U.S. Embassy in Russia Suspends All Nonimmigrant Visa Processing Until September 1
On Monday, the Department of State announced it would suspend all nonimmigrant visa processing throughout Russia beginning August 23, 2017. The U.S. Embassy in Moscow will resume nonimmigrant visa processing on September 1, 2017 at a “greatly reduced scale”. Nonimmigrant visa operations at all other U.S. Consulates throughout Russia will remain suspended until further notice. Immigrant visa processing will continue, but staffing changes will affect the scheduling of some of these interviews. Any affected applicants for immigrant visas will be notified.
In a statement, the Embassy blamed the reduction in services on the Russian government’s imposition of a “personnel cap” of 455 on all U.S. diplomatic personnel. This cut signifies a loss of 755 employees (two thirds of its staff) from the U.S. Embassy in Moscow and all U.S. consulates throughout Russia. President Vladimir Putin demanded this personnel cap in retaliation for sweeping sanctions the U.S. imposed against Russia earlier this month.
Note that during this time, Russian citizens in North America can seek visa renewals in the same category at U.S. consular posts in Mexico and Canada, and for first-timers in most categories, Canada. Generally, Russians cannot apply for B (visitor) or K (fiancé or spouse of U.S. citizen and dependents) in either country, unless they are long term residents there. Keep in mind that a visa will likely be required to enter either country, but that Russian citizens with valid U.S. visas can enter Mexico without seeking a Mexican visa.
Previous Version of Form I-485 (Application for Adjustment of Status) Expires Friday
This Friday is the last day U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will accept the 01/17/2017 edition of version of Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status (“green card” application). After 08/25/2017, USCIS will only accept the new edition of Form I-485, released on 06/26/2017, available here. USCIS does not observe the “postmark” rule, so they will only accept the prior version of the form if it has been physically received by 08/25/2017. If you have questions about your eligibility to apply for adjustment of status, contact a qualified immigration attorney.
Trend Alert: USCIS Denying Advance Parole When Applicant Departs U.S. While AP Pending
Immigration practitioners are reporting that USCIS has begun denying Form I-131 (application for advance parole—AP) due to “abandonment” in instances where the applicant has traveled abroad during the pendency of the AP application. USCIS is denying such applications even where the applicant has a separate valid advance parole document or a valid H, K, L, or V visa that permits the applicant to return to the United States without AP. In one denial notification, USCIS points to the Form I-131 instructions at page 6 where it states that “[i]f you depart the United States before the Advance Parole Document is issued, your application for an Advance Parole Document will be considered abandoned.” In the past, USCIS has approved advance parole renewal applications for individuals who travel abroad during the pendency of the application with a valid Advance Parole Document or a valid H, K, L, or V visa.
The American Immigration Lawyers Association is trying to resolve this issue. We will provide updates as they are available. If you have a question about a pending application for advance parole, please contact a qualified immigration attorney.
Ware|Immigration’s Colorado Office Gets New Sign
Last month, Ware|Immigration announced its acquisition of the Allott Immigration Law Firm in Centennial, Colorado, a suburb of Denver. Our Colorado office got its brand new sign this week!
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