USCIS announced today that it will extend the suspension of Premium Processing to cap-subject H1B petitions beyond September 1, 2018. It is now expanding this suspension from September 11, 2018 for all H1B petitions that are filed at Vermont Service Center or California Service Center. It expects to resume Premium Processing for all H1B petitions by February 19, 2019. This suspension will not affect the following H1B petitions -
- Cap-exempt petitions that are filed exclusively at the California Service Center because the employer is cap-exempt or because the beneficiary will be employed at a qualifying cap exempt institution, entity, or organization; or
- H1B petitions filed with the Nebraska Service Center by an employer requesting a “Continuation of previously approved employment without change with the same employer”.
This temporary suspension of premium processing will not apply to any other nonimmigrant classifications filed on Form I-129.
USCIS today issued notification that it will delay implementation of the NTA Policy memo of June 28, 2018 (which I discussed in my previous post) until they get more operational guidance. This is good news and hopefully, they will consider the full ramifications of such a policy before going forward.
July 13, 2018 Memo titled "Issuance of Certain RFEs and NOIDs; Revisions to Adjudicator’s Field Manual (AFM) Chapter 10.5(a), Chapter 10.5(b)”
Date effective - September 11, 2018
This policy memo was issued to provide guidance to USCIS officers regarding the discretion to deny an application, petition, or request without first issuing a Request for Evidence (RFE) or Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID) if initial evidence is not submitted or if the evidence in the record does not establish eligibility. It rescinds the June 3, 2013 PM titled “Requests for Evidence and Notices of Intent to Deny” (2013 PM) which provided that an officer should issue an RFE in most circumstances unless it was clear that no document could be provided that would cure the deficiency in the filing.
Under the new policy, the officer is no longer required to issue an RFE or NOID first. They can deny cases directly “for failure to establish eligibility based on lack of required initial evidence.” This could affect all types of employment-based and family-based cases which are missing forms or other required documentation. USCIS has said that this change is being made mainly to deter people from filing frivolous or "place-holder" petitions but it remains to be seen as to how they will implement this policy. It is imperative that all petitions should be filed with all the required documents as there may not be a chance to correct them or provide additional documents, under this memo.
Please contact our office to schedule a consultation if you would like more information on the above policy memorandums and to discuss how it might affect you.
June 28 Memo titled “Updated Guidance for the Referral of Cases and Issuance of Notices to Appear (NTAs) in Cases Involving Inadmissible and Deportable Aliens” (“NTA Policy Memo”)
Date effective - Immediate (the agencies have 30 days to resolve how they will implement it).
On June 28, 2018, USCIS issued the NTA Policy memo. This memo supersedes a 2011 policy memorandum and expands the circumstances under which USCIS officers could issue an NTA. The NTA Policy memo is a result of the implementation memorandum issued by DHS Secretary John Kelly related to the President’s enforcement priorities in his President’s Executive Order 13678, Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States.
The NTA Policy memo states that USCIS will issue NTAs in the following cases -
A Notice to Appear is a charging document issued by the Department of Homeland Security to place foreign nationals in removal proceedings. Of particular interest is the 5th prong of the memo which is explained in the memo thus, “USCIS will issue an NTA where, upon issuance of an unfavorable decision on a application or petition, or benefit request, the alien is not lawfully present in the United States.” This is alarming because it now means that if any application, petition, or benefit request is denied by the USCIS and the foreign national is not lawfully present, USCIS will issue an NTA. Also, if a lawfully present individual’s application or petition is denied and he or she is removable, USCIS will issue an NTA if he or she falls into one of the other specific enforcement categories listed above.
If any of your employees is issued an NTA after the denial of a petition, please notify our office immediately as time is of the essence and it will be important to formulate a strategy to help the beneficiary. Please note that USCIS is only required to mail the NTA to the last-known address of the beneficiary. Therefore, it is also important for the beneficiary to update their address with USCIS in a timely manner, if they move. Once an NTA is issued, the foreign national must appear before an Immigration Judge to determine if the foreign national must be removed from the country or if he/she is entitled to any other form of relief. Failure to apply at a court proceeding under the NTA could result in the issuance of an in-absentia order of removal which bars re-entry into the US for 5 years.
In light of the above memo, it is very important to discuss all possibilities before filing extensions/change of status petitions and to try and file them in a timely manner. Most extension petitions can be filed 180 days before the expiry of the current petition. There are many options that can be considered, including filing under Premium processing (so the decision is obtained before the expiry of the current I-94) or requesting Consular processing of the extension or change of status petition (to allow the alien beneficiary leave the country when their I-94 expires). These policies will affect immigrant visa petitions like I-140 and I-485 petitions also and it is important that the beneficiary should continue to maintain their underlying non-immigrant visa status while their Adjustment of status petition is still pending.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has resumed premium processing today for all H-1B visa petitions subject to the FY2018 cap. This includes those petitions which are under the Master's cap also. In addition to this, USCIS previously resumed premium processing H-1B petitions filed on behalf of physicians under the Conrad 30 waiver program, as well as interested government agency waivers and for certain H-1B petitions that are not subject to the cap. Premium processing remains temporarily suspended for all other H-1B petitions, such as extensions of stay, change of employer or H1B amendment petitions.
Recently, the Trump administration has made the decision to rescind the DACA program as of March 5, 2018. This gives Congress 6 months to work out a deal and pass a law that will protect the Dreamers permanently. After March 5, 2018, if no action is taken by Congress, the Dreamers will lose their DACA protection and their EADs on their expiry dates. Here's what you need to know if you are a recipient of DACA benefits -
USCIS announced this morning that it will resume Premium Processing for H1B petitions that are filed by Cap-Exempt employers, i.e. * An institution of higher education;
* A nonprofit related to or affiliated with an institution of higher education; or
* A nonprofit research or governmental research organization.
Previously, USCIS had resumed Premium Processing on June 26th for H-1B petitions filed on behalf of physicians under the Conrad 30 waiver program as well as interested government agency waivers.
This is good news for some employers. Hopefully, USCIS will resume Premium Processing for all H1B petitions soon.
Please note that USCIS announced on Friday, March 3rd that it will suspend Premium Processing for all H1B petitions filed on or after April 3rd, 2017. This is expected to last about 6 months. This will include all new H1B petitions filed towards the H1B cap for fiscal year 2018. USCIS has stated that this will enable them to move resources towards pending H1B petitions and reduce current processing times. You can read their full press release here.
In light of this, if you have any pending H1 petitions that you would like to convert to Premium Processing or any extensions to be filed under Premium Processing, etc., please let me know as soon as possible so they can be filed prior to April 3rd.
President Donald Trump has issued a new Executive Order today (which revokes the previous Executive Order issued on January 27, 2017) suspending travel of foreign nationals from 6 countries for a period of 90 days. This Executive Order goes into effect at 12.01 AM EST on March 16, 2017.
Who Does this EO apply to?
- Foreign nationals (which includes both nationals and citizens) from Sudan, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia and Yemen who are outside the US as of March 16th, 2017;
- The foreign nationals from the above countries who do not have a currently valid visa to travel to the US and did not have a valid visa at 5.00 PM EST of January 27, 2017.
The new EO does not apply to -
- Lawful permanent residents of the United States;
- Foreign nationals admitted to the United States after the effective date of the order;
- Individuals with a document that is valid on the effective date of the order or any date thereafter which permits travel to the United States;
- Dual nationals when traveling on a passport issued by a non-designated country;
- Foreign nationals traveling on diplomatic, NATO, C-2 for travel to the United Nations, G-1, G-2, G-3, or G-4 visas; and - Individuals already granted asylum or refugee status in the United States before the effective date of the order.
Refugee Admissions Program
Further, the Refugee Admissions Program will be temporarily suspended for the next 120 days while DHS and other agencies review screening procedures to ensure refugees admitted in the future do not pose a security risk to the United States. Upon resumption, refugee admissions to the United States will not exceed 50,000 for fiscal year 2017. The Executive Order does not apply to those refugees who have already been formally scheduled for transit by the State Department
There is a detailed Q & A on this issue on the DHS website which you can access here.
USCIS published new filing fees in the Federal Register on 10/24/2016. All petitions which are mailed, postmarked or filed on or after December 23, 2016 must include the new fees. The table below lists the new fees for some of the more popular petitions. If you have been waiting to file a petition, please contact us right away so we can determine if it can be filed before the new fees go into effect. You can read the full announcement in the Federal Register here.