New EAD Automatic Extension Regulation Effective Today, But Who Does It Benefit?

The provision automatically extending some Employment Authorization Documents (“EADs”) of the much-anticipated “Retention of EB-1, EB-2, and EB-3 Immigrant Workers and Program Improvements Affecting High-Skilled Nonimigrant Workers” regulation goes into effect today.  The regulation provides for the automatic extension of certain EADs for a period not to exceed 180 days, provided that a renewal application is:

  1. Properly filed with USCIS before the expiration date shown on the face of the expiring EAD,
  2. Based on the same employment category shown on the face of the expiring EAD, and
  3. Based on a class of aliens whose employment eligibility to apply for employment authorization continues notwithstanding expiration of the EAD and is based on an employment authorization category that does not require adjudication of an underlying application or petition before the adjudication of the renewal application.

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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 September 17, 2018. The re-registration period ends on March 20, 2017. Employment authorization documents held by qualifying individuals already set to expire on March 17, 2017, are automatically extended through September 17, 2017. Employers can rely on the DHS announcement for I-9 employment verification and reverification purposes.

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DHS Extends TPS for Yemen

DHS announced that it is extending Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for nationals of Yemen 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 Yemen to reapply for TPS and work authorization that will be valid until  September 3, 2018. The re-registration period ends on March 6, 2017. Employment authorization documents held by qualifying individuals already set to expire on March 3, 2017, are automatically extended through September 3, 2017. Employers can rely on the DHS announcement for I-9 employment verification and reverification purposes.

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USCIS Issues Precedent Decision Revising Legal Standard for National Interest Waiver Petitions

On December 27, 2016, the Administrative Appeals Office of U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a far-reaching decision, Matter of Dhanasar, that sets a new legal framework for approval of National Interest Waiver (NIW) petitions and is likely to greatly increase the value of this green card category.  The newly designated precedent decision also vacates Matter of New York State Department of Transportation, a 1998 case that has severely limited the usability of the NIW petition for almost 20 years.

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USCIS to release new Form N-400 on December 22, 2016, for mandatory use on or after December 23, 2016

On Tuesday, December 13th, 2016, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) announced the upcoming release of a new version of Form N-400, Application for Naturalization.  The new version, which will become available on December 22, 2016, must be used in all applications filed or postmarked on or after December 23, 2016.  USCIS will reject applications containing any earlier version of Form N-400 after that date.  We will provide an update as soon as the new form is available.

January 2017 Visa Bulletin—Slow Forward Movement in Most Employment-Based Categories

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 January Visa Bulletin, including Final Action Dates and changes from the previous month:

  • China continues to move forward at a slow pace, and the EB-3 cut-off date (September 8, 2013) remains ahead of the EB-2 date (October 15, 2012)
  • India EB-2 jumps ahead more than two months to April 15, 2008, while EB-3 remains stalled at March 15, 2005
  • Philippines EB-3 advances six weeks to July 22, 2011

Worldwide EB-3 moves forward a month to August 1, 2016

New USCIS filing fees to take effect on December 23, 2016

On October 24, 2016, the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) published a rule in the Federal Register establishing a new filing fee structure for applications and petitions processed by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, an agency almost entirely funded by petition and application filing fees.  In announcing the new fee structure, DHS explained that the prior fees no longer recovered the cost of services provided and that the new fee structure was necessary to fully recover costs and maintain adequate service. The new few structure increases filing fees by an average of 20%.

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DHS To Negotiate Eleven New Preflight Inspection Offices in Latin America, Europe, Japan and the Caribbean

The Department of Homeland Security has announced it will negotiate with 11 airports, located in Bogotá, Buenos Aires, Mexico City, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Edinburgh, Milan, Rome, Keflavik, Osaka, and St. Maarten, to open preflight inspection offices.  At these “preclearance” locations, Customs & Border Protection agents inspect travelers for immigration, customs and agriculture requirements before they board U.S.-bound flights.  With successful preflight screening, a foreign traveler normally avoids all screening at his or her U.S. destination airport.  In 2015, DHS opened preclearance negotiations, which are still underway, with 9 European countries and the Dominican Republic.  See our earlier blog entry.  Only 15 preclearance locations currently exist:  in Canada, the Caribbean, Ireland, and the United Arab Emirates.

Long-Awaited Employment-Based Immigration Rule Published by USCIS

The Retention of EB-1, EB-2, and EB-3 Immigrant Workers and Program Improvements Affecting High-Skilled Nonimmigrant Workers rule was published in the Federal Register today. This significant rule codifies long-standing but unofficial agency practices under the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-First Century Act of 2000 (“AC21”) and establishes a variety of new provisions to further streamline business immigration processes, including the following:

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