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In a recent regulatory shift, several crucial updates have been made to the filing protocol for Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker. As of October 1, 2023, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has implemented a significant change in the filing locations for various visa categories. The California Service Center (CSC) and Vermont Service Center (VSC) have ceased to accept filings for these categories, redirecting them exclusively to the Texas Service Center (TSC).

Effective Transition and Grace Period:

This relocation initiative took effect on October 1, 2023. To facilitate a smooth transition, USCIS has granted a grace period spanning 60 days, concluding on December 1, 2023. During this period, filings postmarked to the CSC and VSC will be honored; however, any submissions after this date must be directed to the TSC to ensure proper processing.

Affected Visa Categories:

The change in filing locations impacts several visa categories, namely to:

  • E-1 Treaty Trader, E-2 Treaty Investor, and E-3 Free Trade Agreement Professional from Australia: These categories are now exclusively processed at the TSC.
  • H-3 for Trainees and Special Education Exchange Visitors: The TSC is now the designated filing center for this category.
  • R-1 Temporary Workers in Religious Occupations: Ministers or workers in religious vocations will now file exclusively at the TSC.
  • Q-1 International Cultural Exchange Program Participants: This category has shifted to the TSC for all filing requirements.
  • P-1, P-2, P-3, and Essential Support Personnel (P-1S, P-2S, P-3S): Internationally recognized athletes, entertainers, and their essential support personnel must now file at the TSC.
  • O-1 and O-2 Temporary Workers: Individuals with extraordinary abilities in various fields, along with accompanying personnel assisting in artistic or athletic performances, are now exclusively processed at the TSC.

Compliance and Deadline for Compliance:

It is imperative to note that any Form I-129 petitions for the aforementioned visa categories, postmarked on or after December 1, 2023, and submitted to the CSC or VSC, will be considered improperly filed and consequently rejected. To avoid delays and disruptions in immigration proceedings, all relevant stakeholders are strongly encouraged to adhere to these updated guidelines and redirect their submissions to the Texas Service Center within the stipulated time-frame.