General information

by Breanne Johnson Breanne Johnson No Comments

And That’s a Wrap on Cap!

Today at 12pm EST the H-1B Cap Registration widow will close, and US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will conduct the FY2024 H-1B lottery. By April 1st, USCIS will electronically notify winners, and winners will have 90 days (until June 30th) to submit their substantive H-1B petition to USCIS for consideration.  Yesterday afternoon registrants and attorneys were experiencing difficulty completing the H-1B registration process and many were receiving an error message when attempting to pay the $10 filing fee. This understandably created much stress and anxiety for all parties as the H-1B registration deadline is today. USCIS has acknowledged this issue and is working on a fix. USCIS states on its website that USCIS will extend the registration deadline to account for these technical difficulties, but has not released further information at this point in time. Stay tuned for more details and see this link for the most up-to-date information.

Fingers crossed for all of our H-1B cap applicants to be selected in the lottery! If you submitted the H-1B cap registration on you own and would like assistance preparing the substantive petition to USCIS please feel free to reach out to us for a consultation.

by Lisa York Lisa York No Comments

Premium Processing Expansion for F-1 OPT and STEM OPT Applications

USCIS announced the expansion of premium processing for certain F-1 students seeking Optional Practical Training (OPT) and F-1 students seeking STEM OPT extensions who have a pending I-765 Application for Employment Authorization and wish to request a Premium Processing upgrade. 

Online filing of Form I-907 Request for Premium Processing is now also available to F-1 students with pending OPT and STEM OPT applications. 

The expansion of Premium Processing for F-1 students will occur in phases, and F-1 students requesting Premium Processing should not file before these dates:

  • Beginning on March 6, 2023, USCIS will accept Premium Processing requests (paper or online) for F-1 students with pending Form I-765 Applications for Pre-Completion or Post-Completion OPT) and STEM OPT Extensions.
  • Beginning on April 3, 2023, USCIS will accept Premium Processing Requests (paper or online) for F-1 students filing their initial Form I-765 Applications for Pre-Completion/Post-Completion OPT or STEM OPT Extensions.

The Premium Processing fee for Form I-765 Employment Authorization for F-1 OPT and STEM OPT applications is $1,500.00 and the processing time is 30 days.

by Breanne Johnson Breanne Johnson No Comments

U.S. Department of State Plans Pilot Project for Stateside Visa Renewals

In a very exciting development, Bloomberg law reported late last week that the U.S. Department of State is planning to launch a pilot program later in 2023 to offer visa renewals from within the United States for individuals in H-1B and L-1 status. Stateside processing of visa renewals used to be offered by the U.S. Department of State but was discontinued in 2004. Revitalizing this stateside renewal process would be a very welcome change to an immigration process that currently requires everyone who needs to renew a visa to travel abroad to a U.S. consulate or embassy. While the pilot project will begin with just individuals in H-1B and L-1 status, it may be expanded to include other visa categories. Stay tuned for more information as this exciting new pilot program continues to be rolled out.

by Lisa York Lisa York No Comments

Join CYA for a Zoom Presentation: 2023 H-1B Cap Survival Bootcamp

Interested in learning more about the 2023 H-1B Cap process? We’ll be hosting a 2023 H-1B Cap Survival Bootcamp presentation and discussion via Zoom on Friday, March 3rd from 12pm MST to 1pm MST. Space is limited! If you’d like to attend the presentation, please RSVP no later than 5pm on Friday, February 17th to reserve your spot.

by Breanne Johnson Breanne Johnson No Comments

Access to Counsel Act Reintroduced by House Rep. Jayapal

House Representative Pramila Jayapal (D-W.A.) recently reintroduced the Access to Counsel Act to ensure that U.S. citizens, green card holders, and other individuals with legal status are able to consult with legal counsel, relatives, or other interested parties to seek assistance if they are detained by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for more than one hour at ports of entry, including airports. Companion legislation will be introduced in the Senate in the coming weeks by Senator Alex Padilla (D-CA).

The Access to Counsel Act would:

  • Require the Department of Homeland Security to ensure that people with valid travel documents who present themselves at the border, airports, or other points of interaction can communicate with counsel and other interested parties if they are subjected to prolonged inspection by CBP. 
  • Allow counsel or a covered interested party the ability to advocate on behalf of the individual by providing information or documentation in support of the individual.
  • Invalidate any effort by CBP to persuade someone to relinquish their legal status (by executing an I-407 or Record of Abandonment of Lawful Permanent Resident Status) if that person has been denied access to counsel.

The Access to Counsel Act was originally introduced by Representative Jayapal in 2017 as a response to Donald Trump’s Muslim Ban.

by Lisa York Lisa York No Comments

USCIS Reaches Cap for Additional H-2B Visas

On February 1, 2023, USCIS announced that it has received enough H-2B petitions to reach the cap for the additional 18,216 H-2B visas that were made available for returning workers for the 1st half of fiscal year 2023, with start dates on or before March 31, 2023.  USCIS continues to accept H-2B petitions for the additional 20,000 H-2B visas allotted to nationals of Haiti, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

by Lisa York Lisa York No Comments

Time to Roll the Dice! The 2023 H-1B Lottery is On!

USCIS has announced that the registration period for this year’s H-1B Cap Lottery will be from 10am MT on Wednesday, March 1, 2023, until 10am MT on Friday, March 17, 2023. We anticipate that USCIS will notify the “winners” by the end of March 2023 and the 90-day filing period will be from April 2023 through the end of June 2023. However, we are still waiting for further details from USCIS regarding this year’s H-1B lottery.

by Lisa York Lisa York No Comments

USCIS Introduces New and Improved Green Cards & EAD Cards

On January 30, 2023, USCIS started issuing redesigned Green Cards (Form I-551 Permanent Resident Cards) and EAD Cards (Form I-765 Employment Authorization Document).  The newly designed cards contain state-of-the-art technology that continue to safeguard against secure document tampering, counterfeiting, and fraud.

The introduction of the new designs does not mean that currently issued cards are invalid. Current cards remain valid until their expiration date (unless otherwise noted, such as through an automatic extension of a Green Card or EAD as indicated on a Form I-797, Notice of Action, or in a Federal Register notice).

USCIS has stated that some Green Cards and EADs issued after January, 30, 2023, may still display the existing design format because USCIS will continue using existing cardstock until current supplies are depleted. Both versions of the cards are acceptable for Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification; E-Verify; and Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE).

Some older Green Cards do not have an expiration date. These older Green Cards without an expiration date generally remain valid; however, USCIS encourages applicants with these older cards to consider applying for a replacement card to prevent fraud or tampering should the card ever get lost or stolen.

To mitigate the risk of fraud and counterfeiting, USCIS redesigns the cards every three to five years.

by Lisa York Lisa York No Comments

USCIS Extends COVID-19-related Flexibilities for the Last Time

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is extending certain COVID-19-related flexibilities through March 23, 2023.

USCIS anticipates that barring changes presented by the pandemic, this will be the final extension of these accommodations. Requestors must comply with response requirements set forth in any request or notice dated after March 23, 2023.

Under these flexibilities, USCIS considers a response received within 60 calendar days after the due date before taking any action. The USCIS notices and requests eligible for this extension include:

  • Requests for Evidence;
  • Continuations to Request Evidence (N-14);
  • Notices of Intent to Deny;
  • Notices of Intent to Revoke;
  • Notices of Intent to Rescind;
  • Notices of Intent to Terminate regional centers;
  • Notices of Intent to Withdraw Temporary Protected Status; and
  • Motions to Reopen an N-400 Pursuant to 8 CFR 335.5, Receipt of Derogatory Information After Grant.

In addition, USCIS will consider a Form I-290B, Notice of Appeal or Motion, or a Form N-336, Request for a Hearing on a Decision in Naturalization Proceedings (Under Section 336 of the INA), if:

  • The form was filed up to 90 calendar days from the issuance of a decision we made; and
  • We made that decision between Nov. 1, 2021, and March 23, 2023, inclusive.