USCIS Reinstates Premium Processing for FY 2018 Cap Subject H-1B petitions

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) announced today the reinstatement of premium processing for H-1B petitions subject to the Fiscal Year 2018 cap.  USCIS previously reinstated premium processing for H-1B petitions filed on behalf of Conrad 30 waivers recipients and those filed by certain H-1B cap-exempt petitioners.

 USCIS expects to resume premium processing as workload permits, but previously announced a target date of October 3, 2017.

 

October 2017 Visa Bulletin – Return to Normalcy

The Visa Bulletin is released monthly by the Department of State and is used to determine when a sponsored foreign national can submit the final step of the green card process. The complete visa bulletin can be found here.

Below is a summary of the October Visa Bulletin, including Final Action Dates and changes from the previous month:

  • China: EB-1 returns to current, EB-2 moves ahead one week to May 22, 2013, and EB-3 returns to the new normal, outpacing EB-2 and jumping ahead two years to January 1, 2014
  • India: EB-1 returns to current, EB-2 creeps ahead four weeks to September 15, 2008, and EB-3 remains stalled at October 15, 2006
  • Philippines: EB-2 returns to current and EB-3 moves ahead one month to December 1, 2015
  • All Other Countries: EB-2 joins EB-3 as current

PLEASE NOTE: USCIS has not yet announced if it will accept I-485 applications in October based on the Department of State’s Dates for Filing chart. However, the trend over the last several months has been to NOT honor the Dates for Filing chart, and instead only accept I-485 applications based on the Final Action Dates as listed above.

 

DACA Dreamers on Life Support

Despite earlier hints that the “Dreamers” – undocumented youth who were brought to the United States illegally or lost their status while they were underage – might be allowed to retain their work permits and reprieve from deportation, Attorney General Sessions announced today that the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program will end on March 5, 2018.  The six-month lag time is intended to allow Congress to codify DACA-like provisions into law.

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USCIS to Expand In–Person Interviews for Employment Based Permanent Resident Applicants

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced a significant expansion of in-person interviews for individuals applying for permanent residence based on an offer of employment. The policy also applies to a much smaller population of beneficiaries of I-730 Refugee/Asylee Relative Petitions who are inside the United States. The new policy will begin on October 1, 2017, and is expected to result in more than 130,000 additional interviews conducted each year at USCIS District Offices throughout the country. Affected applicants should expect significant processing delays, as these interviews will be conducted by an agency that is already struggling to keep up with current processing demands. These interviews will be conducted at the final stage of the permanent residency application process, called adjustment of status.
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U.S. Consular Posts in Russia Suspend Nonimmigrant Visa Processing

The U.S. Department of State has announced that, effective August 23, 2017, U.S. consular operations in Russia – Moscow, St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg and Vladivostok – will suspend processing of all nonimmigrant visa (NIV) applications. This action is being taken due to recent personnel reductions the Russian government has mandated for the U.S. Mission in Russia. Immigrant Visas related to permanent residence may also be impacted.
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USCIS Reinstates Premium Processing for Certain Cap-Exempt Petitioners

Today, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) announced the reinstatement of premium processing service for H-1B petitions filed by certain cap-exempt petitioners.  In addition to petitioners who seek to employ physicians who are recipients of Conrad 30 waivers, H-1B petitioners who meet the following criteria may now also request premium processing:

  • Institutions of higher education;
  • Nonprofits related to or affiliated with an institution of higher education; or
  • Nonprofit research or governmental research organizations.

USCIS also announced that premium processing will resume for H-1B petitions that may be exempt, if the beneficiary will be employed at a qualifying cap-exempt institution, organization or entity.

We will update this entry as more information is available.

Fiscal Year 2018 H-1B Cycle Officially Over

U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (“USCIS”) announced today that it has now completed returning all petitions that were not selected in the Fiscal Year 2018 H-1B lottery.  Employers who filed petitions should now have received either a Form I-797 receipt notice indicating the petition was assigned a receipt number, or the original rejected petition including filing fees.  USCIS will take inquiries if employers believe they filed during the required period – April 3 to April 7, 2017 – and have not received either the receipt notice or the rejected petition by July 31, 2017.

 

New Form I-9 to be Published July 17, 2017

U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (“USCIS”) is scheduled to release a revised Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, on July 17, 2017. The previous version, dated 11/14/16 N, remains valid, but only through September 17, 2017. On September 18, 2017, employers must use the new form.

The new form changes the name of the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices to its new name, the Immigrant and Employee Rights Section.  In addition, several key changes have been made to the List C, Acceptable Documents to Prove Employment Eligibility:

  1. The Consular Report of Birth Abroad (Form FS-240) is now acceptable and is included on the drop-down menus in “smart” Form I-9 and in E-Verify.
  2. All certifications of report of birth that are issued by the U.S. Department of State (Forms FS-545, DS-1350 and FS-240) are now listed at #2 of List C.
  3. List C documents are now renumbered, except the Social Security card; for example, the EAD is now at #7 instead of #8

USCIS plans to update its “Handbook for Employers: Guidance for Completing Form I-9” (Form M-274) to include these revisions in the near future.  Additional information is available at What’s New | USCIS.

August 2017 Visa Bulletin – Unusual Retrogression in the EB-2 All Other Countries Category, While Philippines EB-3 Continues to Advance

The Visa Bulletin is released monthly by the Department of State and is used to determine when a sponsored foreign national can submit the final step of the green card process. The complete visa bulletin can be found here.

Below is a summary of the August Visa Bulletin, including Final Action Dates and changes from the previous month:

  • China: EB-1 and EB-3 both remain stalled at January 1, 2012, while EB-2 creeps forward one month to April 22, 2013
  • India: EB-1 remains at January 1, 2012, EB-2 stalls at July 22, 2008 and EB-3 continues to advance, moving forward five months to July 15, 2006
  • Philippines: EB-3 once again leaps forward an entire year to June 1, 2015, surpassing EB-2, which retrogresses to April 1, 2015
  • All Other Countries: In an unusual turn of events, EB-2 retrogresses to April 1, 2015, while EB-3 becomes current

China EB-1, India EB-1 and All Other Countries EB-2 are expected to become current again in October 2017.

PLEASE NOTE: USCIS has not yet announced if it will accept I-485 applications in August based on the Department of State’s Dates for Filing chart. However, the trend over the last several months has been to NOT honor the Dates for Filing chart, and instead only accept I-485 applications based on the Final Action Dates as listed above.

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