Immigration News

Employment Authorization for Paroles New Regulation

Date: 08/19/2019

 

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) today issued policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to address its discretion to grant employment authorization to foreign nationals who are paroled into the United States, including those who are otherwise inadmissible.
Certain foreign nationals may be paroled into the United States for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit. Parolees are not entitled to employment authorization solely because they are paroled into the United States, but instead must establish eligibility and apply for employment authorization. USCIS will only consider employment authorization for parolees when, based on the facts and circumstances of each individual case, USCIS finds that a favorable exercise of discretion is warranted.
“Directly addressing loopholes that encourage the exploitation of our immigration system is the only way forward,” said Acting Director Ken Cuccinelli. “Responsible stewardship of our discretionary authorities enhances our ability to provide relief to those who lawfully qualify for it. With that in mind, USCIS is taking action within its discretionary authority by only granting employment authorization to parolees after consideration of all relevant factors on a case-by-case basis. This decision is in response to the national emergency at the southern border where foreign nationals are entering the United States illegally, as well as based on a review of USCIS adjudicatory practices over the past few years.”
USCIS is taking action to strengthen affected programs, such as parole, within its discretionary authority. Through this update, USCIS is providing adjudicators with guidance specific to parole-based employment authorization focusing on officers’ discretion and responsibility to grant employment authorization only after careful consideration of all relevant factors on a case-by-case basis. The policy update aligns USCIS’ guidelines for issuing discretionary employment authorization based on parole with current immigration enforcement priorities.
USCIS continues to adjudicate all petitions, applications, and requests fairly, efficiently, and effectively on a case-by-case basis to determine if they meet all standards required under applicable laws and regulations.
This policy update does not affect individuals paroled into the United States under the International Entrepreneur Rule. Such parolees are authorized to work based on their parole under current Department of Homeland Security regulations governing the International Entrepreneur parole program.

New Trump Administration Rule Lets ICE Rapidly Deport Undocumented Immigrants Without Due Process

Date: 08/01/2019

Under a new Department of Homeland Security (DHS) rule, undocumented immigrants must prove their residency in the United States or they could face expedited deportation. In some cases, the expedited deportation could be carried out before the person has an opportunity to come before a judge. The Trump administration announced the fast track deportation process on July 22, 2019.

What is Fast Track Deportation?
In the past, fast track deportations were typically limited to individuals arrested within two weeks after crossing the border and within 100 miles of the border. The process has now been expanded to apply to anyone who has been in the United States illegally for less than two years, with very few exceptions. According to the DHS, the expedited removal process is another step the administration is taking to address the “ongoing crisis on the southern border.”

With the expedited removal process, ICE has broad powers to deport an individual without allowing that individual the opportunity to see an immigration judge. Depending on how quickly the person is deported, the person may not even have time to find an immigration lawyer.

The policy places the burden of proving that an individual has been in the United States for a minimum of two years on that person. In other words, if an individual does not carry detailed documentation at all times that prove he/she has been in the country for more than two years, he/she will be unable to challenge an expedited removal because he/she will not be allowed to obtain the proof before he/she is detained and deported.

 

Unfortunately, until the administration provides more guidance, agents arresting and detaining immigrants have extremely broad discretion in what they deem adequate proof that the person has been in the country for more than two years. In other words, the immigration officer is serving as the officer, prosecutor, and judge since the person is never allowed to enter a courtroom. Anyone deported under the expedited removal rule does not have the right to appeal the deportation.

Are There Exceptions to the Expedited Removal Rule?
Unaccompanied minors are not subject to the new rule. There is also an exception for immigrants who apply for asylum, claiming they fear persecution if deported. A credible fear hearing and determination on an asylum request could delay immediate deportation.

Texas Service Center to Begin Accepting Form I-129 for Certain H-1B Petitions

Date: 05/21/2019

On May 20, 2019, the Texas Service Center will begin processing Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, for certain H-1B cap-exempt petitions requesting:

A change in previously approved employment;
A change of employer;
Concurrent employment;
Amendments;
A continuation of previously approved employment without change with the same employer;
A change of status to H-1B; or
Notification to a U.S. Consulate or inspection facility (port of entry or pre-flight inspection).
This does not include H-1B petitions for cap-exempt entities, petitions that are cap-exempt based on a Conrad/Interested Government Agency (IGA) waiver under Immigration and Nationality Act Section 214(l), or petitions where the employer is located in Guam or the beneficiary will be performing services in Guam.

The Texas Service Center will share this workload with the California Service Center, Vermont Service Center, and Nebraska Service Center to balance workloads and provide flexibility as USCIS works towards improving processing times and efficiency.

Petitioners filing any of the above H-1B petitions should file their Form I-129 at the address indicated on the Direct Filing Addresses for Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker page. Starting July 19, 2019 , USCIS may reject any of these petitions that are filed at the wrong service center.

TN Pilot program for Canadians seeking J-1 nonimmigrant status

Date: 04/29/2019

USCIS and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) are extending the joint agency pilot program for Canadian citizens seeking L-1 nonimmigrant status under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) through April 30, 2020. Last year, the USCIS California Service Center and the CBP Blaine, Washington, port of entry (POE) announced this pilot program, which was scheduled to run from April 30, 2018, through Oct. 31, 2018, and was later extended for six months.

This pilot program allows, but does not require, Canadian citizens to request that USCIS remotely adjudicate their petitioning employer’s Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, or Form I-129S, Nonimmigrant Petition Based on Blanket L Petition, prior to their arrival or when they arrive at the Blaine POE. USCIS continues to encourage these Canadian citizens and their petitioning employers to email public.engagement@uscis.dhs.gov with feedback on their experience with the pilot program.

The US Embassy Jerusalem, Tel Aviv Branch has confirmed that E-2 visa applications will be accepted as of Wednesday, May 1, 2019.

Date: 04/12/2019

A formal ceremony marking this historic accomplishment is tentatively scheduled to take place on Monday, May 6, 2019, with Ambassador Friedman as the keynote speaker.  The Israel-America Chamber of Commerce  will sponsor the first US and Israel Treaty Investor Seminar immediately following the convocation, with participation from the US Consul, Tel Aviv Branch, and Director of the Israel Population and Immigration Authority. Further information may be found at https://www.e2visa.co.il/.

USCIS has launched an H-1B Employer Data Hub to provide information to the public on employers petitioning for H-1B workers

Date: 04/01/2019

USCIS has launched an H-1B Employer Data Hub to provide information to the public on employers petitioning for H-1B workers. The data hub is part of USCIS’ continued effort to increase transparency in employment-based visa programs by allowing the public to search for H-1B petitioners by fiscal year (back to FY 2009), NAICS code, employer name, city, state, or ZIP code. This will give the public the ability to calculate approval and denial rates and to review which employers are using the H-1B program. Data for individual fiscal years is available to download on the H-1B Employer Data Hub Files page. To help the public use the data hub and understand the terminology in it, USCIS has also created the Understanding Our H-1B Employer Data Hub page.
USCIS will provide cumulative quarterly updates and annual releases of the data and it anticipates updating the H-1B Employer Data Hub quarterly. For example, data for the first quarter (October-December) of a fiscal year will be provided in April of that fiscal year.
 

Premium Processing Begins for Certain Cap-Subject H-1B Petitions on May 20

Date: 04/01/2019

On May 20, USCIS will begin premium processing for FY 2020 cap-subject H-1B petitioners requesting a change of status on their Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker. Petitioners who do not file Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service, concurrently with an FY 2020 cap-subject H-1B petition requesting a change of status must wait until premium processing begins on May 20 to submit Form I-907.

On March 19, we announced that we would offer premium processing in a two-phased approach during the FY 2020 cap season to best manage premium processing requests without fully suspending it. In the past few years, we had to suspend all premium processing for H-1B petitions due to high demand. Based on feedback from the public, we are using this phased approach to benefit petitioners and ensure efficient premium processing. The first phase includes FY 2020 cap-subject H-1B petitions requesting a change of status and the second phase will include all other FY 2020 cap-subject petitions.

Premium processing for all other FY 2020 cap-subject H-1B petitions will not begin until at least June 2019. We will notify the public with a confirmed date for premium processing for cap-subject petitioners not requesting a change of status. At this time, premium processing for H-1B petitions that are exempt from the cap, such as extension of stay requests, remains available.

Pre-paid Mailer Temporary Suspension

Starting on May 20 and continuing through the end of June 3, we will not use pre-paid mailers to send out final notices for premium processing for FY 2020 cap-subject H-1B petitions requesting a change of status. Instead, we will use regular mail. We will be doing this due to resource limitations as we work to process all premium processing petitions in a timely manner. The process for printing approval notices and sending them by regular mail is fully automated, whereas use of the pre-paid mailers requires a separate and more time-consuming manual process. As such, and given the initial surge of premium processing requests for H-1B cap petitions and its impact on USCIS resources, using pre-paid mailers may actually delay the issuance of an approval notice, compared to the standard process or otherwise negatively affect our ability to timely process premium processing petitions. After the two-week period, we intend to resume sending out final notices in pre-paid mailers provided by petitioners, when operationally feasible. We will be following a similar process when premium processing resumes for the second phase of FY 2020 cap-subject H-1B petitions.

USCIS Resumes Premium Processing for All H-1B Petitions

Date: 03/12/2019

USCIS will resume premium processing on Tuesday, March 12, for all H-1B petitions. If you received a request for evidence (RFE) for a pending petition, you should include the RFE response with the premium processing request.

When an H-1B petitioner properly requests the agency’s premium processing service, USCIS guarantees a 15-day processing time. If we do not take certain adjudicative action within the 15‑calendar day processing time, USCIS refunds the petitioner’s premium processing service fee and continues with expedited processing of the petition.

If Your H-1B Petition Was Transferred

If you received a transfer notice for a pending H-1B petition, and you are requesting premium processing service, you must submit the premium processing request to the service center now handling the petition. You should also include a copy of the transfer notice with your premium processing request to avoid possible delays associated with the receipt of your premium processing request. If your petition was transferred and you send your premium processing request to the wrong center, USCIS will forward it to the petition’s current location. However, the premium processing clock will not start until the premium processing request has been received at the correct center.

Please use the below table to determine where you should send your premium processing request if USCIS transferred your petition:

If your petition was transferred to the… Send your premium processing request to…
Nebraska Service Center
USPS:

USCIS Nebraska Service Center
P.O. Box 87129
Lincoln, NE 68501-7129

FedEx, UPS, and DHL deliveries:

USCIS Nebraska Service Center
850 S Street
Lincoln, NE 68508

Vermont Service Center
USPS, FedEx, UPS, and DHL deliveries:

USCIS Vermont Service Center
Attn: I-129 H-1B
30 Houghton Street
St. Albans, VT 05478-2399

Please do not reply to this message.  See our Contact Us page for phone numbers and e-mail addresses.

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H-2B Cap Reached for FY 2019

Date: 02/25/2019

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has received enough petitions to meet the congressionally mandated H-2B cap for the second half of fiscal year (FY) 2019. Feb. 19, 2019, was the final receipt date for new cap-subject H-2B worker petitions requesting an employment start date before Oct. 1, 2019. USCIS will reject new cap-subject H-2B petitions received after Feb. 19 that request an employment start date before Oct. 1, 2019.

On Feb. 19, the number of beneficiaries USCIS received petitions for surpassed the total number of remaining H-2B visas available for the H-2B cap for the second half of FY 2019. In accordance with regulations, USCIS determined it was necessary to use a computer-generated process, commonly known as a lottery, to ensure the fair and orderly allocation of H-2B visa numbers to meet, but not exceed, the remainder of the FY 2019 cap. On Feb. 21, USCIS conducted a lottery to randomly select petitions from those received on Feb. 19. As a result, USCIS assigned all petitions selected in the lottery the receipt date of Feb. 22. Premium processing service for petitions selected in the lottery also began on that date.

USCIS continues to accept H-2B petitions that are exempt from the congressionally mandated cap. This includes petitions for:

Current H-2B workers in the United States petitioning to extend their stay and, if applicable, change the terms of their employment or change their employers;
Fish roe processors, fish roe technicians, and/or supervisors of fish roe processing; and
Workers performing labor or services in the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands and/or Guam from Nov. 28, 2009, until Dec. 31, 2029.
U.S. businesses use the H-2B program to employ foreign workers for temporary nonagricultural jobs. Currently, Congress has set the H-2B cap at 66,000 per fiscal year, with 33,000 for workers who begin employment in the first half of the fiscal year (Oct. 1 - March 31) and 33,000 for workers who begin employment in the second half of the fiscal year (April 1 - Sept. 30) plus any unused numbers from the first half of the fiscal year, if any. However, unused H-2B numbers from one fiscal year do not carry over into the next.

 

 

USCIS Resumes Premium Processing for H-1B Petitions Filed on or before Dec. 21, 2018

Date: 02/21/2019

USCIS will resume premium processing on Tuesday, Feb. 19, for all H-1B petitions filed on or before Dec. 21, 2018. If you received a transfer notice for a pending H-1B petition, and you are requesting premium processing service, you must submit the premium processing request to the service center now handling the petition. You should also include a copy of the transfer notice with your premium processing request to avoid possible delays associated with the receipt of your premium processing request. Additionally, if you received a request for evidence (RFE) for a pending petition, you should also include the RFE response with the premium processing request. If your petition was transferred and you send your premium processing request to the wrong center, USCIS will forward it to the petition’s current location. However, the premium processing clock will not start until the premium processing request has been received at the correct center.

Please use the below table to determine where you should send your premium processing request if USCIS transferred your petition:

If your petition was transferred to the…

Send your premium processing request to…

Nebraska Service Center

USPS:

USCIS Nebraska Service Center
P.O. Box 87129
Lincoln, NE 68501-7129

FedEx, UPS, and DHL deliveries:

USCIS Nebraska Service Center
850 S Street
Lincoln, NE 68508

Vermont Service Center

USPS, FedEx, UPS, and DHL deliveries:

USCIS Vermont Service Center
Attn: I-129 H-1B
30 Houghton Street
St. Albans, VT 05478-2399

When an H-1B petitioner properly requests the agency’s premium processing service, USCIS guarantees a 15-day processing time. If we do not take certain adjudicative action within the 15‑calendar day processing time, USCIS refunds the petitioner’s premium processing service fee and continues with expedited processing of the petition.

The previously announced temporary suspension of premium processing remains in effect for H-1B petitions to which it applied that were filed on or after Dec. 22, 2018. On Jan. 28, we resumed premium processing for FY 2019 cap-subject petitions, including those eligible for the advanced degree exemption. We plan to resume premium processing for the remaining categories of H‑1B petitions as agency workloads permit.

We will continue to notify the public via https://www.uscis.gov/ when we begin accepting premium processing for other categories of H-1B petitions.

Please do not reply to this message.  See our Contact Us page for phone numbers and e-mail addresses.

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