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Based on the recently released guidance from the U.S. Department of State (DOS), individuals who hold nonimmigrant visas in the U.S. are likely to face severe consequences if arrested for Driving Under the Influence (DUI) or a related offense. Earlier this year, DOS made public all unclassified content in its policy manual for DOS and its officers. According to its policy manual, DOS “has the authority to prudentially revoke a visa on the basis of a potential [health-related ground of] ineligibility” when DOS receives notification of “an arrest or conviction of driving under the influence, driving while intoxicated, or similar DUI arrests/convictions that occurred within the previous five years.”

Please contact our office if you plan to travel internationally using a nonimmigrant visa and have been arrested or convicted for a DUI or a related offense. Please also contact our office if you have any questions.

For more information, please visit the following website.

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The visa bulletin is out at this link: August 2016 Visa Bulletin.

For the Application Final Action Dates, employment-based categories are as follows: EB-1 remains current for all countries except China (January 1, 2010) and India (January 1, 2010); EB-2 is at February 1, 2014 for all countries except China (January 1, 2010) and India (November 15, 2004); EB-3 is at March 15, 2016 for all countries except India (November 8, 2004), China (January 1, 2010), and the Philippines (May 15, 2009); EB-3 other workers is at March 15, 2016 for all countries except India (November 8, 2004), China (January 1, 2004), and the Philippines (May 15, 2009); EB-4 is current for all countries except El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, India, and Mexico (January 1, 2010); religious workers are all current except El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, India, and Mexico (January 1, 2010); EB-5 non-regional and regional centers are current for all countries except China (February 15, 2014). Family based petitions are backlogged, with the most recent date at November 15, 2014 for F2A (spouses and children under 21 of lawful permanent residents), and the longest queue for F4 Philippines (brothers and sisters of U.S. Citizens) February 1, 1993.

For the Date for Filing, employment-based categories are as follows: EB-1 remains current for all countries; EB-2 is current for all countries except India (July 1, 2009) and China (June 1, 2013); EB-3 is current for all countries except India (July 1, 2005), China (May 1, 2015), and the Philippines (January 1, 2013); EB-3 other workers is current for all countries except India (July 1, 2005), China (August 1, 2009), and the Philippines (January 1, 2013); EB-4 and religious workers are all current; and EB-5 non-regional centers and regional centers are current for all countries except China (May 1, 2015). Family based petitions are backlogged, with the most recent date at November 22, 2015 for F2A (spouses and children under 21 of lawful permanent residents) and the longest queue for F4 Philippines (brothers and sisters of U.S. Citizens) of July 15, 1993.

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The visa bulletin is out at this link: April 2016 Visa Bulletin

For the Application Final Action Dates, employment-based categories are as follows: EB-1 remains current for all countries; EB-2 is current for all countries except India (November 8, 2008) and China (September 1, 2012); EB-3 is at February 15, 2016 for all countries except India (August 8, 2004), China (August 15, 2013), and the Philippines (May 1, 2008); EB-3 other workers is at February 15, 2016 for all countries except India (August 8, 2004), China (March 1, 2007), and the Philippines (May 1, 2008); EB-4, religious workers are all current; EB-5 non-regional and regional centers are current for all countries except China (February 1, 2014). Family based petitions are backlogged, with the most recent date at October 22, 2014 for F2A (spouses and children under 21 of lawful permanent residents) and the longest queue for F4 Philippines (brothers and sisters of U.S. Citizens) September 1, 1992.

For the Date for Filing, employment-based categories are as follows: EB-1 remains current for all countries; EB-2 is current for all countries except India (July 1, 2009) and China (June 1, 2013); EB-3 is current for all countries except India (July 1, 2005), China (May 1, 2015), and the Philippines (January 1, 2010); EB-3 other workers is current for all countries except India (July 1, 2005), China (August 1, 2007), and the Philippines (January 1, 2010); EB-4, religious workers are all current; and EB-5 non-regional centers and regional centers are current for all countries except China (May 1, 2015). Family based petitions are backlogged, with the most recent date at June 15, 2015 for F2A (spouses and children under 21 of lawful permanent residents) and the longest queue for F4 Philippines (brothers and sisters of U.S. Citizens) of January 1, 1993.

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Starting March 15, 2016, visa-exempt foreign nationals who fly to or transit through Canada will need an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA). However, from March 15, 2016 until fall 2016, travelers who do not have an eTA can board their flight, as long as they have appropriate travel documents, such as a valid passport. During this time, border services officers can let travelers arriving without an eTA into Canada, as long as they meet the other requirements to enter Canada. Exceptions to the eTA process include U.S. citizens and travelers with a valid visa for entrance to Canada. The eTA process is similar to the U.S.’s Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), and individuals who travel to Canada on a regular basis or may be seeking to apply to the U.S. consulates in Canada as Third-Party Nationals are encouraged to apply early.

A list of visa-exempt countries can be found here.

For more information on the eTA process and how to apply, please go to the following website.

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The Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) final rule, effective on February 16, 2016, revises regulations affecting highly skilled workers in the nonimmigrant classifications for specialty occupations from Chile, Singapore (H-1B1) and Australia (E-3); the immigrant classification for employment-based first preference (EB-1) outstanding professors and researchers; and nonimmigrant workers in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI)-Only Transitional Worker (CW-1) classification.

In particular, DHS is including H-1B1 and principal E-3 classifications in the list of classes of foreign nationals authorized for employment incident to status with a specific employer. This means that H-1B1 and principal E-3 nonimmigrants are allowed to work for the sponsoring employer without having to separately apply for employment authorization. Additionally, DHS is authorizing continued employment with the same employer for up to 240 days for H-1B1 and principal E-3 nonimmigrants whose status has expired while their employer’s timely filed extension of stay request remains pending.

This final rule does not impose any additional costs on employers and minimizes the potential of employment disruptions.

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The visa bulletin is out at this link: February 2016 Visa Bulletin

For the Application Final Action Dates, employment-based categories are as follows: EB-1 remains current for all countries; EB-2 is current for all countries except India (August 1, 2008) and China (March 1, 2012); EB-3 is at October 1, 2015 for all countries except India (June 15, 2004), China (October 1, 2012), and the Philippines (January 8, 2008); EB-3 other workers is at October 1, 2015 for all countries except India (June 15, 2004), China (December 22, 2006), and the Philippines (January 8, 2008); EB-4, religious workers are all current; EB-5 non-regional and regional centers are current for all countries except China (January 15, 2014). Family based petitions are backlogged, with the most recent date at September 1, 2014 for F2A (spouses and children under 21 of lawful permanent residents) and the longest queue for F4 Philippines (brothers and sisters of U.S. Citizens) August 8, 1992.

For the Date for Filing, employment-based categories are as follows: EB-1 remains current for all countries; EB-2 is current for all countries except India (July 1, 2009) and China (January 1, 2013); EB-3 is at January 1, 2016 for all countries except India (July 1, 2005), China (October 1, 2013), and the Philippines (January 1, 2010); EB-3 other workers is at January 1, 2016 for all countries except India (July 1, 2005), China (January 1, 2007), and the Philippines (January 1, 2010); EB-4, religious workers are all current; and EB-5 non-regional centers and regional centers are current for all countries except China (May 1, 2015). Family based petitions are backlogged, with the most recent date at June 15, 2015 for F2A (spouses and children under 21 of lawful permanent residents) and the longest queue for F4 Philippines (brothers and sisters of U.S. Citizens) of January 1, 1993.

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The visa bulletin is out at this link: January 2016 Visa Bulletin

For the Application Final Action Dates, employment-based categories are as follows: EB-1 remains current for all countries; EB-2 is current for all countries except India (February 1, 2008) and China (February 1, 2012); EB-3 is at October 1, 2015 for all countries except India (May 15, 2004), China (July 1, 2012), and the Philippines (November 1, 2007); EB-3 other workers is at October 1, 2015 for all countries except India (May 15, 2004), China (December 1, 2006), and the Philippines (November 1, 2007); EB-4, religious workers are all current; EB-5 non-regional centers are current for all countries except China (January 8, 2014); and EB-5 regional centers are unavailable. Family based petitions are backlogged, with the most recent date at August 1, 2014 for F2A (spouses and children under 21 of lawful permanent residents) and the longest queue for F4 Philippines (brothers and sisters of U.S. Citizens) July 22, 1992.

For the Date for Filing, employment-based categories are as follows: EB-1 remains current for all countries; EB-2 is current for all countries except India (July 1, 2009) and China (January 1, 2013); EB-3 is at January 1, 2016 for all countries except India (July 1, 2005), China (October 1, 2013), and the Philippines (January 1, 2010); EB-3 other workers is at January 1, 2016 for all countries except India (July 1, 2005), China (January 1, 2007), and the Philippines (January 1, 2010); EB-4, religious workers are all current; and EB-5 non-regional centers and regional centers are current for all countries except China (May 1, 2015). Family based petitions are backlogged, with the most recent date at June 15, 2015 for F2A (spouses and children under 21 of lawful permanent residents) and the longest queue for F4 Philippines (brothers and sisters of U.S. Citizens) of January 1, 1993.

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The U.S. District Court struck down the STEM Optional Practical Training (OPT) Extension rule because according to the court, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) failed to follow the procedures required for a new rule. The court, however, allowed the rule to remain in place through February 12, 2016 in order to give the DHS sufficient time to properly reauthorize the STEM OPT rule.

In compliance with the court’s order, the DHS recently republished the STEM OPT Extension rule and sent it to the Office of Management and Budget. The proposed rule should soon be published in the federal register and stakeholders will be given at least 30 days to submit written comments. The DHS will then review and consider these comments prior to making a final decision on the proposed rule.

DHS is proposing to amend its F-1 nonimmigrant student visa regulations on OPT to allow certain F-1 STEM students who have elected to pursue 12 months of OPT in the United States to extend the OPT period by 24 months.

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Information on the 2017 Diversity Immigrant Visa Program (DV-2017), including instructions on submitting an electronic entry, answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs), and a list of countries/areas by region whose natives are eligible for DV-2017 is now available. Entries must be submitted electronically between October 1, 2015, and November 3, 2015.

The congressionally mandated Diversity Immigrant Visa Program will provide 50,000 Diversity Visas for the 2017 fiscal year. Diversity Visas are drawn from random selection among all entries to individuals who meet strict eligibility requirements, and who are from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States.

Successful Diversity Visa entrants must have at least a high school education or its equivalent, or two years of work experience within the past five years in an occupation requiring at least two years of training or experience.

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On September 28, 2015, several beneficiaries of approved employment-based visa petitions for highly skilled workers filed a class action complaint in the Western District of Washington. The plaintiffs asked the court to strike down the U.S. Department of State’s (DOS) revised September 25, 2015 version of the October Visa Bulletin, and to compel USCIS to accept adjustment applications pursuant to the original September 9, 2015 Bulletin. The case is Mehta v. DOS.

Please contact our office if you have any questions or need any assistance.