Author: Caroline Lee

by Caroline Lee Caroline Lee No Comments

Expansion of Premium Processing Continues

Immigration processing times are not known for being quick – the opposite is sadly true as processing times for many case types have ticked up substantially over the past few years.  However, good news is at hand for at least a few more categories of employment-based permanent residence, as USCIS continues its phased approach to expanding the cases that are eligible for premium processing.  Premium processing allows for the payment of an extra fee to the agency; in return USCIS will adjudicate the petition within a greatly reduced time frame, the length of which depends on the case type.  However, the types of cases that are eligible for premium processing have been narrowly defined in the past.  With this third phase of premium process expansion, USCIS is permitting certain petitioners who have a pending Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers, under the EB-1 and EB-2 classifications, to interfile premium processing on the pending cases.

As of September 15, USCIS will accept premium processing requests for:

  • Multinational executive and manager petitions received on or before January 1, 2022 (EB-1); and
  • National Interest Waiver petitions received on or before February 1, 2022 (EB-2).

USCIS has stated that it will reject premium processing requests for these Form I-140 classifications if the receipt date is after the above-mentioned dates.

Is your case eligible for premium processing?  If you have questions, reach out to the attorneys at Curray York & Associates for a consultation.

by Caroline Lee Caroline Lee No Comments

The H-1B Cap Has Been Reached for FY2023

That’s a wrap on this year’s H-1B season! On August 23, US Citizenship & Immigration Services announced that the agency had received a sufficient number of applications to meet the congressionally mandated allotment of H-1B visas for FY2023. The H-1B program for specialty occupations is highly sought after by visa applicants, with a large number of registrations each year. Annually, there is a limit of 65,000 H-1B visas which may be granted under the regular cap and 20,000 H-1B visas which may be allocated under the U.S. advanced degree exemption. With this announcement USCIS also notified potential applicants of their non-selection from the lottery. It is not anticipated that any further lottery selections will be made in this fiscal year.

Didn’t receive a cap number in this year’s lottery? Be sure to reach out to our firm in January 2023 to enter the lottery for next year!

by Caroline Lee Caroline Lee No Comments

CDC Lifts Order Requiring International Air Travelers to Present a Negative COVID-19 Test

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has rescinded a 17-month-old requirement that people arriving to the United States by air test negative for COVID-19. The order rescinding the requirement of a negative COVID-19 test is effective as of June 11, 2022.

Pursuant to a January 26, 2021 CDC Order, all air passengers ages 2 and older traveling to the U.S. from a foreign country were required to present a negative COVID-19 test result taken from a sample taken no more than one day before departure, or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 in the past 90 days, prior to boarding a flight. Citing changed circumstances, including the “widespread uptake of effective COVID-19 vaccines and accompanying vaccine- and infection-induced immunity,” the CDC concluded that it was no longer necessary to leave the Order in place, but continued to recommend that travelers remain up to date with vaccination against COVID-19 and get tested for infection with a viral test before and after traveling.

by Caroline Lee Caroline Lee No Comments

USCIS Issuing New I-797 Approval Notices for L-2 and E-2 Spouses

Pursuant to a recent USCIS policy change whereby the Service is now acknowledging that L-2, E-1, E-2, and E-3 spouses have employment authorization incident to their immigration status, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) has confirmed that it is updating all L-2 I-94s for L-2 spouses, 22 years of age or older, to add “S” to the status for those who entered prior to 1/31/22. Those entering on January 31, 2022 or later have had the “S” added upon entry to the U.S. CBP did not add the “S” to L-2 I-94 cards for foreign nationals ages 18-21 at time of entry, due to uncertainty about whether they were dependent spouses or children. For this group of L-2 dependents, the “S” will need to be added to applicable I-94s on next entry to the U.S., by presenting evidence of spousal relationship, or through the next filing with USCIS. CBP has been unable to make this adjustment for E-2 spouses given the difficulty in distinguishing between an E-2 principal and an E-2 dependent spouse. To seek the “S,” E-2 spouses will need to follow the same instructions as for the L-2 dependents ages 18-21.

USCIS is now issuing I-797 approval notices for L-2 and E-2 spouses that specifically state the notice may be used to document work authorization and for completion of Form I-9.

by Caroline Lee Caroline Lee No Comments

H-1B Cap Lottery Closing on March 18, 2022

Only one day remaining! The initial registration period (known as the lottery) for the FY2023 H-1B cap season is open, but not for long. The registration period will close at 12:00 noon (Eastern) on Friday, March 18, 2022. Once the registration has closed, USCIS will randomly select registrations from those submitted in the lottery. Registrations will be selected no later than March 31, 2022. The employer and attorney will then have at least 90 days, beginning on April 1, to file a fully prepared H-1B cap-subject petitions for the employee. Registrations not selected in the initial lottery will be put on a waitlist and more registrations may be randomly selected during the fiscal year.

Once the lottery has closed, a registrant’s USCIS online account will show one of the following statuses for each registration:
• Submitted: The registration has been submitted and is eligible for selection. If the initial selection process has been completed, this registration remains eligible, unless subsequently invalidated, for selection in any subsequent selections for the fiscal year for which it was submitted.
• Selected: Selected to file an H-1B cap petition.
• Not Selected: Not selected – not eligible to file an H-1B cap petition based on this registration.
• Denied: Multiple registrations were submitted by or on behalf of the same registrant for the same beneficiary. If denied as a duplicate registration, all registrations submitted by or on behalf of the same registrant for this beneficiary for the fiscal year are invalid.
• Invalidated-Failed Payment: A registration was submitted but the payment method was declined, not reconciled, disputed, or otherwise invalid.

What to do if you win the lottery with a “selected” registration? For questions or assistance in filing your H-1B petition, schedule a consultation with one of the CYA attorneys today!

by Caroline Lee Caroline Lee No Comments

New I-485 Form Required Soon; Updated Form Allows Applicants to Request a New or Replacement Social Security Card

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently announced that starting Oct. 13, 2021, it will only accept the 03/29/21 edition of Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. Additionally, USCIS announced that applicants filing for lawful permanent resident status are now able to apply for a Social Security number (SSN) or replacement card as part of the adjustment of status application process. Previously, these individuals had to apply for a Social Security number at a Social Security office. The revised form now includes the additional questions needed to apply for an SSN or replacement card.

Following approval of Form I-485, USCIS stated that in most cases it will electronically transmit the data to the Social Security Administration. The Social Security Administration will then automatically assign an original SSN or issue a replacement card, as appropriate. The filing fee for form I-485 will not increase as a result of this change.

by Caroline Lee Caroline Lee No Comments

USCIS to provide work permits to applicants with pending bona fide U nonimmigrant petitions

The United States offers 10,000 U visas annually to immigrants who are victims of certain crimes and who aid law enforcement investigations or prosecutions. Under the current policy, approved U visas provide access to a work permit and the ability to apply for permanent residence after three years. USCIS automatically issues an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) to principal petitioners upon the approval of the Petition for U Nonimmigrant Status. However, high demand for U visas means applicants currently wait at least five years until they can receive work authorization, according to USCIS.

On Monday, June 14, USCIS provided updated guidance in its Policy Manual on employment authorization and deferred action for principal petitioners for U nonimmigrant status and qualifying family members with pending, bona fide petitioners. The guidance has been immediately implemented and applies to all Form I-918 petitions that are currently pending, or filed on or after June 14, 2021. USCIS stated that due to drastic increases in the volume of U nonimmigrant petitions and a growing backlog awaiting placement on the waiting list for final adjudication, the agency has decided to exercise its discretion under INA 214(p)(6) to conduct bona fide determinations (BFD) and provide EADs and deferred action to noncitizens with pending, bona fide petitions who meet certain discretionary standards. The new policy guidance provides that USCIS will conduct an initial review of Form I-918 and will issue Bona Fide Determination EADs and deferred action for four years to petitioners for U nonimmigrant status and qualifying family members if USCIS deems their petition “bona fide”, instead of completing a full waiting list adjudication.

For more information about this policy update, please schedule a consultation with one of the attorneys at Curray York & Associates!

by Caroline Lee Caroline Lee No Comments

Lawsuit Filed to Halt Implementation of H-1B Wage-Based Lottery Rule

On Monday, May 17, 2021, five businesses and nonprofit organizations, represented by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and Members of AILA’s Board of Governors, filed a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to enjoin the final rule published January 8, 2021, entitled Modification of Registration Requirement for Petitioners Seeking To File Cap-Subject H-1B Petitions, which is also known as the H-1B lottery rule. The rule is a holdover from the Trump Administration; the Biden Administration’s DHS announced it would delay the rule’s effective date until December 31, 2021, but it has not yet announced plans to rescind the rule. The USCIS final rule would create a wage-based selection process for the H-1B lottery, giving priority for lottery selection to those H-1B applicants who are paid the highest wages. The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia (Humane Society of New York, et al. v. Mayorkas, et al., 5/17/21).

by Caroline Lee Caroline Lee No Comments

May Visa Bulletin is Out; Significant Forward Movement for China and India in Employment Context

The U.S. Department of State has published the May visa bulletin, and there are significant advances for several categories. USCIS has stated that Final Action Dates must be used for all employment-based preference categories. In the family context, F2A applicants may file using Final Action Dates. All other family-sponsored preference categories must use Dates for Filing.

The May visa bulletin shows great forward momentum in multiple areas in the employment-based permanent residence context. EB-1 remains current for all countries of chargeability. In EB-2, the cutoff date for India advances to August 1, 2010, while EB-2 China moves ahead to December 1, 2016. EB-2 remains current for all other countries of chargeability. EB-3 India moves up to February 1, 2011 and EB-3 China’s cutoff date advances to May 15, 2018. EB-3 remains current for all other countries of chargeability.

Wondering if your priority date is current, or just starting the permanent residence process? Contact CYA today to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys!

by Caroline Lee Caroline Lee No Comments

ICE Extends I-9 Compliance Flexibility Due to COVID-19

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will extend the flexibilities pertaining to Employment Eligibility Verification (Form I-9) compliance that were announced in 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This extension includes guidance for employees hired on or after April 1, 2021 and who are working exclusively in a remote setting as a result of COVID-19 policies and precautions. Such employees are temporarily exempt from the physical inspection requirements associated with Form I-9 until the earlier of the following: the employees undertake non-remote employment on a regular, consistent, or predictable basis, or the extension of the flexibilities related to such requirements is terminated. The I-9 compliance flexibility policy is being extended until May 31, 2021.

DHS had previously announced that it would exercise prosecutorial discretion to defer the physical presence requirements associated with Form I-9 under section 274A of the Immigration and Nationality Act, as a result of precautions implemented by employers and employees associated with COVID-19. This policy, however, only applies to employers and workplaces that are operating remotely. If there are employees physically present at a work location, there are no exceptions at this time for in-person verification of identity and employment eligibility documentation for Form I-9.

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