Archives: USCIS

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E-1/E-2 Treaty Visas Option for New Zealanders

The U.S. Ambassador to New Zealand, Scott P. Brown, has announced that eligible New Zealand nationals may apply for E-1/E-2 Treaty Investor Visas: “We’ve listened. And as of June 10, New Zealand business owners and New Zealand citizens essential to those companies are going to be able to reside and work in the United States … Continue Reading

DACA Program Continues as U.S. Supreme Court Declines to Expedite Consideration of Cases

The “Dreamers” have received another reprieve from the U.S. Supreme Court. DACA litigation has been in the news since September 2017, when then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the DACA program would be terminated. In response to that announcement, multiple lawsuits were filed in federal courts in California, New York, Maryland, Texas, and the District of … Continue Reading

Bill in Congress Aimed at Protecting H-4 Employment as Program Rescission Progresses

Concerns regarding the rescission of the H-4 EAD Rule have heightened in the wake of the publication of the Department of Homeland Security’s Spring 2019 Regulatory Agenda. In response, two California congresswomen, Representatives Anna Eshoo (D-Cal.) and Zoe Lofgren (D-Cal.), reintroduced a bill to protect those work authorizations – The H-4 Employment Protection Act. Both … Continue Reading

Insights: Pros and Cons of Registering for E-Verify

Immigration enforcement is a major focus of attention of the Trump Administration – including in the business immigration context. One measure of this interest is the increase in I-9 audits. ICE reported that worksite investigations surged in FY 2018 by “300 to 750 percent” over FY 2017. Given that, many employers are considering whether to … Continue Reading

Lawsuits Against USCIS Seek Suspected New Policies for Handling H-1B Petitions

Volume “impact litigation” in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia may lead to details of the basis of alleged, unannounced, new USCIS policies regarding the H-1B visa program. Attorneys are alleging that USCIS is using new policies to adjudicate H-1B petitions, without properly completing the required notice-and-comment procedures for administrative rule changes … Continue Reading

What Processing Delays in Immigration Cases Mean

Long USCIS processing delays are now the norm for all types of immigration cases. Indeed, the delays have reached crisis levels. Processing times increased by 46% over the past two fiscal years and 91% since FY 2014. In fact, even though applications declined by 17% in FY 2018, processing times continued to rise. In some … Continue Reading

Federal Court Blocks DHS Policy on Unlawful Presence for Foreign Students, Exchange Visitors

On August 8, 2018, DHS issued a new policy that announced that foreign students would begin accumulating “unlawful presence” if any violation of status had occurred, whether known to the student or not. On May 3, 2019, in Guilford College et al. v. DHS, Judge Loretta C. Biggs in the U.S. District Court for the Middle … Continue Reading

L Visa Classification Process Restricted for Canadians Applying at Ports of Entry

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) signed in 1992 was meant to make North America more competitive in the global economy by reducing trade barriers and increasing business development among the U.S., Canada and Mexico.  It essentially created a free-trade zone, but always faced criticism.  Opponents believed and have argued, among other things, that … Continue Reading

Link to Marijuana Industry as Basis for Denial of Naturalization Application?

DHS is apparently citing federal cannabis laws as grounds for denying citizenship. Further, USCIS announced on April 19 that the USCIS Policy Manual now clarifies that violation of federal controlled substance law, including for marijuana, remains a conditional bar to establishing good moral character for naturalization even where that conduct would not be an offense … Continue Reading

USCIS: Rise in H-1B Petitions for Master’s Degree Holders Selected in FY 2020 Lottery

USCIS has announced on Twitter that there was an 11% increase from FY 2019 in H-1B advanced degree petitions selected in the FY 2020 lottery. This year, USCIS reversed the lottery selection process. Master’s cap petitions were first entered into the regular lottery and then those left over were entered into a master’s-cap-only lottery. USCIS … Continue Reading

USCIS to Begin Premium Processing for H-1B Petitions on May 20

On May 20, 2019, USCIS will begin premium processing for cap-subject H-1B cases that were filed concurrently with Form I-907 premium processing requests. Under the Premium Processing Service, USCIS guarantees 15-calendar-day processing. That means the first premium processing adjudications should start coming out by the end of May or beginning of June. This is the … Continue Reading

File H-1B Petition; Watch for Requests for Evidence

The FY 2020 H-1B cap cases have been filed and 85,000 will be selected for adjudication. “Winning the lottery” is no longer considered the biggest hurdle, however. Back in FY 2005, about 95% of all selected cases were approved and only about 22.3% received Requests for Evidence (RFEs). Recent USCIS statistics show that by FY … Continue Reading

USCIS Clarifies Premium Processing for This Year’s H-1B Cap Cases Limited to Change of Status

As the start of the H-1B cap season approaches, USCIS has clarified that not all of this year’s cap cases can be premium processed. Despite its notice on March 12, USCIS has announced that only cap-subject H-1B petitions requesting a change of status may request premium processing concurrently with the H-1B filing. But the agency … Continue Reading

USCIS Resumes H-1B Premium Processing

Without warning, USCIS announced that as of March 12, 2019, it is resuming premium processing for all H-1B petitions. This means that for an additional fee of $1,410, USCIS will guarantee a 15-calendar day processing time. By the close of the 15th day, USCIS will issue an approval, a denial, or a Request for Evidence … Continue Reading

EB-5 and Its European Counterpart Subject to Expected Changes, Oversight

In June 2018, Congress held a hearing on “Citizenship for Sale: Oversight of the EB-5 Investor Visa Program.”  The current EB-5 program allows wealthy individuals to apply for and obtain green cards by investing anywhere from $500,000 to $1,000,000 in U.S. enterprises.  Like any other green card holders, after five years, the beneficiaries can apply … Continue Reading

Slow Immigration Processing Times Draw Criticism and Questions

Immigration case processing times have dramatically increased in the last few years, impacting U.S. businesses and immigrant families, often causing gaps in work authorization and even loss of employment. In a January 2019 Policy Brief, AILA (American Immigration Lawyers Association) opined, on the basis of USCIS data, that the Agency’s processing delays had reached “crisis … Continue Reading

Premium Processing Resumes for H-1B Petitions Filed Prior to December 21, 2018

USCIS announced on Friday, February 15,, 2019, that it will resume premium processing on Tuesday, February 19, 2019 for H-1B petitions filed prior to December 21, 2018.  This follows up on the USCIS announcement at the end of January that it would resume premium processing for cap-subject petitions that were filed on or about April … Continue Reading

U.S. Government’s Fake Universities Net F-1 Foreign Students, Recruiters

For some time now, the U.S. has been on the lookout for students who enroll in graduate programs solely for the purpose of obtaining additional CPT (Curricular Practical Training), particularly when they do not “win” the H-1B  lottery. Indeed, USCIS has issued Requests for Evidence (RFEs) regarding H petitions when it suspects that a student … Continue Reading

2019 H-1B Cap Season: New Cap Lottery Selection Rule Favors Beneficiaries with U.S. Master’s Degrees

While employers and immigration attorneys are preparing for the H-1B Cap Season, DHS has posted its Final Rule for a More Effective and Efficient H-1B Visa Program. The new rule will be published in the Federal Register on January 31, 2019. As expected, the new rule provides for an electronic pre-registration requirement and reverses the order … Continue Reading

H-1B Premium Process Resumes

Just as the end of the month-long government shutdown was announced, USCIS had its own announcement: it will resume premium processing on Monday, January 28, 2019, for all FY 2019 H-1B Cap petitions, including those eligible for the advanced degree exemption (the “master’s cap”). Form I-907 requests for premium processing will be accepted for pending … Continue Reading

USCIS Ends Humanitarian Parole Program for Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI)

USCIS announced that, effective immediately, it is terminating yet another humanitarian parole program. This one is for individuals living in the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). This move will affect, among others: Immediate relatives of U.S. citizens; Certain “stateless” individuals; Immediate relatives of CNMI permanent residents; and Certain in-home foreign worker caregivers of CNMI … Continue Reading

What a Government Shutdown Means for Immigration Services

Although the ongoing government shutdown is rooted in an immigration matter – the “wall” – its effect on other immigration processes is somewhat limited. Fee-funded activities are not affected, which means that USCIS offices will remain open, interviews and appointments will continue as scheduled, and most petitions and applications will continue to be accepted and … Continue Reading

USCIS Releases Policy Memo on L-1 Visa Work Requirement

USCIS has released a policy memorandum clarifying the “one continuous year out of three years” L-1 requirement refers to the time before the individual’s filing. Eligibility for L-1 status requires the following: The U.S. company has a parent, subsidiary, affiliate, or branch abroad (“qualifying organization”) The U.S. company is or will be doing business in … Continue Reading
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