UPDATE: DOS and CBP Issue Procedures to Facilitate Travel for Visa Applicants Affected by CCD Outages

Following the global systems-wide “crash” of the State Department’s (DOS) Consular Consolidated Database (CCD) (a system critical to visa issuance operations), there have been widespread delays in nonimmigrant visa issuance worldwide. As a result, in conjunction with the DOS, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has indicated that in order to ease the situation, it will exercise its legal authority to waive nonimmigrant visa requirements for admission on a case-by-case basis.

CBP and DOS have provided the following information regarding the procedures that are being put in place to assist individuals who have applied for but have not been issued nonimmigrant visas due to ongoing CCD problems:

=> A nonimmigrant visa applicant whose U.S. travel is urgent because it either involves an "emergency" or impacts U.S. national interests, may request consideration for special travel permission to the United States if their visa issuance is delayed as a result CCD systems problems.

"Emergencies" in this instance include urgent humanitarian travel and life-and-death situations.

Upcoming business engagements and U.S. employment needs are not typically considered humanitarian emergencies and likely will not be considered as such in most cases. They may, however, be considered on a case-by-case basis.

=> DOS and CBP joint task force teams will confer on a 24/7 basis, regarding individual emergency travel requests in order to process such requests as expeditiously as possible.

=> Travel permission, if approved jointly by DOS and CBP, will be facilitated by DOS. The consular post that accepted the visa application will release the traveler's passport and will issue a transportation letter, which can be presented to common carriers to allow boarding of international U.S.-bound flights. Upon arrival to a U.S. port of entry and presentation of the transportation letter, CBP will execute an I-193 application to waive the nonimmigrant visa requirement for admission. This will include waiving the $585 processing fee for the I-193.

=> Individuals requesting emergency travel must have a pending visa application with DOS, and the visa must be issuable but for CCD system problems. Applicants who have been issued a 221(g) notice indicating pending administrative processing on their visa applications are not eligible to request emergency travel accommodations.

=> DOS may not directly inform visa applicants whether or not the delay in visa issuance is the result of CCD problems. Those who have emergency U.S. travel needs should affirmatively communicate with DOS to provide proof of their circumstances. This can occur during the visa interview, or through e-mails after visa appointments to consular mailboxes or facilitation centers (whichever is the preferred method of communication for each individual consular post, as stated on its website).

=> If a request for emergency travel is not approved and facilitated by DOS, CBP strongly discourages petition-based applicants from traveling to the United States of their own accord using a visitor's visa or Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) registration. CBP sent guidance to all ports of entry regarding the above-referenced procedures and will only consider CCD-related I-193 waiver through its joint interface with DOS. Individual requests made at ports of entry will be referred back to DOS. If an applicant is found to have previously requested travel permission that was not granted by DOS, it will be a significantly negative factor and could result in denial of the applicant's I-193 request.

VIA +AILA National

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Information Regarding Ongoing Consular Consolidated Database (CCD) Performance Issues and Steps Taken
Consular Consolidated Database: Updates on Operational Status. We have made significant progress and issued most of the worldwide backlog of nonimmigrant visa cases. We are working to bring the Consular Consolidated Database back to full operational capacity. We continue to prioritize immigrant …

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Update on the Passport and Visa System Technical Problems

The Department of State (DOS) Bureau of Consular Affairs has been experiencing technical problems with its passport/visa system since July 19th. This issue is worldwide and is not specific to any particular country, citizenship document, or visa category. This systems “crash” has impacted all U.S. embassies and consulates, delaying the issuance of visas (e.g. E, F, J, H, L, O and P visas), and limiting the number of visa appointments that can be scheduled for visa applicants. While DOS has been working to fix the problem, the database is still performing below its normal operational capacity.
 
According to DOS, since the start of the operational issues on July 20 through July 28, it has issued more than 220,000 nonimmigrant visas globally, but would normally have issued closer to 425,000 nonimmigrant visas in that time period.

In response to the problem, DOS has posted this FAQ. 

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Information Regarding Ongoing Consular Consolidated Database (CCD) Performance Issues and Steps Taken
The Consular Consolidated Database (CCD) is still performing below its normal operational capacity. However, to give you an idea of the progress we have made, from the start of the operational issues on July 20 through July 28, we issued more than 220000 nonimmigrant visas globally.

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July 2014 Visa Bulletin Is Out: EB-2 India Takes the Spotlight

Today, the State Department released the July Visa Bulletin, which brings good news for EB-2 India.  After 6 months of inactivity, cut-off dates for EB-2 India advanced by over 3.5 years, from November 15, 2004 to September 1, 2008

#immigrationupdates   #visabulletin  

Visa Bulletin For July 2014
Number 70. Volume IX Washington, D.C. View as Printer Friendly PDF. A. STATUTORY NUMBERS. 1. This bulletin summarizes the availability of immigrant numbers during July. Consular officers are required to report to the Department of State documentarily qualified applicants for numerically limited …

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Visa Processing in Canada for Third Country Nationals (TCN) "Extremely Limited"

The Department of State (DOS) has advised that due to increasingly heavy demand by Canada-based visa applicants, the seven U.S. consulates/embassy in Canada are extremely limited in their ability to accept TCN cases during the peak demand period of June, July, and August. The consular posts encourage such applicants to seek appointments elsewhere in the world, such as in the applicant’s home country. Canadian consular posts offer increased appointment availability for TCNs during non-peak processing times, such as October and November, and January through May. Emergency cases may seek consideration for scheduling an interview at a Canada post by visiting canada.usembassy.gov. (h/t +AILA National)

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June 2014 Visa Bulletin Is Out: Where do we begin??

The June 2014 visa bulletin brings some very bad news for both Family-Based (FB) and Employment-Based (EB) categories. If there’s an award for “The Worst Visa Bulletin,” the June 2014 visa bulletin could easily steal the top spot. (Sigh).

The Good

  • EB-3 (and other workers) Philippines: +2 MONTHS => January 1, 2008
  • EB-2 Mainland China: +5 WEEKS => May 22, 2009

The Bad

  • EB-3 (and other workers) for all chargeability, including Mexico: -18 MONTHS => April 1, 2011
  • F2A for all chargeability, including Mainland China, India, and the Philippines: -16 MONTHS => May 1, 2012
  • F2A Mexico: -13 MONTHS => March 15, 2011

The Ugly

  • EB-3 Mainland China: -6 YEARS => OCTOBER 1, 2006
  • Other Workers Mainland China: -9 YEARS & 9 MONTHS => JANUARY 1, 2003

The State Department notes:

RETROGRESSION OF JUNE CUT-OFF DATES

WORLDWIDE F2A: The cut-off date for the Family F2A category was advanced at a very rapid pace during fiscal year 2013 in an effort to generate demand to use all numbers available under the annual limit. Those movements have resulted in a dramatic increase in the level of applicant demand being received during the past seven months. This has required the retrogression of the Family F2A cut-off date for June in an effort to hold number use within the annual numerical limit. Further retrogression cannot be ruled out should demand by applicants with very early priority dates continue to increase.

MEXICO F2A: Despite a previous retrogression, the level of demand has remained excessive, resulting in a further retrogression of this cut-off date to hold number use within the annual limit.

Employment Third, and Third Other Workers: The unexpected and dramatic increase in demand being received from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service Offices during the past several months has resulted in number use approaching the annual limit for this category. As a result, it has been necessary to retrogress the Worldwide, China, and Mexico cut-off dates for the month of June.

Notices were included in several Visa Bulletins during the past year alerting readers to the possibility of such retrogressions. While corrective action in some categories has become necessary earlier than was anticipated based on the information available earlier, it is hoped that readers are not caught off guard by these retrogressions.

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Visa Bulletin For June 2014

Number 69. Volume IX Washington, D.C. View as Printer Friendly PDF. A. STATUTORY NUMBERS. 1. This bulletin summarizes the availability of immigrant numbers during June. Consular officers are required to report to the Department of State documentarily qualified applicants for numerically limited …

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DS-260 Rollout for DV-2015 Diversity Visa Program

Beginning with DV-2015, all diversity visa (DV) applicants must submit the electronic DS-260 “Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration Application” accessible through the Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC). The DS-260 will be ready for applicants to use on May 19. The Kentucky Consular Center (KCC) will no longer collect the DS-230 and DSP-122, and no physical file will be sent to post. Applicants for DV-2014 will continue to use the DS-230 and DSP-122. End summary.

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travel.state.gov/content/dam/visas/policy_updates/DS_260_Rollout_DV_2015.pdf

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One more reason to reform immigration.

One more reason to reform immigration.

Reshared post from +Loke Walsh Immigration Law

H-1B Demand Increases

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today that it has received about 172,500 petitions during the one-week FY 2015 H-1B Cap filing period – an increase of 48,500 from last year's approximate total of 124,000 petitions. 

The announcement also stated that:

On April 10, 2014, USCIS completed a computer-generated random selection process, or lottery, to select enough petitions to meet the 65,000 general-category cap and 20,000 cap under the advanced degree exemption. For cap-subject petitions not randomly selected, USCIS will reject and return the petition with filing fees, unless it is found to be a duplicate filing.

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USCIS Reaches FY 2015 H-1B Cap | USCIS
WASHINGTON—U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on April 7 that it has received a sufficient number of H-1B petitions to reach the statutory cap of 65000 visas for fiscal year (FY) 2015. USCIS has also received more than the limit of 20000 H-1B petitions filed under the …

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H-1B Demand Increases

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today that it has received about 172,500 petitions during the one-week FY 2015 H-1B Cap filing period – an increase of 48,500 from last year's approximate total of 124,000 petitions. 

The announcement also stated that:

On April 10, 2014, USCIS completed a computer-generated random selection process, or lottery, to select enough petitions to meet the 65,000 general-category cap and 20,000 cap under the advanced degree exemption. For cap-subject petitions not randomly selected, USCIS will reject and return the petition with filing fees, unless it is found to be a duplicate filing.

#immigrationupdates  

USCIS Reaches FY 2015 H-1B Cap | USCIS
WASHINGTON—U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on April 7 that it has received a sufficient number of H-1B petitions to reach the statutory cap of 65000 visas for fiscal year (FY) 2015. USCIS has also received more than the limit of 20000 H-1B petitions filed under the …

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May 2014 Visa Bulletin Is Out: EB-3 Philippines Advances; F2A To Retrogress

May 2014 Visa Bulletin Is Out: EB-3 Philippines Advances; F2A To Retrogress

The May 2014 Visa Bulletin shows continued movement in some of the employment-based (EB) category – EB-2 Mainland China, EB-3 India, and EB-3 Philippines, which has the most noticeable cut-off date advancement of over four (4) months.

Meanwhile, cut-off dates for Worldwide F2A (Spouses and Children of Permanent Residents) are expected to retrogress due to continued heavy demand. This would include Mexico F2A despite its initial retrogression, from September 1, 2013 back to April 15, 2012 (over 16 months), last March.

The State Department notes:

WORLDWIDE F2A: From early 2013 through September 2013, the level of demand for numbers in this preference category was extremely low. As a result, the F2A cut-off date was advanced at a very rapid pace, in an attempt to generate demand so that the annual numerical limit could be fully utilized. As readers of the Visa Bulletin were advised during that time, such cut-off date advances were not expected to continue, and at some point they could stop, or retrogression might be required.

The level of demand being experienced for FY-2014 has resulted in the Worldwide F2A cut-off date being held since October. Despite no forward movement of the cut-off date, the level of demand has continued to increase dramatically. At the current rate, such demand will require a retrogression of the F2A cut-off date within the next several months. That action would be necessary to hold number use within the annual numerical limit.

MEXICO F2A: Despite an earlier retrogression of this cut-off date, the level of demand remains extremely heavy. As a result, it is likely that another retrogression of this cut-off date will be required to hold number use within the annual numerical limit.

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Visa Bulletin For May 2014
Number 68. Volume IX Washington, D.C. View as Printer Friendly PDF. A. STATUTORY NUMBERS. 1. This bulletin summarizes the availability of immigrant numbers during May. Consular officers are required to report to the Department of State documentarily qualified applicants for numerically limited …

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Another Short H-1B Season: Cap Expected To Be Reached By April 7

In light of the upcoming H-1B filing madness season, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today that it will start accepting FY 2015 H-1B petitions beginning April 1, as usual. However, it also noted that it anticipates receiving enough number of H-1B petitions to reach both master's and general H-1B caps within one week. This will be the second time since 2008 (FY 2009) that the H-1B cap will be exhausted within the first week of availability.  Last year, approximately 124,000 H-1B petitions were received by USCIS within 5 days (https://plus.google.com/+LokeWalsh/posts/Bu3xXV3CQAk).

USCIS also announced that it will begin premium processing of cap-subject petitions by April 28.

"Due to the high level of premium processing receipts anticipated, combined with the possibility that the H-1B cap will be met in the first 5 business days of the filing season, USCIS has temporarily adjusted its current premium processing practice. To facilitate the prioritized intake of cap-subject petitions requesting premium processing, USCIS will begin premium processing for H-1B cap cases no later than April 28, 2014."

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USCIS to Accept H-1B Petitions for Fiscal Year 2015 Beginning April 1, 2014 | USCIS
Premium Processing for Cap-Subject Petitions to Begin by April 28, 2014. WASHINGTON—U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin accepting H-1B petitions subject to the fiscal year (FY) 2015 cap on April 1, 2014. Cases will be considered accepted on the date that USCIS receives a …

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