U.S. Visa Applicants Must Now Submit Social Media Information
The U.S. Department of State is now requiring most U.S. visa applicants to provide information about their social media accounts. As of May 31, applicants must provide the social media platforms, user names, email addresses and phone numbers they have used for the five years preceding the application. For non-immigrant visa applicants, this information is collected on the DS-160, prior to scheduling a Consulate appointment. For those applying for an immigrant visa, the additional queries have been added to the DS-260.
USCIS Implements Strategy to Standardize Processing Times
On June 17, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service announced a strategy to decrease differences in processing times for N-400 Applications for Naturalization and I-485 Applications for Adjustment of Status (Green Card) among its field offices across the country. The volume of these types of filings continues to increase, but the influx has not impacted the U.S. field offices equally. This has resulted in inconsistent processing times, depending on where an applicant resides. While applicants will still be scheduled for biometric appointments at the nearest application support center, they may be scheduled for interview at a field office outside of their normal jurisdiction.
USCIS Year End Statistics
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service recently published its processing statistics for Fiscal Year 2018 (October 1, 2017 to September 30, 2018). For this period, the Service received 8.7 million total petitions. USCIS and the Department of State approved 1.1 million lawful permanent resident applications. 757,000 naturalization applications were approved.
Of particular note, for Fiscal Year 2018, USCIS received 418,780 H-1B petitions. The approval rate was 84.5% (for Fiscal Year 2017, the approval rate was 92.6%). Approximately 38% of H‑1B petitions received a Request for Evidence (RFE). We note that in Fiscal Year 2017 and 2016, the RFE issuance rate was approximately 21%. H-1B petitions that received an RFE in 2018 had an approval rate of 62.3% (for Fiscal Year 2017, the rate was 73.6%).
Practice AreasImmigration and Nationality Law