It Is Ok to Smile Again – but Not Too Much

05-22-2019

Washington, D.C. – May 22, 2019: The Department of State (“DOS”) announced today that it is updating its guidance regarding photographs for visa processes. Under the latest guidance, it is permissible for applicants to show a faint smile, with no teeth showing.

The guidance, set out at 9 FAM 303.6-2(A)(1) (U) “Photo Standards”, is copied below:

The applicant must be shown in full frontal view, with full head, from crown of the head to the tip of the chin and from hair line side-to-side, with the eyes wide open and have a neutral facial expression. A natural smile, as shown in Photo Examples on Travel.State.Gov, can be considered a neutral facial expression.

07-25-2019
NINTH CIRCUIT VICTORY FOR VICTIMS OF INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL

This month, our law firm, together with Co-Counsel Louis A Gordon, won a major victory in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The case impacts many immigrants who have suffered from bad or ineffective advice from prior Counsel. The Court in its published decision, Flores v Barr, overturned a Board of Immigration Appeals ruling which denied our client, the Petitioner, the opportunity to have his case reopened because of ineffective assistance of his prior immigration lawyer. 

07-24-2019
FINAL EB5 PROGRAM RULE PUBLISHED TODAY. MINIMUM INVESTMENT AMOUNT WILL INCREASE EFFECTIVE NOVEMBER 21, 2019

Investors and EB5 industry professionals have been anxiously waiting for the publication of a final regulation regarding the EB5 Program. USCIS has now published the final regulation which modifies the  proposed rule which was announced in February this year.

06-15-2019
E-1 and E-2 Now Available for New Zealand

New Zealand citizens can now obtain E-1 and E-2 treaty trader and investor visas to work in the U.S. These categories, which allow up to 2 years’ renewable stay, are determined by trade treaties secured between the U.S. and the foreign country or by Congressional legislation.

Citizens of New Zealand who are already inside the U.S. may file Form I-129 to change status – a spouse or child of such an applicant should file Form I-539 to change status to match the E-category applicant. 

06-14-2019
Waiting List Announced for Indian EB-5 Starting in July

The latest Visa Bulletin, published by the U.S. Department of State (DOS) earlier this month, confirms industry predictions of a waiting list for Indian-born EB-5 investors. Starting in July 2019, EB-5 visas will be available only to those Indian-born investors who filed their petitions before 05/01/2017. This cut-off date creates a waiting list of approximately two years, which is significantly shorter than the waiting list currently facing mainland Chinese-born investors, which currently stretches back to 10/01/2014.

06-10-2019
Premium Processing Returns to H-1B

Starting June 10, 2019, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will resume Premium Processing for all remaining H-1B petitions. This completes a trial arrangement whereby USCIS allowed limited Premium Processing starting May 20 for H-1B petitions with a Change of Status. The approach was introduced after recent years eliminated Premium Processing altogether, resulting in lengthy delays, with some H-1B petitions remaining under adjudication even after the usual annual start date of October 1.

06-05-2019
USCIS Tightens Forms Criteria for H-1B Filings

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a caution on June 4, 2019, stating that H-1B petitions will be rejected if they fail to include names and addresses on Part 1 of Form I-129. Specifically, applicants are cautioned not to list outside counsel, clients, or other third parties, in such fields requesting the names and addresses of the petitioning U.S. employer. This measure, which goes into effect starting August 5, 2019, comes as part of the current administration’s moves to raise barriers to entry for the H-1B category overall. 

06-04-2019
U.S. Department of State Update – Visa Retrogression and Future Wait Lists

Washington DC, June 2, 2019 – The American Immigration Lawyers Association recently spoke to Charlie Oppenheim, the Chief of the Visa Control and Reporting Division at the U.S. Department of State (DOS) to obtain his analysis of current trends and future projections, beyond the basic visa availability updates provided in the monthly Visa Bulletin. Mr. Oppenheim re-confirmed previous predictions for the EB-5 visa category for Indian nationals. India will reach its per country visa limit and a visa waitlist for Indian-born individuals will begin in July of 2019 with an initial Final Action Date (cut-off date) in 2017.