In 2019, the large policy and enforcement shifts signposted in 2017 and 2018 continued to play out with stricter immigration enforcement across the board. While we don’t expect to see seismic shifts in the coming year, there are a few issues to watch for in 2020.

(1) H-1B “Specialty Occupation” Definition Change Likely to Stall in Court

USCIS has indicated it will be announcing an official change to the definition of “specialty occupation.” While we have already seen a detrimental shift in the H-1B adjudication process, this would be an official regulatory change. We expect that any attempt to re-interpret the H-1B statute as narrowly as possible will face a lengthy court battle.


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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

The U.S. Department of State has announced that, as of November 12, 2014, the National Visa Center ceased collecting original civil documents – birth and marriage certificates, police clearance certificates, etc. – from applicants for immigrant visas.  From now on, applicants will submit only photocopies of these documents to the NVC and take the originals

In light of the Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Windsor, which invalidated the Defense of Marriage Act, the USCIS has issued some helpful FAQs pertaining to family-based immigrant visa petitions. The State Department has not yet issued guidance on nonimmigrant visa applications by same-sex spouses.  We will update this blog when that