The following additional items may be of interest to our readers:

New $165 USCIS Immigrant Fee Now in Effect:  As of February 1, an any individual who receives an immigrant visa package from a United States consulate or embassy abroad (including Canada and Mexico) must pay a new $165 USCIS immigrant fee. 

DOS Online Resources:  DOS has introduced its online “Visa Status Check,” which allows both immigrant and nonimmigrant applicants to check the status of their cases at the CEAC system. https://ceac.state.gov/CEACStatTracker/Status.aspx. In addition, DOS is promoting its online resource for estimating wait times for visas. Advance planning and early visa application are important. At this site, individuals can select a U.S. embassy or consulate by city or country for specific wait times for interview appointments and visa processing. Those seeking appointments at their home consulates should regularly check the appropriate processing information before making travel plans, because processing times often change without notice. Visa applicants are also advised that most posts have an expedited interview appointment procedure, if needed, and emergent reasons can be demonstrated.   http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/wait/wait_4638.html.

DACA Statistical Update:  As of February 14, 2013, USCIS reports that almost 425,000 DACA applications have been received by the agency – an additional 75,000 or so since mid-December – and almost 200,000 cases have been approved. USCIS has released several informative FAQs on the program, with the most recent issues on January 18. See www.uscis.gov/childhoodarrivals.

TPS Extended for Eligible Nationals from South Sudan and Sudan: USCIS announced an 18-month extension on South Sudan’s and Sudan’s TPS designation from May 3, 2013, through November 2, 2014, and redesignation for the same period.  Redesignation permits additional individuals who have been continuously residing in the United States since January 9, 2013, to obtain TPS, if eligible. DHS determined that an extension and redesignation were warranted because the conditions in South Sudan and Sudan that prompted the TPS designation not only continue to be met but have deteriorated.

Update on EB-5 Program:  USCIS is continuing to focus on improving its administration of the EB-5 Investor – Employment Creation Program. Most recently, USCIS has reviewed its various EB-5 policy memoranda and determined that they should be consolidated into a single overarching agency policy memorandum, given the number and complexity of issues involved. A draft policy memo addressing what it calls “foundational issues” has been issued.  Those interested should weigh in. Comments are due April 1.  http://1.usa.gov/eb5-draft.