Articles Posted in Non-Immigrant Visa

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U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) proposed a rule that would require petitioners seeking to file H-1B petitions subject to the regular cap, including those eligible for the advanced degree exemption, to first electronically register with USCIS during a designated registration period.  The proposed rule would also reverse the order by which USCIS selects H-1B petitions under the H-1B cap and the advanced degree exemption.

We will begin preparing H-1B petitions in January 2019.  Contact our office to file an H-1B petition and with your questions about the H-1B program and the proposed rule.


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On September 21, 2018, the Department of Homeland Security proposed new regulations related to public charge grounds of inadmissibility. The proposed regulations expand U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) grounds to deny permanent resident applications based upon a green card applicant’s use of public benefit programs such as food assistance and section 8 housing vouchers.  The regulations will also apply to individuals seeking nonimmigrant visas and change of status applicants.

Background on Public Charge:

When reviewing Permanent Residence applications, USCIS determines whether applicants are likely to become a public charge or primarily dependent on the government for subsistence. Applicants found likely to become a public charge may be denied lawful permanent resident status.

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Work Authorization Extension Only Valid Through September 30, 2018

F-1 students who have an H-1B petition that remains pending on October 1, 2018, risk accruing unlawful presence if they continue to work on or after October 1 (unless otherwise authorized to continue employment), as their “cap-gap” work authorization is only valid through September 30.

“Cap gap” regulations allow an F-1 student who is the beneficiary of a timely filed H-1B cap-subject petition requesting a change of status to H-1B on October 1, to have his or her F-1 status and any current employment authorization extended through September 30.

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On October 23, 2017, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published a new Policy Memorandum, rescinding a former memo from April 23, 2004, which instructed adjudication officers to defer to an original petition’s finding of eligibility when reviewing requests for extension of already approved nonimmigrant status, unless significant material changes in circumstances had arisen since the original petition was approved.  Based on the 2004 memo, extensions of H-1B or L-1B petitions have been granted readily and with minimal requirements for additional documentation.

The new memo instructs adjudication officers to review each petition for extension of nonimmigrant status as if it were an entirely new petition, subjecting it to the level of scrutiny applied to an initial petition.  While the memo acknowledges that, under U.S. regulations, the evidence required for extension of nonimmigrant status is less than that required for an initial petition, it asserts USCIS’ discretionary authority to request additional evidence, and instructs adjudicating officers to exercise that authority without constraint when reviewing extension of status petitions.

Recent months have seen a sharp increase in the number of requests for evidence made by USCIS in connection with new nonimmigrant petitions, resulting in delays in approving petitions.  Under the new policy governing extension petitions, it is likely that they, too, will now see an increase in requests for evidence and resultant delays.

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Effective October 3, 2017, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) resumed premium processing for all H-1B extension of stay petitions.  Premium processing is now available for all types of H-1B petitions.

When a petitioner requests the agency’s premium processing service, USCIS guarantees a 15-calendar day processing time.  If that time is not met, the agency will refund the petitioner’s premium processing service fee and continue with expedited processing of the application.

Please contact us if you are interested in requesting premium processing, or if you have any questions.

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UCSIS recently announced that it will restructure the focus of H-1B site visits. The H-1B visa is an employment based visa in which the employer petitions USCIS to grant lawful status for the purposes of work on the behalf of the employee. These visas help employers recruit foreign nationals in an effort to compensate for the lack of domestic supply of qualified and skilled workers. Enforcement officers will be looking at the following key points with in hopes of reducing H-1B abuse by employers:

  • Cases where employer information is not easily verifiable via commercially available data
  • High ratio of H-1B workers in comparison to U.S. workers
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As of Monday March 27, 2017, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) confirmed that there will be a random lottery for the H-1B cap cases for Fiscal Year 2018. If during the period of April 3-7, 2017, enough petitions are received to reach the 65,000 statutory H-1B cap and the 20,000 cap for petitions filed under the advanced degree exemption, a lottery will be conducted. As in the past, a random computer selection will first be carried out for those petitions submitted under the 20,000 master’s cap exemption. Any petitions not selected for the master’s cap will then be included in the random selection process for the 65,000 regular cap.

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Starting April 3, 2017, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will suspend premium processing for all H-1B petitions for a period of up to 6 months. During this suspension of H-1B premium processing, USCIS will reject any Forms I-907 filed with an H-1B petition. Submission of combined checks for both the Form I-907 and Form I-129 H-1B fees will result in the rejection of both forms. The USCIS will notify the general public when premium processing for H-1B petitions will resume.

The suspension is applicable to any and all H-1B petitions (both the FY18 H-1B regular cap and master’s cap) filed on/after April 3. The temporary suspension of premium processing also applies to cap-exempt petitions.

The USCIS will continue premium processing of Form I-129 H-1B petitions if an associated Form I-907 was filed before April 3, 2017.

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Starting May 26, 2015, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will temporarily suspend premium processing for all H-1B Extension of Stay petitions until July 27, 2015. During this time frame, petitioners will not be able to file Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service, for a Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, requesting an extension of the stay for an H-1B nonimmigrant. USCIS will continue to premium process H-1B Extension of Stay petitions filed with Form I-907 premium requests prior to May 26, 2015.

This temporary suspension will allow USCIS to implement the Employment Authorization for Certain H-4 Spouses final rule in a timely manner and adjudicate applications for employment authorization filed by H-4 nonimmigrants under the new regulations.

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In a decision issued on April 9, 2015, the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO), which conducts administrative review of certain categories of appeals to denials of immigration benefits, to ensure that immigration law and policy is interpreted accurately and consistently, published a binding ruling in the Matter of Simeio Solutions, LLC, 26 I&N Dec. 542. This decision supports the need to file an amended H-1B petition for any material change to the H-1B employee’s worksite location. The AAO declared that a change in the beneficiary’s worksite location to a geographical location not covered by the original Labor Condition Application (LCA) constitutes a material change for purposes of the immigration regulations, requiring a new LCA that reflects these changes. Furthermore, where there is a material change in the terms and conditions of employment, the petitioner must file an amended or new H−1B petition with the corresponding LCA certified by the Department of Labor (DOL), with both documents indicating the relevant change.

This means that any time an H-1B beneficiary changes his or her worksite location, it is critically important that the employer reviews the previously submitted petition and LCA to ensure that the employee remains in compliance. A new employment location is covered by an existing LCA if it is within the same Metropolitan Statistical Area (“MSA”) or area of intended employment identified on the existing LCA. Because the prevailing wage requirements are tied to the area of employment, if the employee’s new location is out of the geographical location that is covered by the original LCA, this is considered a material change in the terms and conditions of employment that might affect the employee’s eligibility.

In light of this decision, employers should be aware of the possible impact of changes in the terms and conditions of employment, and consult with immigration counsel to determine if any material changes in work locations have occurred since approval of the H-1B petition that may require the filing of a new or amended H-1B petition.

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