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U.S. Embassy in Bogota to Process Venezuelan Immigrant Visas

Posted March 11, 2019Kristen KellarArticles

The U.S. Embassy in Bogota, Colombia will soon begin processing immigrant visas for Venezuelan residents. In April 2019, the National Visa Center will begin scheduling appointment for immigrant visa interviews in Venezuela.

Previously, the U.S. Embassy in Caracas, Venezuela processed visa cases, but services were shut down in January due to an ordered departure of non-emergency personnel. Nonimmigrant visa applications for Venezuelan residents must be submitted to a U.S. Embassy or Consulate outside of Venezuela.

If you or your employee is a resident of Venezuela and have questions about visa applications, please reach out to your designated Meltzer Hellrung LLC attorney.

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I-94 Changes for Tecate Port of Entry

Posted March 8, 2019Articles
CBP has announced changes for citizens of Mexico who require I-94 travel permits. Citizens of Mexico will only be allowed to obtain I-94 documentation at the port's pedestrian facility beginning March 25, 2019. Travelers will be required to leave their vehicle in Mexico and enter a facility to apply for an I-94 travel document. CBP officials state that the purpose of this change is to provide a more efficient and systematic procedure.  For a faster way to apply for an I-94, travelers may use the online I-94 application:  https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/#/home If you have any questions regarding this change, please reach out to your designated Meltzer Hellrung LLC attorney.    

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USCIS Updates Form I-539

Posted March 4, 2019Stephanie WedelArticles

USCIS announced that it will be updating the Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status. This form will be available March 8, 2019, and beginning on March 22, 2019, USCIS will only accept the 02/04/2019 edition. Because both the new and old versions will be accepted from March 8th  to March 21st,  USCIS will not be able to issue receipt notices for applications made using the new forms until March 25th, but the receipt will reflect the actual date that the application was received by USCIS. USCIS stated that it cannot accept multiple versions of a form at the same time.  

The newest I-539 will require each applicant to complete and sign a Form I-539A, Supplemental Information for Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status.  Parents or guardians may sign on behalf of children under the age of 14 or any applicant who is not mentally competent.  

In addition to the I-539A, each applicant and co-applicant will need to attend biometrics appointments (fingerprinting) and pay an $85 biometric service fee. USCIS has indicated it anticipates an average of 17 days from receipt of the application until biometrics are completed, though this is not guaranteed.  USCIS will try to give at least 1 week notice for these biometrics appointments. Background checks will not be required for applicants under the age of 14.  

Along with the updated forms, USCIS has also suggested that wet-ink signatures will not be required.  A scan, fax or copy will also be accepted for the Form I-539.  

The I-539 is typically submitted to change to or extend dependent cases from within the United States, such as H-4, L-2, TD, etc. 

The newly revised form will likely impact processing timelines with the addition of the biometrics appointments.  Previously, although the Form I-539 was not eligible for Premium Processing, USCIS had generally processed these forms at the same time as the premium processed primary applications.  With the new processes, this will no longer be possible.  

For further information regarding this change, please reach out to your designated Meltzer Hellrung LLC attorney.

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USCIS Resumes Premium Processing for Certain H-1B Petitions

Posted February 18, 2019Kristen KellarH-1B

On February 19, 2019 USCIS will resume premium processing for H-1B petitions filed on or before December 21, 2018. Premium processing is still unavailable for H-1B petitions filed more recently.

Premium processing service guarantees that USCIS will review a petition within 15 calendar days of receipt by the USCIS. Premium processing does not guarantee a final decision, as USCIS can issue a request for evidence or notice of intent to deny. If a request for evidence or notice of intent to deny is issued, the 15 day clock will begin again once USCIS receives the response.

For further information or to upgrade a case to premium processing please reach out to your designated Meltzer Hellrung LLC attorney.

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H and L Visa Adjudications in China Restricted to Three Locations

Posted February 4, 2019Karen GillespieArticles

The Department of State announced that as of March 1, 2019, H and L visa interviews will only be conducted the following locations:

  • U.S. Embassy in Beijing
  • U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou
  • U.S. Consulate in Shanghai

This change reduces the number of available consulates for H and L visa interviews from five to three locations. The Department of State has implemented similar consolidations in other countries and this action appears to be part of a Department project to streamline consular operations. If examples from prior consolidations, such as in India, are any indicator then applicants seeking new or renewed H or L visas in China should expect longer wait times for an appointment.

We urge applicants to plan ahead when traveling internationally if a new or extended visa needs to be obtained regardless of country of origin, but this is now especially true for Chinese citizens. Such planning includes booking a consular appointment prior to exiting the U.S. and allowing at least 3 business days after your interview appointment for your visa to be processed. In emergency cases, where the wait time in China may be prohibitively long, please reach out to your Meltzer Hellrung attorney so that we can explore consular options in other countries or request expedited service if possible. Such options vary by individual and would be assessed at the time by your attorney.

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