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Much Longer Wait Times for Green Cards- Department of State Edits Previously Modernized Visa Bulletin

Department of States Alters Recently Modified Visa Bulletin

On September 9th the Department of Homeland Security released new updated changes to the visa bulletin. These changes modernized the visa system and moved up priority dates for those applying for adjustment of status. The revisions to the visa bulletin were part of President Obama’s plans to modernize the US immigration system. Obama’s proposed changes to modernize and streamline the immigration system were detailed in a White House report released back in July.

Green Card this way Blue Red and White highway sign with words Green Card with stormy sky background

Just two weeks after the updated September 9th visa bulletin was released, the visa bulletin changed again on September 25th pushing back priority dates significantly. Those affected will have to wait years longer to file for adjustment of status than previous indicated by the visa bulletin released on September 9th.

Changes to Visa Bulletin Announced September 25, 2015

The Department of State pushed back the priority dates for those waiting to apply for a green card. Those affected will have to wait several years longer in some cases.

Those affected can be summarized as:

  • EB-2 China- Old priority date was May 1, 2014. New priority date January 1, 2013. This is a 1 year, 5 months difference.
  • EB-2 India- Old priority date was July 1, 2011. New priority date July 1, 2009. This is a 2 years difference.
  • EB-3 Philippines- Old priority date was January 1, 2015. New priority date January 1, 2010. This is a 5 years difference.
  • FB-1 Mexico- Old priority date was July 1, 1995. New priority date is April 1, 1995. This is a 3 months difference.
  • FB-3 Mexico- Old priority date was October 1, 1996. New priority date is May 1, 1995. This is a 1 year, 5 months difference.

What Does This Mean?

Those eligible to apply for green cards will now have to wait longer than previously projected just 2 weeks ago. Originally the changes to the visa bulletin would have allowed many immigrants to apply for green cards several years earlier. Now in some cases, those eligible will have to wait 5 years longer. Foreign nationals from China and India will face significantly longer waits, 1 years 5 months and 2 years longer respectively.This change will impact thousands of families living in the US, who planned to receive a green card much earlier.

Additionally these actions reflect an unfortunate step backwards for the US immigration system. For several years the visa bulletin needed updating to decrease the backlog of immigrants waiting to file for adjustment of status. Unfortunately when a change finally occurred that would have dramatically decreased the wait time and positively affected many immigrants and their families, the visa bulletin was quickly reverted back to the old system of long wait times.

Contact Us

To navigate the visa bulletin, determine correct filing dates or receive assistance filing for adjustment of status contact the Law Office of Sweta Khandelwal. Attorney Khandelwal can assist with employment-based or family-based visa applications. The Law Office of Sweta Khandelwal is located conveniently in the Silicon Valley.


Cited Sources:

DOS Publishes Updated Visa Bulletin for October 2015, September 25, 2015, USCIS



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Obama Administration Encourages Lawful Permanent Residents to Become Citizens

Lately there has been a push by the Obama administration and the USCIS to encourage and celebrate US citizenship. The USCIS launched a citizenship campaign to raise awareness about citizenship and education about the naturalization process. President Obama also utilized Citizenship Day, which occurred in September, to encourage legal permanent residents and those eligible for citizenship to start the naturalization process. The USCIS has also taken steps to ease the naturalization application process, which may help to speed the process for those seeking US citizenship. These pushes may be in an effort to increase the number of US citizens in time for the next presidential election.

USCIS Launches Citizenship Public Education and Awareness Campaign

Part of Obama’s executive action for immigration reform established last November is to increase awareness and promote easy access to naturalization. To help meet these goal the USCIS has taken steps to promote citizenship. In July the USCIS launched a campaign to increase education and raise awareness about the importance of naturalization.

Also to make sure potential applicants are aware of their eligibility, the USCIS will begin electronically notifying lawful permanent residents who may be eligible to begin naturalization. A message will pop-up on the USICS website when the lawful permanent resident replaces or renews a green card which will notify the applicant that it may be time to apply for citizenship.

Obama Urges Lawful Permanent to Seek Naturalization

Only U.S. citizens will be allowed to elect the next US President. With the 2016 Presidential Election just around the corner, Obama has encouraged those eligible to become a citizen to begin the naturalization process. On September 17th, Citizenship Day, Obama released a video encouraging legal permanent resident to take the final step in the immigration process and become a US citizen.

The USCIS has made the naturalization process easier by allowing credit card payments for the naturalization fee. The USCIS will also expand mobile services to rural communities to boost access to its resources. This may ease the immigration process and increase the number of US citizens before the 2016 election.

According to the Department of Homeland Security over 700,000 persons were naturalized in 2013. With Obama’s urging to legal permanent residents to apply for citizenship and the steps taken by the USCIS to ease the naturalization process, it’s possible even more legal permanent residence will become citizens this year in time for the 2016 presidential election.

Naturalization Process

Naturalization is the process by which a person become a US citizen. A person can become a citizen at birth, derive citizenship through one’s parents or apply for naturalization. Generally those who apply for naturalization are required to take an English test and a test on US history and government. Once the naturalization process is complete the applicant is required to turn in the legal permanent resident card, if applicable. The new US citizen can then register to vote.


To discuss how to gain lawful permanent residence or how to apply for naturalization contact the Law Office of Sweta Khandelwal. Attorney Khandewal has over 10 years experience with immigration law and is conveniently located in the Silicon Valley.

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Parole Program for Entrepreneurs Part of Obama’s Executive Action

Part of the executive action announced by President Obama for immigration reform last November was a parole program for entrepreneurs. Entrepreneursare extremely valuable to American business and are responsible for many start up companies in the US. To make it easier for entrepreneurs to come to the businessman-with-the-notebook-1-1362246-mUS and set up businesses, parole could be extended to entrepreneurs who qualify.

The executive action called for an additional program specifically for entrepreneurs under the “significant public benefit” parole already in force. This benefit will allow immigrants to take part in the immigration system when it is established that the entrepreneur will bring a significant public benefit to the US. The new parole program for entrepreneurs will also be an option for inventors and researchers.

Although comprehensive details have not been fully laid out, the new program will allow the DHS to extend parole on case-by-case a basis to entrepreneurs who qualify. Eligible founders of start up businesses may include those who either:
(1)demonstrate substantial US investor financing or (2) otherwise show promise of innovation and job creation through the development of new technologies.

There are two major ways entrepreneurs may be able to benefit through the parole program, through lawful permanent residency and temporary status.

Lawful Permanent Residency

Requirements for lawful permanent residency will be waived when in the best interests of the nation. This will be called a “national interest waiver,” greater detailed will be provided at a later time by the DHS.

Temporary Status

The second major way that entrepreneurs can benefit is through temporary status. Currently temporary status can be granted in circumstances where the DHS determines a significant public benefit will result when granted to certain individuals. The new parole program will create a “parole status” which can be granted to certain entrepreneurs who will yield a significant public benefit. These visas will likely be granted on a case-by-case basis depending on the benefit the entrepreneur would bring into the US.

Income Requirements

Interested entrepreneurs should also be aware that those who qualify must also meet certain income requirements. Those enrolled will not be eligible for federal public benefits or Affordable Care Act subsidies.

The motivating factor behind this initiative is to allow entrepreneurs to research and develop new ideas in the US rather than abroad. This will bring more business and innovation into the US and could be accompanied with job creation as well. This program will help serve the executive action goals of updating outdated immigration practices. This could also be big news for Silicon Valley immigration, the home to many start-ups and new technology companies.

Entrepreneurs wanting to move to the US could benefit from the parole program either through permanent or temporary visa status. To discuss this program further contact the Law Office of Sweta Khandelwal. Attorney Khandelwal is located in the Silicon Valley and has practiced immigration law for over 10 years.

Cited Sources

Memorandum for Director of USCIS, Policies Supporting U.S. High- Skilled Business and Workers, November 20 , 2014, DHS



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The Government Shutdown’s Effect on US Immigration

The government shutdown has been the leading story in the news over the past week. The effects of the shutdown cannot be understated, especially on the American immigration system. This article will explore the numerous consequences the government shutdown has on the various aspects of the American immigration system.

Fortunately, USCIS operates based on the filing fees paid with each application or petition. Thus, the lack of authorized funding from Congress (which is the cause of the government shutdown) will have little effect on USCIS directly. In fact, the Department of Homeland Security in its entirety will continue to operate, which includes Customs and Border Protection, the Coast Guard, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and of course USCIS. However, the good news may end there.

The Department of Labor and its Employment and Training Administration (“DOL-ETA”) relies significantly, if not entirely, on appropriated funds and thus any visa petition that DOL-ETA must first process before reaching USCIS is stalled indefinitely throughout the government shutdown. The shutdown of the DOL-ETA affects many nonimmigrant visa petitions, including H-1B, H1B1, and E-3 visas and affects new visa petitions, visa transfers, and extensions and amendments by USCIS or the US Department of State (“DOS”) for those employers who have not secured a certified LCA prior to the shutdown. Those seeking green cards may also be affected. The shutdown of the DOL-ETA means that those employers sponsoring green cards may seek further backlogs if the DOL-ETA has not yet certified recruitment efforts through the PERM Labor Certification process. The PERM Labor Certification process was already experiencing a six month backlog before the government shutdown. This is sure to cause significant and disruptive delays for many businesses.

The Immigration Courts as well as the DOL’s Office of Administrative Law Judges with be slowed down or shutdown. Activities at the Immigration Courts will also be slowed down, and the DOL’s Office of Administrative Law Judges will be unable to perform any case-related activities.

E-Verify is also unavailable, including enrollment, verification, viewing or taking action on any case, terminating accounts, running reports, and other key functions of E-Verify. E-Verify Customer Support will also be closed, which includes telephone and email support.

Visas that require processing solely through USCIS and/or the DOS will continue to function as normal. Examples include the L, TN, O, and H-3 visa categories. However, it is unclear how much of a ripple effect the shutdown will have and eventually disrupt USCIS or DOS operations as the shutdown drags on.

If you have questions about how the shutdown can affect your immigration plans or your current immigration case, contact our office today.

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Immigration Agency Overview

When people talk about overhauling the immigration system, they are really talking about overhauling a complex network of various agencies that may wear different hats for different audiences. This article will explore a general overview of the agencies involved so that readers may understand just how broad the immigration system can be.

Department of Homeland Security



Perhaps the main “trunk” of immigration is the Department of Homeland Security, or more specifically the three agencies highlighted above in the picture: Customs & Border Protection (“CBP”), Citizenship & Immigration Services (“CIS”), and Immigration & Customs Enforcement (“ICE”). CBP is responsible for the enforcement of the borders and you will see them at airports and at the northern and southern borders.

CIS is responsible for the processing of most immigrant and nonimmigrant petitions, and citizenship applications. As further explained below, although the Secretary of State is often known for issuing visas in foreign countries, it is CIS that is responsible for adjudicating petitions and reviewing evidence. They may also, for employment-related immigration matters, conduct site visits and inspect businesses to ensure compliance with immigration laws. Finally, ICE is the enforcement arm of the immigration system. ICE is the department responsible for going after those who have committed immigration violations as well as exercising prosecutorial discretion when appropriate.

Department of Justice



The Department of Justice houses the Executive Offices for Immigration Review, which holds many of the agencies responsible for the many courts involved in the immigration system. There are the Immigration Courts where people who have committed immigration violations are processed as well as adverse decisions on immigration adjudications by USCIS, as well as the various appellate levels beyond that.

Department of Labor



The Department of Labor is an expansive agency, as one could tell by the chart. The Department of Labor’s role in immigration may seem small relative to the other immigration agencies, but the Department of Labor is the one who manages the lengthy labor certification application process, which may be required for a number of visas.

Secretary of State



Finally, the Secretary of State is responsible for the consular offices abroad and embassies. For many, if not all, immigrants, the consular offices will be the first contact they have with the immigration system. They are primarily responsible for screening individuals for visa eligibility. If a visa was denied, they will also guide the individual with the waiver process.

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