Flexibility Extended for Deadlines for Responses to Requests for Evidence and Other Agency Requests
USCIS has extended flexibility to respond to Agency requests received through January 24, 2023. Initially adopted in March of 2019 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, this rule extends by 60 calendar days the due date for responses to various Agency requests. The rule applies to the following types of USCIS requests: 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 Centers; 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.
In addition, USCIS will consider a Form I-290B, Notice of Appeal or Motion, or Form N-336, Request for a Hearing on a Decision in Naturalization Proceedings (Under Section 336 of the INA) to be timely filed if received within 90 calendar days after the issuance of a decision or denial of a case dated between November 1, 2021, and January 24, 2023.
For more information about this extension of COVID-19 related flexibility in responding to Agency requests, contact your Parker Gallini attorney or see this USCIS Alert.
Recent Examples of Marriage-Based Applications for Permanent Residency Approved Without an Interview
Parker Gallini has recently seen U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) approve a small number of marriage-based adjustment of status applications without an interview. This is notable because USCIS typically requires applicants for adjustment of status to permanent resident based on marriage to a U.S. citizen to appear in person at the local USCIS Field Office for a detailed interview along with their U.S. citizen spouse. At the interview, USCIS officers typically question both spouses at length about their marriage and relationship history. These interviews can be a source of stress and anxiety for applicants and their spouses, in part because of bad publicity about the nature of some officers’ questioning of applicants and because of the high stakes of the interview outcome. Although anecdotal evidence suggests that waivers of these interviews are the exception and not the rule, Parker Gallini applauds this move to streamline the green card process for spouses of U.S. citizens and reduce the stress of the process. We are monitoring for any updates regarding changes to official USCIS policy or written criteria that would be used to decide whether to waive the interview for a marriage-based green card case, as well as information about the numbers of cases approved without an interview.
If you or someone you know is considering filing a marriage-based application for permanent residence, reach out to Parker Gallini for assistance with the process.
Latest Developments with the Petition Immigration Management Service (PIMS) System
PIMS (the Petition Information Management Service) is the U.S. Department of State’s electronic system that provides U.S. Consular posts with confirmation of nonimmigrant (H-1N, L-1, O-1, TN, etc.) visa petition approvals. Consular posts are required to verify the petition approval in PIMS before approving and issuing a petition-based nonimmigrant visa. The PIMS database is run by the U.S. State Department’s Kentucky Consular Center (KCC). One of the items included in PIMS is a scan of the approved nonimmigrant visa petition filing package. Until recently, this scan was taken from a duplicate copy of the visa petition that Petitioners were required to submitted with the original nonimmigrant visa filing package to U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (“USCIS”).
On October 3, 2022, USCIS indicated that it no longer requires the submission of a duplicate visa petition to accompany the original nonimmigrant visa petition filing. This is a welcome development as it will streamline the nonimmigrant visa petition filing package, cutting down on what is often a very thick filing package, as well as reducing shipping costs. Once USCIS approves a nonimmigrant visa petition, they now directly scan the petition into the PIMS system rather than sending a physical copy to the KCC to be scanned. USCIS notes that it is taking one to two weeks after approval of a case to get the scanned petition into the PIMS system.
In addition to this initial delay in uploading information to PIMS, for several months now, we have seen a marked increase in the number of nonimmigrant visa applications that are delayed because the PIMS system does not yet have evidence of the approval of the underlying visa petition. These delays can last for weeks and there is no way to confirm in advance whether a case has been properly loaded into the PIMS system. While the U.S. State Department acknowledges the delay and states that it is working to resolve it, foreign nationals travelling abroad to apply for a nonimmigrant visa face the prospect of significant delays in being issued the visa.
Finally, a reminder that because Consular posts are required to verify visa petition approvals through PIMS, a foreign national applying for a visa is not required to include the original copy of their Form I-797, visa petition approval notice as part of their visa application filing. We recommend that a visa applicant include a photocopy copy, but not the original, of their Form I-797 approval notice.
We will provide up-dates on the situation with delays in loading information into the PIMS system as we have them.