USCIS Announces New Filing Procedures for Replacement and Renewal of Green Cards

The USCIS recently announced their new filing procedure for Green Cards. As of May 31, 2005, aliens are required to mail applications to renew or replace Permanent Resident Cards (or Green Cards) directly to the Los Angeles Lockbox. This processing facility will accelerate the collection of Green Card applications and petitions.

As of May 31, all aliens filing a Form I-90, the Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card, no matter their state of residence, will need to mail the applications, along with the application fee ($185) and the biometrics fee ($70) to one of the following 2 addresses:

US Postal Service Deliveries:

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
P.O. Box 54870
Los Angeles, CA 90054-0870

Private Courier Deliveries:

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
Attention: I-90
16240 Valley View Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90638

Please note that applicants should not include in this package their initial evidence and supporting documentation. All applicants will receive a notice in the mail for a biometrics processing appointment at an Application Support Center and should submit their initial evidence during that meeting.

USCIS Changes Policies Regarding V-2 and V-3 Visas for Individuals 21 Years of Age and Older

The USCIS announced this week that individuals with valid V-2 and V-3 visas will no longer age-out of their visa status. Children of lawful permanent residents who are 21 years or older and are currently under V-2 or V-3 status will be approved for extension of stay by USCIS, as long as they meet all the requirements for extension of stay.

The V visa enables spouses and children of lawful permanent residents to enter or stay in the U.S. in cases where their Form I-130 visa petition application or application for permanent residency has been pending for 3 years or more and was filed on or before December 21, 2000. Prior to this change in regulation, children of immigrants were only eligible to remain under V-2 or V-3 status up to the age of 21. After that age barrier, children would age-out of their visa status.

This regulation specifically enables an alien who is in the U.S., was previously under V-2 or V-3 status and whose application for an extension of stay was denied just because he or she was 21 years of age or older to now apply for an extension of status. Those who did not apply for extension of stay because of their age may also now apply for an extension of status. These individuals can continue to apply for extensions until they become a permanent resident or until the law terminates the stats of the V visa or its subsidiary visas, the V-2 and the V-3.

New Appropriations Act Would Affect Many Aspects of Immigration Law

This week, President Bush signed into law H.R. 1268, the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act for Defense, the Global War on Terror, and Tsunami Relief, 2005. This act included a few provisions that directly relate to immigration. These provisions are as follows:

The REAL ID Act: This act “alters the standards and evidentiary burdens governing asylum applications, applications for withholding of removal, and other discretionary grants of relief from removal,” according to the USCIS. This Act specifically would impact asylum cases, the issuance of driver’s licenses, border security and free speech.

Save our Small and Seasonal Businesses Act: This Act would provide an exemption for the numerical cap for any foreign workers who have been counted toward H-2B visa numbers during any one of the previous three fiscal years.

Professional Visa for Australian Nationals : This portion of H.R. 1268 would provide for reciprocal visas for nationals of Australia involved in a specialty occupation.

Recapture of Visa Numbers for Schedule A Occupations: This Act would place unused employment-based visa numbers from fiscal years 2001-2004 back into use for future fiscal years when there is a demand for EB-1, 2 and 3 that exceeds the available numbers. This program would only be applicable to Schedule A immigrants (nurses, physical therapists and certain performing artists).

USCIS Announces Process for Upgrading to FY 2005 H-1B Numbers

The interim regulations regarding FY 2005 H-1B visa numbers is slated to be published May 5 and will be effective May 12. Only individuals with a master’s degree from a U.S. institution or a higher graduate program will be eligible for these open visas. All filings should be mailed to: USCIS Vermont Service Center, 1A Lemnah Drive, St. Albans, VT 05479-70001.

Also in the soon to be published regulations is a description for changing FY 2006 H-1B applications to an FY 2005 filing, so that the H-1B candidate can start working earlier than planned. If the applicant has a master’s degree from a U.S. institution (or a higher degree) and if their petition is otherwise acceptable, the petition can be changed to FY 2005.

To change filing from 2006 to 2005, petitioners should submit the following:

.A letter requesting the change;

.Either a copy of the approval notice for the FY 2006 petition; a copy of the receipt notice for the petition; a copy of the first two pages of the relevant Form I-129 if the receipt notice has not yet been received; or a new Fortm I-129; and

.A certified Labor Condition Application that is valid for the requested period of employment (or a copy of that application).

There is no fee to change from a FY 2006 to FY 2005 filing. Further, individuals who paid additional fees for premium processing will not need to provide that premium processing fee again. If a petitioner did not originally provide a premium processing fee but wishes to for the FY 2005 period, they will need to include Form 1-907, the Request for Premium Processing, and the $1,000 fee.

The USCIS expects that the demand for FY 2005 H-1B visas will quickly exceed the 20,000 newly accessible numbers on the first day they are open to the public (May 12). USCIS will randomly select 20,000 petitions filied on the final receipt day and the day after. Petitoners interested in filing for this upgrade to FY 2005 should be prepared to send their petition/request to the Vermont Service Center by overnight courier or mail on Wednesday, May 11 so that it arrives at the Center on either May 12 or 13. Petitioners seeking only a FY 2005 number should indicate the start date for employment (prior to October 1, 2005) on the top of page one of Form I-129, utilizing the following terminology: “FY 2005 only.”

USCIS Amends Application Timeframe for O and P Petitioners

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is proposing a rule to amend regulations so that O and P nonimmigrant applicants can petition up to one year before they need services from the USCIS. This extension of time will enable USCIS to adjudicate these petitions in a more timely fashion. Further, petitions can be approved prior to the date when services are needed which, in the case of O and P petitioners, is determined by scheduled events, competitions or performances.

O and P visa petitioners are individuals with extraordinary ability in the arts, sciences, education, business or athletics, and also members of athletic teams, entertainment groups, and other entertainers. Currently, the rules state that these petitioners can not file a petition more than 6 months before the need for alien services. However, these regulations can create hard situations for petitioners wishing to schedule events and performances. This proposed rule will alleviate that hardship.