Immigration News

by Adrianna Romero Adrianna Romero No Comments

DHS announces TPS for Afghan Nationals

Nearly six months after the Taliban seized power of Afghanistan after the withdraw of U.S. troops from the country, DHS announces Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Afghan nationals. On March 16, 2022, Secretary Mayorkas announced TPS designation for Afghanistan for 18 months. TPS is meant to offer protection to Afghan nationals “who are already living in the United States from returning to unsafe conditions” caused by ongoing armed conflict and extraordinary and temporary conditions.

This designation is also meant to provide added protection to Afghans who have provided aid to U.S. military missions in Afghanistan.  

Additionally, TPS will be available to Afghan nationals who entered the U.S. after the mass exodus from the country and were admitted and paroled into the U.S. for humanitarian reasons. Eligibility will only be available to those who entered the U.S. on or before March 15, 2022. Once approved, applicants will be protected from removal and temporary work authorization. Application instructions will be outlined in the Federal Registrar.

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 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 Lisa York Lisa York No Comments

FY2023 H-1B Cap Registration is Open!

The FY2023 H-1B Cap season officially starts today!  USCIS online registration begins today at 10am MT.  The registration period goes through Friday, March 18, 2022 at 10am MT.  All those interested in trying for an H-1B cap visa this year will need to complete the registration process within this time period.  After the registration period closes, USCIS will run the “lottery” and electronically notify the “winners” by the end of March 2022.  Those who win the lottery (i.e. those who are “selected”) will then be able to file their H-1B petitions between April 1, 2022 and June 30, 2022, for an H-1B start date of October 1, 2022.  It remains to be seen if additional rounds of H-1B selections will occur throughout 2022 like they have for the past couple of years.  Each fiscal year there are roughly 65,000 H-1B Cap visas available with an additional 20,000 for foreign nationals who graduated from a U.S. institution of higher education with an advanced degree. 

USCIS has reported that for FY 2022, 308,613 H-1B registrations were submitted.  USCIS initially selected 87,500 registrations to reach the FY 2022 numerical allocations. On July 29, 2021, USCIS announced that the agency conducted a second selection of an additional 27,717 registrations. This resulted in a total of 115,217 selected registrations.  On Nov. 19, 2021, USCIS announced that it conducted a third round of selections that resulted in an additional 16,753 registrations. Thus, USCIS selected a total of 131,970 registrations for FY 2022.   

For more information about the FY2023 H-1B Registration Process visit the USCIS H-1B Electronic Registration Process webpage.

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 Lisa York Lisa York No Comments

OFLC Completed Process of Randomly Assigning H-2B applications for 2nd Half of FY2022 (April 1, 2022 or later start date)

The Office of Foreign Labor Certification has completed the randomization process to randomly assign all H-2B applications submitted during the initial three-day filing window, January 1-3, 2022, requesting an April 1, 2022, work start date for the second half of the Fiscal Year 2022 H-2B statutory visa cap. OFLC received a total of 7,875 H-2B applications requesting 136,555 worker positions during this filing period. OFLC will be providing written notification to employers (and the employer’s authorized attorney or agent) with their H-2B Assignment Group. On January 7, 2022, OFLC also published on its website the list of the H-2B applications assigned to each Assignment. 

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 Lisa York Lisa York No Comments

USCIS Temporarily Waiving 60-Day Filing Requirement for Medical Exams

On December 9, 2021, USCIS announced that it will temporarily waive the requirement that the civil surgeon’s signature on USCIS medical exams (Form I-693) be dated no more than 60 days prior to filing the I-485 Adjustment of Status application.  

Currently, USCIS considers a completed Medical Exam (Form I-693) to retain its evidentiary value for 2 years after the date the civil surgeon signed, as long as the date of the civil surgeon’s signature is no more than 60 days before the applicant filed the application for the underlying immigration benefit. This is commonly referred to as the “60-day rule.” Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and related processing delays, USCIS has experienced delays in all aspects of operations. Applicants have also experienced difficulties beyond their control, including delays with completing the immigration medical examination. To address these issues, USCIS is temporarily waiving the requirement that the civil surgeon’s signature be dated no more than 60 days before the applicant files the application for the underlying immigration benefit.

This temporary waiver is effective from December 9, 2021 until September 30, 2022, and applies to all USCIS Medical Exams (Form I-693) associated with applications for underlying immigration benefits that have not been adjudicated, regardless of when the application was submitted or when the Form I-693 was signed.

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.