Archives: Temporary (Non-immigrant) Work Visas

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New DS-160 Form Seeks Social Media Information, Affecting Millions of Visa Applicants

Two years ago, then-Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, proposed collecting 15 years of travel, address and employment history and 5 years of social media platforms, identifiers, phone numbers and emails from visa applicants selected for “extreme vetting.” It was predicted that this would affect only 0.5% of all visa applicants – approximately 65,000 annually. As of … Continue Reading

H-1B, H-4, Fees on Latest Regulatory Agenda from DHS

According to the Department of Homeland Security’s Spring 2019 Regulatory Agenda, changes to business immigration are on the way, particularly with regard to H-1B visas. It is unclear, however, when these rules will actually come to fruition. Strengthening the H-1B Nonimmigrant Visa Classification Program DHS wants to redefine what constitutes a “specialty occupation” and an appropriate … Continue Reading

H-2B Visa Allotment Increased in Advance of Summer Season

At the end of March 2019, the Trump Administration announced that it would release another 30,000 H-2B visas for seasonal employees for use through the end of September 2019. The annual allocation had been capped at 66,000 for the full year. In 2017 and 2018, the Administration increased the allocation by 15,000 visas. However, on … Continue Reading

Trump Administration Targets Visa Overstays

President Donald Trump issued a Memorandum on April 22, 2019 aimed at reducing visa overstays – people who stay in the U.S. beyond the time authorized by their visas.  Assertions set forth in the Memorandum include: For FY 2018, the Administration believes that there were 415,000 individuals in the U.S. who had overstayed on nonimmigrant … Continue Reading

Bill to Eliminate Per-Country Caps on Green Cards Re-Introduced

Prior to the government shutdown, it seemed that the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act might pass as an amendment to the spending package with strong bipartisan support. But that was not to be. Now members of the U.S. House and Senate, led by Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA), have again introduced … Continue Reading

Department of Homeland Security Fall 2018 Agenda Portends Big Changes for H-1B Visa, Other Programs

The Department of Homeland Security’s latest Regulatory Agenda promises some big changes, especially for the H-1B visa program. Many of these changes have been proposed before, but have not yet made it to the rulemaking stage. Among what to expect are the following: USCIS is planning to release a notice of proposed rulemaking to create a … Continue Reading

USCIS Explains New Policy on Discretionary Application Denials

Beginning September 11, 2018, USCIS immigration officers will have more discretion to issue petition and application denials without first issuing Requests for Evidence (RFEs) or Notices of Intent to Deny (NOIDs). On September 6, 2018, the Ombudsman’s Office provided further details on the new policy change. The following was noted: The new policy takes effect … Continue Reading

State Department to Release New Visa Restrictions on Students from China

New restrictions on visas for citizens of China are expected as soon as June 11, 2018, according to the Associated Press. These restrictions, the report states, would target students in high-tech fields such as robotics and aviation. The changes would be part of the Trump Administration’s national security strategy to protect American’s intellectual property and … Continue Reading

Insights: How to Prepare for Rescission of H-4 Employment Program

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, at the government’s request, has been holding a case on the viability of H-4 EADs in abeyance for about six months. The government said it planned to make significant revisions to its proposal to eliminate H-4 EADs. In its Spring 2018 Regulatory Agenda, DHS announced the expected … Continue Reading

Administration Pushes to Add Extreme Vetting to All Nonimmigrant Visa Applications

Proposed changes to Form DS-160 would include aspects of “extreme vetting” in all nonimmigrant visa applications. The public has until May 29, 2018, to submit comments to the Trump Administration proposal. Visa applicants would be required to submit five years of social media handles on specific platforms and five years of phone numbers and email … Continue Reading

USCIS Introduces Onsite Training Restriction on Staffing Agencies Hiring OPT STEM Students

The 2016 STEM regulations made it more difficult for staffing agencies and consulting companies to sponsor graduating F-1 OPT employees for the two-year STEM OPT extension. According to the regulations, the training plan must be signed by the entity that has a bona fide employment relationship with the student and the bona fide employer must … Continue Reading

L Intracompany Transfers Pilot Program for Canadian Citizens

USCIS and CPB at the Blaine, Washington, Port of Entry (POE) have formally announced that from April 30, 2018, until October 31, 2018, the agencies jointly will implement a pilot program for Canadian citizens seeking entry in L status pursuant to NAFTA. L-1 admission is for intracompany transfers into the U.S. of managers, executives, and … Continue Reading

ALERT: Possible Change in Processing of L-1 NAFTA Applications

According to CBP personnel, a pilot program is being developed that would eliminate “instant” border adjudications of L-1 NAFTA applications. The pilot program is expected to be introduced at the Blaine, Washington port of entry.  At this time, processes and procedures are still under review and consideration but it appears that the current CBP border … Continue Reading

Time to Prepare for the 2018 H-1B Lottery

For immigration attorneys and employers of foreign nationals alike, the frenzy of the spring H-1B Cap season is right around the corner. Now is the time to start preparations for the April filing deadline. Each year, 85,000 new H-1B work visas become available for high-skilled workers seeking employment in an “H-1B specialty occupation.” Many more … Continue Reading

Government Not Ending H-1B Extensions, USCIS Says

Reports about the possible elimination of AC-21 extensions (for H-1B workers awaiting green cards) are now being denied by the government. The USCIS is attempting to quell fears caused by rumors that the Administration would eliminate H extensions beyond the six-year limit for certain individuals unable to file the last step in permanent residency, adjustment … Continue Reading

USCIS Formalizes Policy on Lack of Deference to Previously Approved Petitions

All I-129 petitions, whether initial requests or requests for extension of visa status, will be subject to the same level of scrutiny, USCIS has confirmed. The agency will no longer defer to the findings of a previously approved petition even when the key elements of the petition have remained unchanged. This will affect most nonimmigrant … Continue Reading

State and Justice Departments to Share Information on Employment-Based Visa Fraud

As part of the Trump Administration’s “Buy American, Hire American” Executive Order, the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs (BCA) is joining with the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division to combat both visa fraud and potential discrimination against U.S. workers. The partnership between the two agencies is based upon a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) … Continue Reading

State Department Replaces Rule for Inconsistent Conduct by Aliens

The Department of State has quietly revised guidance to Consular Officers on the “30/60 Day Rule” regarding adjustment of status applications. The Rule sets standards for determining whether an alien would be inadmissible for inconsistent conduct. It provides: If an alien engaged in inconsistent conduct within 30 days of an entry, a willful misrepresentation could … Continue Reading

Trump Administration Considers Elimination of J-1 Program for Some Students

The Trump Administration is considering the elimination of the J-1 Summer Work-Travel Program for students who come to tourist areas in the U.S. as temporary summer help and as participants in cultural exchanges. Like the numerical limitations placed on H-2B temporary seasonal visas, the elimination of this J-1 Summer Work-Travel Program would particularly affect the … Continue Reading

Suspension of Visa Operations in Russia

The U.S. Embassy and Consulates in Russia announced that “[a]s a result of the Russian government’s personnel cap imposed on the U.S. Mission, all nonimmigrant visa (NIV) operations across Russia will be suspended beginning August 23, 2017.” This is the most recent volley in the diplomatic back-and-forth that started with the reports of possible Russian … Continue Reading

New Operational Directives Reflect ‘Buy American, Hire American’ Executive Order

Following the “Buy American, Hire American” Executive Order, issued in April, the Attorney General and the Secretaries of State, Labor, and Homeland Security have made operational changes that emphasize targeted investigations and individual official’s judgment in carrying out the purposes of the E.O. The E.O. directs the agencies to “propose new rules and issue new … Continue Reading

15,000 Increase in H-2B Visas Comes with Strings Attached

An additional 15,000 H-2B visas will be released in response to industry demand. The USCIS will begin accepting petitions on July 19, 2017, for the fiscal year which ends on September 30, 2017. Petitions will be accepted until the 15,000 visas run out or until September 15, 2017, whichever comes first. This is only a … Continue Reading
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