I just received this email from the US Consulate, Shanghai:
Notice to American Citizens regarding the filing of I-130 petitions
Recent legislation has led to changes in the procedures American citizens resident abroad will follow if they wish to sponsor an immediate relative (spouse, parent or minor child) for an immigrant visa. Effective immediately, the immediate relative petition (I-130) must be filed with the USCIS office responsible for the petitioner’s place of residence (that is, the place of residence of the American citizen who is filing the petition). Consular offices at U.S. embassies and consulates are no longer authorized to accept I-130s, although they will continue to provide guidance to American citizen petitioners and their family members. Responsibility for acceptance and approval of immigrant visa petitions rests solely with USCIS. American citizens should submit their I-130 at the CIS office responsible for their place of residence. This procedural change may result in a processing delay for some applicants. The Department of State recognizes and sincerely regrets the inconvenience this may cause.
What this means is that if we were submitting our I-130 today (instead of having done so last April), we would have to file it in the USCIS office responsible for New Jersey, which, as it happens, is located in Vermont.
Hopefully this will not affect us, as our I-130 has already been processed and approved (that happened last July). Now we’re working on something called a CR-1. But this is the US government we’re talking about, and it’s immigration, which is next to terrorism on the list of sensitive subjects for Uncle Sam, so you never know. The bulletin boards and blogs are going crazy right now with people freaking out about what is going to happen to their applications.
Why has this happened? Apparently it has something to do with “The Adam Walsh Child Protection And Safety Act Of 2006” which went into effect yesterday. Among other things, this has some provision which has been dubbed with the very War-on-Terror-friendly moniker “Operation Predator.” Am I the only one who thinks that sounds like a government plan to rape and kill children?
The Administration launched Operation Predator to help law enforcement track down and arrest foreign pedophiles, human traffickers, sex tourists, and Internet pornographers who prey on our children.
So now US embassies around the world are not accepting family-sponsored immigration petitions because of the risk that these spouses and other immediate relatives of American citizens are evil sex-crazed pedophiles.
To be fair, the new law does seem to do some good things, like integrate the individual states’ sex-offender registry systems into a national database, “helping prevent sex offenders from evading detection by moving from State to State.” Clearly that should have been done a long time ago.
Anyway, I’m still not sure how this will affect our application, or if it will affect us at all. I did pick up a good tip from the VisaJourney forum today, though: if we had an American co-sponsor (meaning another sponsor for Xianyi in addition to myself, one living in America), I wouldn’t need to have a job or residence. So we’ll be looking into that as well as employment.