U.S. Consular Posts in Russia Suspend Nonimmigrant Visa Processing

Nonimmigrant visa processing at all U.S. consular posts in Russia was suspended on August 23, 2017. Processing of nonimmigrant visas will resume at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow on September 1, 2017, but will remain suspended at the other U.S. consular posts in Russia. The suspension was a result of the cap on U.S. diplomatic personnel in Russia by the Russian government. All scheduled nonimmigrant visa appointments were cancelled and applicants will be provided instructions on how to reschedule.

The State Department reports that Moscow waiting times for a visitor visa appointment are now 85 calendar days, student visa appointments are 36 calendar days, and all other visas have a waiting time of 53 calendar days.

Anyone applying for a nonimmigrant visa in Russia should factor in these significant delays into any travel plans.

USCIS Now Denying Advance Parole Applications Where the Applicant Travels Before Adjudication

In a departure from past adjudication practices, it has been widely reported that USCIS is now denying Advance Parole applications where the applicant has traveled before the application has been adjudicated. Previously, USCIS had approved Advance Parole applications where the applicant traveled on a nonimmigrant visa that allowed for immigrant intent (e.g. H-1B, H-4, L-1, L-2).

When possible, applicants should delay international travel while the Advance Parole application is pending in order to avoid a denial.

White House Plans to Eliminate Certain J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa Programs

The Wall Street Journal reports that the White House has issued a memo to the State Department to develop a plan to eliminate the following J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa programs:

  • Au Pair
  • Camp Counselor
  • Intern/Trainee
  • Summer Work Travel

The J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa program is a cultural exchange program that allows foreign nationals to temporarily visit the U.S. for work or study and to experience U.S. society and culture. According to the State Department, the J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa program is used by 300,000 foreign visitors from 200 countries annually.

USCIS to Now Require Interviews for Certain Employment-Based Green Cards

USCIS has just announced that on October 1, 2017, it will start requiring interviews for foreign nationals who apply for permanent residence within the employment-based immigrant visa classifications/sponsorship. For many years, only family-based green card applicants were required to appear for interviews, and employment-based applicants’ interviews had been suspended; however, it has always been within USCIS’ discretion to request that an applicant appear, in person, for an interview. Companies sponsoring individuals for green cards should anticipate longer overall processing times due to the addition of the interview requirement.