Proposed Immigration Language for Green Card Fees & Issuance

UPDATE: Senate Parliamentarian Rejects Option for Including Immigration Proposals in Reconciliation Bill

The House Judiciary Committee approved some immigration language to include with the upcoming budget reconciliation bill, which would allow some applicants the ability to pay an extra fee to be issued their green card. On September 20, 2021, the Senate’s nonpartisan parliamentarian determined that Democrats could not include the language in the bill, calling the language “by any standard a broad, new immigration policy.” She noted that these provisions would not be allowed in the bills if the budget effect is “merely incidental” to the overall policy impact.

Although a House committee approved the language, there are still several steps before the bill is brought to the House and Senate for a vote. If passed by both branches of Congress, the bill would be sent to the President for signature before implementation. Below is a summary of the proposed language, but please note this language could change significantly before potential approval.

Summary of Immigration Language

  • House Judiciary Committee approves immigration language for the reconciliation bill
    • New section in INA that would allow anyone in 4 categories to adjust status if they pay a supplemental fee of $1,500 and pass security/law enforcement checks and medical exam
      • Categories are Dreamers, essential workers, TPS, DED
      • Essential workers:
        • continuously physically present in the US since 1/1/2021
        • Demonstrated a consistent record of earned income in the US in an occupation listed in DHS’ Advisory Memorandum on Ensuring Ability to Work During the COVID from 1/31/2020 to 8/24/2021 Essential Critical Infrastructure  Workers
      • Recapture of unused immigrant visa numbers
        • Recapture of family and employment visas that went unused between 1992 and 2021 and automatically recapture unused numbers going forward
        • DV visas remain available from 2017 to 2021 if visa refusal was due to Trump visa ban or COVID slowdowns
      • DHS may accept AOS if the beneficiary of an approved I-130, pays a supplemental fee of $1,500 plus $250 for each derivative beneficiary and is otherwise eligible to adjust
        • DHS may exempt applicants from family numerical limits if they have a priority date more than 2 years old and
          • Applying in FA-1, FA-3, FA-4 and pay $2,500
          • EB-1, EB-2, or EB-3, and pay $5,000
          • EB-4 and pay fee of $50,000
        • Would take effect 180 days after the date of enactment or May 1, 2022, whichever is earlier
        • Additional supplemental fees
          • Family 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th green card petitions shall have a new $100 supplemental fee. EB-1, 2, and 3 petitions shall be accompanied by a new $800 supplemental fee. EB-5 petitions shall be accompanied by a new $15,000 supplemental fee.
        • USCIS shall be appropriated $2.8 billion to increase their capacity to handle the new programs under 60001 and 60003.

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U.S. Announces Travel Restrictions to Be Lifted

U.S. Announces Travel Restrictions To Be Lifted

White House pandemic coordinator, Jeff Zients, announced a new international air travel system that will allow travelers abroad to enter the U.S. once again. Zients stated that the new system “enhances the safety of international air travel” and would allow COVID-19-based travel bans to end in early November for those who are fully vaccinated against the virus. The existing requirements for COVID-19 tests will remain, even for fully vaccinated travelers. Individuals wishing to travel to the U.S. need to show proof of a negative test within three days of their planned entry to the U.S. Masks will still be required, but quarantine mandates are not expected.

Americans who are abroad will have stricter testing requirements if they remain unvaccinated. The individuals may also be contacted by officials after arrival to see if they are experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to announce a process for airlines to help implement a contact-tracing system by collecting phone numbers and email addresses of travelers. Zients stated: “This will enable CDC and state and local public health officials to follow up with inbound travelers and those around them as someone has potentially been exposed to COVID-19 or other pathogens.” The CDC will also release the list of vaccinations that will be acceptable before the new policy goes into effect.

Are you currently in a country subject to travel bans? 

If you have an urgent need to travel in the next few weeks, the existing travel restrictions will still be in place. You can request an emergency appointment and National Interest Exception if you qualify. However, the timeline for getting these approvals may be longer than a few weeks and therefore moot after the restrictions are lifted in November.

Check with your medical provider to determine if international travel and the current requirements are recommended for you. Note that some of the most popular vaccines require two doses, several weeks apart. If you wish to travel in November, consider scheduling your vaccination appointments early so that all required doses can be completed. If the vaccines available to you abroad are not currently approved for use in the U.S., you should check the CDC list of approved vaccines after it it is released (expected soon).

The consular posts are still subject to significant backlogs for visa appointments as posts are subject to country-specific operating conditions. Although you may be allowed to enter the U.S., obtaining visa stamping in a timely manner is expected to remain challenging in the coming months.

Resources

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DOS Announces Student Interviews May Be Waived

DOS Announces Student Interviews May Be Waived

The Department of State announced that F, M, and academic J visa applicants (students, professors, research scholars, short-term scholars, or specialists) may be eligible to have their applications adjudicated without an in-person interview at a consular post. While each embassy or consulate will have its own procedures for waiving the interviews, applicants may have to obtain drop box appointments for visa stamping. As a reminder, students qualified for an F-1 or M-1 visa will automatically be considered for an NIE, or National Interest Exception, to travel to the U.S., despite the ongoing travel bans applicable to travel from 33 countries.

Challa Law Resources:

September 14, 2021 Update from the Department of State

International students are now and always have been among the Department of State’s highest priorities.  The Department recognizes the important contributions these students make to our college and university campuses; the positive impact they have on U.S. communities; and the rich benefits of academic cooperation in increasing cultural understanding, furthering research, knowledge, and supporting U.S. diplomacy.  The Department is committed to supporting the U.S. academic community, while administering U.S. law.  The Department also recognizes this is a critical period of time for students seeking to begin their studies at academic institutions across the United States.

To that end, the Deputy Secretary for Management and Resources, under the authority delegated to him by the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Department of Homeland Security, has authorized consular officers through the end of 2021 to expand the categories of F, M, and “academic J visa applicants” (students, professors, research scholars, short-term scholars, or specialists) whose applications can be adjudicated without an in-person interview in their consular district of residence, with certain exceptions.  Consular officers may, if they so choose, and pursuant to local conditions, now waive the visa interview requirement for F, M, and academic J visa applicants who were previously issued any type of visa, and who have never been refused a visa unless such refusal was overcome or waived, and who have no apparent ineligibility or potential ineligibility; or first-time F, M, and academic J visa applicants who are citizens or nationals of a country that participates in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), provided they have no apparent ineligibility or potential ineligibility.  This applies only to non-U.S. citizens who are nationals of eligible countries.  Details about country eligibility and necessary procedures will be available on the website of the relevant embassy or consulate.  Applicants from non VWP countries whose prior visa was issued when they were less than 14 years of age, may need to submit biometric fingerprints, but can still be approved for an interview waiver.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken has previously found F, M, and academic J visa applicants eligible for National Interest Exceptions (NIEs) under Presidential Proclamations that suspend entry of individuals present in one of the 33 countries subject to COVID-19 travel restrictions (see https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/visa-information-resources/covid-19-travel-restrictions-and-exceptions.html).  Students seeking to apply for a new F-1 or M-1 visa should check the status of visa services at the nearest embassy or consulate; those applicants who are found to be otherwise qualified for an F-1 or M-1 visa will automatically be considered for an NIE to travel.  Students and academics traveling on J-1 visas must contact the nearest embassy or consulate prior to travel to receive an NIE.

Consular resources and local government restrictions vary widely, and each consular section is continuously reviewing its capacity to adjudicate visa applications during this worldwide pandemic and as we address global issues and competing priorities.  We encourage applicants to check the website of the relevant U.S. embassy or consulate to confirm the level of services currently offered and to find guidelines for applying for a visa without an interview.

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October 2021 Visa Bulletin Released

The Department of State released the first Visa Bulletin for the new fiscal year. USCIS confirmed it will use the Dates for Filing chart for the month of October. This allows applicants with later priority dates to file their Adjustment of Status applications, along with applications for Advance Parole and an Employment Authorization Document (EAD).

Employment-Based Highlights

  • Dates for Filing – EB-2 progressed by approximately 6 months
  • Dates for Filing – EB-3 retrogressed by almost 2 months
DATES FOR FILING OF EMPLOYMENT-BASED VISA APPLICATIONS

Visa Availability in the Coming Months (Predictions Through January 2022)

  • No movement expected in F1, F2B, F3, and F4 family-based categories. F2A will likely remain current.
  • EB-1 will remain current worldwide and for India and China
  • EB-2 will be current worldwide, with “up to several months” of movement expected for China and India
  • EB-3 – Final Action Date could be imposed worldwide as early as November
    • China: retrogression could occur as early as November
    • India: retrogression could occur as early as November
    • Mexico: Final Action Date could be imposed as early as November
    • Philippines: Final Action Date could be imposed as early as November
  • EB-4 will remain current for most countries, limited (if any) movement expected for Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras
  • EB-5 will remain current for most countries, no forward movement for China

The Department of State’s Chief of the Visa Control division, Charles Oppenheim will host “Chats with Charlie” on the @TravelGov YouTube channel at 1 PM EST, September 15, 2021.

Next Steps

If you are current using the Dates for Filing chart, contact us immediately to get your case started. Considering an EB-2 to EB-3 “downgrade” to take advantage of the movement? Join our weekly webinars and get your questions answered!

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 Fees and Legal Fees

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

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USCIS to Require COVID-19 Vaccine for Refugee and Immigrant Applicants

USCIS to Require COVID-19 Vaccine for Refugee and Immigrant Applicants

The CDC, together with USCIS, will require COVID-19 vaccinations for refugee and immigrant applicants starting on October 1, 2021. The Department of Health & Human Services issued an alert for physicians to note the designation of COVID-19 as a Class A Inadmissible Condition. The alert stated that the U.S. Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices (ACIP) has now recommended the vaccination for the general U.S. population and therefore it now meets the vaccination criteria for refugee or immigrant applicants.

The notice also advises:

  • If a COVID-19 vaccine listed for emergency use by the World Health Organization (WHO) or licensed or authorized for emergency use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is available to the applicant in the country where the medical examination is conducted, the eligible applicant must complete the COVID-19 vaccine series.
  • Applicants who are too young to receive the vaccine, have a medical contraindication to the vaccine, or who do not have access to one of the approved COVID-19 vaccines in their country will not be required to receive the vaccine.
  • Individuals may apply for an individual waiver based on religious or moral convictions with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
    (USCIS).

Question: I’ve already taken my medical exam and sent it to USCIS, but my I-485 is still pending. Will I have to get another exam? 

The alert states that this policy goes into effect for individuals receiving their medical examinations from a Civil Surgeon or Panel Physician on or after October 1, 2021. Medical exams that are completed prior to this date are not required to demonstrate proof of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.

Question: I need to provide updated medicals but USCIS hasn’t issued an RFE yet or my priority date is not yet current. Should I get the vaccine? 

Whether you are choosing to interfile your medicals or wait for an RFE, you may want to consider getting the vaccine so that both doses (if applicable) can be completed by the time your priority date is current or when USCIS requests medicals in an RFE. You should check with your healthcare provider before taking or refraining from taking any medical actions.

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What to Expect at Your USCIS Biometrics Appointment

Many applications, petitions, or other requests for immigration benefits require USCIS to collect biometrics to verify your identity. If you miss your scheduled biometrics services appointment, your case could be denied by USCIS so it is important to be prepared for the appointment or to reschedule if you are unable to make the scheduled time on your Form I-797C, Notice of Action.

Your appointment notice will include the date, time, and location for the biometrics services appointment at a local Application Support Center (ASC). You will be required to provide your fingerprints, photograph, and/or signature. This is not an interview for any immigration benefit; just a verification of your identity.

What should I bring to my ASC appointment?

You should bring your original appointment notice, as well as your valid photo identification (such as driver’s license, passport, and/or green card). USCIS also suggests saving or printing a copy of your completed application, petition, or request for your records.

Note: Current COVID-19 protocols require that you also bring a blue or black ink pen to your appointment.

What will happen at my ASC appointment?

USCIS will collect your biometrics, or fingerprints, on specialized machines. The process is fast and does not require any ink and paper (unless the machine malfunctions). The office will also take a photo and may ask you to sign affirming your information is correct. USCIS uses your biometrics information to verify your identity and search the FBI database in order to check for criminal records or other violations.

USCIS will not collect blood samples, DNA information, or subject you to any medical tests at a biometrics appointment.

Why does USCIS require a signature again?

For some forms, a digital signature is required to reaffirm the contents of your application, petition, or request, even if you already signed on paper or electronically. By signing, you reaffirm that all submitted materials of yourself (and dependents, if applicable), are complete, true, and correct at the time of filing.

If you are over the age of 14, you must provide a signature. Children under the age of 14 are not required to sign, but they may choose to sign their name if they are capable. A parent or legal guardian may also sign the application, petition, or request on the child’s behalf.

I can’t make my appointment. How do I reschedule?

USCIS requires that you have “good cause” to reschedule your appointment. Be prepared with your explanation when you call USCIS to reschedule.

  • To reschedule your appointment, call the USCIS Contact Center at 800-375-5283 (TTY 800-767-1833). To reschedule your appointment with an asylum office, please follow the instructions in your interview notice.

USCIS states that if you fail to call before your scheduled appointment or fail to establish good cause for the request, USCIS may not reschedule your ASC appointment. If you do not appear for your original appointment, USCIS will “consider your application, petition, or request abandoned and, as a result, it may be denied.”

USCIS does offer mobile biometrics or homebound appointments in limited circumstances if you have a serious ongoing medical condition and cannot leave your home or hospital. Check your biometrics appointment notice for more details on these services.

I’m feeling a little under the weather, but I’ve been waiting for a long time for my biometrics appointment. Is it okay if I still attend?

While routine services have been resumed at USCIS, the agency still has COVID-19 safety protocols in place. USCIS states that you should not visit a USCIS office if you are sick or start to feel symptoms of being sick. This includes a cold or the flu, fever or nausea, headaches or body aches, muscle pain, difficulty breathing, vomiting, diarrhea, active tuberculosis, mumps, measles, chickenpox, or any other contagious disease.

Additionally, USCIS will not allow entry to facilities if:

  • Have any symptoms of COVID-19, including but not limited to a recently developed cough, fever, difficulty breathing, changes in smell or taste, or fatigue;
  • Have been in close contact with anyone known or suspected to have COVID-19 in the last 14 days;
  • Have been instructed to self-quarantine or self-isolate by a health care provider, public health authority or government agency within the last 14 days; or
  • Are awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test.

Please consider the health and safety of those around you and reschedule your appointment if you are feeling ill or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19. If you or someone you are with appears ill or meets the conditions listed above, the USCIS officer may cancel your appointment or interview.

What type of COVID-19 safety protocols are in place at USCIS facilities?

Local conditions may vary, but currently, USCIS states that the following policies are in place:

  • In all areas of the country, all USCIS employees, on-site contractors, and visitors, regardless of vaccination status or level of COVID-19 transmission in your local area, are required to wear a mask inside all DHS and USCIS workspaces and federal buildings. 
  • If your temperature is 38 degrees Celcius or 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, you must immediately leave the office building.
  • You may not enter more than 15 minutes before your appointment, or 30 minutes for naturalization ceremonies.
  • Hand sanitizer will be provided at entry points.
  • Face coverings that cover the mouth and nose are required inside all USCIS facilities.
    • Neck gaiters, bandanas, and masks with exhaust valves are not considered acceptable face coverings.
  • Markings and physical barriers in the facility will encourage social distancing.
  • You may have to answer health screening questions before entering.
  • You are encouraged to bring your own blue or black ink pens.

Review Your Appointment Notice

Always check your Form I-797C appointment notice for any updated details or requirements from USCIS.

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USCIS Selects Second Round of H-1B Lottery

Petitioners and attorneys: check your USCIS accounts! USCIS announced a second round of selections for the FY 2022 H-1B lottery. Petitioners can file H-1B petitions for the selected registrations beginning on August 2, 2021 and closing on November 3, 2021.

UPDATE 7/29/2021: USCIS is experiencing technical difficulties with attorney accounts, making the attorneys unable to check the status of the H-1B registrations. Some law firms have reported that USCIS accounts are still accessible to employers. If an additional selection was made, the employer would also have received an email notification from USCIS.

From USCIS

In March 2021, USCIS conducted an initial random selection on properly submitted electronic registrations for the fiscal year (FY) 2022 H-1B cap, including for beneficiaries eligible for the advanced degree exemption. Per regulation, we use historical data related to approvals, denials, revocations, and other relevant factors to calculate the number of registrations needed to meet the H-1B cap for a given fiscal year. Only those petitioners with selected registrations for FY 2022 are eligible to file H-1B cap-subject petitions. The initial filing period for those with selected registrations for FY 2022 was from April 1, 2021, through June 30, 2021.

We recently determined that we needed to select additional registrations to reach the FY 2022 numerical allocations. On July 28, we selected previously submitted electronic registrations using a random selection process. The petition filing period based on registrations selected on July 28 will begin on Aug. 2 and close on Nov. 3. Individuals with selected registrations will have their myUSCIS accounts updated to include a selection notice, which includes details of when and where to file.

An H-1B cap-subject petition must be properly filed at the correct service center and within the filing period indicated on the relevant registration selection notice. Online filing is not available for H-1B petitions. Petitioners filing H-1B petitions must do so by paper and must include a printed copy of the applicable registration selection notice with the FY 2022 H-1B cap-subject petition.

Registration selection only indicates that petitioners are eligible to file H-1B cap-subject petitions; it does not indicate that the petition will be approved. Petitioners filing H-1B cap-subject petitions, including those petitions eligible for the advanced degree exemption, must still submit evidence and establish eligibility for petition approval based on existing statutory and regulatory requirements.

For more information, visit the H-1B Cap Season page.

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Call (Don’t Write) To Reschedule Your Biometrics Appointment

USCIS no longer accepts written requests to reschedule biometrics appointments at application support centers (ASCs). Individuals must now call the USCIS Contact Center to reschedule their appointment in advance of the appointment date. As a reminder, you must establish “good cause” or USCIS will not reschedule the appointment. USCIS does not clearly outline the reasons that would be considered good cause, but the agency does note that you should not come to your appointment if you are sick, are starting to have symptoms of an illness, have been instructed to quarantine, or if you have been in contact with someone with COVID-19.

Attorney Lakshmi Challa hosted a webinar about Navigating the USCIS Contact Center. She shares tips for speaking to a live person and accomplishing your goals on the call.

Please note: missing your scheduled biometrics appointment could result in a denial of your case. You should confirm that your request to reschedule has been successful.

Recent Update from USCIS

We have closed the Biometrics Processing Unit (BPU) in Alexandria, VA and no longer accept written requests to reschedule biometric services appointments at application support centers. You must now call the USCIS Contact Center to reschedule a biometric services appointment. This change reduces paperwork and helps us track requests more efficiently. 

How to Reschedule a Biometric Services Appointment
You must call the USCIS Contact Center at 800-375-5283 (TTY 800-767-1833) before the date and time of your original appointment and establish good cause for rescheduling. If you fail to call before your scheduled appointment or fail to establish good cause, USCIS may not reschedule the appointment. If you fail to appear for your originally scheduled biometric services appointment and the appointment is not rescheduled, we will consider the related application, petition, or request abandoned and, as a result, we may deny it.

For more information, please visit the Preparing for Your Biometric Services Appointment webpage.

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USCIS Eliminates Need for “Bridge” Applications for F-1 Change of Status Applicants

USCIS Eliminates Need for “Bridge” Applications for F-1 Change of Status Applicants

USCIS announced that individuals applying for a change of status (COS) within the U.S. to F-1 student status no longer have to apply to change or extend their nonimmigrant status while their initial F-1 COS application is pending. This eliminates the need to maintain another nonimmigrant status up to 30 days prior to the program start date listed on the student’s Form I-20. Under the previous policy, applicants for student status often had to file an initial COS and subsequent extensions of another nonimmigrant status to ensure there was no gap in status.

The new policy allows USCIS to grant the change of status to F-1 effective on the day the applicant’s I-539 is approved. In order to be eligible for a COS to F-1 student, the individual must be in a valid unexpired nonimmigrant status at the time of filing the initial COS application.

Although the policy is effective immediately, USCIS is still in the process of updating Form I-539 and the form instructions.

Additional Information from USCIS on Changing to Student Status

Changing to F or M Status from Another Nonimmigrant Status

If you are in the United States in valid nonimmigrant status for a purpose other than to attend school and wish to change your nonimmigrant status (PDF) to a student status while remaining in the United States, you must meet the criteria below and submit an application with USCIS to change your status.

In general, you may apply to change your nonimmigrant status while remaining in the United States if:

  • You were lawfully admitted to the United States in a nonimmigrant status;
  • Your nonimmigrant status remains valid;
  • You have not violated the conditions of your status; and
  • You have not committed any crimes or engaged in any other actions that would make you ineligible for change of status.

Until you receive notice of approval from USCIS, do not assume the requested status has been approved. Before USCIS may approve your application, you must take the following steps:

Not all nonimmigrant classifications are allowed to change to student status. Read the Form I-539 instructions carefully to ensure that your category is eligible.

What if My Current Status Doesn’t Allow Me to Enroll in Classes?

If you are requesting to change from another nonimmigrant status to F or M student status and your current nonimmigrant status does not permit you to enroll in classes, do not enroll in classes or begin your studies until USCIS has approved your change of status. If USCIS has not adjudicated your change of status at least 15 days before the program start date on your Form I-20, contact the designated school official (DSO) at your new school. If USCIS does not grant your request to change status prior to the start date of classes, you may need to defer attendance and wait until the following term in order to begin your studies at the school in F or M status.

Please note that if you are applying to change status to M status, you must maintain a valid nonimmigrant status while your Form I-539 change of status application is pending.

We encourage all students and prospective students to work closely with their DSO to coordinate the timing of applying for change of status and enrolling in a course of study.

NOTE: If you are an M-1 student, you may not change to F status while you are in the United States.

What if My Change of Status Application to F-1 Nonimmigrant Student is Still Pending Within 30 Days of My F-1 Program Start Date?

Due to processing times, you may have to request that your DSO defer the F-1 program start date to the following academic term or semester because USCIS did not make a decision on your Form I-539 change of status application before your originally intended F-1 program start date. If your COS application is approved, your change of status to F-1 will be effective as of the date of approval. You are not required to obtain status all the way up to the date that is 30 days before your program start date (“bridge the gap”), provided that your nonimmigrant status is unexpired at the time of filing the change of status to F-1 application, and you otherwise remain eligible for a change of status.

What if My Change of Status Application to F-1 Nonimmigrant Student is Approved More than 30 Days Before My F-1 Program Start Date?

If we approve an application more than 30 days before your program start date, you must ensure that you do not violate your F-1 status. An example of a violation would be engaging in employment, including on-campus employment and practical training, more than 30 days before the program start date as listed on your Form I-20.

Leaving the United States to Become an F-1 or M-1 Student

You may consider consular processing if you are concerned about maintaining your nonimmigrant status to within 30 days of your M-1 program start date (which may be deferred as described above) or are otherwise not eligible to change status to F-1 or M-1 status in the United States. You will need to do the following:

  • Apply to and receive acceptance from a SEVP-certified school.
  • Receive a new initial Form I-20 from your designated school official (DSO).
  • Pay the I-901 SEVIS fee.
  • Apply at a U.S. consulate or embassy for an F-1 or M-1 visa to travel to the United States in order to seek admission as a student.
  • If you are from a country where no visa is required, such as Canada, you may proceed directly to a U.S. port of entry or a U.S. pre-clearance/pre-flight inspection station and apply for admission to the United States as an F-1 or M-1 student.
  • Once admitted by an immigration officer in F-1 or M-1 status, you may begin your studies.

For more information about consular processing, please visit the Department of State Travel page. For information about SEVP, please visit the ICE Student and Exchange Visitor Program page or the DHS Study in the States page.

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Interfiling Medical Exams for I-485 Filings

Interfiling Medical Exams for I-485 Filings

USCIS requires that certain individuals seeking immigration benefits, such as permanent residence, must “establish that he or she is not inadmissible on health-related grounds.” Form I-693 is used by I-485 applicants to show they “are free from any conditions that would render them inadmissible under the health-related grounds.”

USCIS states that a medical examination, or completed Form I-693, is valid for 60 days after the civil surgeon physician signs the form. Once submitted to USCIS within the 60-day period, the exams will remain valid for up to 2 years while USCIS adjudicates your Form I-485.

What happens if you didn’t submit your medical form with your I-485?

You have a few options for submitting your Form I-693 after your I-485 has already been filed. Most commonly, USCIS will request the medicals when your case is in the final stages of adjudication by issuing a Request for Evidence (RFE). The I-485 applicant can submit the medical exams to the address on the RFE. You can also bring your medical exams with you if you are scheduled for an in-person interview at a USCIS field office.

In recent months, we have seen some employment-based cases approved without an interview at the field office. If you see that USCIS is processing cases near your priority date and your case may be nearing adjudication, you can also choose to “interfile” or mail USCIS your medical exams to have them linked to your case ahead of an RFE.

What are the risks of interfiling my medical exams?

The main risk is that USCIS may not be able to locate your file and attach the medical exams in a timely manner. For example, if the file has been transferred to a field office and you send your medicals to the service center, there could be a delay in connecting the documentation with your case. If your medical exams are lost or not connected within 60 days, you may have to pay the fees to obtain a new set of medical exams and send to USCIS when requested in an RFE or when you are scheduled for an interview.

Tips for Interfiling Medicals

1. Confirm the actual location of your case with USCIS. 

After checking your case status on your USCIS portal, you can also chat with Emma on the USCIS website (an automated tool that could also connect you to an agent for a live chat) or speak with someone at the USCIS Contact Center to ensure the location of your case.

2. Check the mailing address for the location.

If you have not received an RFE requesting the medical exams, you need to check the acceptable mailing addresses for the appropriate service center or field office. The USCIS website has an office locator function, in addition to listing the direct filing addresses for Form I-485.

3. Include your case details and prepare the package for filing. 

Make sure you have your I-485 receipt numbers and medical exams dated within the last 60 days. Include a copy of the G-28 if applicable. Download a sample medicals cover letter.

4. Ship the medicals with a trackable delivery service. 

Use a delivery service that provides tracking numbers so that you can confirm the date and time of arrival. Keep a record of the confirmation delivery with your files.

Connecting with Challa Law Group

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

Don’t miss out on the immigration news! You can sign up for our mailing list or follow us on FacebookTwitterInstagramYouTube, or LinkedIn. You can also join our Telegram community.

Contact us at info@challalaw.com or 804-360-8482 to get your case started today.