For Our Clients
We heard you! We now have a secure lockbox directly outside of our office so that you can drop off documents when we are not here. Rest assured that we will check the lockbox immediately upon our return from any and all out-of-office adventures!
A Form I-693 is valid only when a civil surgeon signs it no more than 60 days before the date an applicant files the application for the underlying immigration benefit; and USCIS adjudicates the application within 2 years from the date of the civil surgeon’s signature. https://www.uscis.gov/policymanual/Updates/20181016-I-693Validity.pdf
F-1 students who have an H-1B petition that remains pending on Oct. 1, 2018, risk accruing unlawful presence if they continue to work on or after Oct. 1 (unless otherwise authorized to continue employment), as their “cap-gap” work authorization is only valid through Sept. 30. Due to increased demand for immigration benefits, resulting in higher caseloads as well as a significant surge in premium processing requests, USCIS may not be able to adjudicate H-1B change of status petitions for all F-1 students by Oct. 1.
USCIS regulations allow an F-1 student who is the beneficiary of a timely filed H-1B cap-subject petition requesting a change of status to H-1B on Oct. 1, to have his or her F-1 status and any current employment authorization extended through Sept. 30. This is referred to as filling the “cap-gap”, meaning the regulations provide a way of filling the “gap” between the end of F-1 status and the beginning of H-1B status that might otherwise occur. The “cap-gap” period starts when an F-1 student’s status and work authorization expire, and they are extended through Sept. 30, with Oct. 1 being the requested start date of their H-1B employment, unless otherwise terminated or the H-1B petition is rejected or denied prior to Oct. 1.
While the temporary suspension of premium processing of certain types of H-1B petitions has allowed USCIS to allocate additional resources to prioritize the adjudication of these cap-gap cases, if a cap-gap H-1B petition remains pending on or after Oct. 1, the F-1 student is no longer authorized to work under the cap-gap regulations. However, the F-1 student generally may remain in the United States while the change of status petition is pending without accruing unlawful presence, provided they do not work without authorization. If an F-1 student with a pending change of status petition has work authorization (such as an I-765 with valid dates) that extends past Sept. 30, they may continue to work as authorized.
WASHINGTON – The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is proposing a rule to end a program that allows certain foreign entrepreneurs to be considered for parole to temporarily come to the United States to develop and build start-up businesses here, known as the International Entrepreneur Rule (IE Final Rule).
In July 2017, DHS published a final rule to delay the implementation date of the IE Final Rule to March 14, 2018, to give the Department time to draft a rescission of the IE Final Rule. However, in December 2017, a federal court vacated the delay rule, requiring USCIS to begin accepting international entrepreneur parole applications consistent with the IE Final Rule.
DHS is now proposing to eliminate the IE Final Rule because the department believes that it represents an overly broad interpretation of parole authority, lacks sufficient protections for U.S. workers and investors, and is not the appropriate vehicle for attracting and retaining international entrepreneurs.
By statute, DHS has discretionary authority to parole individuals into the United States temporarily, on a case-by-case basis, for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit. After reviewing DHS parole programs in accordance with the Executive Order titled Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements, issued on Jan. 25, 2017, DHS is proposing to remove regulations published as part of the IE Final Rule. DHS concluded that the IE Final Rule created a complex and highly-structured program that was best established by the legislative process rather than relying on an unorthodox use of the Secretary’s authority to “temporarily” parole, in a categorical way, aliens based on “significant public benefit”.
The Immigration and Nationality Act already provides for visa classifications that enable certain entrepreneurs to start businesses and work in the United States, such as the E-2 nonimmigrant classification and the EB-5 immigrant classification. DHS is committed to reviewing all existing employment-based immigrant and nonimmigrant visa programs to ensure program integrity and protect the interests of U.S. investors and workers.
USCIS has completed data entry for all fiscal year 2019 H-1B cap-subject petitions selected in our computer-generated random selection process. USCIS will now begin returning all H-1B cap-subject petitions that were not selected. Due to the high volume of filings, USCIS cannot provide a definite time frame for returning unselected petitions. USCIS asks petitioners not to inquire about the status of their cap-subject petitions until they receive a receipt notice or an unselected petition is returned. USCIS will issue an announcement once all the unselected petitions have been returned.
Additionally, USCIS may transfer some Form I-129 H-1B cap subject petitions between the Vermont Service Center and the California Service Center to balance the distribution of cap cases. If your case is transferred, you will receive notification in the mail. After receiving the notification, please send all future correspondence to the center processing your petition.
Unlawful Presence, somewhat redfined:
WASHINGTON—U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) today posted a policy memorandum changing how the agency will calculate unlawful presence for students and exchange visitors in F, J, and M nonimmigrant status, including F-2, J-2, or M-2 dependents, who fail to maintain their status in the United States.
This policy aligns with President Trump’s Executive Order: Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States to enforce the immigration laws of the country and will go into effect on Aug. 9, 2018.
“USCIS is dedicated to our mission of ensuring the integrity of the immigration system. F, J, and M nonimmigrants are admitted to the United States for a specific purpose, and when that purpose has ended, we expect them to depart, or to obtain another, lawful immigration status,” said USCIS Director L. Francis Cissna. “The message is clear: These nonimmigrants cannot overstay their periods of admission or violate the terms of admission and stay illegally in the U.S. anymore.”
Individuals in F, J, and M status who failed to maintain their status before Aug. 9, 2018, will start accruing unlawful presence on that date based on that failure, unless they had already started accruing unlawful presence, on the earliest of any of the following:
The day after DHS denied the request for an immigration benefit, if DHS made a formal finding that the individual violated his or her nonimmigrant status while adjudicating a request for another immigration benefit;
The day after their I-94 expired; or
The day after an immigration judge or in certain cases, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), ordered them excluded, deported, or removed (whether or not the decision is appealed).
Individuals in F, J, or M status who fail to maintain their status on or after Aug. 9, 2018, will start accruing unlawful presence on the earliest of any of the following:
The day after they no longer pursue the course of study or the authorized activity, or the day after they engage in an unauthorized activity;
The day after completing the course of study or program, including any authorized practical training plus any authorized grace period;
The day after the I-94 expires; or
The day after an immigration judge, or in certain cases, the BIA, orders them excluded, deported, or removed (whether or not the decision is appealed).
Individuals who have accrued more than 180 days of unlawful presence during a single stay, and then depart, may be subject to three-year or 10-year bars to admission, depending on how much unlawful presence they accrued before they departed the United States. Individuals who have accrued a total period of more than one year of unlawful presence, whether in a single stay or during multiple stays in the United States, and who then reenter or attempt to reenter the United States without being admitted or paroled are permanently inadmissible.
Those subject to the three-year, 10-year, or permanent unlawful presence bars to admission are generally not eligible to apply for a visa, admission, or adjustment of status to permanent residence unless they are eligible for a waiver of inadmissibility or another form of relief.
RESTRICTING LEGAL IMMIGRATION. From longer waits to higher costs, this article discusses the invisible wall.
WASHINGTON - U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today that the agency will begin phasing in use of the U.S. Postal Service’s (USPS) Signature Confirmation Restricted Delivery service to mail Green Cards and other secure documents beginning April 30, 2018.
The first phase will affect documents that need to be re-mailed because they have been returned as non-deliverable. These documents include Permanent Resident Cards (also called Green Cards), Employment Authorization Cards, and Travel Booklets. Applicants who have changed mailing addresses during the course of the application process are more likely to have their secure documents sent with the new delivery method, which USCIS will expand to all secure documents in the future.
As part of the new delivery method, applicants must present identification to sign for their documents upon delivery. They also have the option to designate an agent to sign on their behalf by completing the Postal Service’s PS Form 3801, Standing Delivery Order (PDF) or PS Form 3801-A, Agreement by a Hotel, Apartment House, or the Like (PDF). Applicants can sign up for USPS Informed Delivery to receive delivery status notifications. Applicants will also have the option to arrange for pickup at a post office at a convenient date and time by going to the USPS website and selecting “hold for pickup.”
Signature Confirmation Restricted Delivery increases the security, integrity, and efficiency of document delivery. The Signature Confirmation Restricted Delivery process provides better tracking and accuracy of delivery information, improving service to applicants.
Information on how to track delivery of secure documents is available on the USCIS website.
For more information on USCIS and its programs, please visit uscis.gov or follow us on Twitter (@uscis), YouTube (/uscis), Facebook (/uscis), and Instagram (@USCIS).
USCIS has reached the congressionally-mandated 65,000 H-1B visa cap for fiscal year 2019. USCIS has also received a sufficient number of H-1B petitions to meet the 20,000 visa U.S. advanced degree exemption, known as the master’s cap.
The agency will reject and return filing fees for all unselected cap-subject petitions that are not prohibited multiple filings.
USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions that are otherwise exempt from the cap. Petitions filed for current H-1B workers who have been counted previously against the cap, and who still retain their cap number, will also not be counted toward the FY 2019 H-1B cap. USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions filed to:
Extend the amount of time a current H-1B worker may remain in the United States;
Change the terms of employment for current H-1B workers;
Allow current H-1B workers to change employers; and
Allow current H-1B workers to work concurrently in a second H-1B position.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) resumed premium processing today for all H-1B visa extension of stay petitions. Premium processing is now available for all types of H-1B petitions.
Presidential Proclamation sets forth rules for new travel ban.
Based on a new information-sharing partnership between U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the Social Security Administration (SSA), foreign nationals in certain categories or classifications can now apply for work authorization and a social security number using a single form – the updated Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. Moving forward, applicants who receive their approved EADs from USCIS should receive their Social Security card from SSA within the following two weeks.
DACA quick points:
What you need to know about the DACA rescision CLICK HERE.
USCIS to Expand In-Person Interview Requirements for Certain Permanent Residency Applicants
WASHINGTON – U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin expanding in-person interviews for certain immigration benefit applicants whose benefit, if granted, would allow them to permanently reside in the United States. This change complies with Executive Order 13780, “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States,” and is part of the agency’s comprehensive strategy to further improve the detection and prevention of fraud and further enhance the integrity of the immigration system.
Effective Oct. 1, USCIS will begin to phase-in interviews for the following:
Adjustment of status applications based on employment (Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status).
Refugee/asylee relative petitions (Form I-730, Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition) for beneficiaries who are in the United States and are petitioning to join a principal asylee/refugee applicant.
Previously, applicants in these categories did not require an in-person interview with USCIS officers in order for their application for permanent residency to be adjudicated. Beyond these categories, USCIS is planning an incremental expansion of interviews to other benefit types.
“This change reflects the Administration’s commitment to upholding and strengthening the integrity of our nation’s immigration system,” said Acting USCIS Director James W. McCament. “USCIS and our federal partners are working collaboratively to develop more robust screening and vetting procedures for individuals seeking immigration benefits to reside in the United States.”
Conducting in-person interviews will provide USCIS officers with the opportunity to verify the information provided in an individual’s application, to discover new information that may be relevant to the adjudication process, and to determine the credibility of the individual seeking permanent residence in the United States. USCIS will meet the additional interview requirement through enhancements in training and technology as well as transitions in some aspects of case management.
The DACA program is currently in jeopardy due to two looming legal threats – U.S. v. Texas and Arizona Dream Act Coalition v. Brewer. This LINK explains the uncertainty surrounding the program under the Trump administration and these legal threats.
DHS issued a press release stating that the November 20, 2014, memorandum that created the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) program, and provided expanded work authorization for DACA recipients, has been rescinded because "there is no credible path forward to litigate the currently enjoined policy." Further, DHS states that the June 15, 2012, memorandum that created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program will remain in effect. However, there is skepticism regarding how long DACA will continue
If you used Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, that you downloaded between Nov. 14 and Nov. 17, 2016, review them to ensure your employees’ Social Security numbers appear correctly in Section 1. There was a glitch when the revised Form I-9 was first published on Nov. 14, 2016. Numbers entered in the Social Security number field were transposed when employees completed and printed Section 1 using a computer. For example, the number 123-45-6789 entered in the Social Security number field would appear as 123-34-6789 once the form printed. Employers using a Form I-9 that contains this glitch should download and save a new Form I-9 at uscis.gov/i-9.
Employers who notice their employees’ Social Security numbers are not written correctly should have their employees draw a line through the transposed Social Security number in Section 1, enter the correct Social Security number, and then initial and date the change. Employers should include a written explanation with Form I-9 about why the correction was made in the event of an audit.
WASHINGTON - U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has reached the congressionally mandated 65,000 visa H-1B cap for fiscal year 2018. USCIS has also received a sufficient number of H-1B petitions to meet the 20,000 visa U.S. advanced degree exemption, also known as the master’s cap.
The agency will reject and return filing fees for all unselected cap-subject petitions that are not duplicate filings.
USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions that are otherwise exempt from the cap. However, please keep in mind USCIS suspended premium processing April 3 for up to six months for all H-1B petitions, including cap-exempt petitions. Petitions filed on behalf of current H-1B workers who have been counted previously against the cap, and who still retain their cap number, will also not be counted toward the congressionally mandated FY 2018 H-1B cap. USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions filed to:
Extend the amount of time a current H-1B worker may remain in the United States;
Change the terms of employment for current H-1B workers;
Allow current H-1B workers to change employers; and
Allow current H-1B workers to work concurrently in a second H-1B position.
CLICK HERE for your rights in a workplace raid.
CLICK HERE for summary and analysis of Executive Order "Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States" (travel ban, take 2).
Starting April 3, 2017, USCIS will temporarily suspend premium processing for all H-1B petitions. This suspension may last up to 6 months. While H-1B premium processing is suspended, petitioners will not be able to file Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service for a Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker which requests the H-1B nonimmigrant classification.
Draft of Executive Order Looks to Re-Examine Visa Programs
USCIS issued a FACT SHEET on automatic extensions of EADs provided by the “Retention of EB-1, EB-2, and EB-3 Immigrant Workers and Program Improvements Affecting High-Skilled Nonimmigrant Workers” final rule, effective 1/17/17. New guidance is provided on EADs pending as of effective date.
February 1 White House memo calrifies that LPRs are not subject to the seven-counbtry travel ban.
Update on travel restrictions for dual citizens:
Dual nationals with a valid immigrant or nonimmigrant visa in a passport issued by any country not restricted under the Executive Order will be permitted to apply for admission to the United States. Travelers are being processed and when eligible admitted according to the travel document they present.
STATEMENT BY DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY JOHN KELLY ON THE ENTRY OF LAWFUL PERMANENT RESIDENTS INTO THE UNITED STATES
WASHINGTON – In applying the provisions of the president's executive order, I hereby deem the entry of lawful permanent residents to be in the national interest.
Accordingly, absent the receipt of significant derogatory information indicating a serious threat to public safety and welfare, lawful permanent resident status will be a dispositive factor in our case-by-case determinations.
DHS STATEMENT ON COMPLIANCE WITH COURT ORDERS AND THE PRESIDENT’S EXECUTIVE ORDERS
WASHINGTON - Upon issuance of the court orders yesterday, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) immediately began taking steps to comply with the orders. Concurrently, the Department of Homeland Security continues to work with our partners in the Departments of Justice and State to implement President Trump’s executive order on protecting the nation from foreign terrorist entry into the United States.
We are committed to ensuring that all individuals affected by the executive orders, including those affected by the court orders, are being provided all rights afforded under the law. We are also working closely with airline partners to prevent travelers who would not be granted entry under the executive orders from boarding international flights to the U.S. Therefore, we do not anticipate that further individuals traveling by air to the United States will be affected.
As Secretary Kelly previously stated, in applying the provisions of the president's executive order, the entry of lawful permanent residents is in the national interest. Accordingly, absent significant derogatory information indicating a serious threat to public safety and welfare, lawful permanent resident status will be a dispositive factor in our case-by-case determinations.
We are and will remain in compliance with judicial orders. We are and will continue to enforce President Trump’s executive order humanely and with professionalism. DHS will continue to protect the homeland.
For the latest DHS news, see https://www.dhs.gov/news
Message from U.S. Department of Homeland Security (please contact us if you have experience travel difficulties or have concerns about your reentry):
The Department of Homeland Security will continue to enforce all of the president’s Executive Orders in a manner that ensures the safety and security of the American people. The president’s Executive Orders remain in place—prohibited travel will remain prohibited, and the U.S. government retains its right to revoke visas at any time if required for national security or public safety. The president’s Executive Order affects a minor portion of international travelers, and is a first step towards reestablishing control over America's borders and national security.
Approximately 80 million international travelers enter the United States every year. Yesterday, less than one percent of the more than 325,000 international air travelers who arrive every day were inconvenienced while enhanced security measures were implemented. These individuals went through enhanced security screenings and are being processed for entry to the United States, consistent with our immigration laws and judicial orders.
The Department of Homeland Security will faithfully execute the immigration laws, and we will treat all of those we encounter humanely and with professionalism. No foreign national in a foreign land, without ties to the United States, has any unfettered right to demand entry into the United States or to demand immigration benefits in the United States.
The Department of Homeland Security will comply with judicial orders; faithfully enforce our immigration laws, and implement the president’s Executive Orders to ensure that those entering the United States do not pose a threat to our country or the American people.
for President Trump's Executive Order on "Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States"
Click HERE for AILA's summary and brief analysis of President Trump's Executive Order on border security and enforcement.
Click HERE for AILA's summary and brief analysis of President Trump's Executive Order on interior enforcement.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) today published a final rule to improve the ability of certain promising start-up founders to begin growing their companies within the United States and help improve our nation’s economy through increased capital spending, innovation and job creation.
Under this final rule, DHS may use its "parole" authority to grant a period of authorized stay, on a case-by-case basis, to foreign entrepreneurs who demonstrate that their stay in the United States would provide a significant public benefit through the potential for rapid business growth and job creation. The new rule is effective July 17, 2017, which is 180 days after its publication in the Federal Register.
DHS estimates that 2,940 entrepreneurs will be eligible under this rule annually. Eligible entrepreneurs may be granted a stay of up to 30 months, with the possibility to extend the period by up to 30 additional months if they meet certain criteria, in the discretion of DHS.
Under this final rule, eligibility may be extended to up to three entrepreneurs per start-up entity, as well as spouses and children. Entrepreneurs granted stays will be eligible to work only for their start-up business. Their spouses may apply for work authorization in the United States, but their children will not be eligible.
An applicant would need to demonstrate that he or she meets the following criteria to be considered under this rule:
DHS announced that on 1/12/17, it eliminated a special parole policy for arriving Cuban nationals, as well as the Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program. Also, effective 1/12/17, Cuban nationals apprehended at ports of entry or near the border may be placed in expedited removal proceedings. Click here for more information.
For information on how President-Elect Donald Trump's immigration policies may impact DACA applications, click here
USCIS warned stakeholders to be aware of immigration scams, including instances in which scammers call or email pretending to be a government official and demand payment to fix a fictitious problem with an application. USCIS notes that it will never ask for payment over the phone or in an email. If payment is required, USCIS will mail a letter on official stationery.
DHS's new final rule that allows certain F-1 STEM students who have elected to pursue 12 months of optional practical training (OPT) in the United States to extend the OPT period by 24 months takes effect today. The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) has released a STEM OPT Hub on DHS's Study in the States website to help school designated school officials (DSOs), students, and employers understand the new final rule. The website includes a transition plan and a training plan, as well as FAQs. A blog post published today on the Study in the States website also contains links to helpful resources, including a one-pager that illustrates how each group must comply with reporting requirements under the new rule.
USCIS announced that on April 21, 2016, it began allowing petitioners who filed Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, requesting an extension of status or change of employer to submit an inquiry regarding case status after the petition has been pending for 210 days or more.
USCIS announced that on April 21, 2016, it began allowing petitioners who filed Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, requesting an extension of status or change of employer to submit an inquiry regarding case status after the petition has been pending for 210 days or more.
USCIS announced on May 2, 2016, that it has completed data entry of all fiscal year 2017 H-1B cap-subject petitions selected in our computer-generated random process. USCIS will now begin returning all H-1B cap-subject petitions that were not selected. Due to the high volume of filings, USCIS is unable to provide a definite time frame for returning these petitions. USCIS asks petitioners not to inquire about the status of submitted cap-subject petitions until they receive a receipt notice or an unselected petition is returned. USCIS will issue an announcement once all the unselected petitions have been returned.
On April 9, 2016, USCIS used a computer-generated random selection process, or lottery, to select enough petitions to meet the congressionally mandated H-1B cap for FY2017. USCIS will reject and return all unselected petitions. USCIS received more than 236,000 H-1B petitions during the filing period, and will begin premium processing no later than May 16, 2016.
USCIS Reaches FY2017 H-1B Cap
Today, USCIS announced that it has reached the congressionally mandated H-1B cap for FY2017. USCIS will use a computer-generated process, also known as the lottery, to randomly select the petitions needed to meet the general category and advanced degree exemption caps. Before running the lottery, USCIS will complete initial intake for all filings received during the filing period, which ends today. Due to the high number of petitions, USCIS is not yet able to announce the date it will conduct the lottery. AILA President Victor Nieblas noted, "Each petition not selected is a business need unfulfilled and a growth opportunity that is delayed or thwarted."
Travelers from VWP Countries Must Now Use Electronic Passports
DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson announced that, per the 2016 Consolidated Appropriations Act (PL 114-113), all travelers coming to the United States from the 38 countries that participate in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) must have an electronic passport, or e-Passport, effective April 1, 2016. An e-Passport contains an electronic chip that holds a passenger's name, date of birth, and other biographical information. Travelers who do not have an e-Passport from a Visa Waiver country must obtain a visa to come to the United States.
On Friday, DHS will publish in the Federal Register a final rule that will allow certain F-1 STEM students who have elected to pursue 12 months of optional practical training (OPT) in the United States to extend the OPT period by 24 months. This rule will replace the existing 2008 interim final rule, and will take effect on May 10, 2016.
Cap-subject H-1Bs for fiscal year 2017 will be accepted by USCIS from April 1, 2016 through April 7, 2016 (5 business days). Last year, USCIS received approximately 233,000 cap-subject petitions during the 5-day "lottery" period. It ix expected that this year's numbers will be as high or higher and will far exceed the annual quota of 65,000 "regular' cap petitions and 20,000 advanced degree cap petitions.
Avoid tax scams! Please remember, even if you do owe taxes…
If you get a call like this, report it to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration by calling 800-366-4484 or visiting www.tigta.gov. Also, report it to the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov/complaint.
The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia granted DHS's motion for limited relief from the court's August 12, 2015 order, and ordered that vacatur of the 17-month STEM OPT extension be further stayed from its original deadline of February 12, 2016, until May 10, 2016.
USCIS announced this week that, in conjunction with the Department of State (DOS), it is revising the procedures for determining when an application for adjustment of status may be filed, thus implementing part of President Obama's November 2014 executive actions on immigration. Starting with the Visa Bulletin for October 2015, there are two important dates listed on the monthly Visa Bulletin: the "filing date," which determines when individuals can submit their permanent residence applications, and the "final action" date, which indicates when DOS or USCIS can make a decision on the applications.
Beginning July 13, 2015, USCIS will resume accepting Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service for all Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, H-1B extension of stay petitions. Premium processing requests for Form I-129 H-1B extension of stay petitions received by USCIS before July 13, 2015 will be rejected.
Starting May 26, 2015, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will temporarily suspend premium processing for all H-1B Extension of Stay petitions until July 27, 2015. During this time frame, petitioners will not be able to file Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service, for a Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, requesting an extension of the stay for an H-1B nonimmigrant. USCIS will continue to premium process H-1B Extension of Stay petitions filed with Form I-907 premium requests prior to May 26, 2015.
USCIS will refund the premium processing fee if: (1) A petitioner filed H-1B petitions prior to May 26, 2015, using the premium processing service, and (2) USCIS did not act on the case within the 15-calendar-day period.
Premium processing remains available for all other Form I-129 H-1B petitions, including petitions subject to the H-1B cap that are requesting a change of nonimmigrant status or consular notification.
This temporary suspension will allow USCIS to implement the Employment Authorization for Certain H-4 Spouses final rule in a timely manner and adjudicate applications for employment authorization filed by H-4 nonimmigrants under the new regulations.
On April 27, 2015, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin premium processing for cap-subject H-1B petitions requesting premium processing, including petitions seeking an exemption for individuals with a U.S. master’s degree or higher. USCIS first announced in a news release that it would temporarily adjust its premium processing practice due to the historic premium processing receipt levels, combined with the possibility that the H-1B cap will be met in the first 5 business days of the filing season.
USCIS provides premium processing service for certain employment-based petitions and guarantees a 15-calendar-day processing time.
For H-1B petitions that are not subject to the cap and for any other visa classification, the 15-day processing period for premium processing service begins on the date that USCIS receives the request. However, for cap-subject H-1B petitions, including advanced degree exemption petitions, the 15-day processing period set by 8 CFR 103.7(e)(2) will begin on April 27, 2015, regardless of the date on the Form I-797 receipt notice, which indicates the date that the premium processing fee is received.
04.13.15: 233,000 H-1B petitions received for FY2016
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on April 7, 2015 that it has received enough H-1B petitions to reach the statutory cap of 65,000 visas for fiscal year (FY) 2016. USCIS has also received more than the limit of 20,000 H-1B petitions filed under the advanced degree exemption, also known as the masters cap.
USCIS received about nearly 233,000 H-1B petitions during the filing period, which began April 1, including petitions filed for the advanced degree exemption. On April 13, USCIS used a computer-generated random selection process, or lottery, to select enough petitions to meet the 65,000 general-category cap and the 20,000 cap under the advanced degree exemption. USCIS will reject and return all unselected petitions with their filing fees, unless the petition is found to be a duplicate filing.
The agency conducted the selection process for the advanced degree exemption first. All unselected advanced degree petitions then became part of the random selection process for the 65,000 limit.
As announced on March 12, 2015, USCIS will begin premium processing for H-1B cap cases no later than May 11, 2015.
USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions that are otherwise exempt from the cap.
For more information, please see: http://www.uscis.gov/news/alerts/uscis-completes-h-1b-cap-random-selection-process-fy-2016
03.12.15 1st FY2016 USCIS cap update
On April 1, 2015, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin accepting H-1B petitions subject to the fiscal year (FY) 2016 cap. U.S. businesses use the H-1B program to employ foreign workers in occupations that require highly specialized knowledge in fields such as science, engineering and computer programming.
The congressionally mandated cap on H-1B visas for FY 2016 is 65,000. The first 20,000 H-1B petitions filed for individuals with a U.S. master’s degree or higher are exempt from the 65,000 cap.
USCIS expects to receive more petitions than the H-1B cap during the first five business days of this year’s program. The agency will monitor the number of petitions received and notify the public when the H-1B cap has been met. If USCIS receives an excess of petitions during the first five business days, the agency will use a lottery system to randomly select the number of petitions required to meet the cap. USCIS will reject all unselected petitions that are subject to the cap as well as any petitions received after the cap has closed. USCIS used the lottery for the FY 2015 program last April.
H-1B petitioners may still continue to request premium processing together with their H-1B petition. However, please note that USCIS has temporarily adjusted its current premium processing practice based on historic premium processing receipt levels and the possibility that the H-1B cap will be met in the first five business days of the filing season. In order to prioritize data entry for cap subject H-1B petitions, USCIS will begin premium processing for H-1B cap-subject petitions requesting premium processing no later than May 11, 2015.
Effective May 26, 2015, an H-4 spouse of an H-1B nonimmigrant may apply for an employment authorization document (EAD) if his/her H-1B spouses is either the principal beneficiary of an approved I-140 or has been granted H-1B status past the normal six-year limit under section 106(a) or 106(b) of the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-First Century Act of 2000 (as amended by the 21st Century Department of Justice Appropriations Authorization Act). If you are interested in H-4 work authorization, please contact our office for details.
President Obama’s announced administrative relief has created some confusion about who might be eligible for expanded DACA and the new DAPA program. Click HERE for the government's related consumer alert.
The Department of Homeland Security is considering a “Known Employer” pilot program to streamline adjudication of certain types of employment-based immigration benefit requests filed by eligible U.S. employers.
The department expects to launch the pilot by late 2015 to test a program designed to make adjudications more efficient and less costly, as well as reduce paperwork and delays for both the department and U.S. employers who seek to employ foreign workers.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement would jointly implement the pilot program. A goal would be to expedite or otherwise facilitate legitimate cross-border business travel along the northern border ports of entry. Doing so is a binational commitment under the North American Free Trade Agreement as well as the U.S.-Canada Beyond the Border initiative.
In particular, one specific commitment made by the U.S. and Canadian governments under the Beyond the Border initiative is to “explore the feasibility of incorporating a trusted employer concept in the processing of business travelers between Canada and the United States.”
Additional information about the “Known Employer” program will be provided in the coming months. For updates, please visit: www.dhs.gov/beyond-border
On November 20, 2014, President Obama announced his “immigration accountability executive action,” which includes a series executive actions ranging from new temporary immigration protections for many unauthorized parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents to highly technical regulatory proposals to fix outdated visa provisions.
The series of changes, updates, and temporary measures relies on the expansion of successfully implemented programs, enhanced efforts to coordinate immigration enforcement and benefit policies across agencies, and attempts to use immigration as a tool of economic and social change. At the same time, the policies reflect the limits of executive authority, in many cases offering temporary respites until Congress definitively acts to reform the law. This guide from the American Immigration Council puts the issues in context, explaining what we know about the executive actions thus far, what the President’s legal authority is for these actions, and some of the history and background that preceded the announcement.
IMPORTANT TRAVEL ALERT! The French Consulate does not recognize an Advance Parole document as legitimate proof of permission to enter the U.S. Accordingly, a traveller transiting through France on their way back to the U.S. is required to have a valid visa, even if they have an AP document. If they don't have a valid visa, they need to obtain a transit visa. With the holidays coming up, this is going to create an additional (and unnecessary) burden for some of our clients. Here’s the link to the French Consulate’s web page that describes this: http://www.consulfrance-washington.org/spip.php?article383
USCIS announced that effective January 1, 2015, E-Verify transaction records that are more than ten years old will be deleted, and cases created prior to December 31, 2004, will no longer be accessible in E-Verify. Users must download the new Historic Records Report before December 31, 2014, to receive a record of those cases.
The U.S. State Department has released instructions for the FY2016 Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, which include eligibility requirements, instructions for completing the electronic entry form, and FAQs. Entries must be submitted electronically between noon (EDT) on October 1, 2014, and noon (EST) on November 3, 2014. DOS also explained how exhaustion of the diversity visas for FY2014 works.
I have to quote a note from an amazing client: "This is a unique moment in my life - the privilege of living in the U.S., with all the opportunities. I cannot describe the happiness." This is what makes it all worthwhile. Thank YOU for all you contribute!
This one's big! USCIS has published a proposed rule on May 12, 2014 to extend the availability of employment authorization to certain H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B nonimmigrants. The extension would be limited to H-4 dependent spouses of principal H-1B nonimmigrants who are in the process of seeking lawful permanent resident status through employment - the H-1B nonimmigrant must either be the beneficiary of an approved I-140 or must have been granted an extension of their H-1B status under sections 106(a) and (b) of AC21. The rule would not apply to H-4 dependent children. The comment period on the proposed change expires July 11, 2014. We will provide further updates at that time.
USCIS indicated this week that they received approximately 172,500 H-1B petitions during the FY2015 filing period and completed the computer-generated random selection process on 4/10/14 to meet the 65,000 general-category cap and the 20,000 cap under the advanced degree exemption.
USCIS announced today that it has received a sufficient number of H-1B petitions to reach the statutory cap for fiscal year (FY) 2015. USCIS has also received more than the limit of 20,000 H-1B petitions filed under the U. S. advanced degree exemption.
04.02.14 Curious how the H-1B program impacts the American Economy? CLICK HERE.
The attached new I-9 Information Sheet responds to common questions and prepareds new employees to fill in section One of the Form I-9. CLICK HERE.
Beginning with the June 2013 Visa Bulletin, the 3rd preference employment-based immigrant visa category (EB-3) for individuals born in China has a more recent cut-off date than the 2nd preference employment-based category (EB-2). For example in December 2013, the EB-3 cutoff date is October 1, 2011 while the EB-2 cutoff date is November 8, 2013. This is a very unusual development and certainly may not continue.
We do want to make our clients born in China with approved EB-2 I-40s aware of the possibility of filing a second I-140 petition in the EB-3 category. It is permissible for a new I-140 to be filed in EB-3 using the same labor certification, retaining the original priority date. This can even be done outside of the approved labor certification's 180-day validity in this situation.
If your priority date is current in the EB-3 category, you can file concurrent I-485 application(s), obtaining work and travel authorization for you and dependent family members filing with you. Even if numbers retrogress in subsequent months, you can continue to renew those as necessary until the I-485s are ultimately approved. If the numbers remain as they have been in recent months, it is even possible that your green card may be approved faster in the 3rd preference category than it would be if waiting it out in the 2nd preference.
This is a bit of an "untested theory" since the law allows this, but circumstances seldom make it a viable option. We have enough outside confirmation to feel comfortable attempting these filings if you would like to do so, but we can not guarantee unforeseen consequences.
Because you would already have been paying the I-485 processing fee costs at that stage of processing, the only additional cost is for an additional I-140 ($1,000 legal fee + $580 filing fee). Premium processing service is not available for these filings.
If you missed it, here is Dawn's radio segment: CLICK HERE
Listen to Dawn Wise live on the Money-For-Lunch radio talk show with Bert Martinez at 12:25 CST (1:25 EST) tomorrow at www.moneyforlunch.com.
From USCIS Public Engagement Division: On October 1, 2013, the U.S. Department of State began taking online registrations for the 2015 Diversity Visa (DV) Program. The registration period ends on Saturday, November 2, 2013. During this time it is common for scammers to pose as the U.S. government and attempt to deceive DV Program applicants and take their money. USCIS would like to caution DV Program applicants not to interact with anyone other than the U.S. Department of State regarding this program and to be wary of fake emails, letters, text messages and phone calls from possible scammers. Please visit https://www.dvlottery.state.gov/ for official U.S. government information on the program. To learn more about other types of immigration scams, and how to avoid becoming a victim of a scam, please visit www.uscis.gov/avoidscams.
Please continue to be aware of (and report to police) phone scams targeting immigrants. Most recently, we have heard of this one:
A man calls claiming to be an immigration officer and provides a badge number. He tells the person that they must post a bond to avoid being deported. He instructs the person to get a gift card from a bank and to give him the card number over the phone. If the person asks what the charges against him are, the "officer" says he can not release the information until the bond is paid. As soon as he has the gift card number, he hangs up.
USCIS has reported that foreign nationals have received calls requesting money to resolve alleged errors or discrepancies in their immigration files files or face removal proceedings. This is a scam (see www.uscis.gov/avoidscams for information on reporting scams and tips to avoid them).
How are immigration services impacted by government shutdown?
The Department of Labor OFLC (Office of Foreign Labor Certification) functions are not "excepted" from a shutdown and its employees are placed in furlough status. Therefore OFLC will neither accept nor process any applications or related materials (such as audit responses), it receives, including Labor Condition Applications, Applications for Prevailing Wage Determination, or Applications for Permanent Employment Certification. OFLC's web site, including the iCERT Visa Portal System and the PERM system, have become static and unable to process any requests or allow authorized users to access their online accounts.
All USCIS offices worldwide are open and individuals should report to interviews and appointments as scheduled. E-Verify is currently unavailable due to a government shutdown. USCIS will continue processing cases in largely the same manner since they are a fee-based organization and do not rely on appropriations.
USCIS has been issuing alerts regarding a new telephone scam, where scammers use a technique to display false information on the recipient’s caller id, leading the individual to believe that the caller is a USCIS official. USCIS will never ask for payment over the phone.
After the Supreme Court's recent decision holding that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional, President Obama directed federal departments to ensure the decision and its implication for federal benefits for same-sex legally married couples are implemented swiftly and smoothly. To that end, effective immediately, USCIS will review immigration visa petitions filed on behalf of a same-sex spouse in the same manner as those filed on behalf of an opposite-sex spouse. See FAQ.
The U.S. Senate for passed comprehensive immigration reform legislation (S. 744) by a vote of 68-32. “There is little doubt that today’s vote offers the country a chance to start again on immigration. While the compromises necessary to achieve a significant bipartisan vote were many, this is a lesson for us all in democracy--We can respect deep disagreements on policy grounds, yet still find a way forward. The Senate should be commended for giving us all a chance to change the conversation on immigration,” said Mary Giovagnoli, Director of the Immigration Policy Center.
05.07.13 USCIS reminds employers that beginning today, they must use the revised Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification (Revision 03/08/13) for all new hires and reverifications. All employers are required to complete and retain a Form I-9 for each employee hired to work in the United States.
05.07.13 The flow of H-1B receipts seems to have stopped. We don't yet have any rejected filings back, but we are starting to assume that those who don't have receipts have not made the cut.
04.25.13 2 more H-1B receipts today and still no returned/rejected filings. They continue to trickle in--Keep the faith!
We only have 1 more H-1B receipt as of today's mail. Still no returned filings to date. All clients with receipts have been notified.
We received our first 3 H-1B receipts today. No returned filings to date. We will keep you posted. We have already informed these 3 clients of their filings' selection.
USCIS has started the data entry process for H-1B petitions selected in the lottery. Premium processing cases are being handled first and data entry for those cases should be completed by April 15. USCIS announced on March 15, 2013, that the 15-day premium processing clock will start on April 15.
At the AILA Spring CLE conference on April 12, 2013, Donald Neufeld, Associate Director of the Service Center Operations (SCOPS) Directorate, informed the audience that data entry for non-premium processing cases will begin after the premium processing cases are entered. Data entry for non-premium cases will likely not be completed until sometime in May, and rejection notices for petitions not selected in the lottery will be sent out after that. Please note that when the cap was reached on the first day in 2008, USCIS did not complete data entry and issue receipt notices until late in May.
Non-premium processing cases can only be converted to premium processing after a receipt notice is issued.
This is a pretty amazing bill. Fingers crossed that it maintains bipartisan support.
Beginning May 7, 2013 employers must only use the new version of Form I-9 (with revision date 03/08/13), available for download with instructions and resources at www.uscis.gov.
We are so sad to hear of the loss of one of our clients, University of Michigan Medical School employee, Heping Zhou. ARTICLE
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today that it has received a sufficient number of H-1B petitions to reach the statutory cap for fiscal year (FY) 2014. USCIS has also received more than 20,000 H-1B petitions filed on behalf of persons exempt from the cap under the advanced degree exemption. After today, USCIS will not accept H-1B petitions subject to the FY 2014 cap or the advanced degree exemption.
There is much going on with immigration reform. Become acquainted with these immigration movers and shakers:
Department of Labor Office of Foreign Labor Certification issues updated FY2012 PERM statistics. CLICK HERE
The American Immigration Lawers Association has asked us to inform our clients of an ongoing scam. According to one report of a new immigration-related telephone scam, a caller purporting to be a USCIS officer states that there is a discrepancy in the individual's USCIS records and tells the individual to pay a penalty for the discrepancy. Please be aware that this is NOT a USCIS call and you should not give any personal information to the caller.
The Obama Administration has recently announced that younger immigrants may be eligible for "deferred action" and work authorization. To qualify, an individual must: (1) have arrived in the U.S. when s/he was under the age of 16; (2) have continuously resided in the U.S. for at least 5 years prior to June 15, 2012 and have been present in the U.S. on June 15, 2012; (3) currently be in school, have graduated from high school, have a GED, or be an honorably discharged veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard or U.S. Armed Forces; (4) not have been convicted of a felony offense, a "significan misdemeanor offense", 3 or more non-significant misdemeanors, or otherwise post a threat to national security or public safety; and (5) have been under 31 years old on June 15, 2012. The deferred action offer will be available to those in proceedings, those with final removal orders, and those who apply affirmatively. The Administartion is not yet accepting applications for this action. By the middle of August, information should be issued on how eligible individuals can request deferred action and work authorization. CLICK HERE FOR FACT SHEET
The July Visa Bulletin is out and bearing very bad news. As of July 1, the worldwide 2nd preference category is retrogressed to January 1, 2009. The note in the Visa Bulletin from the State Department about this change reads: "Continued heavy demand for numbers in the Employment Second preference category has required the establishment of a Worldwide cut-off date for the month of July. This action has been taken in an effort to hold number use within the annual numerical limit. Should there be an increase in the current demand pattern, it may be necessary to make this category completely “unavailable” prior to September 30, 2012."
USCIS announced today that it has received a sufficient number of H-1B petitions to reach the statutory cap of 65,000 for fiscal year (FY) 2013. Yesterday, June 11, 2012, was the final receipt date for new H-1B specialty occupation petitions requesting an employment start date in FY 2013.
You may have noticed that priority dates for EB-2 China and India are now unavailable. Please CLICK HERE for the latest State Department Predictions on when and how far these will move forward. Unfortunately, the retrogression of the Worldwide 2nd preference category is also predicted!
If you've seen the May Visa Bulletin, you likely know that EB-2 for India and China has once again retrogressed to 2007. We recently attended a conference in Washington DC and were fortunate enough to meet with the very State Department indvidual who determines the progress of these dates. He indicated that he expects priority dates to return to 2010 in late fall 2012.
H-1B Cap-Subject Petitions Received by USCIS . As of 04/04/2012, USCIS has received 22,323 cap-subject H-1B petitions. Approximately 25% of the cases are for U.S. advanced degrees.
04.02.2012 We are sad to have recently learned of the passing of Anjali Joshi, a friend and the very best kind of business colleague. Her husband, Rajeev Joshi, was kind enough to provide us with the following memorial:
Anjali Joshi (Born: 23-Jul-1969, Died: 1-Nov-11)
Anjali was battling gastric cancer for a little over 2 years and her body finally gave up on 11/1/11. During these 2 years, she never shed a tear, never asked why, never felt sorry for her, was never angry and fought the battle very courageously and never gave up. She was an inspiration to all of us and she was the one provided the mental support to everyone around her. Anjali won this battle with her mind, resolve and sheer grit and will power, if not the body, and was an inspiration which will stay on in our hearts. She just kept going on and on and on whilst most authorities just looked on amazed and was nothing but a spectacular show of determination hitherto unknown and unseen.
Anjali was an individual full of energy, love, enthusiasm and a hard worker. A loving and charming wife, a loving, devoted and caring mother not only for her own children but to all children around her. Every one that came in contact with her has experienced that love and have stored fond memories. She was an individual bubbling with love, laughter, impish charm, innocent straightforwardness, and helping those who needed help. An individual with virtues of goodness, kindness, love and affection. Anjali was one of the strongest and most positive person that most of us will meet. She was an example of dignity and strength. She made everyone she came in contact with feel warm, secure, loved. She will always live in the hearts, memories and souls of everyone that knew her.
May her soul rest in eternal peace.
The U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices (Really?) has issued a brief guide regarding Employer Best Pracices During Worksite Enforcement Audits. CLICK HERE
The Consulate General in Mumbai is opening for business at its new location in the Bandra Kurla Complex on 11/21/11. The new location offers a total of 44 consular interview windows. Due to the move, there will be no visa services in Mumbai between 11/15/11 and 11/21/11.
U.S. News Media Group and Best Lawyers have released the 2011-2012 "Best Law Firms" rankings. Irani & Wise was awarded a metropolitan first-tier ranking in immigration law in Ann Arbor. The rankings in their entirey are posted online at http://bestlawfirms.usnews.com. CLICK HERE for press release and methodology.
USCIS has issued an October 11, 2011 press release announcing its new "Entrepreneurs in Residence" initiative, which builds on USCIS's August announcement of efforts to promote startup enterprises and spur job creation including enhancements to the EB-5 immigrant investor visa program. CLICK HERE
USCIS has issued a letter to Stakeholders announcing its recent accomplishments with regard to its focus on promoting America's economic prosperity. CLICK HERE