USCIS Extends TPS Registration Period for Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone

The Department of Homeland Security designates a country for Temporary Protected Status (“TPS”) when conditions – such as ongoing armed conflicts or environmental disasters – make it unsafe for those citizens who are in the United States to return home.  Because of the recent Ebola outbreaks in western Africa, DHS designated Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone for TPS in November 2014.

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DHS Announces Temporary Protected Status for Nepal

The Department of Homeland Security today announced that Nepal has been designated for “Temporary Protected Status” due to the 7.8 earthquake that struck the country on April 25 and its aftermath.

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Global US Visa Issuance Delays Continue

The Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs continues to experience technical problems related to visa issuance at all of the US embassies and consulates. The problem was caused by a hardware failure on June 9, which prevents the embassies and consulates from processing and transmitting biometric data checks required for visa issuance. While most posts are still scheduling and honoring previously reserved visa interviews, applicants must wait for the system to be repaired before their passports will be returned containing their new visas. Those in the United States planning to apply for new visas in the near-term may want to reschedule their appointments to avoid delays abroad.

DHS to Negotiate new Preflight Inspection Offices in Nine European Countries and the Dominican Republic

The Department of Homeland Security today announced it will negotiate with ten airports in Belgium, the Dominican Republic, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, and the United Kingdom to open preflight inspection offices, where U.S. Customs & Border Protection agents will inspect travelers for immigration, customs and agriculture requirements before they board U.S.-bound flights.  After a year-long analysis by DHS, the Department of State, and the Transportation Security Administration, these ten airports were selected, from more than twenty that submitted letters of interest, as the most likely to facilitate both U.S. security and U.S. travel.  Preclearance locations currently exist only in Canada, the Caribbean, Ireland, and the United Arab Emirates, at a total of 15 foreign airports.  With successful preflight screening, a foreign traveler normally avoids all screening at his or her U.S. destination airport.

DHS Extends TPS for Somalia

DHS announced that it is extending Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for nationals of Somalia who already hold TPS. TPS allows qualifying individuals to remain and work lawfully in the United States until conditions in their home countries improve. The new extension allows qualifying individuals from Somalia to reapply for TPS and work authorization that will be valid until March 17, 2017. The re-registration period is now open and ends on July 31, 2015. Unlike other TPS extensions, interim work permission is not automatically extended at this time.  Applicants are encouraged to submit their employment authorization renewal applications as soon as possible since their current employment authorization documents expire in September.

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USCIS Suspends Premium Processing for H-1B Extension Petitions

The USCIS announced today that it will suspend Premium Processing of H-1B extension petitions from May 26, 2015, through July 27, 2015, in order to implement the new H-4 spouse employment authorization rule in a timely manner.  Premium Processing will still be available for H-1B petitions subject to the H-1B cap, and for all other immigrant and nonimmigrant visa petitions for which the service is available.  H-1B extension petitions filed before May 26, 2015, but still pending as of that date, will not be processed under Premium Processing.  Refunds will be issued for those filings.

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Not Everyone Supports Expansion of Employment Authorization for H-4 Spouses

In February 2015 USCIS unveiled a new regulation permitting certain H-4 spouses to apply for employment authorization starting on May 26, 2015. This regulation has been well received by H-1B workers and their spouses, and U.S. companies that seek to attract and retain highly skilled H-1B workers. However, as could be expected, certain individuals and organizations that oppose the expansion of legal immigration benefits have come out against the regulation.

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Federal Court Allows DOL To Continue H-2B Processing for Another Month in Pérez v. Pérez

On April 15, 2015, the day its previous order was due to expire, the Federal District Court for the Northern District of Florida extended its permission for the Department of Labor to process H-2B wage and labor certification applications for another month, through May 15, 2015.

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USCIS Announces Count for Fiscal Year 2016 H-1B Petitions

As widely anticipated, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced yesterday that it has received a sufficient number of H-1B petitions to meet both the regular cap (65,000) and the advanced degree cap (20,000) for Fiscal Year 2016.  USCIS received close to 233,000 petitions during the FY2016 filing window, which ran through the first five business days of April.  By comparison, the USCIS received 172,000 for FY2015.

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CPB Now Offers Email Addresses for "I-94 Correction Requests" at Some Deferred Inspection Sites

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”), which controls admission of travelers to the United States, maintains more than 70 “Deferred Inspection” offices where travelers may request correction of  I-94 Arrival Records they believe were issued incorrectly.

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