According to the latest report from the Congressional Research Service, Vietnam is Number 4 in the list of top countries with immigrants waiting for admission to the US in the Family based quota categories.
There is a total of 255,000 Family Preference Prospective Immigrants, including 6,400 sons and daughters of US citizens, 8,700 unmarried sons and daughters of Green Card holders, 64,000 married sons and daughters of US citizens, and 170,000 siblings of US citizens.
Now, let’s take a look at the changes in immigration regulations that have taken place during 2014 and see how they affect the Vietnamese community.
The most recent, and most important, changes occurred at the end of November when President Obama announced his Executive Actions. These included
g the young number of people eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, to include those who came to this country before turning 16 years old and have been present since January 1, 2010, and extending the period of DACA and work authorization from two years to three years. Start date for this will be February 2015.
- Allowing parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents who have been in the country since January 1, 2010, to request deferred action and employment authorization for three years, in a new Deferred Action for Parental Accountability program (DAPA), provided they pass required background checks. Applications will be accepted by CIS in May 2015.
- Making the extreme hardship requirement less extreme.
· Expanding the use of provisional waivers of unlawful presence to include the spouses and sons and daughters of lawful permanent residents and the sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, and
In September 2014, after six years of negotiations, the US and Vietnam finally formalized a new Adoption Agreement. The new adoption agreement is called the Special Adoption Program and it allows the adoption of only three types of children:
- Children with medical conditions such as HIV, and children with disabilities,
- Children at least five years of age, up to 15 years old,
- Children in biological sibling groups or two or more, with at least one of the siblings under 16 years of age.
The second major change in the Special Adoption Program is that the children will be chosen by the Vietnamese government. That means that the Vietnamese government agencies will provide the prospective adopting parents with information about one or more children who are eligible for adoption. The parents can choose one of the children, or decline to choose any.
The third major change is that there are only two adoption agencies in the US who can take part in the Special Adoption Program. They are Dillon International and Holt International Children’s Services. Only these two agencies can work directly with the Vietnamese authorities in the processing of adoption cases.
The CSPA: In June 2014, the US Supreme Court, unexpectedly and unfortunately, refused to make any changes in the CSPA law. They said that this matter must be addressed by Congress. So, some over-20 children of F3 and F4 applicants must wait until their parents reach the US and file F2B petitions for them.
What are the chances of Immigration Reform in 2015? This is a purely political area. There will be significant reform if enough Congressmen see that this will bring them more voters to keep them in office. President Obama’s Executive Actions are temporary measures. Achieving true immigration reform will require Congressional action.
The F2A category for spouses and children of Permanent Residents continues to move well, with a waiting time of about a year and a half until petitions become current. The F2B Adult unmarried children of Permanent Residents still have a wait of more than five years, but the cut-off date for this category is also moving well.
The latest statistics show that the United States enrolled the highest number of international students in its history, welcoming 819,644 undergraduate and graduate students to colleges and universities throughout the country. Students from abroad added approximately $24 billion to the U.S. economy. The number of Chinese students enrolled in U.S. colleges and universities has increased to almost 235,000 students.
Green Cards for Investors: The EB-5 approval rate has been encouraging, though the processing times is longer than the normal processing time of 13.8 months set by CIS. There were 11,000 EB-5 applications submitted in 2014, which is totaling about 1/4 applications received since the program started in 1990. Also received in 2014 were 2,500 I-829 (removal of a two-year green card) forms and 270 I-924 (Regional Center Pilot Program) forms. CIS has an ambitious plan to adjudicate 1,000 applications a month starting in January 2015.
In conclusion, coming to America remains the number one choice for most immigrants, Vietnamese immigrants included.
Q.1. Can potential applicants submit applications now based on Mr., Obama’s Executive Actions?
A. 1. These actions have not yet been implemented, and USCIS is not accepting any requests or applications at this time. Beware of anyone who offers to help you submit an application or a request for any of these actions before they are available. The Expanded DACA will take effect February 2015, the DAPA in May 2015, and other changes at times that will be announced later.
Q.2. How long will applicants have to wait for a decision on their application?
A.2. For all applications received in 2015, US CIS aims to complete processing by the end of 2016.------------------------------
Q.3. Will USCIS need to expand its workforce implement these new initiatives?
A.3. USCIS will need to adjust its staffing to sufficiently address this new workload. This might mean hiring several thousand additional staff to process DACA and DAPA applications and to process other applications and petitions, such as family-based petitions and green card applications.
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