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Brazil added to list of Suspended Entry Countries

Starting Thursday, May 28, Brazil is added to the list of Suspended Entry Countries because of the risk for COVID-19 transmission.
“The entry into the United States, as immigrants or non-immigrants, of all aliens who were physically present within the Federative Republic of Brazil during the 14-day period preceding, is hereby suspended” announced President Trump on May 24.

As before, the rule does not apply to U.S. citizens and their immediate relatives/family members. It also does not apply to permanent residents of the U.S. Certain categories of non-immigrants are excluded too.
These travelers will be redirected to one of the specially-designated Ports of Entry and are subject to screening. They can be mandated to self-isolate and monitor their health for at least two weeks.

Brazil is the latest addition to the list of countries from which “unrestricted entry would be detrimental to the interests of the U.S.”

On January 31 the White House issued a Proclamation on Suspension of Entry for immigrants and non-immigrants because of the risk of transmitting the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
Initially the rule impacted foreign nationals who in the last 14 days before the intended entry into the U.S. traveled in China (excl. Hong Kong and Macau). The rule went into effect in February 2.

Travelers from South Korea were subject to extended screening upon arrival in the U.S.

On February 29 the Suspended Entry Proclamation came into effect for Iran, starting March 2.

On March 11 President Trump announced in a televised speech that all travel from Europe* to America was suspended for 30 days starting March 13.
*The ruling pertained to the border-free Schengen area: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland.

The written text issued afterwards did not include the 30-day timeline but said the restrictions would “remain in effect until terminated by the President.”

On March 13 the White House issued Proclamation 9994, declaring COVID-19 a National Emergency.

On March 14 the U.K. (excl. overseas territories outside of Europe) and Ireland were added to the Suspended Entry list, effective March 16.

On March 21 all U.S. land border checkpoints with Canada and Mexico were closed to non-essential traffic.

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White House suspends most immigration into U.S for 60 days

On April 22, 2020, the White House suspended all entry in to the U.S. by immigrants for 60 days starting April 23. The WH stated that “in the days between the national emergency declaration and April 11, more than 22 million Americans have filed for unemployment.” 
Certain categories of immigrants (e.g. healthcare professionals, EB-5 investors, spouses/minor children of U.S. citizens, military personnel) are excluded. Also excluded are Immediate Relatives, according to a person familiar with the situation.

 

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Visa services suspended at all U.S. Embassies & Consulates

On March 20, 2020, the U.S. Department of State temporarily suspended routine visa services at all U.S. Embassies and Consulates. Embassies and consulates canceled all routine immigrant and non-immigrant visa appointments. As resources allow, embassies and consulates will continue to provide emergency and mission critical visa services.

On March 18, 2020, USCIS temporarily suspended all routine in-person services at its field offices, asylum offices and application support centers (ASCs). Some USCIS offices are expected to reopen and resume services on or after June 4. 

 

 

 

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Coronavirus causes more U.S. travel restrictions

President Trump announced that all travel from Europe* to America will be suspended for 30 days. The restrictions will not apply to the United Kingdom. *The so-called border-free Schengen area: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland. The measure will take effect Friday, March 13, at midnight.

The rule does not apply to U.S. citizens and their immediate relatives/family members. It also does not apply to permanent residents of the U.S. They will be subject to screening at Port of Entry and if necessary to mandatary quarantine or heightened monitoring for 14 days after arrival.

Edit: The U.K. (excl. overseas territories outside of Europe) and Ireland were also included in the travel ban. On May 24 the ban was once more amended, this time to Brazil.

 

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Six more countries on “banned” list

The Trump administration announced that the number of banned countries will be expanded with six more. The rule takes effect on February 22.

Citizens from Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, and Nigeria, will be banned from obtaining immigrant visas, known as Green Cards.

Issuance of immigrant visas to DV Lottery selectees from Sudan and Tanzania will also be suspended.

Students, temporary immigrants and visitors from the six countries will not be affected. Nor will refugee processing. Also not impacted will be nationals of the six countries already in the U.S. as well as those who have a valid visa to come to the U.S.

 

 

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DV-2020 Entry Period: October 3 – November 6

Just published: DV-2020 Entry Guide

The Entry Period for this year’s Diversity Visa Lottery – DV-2020 – was from Wednesday, October 3, 12.00 p.m. EDT, till Tuesday, November 6, 12.00 p.m. EST. 
Only during this period was registration possible. 

Natives of the following countries were not eligible for DV-2020 (unless they qualify for an exception): 
Nigeria, Bangladesh, China mainland-born (Macau SAR, Hong Kong SAR and Taiwan qualify), India, Pakistan, South Korea, Philippines, Vietnam, Great Britain/U.K. (Northern Ireland does qualify), Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Haiti, Jamaica, Peru. 

To be eligible for a Diversity Visa one needs a high school degree (diploma/certificate) OR two years work experience in a qualifying profession/job. People who cannot meet the educational demand and also cannot qualify by their work history, are urged not to participate.

Results for DV-2020, the Entrant Status Check, will become available on Tuesday, May 7, 2019.

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DV-2020 announced – on Twitter !

An Official Twitter on behalf of the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs, was issued with the following message.
“We will release information as soon as it becomes available. DV 2020 Lottery will open to the public for entry October 3, 2018.”

October 3, 2018, is a Wednesday.
The DV Entry Period (Registration Period) usually lasts about four weeks.
Mark your calendars !

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DV Lottery re-starts October 18: ALL so far Submitted Entry Forms INVALID

Electronic registration for DV-2019 will re-start on Wednesday, October 18, at 12.00 p.m. EDT.
ALL Entry Forms submitted before that date are INVALID and need to be submitted again!
Closing date for DV-2019 is now Wednesday, November 22, at 12.00 p.m. EST.

The Department of State issued a statement:
We regret the inconvenience to Diversity Visa entrants. In order to ensure fairness and protect the integrity of the process for all those concerned, however, we must restart the entry process for this year (DV-2019).

If you entered before Wednesday, October 18, 2017, that entry will NOT be considered, and you will need to submit another Entry Form during the new registration period.
You may submit one new entry without being disqualified for submitting multiple entries. Individuals who submit more than one entry during the new registration period will be disqualified.

The Department will send an automated email notification to each Diversity Visa Entrant from whom an entry was received before October 18, 2017, using the email address provided on the lottery entry form, directing the entrant to check the website dvlottery.state.gov for an important announcement.

DV-2019 also has a new date Entrant Status Check becomes possible: May 15, 2018.

Nota Bene. Everyone who submitted an Entry Form before the eDV website went off-line (Tuesday, October 10) must enter again. No exceptions possible. Please keep the NEW Confirmation Number safe for your Status Check next year ! The photo(s) previously uploaded for the now invalid DV-2019 submission can be used again. To re-enter go to www.dvlottery.state.gov 

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Diversity Visa Lottery Entry Form taken off-line

Part of the official Diversity Visa Lottery website was taken off-line on Tuesday, October 10. People wanting to access the DV-2019 Entry Form found they were unable to so so.
Entrant Status Check for DV-2018 continued to be possible.
The Department of State gives maintenance of the Electronic Application System (AES) as the reason. It is at this moment unclear when the site will resume accepting DV Applications.
The 2019 Diversity Visa Lottery program started last week on Tuesday, October 3, and will end on Tuesday, November 7, at noon.

As of Thursday, October 12, the problems are ongoing and the Entry Form can still not be accessed.

 

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New Travel Ban announced, 4 countries added, 2 removed

The Trump administration today announced new list of countries restricted under the travel ban. This is the third version of the controversial executive order. It will go into effect on Wednesday, October 18, 2017.

Chad, North Korea, and Venezuela are added to the list of banned countries.
No longer on the list is Sudan. EDIT: Chad was removed in 2018.
The remaining banned countries are Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia.

The imposed restrictions differ per country:
– North Korea, Syria: no entry for immigrants and non-immigrants.
– Yemen, Libya: no entry for immigrants as well as for non-immigrants traveling on business and tourist visas.
– Somalia: no entry for immigrants. Non-immigrants will face enhanced screening and vetting requirements.
– Iran: no entry for immigrants and for non-immigrants. Holders of valid student and exchange visitor visas are for now excepted from the ban.
– Venezuela: no entry for certain government officials and their immediate family members on some business and tourist visas.

Currently immigrants and non-immigrants from Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Yemen, Sudan are banned unless they can prove a bona fide relationship with a person or with an entity. Individuals eligible for this exception can apply for a visa until October 18.

The new executive order is not limited time-wise, but “indefinite” and “condition based”.

The order gives Consular Officers the discretion to waive restriction on a case-by-case basis.

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DV-2019 program officially announced

The US Department of State announced today the dates for the 2019 Diversity Visa Lottery, also called Green Card Lottery or DV Lottery.

The Entry Period for the DV-2019 program will run from Tuesday, October 3, until Tuesday, November 7, 2017.

On October 3 the starting time is 12:00 pm (noon), EST (GMT-4).
On November 7 the closing time is 12:00 pm (noon), EDT (GMT-5).

Participating in the Visa Lottery is free.
To enter go to the official eDV website
dvlottery.state.gov

The Entry Form that must be submitted will become available on the eDV site on October 3 !
Pre-registration is not possible.

Entrant Status Check becomes possible on the eDV site May 1, 2018.

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Hurricane Irma: USCIS offices closed in FL, the Caribbean

USCIS Field Offices and Support Centers in Florida and in the Caribbean will be closed temporarily because of Hurricane Irma.

USCIS Offices in Houston, TX, are expected to resume normal operations on September 11.

People who have appointments are advised to check and to reschedule if needed.

For more information https://www.uscis.gov/about-us/uscis-office-closings

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DACA phased out; Trump asks Congress “to do their job”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced today plans to end the DACA program (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). Applications for DACA will no longer be accepted.
For current recipients the program will be phased out. The government will only continue to renew existing permits during the next six months.

DACA was created in 2012 through an executive order by Prez Obama. The program shields from deportation about 800,000 undocumented immigrants who were brought to the US as children. It did not provide legal status to the so-called Dreamers but allowed them to have work permits.

Prez Trump urged members of Congress to come together and reform the immigration legislation. Preferably before the six months are over. “Congress, get ready to do your job – DACA!” he tweeted.

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DV-2019 websites ! A better way to enter the Visa Lottery ?

Websites offering registration for this year’s Visa Lottery are popping up all over the internet and on the social media. “Apply for your Green Card NOW !” they advertise. 

These websites are NOT created by the US Government. These sites are set up by private persons, agencies or companies. They make money of the (free) US Diversity Visa Lottery program.
The person, agency or business can be legally registered in the US. That does not mean they are licensed by the US Government to offer Visa Lottery or Green Card related services.

Do not be fooled by the official sounding names of some of these agencies.
Or by the websites they have, complete with official looking stamps and seals.

Spending money does not buy you a better chance of winning a Green Card !

dvlottery.state.gov

This address is the one and only official eDV site.
It is administered by the US Departement of State (DOS).
There is NO charge if you enter on the official site.

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USCIS offices in TX closed because of Hurricane Harvey

USCIS warns that some of its Local Field Offices and Application Support Centers in Texas may be closed because of Hurricane – now Tropical Storm – Harvey.

People who have appointments are advised to check and to reschedule if needed. 

Currently offices/centers are closed in Harlingen, Houston, McAllen. Other locations can be added.

For more information https://www.uscis.gov/about-us/uscis-office-closings

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US Non-Immigrant Visa issuance in Russia temporarily halted

No Visitor Visas issued at Embassy in Moscow during next 8 days, suspension indefinite at Consulates.

The US Embassy in Moscow will stop issuing Non-Immigrant (N/I) Visas for eight days, starting Wednesday, August 28. The measure also means that N/I Visa issuance is suspended at the US Consulates in St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg and Vladivostok.
The visas involved are mainly B-1/2 Visitor Visas, needed to enter the US temporarily “for business and/or for tourism”.
The Russian Foreign Ministry recently ordered the number of US Embassy and Consulate workers to be capped. Diplomatic staff had to be reduced by 750 people (two-thirds of the total number of workers). 
The US Embassy intends to resume issuing N/I Visas on September 1. However the suspension will for now stay in place at the US Consulates. 

According to statistics of the US State Department close to 190,000 Non-Immigrant Visas were granted in Russia last year.

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More fraudulent DV emails sent to “lucky” people

Again DV Lottery Entrants are receiving emails telling them that they won. Even people who never entered the Visa Lottery are getting emails with congratulations ! Senders use a seal to make their email look official and even include a Winning Number. The receivers of the emails are told to click a link for further processing. The seal is fake and so is the number. The link however is real, delivering the “lucky” people into the hands of the scammers. 

The US Department of State (DOS) repeated that it does not send emails or letters to inform DV Entrants that they are selected in the Visa Lottery. It also does not call people. It does not contact people through social media. The only way to find out if one is a winner – or not – is to do the Entrant Status Check on the eDV website. DOS advises strongly not to respond to the email. 

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US Senate bill proposes immigration limits

Prez Trump endorsed today a new Senate bill aimed at immigration reform. Under the acronym RAISE (Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy) it proposes to lower Immigration levels over the next ten years to ultimately 500,000 permanent immigrants per year.

This goal would be reached by removing some categories that US citizens and Permanent Residents are currently allowed to sponsor. Only spouses and unmarried minor children would be eligible for immigration.
Furthermore the yearly number of refugees permanently allowed in would be limited to 50,000. The Diversity Visa Lottery program would be cancelled.

The bill also proposes a more merit based immigration system (like Canada and Australia have). Points would be awarded based on factors such as English ability, education levels, job skills.
The limit for employment-based Green Cards would however stay at its current level of 140,000.

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15,000 extra H-2B Visas available for FY 2017

US employers can to hire up to 15,000 extra H-2B workers in coming months. 
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) determined that “US businesses are in danger of suffering irreparable harm due to a lack of sufficient labor. There are not enough qualified and willing US workers available for temporary non-agricultural jobs.”

The H-2B Temporary Non-Agricultural Worker Program allows US businesses to bring in a maximum of 66,000 temporary foreign workers every year for non-agricultural jobs. (For temporary jobs in agriculture the H-2A program exists.)
A maximum of 33,000 H-2B visas is available during the first half of a Fiscal Year (from October 1 till March 30 the next year). The remaining 33,000 is available in de second half of the FY (from April 1 until September 30).
An H-2B visa can be renewed once, after the second period the worker must leave the US.

For FY 2016 an exemption was in place that effectively quadrupled the number of H-2B visas: returning workers were not counted against the annual statutory cap of 66,000. This provision however was not extended for FY 2017. 

USCIS announced on March 13 it had received sufficient petitions to meet the full statutory cap for FY 2017. Congress gave the Secretary of DHS authority to increase the number. The increase is meant to be a one-time event.

H-2B visas are mainly used in industries with seasonal peaks, e.g. hospitality, tourism & recreation, landscaping, food processing, etc.

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Delay announced for International Entrepreneur Rule

The International Entrepreneur Rule, scheduled to go into effect July 17, has been delayed until March 14, 2018.

The rule would have given the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) authority to grant certain foreign entrepreneurs a parole – permission to live and work in the US – for up to 30 months, with the possibility of an extension.

The benefit was meant for foreign entrepreneurs who were able to demonstrate that their stay in the US would provide a significant public benefit e.g. job creation.

The rule was proposed by Prez Obama. DHS estimated that 2,940 entrepreneurs would be eligible every year. The parole could be extended to up to three people per start-up. Permission to work would only be granted for the company in question. 
Spouses and children of the entrepreneurs would be allowed to stay as well, with spouses eligible for a general work permit (EAD).

DHS stated that the delay will provide it “with an opportunity to obtain comments from the public regarding a proposal to rescind the rule.”

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