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September 2014
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Department of State Releases New Fee Schedule

By: Joseph J. Shepherd, Esq.

Beginning Saturday, September 6, 2014, the Department of State will charge new fee amounts for all immigrant visa applications, certain nonimmigrant visa applications in the E and K categories, and for J-1 waiver recommendation applications, among others.  The highlights:

  • Immediate relatives and family-based immigrant visa applicants will see a significant hike in fees that must be paid to the National Visa Center (“NVC”) before their visa applications will be processed.  Instead of the current combined fee of $318 [$230 (IVP fee) + $88 (I-864 fee)], these applicants will now have to pay the NVC an additional $127, i.e., a new combined fee amount of $445 [$325 (IVP fee) + $120 (I-864 fee)].
  • Employment-based and investment-based immigrant visa applicants will pay the NVC $60 less, i.e., $345 per visa application instead of the current $405.
  • K-1 fiancé(e) visa application fees paid prior to the consular interview will increase by $25 per visa application, i.e., from $240 to $265.
  • Good news for nonimmigrant visa applicants in the E-1 treaty trader; E-2 treaty investor; and E-3 Australian categories, astheseMRV application fees will decrease from $270 to $205 per visa application.
  • Where visa application fees are paid in a local currency, rather than U.S. dollars, the fee amount will be rounded to the nearest $5 for the ease of converting between currencies.
  • J-1 waiver recommendation application fees will decrease by $95, i.e., from $215 to $120 per application.

For questions regarding the upcoming changes please contact your Wolfsdorf Rosenthal LLP immigration attorney at 1-800-VISA-LAW or visalaw@wolfsdorf.com.

China EB-5 “Unavailable” for Remainder of FY2014 – What Does This Mean?

By Bernard Wolfsdorf, Esq. (in cooperation with AILA’s EB-5 Committee)

On Saturday, August 23, 2014, Charles Oppenheim, Chief of the Department of State Immigrant Visa Control and Reporting Division, announced that, effective immediately, the EB-5 preference category had become “unavailable” for Chinese applicants.  This announcement was made at the sold-out AILA EB-5 Conference in Chicago during the . . . → Read More: China EB-5 “Unavailable” for Remainder of FY2014 – What Does This Mean?

Visa Bulletin Updates for August and Some Predictions for the Remainder of the Fiscal Year

By Jessica L. Marks, Esq.

The August 2014 Visa Bulletin is out and brings some exciting developments in several employment-based categories. The following major movement forward will take place on August 1:

The EB-2 category for those born in China advances three months to October 8, 2009, while the EB-3 category advances 25 months to November 1, 2008! . . . → Read More: Visa Bulletin Updates for August and Some Predictions for the Remainder of the Fiscal Year

The Executive Branch Proposes Reforms to Employment-based Immigration Rules

By: Joseph J. Shepherd, Esq.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) yesterday announced the forthcoming publication of not one but two new proposed rules in the Federal Register to amend regulations applying to both nonimmigrant visa holders and applicants for employment-based immigrant visas.  As previously reported, the first proposed rule provides employment authorization for some (but not . . . → Read More: The Executive Branch Proposes Reforms to Employment-based Immigration Rules

“Winner” of the Diversity Visa Program: A Fairy Tale for Many

By Vanessa Sanchez, Bernard Wolfsdorf and Naveen Bhora

On May 1, 2014 the U.S. Department of State announced the winners of the 2015 Diversity Visa program (DV-2015). Over 100,000 eager U.S. immigrants were selected and these “winners” will have an opportunity to have their fairy tale come true – a chance to obtain a green card.

However, being . . . → Read More: “Winner” of the Diversity Visa Program: A Fairy Tale for Many

Winning the H-1B Lottery is Just the Beginning of the Battle – The Fierce Fight over What Constitutes a “Specialty Occupation”

By Jessica L. Marks, Esq.

Now that the dust has settled from the mad dash to March 31, the receipt notices are rolling in for the lucky lottery winners whose H-1B petitions have been selected for the FY 2015 cap.  Since the lottery was held on April 10, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) has begun notifying . . . → Read More: Winning the H-1B Lottery is Just the Beginning of the Battle – The Fierce Fight over What Constitutes a “Specialty Occupation”

As Faith in Congress Fades, the Executive Branch Takes another Small Step Forward

By Jessica L. Marks, Esq.

Last week, the White House announced that new rules will soon be published to authorize employment for H-4 spouses. Currently, H-4 status does not permit the visa holder to work in the United States, a restriction the Obama Administration has concluded runs counter to the goal of attracting talented foreign entrepreneurs and . . . → Read More: As Faith in Congress Fades, the Executive Branch Takes another Small Step Forward

MD District Court Decision Continues to Reinforce Inviolability of Form I-864, Affidavit of Support, Rights and Responsibilities

By Matthew Beatus, Esq.

In February, we reported on the implications of a decision issued by a federal court in New Jersey concerning Form I-864, Affidavits of Support.  In Shah v. Shah, the court held that a preexisting prenuptial agreement providing for the waiver of an immigrant spouse’s rights “to spousal alimony, maintenance, or other allowances incident . . . → Read More: MD District Court Decision Continues to Reinforce Inviolability of Form I-864, Affidavit of Support, Rights and Responsibilities

USCIS RELEASES UPDATED EB-5 PROCESSING TIMES AND APPROVAL STATISTICS –THE NEWS IS GENERALLY GOOD

By Bernard P. Wolfsdorf, Esq. and Robert Blanco, Esq.

USCIS has published its latest processing times from the new Immigrant Investor Program Office (IPO) for I-526 Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur applications and for I-829 Petitions by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions under the EB-5 Immigrant Investor program.  As of January 31, 2014, USCIS was processing I-526 applications that were . . . → Read More: USCIS RELEASES UPDATED EB-5 PROCESSING TIMES AND APPROVAL STATISTICS –THE NEWS IS GENERALLY GOOD

Latest Chinese EB-5 Visa Availability Projection

By Bernard P. Wolfsdorf, Esq.

AILA EB-5 Committee attorney Bernard Wolfsdorf has engaged in a discussion with the State Department clarifying the State Department’s recent visa availability projections in Item E of the March 2014 Visa Bulletin. The State Department has indicated that the EB-5 category will be “Current” for the foreseeable future, and there is no mention . . . → Read More: Latest Chinese EB-5 Visa Availability Projection