the Employment Fourth Preference Certain Religious Workers (SR) category until December 23, 2022.
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