Do Not Let Your International Travel Jeopardize Your Immigration Status

If you are scheduled to travel to the US, please be advised that yesterday the CDC issued an Order requiring all air passengers arriving to the US from a foreign country to get tested no more than 3 days before their flight! You will need to provide proof of the negative result or documentation of having recovered from COVID-19 to the airline before boarding the flight. This Order will go into effect on January 26, 2021.

Important! Remember!

If you or someone you know are travelling internationally, and are awaiting your final interview at USCIS, please remember that you will not be able to enter a USCIS field office without first having been in the U.S. for a minimum of 14 days!

USCIS field offices are automatically cancelling scheduled any final interview for anyone who has been outside the U.S. within 14 days prior to it.

USCIS is using its own information to track if you have been outside of the U.S. We caution you to schedule your international travel accordingly.

As always, we are here to help. If you have any questions or need assistance with any of these new developments, please do not hesitate to contact us.

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/testing-international-air-travelers.html

Image credit: “A Trio of Surgical Masks” by Wootang01 is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

Update – Citizenship Changes

USCIS News
Applicants for naturalization filing after December 1, 2020 will be required to take the 2020 version of the civics test. They will need to study 128 questions about American government and history. 

The naturalization test has two parts: an English and civics test. The English portion has not changed. In fact, the officer will read through your application with you in the office to confirm that all of your answers are correct and that there have been no changes since you filed.  You have the opportunity to add and correct information at the interview.

With the 2020 version of the civics test, the USCIS officer will ask you to answer 20 out of the 128 civics test questions which can be viewed here:  https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/document/crc/128%20Civics%20Questions%20and%20Answers%20(2020%20version).pdf in English.  There is even an audio version!  https://www.uscis.gov/citizenship-resource-center/the-2020-version-of-the-civics-test/128-civics-questions-and-answers-with-mp3-audio-2020-version.  You must answer at least 12 questions correctly to pass the 2020 version of the civics test. All questions on the test are asked orally.

There are no changes to the English portion of the naturalization test. You must demonstrate an understanding of the English language, including the ability to read, write, and speak basic English.  

As always, should you need assistance with your immigration matter, we are only one phone call away! You can also chat with an assistant 24/7 by using the chat icon on the bottom-right of the page.

Or you can leave us a longer message if you wish, on our Contact page

USCIS Announces a Revised Naturalization Civics Test

WASHINGTON — U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced today plans to implement a revised version of the naturalization civics test. The agency first announced plans to revise the civics test in July 2019.

USCIS revised the civics test as part of a decennial update to ensure that it remains an instrument that comprehensively assesses applicants’ knowledge of American history, government and civic values.

The civics test is administered to applicants who apply for U.S. citizenship and is one of the statutory requirements for naturalizing. Applicants who apply for naturalization on or after Dec. 1, 2020, will take the updated version of the test. Those who apply before Dec. 1, 2020, will take the current version of the test.

“USCIS has diligently worked on revising the naturalization test since 2018, relying on input from experts in the field of adult education to ensure that this process is fair and transparent,” said USCIS Deputy Director for Policy Joseph Edlow. “Naturalization allows immigrants to become fully vested members of American society, with the same rights and responsibilities as citizens by birth, and offering a fair test, which prepares naturalization applicants for these responsibilities, is of upmost importance to our agency.”

The revised test includes more questions that test the applicant’s understanding of U.S. history and civics, in line with the statutory requirements, and covers a variety of topics that provide the applicant with more opportunities to learn about the United States as part of the test preparation process. The revised test will not change the passing score, which will remain at 60%. Candidates must answer 12 questions correctly, out of 20 in order to pass.

USCIS will maintain the current guidelines for statutorily established special considerations for applicants who are 65 years old or older and have at least 20 years of lawful permanent resident status. These applicants will be asked 10 questions and must answer a minimum of six questions correctly in order to pass.

The test items and study guides can be found on the Citizenship Resource Center on the USCIS website. USCIS has also updated the USCIS Policy Manual (PDF, 323.82 KB) accordingly; see Volume 12, Part E, English and Civics Testing and Exceptions, Chapter 2, English and Civics Testing.

USCIS piloted the test with community-based organizations and volunteers across the country in summer 2020. The data collected from this pilot was used to help USCIS make determinations about the language and grammatical structure of individual test items, linguistic and cognitive weights assigned to each test item, and to identify those items appropriate for applicants who are 65 years or older, have held lawful permanent resident status for at least 20 years and are granted special consideration by statute.

Exceptions to the Presidential Travel Ban Proclamations

“Mayor Garcetti welcomes Mr. Vayeghan at LAX. He is the first person subjected to the President’s travel ban who was able to return to America as the result of a recent court order” by Mayor of Los Angeles is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Many immigrants are apprehensive about the travel bans instituted by the President at the beginning of the year. The situation seems to change from a day to the next. Executive Orders and Proclamations that affect immigration abound. There seems to be a silver lining in the otherwise clouded immigration landscape. There are exceptions to the travel ban, and the State Department updates us on those quite regularly.

The latest update advises that National Interest Exceptions to Presidential Proclamations 10014 & 10052 include, among others: certain business travelers, investors, treaty traders, academics, and students from the Schengen Area, U.K., and Ireland.

Most Important Update

What is the most important information in the State Department’s update? The one that advises concerned travelers to the US to inquire at the nearest Consulate or Embassy if they may be in one of the categories of National Interest Exception:

“Until complete resumption of routine visa services, applicants who appear to be subject to entry restrictions under P.P. 10014, P.P. 10052, and/or regional-focused Presidential Proclamations related to COVID-19 (P.P. 9984, 9992, 9993, 9996, and/ or 10041) might not be processed for a visa interview appointment unless the applicant also appears to be eligible for an exception under the applicable Proclamation(s). Applicants who are subject to any of these Proclamations, but who believe they may qualify for a national interest exception or other exception, should follow the instructions on the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate’s website regarding procedures necessary to request an emergency appointment and should provide specific details as to why they believe they may qualify for an exception.”

Travel.State.Gov

The stated motive for the travel ban was the protection of US workers, especially those in essential services. It might be helpful to consult the Homeland Security’s ADVISORY MEMORANDUM ON ENSURING ESSENTIAL CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE WORKERS ABILITY TO WORK DURING THE COVID-19 RESPONSE

We advise that you take the time to parse the detailed update on the State Department’s web site. It will help you determine whether you are possibly subject to the travel ban exceptions.

As always, contacting our firm to help you navigate through the uncertainty of your particular situation is also a safe bet. Our experience and expertise is sure to be one of your best allies.

EB-5 Investor Visas: USCIS Clarifies Guidance on Initial and Further Deployment of Investment Capital

A new USCIS policy memorandum clarifies requirements for deployment of capital for EB-5 applicants (investor visa). This establishes that the purchase of financial instruments on the secondary market will generally not satisfy such requirements. It clarifies that capital may be further deployed into any commercial activity that is consistent with the purpose of the new commercial enterprise, within its lawful bounds.

This clarification supersedes the language that allowed municipal bonds as a specific type of potentially permissible financial instrument in the context of further deployment. It also provides that further deployment must be through the same new commercial enterprise and within the geographic area of the same regional center, including any amendments to the regional center’s geographic area approved before the further deployment. 

It also explains that, based on an internal review and analysis of typical EB-5 capital deployment structures, USCIS generally considers 12 months as a reasonable amount of time to further deploy capital, but will consider evidence showing that a longer period was reasonable.

You can download the .pdf file with the entire update HERE

As always, contacting our firm to help you navigate through the uncertainty of your particular situation is also a safe bet. Our experience and expertise is sure to be one of your best allies.