USCIS Will No Longer Accept Combined Fee Payments For EB-5, Immigrant Investor Program Applications or Petitions

USCIS Will No Longer Accept Combined Fee Payments For EB-5, Immigrant Investor Program Petitions

The USCIS has announced that going forward they will no longer accept combined fee payment of Form I-526 (Immigrant Petition by Standalone Investor) or Form I-526E (Immigrant Petition by Regional Center Investor), filed with Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status), Form I-131 (Application for Travel Document), or Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization by a petitioner). Combined fee payment for Forms I-485, I-131 and I-765 will be accepted, although a separate check payment for fees towards Form I-526 or I-526E must be sent and the failure to do so will force the USCIS to reject the form and reimburse the fee payment amount on account of improper fee payment.

Since requests for immigration benefits are currently being processed electronically by the USCIS, a different payment instrument is needed for each of the Form I-526 and I-526E petitions because they are not all handled through the same system. The USCIS understands that while this requirement may be rather inconvenient for the petitioners and applicants, the benefit of a computerized processing exceeds the drawbacks of submitting individual fee payments for the agency and the general public.

Expansion of Premium Processing

Premium Processing for Multinational Manager/Executive and National Interest Waiver Petitions

Premium processing is welcome news for I-140 beneficiaries and their sponsoring employers given that many of these cases may have been waiting for several months and even years, preventing thousands of foreign nationals from achieving their permanent residence in the U.S. Newly filed I-140 petitions will continue to remain ineligible for premium processing at this time.

On July 15, 2022, the U.S. Citizenship, and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that EB-1(c) petitions pending since July 1, 2021 (or earlier) and NIW petitions pending since August 1, 2021 (or earlier) will now be eligible for an upgrade to premium processing.

Beginning August 1, 2022, the USCIS will accept Form I-907 premium processing requests for:

  • EB-1(c) multinational executive and manager petitions received on or before July 1, 2021; and
  • E21 NIW petitions received on or before August 1, 2021.

The filing fee to upgrade a pending EB-1(c) or NIW I-140 to premium processing will be $2,500, the same fee that currently applies to other classifications of I-140s that are already eligible for premium processing. The USCIS will reject any premium processing requests submitted prior to August 1, 2022 in connection with the newly eligible subset of petitions.

The USCIS will adjudicate (issue an approval, request for evidence, notice of intent to deny, or denial) EB-1(c) and NIW petitions within 45 days of receiving the premium upgrade request for the pending I-140 petition.

However, the USCIS ensures that the expansion of premium processing will not lead to an increase in the processing time for any immigration benefit requests filed under regular processing.

Also, the USCIS will no longer accept the I-907 version dated 09/30/20 from July 1, 2022 onwards. Form I-907 version dated as 05/31/22 will only be acceptable.

USCIS Extends COVID Related Flexible Measures and Accept Electronic Scans Of Signatures

Continuing Flexible Measures from the USCIS on account of COVID-19 Pandemic

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) further extends through October 23, 2022, flexible measures that were introduced on account of COVID-19 regarding timelines when responding to certain requests and notices from the agency. Petitioners and applicants will continue to have an additional 60 days beyond the due date to respond to certain requests and notices issued by the USCIS between March 1, 2020, and October 23, 2022.  These include:

  • 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 centres;
  • Notices of Intent to Withdraw Temporary Protected Status; and
  • Motions to Reopen an N-400 Pursuant to 8 CFR 335.5, Receipt of Derogatory Information After Grant.The USCIS will now also take into consideration Form I-290B, Notice of Appeal or Motion, or a Form N-336, Request for a Hearing on a decision in Naturalisation Proceedings (Under Section 336 of the INA), if:
  • The form was filed up to 90 calendar days from the issuance of a decision made by the USCIS; and
  • The decision was made between November 1, 2021, and October 23, 2022, inclusive of both dates.

Practice Pointers when applying for visas for Germany, France and The Netherlands

The Schengen area which comprises of 26 states, facilitates borderless travel for tourist and business activities for non-EU nationals. The visa holder can freely enter, travel and exit the Schengen zone from any of the Schengen member countries.

Countries within the Schengen Zone include: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.

Consular Services in India for Germany, France and The Netherlands.

Indian citizens applying for a German, French or Dutch visa must file their visa application with the visa section of the Embassy/Consular Posts or with the respective VFS centers across India. Before applying for a visa, the applicant must first determine the purpose and duration of his or her visit. The visit can either be for a duration lesser than 90 days or for a period exceeding 90 days.

Short-Stay Visa

An applicant who wishes to travel to the Schengen area for study, medical reasons, tourism, business, visiting family or friends, official visit, etc. for a period lesser than or equal to 90 days must apply for a Short-Stay Visa.

In order to apply for a short-stay “C” visa, the applicant must complete the required visa application form, collate all the required documents which includes passport, photographs, documents evidencing his or her socio-economic ties to the home country and financial capability to bear the expense of the trip and proof of travel arrangements. The applicant is required to submit photocopies of these documents. However, the first-time visitors are always granted a single-entry visa even though multiple is requested.

An appointment needs to be scheduled with the nearest Visa Application Centre (VAC). If the applicant intends to visit only one Schengen country, then he or she must submit the application at the respective country’s VAC. If he or she intends to visit multiple countries within the Schengen zone and wishes to spend same duration everywhere, then the application must be submitted at the VAC of the member state where he or she intends to arrive first. If the applicant intends to visit more than one Schengen country, the application must be submitted at the VAC of that member state in which the applicant wishes to spend the longest duration.

On the day of the appointment, he or she must submit the application, pay the visa fee in cash or demand draft, debit or credit card and have the biometrics data taken (i.e. photo and fingerprints).

The VAC officer upon receiving the application packet, forwards the documents with the applicant’s passport to the Consulate or the Embassy for further processing. It is important to note that the visa application may be refused if any requested document is not included. While the visa application is under processing, the applicant is provided with information updates about his or her application from the VAC. However, the VAC is not allowed to inform the applicant whether the application is accepted or rejected. Upon adjudication of the application, the applicant is asked to collect the passport from the nearest VAC, or it is couriered to the applicant if he or she opted for courier facility provided by the VAC.

With respect to short-stay visa processing, the application must be submitted at least two weeks prior to the planned visit; and cannot be submitted more than three months prior to the planned visit. The overall processing time taken to issue a Short-Stay “C” Visa is 15 working days.

Applicants must note that they are allowed to stay a maximum of 90 days within a 180-day period in the Schengen area on a short stay Schengen visa.

Long-Stay Visa

An applicant who wishes to stay in the Schengen area for a period exceeding 90 days must apply for a Long-Stay “D” Visa. The duration of a Long-Stay Visa can be between three months to a year.

Most Long-Stay “D” visa applications require the applicant to submit a copy of the temporary residence permit or authorization received from the Immigration Authorities in the particular Schengen country. The consular process remains more or less the same as the short stay visa. The applicant upon collating the required documents based on the applicant’s circumstances, must schedule an appointment with the nearest VAC. For the appointment, the applicant must carry all the necessary documents and should pay the required visa fees by cash, demand draft, debit or credit card.

If the applicant has submitted a copy of the required approval, authorisation or temporary residence permit along with the application, the visa will most probably be granted within 15 working days. If a copy of the pre-approval was not submitted with the application, then the visa issuance can take anywhere between one and three months.

By Pradnya Sawant

Repatriation – Best Practices

Most foreign nationals on an employment visa to India need to complete post arrival registration formalities at the Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO) or Foreigners Registration Office (FRO) of relevant jurisdiction. The Indian entity that sponsors the visa is required to give an undertaking to the FRRO/FRO on behalf of the foreign national “to ensure good conduct of the foreign national during his or her stay in India.”

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) published a notification making it mandatory for employers to report the termination and/or departure of all foreign nationals working in India[1].

During the course of employment, in case the employer wishes to withdraw the “undertaking for good conduct,” the employer must visit the FRRO/FRO in person along with the foreign national to report and record the withdrawal.  This is likely to happen when an employee has been found to violate a law.

Repatriation formalities must be completed once the foreign national has departed India and does not intend to return to India on the current visa. This formality must be completed at the FRRO/FRO where the foreign national completed his or her in-country registration formalities. It is mandatory to inform the concerned government office about the termination of such a foreign national’s assignment in India to cancel any liability that the Indian employer would have assumed for the foreign national at the time of registration/subsequent visa extension (if any).

Each FRRO/FRO operates in a different manner regarding the repatriation formalities. For instance, at the Bengaluru FRRO, once all the relevant documents have been submitted, the officer will acknowledge/stamp the letter notifying departure of the foreign national as proof that repatriation formalities have been duly completed. However, the FRO in Pune and the FRRO in Chennai are extremely particular about the tax related documents. Once the documents have been submitted, the office will not issue a confirmation letter stating that the repatriation formalities for the foreign national have been complete nor acknowledge the letter notifying departure of the foreign national from the Indian visa sponsoring entity.  Once the FRRO/FRO has been intimated of the foreign national’s final departure, the Undertaking of the employer stands cancelled.

In addition, all foreign nationals leaving India must go through an immigration process at the airport where an official will check the foreign national’s passport and visa.  If the foreign national is departing from India and does not intend to return on the current employment visa, he/she must relinquish the Residential Certificate/Residence Permit (certificate issued by the FRRO/FRO when the applicant registered upon arrival in India) to the immigration officer at the airport.  If questioned about the relinquishment, the foreign national should clearly state that there is no intent to return to India on that visa and hence the Residential Certificate/Residence Permit is being turned in.

Sandhya Maggidi

[1]  (accessed on December 23, 2019)

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