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Friday, July 31, 2020

USCIS Adjusts Fees Effective October 2, 2020

On July 31, 2020, the Department of Homeland Security announced a final rule that will adjust certain immigration and naturalization fees charged by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to ensure that USCIS has the resources it needs to provide adequate service to applicants and petitioners.  The rule will also remove certain fee exemptions, change fee waiver requirements, alter premium processing time limits, and modify intercountry adoption processing.  The final rule is effective October 2, 2020.

Read more . . .


Thursday, January 31, 2019

DHS Announces Final Rule for H-1B Program

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a final rule which will amend regulations governing H-1B cap-subject petitions. The final rule will reverse the order by which USCIS selects H-1B “cap” petitions for processing and will introduce a requirement for electronic registration for those petitioners filing H-1B cap-subject petitions. This rule will be effective April 1, 2019, although the requirement for electronic registration will be suspended for the Fiscal Year 2020 cap season (i.e. that requirement will take effect for next year’s cap filing season).

USCIS will initially select H-1B “cap” petitions submitted on behalf of all beneficiaries and those eligible for the advanced degree exemption starting April 1, 2019. USCIS will then select from the remaining advanced degree exemption eligible petitions. Previously, the advanced degree exemption “mini cap” was selected first. The reverse of this selection order is expected to result in an estimated increase of up to 5,340 (or 16%) workers in the number of selected petitions possessing a U.S. Master’s or a higher degree. 

Read more . . .


Thursday, December 20, 2018

USCIS Expands Information Services Modernization Program to Key Field Offices

Please be advised that USCIS has begun expanding its Information Services Modernization Program across key field offices beginning November 13, 2018 to now include the Detroit office and the five Los Angeles District offices.  During the first quarter of FY 2019, USCIS will implement the program in the Great Lakes and San Francisco field offices and across all New York City area field offices (NYC (Manhattan), Queens, Brooklyn as well as Long Island and Newark).  In fact, it is expected that by the end of 2019, INFOPASS appointments will no longer be available at any local USCIS office.  Individuals living in the areas covered by the program can schedule an appointment by calling the USCIS National Customer Service Center at (800) 375-5283.

Read more . . .


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.
Read more . . .


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.


Read more . . .


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.


Read more . . .


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.


Read more . . .


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.


Read more . . .


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.


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