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.
On July 21, 2015, USCIS issued final guidance to employers on when a new or amended H1B petition must be filed following the AAO's decision in the Matter of Simeio Solutions, LLC. In its statement, USCIS has described various scenarios where an H1B amendment must be filed. The most important change is that after August 19, 2015, if there is a change in employment location requiring an amended LCA, then an amended H1B petition must also be filed with USCIS before the employee starts work at the new location. USCIS is also offering a "safe harbor" period until January 15, 2016 for employers to file new/amended H1B petitions to reflect the change in employment location that occurred prior to August 19, 2015. A copy of the USCIS statement can be found here.
USCIS is asking those with DACA EADs issued after February 16, 2015 for a 3-year period to return those EADs to them so they can issue a corrected 2-year EAD to those applicants. Those EADs were issued erroneously and are no longer valid. You must obtain a corrected EAD from USCIS. Please contact our office if you have any questions or require more information on this.
USCIS will begin accepting applications for EADs from eligible H4 visa holders today. As part of the Executive Action in November, President Obama announced that certain H4 visa holders would be eligible to apply for Employment Authorization. In order to be able to file, the H1B spouse must either have an approved I-140 petition or the H1B spouse had his/her H1B extended beyond 6 years based on AC21. Please contact us if you would like to determine if you are eligible for the H4 EAD.
Based on the recent AAO decision in the Matter of Simeio Solutions LLC, USCIS has posted guidance on when H1B amendments are required. Any time an employee is moved to a new work location outside the current MSA, an amended LCA is required to be filed along with an H1B amendment. The employee can commence working at the new location as soon as the H1B amendment is filed and employers need not wait for a decision on this petition. For those employers who relied on earlier USCIS policy and did not file an H1B amendment due to a change in work site, USCIS is providing a grace period until August 19, 2015 to file these H1B amendments and remain in compliance with this new policy of USCIS. After August 19, 2015, employers and employees will be considered to be out of compliance with USCIS policy and regulations. Please contact our office immediately if you would like help in remaining compliant with this new policy of USCIS. You can view the full advisory here.