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Do You Have an Immigration Problem, A Citizenship Question? Together, We'll Find A Solution

5/31/2023 Issue


_____A regular immigration case, for a non-citizen who wants to become a legal immigrant, or a Green Card holder, has two aspects: ELIGIBILITY and PROCESS.

           The people who are interested in such regular cases – the non-citizen and the American citizen or Permanent Resident who sponsor the non-citizen, are focused, normally, on the aspect of ELIGIBILITY. They want to know whether their RELATIVE or PROSPECTIVE EMPLOYEE are eligible to get a Green Card, or what would make them eligible for this benefit. Mostly, they do not consider – and do not know about – the PROCESS that is required to turn ELIGIBILITY into an actual BENEFIT, or crudely, into a LEGALLY-issued PIECE OF PLASTIC in your hand.

And when PROCESS is considered, you must consider the TIME that every PROCESS takes. Even the most perfect EGG doe not turn, automatically, and immediately into a CHICK. First the HEN needs to sit on it for some TIME. So, what about TIME?

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           Recently, the Immigration System inside the U.S., (not at U.S. Consulates) started showing signs of life, meaning: certain types of applications are processed FAST.

           Mainly, these are Applications for Adjustment of Status (Form I-485), which are filed – mostly – by applicants who are LEGALLY in the U.S. and who have family-based visa petitions whose PRIORITY DATES are current or are EXEMPT from WAITING LISTS (such as Immediate Relatives).

           This may sound like a complicated description, but in fact there are many applicants who fit this definition. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is now approving most such applicants based on DOCUMENTS only, without INTERVIEWS. This goes FAST.

           Remarkably, USCIS also approves many EMPLOYMENT-based applications in the same FAST lane.

_____Also, Applications for American citizenship (Form N-400) are going relatively fast.



           Petitions, whether Family-based (Form I-130) or regular Employment-based (Form I-140) are still taking much too long, between one and three (1 – 3) years. EMPLOYERS are offered a FAST TRACK if they apply for PREMIUM PROCESSING, with an extra fee of $2,500, in addition to the regular I-140 filing fee of $700.

           Applications for REMOVAL OF CONDITION FROM PERMANENT RESIDENCY (Form I-751) that MOST applicants for Green Cards by MARRIAGE must file after having a CONDITIONAL card for two (2) years, take 2 – 3 – 4 years to be processed.

           Many other types of routine applications and petitions take too long. FILING FEE receipts (Form I-797), at least, have begun to flow FAST from USCIS to applicants.


           The biggest holdup of cases is still going on in two systems which are not the responsibility of USCIS: the slowest are the U.S. Department of State and its CONSULAR services, and the U.S. Department of Labor and its Foreign LABOR CERTIFICATION service.

CONSULAR CASES: After an American Petitioner obtains an approved visa petition (family or employment based), the case goes to the National Visa Center (NVC), under the U.S. Department of State. There the case must wait for the SCHEDULING of an interview at an American Consulate abroad. This may take years – because the SCHEDULING is based on


FIRST SERVED. The result is endless

waiting for cases that are not considered TOP priorities. The reason given: SHORTAGE of manpower.

LABOR CASES: Before an American Employer can file a visa petition (Form I-140) with USCIS for a prospective FOREIGN employee, the employer must obtain an approved LABOR CERTIFICATION (Form ETA 9089) from the U.S. Department of Labor (US DOL). But before an employer can file the Application for Labor Certification with the US DOL on behalf of a prospective Foreign employee, the employer must obtain a WAGE DETERMINATION (Form ETA 9141) from US DOL. Here begins the LONG wait. The application for WAGE DETERMINATION is submitted electronically. Still, it takes the US DOL EIGHT TO TEN (8-10) months to process it. With the approved WAGE in hand, the employer must perform a series of preliminary steps, which take at least 3 – 5 months, and then file the actual Application for Foreign Labor Certification (Form ETA 9089) with US DOL. This application is filed ELECTRONICALLY. It takes US DOL eight to twelve (8-12) months to process it. When, and if, it gets approved (sometimes they issue a DENIAL for reasons that are NEW, were not known as grounds for denial before), the employer is FINALLY able to file the I-140 visa PETITION with USCIS (and start a new WAITING game). The reason given for the length of time the US DOL needs to process an application for Labor Certification? NO REASON GIVEN.


           It did not use to be like this. Ten, even seven years ago, it took much less time to get a regular immigration case done. But when Mr. Trump became President in 2017, he declared that his purpose was to cut LEGAL immigration by half (50% reduction). Mr. Trump could not do it by just “cutting” the number of immigrant visas issued every year. For this he needed CONGRESS to change the law. His “trick” was to slow down the PROCESSING. And he succeeded: “slowness” of PROCESS caused less visas and less GREEN CARDS to be issued every year. During Trump’s term – the number of legal immigrants was actually cut in half.

           Unfortunately, after Trump, during the first two (2) years of President Biden, the system still did not “shake off” the Trump legacy of slowness. Only recently are we seeing some signs of life returning to the immigration system.

           Let us hope for more improvements.

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