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.

India – Preparing for an Employment Visa Extension

The Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO) or Foreigners Registration Office (FRO) which is under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Immigration (BoI) has been authorized by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to carry out registration and visa extension formalities for foreign nationals who are in India on long term visas.

An application for an employment visa extension application may be submitted within a window of fifteen (15) to sixty (60) days prior to the expiry of the visa.  It is possible to get an extension of the employment visa in India for an additional 12-month period enabling the individual to remain in India for up to a cumulative five years from the date of issue of the initial visa. The visa extension procedure and processing time differ in every jurisdiction within India.

In an attempt to ease visa related formalities for foreign nationals in India, the BoIlaunched ‘e-Services’ in February 2018. Through this effort, in-country registration and visa extension formalities have now been made an online procedure thus eliminating the need for foreign nationals to visit the FRRO/FRO in person. Foreign nationals may be required to visit the FRRO/FRO for an interview only if asked to do so. All messages regarding the status of the application are sent to the foreign national directly via email or through a text message on their registered Indian cell phone number. Once the application has been approved, the Registration Certificate or Stay Visa (evidencing extension of the visa) is emailed to the foreign national.The status is also be uploaded on the FRRO’s e-services portal.

It is important to note that the foreign national must remain in India from the time the application is submitted until the time the service has been granted. Departure from India while the extension application is under process results in the lapse of the extension application. If the individual wishes to leave the country while the extension application is under process and the current visa has expired, an Exit Permit/Visa must be procured from the FRRO/FROand the foreign national will need a new visa to return to India.

Sandhya Maggidi

OCI Explained – What are the rights and privileges granted?

The Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) program is granted to foreign nationals of Indian origin to live and work in India.This program is not for individuals who are from Pakistan or Bangladesh.

The following individuals qualify for registration as an OCI[1]

  • A person who at any time held an Indian passport; or
  • A person whose either parent or grandparents or great grandparents was born in and was a permanent resident of India, provided neither was at any time a citizen of Pakistan or Bangladesh or any other country that may be specified by the Government from time to time; or
  • A person of foreign origin who is a spouse of a citizen of India/OCI cardholder and whose marriage has been registered and subsisted for a minimum period of two years.

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has recently issued a notification to all the Foreigners Regional Registration Offices (FRROs) or Foreigners Registration Offices (FROs) stating that an OCI application can only be submitted in India once a foreign national has resided in India for a continuous period of six (6) months prior to submitting the application. This means an uninterrupted stay in India for an entire period of six (6) months. It is important to note that this is applicable only to OCI applications submitted in India.

Benefits of an OCI cardholder

  • Multiple entry, multi-purpose and a lifelong visa to visit and live in India. If the OCI card holder wishes to undertake research work in India, special permission to undertake such work must be granted by the Indian Mission/FRRO concerned. OCI cardholders are not entitled to undertake Missionary, Mountaineering and Journalism activities without prior permission of the Indian government. If the individual wishes to undertake such activities, prior permission from the Indian Mission/FRRO concerned is required;
  • Exempt from in-country FRRO/FRO registration requirements for any length of stay in India;
  • Receives equal rights with non-resident Indians (NRIs) in financial, economic and educational fields except in acquiring agricultural land or plantation properties;
  • Parity with NRIs with regard to pursuing professions such as doctors, dentists, nurses, pharmacists, advocates, architects and chartered accountants;
  • Parity with NRIs in the matter of inter-country adoption of Indian children.

The OCI program is not a replacement for dual citizenship but affords some rights to eligible individuals with an Indian heritage who are now citizens of different countries and also other persons of non-Indian origin/heritage provided they fulfill certain conditions.

Rajesh Khandekar (accessed on December 20, 2019)

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