Archives: USCIS

Subscribe to USCIS RSS Feed

New Public Charge Rule Seen as Latest Effort to Tighten Legal Immigration

Having focused on enforcement and illegal immigration, the Trump Administration has recently turned to legal immigration.  The new Public Charge rule which will go into effect on October 15, 2019, absent court action, will make it harder for some foreign nationals to obtain green cards or even to secure or extend temporary non-immigrant status.  What … Continue Reading

Congress Questions DHS on Immigration Processing Delays

The House Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship asked the Department of Homeland Security to account for the delays in immigration processing at a hearing on July 16, 2019. Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-Cal.), who chaired the hearing, wanted an explanation for the 2.4 million application/petition backlog, as well as processing delays that have reached crisis … Continue Reading

Could Venezuelans Gain TPS Eligibility?

The Trump Administration has been trying to put an end to Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for many countries including: El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal and Sudan. Upon legal challenges to TPS termination, the courts have delayed termination at least temporarily. The Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) generally has the authority to designate … Continue Reading

Changes to EB-5 Investor Visa Program

USCIS has published its new final rule significantly changing the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program to address concerns about fraud, abuse, and national security risks. The new regulations will become effective on November 21, 2019. The EB-5 Investor Visa Program was created almost 30 years ago to incentivize foreign investments and create jobs in the United … Continue Reading

Congressional Hearing on Immigration Backlog

The House Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship called upon Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials to explain and report on the delays in immigration processing in a hearing on July 16, 2019. Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-Cal.), who chaired the hearing, wanted an explanation for the 2.4 million application/petition backlog (the largest since the … Continue Reading

Significant Retrogression Because of Continuing High Demand for Visas, State Department Announces

The Department of State (DOS) has announced a significant retrogression from the July 2019 Visa Bulletin to the August 2019 Visa Bulletin of at least 3 years in many of the employment-based categories. EB-1 retrogresses by almost 2 years for most countries to July 1, 2016, except India, which stays at January 1, 2015; EB-2 retrogresses by … Continue Reading

Blocked from Adding Citizenship Question to Census, Administration Moves to Gather Data

President Donald Trump announced that the Administration will not be proceeding with any further census litigation.  The 2020 Decennial Census, which is already being printed, will be sent out without a citizenship question.  Nevertheless, President Trump does want to obtain statistics on the number of residents in the country who are and are not U.S. … Continue Reading

What Supreme Court on Deference to Agency Interpretations May Mean

Courts’ deference to agency interpretations of their own statutes and regulations has been a mainstay of administrative law. The Chevron Doctrine has since 1984 provided that courts should put a “thumb-on-the-scales in favor of the government’s view of the meaning of [a] statute . . .” as long as the interpretation is reasonable. A similar … Continue Reading

Administration Ups Data Collection and General Surveillance

The Trump Administration has been stepping up the collection of data in general and more specifically from visa applicants and travelers. Here are a few new policies: A pilot program has been instituted at the border that would include DNA testing and fingerprinting of children under age 14. USCIS is collecting biometric data from most … Continue Reading

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
LexBlog