USCIS Rescinds Old Guidance on H-1B Computer Programmers and Announces Targeted Scrutiny of IT Contractors

On, March 31, 2017, U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services rescinded a 17-year-old memorandum issued by the Nebraska Service Center regarding computer-related positions as H-1B “specialty occupations.”  For the last 10 years, all H-1B petitions have been processed at the Vermont and California Service Centers, so the memo has not been in use.  Since NSC recently began accepting H-1B extension petitions again, USCIS has rescinded the memo, stating it is outdated and inconsistent with the agency’s current approach to H-1B petitions for computer jobs.

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USCIS’s Nebraska Service Center Announces Delays In Adjudication of H-4 and H-4 EAD Applications Concurrently Filed with Premium H-1B Petitions

Due to the upcoming temporary suspension of premium processing for all H-1B petitions on April 3, 2017, USCIS has experienced a dramatic increase in the number of premium processing cases it has received.  The Nebraska Service Center, which processes all H-1B extension petitions for non-cap exempt employers containing no changes to the beneficiary’s terms of employment, has announced that it will focus its resources on processing H-1B petitions in accordance with premium processing requirements.

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USCIS’s Nebraska Service Center Announces Delays In Adjudication of H-4 and H-4 EAD Applications Concurrently Filed with Premium H-1B Petitions

Due to the upcoming temporary suspension of premium processing for all H-1B petitions on April 3, 2017, USCIS has experienced a dramatic increase in the number of premium processing cases it has received.  The Nebraska Service Center, which processes all H-1B extension petitions for non-cap exempt employers containing no changes to the beneficiary’s terms of employment, has announced that it will focus its resources on processing H-1B petitions in accordance with premium processing requirements.

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Trump Signs New Travel Ban Executive Order

President Trump signed today the long-awaited revised travel ban Executive Order entitled, “Protecting The Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into The United States”, effective 12:01 a.m, Eastern Standard Time on March 16, 2017.  The list of affected countries includes Sudan, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen; Iraq was removed from the list.  Key provisions are as follows:
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USCIS To Temporarily Suspend Premium Processing for All H-1B Petitions

On Friday, March 3, 2017, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that premium processing service will be suspended for all H-1B petitions received on or after April 3, 2017. This suspension may remain in place for up to 6 months.
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Travel Ban Limbo

It’s been a week since the Ninth Circuit unanimously upheld the temporary restraining order against the Trump administration’s Executive Order known as the “Travel Ban”.   Shortly after the Ninth Circuit’s ruling, President Trump said that new security measures were imminent, however, no new executive orders have been issued.  While waiting for the next attempt at a legal travel ban or a way to revive the prior one, those born in one of the countries mentioned in the original ban (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen) and those from other predominantly Muslim countries may want to reconsider overseas travel at this time.  President Trump explained why there was no warning before the travel ban, so we expect the next one to be announced without warning as well.  The next one could, again, leave individuals stuck abroad for undetermined lengths of time.  Given what happened in various court cases, the administration will likely attempt to draft its new ban in a way that may prevent the courts from stopping the enforcement.

March 2017 Visa Bulletin—Updates and Projections for Employment-Based Categories

Below is a summary of the March 2017 Visa Bulletin, including Final Action Dates and changes from the previous month for employment-based categories:

  • China continues to move forward at a slow pace, and the EB-3 cut-off date (March 15, 2014) remains ahead of the EB-2 date (December 15, 2012)
  • India EB-2 advances two months to June 1, 2008, while EB-3 remains stalled at March 22, 2005
  • Philippines EB-3 jumps ahead five months to March 15, 2012
  • Worldwide EB-3 moves forward two months to December 1, 2016

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