Visa Priority

U.S. embassies and consulates are using a tiered approach to triage immigrant visa applications based on the category of immigrant visa as they resume and expand processing:

  • Tier One: Immediate relative intercountry adoption visas, age-out cases (cases where the applicant will soon no longer qualify due to their age), and certain Special Immigrant Visas (SQ and SI for Afghan and Iraqi nationals working with the U.S. government)
  • Tier Two:  Immediate relative visas; fiancé(e) visas; and returning resident visas
  • Tier Three: Family preference immigrant visas and SE Special Immigrant Visas for certain employees of the U.S. government abroad
  • Tier Four: All other immigrant visas, including employment preference and diversity visas

Many embassies and consulates continue to have a significant backlog of all categories of immigrant visas. This prioritization plan instructs posts to maximize their limited resources to accommodate as many immediate relative and fiancé(e) cases as possible with a goal of, at a minimum, preventing the backlog from growing in these categories and hopefully reducing it. However, the prioritization plan also instructs posts to schedule and adjudicate some cases in Tier Three and Tier Four each month. The Department recognizes that visa applicants, particularly those in Tiers Three and Four, will face continued delays.

Review Services Offered

Are you looking for cost-effective attorney support without actually hiring for the entire processing of immigration filings? Based on feedback from the community and satisfied clients, we are pleased to offer the following services:

1. Review of adjustment of status application $500: includes full review of application with two 30-minute video calls to discuss edits and additions. Also includes one 30-minute follow-up session with Attorney during adjudication of case for questions/concerns.

2. Interview Preparation $500: includes basic review of application with two 45-minute video calls. The first call is to discuss what to expect at interview. The second call is a mock-style interview where individuals are separated and asked questions as will be done at interview. This includes a preparation guide as well to use while preparing. Also includes call on day of interview to discuss last minute questions or concerns.

Biometrics Scheduling by Phone

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that applicants, petitioners, requestors and beneficiaries may now call the USCIS Contact Center (800-375-5283) to reschedule their biometric services appointments scheduled at a USCIS Application Support Center. Previously, applicants had to submit requests in writing to reschedule their biometrics appointments.

Applicants must establish good cause for rescheduling and must call before the date and time of their original appointment to reschedule. If an applicant fails to call before the scheduled appointment or fails to establish good cause, USCIS may consider the application, petition, or request abandoned and, as a result, it may be denied.

DHS Withdrawing Proposed Biometric Rule

The Department of Homeland Security has withdrawn a proposed rule that would have expanded department authorities and requirements for collecting biometrics by removing age restrictions; requiring submission of biometrics for every applicant, petitioner, sponsor, beneficiary, or other individual filing for or associated with any immigration or naturalization benefit or request unless DHS waives or exempts the biometrics requirement; codifying the authority to use DNA test results; and authorizing the use of additional types of biometric modalities.

DHS announced its decision to withdraw the proposed rule, originally published on Sept. 11, 2020, in a Federal Register notice. The withdrawal is consistent with the Executive Order 14012, Restoring Faith in Our Legal Immigration Systems and Strengthening Integration and Inclusion Efforts for New Americans, and additional administration priorities to reduce barriers and undue burdens in the immigration system.

Consular Processing Tiers of Priority

U.S. embassies and consulates are using a tiered approach to triage immigrant visa applications based on the category of immigrant visa as they resume and expand processing. The following lists the main categories of immigrant visas in priority order:

  • Tier One: Immediate relative intercountry adoption visas, age-out cases (cases where the applicant will soon no longer qualify due to their age), and certain Special Immigrant Visas (SQ and SI for Afghan and Iraqi nationals working with the U.S. government)
  • Tier Two:  Immediate relative visas; fiancé(e) visas; and returning resident visas
  • Tier Three: Family preference immigrant visas and SE Special Immigrant Visas for certain employees of the U.S. government abroad
  • Tier Four: All other immigrant visas, including employment preference and diversity visas

Many embassies and consulates continue to have a significant backlog of all categories of immigrant visas. This prioritization plan instructs posts to maximize their limited resources to accommodate as many immediate relative and fiancé(e) cases as possible with a goal of, at a minimum, preventing the backlog from growing in these categories and hopefully reducing it. However, the prioritization plan also instructs posts to schedule and adjudicate some cases in Tier Three and Tier Four each month. The Department recognizes that visa applicants, particularly those in Tiers Three and Four, will face continued delays.

Travel Ban India

The U.S. is suspending almost all travel from India beginning May 4 during a devastating Covid-19 surge. Those who fall under the exemptions will still be allowed to travel to the U.S. after the restrictions go into effect. The travel ban won’t apply to U.S. citizens or permanent residents and their spouses.

USCIS Policy on Deference to Previous Decisions

USCIS is instructing officers to give deference to prior determinations when adjudicating extension requests involving the same parties and facts unless there was a material error, material change, or new material facts through a new policy directive.

With this update, USCIS is reverting in substance to prior long-standing guidance issued in 2004, which directed officers to generally defer to prior determinations of eligibility when adjudicating extension requests involving the same parties and facts as the initial petition or application. In 2017, USCIS rescinded the 2004 guidance.

Public Charge Update

The U.S. Department of Homeland Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas announced that the government will no longer defend the 2019 public charge rule as doing so is neither in the public interest nor an efficient use of limited government resources.

“The 2019 public charge rule was not in keeping with our nation’s values. It penalized those who access health benefits and other government services available to them,” said Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas. “Consistent with the President’s vision, we will continue to implement reforms that improve our legal immigration system.”

As a result, the 1999 interim field guidance on the public charge inadmissibility provision (i.e., the policy that was in place before the 2019 public charge rule) is now in effect.

USCIS Extends Flexibility

In response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is extending the flexibilities it announced on March 30, 2020, to assist applicants, petitioners and requestors who are responding to certain:

  • Requests for Evidence;
  • Continuations to Request Evidence (N-14);
  • Notices of Intent to Deny;
  • Notices of Intent to Revoke;
  • Notices of Intent to Rescind;
  • Notices of Intent to Terminate regional centers; and
  • Motions to Reopen an N-400 Pursuant to 8 CFR 335.5, Receipt of Derogatory Information After Grant.

DHS Request for Public Input

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is seeking comment from the public on how U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) can reduce barriers that prevent both U.S. and foreign citizens from obtaining access to the full assortment of legally available immigration services and benefits. The public may submit comments, identified by docket number USCIS-2021-0004, through the Federal eRulemaking Portal. All written comments are requested on or before May 19.