Category Archives: U.S. Immigration

Visa Number Use by Category – USCIS vs DOS – FY2015

The Department of State (DOS) published data on the consumption of immigrant visa numbers by preference category. Each visa number represents a green card, or permanent residence, granted to an applicant. The data are also separated into two groups: The ones issued by DOS to applicants outside the United States, and ones issued by USCIS to adjust status of applicants already in the U.S.

It’s no surprise that the vast majority of family-sponsored green cards were issued to people residing outside the States, while most employment-based green cards were given to people already working in the U.S.

The data also show that family-sponsored and diversity visa (lottery) used far more visa numbers than employment-based categories.

visa number by category

Category Visa Issuances at Offices Abroad USCIS Adjustments
F1 (Family First) 22,346 2,363
F2A (Family Second1*) 80,197 5,078
F2B (Family Second** ) 22,726 2,215
F3 (Family Third) 23,455 2,368
F4 (Family Fourth) 60,116 4,807
E1 (Employment First) 1,891 40,099
E2 (Employment Second) 1,856 42,623
E3 (Employment Third) 7,340 30,110
E4 (Employment Fourth) 1,753 8,516
E5 (Employment Fifth) 8,773 991
DV (Diversity Visa) 48,097 1,280

* Family Second – Spouses and Children of Permanent Residents

** Family Second – Unmarried Sons and Daughters (21 years of age or older) of Permanent Residents

Source: Department of State

International Students Statistics – April, 2014

The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement recently released statistics on foreign students currently studying in the United States. As of April 1, 2014:

  • There are currently 1,015,178 F & M students studying in the United States
  • There are currently 188,382 J-1 exchange visitors in the United States
  • 29% of all F & M students in the United States originate from China
  • 56% of all F & M students in the United States are males
  • There are 351,397 F & M students studying in science, technology, engineering and mathematics
    (STEM) fields in the United States
  • 85% of the F & M students in the United States originate from Asia
  • 43% of all F & M STEM students study engineering

Below is a graph showing the top 10 countries that send the most students to the U.S. As to destination, California, New York and Texas lead all states in the number of international students enrolled.

Foreign Students by Citizenship

How to Contact CBP for I-94 Issues

The I-94 automation process was implemented by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in April, 2013. The new process replaced paper form I-94 with an electronic version: A foreign national entering the United States no long receives an I-94 card stapled to their passport; instead, they will see a passport stamp, and must now go to CBP’s website to retrieve their I-94 information.

Note: Asylees and refugees should have received a hand written or stamped I-94 upon entering the U.S. and will not be able to retrieve I-94 information online. – CBP

The transition has caused some confusion among visitors. One particular issue is when a foreign national went to the CBP website to retrieve his/her I-94, and the system returned “Not Found” as a response.

CBP Info Center explains “What to do if your I-94 is ‘Not Found’ online.” In a nutshell, you basically need to make sure the information you enter on the I-94 website matches exactly what your passport is showing. This is especially important if you have a first name and middle name, as one or the other, or both, may have been entered into the system. CBP also suggests that you “try entering either your most recent date of entry or your original date of entry into the U.S.” I don’t quite understand what scenarios the last suggestion covers, but I guess it is saying that if you’re not sure, try all the entry dates you can remember.

If you still cannot retrieve your I-94, it’s time to contact CBP directly. You will need to find a CBP Deferred Inspection Site that is close to you and give them a call. If a CBP officer can sort things out over the phone, perfect! If not, you may have to travel to their facility. Make sure to set up an appointment on the phone if they don’t accept walk-ins.

CBP provides an Excel spreadsheet listing all Deferred Inspection Sites in the U.S. If you don’t have Microsoft Excel, try using Google Chrome browser to download and open it with Google Docs. We also published the list of Deferred Inspection Sites on a webpage here, but it is for reference only since we cannot keep up with CBP updates.

Other than I-94 Not Found issue, if you find error(s) on your I-94 you will most likely need to contact a Deferred Inspection Site or a CBP office at a port of entry (POE) to have it corrected.

Keep in mind that CBP is not the only agency that issues I-94, USCIS does too. If you change your status in the U.S., for example, USCIS will send you a new I-94 along with the approval notice. These types of I-94 forms will not be found in the CBP system. In addition, if there is incorrect information on USCIS-issued I-94, you will need to contact USCIS to correct them.

If you had a paper Form I-94 (issued by CBP or USCIS) but it has been lost, stolen, mutilated or destroyed, you will need to contact USCIS to replace it. You can download Form I-102 instructions to learn more.

Tips on Expediting USCIS Processing for Military Personnel

Author: Guy Pearson

Every year, many active duty military members seek expedite on their petition due to circumstances beyond their control. Whether it be a deployment, change of station or a humanitarian assignment, many need the option to speed up their process. Additionally, non-military members are eligible for expedite of their case as well.

Who is eligible?

Anyone serving on active duty or a reserve component in Title 10 status and facing a pending deployment, permanent change of station, or a humanitarian assignment have the opportunity to petition USCIS for an expedite on their case. One of the biggest challenges facing active duty military families is that there are circumstances beyond their control that force them to make decisions that are not always their first preference. USCIS knows this, and is very helpful when it comes to dealing with the military. Upon setup of their hotline (1-877-CIS-4MIL) for military members, they offer the opportunity to K1, K3, IR-1, CR-1 applications the chance to request that USCIS moves their case along faster than normal processing times for the benefit of the military member.

How to expedite

If you are currently on active duty and seeking expedite on your petition, you will need to provide the USCIS with proper reasoning and documentation to support the reason. Many folks expedite their cases over an impending deployment, so they would send the USCIS a copy of their deployment orders. USCIS officially states that they require the following:

  1. A letter written and signed by you that explains why your application or petition should be expeditiously processed,
  2. A copy of your military orders or a letter from your commanding officer regarding your deployment or situation, and
  3. 3. Any other information you feel will support your request for expedite.

I have seen quite a few get expedited just from a letter of Commander, but it is ultimately up to the USCIS to decide this. My wife and I received expedite from simply providing a letter signed by our Unit Deployment Manager that I was inside of my bucket to deploy.

Tips for non-military members seeking expedite:

There seems to be confusion on whether the USCIS allows expedites in other situation. The answer is yes. When calling their hotline, they mention that they do review expedites on a case-by-case basis, and it does have to meet the threshold for a ’emergency’ type situation. Officially, USCIS states that you must meet the following conditions:

  1. Severe financial loss to company or individual
  2. Extreme emergent situation
  3. Humanitarian situation
  4. Nonprofit status of requesting organization in furtherance of the cultural and social interests of the United States
  5. Department of Defense or National Interest Situation (Note: Request must come from official United States Government entity and state that delay will be detrimental to our Government)
  6. USCIS error
  7. Compelling interest of USCIS

If you feel you meet the requirements above, give the USCIS customer service a call to request expedite. Note: you must provide proper documentation within 20 business days to be eligible, otherwise it will be denied.

Whether military or non-military, you will have to either fax or mail these requests to them, and wait (sometimes up to 60 days) for a response. However, if you don’t hear anything back within 30 days, you can always call to check on the status of your expedite.

Guy Pearson is currently in the United States Air Force and co-founded immiTranslate.com, which provides certified translation services to United States visa applicants and their attorneys. He and his wife went through the K1 visa process in 2012, and are celebrating one year of marriage in December.

Immigrants and Aliens

I’v always wondered why immigrants are called aliens. Isn’t that a term more appropriate for creatures from another planet? But after a while I got used to it: Maybe the word alien simply means  foreigners, in addition to ugly looking dudes trying to destroy Earth. After all, it is a legal term – a word actually written in our very law.

In a recent opinion letter, however, Judge  DAMON J. KEITH of the Appeals Court expressed his view:

We recognize that using the term “alien” to refer to other human beings is offensive and
demeaning. We do not condone the use of the term and urge Congress to eliminate it from the U.S. Code.
We use it here, however, to be consistent with the statutory language and to avoid any confusion in
replacing a legal term of art with a more appropriate term.

I have to admit, although I won’t go on a hunger strike to demand the change, I’ll be happy if it goes. It just doesn’t sound that hard to find an alternative to describe immigrants (how about……immigrants?) While we’re at it, let’s also help USCIS find a better name for Advance Parole – a legal document issued to people in legal status, for them to return to the U.S. legally. Here is the definition of parole in a dictionary:

parole 
n.

  1. Law
    • a. Early release of a prisoner who is then subject to continued monitoring as well as compliance with certain terms and conditions for a specified period./li>
    • b. The duration of such conditional release.
  2. A password used by an officer of the day, an officer on guard, or the personnel commanded by such an officer.
  3. Word of honor, especially that of a prisoner of war who is granted freedom only after promising not to engage in combat until formally exchanged.
  4. Linguistics The act of speaking; a particular utterance or word.

May 2013 Visa Bulletin: Good News for Most EB-3 Categories

The Department of State today released the May 2013 Visa Bulletin with some good news for EB-3 categories. ROW, China and Mexico have all moved forward by more than five months! The rest of EB-3 and China EB-2 made small progress, while India EB2 remained unchanged. See the table below:

Cut-off Date Movement from April to May 2013
Chargeability Preference Cut-off Date Movement (Days)
China Second (EB2) 44
India Second (EB2) 0
ROW Third (EB3) 153
China Third (EB3) 223
India Third (EB3) 14
Mexico Third (EB3) 153
Philippines Third (EB3) 7

 

DOS offered an explanation for the EB3 advancing trend:

The Employment-based Third preference category cut-off date for most countries has advanced significantly. This has been done in an attempt to generate demand so that the annual numerical limits may be fully utilized, and such movements may continue for the next few months. The rapid movement of cut-off dates is often followed months later by a dramatic increase in demand for numbers. Once such demand begins to materialize the cut-off date movements will begin to slow or stop.

Our visa bulletin tracking graph demonstrated the trend for EB-3, which has been steadily improving (declining curve) since early 2012 for ROW, China and Mexico, but deteriorating for India and the Philippines:

May 2013 Visa Bulletin EB3

Vaccination Requirements of Adjustment of Status Applicants

Green card applicants filing for adjustment of status (Form I-485) are required to submit Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record. The form must be completed, signed and sealed by a designated civil surgeon. Form I-693 is used by USCIS to determine whether an applicant is inadmissible to the United States on public health grounds.

Form I-693 includes a vaccination record. The civil surgeon will indicate whether the applicant has met the vaccination requirement and whether a waiver is requested. CDC – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – is the government agency responsible for setting the specific requirements. Below is a table that lists current requirements for vaccination, based on the applicant’s age at time of medical examination. For more information, or for updated vaccination requirements, please go to the CDC page here.

Table: Requirements for routine vaccination of adjustment of status applicants who are not fully vaccinated or lack documentation.
Vaccine Age
Birth-1 Month 2-11 Months 12 Months-6 Years 7-10 Years 11-17 Years 18-64 Years ≥65 Years
DTP/DTaP/DT NO YES NO
Td/Tdap NO YES, if 7 years and older (for Td); if 10 years through 64 years (for Tdap-see ACIP schedule); if 65 years and older (for Td)
IPV NO YES NO
MMR NO YES, if born in 1957 or later NO, if born before 1957
Rotavirus NO YES, if 6 weeks to 8 months NO
Hib NO YES, if 2 months through 59 months NO
Hepatitis A NO YES, if 12 months through 23 months NO
Hepatitis B YES, birth through 18 years NO
Meningococcal (MCV4) NO YES, if 11 years through 18 years NO
Varicella NO YES
Pneumococcal NO YES, if 2 months through 59 months (for PCV) NO YES (for PPV)
Influenza NO YES, 6 months and older (annually each flu season)

Note that since 2010, the flu vaccine is required for all applicants 6 months of age and older, but only during the flu season. For immigration purposes, the flu season is Oct 1 – Mar 31 annually.

More fine prints can be found here:

DTP=diphtheria and tetanus toxoids and pertussis vaccine; DTaP=diphtheria and tetanus toxoids and acellular pertussis vaccine; DT=pediatric formulation diphtheria and tetanus toxoids; Td=adult formulation tetanus and diphtheria toxoids; Tdap=adolescent and adult formulation tetanus and diphtheria toxoids and acellular pertussis vaccine (Boostrix for persons 10-64 years old; Adacel for persons 11-64 years old); IPV=inactivated poliovirus vaccine (killed); MMR=combined measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine; Hib=Haemophilus influenzae type b conjugate vaccine; MCV=meningococcal conjugate vaccine; PCV=pneumococcal conjugate vaccine; PPV=pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine.

Set Up a New PC Part IV: Install Peripherals

The final steps setting up a new laptop include connecting peripherals, such as a mouse, keyboard, printer and external monitor. My Logitech MK700 combo worked immediately after the unifying receiver was plugged in, and didn’t even require a pairing process. However, the mouse felt a bit sluggish. Installing Logitch software solved the problem. The rest, however, took a bit of effort and are explained below.

12. Print through router

My laptop only has three USB ports. Without using a USB hub, two of them were already occupied by the Logitech receiver and a laptop cooler. I wanted to reserve the third one for flash thumb drives, so my only option is to add the printer to my Asus RT-N16 router which has two USB ports available. This way other computers on my home network has access to the printer as well.

The process isn’t straightforward and goes like this: Continue reading

FY 2013 H-1B Cap Count

USCIS began accepting new H-1B petitions on April 2, 2012. If approved, beneficiaries of these petitions may start working in H-1B status on or after October 1, 2012 – the first day of FY 2013 cap season. The following table includes every cap count released by USCIS. The table will be updated on a regular basis to show the pattern of this year’s H1B filing.

The first count, conducted on April 9, 2012 is about three times more than last year’s. If this turns out to be a trend, H-1B visas could be exhausted much faster than last year, during which the regular cap was reached on November 22, 2011.

On June 12, 2012 USCIS announced that they have received a sufficient number of petitions to reach the regular H-1B cap for FY 2013 as of June 11, 2012. In addition, USCIS received more than 20,000 H-1B petitions against the advanced degree cap on June 7, 2012. USCIS will reject petitions subject to the FY-2013 cap for H-1B specialty occupation workers that are received after June 11, 2012. USCIS will continue to accept petitions not subject to the annual cap.

FY 2012 H-1B Cap Count
Date of Last Count Regular Cap
(65,000)
Advanced Degree Exemption
(20,000)
4/9/2012 17,400 8,200
4/13/2012 20,600 9,700
4/20/2012 25,000 10,900
4/27/2012 29,200 12,300
5/4/2012 32,500 13,700
05/11/2012 36,700 14,800
05/18/2012 42,000 16,000
05/25/2012 48,400 17,500
06/01/2012 55,600 18,700
06/11/2012 65,000 20,000

 

The graph below will be updated regularly to show H-1B visa filings for FY-2013:

 

Below is last year’s H-1B cap count (FY 2012) for reference:

Certification by Translator: Translating Foreign Language Documents into English

When submitting an immigration related application, you must have all foreign language documents translated into English. Translation can be done by you or someone you know, as long as the translator is competent to translate the foreign language into English. Another option is to hire a professional firm that specializes in immigration translation services. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) does not judge or determine the translator’s qualifications, but does require a Certification of Translation attached to the documents being translated.

There is no formal template for a Certification of Translator. However, the translator (you or someone else) must certify that s/he is competent to translate the foreign language into English, and that the translation is accurate to the best of his or her abilities. The certification should also include the person’s name, address, signature and date of translation.

Below is an example preferred by the USCIS:

Certification by Translator

I, ____________________________ [typed name], certify that I am fluent (conversant)

in the English and ____________ languages, and that the above/attached document is an

accurate translation of the document attached entitled ______________________________.

Signature________________________________ Date_________

Typed Name__________________________________________

Address______________________________________________

This is another sample, provided by the Immigration Court:

CERTIFICATE OF TRANSLATION

I, __________________________, am competent to translate from
(name of translator)

_______________________________ into English, and certify that the translation of
(language)

_________________________________________________________________
(names of documents)

is true and accurate to the best of my abilities.

_________________________________ _________________________________
(signature of translator) (typed/printed name of translator)

___________________________________________________________________________________________
(address of translator)

___________________________________________________________________________________________
(address of translator)

_________________________________
(telephone number of translator)

Question 1: Can I, as a petitioner, translate my own documents?
I’ve seen articles on the Internet stating that a petitioner or beneficiary of an immigration application/petition cannot translate their own documents. However, I have not seen any official statement from any government authority supporting that claim. So I would say yes. If anyone can point me to the official source suggesting one way or another, I would highly appreciate it.

In any case, you don’t necessarily have to hire a professional translator. Anyone who is competent can translate the document(s) and certify them. If you’re not comfortable, however, it is a good idea to use a translation service company to make sure the translation is done correctly.

Keep in mind that what we are discussing here is about translating documents for immigration purposes. It is different than acting as an interpreter during an immigration interview. In that case, I know a petitioner is not allowed to be an interpreter for his/her relative during interviews.

Question 2. Do I still have to submit my documents in foreign language if I already have them translated?
Yes, the English translations are required to accompany those documents in a foreign language, not replacing them.

Question 3. Must each document have its own certification for translation?
Each non-English document must have a translation attached, but if you have multiple documents in the same foreign language in the same package, my personal opinion is that you can include one certificate of translator listing all documents translated and certified by the same person. However, if you choose to attach a certificate to each document (in addition to the English translation), it is certainly acceptable too.

Question 4. Do I need to have the translations notarized too?
Notarization of the translations is not officially required, but obviously won’t hurt. I personally wouldn’t do it, but if you’re extra cautious, go for it.

Question 5. Can I use a computer or Website-based automatic translating service?
I wouldn’t recommend it. Although you can use them, such as Google Translate, for certain words, you really don’t want to rely on them for translating an entire paragraph or even a full sentence. As a minimum, you need to double check and verify its accuracy before using it as your translation. Your birth certificate, marriage certificate, degree certificate, etc. are all important documents supporting your application, and you want to make sure they are translated completely and correctly. If you don’t feel comfortable, you should consider hiring someone to do it for you.

Question 6. Should I follow the same format of the original document while doing translation?
Yes, absolutely. Your translation must resemble the original document in layout and general formatting.