Evidence of Self-Sufficiency: Required Public Charge Documentation for Form I-944

Required Public Charge Documentation for Form I-944

A September 11, 2020 court decision removed blocks on the Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds rule nationwide. All applications and petitions subject to the rule postmarked or submitted after February 24, 2020 will be required to submit the I-944 form. USCIS will issue Requests for Evidence in those cases that did not include the form until October 13, 2020. If the I-944 form is not included after October 13, 2020, Form I-485 will be rejected at the time of filing.

Beneficiary Documents

☐ Social Security earnings and benefits statement (if beneficiary has worked for 40 qualifying quarters in the U.S.)

☐ Income tax from abroad, if last employment was abroad

☐ Proof of employment

☐ Employment verification letter

☐ Letter offering employment

☐ W-2s

☐ Most recent pay stubs for current year

☐ Documentation of liabilities and debts:

☐ Mortgages

☐ Car loans

☐ Medical debt

☐ Unpaid child or spousal support

☐ Unpaid taxes

☐ Credit card debt

☐ Other debts and liabilities

☐ Judgments and bankruptcies:

☐ Copies of any filings for bankruptcies

☐ Copies or information of any judgments

☐ Credit report and credit score (or evidence from credit bureau that proves no U.S. credit report exists)

☐ Evidence of Assets:

☐ Real Estate deeds, appraisal or mortgage documents showing equity

☐ Checking account statements for 12 months prior

☐ Savings account statements for 12 months prior

☐ Annuities showing monthly payments

☐ Stocks and bonds (cash value)

☐ Certificates of Deposit

☐ Retirement account statements for 12 months prior

☐ Educational account statements for 12 months prior

☐ Net cash value of real estate holdings

☐ Automobiles (if two or more)

☐ Other evidence of substantial assets

☐ Evidence of health insurance:

☐ Policy Declaration Page

☐ Proof of deductible or annual premium amount

☐ Copy of IRS Form 8962 or Form 1095A if you received a Premium Tax Credit or Advanced

Premium Tax Credit

☐  Proof of when insurance terminates or must be renewed

☐ Enrollment terms and type of coverage

☐ Form 1095-B Health Coverage; 1095C Employer Provided Health Insurance Offer and

Coverage with evidence of renewal or coverage for the current year

☐ Additional income documents for yourself and household members including (but not limited to):

☐ Child Support

☐ Social Security

☐ Unemployment Benefits

☐ Documents showing receipt of public benefits, including:

☐ Any Federal, State, local, or tribal cash assistance for income maintenance

☐ Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

☐ Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)

☐ Federal, State or local cash benefit programs for income maintenance (called “General

Assistance” or under other names)

☐ Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or “Food Stamps”)

☐ Section 8 Housing Assistance under the Housing Choice Voucher Program

☐ Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance (including Moderate Rehabilitation)

☐ Public Housing under the Housing Act of 1937

☐ Federally funded Medicaid.

☐ Documents showing education and skills:

☐ Transcripts, diplomas, degrees and trade certificates

☐ If a current student, evidence of full-time studies

☐ If foreign degree – Credentials Evaluation

☐ Training certificates and/or licenses for any specific occupations or professions

☐ Certifications or courses in English and other languages in addition to English

☐ Native English speakers – high school diplomas and college degrees for English courses

studied for credit

☐ Any records related to criminal charges, arrests, or detainments by law enforcement officers for any reason:

☐ Official statement confirming no charges filed

☐ Copy of complete arrest record and/or disposition for each incident

☐ Sentencing record for each incident

☐ Probation or parole record

☐ Probation Evidence of alternative sentencing program or rehabilitative program

☐ Court order vacating, setting aside, sealing, expunging or otherwise removing the arrest or

conviction or a statement from the court that no record exists of your arrest or conviction

Click here to download a copy of the I-944 Declaration of Self-Sufficiency – Document Checklist & Questionnaire.

Additional Resources

Join us on Wednesdays for a live webinar at 12 PM ET on critical immigration updates

Visit our COVID-19 resource page for the latest updates or follow us on FacebookTwitterInstagram, or LinkedIn. You can also sign up for our mailing list or email us at info@challalaw.com.


FAQs for Changing Employers & EB-2 to EB-3 Porting

OTHER FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What if my EB-3 filing is denied? Is my EB-2 still valid?

If your EB-3 is denied, it does not automatically invalidate your EB-2 filing.

My new employer wants to sponsor my green card. Can I transfer my new I-140 to a pending I-485?

After a new labor certification and new I-140 are approved with the new employer, the applicant can potentially request that USCIS transfer the petition to a pending I-485 Application for Adjustment of Status. No new fees or filings are required, but the request must be made in writing and will be decided on a case-by-case basis. The beneficiary must continue to be eligible for adjustment of status (current priority date) and the application must still be pending. The risk is that USCIS could determine you did not “intend” to work for the original employer if you never return to that position.

I have an approved I-140 from Employer A. Can I use the approval to extend my H-1B status beyond six years with a new employer?

Yes, you can use the approved I-140 petition to request an H-1B change of status or an extension if the I-140 is still valid and was not revoked by the original employer.

I’m no longer with my sponsoring employer but my priority date is current. Can I still apply for a green card?  

The green card process is for a future position. The employee does not need to remain with the sponsoring employer as long as:

  • The employer continues to have an intention of permanently employing the individual once they receive the green card (and did not notify USCIS to withdraw their I-140 job offer upon the individual’s departure from the company); and
  • The individual continues to have an intention of accepting the permanent job offer upon receiving the green card.

The other issue to keep in mind is that the sponsoring company must continue to have an ability to pay the individual from the time of filing the labor certification all the way until receiving the green card. Some employers are only able to show this by currently paying the individual at or above the proffered wage. If the individual leaves the employer, but the job offer remains valid and the individual still intends to accept the job offer, then the employer needs to be able to show an ability to pay the individual by its tax returns, either by Net Income or Net Current Assets.

If the job offer does not remain valid then the individual will need to start the process over with the new employer but can retain the priority date at the time of filing the I-140.

The previous employer would need to submit the I-485J confirming the job offer is still available. You can only proceed with the I-485 with a new employer if you had an I-485 pending for at least 180 days. Under that scenario your new employer could submit the I-485J, but if you have not previously filed an I-485, then the previous employer would need to sign the I-485J.

My job title changed through my current employer. Am I still eligible under the previous PERM labor certification?

If your role has only changed slightly, you may be able to file an I-140 amendment to update USCIS. If you are still performing the same job duties listed on the PERM labor certification you can continue with an I-485 based on the PERM with the old job title.

Your PERM labor certification is specific to the position, the employer, and the geographic location so if any of those variables change, you may be required to file a new PERM and I-140. However, you can still retain your priority date in subsequent filings. Please confirm with an attorney whether any changes need to be reported to USCIS or may affect your ability to retain the existing PERM.

I want my green card through my current employer. Do I have to start over?

A job change is likely to require a new PERM and I-140, but all is not lost: you can still retain your priority date.

I have changed employers while my I-485 is pending. Can I still adjust status?

If Form I-485 has been pending for a minimum of 180 days (from receipt date) and the new job is in the same or similar occupation, AC21 allows an individual to change jobs to a new employer.

Next Steps

Check out our document checklist on our October Visa Bulletin release post. When you’re ready to initiate your case, email us at info@challalaw.com to initiate your EB-2 to EB-3 case.


Filing a Green Card for Dependent Children

Filing a Green Card for Dependent Children: Utilizing the Child Status Protection Act

The USCIS allow some protections for children who are close to the “aging out” as a dependent derivative through the Child Status Protection Act. The Child Status Protection Act (CSPA) defines a “child” as an individual who is unmarried and under the age of 21. Once a child turns 21, he or she is no longer eligible for immigration benefits based on the relationship to the parent. This is known as “aging out.”

The CSPA covers most immigrant petitions. Under the CSPA, a child’s age essentially freezes on the date the I-140 petition is filed until the date the I-140 petition is approved. This helps protect the child of an individual applying for a green card from aging out, as long as the I-140 petition was filed before the child’s 21st birthday. Once the I-140 petition is approved, the child’s age unfreezes and he or she must seek to acquire permanent residence within one year of a visa becoming available.

The date that a visa becomes available is the later of (a) the first day of the month of the Department of State (DOS) Visa Bulletin, which indicates the availability of a visa for that preference category or (b) the petition approval date if a visa number is already available on the approval date. To determine the age of the child on the date that a visa number becomes available you first need to make the following calculation:

  1. First, you calculate the days the immigrant petition was pending with the USCIS.
    • Example: The I-140 was filed on January 1, 2018 and approved on August 30, 2018. Using an online time calculator, you can see that the petition was pending for 34 weeks and 2 days or a total of 240 days.
  2. Next, you subtract the period the immigrant petition was pending from the age of the child. That becomes the child’s CSPA age.
    • Example: If the child was 20.5 years old when the petition was filed, you would subtract 240 days from their real age to get their CSPA age of 19.84 years.
  3. If the visa number becomes available while the CSPA age of the child is under 21, then the child is eligible to obtain the immigration benefit by applying for permanent residence status within one year of eligibility.
    • Example: Even though the child turned 21 prior to the I-140 approval, they would still be eligible for permanent residence if the visa bulletin shows a visa is available within the 240 days allowed for processing under the CSPA. In this example, the visa must be available before the end of April in 2019.
  4. If the CSPA age of the child is over 21 when a visa number becomes available, then the child cannot apply for permanent residence.
    • Example: Upon approval of the I-140, the child’s age “unfreezes.” If there was no visa available per the visa bulletin for child in the example above until 1.5 years after the I-140 approval, the individual’s CSPA age would be 21 years old. They would not be able to apply for permanent residence using their parent’s employment-based immigrant visa status.

Another way to view this calculation is to take the 21st birthday, add the number of days the immigrant visa petition was pending and you get the CSPA 21st birthday or the deadline for applying for permanent residence. The child must take the next step by filing an I-485 or DS-260 within one year of visa availability.

On the date of the immigrant visa or I-140 approval, CSPA un-freezes the child’s age. If there is no visa available, it is possible the child will still age out if they are unable to file DS-260 or I-485 per the visa bulletin.

Ready to file for your green card or have additional questions?

Additional Resources

Join us on Wednesdays for a live webinar at 12 PM ET on critical immigration updates

Visit our COVID-19 resource page for the latest updates or follow us on FacebookTwitterInstagram, or LinkedIn. You can also sign up for our mailing list or email us at info@challalaw.com.


Next Steps for Filing Your I-485 in October 2020

Next Steps for Filing Your I-485 in October 2020

If you are current using the Dates for Filing chart, contact us immediately to get your case started.

  1. Request an engagement letter and invoice.
  2. Determine whether you need to request work and travel permits and note on engagement letter.
    If you depart the U.S. prior to receiving your travel approval, USCIS will determine you have abandoned your request to adjust status. 
  3. Once the invoice is paid, funds remain in your client trust account.
  4. You will be invited to our secure client portal.
  5. Don’t forget to schedule your Civil Surgeon Medical Exam. Find a USCIS doctor here
  6. The legal team will send you the appropriate checklists and questionnaires.
  7. Complete the questionnaires and upload the documents back to the portal.
  8. The attorney will guide you through the whole process and request any additional information to improve your filing.
  9. File before October 30, just in case the predictions for “rapid forward movement” don’t hold true due to the increased filings.

ATTORNEY TIP: If you are unable to secure a medical examination prior to filing, you may file without it and USCIS will request it later by issuing a Request for Evidence (RFE). However, some employment-based green cards are being approved without an interview. If you didn’t submit a medical exam, the subsequent RFE could delay your processing or even prevent an automatic approval.

Processing Times

Currently, the I-140 processing time is estimated to be between 5 and 32 months. The I-485 processing time is estimated to be between 7 and 32 months. This depends on the location where the form is processed and will also vary due to COVID protocols and application volumes.

Premium Processing is available for new I-140s, but not duplicate or subsequent filings. If available, Premium Processing guarantees adjudication or action on the case within 15 days. Read more on premium processing for I-140s when shifting visa categories: Should I shift from EB-2 to EB-3? 

Many applicants file Form I-131 to request permission to travel internationally, or “Advance Parole” (AP). If you depart the U.S. prior to receiving your AP approval, USCIS will determine you have abandoned your request to adjust status. Form I-131 is currently taking 5 to 7 months to process.

When filing your I-485, you may also request a work permit or Employment Authorization Document (EAD). Current EAD processing times vary by service center but range from 3 to 8 months.

Check USCIS Processing Times

Not quite current? Start gathering your documentation to prepare for the rapid forward movement. Send your country of birth and priority date to info@challalaw.com so we can notify you if you may be eligible for filing when the next Visa Bulletin is released.

REQUIRED DOCUMENTATION

International Travel: Please advise our office if you have planned or anticipate any international travel in the next twelve months.

If you have ever been arrested in the U.S. or another country, please disclose to our office immediately so that our office can best represent you.  

  • Copy of Foreign Passport (and expired passport if it includes immigration history)
  • Most recent I-94
  • Copy of all prior immigration documentation (I-797s, I-20s, DS-2019s, I-601 waiver, etc.)
  • Copy of Employment Authorization Document (EAD) work cards
  • Copy of Birth Certificate*
  • Copy of Marriage Certificate
  • For prior marriages, copy of marriage certificate and evidence of legal termination (divorce decree or death certificate)
  • Police Certificates – ONLY REQUIRED FOR CONSULAR PROCESSING (Must be obtained for any arrests in the U.S. or in another country.)
  • Documentation of any criminal arrests, convictions, etc. (REQUIRED IF APPLYING FROM U.S.)
  • Certificates of citizenship to other countries other than country of birth
  • Copy of any U.S. federal tax returns for three most recent years
  • Copy of any W-2 statements for three most recent years (or covering all years of employment for an employer-sponsored green card)
  • Copy of paystubs for six most recent months
  • Six (6) U.S. passport-style photos
  • Civil Surgeon Medical Exam – Form
    I-693 (sealed in an envelope with full name printed on the outside; must be submitted to USCIS within 60 days of physician’s signature)
  • I-485 Supplement J for employment-based cases (signed by original petitioning employer demonstrating continued offer of employment)
  • USCIS Filing Fee and Legal Fee

Any document not in English must be accompanied by a certified English translation.

* If your birth certificate is not available, you may have to provide secondary evidence. Read more: No Birth Certificate or Mismatched Information: How Can I Meet Green Card Requirements? 

PUBLIC CHARGE DOCUMENTATION

A recent court ruling has allowed the “Public Charge” rule to go into effect, mandating Form I-944 for all I-485 filings. Explore what documents are required:

Additional Resources

Join us on Wednesdays for a live webinar at 12 PM ET on critical immigration updates

Visit our COVID-19 resource page for the latest updates or follow us on FacebookTwitterInstagram, or LinkedIn. You can also sign up for our mailing list or email us at info@challalaw.com.


No Birth Certificate or Mismatched Information: How Can I Meet Green Card Requirements?

How to Meet Green Card Birth Certificate Evidentiary Requirements 

What if my Indian birth certificate is missing or issued many years after my date of birth?

When your birth certificate is missing, USCIS requests both of the following:

  1. Two separate affidavits from two different people who can attest they have firsthand knowledge of the birth
  2. Certificate of unavailability from the local recordkeeping body in the locality where the person was born.

In India, the recordkeeping body is the registrar or panchayat. Previously the Indian Embassy in Washington, D.C. would also issue the certificate of unavailability, but only pursuant to a Request for Evidence from USCIS.

What if my Indian birth certificate has an error?

When there is an error on the birth certificate, the error can be explained as described above: with two affidavits from two separate individuals who can attest to firsthand knowledge of the birth and additional secondary evidence, such as school-leaving certificates and documents described in the next section below.

General Guidelines for All Other Countries

Birth certificate availability varies by country and locality. You can check the reciprocity agreement for your country with the Department of State. Each Reciprocity Page will provide detailed information about how to obtain these civil documents from the country you have selected, as well as the location of the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you can apply for your visa. For more information about civil document requirements for immigrant visa cases, see civil documents.

Secondary Evidence

If you are unable to obtain a certificate, you may need to include secondary evidence. Secondary evidence may include:

  • School records, school-leaving certificate, matriculation certificates, or graduation certificates (document provided to students when they cease attending a particular school, be it public or private),
  • Certificate of Recognized Boards/Exams from the school last attended by the applicant 
  • Insurance records
  • Employment records
  • Financial records (tax returns, money orders)
  • Government records (passports, identification documents) or census or tribal records
  • Baptismal or other certificate from a church or religious institution
  • Hospital or medical (immunization) records
  • A notarized affidavit executed by either a parent, if living, or another close relative older than the applicant.  
    • This affidavit should clearly state the relationship between the deponent and the applicant, how well the deponent knows the applicant, the date and place of the applicant’s birth, the names of both parents, and any other related facts. If the applicant has no living relatives that witnessed their birth, a self-attested affidavit detailing their knowledge of the facts of their birth may be accepted.

Certificate of Non-Availability

You may also be required to obtain a Certificate of Non-Availability. The regulations state:

Where a record does not exist, the applicant or petitioner must submit an original written statement on government letterhead establishing this from the relevant government or other authority. The statement must indicate the reason the record does not exist, and indicate whether similar records for the time and place are available.

Check the Reciprocity Document Details for Your Country

DOCUMENT TIP: Always check with your attorneys to determine what secondary evidence is appropriate for your country. Although the Department of State guidelines may suggest multiple documents are permissible, adjudicative trends may indicate differently. An experienced attorney can advise on the strongest evidence for your case.

Ready to file for your green card or have additional questions?

Additional Resources

Join us on Wednesdays for a live webinar at 12 PM ET on critical immigration updates

Visit our COVID-19 resource page for the latest updates or follow us on FacebookTwitterInstagram, or LinkedIn. You can also sign up for our mailing list or email us at info@challalaw.com.


Should I shift from EB-2 to EB-3 for the October Visa Bulletin?

Requirements & Benefits of “Downgrading” Your EB-2 to EB-3

The October Visa Bulletin allows EB-3 applicants with priority dates before January 1, 2015 to file their I-485 for permanent residence. EB-2 applicants are still backlogged, with priority dates before May 15, 2011 eligible to apply. Should EB-2 applicants switch to the EB-3 category to save a few years in processing?

Please note that the visa bulletin states that the employment-based categories will continue to have rapid forward movement, which may make downgrading unnecessary.

PROCESS: Converting an Approved EB-2 petition to an EB-3 petition

  1. We need to assess whether the PERM supporting the EB-2 petition is eligible for an EB-3 filing.
    • What does that mean? The requirements for EB-2 and EB-3 are different. The relevant minimum qualifications needed to support an EB-3 I-140 petition are the following:
      • Professional means a qualified alien who holds at least a United States baccalaureate degree or a foreign equivalent degree and who is a member of the professions.
      • Therefore, an example of when an EB-2 would not qualify for an EB-3 filing is when the PERM supporting the approved EB-2 petition, only requests a Master’s degree and does not also require a BA plus five years of experience. The EB-3 petition will be filed as a new petition, but you must include evidence submitted for the EB-2 petition.
  2. The EB-3 petition will be filed as a new petition, but you must include evidence submitted for the EB-2 petition.
  3. If the EB-3 priority date (based on your approved EB-2 I-140 petition) then you can file an adjustment of status concurrently.

TIPS AND TRICKS TO CONSIDER

  1. Your EB-2 priority date is not lost. Where there are multiple approved petitions, (one for the EB-2 and another for the EB-3) the beneficiary retains the earliest priority date.
  2. The previous EB-2 petition remains valid, even if the EB-3 is denied.
  3. Your underlying nonimmigrant status remains valid, therefore, even if the EB-3 concurrently filed adjustment of status is denied, your status is not impacted. You can later refile the AOS once the EB-2 priority date becomes current.
  4. Third, the main benefit of the new EB-3 I-140 filing is the ability to concurrently file the adjustment of status. However, you must understand that the EB-2 and EB-3 categories dates keep moving forward, then retrogressing, and the USCIS each month decides whether the “Final Action Dates” chart will apply or the “Dates for Filing” chart. In the final analysis, you may not move through the process much faster, but you have the benefit of the pending AOS.
  5. The permanent residence process is for prospective employment. Even if you are no longer working for employer who sponsored your I-140 petition, as long as they did not revoke the petition and there is a bona fide continued offer of employment, the previous I-140 can be used to file your I-485.

Remember, the visa number may retrogress in November so you want to make sure the adjustment of status and the conversion is filed consistent with the USCIS requirements, otherwise if the petition is not filed properly, even if a signature is missing, it would be returned and you may miss this golden window.

H-1B/GREEN CARD TIP

Some individuals receive their Employment Authorization Document (EAD) as part of the green card application process and allow their H-1B visa to elapse. However, if processing delays occur or the worst-case scenario occurs, you receive a denial, it is beneficial to maintain the underlying H-1B validity until your green card is approved.

Still have questions? Review our Frequently Asked Questions on EB-2 to EB-3 porting.

Next Steps

Check out our document checklist and review the next steps for filing your I-485. When you’re ready to initiate your case, email us at info@challalaw.com to initiate your EB-2 to EB-3 case.

 


October Visa Bulletin Released!

October Visa Bulletin Released: Are You Current?

UPDATED at 4:20 PM, 9/24/2020: DATES FOR FILING CHART WILL BE USED FOR EMPLOYMENT-BASED CASES

The much anticipated October Visa Bulletin has been released! At first glance, it may look disappointing based on the July comments of Charlie Oppenheim, Chief of the Visa Control and Reporting Division at the Department of State, who predicted that the conditions could allow employment-based allocations to increase to at least 250,000 immigrant visas. Instead, we are seeing family-based numbers remain the same and there are moderate advances in the employment-based categories.

We now know USCIS will allow the “Dates for Filing” chart, which opens up visas to several years of additional applicants in each category. The Visa Bulletin also predicts “rapid forward movement” so the Department of State and USCIS may be basing the charts on expected processing capacity. We should continue to see forward movement through 2021. 

DATES FOR FILING OF EMPLOYMENT-BASED VISA APPLICATIONS

Since USCIS is allowing the Dates for Filing Chart, Oppenheim’s predictions look more accurate:

  • Dates for Filing progressed significantly
  • All Chargeability Areas Except Those Listed is current across all categories
  • INDIA
    • EB-1 would advance 2.5 years
    • EB-2 would advance just shy of 2 years
    • EB-3 would advance over 5 years
  • CHINA
    • EB-1 would advance over 2 years
    • EB-2 would advance 9 months
    • EB-3 would advance 1 year and 4 months
    • EB-5 would advance 4 months

MORE GOOD NEWS: “Rapid forward movement” for EB-1, EB-2, EB-3

The Visa Bulletin included more detail on the expected advancement through January of 2021.

FAMILY-sponsored categories (potential monthly movement)

Worldwide dates:

F1:  Up to three weeks
F2A: Current
F2B: Up to three weeks
F3:  Up to two weeks
F4:  Up to one week

EMPLOYMENT-based categories (potential monthly movement)

Employment First:

WORLDWIDE:   Current
China:               Rapid forward movement
India:                Rapid forward movement

Employment Second:

Worldwide:  Current
China:          Rapid forward movement
India:           Rapid forward movement

Employment Third:

Worldwide:   Current
China:           Rapid forward movement
India:            Rapid forward movement
Mexico:        Current
Philippines:  Likely to remain at the Worldwide date

Employment Third – Other Workers:

Worldwide:    Current
China:            Steady forward movement

Employment Fourth:  Current for most countries

El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras:  Steady forward movement
Mexico:  Steady forward movement

Employment Fifth:  The category will remain “Current” for most countries

China:       No forward movement
Vietnam:   Limited forward movement

The above final action date projections for the Family and Employment categories indicate what is likely to happen on a monthly basis through January.   The determination of the actual monthly final action dates is subject to fluctuations in applicant demand and a number of other variables.

Next Steps

If you are current using the Dates for Filing chart, contact us immediately to get your case started.

  1. Request engagement letter and invoice.
  2. Determine whether you need to request work and travel permits and note on engagement letter.
    If you depart the U.S. prior to receiving your travel approval, USCIS will determine you have abandoned your request to adjust status. 
  3. Once the invoice is paid, funds remain in your client trust account.
  4. You will be invited to our secure client portal.
  5. The legal team will send you the appropriate checklists and questionnaires.
  6. Complete the questionnaires and upload the documents back to the portal.
  7. The attorney will guide you through the whole process and request any additional information to improve your filing.
  8. File before October 30, just in case the predictions for “rapid forward movement” don’t hold true due to the increased filings.

Not quite current? Start gathering your documentation to prepare for the rapid forward movement. Send your country of birth and priority date to info@challalaw.com so we can notify you if you may be eligible for filing when the next Visa Bulletin is released.

REQUIRED DOCUMENTATION

International Travel: Please advise our office if you have planned or anticipate any international travel in the next twelve months.

If you have ever been arrested in the U.S. or another country, please disclose to our office immediately so that our office can best represent you.  

  • Copy of Foreign Passport (and expired passport if it includes immigration history)
  • Most recent I-94
  • Copy of all prior immigration documentation (I-797s, I-20s, DS-2019s, I-601 waiver, etc.)
  • Copy of Employment Authorization Document (EAD) work cards
  • Copy of Birth Certificate
  • Copy of Marriage Certificate
  • For prior marriages, copy of marriage certificate and evidence of legal termination (divorce decree or death certificate)
  • Police Certificates – ONLY REQUIRED FOR CONSULAR PROCESSING (Must be obtained for any arrests in the U.S. or in another country.)
  • Documentation of any criminal arrests, convictions, etc. (REQUIRED IF APPLYING FROM U.S.)
  • Certificates of citizenship to other countries other than country of birth
  • Copy of any U.S. federal tax returns for three most recent years
  • Copy of any W-2 statements for three most recent years (or covering all years of employment for an employer-sponsored green card)
  • Copy of paystubs for six most recent months
  • Six (6) U.S. passport-style photos
  • Civil Surgeon Medical Exam – Form
    I-693 (sealed in an envelope with full name printed on the outside; must be submitted to USCIS within 60 days of physician’s signature)
  • I-485 Supplement J for employment-based cases (signed by original petitioning employer demonstrating continued offer of employment)
  • USCIS Filing Fee and Legal Fee

Any document not in English must be accompanied by a certified English translation.

Additional Resources

Join us on Wednesdays for a live webinar at 12 PM ET on critical immigration updates

Visit our COVID-19 resource page for the latest updates or follow us on FacebookTwitterInstagram, or LinkedIn. You can also sign up for our mailing list or email us at info@challalaw.com.


Eligibility for Overcoming J-1 Travel Ban

National Interest Exceptions: Eligibility for Overcoming J-1 Travel Ban

Earlier this year, President Trump signed a presidential proclamation suspending entry to the U.S. of certain immigrant and nonimmigrant visa applicants based on their “risk to the U.S. labor market” due to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.

The Department of State has clarified some exceptions to the rule, allowing travel by applicants seeking to resume ongoing employment in the United States in the same position with the same employer and visa classification. The update states “forcing employers to replace employees in this situation may cause financial hardship.”

As we previously reported, the orders do not apply to:

  • Applicants in the United States on the effective date
  • Those with valid visas at the time of the effective date
  • Individuals with other official travel documents valid on the effective date
  • Spouses and children of the individuals above

The proclamation also allows travel for:

  • Public health or healthcare professionals and researchers entering to alleviate the effects of COVID-19 pandemic or in areas not directly related, but has been adversely impacted by the pandemic
  • Individuals invited to meet U.S. foreign policy objectives, satisfy treaty or contractual obligations with a U.S. government agency

Overcoming the J-1 Ban

Additionally, the proclamations included exceptions for individuals whose entry would be in the national interest. The Department of State recently allowed for the following types of travel for J-1 visa applicants:

  • Provide care for a minor U.S. citizen, LPR, or nonimmigrant in lawful status by an au pair possessing special skills required for a child with particular needs
    • Medical needs, special education, sign language, etc.
  • An au pair that prevents a U.S. citizen, lawful permanent resident, or other nonimmigrant in lawful status from becoming a public health charge or ward of the state of a medical or other public-funded institution.
  • Childcare services provided for a child whose parents are involved with the provision of medical care to individuals who have contracted COVID-19 or medical research at United States facilities to help the United States combat COVID-19.
  • An exchange program conducted pursuant to an MOU, Statement of Intent, or other valid agreement or arrangement between a foreign government and any federal, state, or local government entity in the United States that is designed to promote U.S. national interests.
    • Agreement or arrangement with the foreign government must have been in effect prior to the effective date of Proclamation
  • Interns and Trainees on U.S. government agency-sponsored programs (those with a program number beginning with “G-3” on Form DS-2019)
    • An exchange visitor participating in an exchange visitor program in which he or she will be hosted by a U.S. government agency and the program supports the immediate and continued economic recovery of the United States.
  • Specialized Teachers in Accredited Educational Institutions with a program number beginning with “G-5” on Form DS-2019
    • An exchange visitor participating in an exchange program in which he or she will teach full-time, including a substantial portion that is in person, in a publicly or privately operated primary or secondary accredited educational institution where the applicant demonstrates ability to make a specialized contribution to the education of students in the United States.  
    • A “specialized teacher” applicant must demonstrate native or near-native foreign language proficiency and the ability to teach his/her assigned subject(s) in that language.
  • Critical foreign policy objectives: This only includes programs where an exchange visitor participating in an exchange program that fulfills critical and time-sensitive foreign policy objectives.

Additional Resources

Next Steps

It will be at the consular officer’s discretion as to whether visa applicants meet the criteria above. Visa appointments will be limited as embassies and consulates begin to reopen. Applicants and employers should consult with their attorneys to prepare a package of strong evidence before scheduling an appointment.

Contact us at info@challalaw.com to schedule a time to discuss whether your critical employees are eligible for an exception to the travel ban.


3 Eligibility Criteria for Overcoming H-2B Travel Ban

National Interest Exceptions: 3 Eligibility Criteria for Overcoming H-2B Travel Ban

Earlier this year, President Trump signed a presidential proclamation suspending entry to the U.S. of certain immigrant and nonimmigrant visa applicants based on their “risk to the U.S. labor market” due to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.

The Department of State has clarified some exceptions to the rule, allowing travel by applicants seeking to resume ongoing employment in the United States in the same position with the same employer and visa classification. The update states “forcing employers to replace employees in this situation may cause financial hardship.”

As we previously reported, the orders do not apply to:

  • Applicants in the United States on the effective date
  • Those with valid visas at the time of the effective date
  • Individuals with other official travel documents valid on the effective date
  • Spouses and children of the individuals above

The proclamation also allows travel for:

  • Public health or healthcare professionals and researchers entering to alleviate the effects of COVID-19 pandemic or in areas not directly related, but has been adversely impacted by the pandemic
  • Individuals invited to meet U.S. foreign policy objectives, satisfy treaty or contractual obligations with a U.S. government agency

Overcoming the H-2B Ban

Additionally, the proclamations included exceptions for individuals whose entry would be in the national interest. The Department of State recently allowed for travel:

  • Based on a request from a U.S. government agency or entity to meet critical foreign policy objectives or to satisfy treaty or contractual obligations.
    • Example: supporting U.S. military base construction (e.g. associated with the National Defense Authorization Act) or IT infrastructure.
  • Travel necessary to facilitate the immediate and continued economic recovery of the United States
    • Example: working in forestry and conservation, nonfarm animal caretakers, etc.

Consular officers may determine that an H-2B applicant falls into the second category when at least two of the following three indicators are present:

#1 – Applicant previously employed and trained by petitioning U.S. employer

The applicant must have worked for the petitioning employer under two or more H-2B petitions, which can be named or unnamed. Seasonal and temporary staff often undergo substantial time and resources for training, so the Department of State argues that denying visas to the most experienced returning workers may cause financial hardship to the U.S. business.

#2 – There is a continued need for the worker as demonstrated by a temporary labor certification (TLC)

TLCs approved by the Department of Labor during or after July 2020 likely account for the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, both on the labor market and the petitioner’s business. This indicator is met for cases with a TLC approved during or after July 2020, but may also be met for TLCs before July 2020 if the visa application sufficiently demonstrates the continuing need of petitioned workers.

#3 – The denial of the visa due to the ban will cause financial hardship to the U.S. employer

The applicant and employer must provide evidence of the financial hardship that may be incurred if the visa is denied. Examples:

  • Employer may be unable to meet financial or other contractual obligations
  • Employer has the inability to continue its business
  • The denial would lead to a delay or other impediment to the employer’s ability to return to pre-COVID-19 level of operations

Additional Resources

Next Steps

It will be at the consular officer’s discretion as to whether visa applicants meet the criteria above. Visa appointments will be limited as embassies and consulates begin to reopen. Applicants and employers should consult with their attorneys to prepare a package of strong evidence before scheduling an appointment.

Contact us at info@challalaw.com to schedule a time to discuss whether your critical employees are eligible for an exception to the travel ban.


USCIS Implements Citizenship for Children of Military Members and Civil Servants Act

In March 2020, the bipartisan Citizenship for Children of Military Members and Civil Servants Act was signed into law by the president. The bill was a response to a policy change issued earlier by the Trump administration, causing confusion on whether some children of military members living abroad would automatically acquire citizenship. The policy update required children to establish residency in the United States before becoming citizens, meaning that some overseas civil servants and military personnel may have to apply for citizenship rather than having it granted upon the child’s birth or adoption.

The Citizenship for Children of Military Members and Civil Servants Act clarifies that a child born outside the U.S. acquires automatic citizenship, even if residing outside of the U.S. if the child is a lawful permanent resident and is in the legal and physical custody of his or her U.S. parent who is:

  • Stationed and residing outside of the United States as a member of the U.S. armed forces;
  • Stationed and residing outside of the United States as an employee of the U.S. government; or
  • The spouse residing outside the United States in marital union with a U.S. armed forces member or U.S. government employee who is stationed outside of the United States.

USCIS noted that in cases involving members of the U.S. armed forces, the child and U.S. citizen parent (if the citizen is the spouse of the armed forces member) must be “authorized to accompany and reside abroad with the armed forces member pursuant to the member’s official orders.” The new act reverses the prior policy change.

Additional Resources

Join us on Wednesdays for a live webinar at 12 PM ET on critical immigration updates

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