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What to Expect at an Employment-Based AOS Interview

Posted October 14, 2017Matthew MeltzerGreen Card

USCIS is now requiring all employment-based green card candidates to attend an in-person interview in order to adjust status. USCIS is interviewing all applicants who submitted Form I-140 on or after March 6, 2017. Individuals whose Form I-140 was submitted prior to that date may still be called for an interview.

What to Bring to the Interview

Individuals called for an interview will receive a formal notice from the USCIS with a date and time for the interview. The notice will also list what documents to bring, but the notice has not yet been updated to reflect employment-based petitions. We recommend carrying the following documents:

  • Original passport
  • Current I-94
  • Prior immigration documents such as I-797's, I-20's, EAD cards, etc.
  • Birth certificate
  • Marriage certificate
  • Letter from sponsoring employer confirming job title, offered wage, and position responsibilities
  • If in a non-immigrant status such as H or L, your two most recent pay stubs
  • Diploma and transcripts (originals are not needed, but if available you should take them)
  • Employment verification letters submitted with Form I-140 (originals are not needed, but if available you should take them)
  • Updated medical exam if your last exam is over one year old or an exam was never submitted

Will Dependents Have Interviews?

Yes, your dependents will also have interviews. USCIS may waive interviews for children under 14 years old. 

What Dependents Should Bring to the Interview

  • Original passport
  • Current I-94
  • Prior immigration documents such as I-797's, I-20's, EAD cards, etc.
  • Marriage certificate for spouse
  • Birth certificate for children
  • Prior divorce documentation, if any
  • Updated medical exam if your last exam is over one year old or an exam was never submitted
  • If you and your spouse have been married for less than one year or have been living in different locations please contact your Meltzer Hellrung attorney for a discussion on whether additional documentation is needed

What Questions Will the USCIS Ask

  • Clarification of any question on the I-485, such as biographical information, immigration history, and travel history
  • Where you will work
  • What your current job duties and salary are or will be
  • Your educational background
  • Your employment experience
  • Whether your employer still intends to employ you in the job outlined in the I-140
  • Whether you still intend to take up the job described in the I-140 or whether you have changed jobs pursuant to portability rules

To further discuss how to prepare for your adjustment of status interview please contact your Meltzer Hellrung attorney.

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PERM Post-Filing Timeline Relaxed for Employers

Posted October 11, 2017Karen GillespieArticles, Green Card

The Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC) has altered its timeline for employers to certify sponsorship after the filing of a PERM application. Previously, after the ETA 9089 was filed, an email questionnaire was sent to the employer asking them to confirm the filing and the sponsorship. Their response had to be received within 7 days for the PERM to continue processing. This tight timeline placed a burden on HR departments to be especially diligent post-PERM filing.

The OFLC still requires the employer to respond to an email questionnaires but has now relaxed that timeline to allow employers up to 30 days from the day the questionnaire is sent to respond. A reminder email will be sent after 7 days of non-response and if no response is sent within 30 days the PERM will be denied due to non-confirmation of the position.

Meltzer Hellrung LLC will continue to work with clients to notify them of their PERM obligations and monitor response time to ensure compliance.

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H-1B RFEs Increase 45 Percent Under Trump Administration

Posted October 3, 2017Kristen KellarArticles

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has issued 45 percent more requests for evidence (“RFEs”) on H-1B petitions in 2017 than last year, according to USCIS data reviewed by Reuters. Between January 1 and August 31, USCIS issued 85,270 RFEs whereas, in the same period last year, 58,920 were issued. As H-1B petitions filed this year have only increased by about 3 percent, the rise in RFEs is likely a symptom of increased scrutiny on foreign workers by the Trump administration.

The data also showed that in the fiscal year 2016, which ran from October 1, 2015, to September 30, 2016, 87 percent of H-1B petitions were approved. While data for the entire 2017 fiscal year is not yet available, only 59 percent of adjudicated H-1B petitions were approved as of June 30.

The Trump administration has taken a hardline stance on immigration, and in April ordered a review of the H-1B program. Over the summer, USCIS began issuing a new type of RFE focused on H-1B positions filed with a level 1 wage on the Labor Condition Application. These RFEs target whether positions are truly entry level and whether individuals offered entry-level positions qualify for H-1B status.

Meltzer Hellrung attorneys continue to refine application strategies in response to these shifting standards of adjudication. For further information please contact your Meltzer Hellrung attorney.

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Department of State Announces new 90-Day Rule and Guidelines on Misrepresentation

Posted October 2, 2017Kristen KellarArticles

On September 1, 2017, the U.S. Department of State updated the Foreign Affairs Manual providing new guidance to consular officers regarding whether individuals have misrepresented their intended conduct in the U.S. In a new section entitled “Inconsistent Conduct Within 90 Days of Entry,” the guidelines state that a nonimmigrant who violates or acts inconsistently with his or her status within 90 days of entry may be found inadmissible based on misrepresentation. The examples given include but are not limited to:

  • Engaging in unauthorized employment;
  • Enrolling in a course of academic study, for those who enter on a status that does not allow study;
  • Marrying a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident and taking up residence in the U.S. while on a nonimmigrant status that does not allow dual intent, for example, B or F status; or
  • Any other activity where a change of status or an adjustment of status would be required, without the benefit of such a change or adjustment.

After 90 days of entry, willful misrepresentation is no longer presumed unless the officer is led to believe otherwise. Most statuses do not allow for dual intent (both temporary and permanent intents), with the exception of H-1B, L, O-1, and K statuses.

This new guidance does away with the previous 30/60 day rule regarding adjustment of status. Under that rule, adjustments within 30 days of entry we presumed to be willful misrepresentation, those within 30 to 60 days were generally presumed to not have the intent to misrepresent but may have been held to a higher level of scrutiny, and those who adjusted after 60 days were presumed to have acted in good faith.

Currently, this change only applies to the State Department’s Foreign Affairs Manual, USCIS’s Adjudicator’s Field Manual has not been updated. However, given the unpredictability of the administration a conservative approach is to apply the 90 day rule to guidance for USCIS petitions as well. Individuals who are currently in a nonimmigrant status and intend to apply for an adjustment of status, extension of status, or change of status within 90 days of entry should consult an immigration attorney. Nonimmigrants intending to marry a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident in the U.S. and adjusting status may want to discuss alternative options such as the K-1 visa for fiancés or an immigrant visa.

Current Meltzer Hellrung clients can reach out to their designated attorney. If you are not a current client but are interested in our services and would like to schedule a consultation, please reach out to us.

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New Travel Ban Announced by Trump Administration

Posted September 25, 2017Matthew P. Hellrung, Esq.Articles

On Sunday, President Trump announced new travel restrictions for foreign visitors traveling to the U.S. from Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen.  The announcement is an expansion and an extension of the travel ban issued by President Trump’s administration earlier this year, which was set to expire on Sunday.

The new travel rules are set to go into effect October 18, 2017, will not affect anyone who already holds a U.S. visa, and vary by country of citizenship. Generally, the new travel rules maintain, modify or ease restrictions on 5 of 6 countries currently designated under the previous travel ban: Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, and Somalia. The new rules lift travel restrictions altogether for Sudan, which was previously subjected to the same restrictions as Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, and Somalia. And, finally, the new rules add restrictions and/or additional vetting for 3 new countries found to not meet baseline security requirements, but that were not included in the original travel ban: Chad, North Korea, and Venezuela.  

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