The impacts of COVID-19 continue to affect immigration and the work of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The latest change is the validity of Form I-693, which is filed when someone is seeking a change of status to legal permanent resident.
USCIS announced in August 2021 that the completed form will be good for four years. This extension is due to processing delays and the impaired ability of applicants to complete the medical examination required with the form.
Prior to this announcement, the completed Form I-693 (Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record) was good for two years after the date the civil surgeon signed the form if the dated signature was no more than 60 days before the applicant filed for adjustment of status.
USCIS now states a completed I-693 form will remain valid for four years if:
- The civil surgeon’s signature is dated no more than 60 days before the applicant filed Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status
- No more than four years have passed since the date of the civil surgeon’s signature
- A decision on the applicant’s Form I-485 is issued on or before Sept. 30, 2021
Decisions on applications requesting an adjustment of status would normally take between 7 and 33 months. This broad timeline is now even longer. So, by extending the validity of the form, fewer applicants will have to repeat the process of getting a medical examination to support their medical fitness for staying in the U.S. as a legal permanent resident.
Purpose of I-693
Anyone applying to adjust status to a legal permanent resident (green card) is required to undergo a medical exam to prove that they are not inadmissible to the United States on public health grounds. This is done with a completed Form I-693, signed by a USCIS-designated civil surgeon.
U.S. immigration law divides the health-related grounds of inadmissibility into the following four general categories:
- Communicable diseases of public health significance (all applicants 2 years old or older must be tested for tuberculosis and all age 15 and older must be tested for syphilis and gonorrhea)
- Lack of proof of receiving required vaccinations (mumps, measles, rubella, polio, tetanus and diphtheria toxoids, pertussis, Haemophilus influenzae type B, rotavirus, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, meningococcal disease, varicella, influenza, and pneumococcal pneumonia)
- Physical or mental disorders with associated harmful behavior or a history of associated harmful behavior (waivers can be granted but may include conditions and controls determined by USCIS)
- Drug abuse or addiction (if you have a substance-related disorder, you are not eligible to apply for a waiver unless you are applying for adjustment of status one year after you were admitted as a refugee or granted asylum)
Streamlining the Process
Applying to register as a Legal Permanent Resident requires Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status) as well as Form I-693. It is not required that both forms be filed together but it does speed up the process. If I-485 is filed on its own, USCIS will send you what is referred to as an RFE or Requests for Evidence, which adds unnecessary delays in processing the forms.
Adjustment of Status Applications
A green card allows a non-U.S. citizen to gain permanent residence in the United States and may qualify them for U.S. citizenship after three or five years. The steps an applicant takes to apply for a green card depend on the immigration category they are applying under.
There are many reasons people seek a green card, including:
- Family-Based Green Card. This application is for spouses or family members of U.S. citizens, fiancé(e) of a U.S. citizen or a child of the fiancé(e), widow(er) of a U.S. citizen, or a VAWA self-petitioner (victim of battery or extreme cruelty).
- Employment-Based Green Card. Those using this process are bringing specific professional skills and experience to the U.S. Also using this process are physicians who will work full-time in a clinical practice in an underserved area, as well as investors who are investing at least $1 million in a new commercial enterprise in the U.S. that would employ at least 10 full-time positions.
- Longtime-Resident Green Card. Anyone who has resided continuously in the U.S. since before Jan. 1, 1972 may be eligible for this green card.
USCIS is on track to approve more employment-based adjustment of status applications than it has since Fiscal Year 2005. The agency is prioritizing employment-based adjustment of status applications to limit the potential for employment-based visa numbers to go unused.
Help for Complex Immigration Law
At Verma Law Firm, we help take the guesswork and confusion out of U.S. immigration law for individuals and employers. Each situation is different, and we will utilize all our resources and 20-plus years of experience to create a strategy for you and your immigration goals. Whether you are seeking asylum, needing a visa, or seeking citizenship, we can help.
Contact our office by calling (408) 560-4622 or using our online form to schedule a consultation.