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Monday, May 14, 2018

USCIS Implementing More Secure Mail Delivery Service


USCIS has announced that it will begin to use U.S. Postal Service’s (USPS) Signature Confirmation Restricted Delivery service to mail Green Cards and other secure documents starting April 30, 2018.
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Thursday, April 26, 2018

Employers and Immigration Compliance: What You Need to Know

The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) makes it illegal for employers to knowingly hire undocumented workers and requires employers to verify each worker’s identity and eligibility by completing the I-9 Form. An employer’s failure to complete the I-9 Form can result in criminal and civil penalties.


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Friday, April 20, 2018

Fiscal Year 2019 H-1B Cap Lottery Complete

On April 6, 2018, USCIS announced that it had received a sufficient number of H-1B cap petitions during the period between April 2, 2018 and April 6, 2018 to meet the congressionally mandated statutory cap of 65,000 and the U.S. advanced degree exemption (or Master’s cap) of 20,000 for Fiscal Year 2019.


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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Types of Legal Entry into the United States

Foreign nationals may legally enter the United States by obtaining a visa. There are two types of visas, the immigrant visa and the non-immigrant visa. Immigrant visas allow aliens to enter and reside in the U.S. for the long term. Non-immigrant visas are issued for limited periods of time and for specific purposes, such as tourism, business, study, temporary work or medical treatment.


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Thursday, October 26, 2017

Updated USCIS Policy Guidance Eliminates “Deference” Given To Prior Determinations Of Eligibility When Adjudicating Nonimmigrant Visa Extension Petitions

Updated policy guidance from the USCIS, effective as of October 23, 2017, instructs officers to apply the same level of scrutiny when reviewing nonimmigrant visa extension requests even where the petitioner, beneficiary, and underlying facts are unchanged from a previously approved petition.


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Monday, March 6, 2017

USCIS Will Temporarily Suspended Premium Processing For All H-1B Petitions, Effective April 3, 2017


On Friday, March 3, 2017, USCIS announced that beginning April 3, 2017 it will temporarily suspend its premium processing service for all H-1B petitions for up to six months. During this temporary suspension, petitioners will not be able to file Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service for a Form I-129 requesting H-1B nonimmigrant classification.

The temporary suspension will impact H-1B petitions filed in the FY2018 regular and Master’s advance degree exemption cap as well as cap-exempt H-1B petitions. USCIS will continue to process Form I-907’s filed prior to April 3, 2017 and will notify the public prior to resumption of the premium processing program for H-1B petitions. During the suspension, petitioners may submit a request for expedited processing of an H-1B petition if they meet one of the expedite criteria listed on USCIS’ website (Read more . . .


Tuesday, November 29, 2016

USCIS Publishes Final Rule For Certain Employment-Based Immigrant and Nonimmigrant Visa Programs


On November 18, 2016, USCIS published a final rule implementing the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-First Century Act of 2000 (“AC21”) and the American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act of 1998 (“ACWIA”) which will go into effect on January 17, 2017. The new rule will modernize and improve several aspects of certain employment-based nonimmigrant and immigrant visa programs. It will also amend existing regulations in order to make it easier for U.S. employers to hire and retain certain foreign workers who are the beneficiaries of approved employment-based immigrant visa petitions and are waiting to become lawful permanent residents.
Read more . . .


Tuesday, November 15, 2016

What are the restrictions on an H2A visa?

The H2A visa is available for employers to bring in foreign nationals in order to fill temporary agricultural jobs. A prospective employer must make an application on the employee’s behalf by filling out form I-129. In order to obtain an H2A visa, the employer must be able to stipulate that the position to be filled is temporary or seasonal in nature and that there are not sufficient American citizens willing, able, and qualified to perform the temporary work. Furthermore, the employment of foreign nationals must not adversely affect the wages or working conditions of American workers. In addition, the petitioner must be in possession of a temporary labor certification from the U.S. Department of Labor.

The issuance of H2A visas is limited to nationals from 68 approved countries.  An individual may stay in the United States and work under the temporary visa only for the period of time authorized in the employer’s temporary labor certification, which varies from one employer to another.  If the need for employees is greater than anticipated, an employer may apply for an extension for his or her employees under the H2A program. Each extension lasts one year and the maximum stay permitted under this classification is three years. After this, in order to reapply for H2A status, an individual must leave the United States for 3 uninterrupted months before being allowed to return to work in the United States.  Employers are responsible for providing adequate housing for the workers and to provide transportation to and from the workers’ home countries. There is no cap on the number of H2A visas available annually or on the number of H2A visas allowed for any particular country.

H2A recipients are not residents and they are not immigrants.  There is no path to a green card with a H2A visa. Recipients are required to work during their stay. If their employment ends for any reason, their visa expires. They may leave the country and return, but only if authorized by their employer. If they desire to bring family members with them into this country, they must apply separately for an H4 visa. Family members who are recipients of such H4 visas, however, are not permitted to work during their stay in the United States.

It is not only desirable, but also necessary, to consult with an experienced immigration attorney well versed in the complexities of immigration law before submitting an application. Without such assistance, it is extremely difficult to fully understand the limitations and restrictions on any type of visa.


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Refugee Status in the United States

A person may request entry into the United States as a refugee if he or she is located outside of the United States, can demonstrate that he or she is facing persecution due to race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group, is not firmly resettled in another country, and is otherwise admissible to the United States.

In order to begin the process to apply for refugee status, an individual must first be referred to the US Refugee Admissions Program. Having a family member admitted to the United States as a refugee may help the determination. Immediate family members, including spouses and unmarried children under the age of twenty one, can be included in the application. Same sex partners who are unmarried may link their applications and ask to be resettled in the same geographic area. There are no fees to apply for entry to the United States as a refugee. Refugees have a right to expedited processing if they are facing an acute medical or protection problem. Once an individual or family is approved, they will receive a medical examination, a cultural orientation, and a loan for travel expenses.

Refugees are permitted to work immediately upon entering the United States. They must apply for a green card within one year of their entry, but are excused from paying application fees as well as fees for fingerprinting and biometrics. Refugees are permitted to travel abroad, but to reenter the United States, they must first obtain a Refugee Travel Document. If a refugee returns to the country from which he or she originally fled, the refugee must explain the reason for his or her return and how he or she was able to escape persecution. If these travel restrictions are not met, he or she may not be permitted to reenter the United States. Refugees have all the rights of American citizens including the right to free speech, free exercise of religion, freedom of assembly, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures and self-incrimination, the right to own property, the right to an education and access to housing, the right to petition the courts for relief, and the right to public assistance where appropriate.


Thursday, August 4, 2016

Deadline to Submit Applications to Add 7 Months to a 17-Month STEM OPT Extension is August 8, 2016


Foreign Nationals with a current 17-month STEM OPT extension are eligible under the new 24-month STEM OPT regulations to apply to add an additional 7 months to their STEM OPT period.  In order to apply for this 7-month extension, eligible Foreign Nationals must properly file a new Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization (including the required fee and signature) on or before August 8, 2016.  USCIS will not accept applications filed after August 8, 2016.

Foreign Nationals are eligible to add 7 months to their 17-month STEM OPT extension if:

  • They are currently participating in the STEM OPT program based on a 17-month extension;
  • They request the additional 7-month period by filing a new Form I-765 between May 10, 2016 and August 8, 2016, and within 60 days of the date their Designated School Official (DSO) enters the recommendation for the 24-month STEM OPT extension into their SEVIS record;
  • They have at least 150 days of valid employment authorization remaining on their 17-month STEM OPT period on the date that they properly file a new Form I-765; and
  • The Foreign National, their DSO, and their employer each meet all of the 24-month STEM OPT extension requirements. 

For additional information, please see


Read more . . .


Tuesday, May 17, 2016

USCIS Now Allowing Employers to Submit Inquiries if their Extension of Status/Change of Employer Petition has been Pending for 210 Days or More

On April 21, 2016, USCIS began allowing petitioners who have filed Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, requesting an extension of status or change of employer to submit an inquiry after their petition has been pending for 210 days or more. The inquiry can be submitted by calling the USCIS National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283 (TDD for deaf and hard of hearing: 1-800-767-1822), providing the original receipt number, and specifying that the case has been pending for 210 days or more and is outside of normal processing times.
Read more . . .


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