Wednesday, April 13, 2011

May 2011 visa bulletin


Family-sponsored: The extremely high level of demand during the first few months of FY-2011 resulted in the retrogression of most worldwide cut-off dates in January or February. Most of these cut-offs have begun to advance slowly, although demand is still somewhat heavy in the Family First preference which may require further retrogression of that date. At this time it is not possible to predict the rate of forward movement, but some movement is anticipated in most categories for the remainder of the fiscal year.

Monday, December 13, 2010

January 2011 retrogression

In a recent conference last week, hosted by the American Immigration Lawyers Association in Monterey, California, Charles Oppenheim, Chief Immigrant Control and Reporting Division of the Department of State, revealed that this coming January 2011, there will once again be retrogression in certain categories of family petitions.

According to him, there was a surge of visa applications in the past few months as a result of the progression. He justified the need for retrogression to meet with the numerical limitations set by law.

The Department of State’s Visa Bulletin for the month of December 2010 indicates which visa numbers are affected by the retrogression.

Preference categories

There are three groups affected by the change.

The first group is the “second preference-B petitions” filed by green card holders on behalf of their single adult children. The visa priority dates under this group retrogressed from September 1, 2002 to March 1, 2000.

The second group affects petitions filed under the “third preference category” by US citizens on behalf of their married children. The priority dates have been moved from March 1, 1995 back to July 1, 1992. This is a retrogression of almost three years.

For siblings of US citizens under the “fourth preference category,” the priority dates have been pulled back from April 1, 1991 to January 1, 1988. This is the group which has the most severe backlog.

Thus, beneficiaries whose petitions were filed after January 1988 will have to wait longer before they are issued their visas.

“First preference” petitions by US citizens on behalf of single unmarried children; and, “second preference-A” petitions by green card holders for their spouses and minor children are fortunately not affected by the recent changes.

What to expect

The retrogression of visa numbers will not begin until the month of December 2010. The National Visa Center and the consular office of the US embassy may still continue to accept applications and supporting documents for visa processing of certain applicants.

Depending on the discretion of the consular officer, applicants may still be issued their visas if all documents are completed and a visa interview is scheduled before November 30, 2010. However, if the processing is not completed by December, the visas can no longer be issued until the priority dates become current once again. When this is going to happen remains to be seen.

Considering the progression and retrogression movement of the priority dates, one can no longer anticipate with reasonable certainty when an immigrant visa will be available.

It may be a matter of time for the Department of State, but to those affected, family unity has become uncertain.


Friday, November 19, 2010

December 2010 Philippine Retrogression explained

The Department of State addresses the

"A dramatic increase in the level of applicant demand with very early priority dates has required the retrogression of the Philippines Family 2B, Third, and Fourth preference cut-off dates."


"Family-sponsored: From early 2009 through September 2010, the level of demand for numbers in the Family-sponsored preference categories was very low. As a result, the cut-off dates for most Family preference categories were advanced at a very rapid pace, in an attempt to generate demand so that the annual numerical limits could be fully utilized. As readers were advised in previous Visa Bulletins providing projections of visa availability (e.g., April 2009, January 2010, May 2010, July 2010), such cut-off date advances could not continue indefinitely, and at some point they could slow, stop, or in some cases retrogress.

"The level of demand which has been experienced during FY-2011 has resulted in most of the worldwide cut-off dates being held for the month of December. At this time it is not possible to predict when or if these dates may advance further, and there is a distinct possibility that retrogressions could occur as early as January if demand within the established cut-off dates does not appear to be subsiding. "

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Latest Visa Bulletin 2010


Death of a Petitioner

Visa solutions for certain surviving relatives


THE enactment of the Fiscal Year 2010 Department of Homeland Security Bill (P.L 111-83) a year ago in October 2009 radically changed the visa eligibility of individuals whose Petitioner in a Relative Petition has passed away. The law addresses the problems encountered by so many individuals who are harmed because of the lengthy adjudication process and visa backlogs. The law now allows the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to complete the adjudication of applications for permanent residence despite the death of the Petitioner under certain circumstances.
Until enactment of the Surviving Relative law, the immigration laws dictated that a petition filed by a relative is automatically revoked upon the death of the Petitioner. The dilemma of a loved one’s death is regrettably common due to the inordinate lengths of time that the DHS can take to process Relative Petitions. Once a Relative Petition in a preference category is approved placing a Beneficiary on a waiting list, the length of time waiting for the visa to become available can presently be well over ten to twenty years depending on the category.
If the Relative Petition had already been approved, the Beneficiary could apply for Humanitarian Reinstatement of the automatically revoked petition. If the Humanitarian Reinstatement is granted, then the Relative Petition would be reinstated and the individual allowed to apply for permanent residency once eligible to do so. If the Relative Petition had not yet been approved at the time of the Petitioner’s death, then the Beneficiary had no available recourse at all.
The Surviving Relative law revolutionizes the immigration service’s ability to process Relative Petitions in certain situations when a Petitioner passes away. The applicability of the law depends on various factors, such as the relationship between the Petitioner and Beneficiary, the physical location of the Beneficiary, and the existence of other certain relatives.
For widows of US Citizens, the law fixes what had become known as the Widow Penalty. The law now allows widows of US citizens who died within two years of the marriage to obtain permanent residency. Widows must file the necessary petitions within two years of the death and not be remarried. For those whose spouse died more than two years ago, the law mandates that the petition be filed no later than October 28, 2011.
The law also provides considerable benefits to all other categories of Beneficiaries, such as all children (regardless of age and marital status), parents, siblings and derivative beneficiaries. Under the new law, the DHS must finalize processing of a Relative Petition and/or Adjustment of Status even after the death of the Petitioner. This is applicable, however, only if the Beneficiary was present in the United States at the time of the Petitioner’s death and the Beneficiary continues to reside in the United States. As well, the Beneficiary must have a qualifying relative who can submit an Affidavit of Support or be exempt from the Affidavit of Support requirement.
For individuals who do not fulfill the requirements of the new law, the procedures for seeking humanitarian reinstatement are still available. However, the new law for surviving relatives is a tremendous advance since the law indicates that the petitions must be adjudicated unless it would not be in the public interest.

The law pertaining to surviving relatives has yet to be interpreted by the DHS; however, the law as plainly written is broad and expansive and should aid many individuals who have been waiting for excessive lengths of time. The death of a loved one is tragic enough. Thankfully, the immigration laws now acknowledge the injustice and aims to rectify the tragedy faced by surviving relatives.


Secret marriages will never be discovered by the U.S. Embassy or USCIS?


There is no such thing as a "secret marriage". If you were married by a priest, local official, etc., and it was filed with the government, it is a public document, and is not, by definition, "secret". If you went through a ceremony, you are probably legally married, even if you think it was "secret." Many people, who were single when their parents petitioned them, got married while waiting for their visas, and tried to hide the marriage, because the marriage may either disqualify them for a visa (if their parent is an immigrant), or make them wait much longer (if their parent is a citizen). The Embassy is now very wise to people hiding their marital status, and routinely checks official government records, to see if there really is a marriage contract on file. In addition, paying someone to have the marriage contract "pulled" won't help, because there are several places and ways marriages are recorded.


It is faster for U.S. Citizen parents from the Philippines to petition adult single children than it is for green card holder parents?


It takes longer for single adult (over 21) children of American citizens to obtain green cards than the single adult children of green card holders, for people born in the Philippines. Therefore, if you are a green card parent and have a single adult child under petition, it would be best to check the current priority dates in these categories, and file the petition for your single child while you are still an immigrant vs. waiting until you naturalize.