Author: Breanne Johnson

by Breanne Johnson Breanne Johnson No Comments

Premium Processing Service Expanded

USCIS’s premium processing service is in the process of being expanded. Specifically, USCIS announced that as of June 1, 2022 it will begin this expansion by accepting premium processing requests for Form I-140 Multinational Executive and Manager Petitions received on or before January 1, 2021. USCIS further announced that beginning July 1, 2022, it will accept premium processing requests for Form I-140 on behalf of National Interest Waiver Petitions received on or before June 1, 2021, as well as Form I-140 Multinational Executive and Manager Petitions received on or before March 1, 2021. Applying for premium processing under these expanded options carries a 45 day processing timeframe and a $2,500 government filing fee.

by Breanne Johnson Breanne Johnson No Comments

EAD Automatic Extensions Increased from 180 to 540 Days

USCIS has implemented this change to help bridge gaps in employment authorization that have become spurred by lengthy processing delays.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced this week that they are increasing the automatic extension timeframe for employment authorization documents (EADs) from 180 to 540 days. This EAD automatic extension applies to immigration status categories such as asylees, refugees, TPS holders, and spouses in H-4, E and L status with an unexpired I-94.  For the full list of eligible categories please check out the USCIS website at:

USCIS has implemented this change to help bridge gaps in employment authorization that have become more and more common during the past few years as a result of lengthening processing timelines. While this increased extension will undoubtedly help EAD applicants stay employment authorized for longer, we hope to see USCIS also dedicate resources to hiring additional staff so that case processing times can speed up and renewed EADs can be promptly issued.

by Breanne Johnson Breanne Johnson No Comments

USCIS Begins Issuing Decoupled EADs and APs

As part of the permanent residency process, applicants apply for employment authorization and permission to travel outside of the United States. When approved, applicants have historically received one “combination card” that includes both their employment authorization (EAD) and advance parole (AP) travel permission. In the aftermath of COVID, USCIS processing times for EAD/AP combo cards has slowed significantly, and many applicants for permanent residence have been finding themselves without employment authorization as they wait for USCIS to adjudicate their combo card. In effort to speed up processing times for EADs and try to prevent this gap in employment authorization, USCIS has begun to issue EADs without the requested AP benefit; basically decoupling the combination card. Immigration attorneys and applicants for permanent residence are just now seeing these decoupled benefits being issued, as many people are receiving their EAD, but not their AP travel permission. In most cases, the AP is being approved several weeks to several months later. Any adjustment of status applicants waiting for a pending EAD/AP card should take note that once approved, the EAD may not also include AP travel permission. For more information, reach out to one of our attorneys for a consultation.

by Breanne Johnson Breanne Johnson No Comments

USCIS Designates Temporary Protected Status for Ukraine

USCIS Secretary Mayorkas announced on Friday that the country of Ukraine has been designated for Temporary Protected Status (TPS).  TPS is an immigration benefit that allows citizens of a designated country who are already present in the United States to apply to remain temporarily in the United States due their inability to return to their home country as a result of dangerous conditions such as civil war or natural disaster.  Individuals eligible for TPS may also apply for employment authorization. In this designation, Ukrainians in the U.S. as of March 1, 2022 may apply to continue their stay for up to 18 months.

Secretary Mayorkas explained that “Russia’s premeditated and unprovoked attack on Ukraine has resulted in an ongoing war, senseless violence, and Ukrainians forced to seek refuge in other countries . . .  In these extraordinary times, we will continue to offer our support and protection to Ukrainian nationals in the United States.” To learn more about TPS and the application process, please contact us for a consultation.

by Breanne Johnson Breanne Johnson No Comments

Visiting the U.S. by Land or Sea? All Travelers Must Be Vaccinated.

Beginning Saturday January 22, 2022, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will require all visitors seeking to enter the U.S. to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 and provide proof of vaccination upon entry. This requirement applies to land borders and ferry terminals, and is not applicable to U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, or lawful permanent residents of the United States. Proof of vaccination is already a requirement for air travel into the United States.

Non-U.S. individuals traveling to the United States via land ports of entry or ferry terminals, whether for essential or non-essential reasons, must:

  • verbally attest to their COVID-19 vaccination status;
  • provide proof of a CDC-approved COVID-19 vaccination, as outlined on the CDC website;
  • present a valid Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI)-compliant document, such as a valid passport, Trusted Traveler Program card, or Enhanced Tribal Card; and,
  • be prepared to present any other relevant documents requested by a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer during a border inspection.

COVID-19 testing is not required for entry via a land port of entry or ferry terminal, however is a requirement for air travel. CYA reminds all travelers to up to date on the most recent international travel requirements and to avoid all non-essential international travel if possible.

by Breanne Johnson Breanne Johnson No Comments

Department of State Continues Policy of Granting Interview Waivers

The U.S. Department of State confirmed that consular officers will continue to have the ability to waive the in-person interview requirement for certain nonimmigrant visa applicants. This policy applies to individuals who are applying for H-1, H-3, H-4, L, O, P, and Q visas who are applying for a visa in their country of nationality or residence. For this class of visa applicants, consular officers have the discretion to waive the interview requirement for individuals who were previously issued any type of visa. Consular officers also have the discretion to waive the interview requirement for those applying for H-1, H-2, H-4, L, O, P, and Q visas for the first time who are citizens of a Visa Waiver Program participating country if the individual has previously traveled to the United States under ESTA.  The U.S. Department of State has also extended the policies to waive visa interviews for H-2 visa applicants as well as certain students, professors, research scholars, short-term scholars, or specialists (F, M, and academic J visa applicants) through December 31, 2022.  Additionally, consular officers have the authority to waive the in-person interview requirement for visa applicants renewing a visa in the same visa category within 48 months of the prior visa’s expiration. The categories of visas eligible for an interview waiver as well as the eligibility requirements for each visa type vary. Please contact a CYA attorney for more information.

by Breanne Johnson Breanne Johnson No Comments

COVID-Related Exception for Form I-9 Extended

Today U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) approved the continuation of an exception to its rules related to Form I-9 that was initially granted last year as a result of COVID-19. Specifically, if an employee hired on or after April 1, 2021 works exclusively in a remote setting due to COVID-19 related precautions, he/she is temporarily exempt from the physical inspection requirements associated with the Form I-9. This temporary exemption is in place until the employee undertakes non-remote employment on a regular, consistent, or predictable basis, or the extension of the flexibilities related to such requirements is terminated, whichever is earlier. Due to continued precautions related to COVID-19, this policy has been officially extended until April 30, 2022.

by Breanne Johnson Breanne Johnson No Comments

Work Permit and Green Card Application Fees Waived for Afghan Evacuees

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced on Monday that the Biden Administration will waive application fees for Afghan evacuees who are filing requests for U.S. work permits and permanent residency. Afghans brought to the U.S. after July 30th under a humanitarian immigration process will qualify for this fee exemption. The Department of Homeland Security will also waive permanent residency application fees for Afghans who are applying for Special Immigrant Visas as a result of their service with the U.S. military. Since August approximately 70,000 Afghans have been relocated to the U.S. following the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. For many Afghans who have been recently evacuated, these filing fee requirements are a significant and even prohibitive cost. The Biden Administration’s waiver of these filing fees will enable a greater number of deserving and eligible applicants to apply for authorization to work and become permanent residents of the United States.

by Breanne Johnson Breanne Johnson No Comments

Travel Restrictions to be Lifted on November 8th for Fully Vaccinated International Travelers

The Biden Administration has officially announced that Trump-era travel bans will be withdrawn as of Monday November 8, 2021 for fully vaccinated international travelers seeking to enter the United States. As a result of COVID-19 related restrictions, international travelers from Canada, Mexico, South Africa, Iran, Brazil, China, India and the Schengen area of Europe have been prohibited from entering the United States for nearly two years. Finally, on Monday November 8th citizens of these countries will be allowed to enter the United States so long as they are fully vaccinated and have a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of their flight. All FDA approved vaccines will be accepted and the Administration is expected to provide more information regarding what limited exceptions to the vaccination requirement will be allowed, for example, for children unable to receive a vaccination.  Ending these travel restrictions is a welcome change that will allow for tourism, family reunification and employment-related global travel that has been significantly hindered for the past two years.