New USCIS Guidance for Family-Based Immigrant Visas

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has updated its guidance for family-based immigrant visa petitions, effective May 22, 2024. This update aims to streamline the process and clarify procedures for petitioners and beneficiaries. Here’s a detailed look at what the new guidance entails and how it might affect your visa application and, potentially, the Visa Bulletin.

Key Changes to Family-Based Immigrant Visa Petitions

The USCIS has updated its policy on how it handles family-based immigrant visa petitions, specifically Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative) and, in some cases, family-based Form I-360 (Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant). These changes are designed to make the process more efficient and clarify procedures for applicants and their beneficiaries.

Address and Processing Preference Requirements

One of the major updates requires petitioners to provide the beneficiary’s current address and state their preference for either consular processing or adjustment of status. Here’s why this is important:

  • Consular Processing: This is when the beneficiary applies for a visa at a U.S. consulate or embassy in their home country.
  • Adjustment of Status: This allows the beneficiary to apply for permanent residence (a green card) while in the United States, if they are eligible.

By clearly indicating this preference, USCIS can either keep the petition for adjustment of status or send it to the National Visa Center (NVC) for consular processing. If you do not provide accurate information, it can delay the processing of your visa. For example, if you mistakenly indicate the wrong preference, you may need to file Form I-824 (Application for Action on an Approved Application or Petition) and pay a fee to correct the mistake.

Correcting Approval Notice Errors

USCIS now has a clearer procedure for handling errors in approval notices. If there is a mistake in your approval notice, you can contact USCIS to correct it. This update ensures that errors are addressed promptly, reducing potential delays in your immigration process.

Updating Information

You can update your pending or approved Form I-130 by contacting USCIS. This includes updating the beneficiary’s location or changing their preference for consular processing or adjustment of status. Accurate information helps USCIS process your petition more efficiently.

Why These Changes Matter

These updates are designed to streamline the process and reduce confusion. By clarifying what is required from petitioners, USCIS aims to prevent delays and ensure that petitions are routed correctly the first time. This is particularly important for those who might need to correct or update information on their petitions.

If the petition does not clearly state the beneficiary’s preference, USCIS will make a decision based on the beneficiary’s most recent address. This means it’s crucial for petitioners to keep their information up to date and accurately reflect the beneficiary’s current situation.

Potential Impact on the July 2024 Visa Bulletin

The July 2024 Visa Bulletin could be affected by these changes, especially regarding processing times and visa availability. By clarifying procedures and reducing delays, more petitions might be processed efficiently, potentially influencing the cut-off dates and availability of visas. Applicants should stay informed about the latest updates in the Visa Bulletin to understand how these changes might impact their specific case.

What You Should Do Next

If you are a petitioner:

  • Make sure to accurately complete Form I-130 with the beneficiary’s current address and preference for consular processing or adjustment of status.
  • Keep all information up to date and promptly report any changes to USCIS.
  • If there are any errors on your approval notice, contact USCIS to correct them as soon as possible.

By following these steps, you can help ensure that your petition is processed smoothly and without unnecessary delays.

For more details and updates, always refer to the official USCIS website and keep an eye on the monthly Visa Bulletin announcements.