Matthew Oh Attorney Blog

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DISCLAIMER: The Oh Law Firm and its Lawyers are not responsible for reliance by the reader on this information as each individual situation may be unique and different. The readers are advised to seek legal counsel from a qualified immigration attorney. The information stated here is subject to change.

The posting in the Breaking News requires visitors' some level of knowledge of immigration issues. Reading one posting without closely following previous postings will result in reading it out of context. The laws, policies, and practices of agencies are constantly changing and people should be careful in reading old postings. People should not take the news in this page as a legal advice. The purpose of Breaking News is to feed into the immigrant communities up to the minute news, especially inside information of agencies' decision making. Just like any other news reporting, the life span of the news can be very short. This is not a text book or a law book. It is a "news report." This site will welcome "only" those visitors who follow the news reports everyday just like the subscribers of daily newspapers. The sole purpose of this site is to serve the immigrant communities.

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12/10/2018: Effective Today, USCIS Field Office in Havana, Cuba Permanently Closed

  • Please read the announcement to learn visa application consular offices for the Cubans.

12/10/2018: USCIS Policy Memorandum 11/30/2018 on Interview Waiver Guidance for I-751

  • This guidance explains that officers may consider waiving an interview if they are satisfied that:
    " They can make a decision based on the record because it contains sufficient evidence about the bona fides of the marriage and that the marriage was not entered into in order to evade U.S. immigration laws;
    " For Form I-751 cases received on or after December 10, 2018, USCIS has previously interviewed the principal petitioner;
    " There is no indication of fraud or misrepresentation in the Form I-751 or the supporting documentation; and
    " There are no complex facts or issues that require an interview to resolve.
    When determining whether to waive an interview, these considerations apply regardless of whether the Form I-751 is filed as a joint petition or as a waiver of the joint filing requirement.

12/06/2018: State Department Visa Office Meeting with AILA and Updates as of 10/18/2018 for Various Topics

  • U.S. Department of State has released this minute, updating its visa processing and related practices and policies. The meeting updated the following subjects:
    • Exceptions under Section 3(b) of Presidential Proclamation 9645
    • Waivers under Section 3(c) of PP 9645
    • Visa Processing while a Waiver is under Consideration
    • Visa Processing while a Waiver is under Consideration
    • Public Charge Issues
    • Domicile of Financial Sponsor
    • Prudential Revocation
    • Consular Posts Email Addresses
    • Petition Revocations
    • KIWI Act
    • Ecuador Treaty Visa Eligibility
    • Visa Applications Payments in Mexico
    • E-1/E-2 Processing
    • Scope of Review
    • CEAC
    • Panel Physicians
    • INA §212(a)(6)(B)
    • Mission India
    • KCC
    • FAM Questions
    • Visa Bulletin Questions
    • Exchange Visitor Questions
  • Our readers should update consular visa processing updates!

12/06/2018: Comment Period for Proposed Rule of Modernizing Recruitment Requirements for H-2A Program Extended from 12/10/2018 to 12/28/2018

  • Here is the advance copy of the ETA Notice.

12/06/2018: Comment Period for Proposed Rule of Modernizing Recruitment Requirements for H-2B Program Extended from 12/10/2018 to 12/28/2018

  • DOL and USCIS will publish the notices in the federal register tomorrow that the comment period will be extended until 12/28/2019.

12/06/2018: Congress Passed H.J. Res. 143 Stop-Gap Appropriation Bill This Afternoon

  • The House quickly passed this bill at noon, followed by the U.S. Senate by unanimous voice vote! This bill included the DHS appropriations. There will be no government shutdown until 12/21/2018. President is likely to sign this bill despite its earlier disagreement. For other details, please read the GovevnmentExecutive report.

12/06/2018: Pouring-in of Comments for the Draft H-1B Regislation Tool

  • In the last two days, 56 comments have been submitted by immigration stakeholders. The two most issues which immigration stakeholders are concerned include the mechanism to detect and control abuse of registrations which may involve a potential huge increase of H-1B cap submissions by employers and potential mushrooming of higher learning institutions to take advantage of the revised H-1B cap system, among others.

12/06/2018: Reportedly Another Stop-Gap Appropriation Bill Introduced on 12/03/2018 and Wait for Voting and Signature by the President B/4 12/08/2018

  • Reportedly, the Congress and the President reached agreement not to shut down the government, and based on such internal agreement, H.J. Res.143 was introduced in the House, but due to the President George H.W. Bush funeral, official voting has been delayed until now. Accordingly, the government shut-down drama and fight will be delayed through 12/21/2018. The sunsetting immigration programs in the Immigration Statute will thus be automatically extended until 12/21/2018, should the Congress pass and the President signs it before the mid-night of tomorrow.

12/05/2018: "Draft" of H-1B "Registration" Tool per Proposed H-1B Registration Rule

  • Along with the Proposed H-1B Registration Rule itself, USCIS is seeking comments to its "draft" of the H-1B Registration Tool since 12/03/2018. The OMB has already received quite a number of comments from the public. The draft proposed registration form appears to require very limited information about the employer, legal counsel, and employee. It does appear that this draft may be revised before they fix it in the federal register early next year (January or a little after that in 2019). This reporter encourages readers and stakeholders to send in as many comments as possible to help the USCIS rule making office.
  • The registration form as well as G-28 form for lawyers should be filed online using the ICAM information collection (OMB control number 1615-0122) in order to access the H-1B registration process.

12/05/2018: OFLC Webinar on 12/19/2018 on PERM Help-Desk Inquiry Submission Process

  • This webinar is designed to provide technical assistance regarding the Electronic Helpdesk Inquiry Submission Process associated with the Permanent Labor Certification Online System Helpdesk Module. Details of the webinar are as follows:
    DATE: Wednesday, December 19, 2018
    TIME: 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. EST
    Link to the webinar:
    Teleconference: 1-877-917-3612
    Attendee access code: 7763886
    Meeting password: Welcome!68

12/04/2018: Alert: All U.S. Post Offices Will be Closed on Wednesday, 12/05/2015, to Honor Late President George H.W. Bush

  • There will also be no regular mail delivery tomorrow. Package delivery will be limited as well.

12/04/2018: USCIS Announces its Offices Closed 12/05/2018 Tomorrow Pursuant to the President Executive Order

  • All USCIS offices will be closed Wednesday. USCIS will reschedule all naturalization ceremonies, interviews, and appointments set for that day. USCIS will schedule new dates and promptly inform those affected. All applicants with biometric appointments scheduled for Wednesday will receive a new appointment notice within three weeks.
  • The USCIS Contact Center will be open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Eastern time, but with limited live help. You can also get basic information about immigration services and ask questions about your case on our Tools page.

12/04/2018: Clarification of Proposed "Revised" H-1B Cap Selection System

  • Our readers are very confused about how the new proposed system work since the proposed rule includes a huge number of pages and their explanation is confusing and hard to configure how the new system will work. We want to cite the report of Center for Immigration Studies, a hardline immigration organization, that describes well how the new system will work. Here it is: (The new system appaently stemmed from Professor Hira, hartline anti-immigration scholor).
    • "The proposal would reverse the sequence of the two lotteries. This did not seem to make much sense to this non-mathematician....:
    • As described, the current lottery system does not provide an optimal mechanism for achieving that aim [a higher percentage of H-1Bs with U.S. master's degrees] because it dilutes the candidate pool in a manner that greatly diminishes the possibility of adding 20,000 such H-1B nonimmigrants beyond those that would be admitted without the advanced degree exemption allocation.
      Still puzzled, I reached out to Professor Ron Hira of Howard University, the academic with the best grasp of H-1B in the nation. That turned out to be a good move on my part. Hira, unknown to me, testified before a U.S. Senate committee back in 2013, calling for such a shift in the lottery sequence. And then he presented an illustration to me of how it would have worked with the current (spring 2018) set of applicants, using the term "master's +" for those candidates with either a master's degree or a doctorate:
    • [There] are 190,098 total applicants, 95,885 of which are master's +. The current USCIS lottery sequence first gives 20K to master's applicants from the master's cap. So the remaining pool would be 170k, with 76k being master's+. That means that the remaining master's+ would have a 45 percent chance of winning the 65k cap; 28,998 master's+ would win the 65k lottery. The net result of the current system is that 48,998 master's+ are selected.
    • In the system I'm proposing, the random lottery would be re-sequenced. Run the lottery on the 65k base first. In this scenario, master's+ would have a 50.4 percent chance of winning the base cap lottery. That would translate into 32,786 master's+ winning. Then allocate the remaining 20k to the master's cap. The net result of my proposed system is that 52,786 master's+ are selected. This is a modest but material difference favoring U.S.-earned master's + applicants.
      The assumption is that an H-1B worker with an American master's degree or a doctorate would be better trained than someone with either just a bachelor's degree or someone with an overseas master's or doctorate.
    • So in that instance, there would be 3,788 more H-1B workers admitted for that year who had a superior education to the educational mix than we would get under the current system...."
  • The foregoing quote is the report of the writer of the Center for Immigration Studies.

12/03/2018: Government Shut-Down Likely Avoided at Least Until 12/21/2018 with a Very Short Term Stop-Gap Appropriation Legislation

  • Current continuing legislation to fund federal government including DHS will run out on 12/07/2018. However, according to a report, owing to the President H.W. Bush funeral on Wednesday, the legislators of both parties as well as President Trump are forced to delay their negotiation for FY 2019 appropriations bill and are likely to pass and sign a very short term stop-gap legislation before 12/07/2018. Any threat of the government shut-down will thus be delayed until 12/21/2018.

12/03/2018: OPM Announcement of Federal Office Closures on 12/05/2018 Wednesday per Executive Order in Honour of President George H.W. Bush Memorial

  • This official announcement of the United States Office of Personnel Management confirms our report from Government Executive news on 12/01/2018. It is expected that immigration stakeholder agencies are expected to release whether they are exempt from this Presidential Order of federal offices' closure on Wednesday. Thanks to Government Executive for this update.

12/03/2018: H-1B Cap Pre-Registration Requirement Proposed Rule Comment Period Expireson 01/03/2019

  • USCIS is expediting this proposed rule making with apparent plan to use the revised H-1B cap rule in FY 2020 H-1B cap season that begins on 04/01/2019.

12/01/2018: Reportedly, President Signed an Executive Order to Close Federal Office on Wednesday to Honor the Deceased 41st President George H.W. Bush

  • Government Executive reports that President Trump announced the closures in an executive order on Saturday out of respect for the 41st president, who died on Friday. Federal agencies may order some offices to remain open Wednesday for national security purposes, according to the executive order. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) had not issued an operating status announcement as of late Saturday afternoon. It is not clear whether the USCIS and DOL/OFLC will remain opened. The OPM is likely to announce it officially on Monday or earlier. Please stay tuned.

12/01/2018: PEW Relearch Center Releases Their Findings on "Immigrants" in the United States

  • Readers may find it very insteresting. A good reading material for the weekend.

12/01/2018: Positive News, Albeit for Now, for Immigration Form Revisitions: I-539

  • Readers will remember that we reported earlier that USCIS submitted OMB/OIRA draft of revised immigration forms, which OMB/OIRA rejected the draft for failire to submit the comments received and ordered to resubmit the proposed revised forms correcting the defects. We have just learned that USCIS resubmitted YESTERDAY 11/30/2018 its proposed revised I-539 form attaching the comments. Besides, the new revised draft "dropped" a list of questions relating to PUBLIC CHARGE/BENEFIT detailed questions in the form. This reporter does not have any implication of this change in the redrafted form (one of our speculation could be related to the pending expanded public charge inadmissibility proposed rule which is still pending and it may be inappropriate to ask such questions in the immigration forms without amendment of the public charge rule), but for now, this should be taken, at least, a positive news for immigrant community and local governments for now that oppose "strongly" expanded public charge inadmissibility questions of nonimmigrant and immigrant application attempt by the USCIS. We will keep our eye on the OMB/OIRA decision on the revised proposed I-539 form.
  • We will also keep our eye on the forthcoming new revised nonimmigrant and immigrant forms which included in the initial draft a list of Public Charge/Benefit inadmissility questions and faced OMB/OIRA challenge last month (November) and USCIS is scheduled to resubmit the proposed revision of draft revision forms in the near future.

11/30/2018: H-1B Cap Registration Proposed Rule Published in the Federal Register 12/03/2018 Authorizing Suspension of Registration for FY 2020 H-1B Cap Lottry for Technical Issue

  • USCIS announces that the proposed rule includes a provision that would enable USCIS to temporarily suspend the registration process during any fiscal year in which USCIS may experience technical challenges with the H-1B registration process and/or the new electronic system. The proposed temporary suspension provision would also allow USCIS to up-front delay the implementation of the H-1B registration process past the fiscal year (FY) 2020 cap season, if necessary to complete all requisite user testing and vetting of the new H-1B registration system and process. While USCIS has been actively working to develop and test the electronic registration system, if the rule is finalized as proposed, but there is insufficient time to implement the registration system for the FY 2020 cap selection process, USCIS would likely suspend the registration requirement for the FY 2020 cap season
  • Currently, in years when the H-1B cap and the advanced degree exemption are both reached within the first five days that H-1B cap petitions may be filed, the advanced degree exemption is selected prior to the H-1B cap. The proposed rule would reverse the selection order and count all registrations or petitions towards the number projected as needed to reach the H-1B cap first. Once a sufficient number of registrations or petitions have been selected for the H-1B cap, USCIS would then select registrations or petitions towards the advanced degree exemption. This proposed change would increase the chances that beneficiaries with a master's or higher degree from a U.S. institution of higher education would be selected under the H-1B cap and that H-1B visas would be awarded to the most-skilled and highest-paid beneficiaries. Importantly, the proposed process would result in an estimated increase of up to 16 percent (or 5,340 workers) in the number of selected H-1B beneficiaries with a master's degree or higher from a U.S. institution of higher education.

11/29/2018: USCIS Policy Memorandum of 11/15/2018 Clarifies the "L-1" 1-Year Foreign Employment Requirement

  • This policy memorandum revises its Chapter 32.3 of the Adjudicator’s Field Manual (AFM) clarifying the "one-year foreign employment requirement" for L-1 nonimmigrant visa qualification. Read the details.
  • USCIS announcement emphasizes the following points:
    • The L-1 beneficiary must be physically outside the United States during the required one continuous year of employment, except for brief trips to the United States for business or pleasure; andl
    • The petitioner and the beneficiary must meet all requirements, including the one year of foreign employment, at the time the petitioner files the initial L-1 petition.
    • Except as noted in the PM, the one year of foreign employment must occur within the three-year period preceding the date the L-1 petition is filed. USCIS will calculate the three-year period during which the beneficiary must meet the one-year foreign employment requirement. The PM also clarifies what time will be taken into consideration in determining when the three-year period begins.

11/29/2018: House Passed Yesterday H.R. 7164 Bill Without Amendment to Add Ireland as One of the E-3 Visa Eligible Countries

  • Very swift action. It now moves to the Republican Senate. For now, good news for Irish people!!

11/28/2018: U.S. House Bill H. R. 7164 is Scheduled to be on the Floor Today To add Ireland to the E–3 Nonimmigrant Visa Pprogram

  • E-3 nonimmigrant visa program has been used by the Australians extensively. The House of Representatives is scheduled on the House floor today. E-3 country designation of Ireland will help the nationals of Ireland to overcome the hurdles for their professional workers to enter the United States in a nonimmigrant status.

11/26/2018: Text of House Bill H.R. 7150 to Prevent DHS from Repeal of H-4 EAD Regulation

  • Rep. Anna Eshoo and Rep. Zoe Lofgren introduced a "one sentence" bill to prohibit the DHS from repeal of H-4 EAD. They also submitted a letter to the DHS Director. The chance of this bill is not too promising because of the composition of U.S. Senate with bi-partisan union support Senators who have been strong fighting against this type of bill. But who knows? Just an update for H-4 spouses who have been anxiously waiting for decision on H-4 EAD repeal plan of the current USCIS leadership.

11/26/2018: Proposed Extension of Certain Immigration Forms (For Advance Copy, Please Click the Form for Revision Form Announcement)

  • USCIS will publish in the federal register tomorrow the notice of extension of the following forms with some "revisions"
    • N-600: No step children citizenship
    • I-924 and 924A: EB-5 Regional Center designation requirement change
  • USCIS will publish in the federal register tomorrow the notice of extension of the following forms without any revisions
    • I-589
    • I-612: J-1 foreign residence requirement waiver
    • N-565: Citizenship Certificate Replacement Application
    • I-821: TPS application
    • I-929: U-1 family member petition

11/25/2018: OFLC Offers "California Wild Fire" Guidance on "Accomodations"

  • OFLC offers various accomodations for permanent and temporary labor certifications issues for those stakeholders and their legal counsels who have been suffering from the wild fire lately to comply with the rules timely and in other matters. Employers and their legal counsels who have been suffering from this problem should read the OFLC Guidance which was announced on 11/21/2018.

11/25/2018: OFLC Schedules Two-Webinars on "Filing Tips for Submitting the Form ETA-9035/9035E, Labor Condition Application (LCA)" on 11/28/2018

  • Ever since the revised LCA forms were implemented, employers and their legal representatives have been encountring a number of technical problems to file the LCAs. For the reasons, OFLC has decided and announced that they will offer two webiners: One between 10:00-11:00 A.M. (EST) and the other between 3:00-4:00 P.M. (EST). You can participate in the Webinar by telephone as well, but from our experience, participation by telephone did not help because we could not see their "illustration" of "how to" in eyes. Accordingly, this reporter strongly suggests that employers and legal counsels to particpated in the "webinar" mode. For the details, please click here. They schedule two webinars at the different times to accomodate West Coast and East Coast time zones.

11/25/2018: Well, a Short-Lived Reported Deal for Asylum Seekers between Trump Administration and Mexican Government

  • In Mexico, the newly elected government is not scheduled to take over the government until December 1, 2018. Guess what, current government in Mexico reputed the alleged deal between the Trump Administration and the newly elected upcoming new Mexican government. For the reasons, the asylum seekers at the southern borders are facing crisis!! This reporter cannot any word for the event that has developed during the past 24 hours!

11/24/2018: "New" Mexican Government Reportedly Decided to Allow Current Asylum Seekers to Stay in Mexico Pending Assessments of Their Claims by the Courts in U.S.

  • Report today indicates that Trump Administration has informally striken a deal with the incoming new Mexican government to keep curent asylum seekers in Mexico for a period of time pending review of their asylum claims by courts in the United States. Reportedly, the new government in Mexico does not take over the current government until December 1, 2018, but it is only about one week away, and temporarily, Trump Administration will suspend and reduce incoming asylum seekers in the territory of the United States. For other details, read the Washington Post report.
  • There is no information available about the bargins given to the new Mexican government by the Trump Administration for the alleged deal. Additionally, it is not certain how this new development will affect the potential U.S. government shutdown after December 7, 2018. President Trump has been threatening to gamble the government shutdown on 12/08/2018 unless he gets the Southern Border Wall money. Obviously, his threat may potentially involve immigration restrictive reforms as well. We will watch carefully.

11/24/2018: CompeteAmerica Urges USCIS Not to Implement Pending Revised H-1B Cap Rule in FY 2020 H-1B Cap Season That Starts on April 1, 2019

  • On November 21, 2018, Compete America submitted a letter to USCIS and Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) leadership addressing concerns regarding the timing of the initial implementation of the new H-1B pre-registration process and the agency’s apparent mischaracterization of this rule as one that is not economically significant. There are several concerns and reasons.
  • As we reported day before yesterday, the OMB/OIRA cleared the "proposed rule" in a very short period time of one month and four days, designating the proposed rule as "Economically Significant" instead of economonically not significant. Other than whether economically significant or not significant, there are real and legitimate issues which were raised by the CompeteAmerica. One is the alleged inherent defect with the online pre-registration requirement and selection of cap winners based on limited informations provided by the employers in the registration without the details of H-1B eligibility at the registration stage. Other factor is a short period of timing which will be available for the stakeholders to submit comments and for OIRA to review before the final rule and the revised cap program is implemented in a short period of time. The CompeteAmerica did not officially raised it but implicitly raised the issue of potential new criteria of selection for winners. Currently employers and foreign workers are watching carefully the timing of the release of the proposed "Registration Requirement" rule of H-1B cap selections.

11/23/2018: USCIS 11/21/2018 Announcement of Immigration Services Available for Those Affected by Super Typhoon Yutu in the CNMI

11/22/2018: OMB/OIRA Cleared on 11/21/2018 the Proposed Rule of Registration Requirement for Petitioners Seeking To File H-1B Petitions on Behalf of Cap Subject Aliens

  • This proposed rule was submitted to the OMB for the clearance on 10/17/2018 by the USCIS, and it was cleared by the OMB/OIRA yesterday. Since this is a "proposed" rule version, the USCIS will have to somehow expedite the rule-making process if they intend to implement this rule in the form of an Interim or final rule which is legally binding rule beginning from upcoming H-1B cap filing season for FY 2020. For the reason, the USCIS is likely to publish this approved proposed rule in the federal register in the near future. Please stay tuned.
  • As we reported earlier, this rule will require two steps of filing for H-1B cap petition; first online filing of "registration" of the employer which will go through the online process for selection of cap cases, followed by paper filing of H-1B cap petition by the selected employer with the USCIS Service Centers. The selection criteria will likely involve some process for selection to achieve the intended purpose of the rule to achieve as many as possible of U.S. Master or Higher degree selection goal under the rule. This remains a mystery at this point, but we will find it out soon when the proposed rule is published in the federal register in the near future. Happy Thanksgiving!!

11/21/2018: USCIS Updated Policy Guidance on NTA with 47 Questions and Answers 11/15/2018

  • This is a MUST-READ update. Not only because of the update but also because of 47 Questions and Answers!!

11/21/2018: USCIS Proposed Rules to Add "Public Charge" Questions in Immigration Forms Faced OIRA Decisions of Witholding Approval for Deficiencies in Procedures

  • USCIS has been proposding to the OMB/OIRA to revise various nonimmigrant and immigrant forms to add the questions on "Public Charge" or "Public Benefits" inadmissibility questions, but on 11/19/2018, the OIRA withheld the approval with the comment that OIRA iswithholding approval at this time. Prior to publication of the final rule, the agency must submit to OIRA a summary of all comments related to the information collection contained in theproposed rule and the agency response. The agency should clearly indicate any changes made to the information collection as a result of these comments. Accordingly, the USCIS plans to revise these immigration forms will be delayed until the agency complies with the rule-making procedures. However, it is likely that eventually they will achieve the revision of the immigrations, adding Public Charge questions in various immigration forms to determine inadmissibility of the involved nonimmigrants and immigrants for public benefits issues. For the reasons, immigrants and nonimmigrants should stay away from public benefits applications for them and their family members.

11/17/2018: USCIS Data on Affirmative Asylum Office Workload September 2018

  • Applications filed, received, and reopened
  • Interviews scheduled, conducted, and cancelled
  • Preliminary decisions
  • Cases adjudicated
  • Cases completed
  • Charging documents served
  • Cases pending at the end of month
  • Asylum application data by office and leading nationalities

11/16/2018: Upcoming FY-2020 H-1B Cap Season With Reported Reform of Process of Selection of H-1B Cap Winners

  • Traditionally H-1B cap started on April 1 of the year and employers have been filing H-1B cap petitions beginning from April 1 of the year and closed within five working days from April 1. Close of the cap filing season is then followed by the USCIS computer random selection process of the annual cap numbers in different tracks: U.S. Master Degree Cap track and Non U.S. Master Degree Regular Cap track, adding some U.S. Master degree cases which failed to be selected in the U.S. Master Degree Cap track selection process.
  • USCIS intends to change the current system. It submitted a proposed rule of "Registration Requirement" on October 17, 2018 to the OMB to change the cap filing and selection process beginning from FY 2020 H-1B cap season, according to the reports. Text of the proposed rule is currently not available, but according to the previously published proposed "Registration Requirement" rule of 2011, USCIS intended to change it to "two-tier" filing processs: (1) Firstly, before employers can submit the H-1B cap petitions, employers would have to file"online registration" of H-1B cap employers, probably in March, giving the basic information of employers, basic information of the jobs and qualification requirements, and the basic information of the foreign worker beneficiaries. Then, USCIS would initiate random selection process beginning from April 1 of the year to select "Registrants"pursuant to the given selection criteria. (2) Such random "Registrant" selection process would be followed by the selected employers to file the "H-1B cap petitions" per the H-1B petition rule.
  • The USCIS has yet to disclose the text of "Registration Requirement" proposed rule of October 17, 2018 which is still pending at the OMB. According to the available information, the USCIS may adopt very similar procedure of random selection system of earlier published 2011 proposed rule. However, when it comes to the selection criteria, the USCIS is likely to bring a substantial change. According to the purpose of the proposed rule of 2018, it is not only intended to achieve efficiency and effectiveness of cap selection process, but also the reform intends to "help ensure that H-1B visas are awarded to the most-skilled or highest-paid petition beneficiaries, to help to streamline the process for administering the H-1B cap and increase the probability of the total number of petitions selected under the cap filed for H-1B beneficiaries who possess a master’s or higher degree from a "U.S." institution of higher education each fiscal year." It appears that this reform may be more related to selection criteria than random selection process itself. At this time, no one knows how the pending proposed rule will achieve the purpose.
  • Employers should be aware of upcoming reform in H-1B cap rule and potentially reduced chances of employing H-1B cap workers with non-"U.S." Master or Higher Degrees in FY 2020 cap season. Please stay tuned to this web site for the USCIS release of the proposed "Registrtion Requirement" rule in the federal register in the very near future!

11/16/2018: USCIS Semi-Annual Regulatory Action Plan "Officially" Published in the Federal Register

  • List of Proposed Rules
    • H-1B Cap Registration Requirement
    • EB-5 Regional Center Program
    • H-4 EAD Removal
    • Filing fees Adjustments
  • Final Rules
    • EB-5 Modernization Rule

11/15/2018: REMINDER: USCIS Teleconference Today 2:00 to 3:00 PM (EST) on Updated NTA Enforcement from 11/19/2018 for Certain Immigration Programs

  • Today's teleconference will focus on NTA guidances which the agency will begin to implement beginning from Monday, 11/19/2018 for certain types of applications, including 914, 918, 360, 730, 929, and 485 related to those applications. The stakeholders of these immigration programs may want to participate in the teleconference. Please visit our posting of 11/08/2018 for the teleconference registration.

11/14/2018: Wow, December 485 Charts for USCIS Will be "Filing Charts" for Both Family-Based 485 and Employment-Based 485 Applications!!!!

  • Incredibly good news for EB-3 Indians!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

11/13/2018: December 2018 Visa Bulletin Released

11/12/2018: Effective 11/19/2018, OFLC to Require Filing of "Revised" ETA 9035/9035E Form

  • The existing ETA Form 9035/9035E remains valid and the public can continue to file it until November 19, 2018. Employers or their authorized representatives filing the ETA Form 9035/9035E on or after November 19, 2018, must use the revised form approved by the Office of Management and Budget.
  • OFLC will host two webinars on November 14, 2018, designed to provide technical assistance to employers and, if applicable, their authorized attorneys or agents in completing and submitting an LCA using the revised ETA Form 9035/9035E. The two Webinars are:
    • DATE: November 14, 2018
    • Teleconference: 1-866-704-7826
    • Attendee access code: 622 141 4
    • Meeting password: Welcome!24
  • Please beware!! Visit OFLC announcement.
  • Preview of the modified forms.

11/09/2018: Congress Returns to the Lamb Duck Sessions Beginning From Tuesday, 11/12/2018

  • Obviously the most important agenda will be extension of continuing resolution to fund the federal government and to prevent the government shutdown after 12/07/2018. However, considering the change with the House of Representatives, it is anticipated that the Republican Party wants to pass any many of legislative bills on their political and legislative agenda before the end of the year while they have the majority power, while the Democrats will attempt to block any legislative bills of Republican Party agenda until they seize the majority party power in January 2019. Since the Republican Party will keep the power of majority in both the Senate and the House until the end of the year, they would be able to achieve enactment of some legislations of their agenda before the year 2018 sunsets.
  • Report indicates that there are two conflicting plans within the Republican Party between immigration hardliners, led by White House adviser Stephen Miller, who wants to rewrite the U.S. legal immigration system, and more centrist Republicans and business leaders who want to protect the young immigrants, known as Dreamers, and provide greater access to foreign workers. We will watch carefully.

11/09/2018: State Department Updates Visa Processing Issues on 10/18/2018 in its Liaison Meeting with an AILA Committee

11/09/2018: "O" Visa (Extraordinary Workers) Statistics and Senator Chuck Grassley's Concern with Potential Abuse to Overcome H-1B Visa Limitations by Employers

  • The Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman, Chuck Grassley, expressed concern that "O" visa applications and approvals have been increasing substantially, allegedly for the employers to growingly use no annual cap visa of "O" visas. For the reasons, the Chairman requested the USCIS Director to provide information on the agency's efforts to prevent abuses and potential frauds. The USCIS Director answered the questions including the statistics on O visa processing and approvals. Read on.

11/08/2018: USCIS Teleconference on "Updated" NTA Policy Guidance, from 2 pm to 3 pm (EST), 11/15/2018

  • This is the second in a series of stakeholder engagements on the NTA Policy Memorandum. During the teleconference, USCIS officials will provide an overview of the memorandum and an update on the continued expansion of the implementation process. Beginning Nov. 19, USCIS will apply the memorandum to the following denied applications and petitions:
    I-914/I-914A, Application for T Nonimmigrant Status
    I-918/I-918A, Petition for U Nonimmigrant Status
    I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant (Violence Against Women Act self-petitions and Special Immigrant Juvenile Status petitions)
    I-730, Refugee/Asylee Relative Petitions when the beneficiary is present in the US
    I-929, Petition for Qualifying Family Member of a U-1 Nonimmigrant
    I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status (with the underlying form types listed above).
  • To join the teleconference, on Nov. 15, use the information below:
    Toll-Free (inside the United States): 1-888-790-1916
    Toll (outside the United States): 1-212-547-0182

11/08/2018: USCIS Announcement of 11/08/2018 on NTA Implementation Focus Schedules

  • Starting Nov. 19, 2018, USCIS may issue NTAs as described below based on denials of I-914/I-914A, I-918/I-918A, I-360, I-730, I-929, and I-485 (with the underlying form types listed above).
  • Starting 10/01/2018, USCIS may issue NTA on denied Forms I-485 and I-539. (USCIS will not implement the memorandum with respect to employment-based petitions at this time. Existing guidance for these case types remain in effect.)
  • For other details, please read the announcement!

11/08/2018: The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Upheld District Court's Decision to Order the Government to Keep DACA Open

  • Scotusblog reports that today, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the decision of the lower court blocking the Trump Administration from repealing the DACA program. Scotusblog brings two consequences. Firstly, it is a good news for DACA community for now, blocking Trump Administration's efforts to repeal the DACA program. However, it will also bring a consequence of opening a door for the Supreme Court of the United States to take up a case which was filed by the Trump Administration a certiorari asking the Supreme Court to deny the District Courts decision bypassing the Court of Appeals decision. In other words, today's court of appeals' decision also opened a door for the Supreme Court to take up the case either to rule or reject the District Court's decision. Considering the fact that the Supreme Court of the United States has turned into 5:4 pro-conservative court after late appointment of new conservative member.

11/08/2018: Anticipated Impact of the Results of the Mid-Term National Election on Immigration Policies and Strategies

  • As the House of Representatives will turn into a Democrat Majority Chamber, the Trump Administration will try to achieve its immigration policy agenda before the end of this year. No one will be surprised to see the Administration's push for conservative immigration reform legislation during the lame-duck sessions during the lame duck session and as a bargain for FY 2019 stop-gap appropriations legislation that ends on December 9, 2018. There is already a report that the Administration may use a strategy of government shut-down as a bargain for the appropriations extension legislation. As for the House bill that proposed elimination of annual national cap for employment-based immigrant quota under the current law, since the bill sponsor, Rep. Yoder, is not re-elected in this election, unless this bill is pushed hard and passed before the end of the year, this reform in the employment-based immigration reform will practically die for years to come. For repeal of DACA program, the Administration has just filed a certiorari before the Supreme Court of the United States, demanding to bypass the appeal courts proceeding and pick up and overturn the federal district courts decisions that suspended the President's DACA repeal order. However, the chance is slim for the Administration to get what they want before the end of the year.
  • However, Democrats will attemp to block any immigration reform legislations before the end of the year and during the lamb duck session. For the reasons, immigration reforms, in any shape, may just remain a dream for the rest of the year. In fact, not only this year, but also in coming year as well.

11/08/2018: USCIS Proposes to Revise H-2B Labor Certification Regulation to Modernize the Recruitment Process and Requirement

  • The USCIS is proposing H-2B rule changes, mandating internet recruitment instead of paper recruitments which are the current requirements. This proposed rule is identical with the OFLC proposal.

11/08/2018: OFLC Proposes to Revise H-2B Labor Certification Regulation to Modernize the Recruitment Process and Requirement

  • The proposed rule will require an employer seeking H-2B nonimmigrant non-agricultural workers must conduct when applying for a temporary labor certification. In particular, the Department is proposing to replace the print newspaper advertisements that its regulations currently require with electronic advertisements posted on the internet, which the Department believes will be a more effective and efficient means of disseminating information about job openings to U.S. workers. The Department is proposing to replace, rather than supplement, the newspaper requirements because it believes that exclusive electronic advertisements posted on a website appropriate for the workers likely to apply for the job opportunity in the area of intended employment would best ensure that U.S. workers learn of job opportunities.

11/08/2018: OFLC Proposes to Revise H-2A Labor Certification Regulation to Modernize the Recruitment Process and Requirement

  • The proposed rule will require an employer seeking H-2A nonimmigrant agricultural workers must conduct when applying for a temporary labor certification. In particular, the Department is proposing to replace the print newspaper advertisements that its regulations currently require with electronic advertisements posted on the internet, which the Department believes will be a more effective and efficient means of disseminating information about job openings to U.S. workers. The Department is proposing to replace, rather than supplement, the newspaper requirements because it believes that exclusive electronic advertisements posted on a website appropriate for the workers likely to apply for the job opportunity in the area of intended employment would best ensure that U.S. workers learn of job opportunities.

11/05/2018: Processing Updates for All the Immigration Forms for 3rd Quarter of FY-2018 (April-June)

11/02/2018: I-130 Relative Petition Processing Statistics by Local Field Offices, Service Centers, and International Offices for FY-2018 3rd Quarter (Apr-June) Released 10/30/2018

11/02/2018: Natualization Application Processing Statistics of All the Local Offices of USCIS for FY-2018 3rd Quarter as Released 10/30/2018

11/02/2018: I-485 Applications Processing Statistics of USCIS Local Field Offices and Service Centers for FY-2018 3rd Quarter (04/01/2018-06/30/2018) as Released 10/30/2018

  • USCIS has updated I-485 applications processing statistics for all types of cases and all the local district offices and Service Centers. This is the latest update for I-485 application processing status.

11/02/2018: H-1B Petitions by Gender and Country of Birth for Fiscal Year 2018 (As of 10/05/2018)

  • The most interesting statics include the genders. Almost one-third of H-1B petitions represented female and almost 74% H-1B applicants involved Indian nationals.

11/02/2018: Number and Characteristics of F-1s Who Changed Status to H-1B During Fiscal Years 2012-2018 (to date)

  • This report offers the following information:
    • New Annual Number of Change of Status from F-1 to H-1B
    • Median Salaries
    • By Country of Birth
    • By Level of Education
    • By Primary Field of Study

11/02/2018: SEVP Latest (10/30/2018) Statistics of International Students in CPT, OPT, STEM-OPT with Employment Authorization in Calendar Year 2017 (12/31/2017)

  • Total: 518,395
    • OPT: 328,205
    • STEM OPT: 89,839
    • CPT: 105,351
  • STEM OPT Students by Country:
    • Top 5 Countries:
      • India: 50,507
      • China: 21,705
      • South Korea: 1,670
      • Taiwan: 1,360
      • Iran 1,161
    • List of All Countries: 89,839
  • Top 200 Employers for OPTs, STEM OPTs, and CPTs

11/01/2018: Congressional Research Service Report of 11/01/2018 on "Internships, Fellowships, and Other Work Experience Opportunities" in the Federal Government

  • This CRS report describes internet resources for prominent and popular opportunities for internship, fellowship, and work experience programs within the federal government. The report is intended as a selective guide for students of all levels: high school, undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate. It provides information on legislative, executive, and judicial branch opportunities and links to several aggregators of jobs data. The introduction provides a number of insights to assist applicants on understanding terminology, timing applications, and expectations for types of work involved.

11/01/2018: FY-2019 Refugee Admissions Cap - Upto 30,000

  • The Presidential Order setting the FY-2019 is published in the today's federal register.

10/31/2018: USCIS and CBP Extend Form I-129/I-129S "Pilot Program" for Canadian L-1 Nonimmigrants" Through April 30, 2019

  • Earlier this year, the USCIS California Service Center (CSC) 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. USCIS announces today that USCIS and the USCBP 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, 2019.
  • This pilot program allows, but does not require, Canadian citizens to request that USCIS remotely adjudicate their petitioning employer's Form I-129 or I-129S prior to their arrival or when they arrive at the Blaine POE. Over the next six months, USCIS and CBP will continue to work together to determine the efficiency of the program, identify shortcomings, and look for ways to improve it.

10/31/2018: Effective 11/05/2018, Los Angeles Filed Office and Los Angeles County Field Office of USCIS Will Not Accept "Money Orders" or "Cashiers Checks"

  • Those offices will keep taking "Personal" or "Attorney" or "Business" checks. Read on.

10/31/2018: H-2B Non-Agricultural Temporary Labor Certification Application "Filing Tips" of Office of Foreign Labor Certification/DOL

  • This filing tips were presented in a webinar on 09/14/2018 for the H-2B stakeholders. This webinar presentation is now available.

10/31/2018: USCIS to End Self-Scheduling of InfoPass Appointments Program Step-by-Step

  • It is called Information Services Modernization Program and USCIS initiates from key field offices, beginning with the Detroit Field Office and the five offices in the Los Angeles District on November 13, 2018. Field offices in the Newark, Great Lakes, and San Francisco districts will implement the program during the first quarter of fiscal year (FY) 2019. USCIS anticipates expanding the program to all remaining field offices by the end of FY 2019. The Information Services Modernization Program ends self-scheduling of InfoPass appointments and instead encourages applicants to use USCIS online information resources to view general how-to information and check case statuses through the USCIS Contact Center. For details, please click here.

10/31/2018: DOL Proposes to Revise Foreign Labor Certification as Part of Revision of ETA 9127

  • This collection of information is conducted through Form ETA-9127, Foreign Labor Certification Quarterly Activity Report. This information collection has been classified as a revision, because of the proposed (1) elimination of a question referencing union contacts made by the SWAs; (2) elimination of a question located in both the H-2A and H-2B sections that prompts SWAs to list the most common deficiencies on the job order; and (3) modification of the Form ETA-9127 instructions in order to promote clarity as a result of some confusion expressed by SWAs

10/31/2018: Sudan, Nicaragua, Haiti, and El Salvador TPS "Continuation" Notice Officially Published in Federal Register Today

  • We posted the advance copy of this notice. It is now officially published and released in the federal register today. Here is the Official Notice.

10/30/2018: USCIS Announces Some H-1B Cases Have Been Transferred from CSC to NSC

10/30/2018: DHS TPS Extension Notice Will also Include Automatic Extension of TPS-Relaed EAD, I-797 Approval Notice, I-94 Until 04/02/2019 for Sudan and Nicaragua TPS

  • The notice will include automatically extending through April 2, 2019, the validity of TPS-related Employment Authorization Documents (EADs), Forms I–797, Notice of Action (Approval Notice), and Forms I–94 (Arrival/Departure Record) (collectively “TPS-Related Documentation”), as specified in this Notice, for beneficiaries under the TPS designations for Sudan and Nicaragua, provided that the affected TPS This document is scheduled to be published in the Federal Register on 10/31/2018.

10/30/2018: DHS to Publish Federal Register Notice on 10/31/2018 "Continuation of Documentation for Beneficiaries of TPS for Sudan, Nicaragua, Haiti, and El Salvador"

  • As reported earlier, DHS is scheduled to publish this notice in the federal register tomorrow.
  • The advance copy of this notice indicates that beneficiaries under the TPS designations for Sudan, Nicaragua, Haiti, and El Salvador will retain their TPS while the preliminary injunction remains in effect, provided that an individual’s TPS status is not withdrawn. DHS will further notice that DHS is further announcing it is automatically extending through April 2, 2019, the validity of TPS-related Employment Authorization Documents (EADs), Forms I–797, Notice of Action (Approval Notice), and Forms I–94 (Arrival/Departure Record) (collectively “TPS-Related Documentation”), as specified in this Notice, for beneficiaries under the TPS designations for Sudan and Nicaragua. This Notice also provides information explaining DHS’s plans to issue a subsequent notice that will describe the steps DHS will take after April 2, 2019 to continue its compliance with the preliminary injunction. Please read the full text of this federal register notice (advance copy)!

10/27/2018: Fate of TPS Beneficiaries Whose TPS Programs Were Scheduled to be Terminated by the DHS but Suspended by the Court Order

  • The American Immigration Council (AIC) reports on 10/26/2018 "that in early October, a federal court ruled that the Trump administration had violated the law when it terminated Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for individuals from El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Sudan. After weeks of negotiation with the ACLU, which brought the lawsuit, the government has now come forward with a plan to put that decision in action while the case is on appeal. The government’s plan, published Tuesday night, provides crucial breathing room for TPS holders whose status was set to expire soon. Under the government’s plan, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will draft a formal extension of TPS protections for Sudan, Haiti, El Salvador and Nicaragua. The government has promised that this extension will “remain in effect so long as the Court’s order remains in effect.” In the short term, USCIS will automatically extend all work permits currently issued to TPS recipients from Sudan and Nicaragua for a six-month period ending on April 2, 2019. Both Sudan and Nicaragua’s TPS designations were set to end before that date; Sudan on November 2, 2018, and Nicaragua on January 5, 2019. Because the TPS designations for El Salvador and Haiti are not set to expire until mid to late 2019, USCIS will not yet take any actions to extend work authorization for those countries. However, if the court’s order is not “reversed or invalidated” before April 2, 2019, then USCIS will automatically extend benefits for TPS-holders from all four countries until at least January 2, 2020. Further extensions would then be made if necessary. The government’s plan also provides some measure of protection for TPS holders if the lower court’s order is reversed on appeal. In that situation, TPS holders from countries where the TPS designation has already expired will be given an “orderly transition period” of four months. However, if the court’s order is reversed before TPS expires for a specific country, then the agency will use the original expiration date. Almost immediately after the lower court’s order, the government filed an appeal with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Should the order be upheld by the Ninth Circuit, the government would likely appeal directly to the Supreme Court. Given the timing, it’s unlikely that the Supreme Court would be able to hear the case until the fall of 2019. Because the ACLU’s lawsuit was filed before the Trump administration ended TPS for Honduras and Nepal, individuals from those countries are still at risk of losing legal status. As the recent caravan has shown, Honduras is still a country suffering from substantial instability, despite the administration’s decision to end TPS for that country." Please stay tuned.

10/26/2018: SEVP Releases on 10/26/2018 the International Student Data in Calendar Year 2017

  • The update data sets are divided into three categories: (1) School Data, (2) International Student Data, and (3) Employer Data. Here is the published data.

10/26/2018: OFLC Proposes Significant Revision of H-2A Agricultural Temporary Labor Certification Forms of ETA 9142A, ETA 790, ETA 790A

  • DOL/ETA published proposed rule to revise the Forms ETA-9142A and ETA-790 to eliminate redundancy by collecting the material terms and conditions of the job opportunity in a significantly revised ETA-790 and ETA-790A with addenda and incorporating standardized language for required employer assurances as follow:
  • Please read 60-day Supporting Statement for the details.

10/25/2018: USCIS Removes G-325A Form Requirement Other Than DACA & Military Personnel, Veterans, and Enlistees Proceedings

  • Please see the Policy Alert for more detailed information on this update. USCIS is updating policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to remove references to Biographic Information (Form G-325A). USCIS previously required those seeking certain immigration benefits to file Form G-325A with their application or petition. USCIS has now incorporated all versions of Form G-325A into USCIS forms that separately required them. Form G-325A is now used only for deferred action requests for certain enlistees and designated family members of certain military personnel, veterans, and enlistees. Accordingly, USCIS renamed the form as "Form G-325A, Biographic Information (for Deferred Action)." The updated guidance in Parts A, F, L, M, and O of Volume 7: Adjustment of Status of the Policy Manual removes all references to Form G-325A. Stakeholders may review and comment on the revised policy guidance through Nov. 7, 2018.

10/25/2018: Interesting USCIS Statisitics of H-1B Petitions by Gender and Country of Birth as of October 5 of 2018

  • Very interesting latest statistics.

10/25/2018: Ongoing Bomb-Threat U.S. Mails and Potential Impact on U.S. Mail Services

  • There is no official annoucement from the U.S. Postal Services, but it is obvious that the USPS stations may pay more attention to the package mails due to the ongoing bomb threat mails in the country. This may or may not affect immigration stakeholders filing mails delivery time one way or another. Accordingly, those mailing last minute filings should pay additional attention to their processing time of immigration cases. There is no information about its impacts on private delivery services, but this is the time when immigration cases are filed sufficiently ahead of the deadlines such that they do not experience nightmares.

10/25/2018: OFLC Launches New Enhancement of H-2A and H-2B Temporary Labor Certification Submission Effective 10/30/2018, Next Tuesday

  • OFLC/ETA announces on 10/24/2018 that it has implemented a new enhancement to the iCERT system related to the submission of applications for temporary labor certification under the H-2A and H-2B visa programs. The iCERT system will require employers submitting H-2A and H-2B applications to complete required data fields in accordance with form instructions. Applications that do not have these required data fields completed will be deemed incomplete, and employers will not be permitted to submit the application until corrected. Data fields that are mandatory will contain an asterisk () and must be completed. Data fields or items that contain a section symbol (§) are those where the response is conditional on previous form entries and must also be completed. The iCERT system will continue to issue system warnings on missing data fields and list any mandatory or conditionally mandatory fields which must be completed prior to submission at the final checks page. Beware, H-2A/H-2B LCA Stakeholders!
  • Readers should also be aware of another changes which are forthcoming shortly in the Permanent Labor Certification Application System (PERM) which has been revealed to the AILA through its stakeholder liaison meeting. OFLC is undergoing some changes with the temporary and permanent labor certification application programs.

10/25/2018: Investment Immigration Statistics and Update on the Regulatory Reform as Discussed on USCIS Director-IIUSA Meeting on 10/05/2018

  • This meeting minute gives information of current sitution of Regional Center Investment Immigration Program, some issues and status of regulary reform of this program. Invest immigration stakeholders may learn update about this program and prospects ahead. It is interesting that the USCIS has been made himself available for various immigration stakeholder conferences but for some key immigration law stakeholder entities, including American Immigration Lawyers Association. We appreciate Mr. Cissna for expanding his interactions with immigration stakeholder entities and offering opportunities through such immigration stakeholders meetings to peek through his policy direction ahead and focus of the USCIS initiatives in various areas of immigration issues.

10/24/2018: DV-2020 Immigration Lottery Closes at Noon (EST) on Midterm National Election Day, 11/06/2018, Tuesday

  • DV-2020 candidates may miss the approaching DV-2020 registration deadline amidst the heated election mood in the country. They should not miss the registration before the deadline which happens to be the Mid-Term National Election Date at Noon, Eastern Standard Time!

10/23/2018: New Proposed H-1B Cap Pre-Registration Requirement Rule Intended to Increase Selection of U.S. Master or Higher Degree Holders Over Foreign Degree Holders

  • As we reported earlier, the earlier H-1B cap selection reform proposal was published earlier by the previous Administration. Earlier proposal was to achieve efficient and effective management of selection "process" and had no other purposes. However, the new proposed rule by current USCIS adds additional purpose for registration requirement for H-1B annual cap selection process.
  • The new proposal may include a modified selection process, as outlined in section 5(b) of Executive Order 13788, Buy American and Hire American. Consistent with the Buy American and Hire American, EO 13788’s direction to suggest reforms to help ensure that H-1B visas are awarded to the most-skilled or highest-paid petition beneficiaries, this new proposed regulation would help to streamline the process for administering the H-1B cap and increase the probability of the total number of petitions selected under the cap filed for H-1B beneficiaries who possess a master’s or higher degree from a U.S. institution of higher education each fiscal year. The details have yet to be disclosed as to how the USCIS will achieve it, but such change will lead to further narrowing high-tech foreign degree workers' chances for H-1B cap selection which they have already encountered over the years.
  • Depending on the medium which such rule will adopt, there can develop a conflict between the OPT community and foreign workers in non-OPT community and in foreign countries. For instance, there was a lawsuit not too long ago which were brought by foreign workers in the United States, mostly OPTs, who challenged the current H-1B cap rule that selected the candidates only from the foreign workers who submitted the cap petitions only during the specific cap seasons. The lawsuit advocated that H-1B cap selection system should recognize "priority dates" and those who submitted and failed, for instance, in last year's cap selection should be given priority in the next year's selection based on the concept of "priority dates"concept in the immigration (green card) selection system. The lawsuit eventually failed, but had the petitioner won in the lawsuit, OPTs who applied during the last year H-1B cap season and failed should be able to be selected this year ahead of others who applied during this cap season, because they submitted last year but failed to be selected. Should such "priority date" concept be adopted in the H-1B cap selection system, as readers may be able to easily understand it, the OPTs could be able to take most of the cap numbers this year and next several years since they will be able to keep staying and working in this country until the next H-1B cap selection seasons, while other workers, particularly those in foreign countries, would not be able to use such priority date system since the sponsoring employers would not necessarily offer such H-1B employment to them during the next cap seasons.
  • Sooner or later, we will find out what medium the new proposed rule will propose to achieve the goal. Stay tuned!

10/23/2018: USCIS Director Summarizes his Three (3) Policy Focuses in Migrant Policy Institute's Annual Immigration law & Policy Conference on 10/01/2018

  • On this conference, the USCIS Director disclosed that since he took the post in 2017, he has been focusing on three policies: (1) homeland security, (2) faithfully administering our nation’s immigration laws, and (3) moving the agency into an electronic world. As part of these policy focuses, he has explained somewhat in details his late restrictive immigration policy changes. Readers should review this statement to learn where and why he has been heading in immigration policy changes.

10/19/2018: USCIS Teleconference on EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program Update on 11/19/2018 1:00-02:00 PM (EST)

  • USCIS is hosting a teleconference to provide EB-5 program updates. No further details have been provided, but considering the fact that one of the USCIS rule-making agenda for November 2019 included the final rule for EB-5 Modernization Program, the teleconference may be related to the rule-making feed-backs. Accordingly, the immigration stakeholders involved in EB-5 immigrant investment program may not miss this teleconference. To register for this session, please follow the steps below:
    " Visit USCIS registration page to confirm your participation
    " Enter your email address and select "Submit"
    " Select "Subscriber Preferences"
    " Select the "Event Registration" tab
    " Be sure to provide your full name and organization
    " Complete the questions and select "Submit"
  • Once USCIS processes your registration, you will receive a confirmation email with additional details.

10/19/2018: Mid-Term National Election (November 6, 2018) and List of Candidates (Wikipedia)

  • The following Wikipedia information provides valuable information for voters:

10/19/2018: In Fiscal Year 2019 (October 2018-September 2019), USCIS to Focus on the Following Rule-Making Agenda to Achieve the President's Executive Orders

  • Removing H-4 Dependent Spouses from the Class of Aliens Eligible for Employment Authorization. USCIS will propose to rescind the final rule published in the Federal Register on February 25, 2015. The 2015 final rule amended DHS regulations by extending eligibility for employment authorization to certain H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B nonimmigrants who are seeking employment-based lawful permanent resident status.
  • H-1B Nonimmigrant Program and Petitioning Process Regulations. In order to improve U.S. worker protections as well as to address the requirements of Executive Order 13788, Buy American and Hire American, USCIS will propose to issue regulations with the focus of improving the H-1B nonimmigrant program and petitioning process. Such initiatives will include a proposed rule that would establish an electronic registration program for H-1B petitions subject to annual numerical limitations and would improve the H-1B numerical limitation allocation process (Registration Requirement for Petitioners Seeking to File H-1B Petitions on Behalf of Aliens Subject to Numerical Limitations); and a proposed rule that would revise the definition of specialty occupation to increase focus on truly obtaining the best and brightest foreign nationals via the H-1B program and would revise the definition of employment and employer-employee relationship to help better protect U.S. workers and wages. (Strengthening the H-1B Nonimmigrant Visa Classification Program).
  • Heightened Screening and Vetting of Immigration Program Regulations. USCIS will propose regulations guiding the inadmissibility determination whether an alien is likely at any time to become a public charge under section 212(a)(4) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. (Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds). Additionally, USCIS will propose to update its biometrics regulations to eliminate multiple references to specific biometric types, and to allow for the expansion of the types of biometrics required to establish and verify an identity. The goal of this proposal will be to establish consistent identity enrollment and verification policies and processes, and to provide clear proposals on how biometrics will be used in the immigration process. (USCIS Biometrics Collection for Collection for Consistent, Efficient and Effective Operations).
  • Employment Creation Immigrant Regulations. USCIS will amend its regulations modernizing the employment-based, fifth preference (EB-5) immigrant investor category based on current economic realities and to reflect statutory changes made to the program. (EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program Modernization). USCIS will also propose to update its regulations for the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Regional Center Program to better reflect realities for regional centers and EB-5 immigrant investors, to increase predictability and transparency in the adjudication process, to improve operational efficiency, and to enhance program integrity. (EB-5 Immigrant Investor Regional Center Program). Lastly, USCIS will publish an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking to solicit public input on proposals that would increase monitoring and oversight of EB-5 projects, and encourage investment in rural areas. (EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program Realignment.)
  • Asylum Reforms. USCIS will propose regulations aimed at deterring the fraudulent filing of asylum applications for the purpose of obtaining Employment Authorization Documents. (Employment Authorization Documents for Asylum Applicants). USCIS will also propose to amend its regulations to streamline credible fear screening determinations in response to the Southwest Border crises. (Credible Fear Reform Regulation).
  • Adjustment of Status Process Improvements. USCIS will propose to update regulatory provisions to improve the efficiency in the processing of adjustment of status applications, to reduce processing times, to improve data quality provided to partner agencies, to reduce the potential for visa retrogression, to promote efficient usage of available immigrant visas, and to discourage fraudulent and frivolous filings. (Updating Adjustment of Status Procedures for More Efficient Processing and Immigrant Visa Usage). USCIS will also propose updates to its regulations to improve the efficiency of USCIS processing of the Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions. (Improvements to the Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions).
  • Electronic Processing of Immigration Benefit Requests. USCIS will propose to amend its regulations to mandate electronic submission for all immigration benefit requests, explain the requirements associated with electronic processing, and allow end-to-end digital processing. This proposal would enhance efficiency and efficacy in USCIS operations, and improve the experience for those applying for immigration benefits.

10/18/2018: USCIS 10/18/2018 Notice of Continuing Form I-751 Data Entry

  • USCIS announces today that USCIS has completed receipting and data entry for all filings of Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence, received between May 1 and Sept. 9, 2018. Petitioners should receive receipt notices by Oct. 22, 2018.
  • On June 13, 2018, USCIS announced that the California Service Center (CSC) was experiencing a delay in initial data entry for Form I-751. After changing the filing location for Form I-751 from the USCIS Service Centers to the USCIS Lockbox facilities in September, USCIS completed receipting and data entry of these petitions on October 1, 2018.
  • If you submitted a Form I-751 to the CSC between May 1 and Sept. 9, 2018, and you have not received a receipt notice, do not file a duplicate Form I-751 unless you have received a rejection notice or have been instructed to do so by the CSC.
  • If your two-year green card has expired and you have not received a receipt notice, you may schedule an appointment online for you and any eligible dependents to be seen at your local field office. If possible, bring evidence that you sent your Form I-751 via the U.S. Postal Service or a delivery service, such as FedEx. If you have any questions about the process, visit the USCIS Contact Center page.

10/18/2018: USCIS Proposed Rule for Pre-Registration Requirement for Annual H-1B Cap Petitions Filing

  • USCIS submitted this proposed rule to the OMB yesterday 10/17/2018. Pre-registration requirement for H-1B annual cap lottery has been delayed for quite a while, but the current Administration probably intends to implement this H-1B cap lottery program beginning from FY 2020 H-1B lottery.

10/18/2018: USCIS Reissues Receipt Notices for Extensions of Conditional Permanent Resident Status I-751

  • On October 16, 2018, USCIS began issuing new receipt notices for certain Forms I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence, to replace previously issued receipt notices containing inaccurate information. For the details, please click here.

10/18/2018: USCIS Fall 2018 Rule-Making Agenda

  • This agenda represents USCIS plan for rule-making for the next six months, including pre-rule, proposed rule, and final rule making plans. Ths list includes the followings: (Dates Represent the Start Date of Rule-making Application Filing):
    • Prerule Stage EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program Realignment 1615-AC26: September 2019
      Proposed Rule
      Stage Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds 1615-AA22: October 2018
      Proposed Rule
      Stage Registration Requirement for Petitioners Seeking To File H-1B Petitions on Behalf of Cap Subject Aliens 1615-AB71: October 2018: [Matthew Oh Comment: It appears that USCIS is targeting at changing FY 2020 H-1B cap filing system to two-tier filing system of initially submitting pre-registration of H-1B cap petition filing online and the follow-up filing of H-1B cap selected petitions in papers inclouding all the supporting documentation. USCIS initiated this H-1B cap filing system many years back and has witnessed delays over the years.]
      Proposed Rule Stage Requirements for Filing Motions and Administrative Appeals 1615-AB98
      Proposed Rule Stage
      EB-5 Immigrant Investor Regional Center Program 1615-AC11: March 2019
      Proposed Rule
      Stage Strengthening the H-1B Nonimmigrant Visa Classification Program 1615-AC13: August 2019 : [Matthew Oh Comment: DHS will propose to revise the definition of specialty occupation to increase focus on obtaining the best and the brightest foreign nationals via the H-1B program, and revise the definition of employment and employer-employee relationship to better protect U.S. workers and wages. In addition, DHS will propose additional requirements designed to ensure employers pay appropriate wages to H-1B visa holders. The purpose of these changes is to ensure that H-1B visas are awarded only to individuals who will be working in a job which meets the statutory definition of specialty occupation. In addition, these changes are intended to ensure that the H-1B program supplements the U.S. workforce and strengthens U.S. worker protections. [Matthew Oh Comment: The key appears to be to change definition of specialty occupation and to add additional requirements for H-1B qualification. Obviously, it is intended to narrow down qualified foreign workers. Change to minimum education level and change to wage level have been brought up in the past in various proposed H-1B reform legislative proposals.]
      Proposed Rule Stage USCIS Biometrics Collection for Consistent, Efficient, and Effective Operations 1615-AC14
      Proposed Rule Stage
      Removing H-4 Dependent Spouses from the Class of Aliens Eligible for Employment Authorization 1615-AC15: November 2018: [Matthew Oh Comment:This timing is consistent to DHS latest update report to the pending litigation for this program and it is thus likely that the USCIS may submit H-4 EAD rescission rule very soon in November.]
      Proposed Rule Stage USCIS Fee Schedule 1615-AC18: February 2019: [Matthew Oh Comment: It is good know that despite skyrocking inflation rate, the agency may not raise the filing fees at least until after Spring 2019.]
      Proposed Rule Stage Removal of 30-Day Processing Provision for Certain Employment Authorization Applications 1615-AC19
      Proposed Rule Stage Electronic Processing of Immigration Benefit Requests 1615-AC20:
      April 2019: [Matthe Oh Comment: Trump Administration has been pushing hard to convert the current government proceedings, including immigration proceedings, from current paper applications to online proceeding and we anticipate that by 2020, immigration proceedings will be converted to the online filing and processing systems.]
      Proposed Rule Stage Updating Adjustment of Status Procedures for More Efficient Processing and Immigrant Visa Usage 1615-AC22: September 2019: [Matthew Oh Comment: One of the changes which are planned is to eliminate currently available concurrent I-140 and EB-485 filing. Ouch. It is nice that they do not schedule this rule-making process until the end of FY 2019. Since it is a "proposed" rule, it will take quite a time to complete the rule-making process and the earliest they may achieve this change will be either Spring of 2020 or later.]
      Proposed Rule Stage Improvements to the Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions Processing 1615-AC23
      Proposed Rule Stage Credible Fear Reform 1615-AC24
      Proposed Rule Stage Employment Authorization Documents for Asylum Applicants 1615-AC27
      Proposed Rule Stage Modernizing Recruitment Requirements Under the H-2B Program 1615-AC33
      Final Rule Stage Classification for Victims of Severe Forms of Trafficking in Persons; Eligibility for T Nonimmigrant Status 1615-AA59
      Final Rule Stage
      Removal of International Entrepreneur Parole Program 1615-AC04: December 2018: [Matthew Oh Comment: Ouch! On January 17, 2017, DHS published the International Entrepreneur Final Rule (the IE final rule) in the Federal Register at 82 FR 5238, with an original effective date of July 17, 2017. On May 29, 2018, DHS published a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) proposing to rescind the IE final rule and soliciting public comments on the proposal to rescind the IE final rule. They want to start wrapping up this rule-making process beginning from the end of this year!]
      Final Rule Stage EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program Modernization 1615-AC07: November 2018: [Matthew Oh Comment: Investment immigrants may soon have to invest "increased" amount of investment to apply for investor immigrant green card track. The proposed rule which they will have to wrap up included: proposed changes to the EB-5 program regulations. Such proposed changes included: raising the minimum investment amount; allowing certain EB-5 petitioners to retain their original priority date; changing the designation process for targeted employment areas; and other miscellaneous changes to filing and interview processes.]
      Final Rule Stage Implementation of the Northern Mariana Islands U.S. Workforce Act of 2018 1615-AC28
      Final Rule Stage Privacy Act of 1974: Implementation of Exemptions; Department of Homeland Security/U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services-018 Immigration Biometric and Background Check (IBBC) System of Records
  • Please stay tuned for the details of these rule-making plans.

10/18/2018: OFLC FY 2018 4th Quarter (July-September 2018) Performance Data for Permanent and Temporary Labor Certification Processing Statistics

  • OFLC has released the following statistics:

10/17/2018: Invitation to DHS CIS Ombudsman Annual Conference in D.C. on 11/16/2018

  • This is an in-person conference and not a teleconference. It appears this conference will be very helpful for the immigration practitioners, paralegals, and other immigration stakeholders because USCIS Director L. Francis Cissna will provide remarks during the morning session, followed by Ombudsman Julie Kirchner's robust discussion with leaders from USCIS, USCBP, USICE, and the EOIR. Afternoon sessions will include multiple panels covering a host of immigration issues, including recent updates within USCIS and planned changes to improve the administrative process.

10/16/2018: USCIS Changes I-693 Civil Surgeon Report Validity Effective 11/01/2018

  • USCIS has just announced that effective on November 1, 2018, the updated policy will require applicants to submit a Form I-693 that is signed by a civil surgeon no more than 60 days before filing the underlying application for an immigration benefit. The Form I-693 would remain valid for a two-year period following the date the civil surgeon signed it. As such, USCIS is retaining the current maximum two-year validity period of Form I-693, but calculating it in a different manner to both enhance operational efficiencies and reduce the number of requests to applicants for an updated Form I-693. See Policy Alert!

10/15/2018: Approaching Mid-Term National Election and Unusual Popularity of Anti-Immigration Agenda

  • In the American politics, historically in national election years, the two parties moved to the far right or far left during each party's "primary" party candidate selection period, and then they started moving toward the center when the actual election date approaches for the Republicans and the Democrats to attract "independent" voters and liberal Republicans or less progressive Democrats. However, the report indicates that in the current Mid-Term national election, the Republicans go far right to the anti-immigration agenda due to popularity of border security and immigration control agenda of Trump Administration. The election date is coming in less than three weeks and reportedly the far-right anti-immigration platforms and agenda are being pumped up in the election campaigns.
  • What does this mean for the immigration stakeholders? Do not expect any changes to immigration policies in favor of immigrants any time soon.

10/15/2018: Texas Service Center Scheduled to Move into New Building in Spring 2020

  • The TSC will be the sole occupant of the planned new 267,000-square-foot building, housing approximately 1,000 employees who currently work in three buildings on two campuses that are 17 miles apart. The consolidation is anticipated to take place in spring 2020, and will help streamline operations as TSC continues to provide prompt and efficient service in processing requests for immigration benefits.

10/12/2018: Good News for November 2018 USCIS 485 Filing Charts: Both FB and EB I-485 Filings, Use "Filing Date Charts" in November 2018

10/12/2018: Congressional Research Service Updates on 10/10/2018 "Temporary Protected Status: Overview and Current Issues"

  • As the TPS program in the immigration law in this country faces crisis, this overview and current issues report will give the role of TPS program in the U.S. immigration and the potential impact of the country's overall immigration in the future when the TPS program phases out. As we reported earlier, there are a few TPS programs which the DHS decided to terminate in the future, but this decision of the DHS has been suspended by the federal court's preliminary injunction at this time. Since this court decision is likely to be decided by the new Supreme Court of the United States in the future, all eyes will be on the future decision the conservative SCOTUS.

10/12/2018: USCBP Seeks Emergency Amendment to ESTA, EVUS, and I-94W Applications Rules to Add North Korea

  • In order to add North Korea to the existing eligibility questions for these applications on prior travels to restricted countries per the VWP travelers, USCBP is proposing on emergency basis to amend the rules on ESTA, EVUS and I-94W application rules. For the EVUS rule amendment proposal, please click here. For the I-94W rule amendment proposal, please click here.

10/11/2018: DOL Office of Foreign Labor Certifications Releases "Hurricane Florence and Hurricane Michael Guidance"

  • Those who are involved with the permanent or temporary labor certification application proceedings and faced or is facing the Hurricane should read announcement of the OFLC for the available relief!

10/11/2018: November 2018 Visa Bulletin Released

  • Somewhat disappointing visa bulletin for the Indian EB-2s and EB-3s.
  • It also announces extension of two employment visa categories as follows: Pursuant to the 2019 appropriation bill of H.R. 6157 Department of Defense and Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education
    Appropriations Act, 2019 and Continuing Appropriations Act, 2019 which was passed extended both the Employment Fourth Preference Certain Religious Workers (SR) and Employment Fifth Preference Pilot (I5 and R5) Categories
    until December 7, 2018.

10/11/2018: Proposed I-944 Form Requirement for Some Application Filings for Public Charge Inadmissibility

  • Please review to determine who should file this I-944 form relating to Public Charge Inadmissibility issues.

10/11/2018: USCIS Intends to Change I-485 Form Requiring Massive Information and Requirements for Determination of "Public Charge Inadmissibility"

  • As we reported yesterday, the USCIS published in the federal register its proposed rule for "Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds" policy. On the same date, USCIS submitted its proposed revision to I-485 form requriing a massive amount of information and additional form filing to determine inadmissibility on this ground in adjudication of I-485 forms in the future. Readers are advised to the last item in the list of the attached 485 form revision records to review the Table of Changes (instructions) in the proposed revised I-485 form.

10/11/2018: USCIS Intends to Change I-539 Form Requiring Massive Information and Requirements for Determination of "Public Charge Inadmissibility"

  • As we reported yesterday, the USCIS published in the federal register its proposed rule for "Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds" policy. On the same date, USCIS submitted its proposed revision to I-539 form requriing a massive amount of information and additional form filing to determine inadmissibility on this ground in adjudication of I-539 form in the future. Readers are advised to the last item in the list of the attached 539 form revision records to review the Table of Changes (instructions) in the proposed revised I-485 form.

10/11/2018: USCIS Intends to Change I-129 Form Requiring Massive Information and Requirements for Determination of "Public Charge Inadmissibility"

  • As we reported yesterday, the USCIS published in the federal register its proposed rule for "Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds" policy. On the same date, USCIS submitted its proposed revision to I-129 form requriing a massive amount of information and additional form filing to determine inadmissibility on this ground in adjudication of I-129 form in the future. Readers are advised to the last item in the list of the attached 129 form revision records to review the I-129 INSTOc in the proposed revised I-485 form.

10/11/2018: USCIS Intends to Change I-129CW Form Requiring Massive Information and Requirements for Determination of "Public Charge Inadmissibility"

  • As we reported yesterday, the USCIS published in the federal register its proposed rule for "Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds" policy. On the same date, USCIS submitted its proposed revision to I-129CW form requriing a massive amount of information and additional form filing to determine inadmissibility on this ground in adjudication of I-129CW form in the future. Readers are advised to the last item in the list of the attached 129 form revision records to review the I-129 INSTOc in the proposed revised I-485 form.

10/10/2018: DHS Notice of Waiver of Expeditious Construction of Barriers and Roads in the Border of Cameron County in Texas

  • DHS notice of its expeditious construction of barriers and roads in the vicinity of the international land border of the United States in Cameron County in the State of Texas with waiver of laws, rules, and other requirements effective today.

10/10/2018: Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds Proposed Rule Published in the Federal Register Today

  • This is the official notice published in the federal register today.

10/08/2018: With New Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh, SCOTUS to Decide Some Important Pending Immigration Cases in the Near Future

  • There are a number of immigration cases which the new SCOTUS with five conservative majority justices will have to decide sooner or later. According to USA Today, the most noteable cases include DACA program, suspended DHS TPS termination for certain countries, and STEM OPT challenge, among others. The report indicates that the record of the new Justice's decisions on immigration cases as a federal judge of appellate court in DC was somewhat mixed. Something to watch closely ahead.

10/06/2018: USCBP to Rescind Discretionary Parole Policies for Chinese and Russian Nationals Seeking Entry into Guam and/or the CNMI for a Temporary Visit for Business or Pleasure

  • It appears Pacific Northern Islands and Guam inceasingly receive more attention. This decision was submitted to the OMB on 10/04/2018 and will be implemented upon its clearance and publishing in the federal register in the near future.

10/05/2018: USCIS Reminder of Transfer of Some F,M,J,B's I-539 Applications on 09/17/2018 from Vermont Service Center to Texas Service Center

  • USCIS reminds today the F, M, J, and B nonimmigrants of transfer of some of their I-539 Applicationsed from the Vermont Service Center (VSC) to the Texas Service Center (TSC) for workload balancing.

10/05/2018: "Official" Notice of Proposed Rule of "Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds" (Advance Copy)

  • This proposed rule was never published by the DHS, but alleged "draft" was leaked and circulated in the immigration community. After a prolonged period of delays and extensive scheduling of meetings with stakeholder communities, the OMB has approved this proposed rule and the proposed rule will be officially published in the federal register on 10/10/2018, Wednesday. The comments must be received within 60 days from 10/10/2018.
  • Today, "advance copy" of this official proposed rule is published in the federal register.

10/05/2018: CRS Summary of DHS Component Funding for FY-2019

10/04/2018: USCIS Online Tools Outage, Sunday

  • Sunday, October. 7, 2018, from 5 a.m. until 6 p.m. (Eastern).

10/04/2018: Federal District Court in California Issued Preliminary Injunctions on 10/03/2018 Against DHS Termination of TPS for Haiti, Sudan, Nicaragua, & El Salvador

  • The DHS published its decisions of termination of TPS for these countries as of the following dates and they were required to depart from the United States by the following dates:
    • Haiti: 07/22/2019
    • Sudan: 11/02/2018
    • Nicaragua: 01/09/2019
    • El Salvador: 09/09/2019
  • However, ACLU reports that yesterday, the U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, issued preliminary injunction temporarily barring the DHS from termination of the TPS for these countries pending the decision of the merits in the case of Crista Ramos, et al., v. Kirsten Nielsen et. al., Case No. #18-cv-01554-EMC. For the details, please read the decision. Very important decision.

10/04/2018: OFLC PERM Processing Times as of 09/30/2018

  • Prevailing Wage Determination: June 2018 (85 days)\
  • PERM Processing Times:
    • Analyst Review (Clean Cases): August 2018 (70 days)
    • Audit Review: March 2018 (212 days)
    • Reconsideration: August 2018

10/03/2018: "Temporary Need Requirement" Exemption for H-2B for Guam & Northern Mariana Islands PLUS Their H-2B Cap Exemptions Until 12/31/2029

  • This Policy Memorandum was released on 10/01/2018 and USCIS has started accepting H-2B petitions for these workers of Guam and Northern Mariana Islands CNMI as well as for workers directly connected to, or directly associated with, the planned military realignment of U.S. Marines from Okinawa, Japan, to Guam. For the details of implementation, see the USCIS announcement of 10/03/2018.

10/03/2018: Effective 10/01/2018, USCIS Using Digital Tablets to Administer the English Reading and Writing Tests for Naturalization

  • USCIS has announced that although USCIS applicants already use digital tablets to sign or verify parts of their applications, this new approach expands tablet usage, allowing the device to be used for a greater portion of the application process. USCIS will be able to continue using the paper process on a case-by-case basis.
  • While the eligibility requirements and the subject material of the naturalization test have not changed, applicants are now using a stylus on a digital tablet instead of a paper application. Immigration Services Officers (ISO) will carefully instruct applicants on how to use the tablets before administering the tests:
    " For the reading test, a sentence will appear on the tablet and the ISO will ask the applicant to read it.
    " For the writing test, several lines will appear on the tablet, replicating the appearance of a piece of blank paper. The ISO will read a sentence aloud and ask the applicant to write it on the tablet.
    Applicants will continue to take the civics test verbally, without the tablet.

10/03/2018: USMCA, New North American Trade Agreement, Reportedly Keeps the Same Foreign Worker Visas (Current TN Visas)

  • McClatchy reports that the new North America Trade Agreement of USMCA would make no changes to the current TN types of visas for business worker admissions to the United States from Canada and Mexico. There was a fear before this new Agreement is made and released that because of the Trump's Executive Order of Buy American, Hire American, Trump might try to slash off and even remove the current TN types of special visas for the border countries. Accordingly, it is more or less a good news that Trump did not act against their visa entries, albeit no expansions.
  • See also the comment from Canadian immigration law firm website, ImmPulse from the perspectives of Canadians.

10/03/2018: Don't Be Too Alerted with Today's Emergency Tests on Your Cell Phones, Radio, and Television

  • DHS/FEMA will conduct a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System and Wireless Emergency Alerts today, Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2018. The WEA portion of the test, which will be sent to consumer cell phones, will begin this afternoon at 2:18 p.m. EDT. The EAS portion of the test, which will be sent to radio and television, will follow this afternoon at 2:20 p.m. EDT. They are just tests!

10/03/2018: USCIS Proposes to Revise I-912 Fee Waiver Form to Remove the Receipt of Means-Tested Benefits from the Eligibility Criteria

  • The proposal announcement indicates that the total dollar values of fee waivers granted by USCIS have increased substantially in each of the last eight years, which, in effect, increases the fee that must be paid by other individuals seeking benefits. The annual dollar amount of fee waivers granted by USCIS increased from 4.3 million in fiscal year (FY) 2016 to 7.9 million in FY 2017. A means-tested benefit is a public benefit where eligibility for the benefit, the amount of the benefit, or both, is based on an individual’s income level. Eligibility for these benefits can vary from state to state, depending on the state’s income level guidelines. As a result, individuals who would not otherwise qualify under the poverty-guideline threshold and financial hardship criteria have been granted fee waivers by USCIS.
  • Under the proposed rule, an alien may request a fee waiver if the documented annual household income is at or below 150 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines (FPG), or if the person can demonstrate financial hardship, regardless of the state's income level guidelines. Please see announcement and proposed rule which was published in the federal register.

10/02/2018: USCIS Released Today Transcripts (Q&A) of USCIS NTA Teleconference of 09/27/2018

10/02/2018: Reminder: DV-2020 Immigration Lottery Registration Starts from Tomorrow, 10/03/2018 (12:00 Noon EST)

10/01/2018: USCIS Revised Today I-907 Premium Processing Request Form with Mandatory Effective Date of 12/03/2018

  • The revised version is dated 10/01/2018. Until 12/02/2018, the current 06/26/2018 version of I-907 can be used. But from 12/03/2018, they require to use the 10/01/2018 version of the form. Please beware.

10/01/2018: Full Text of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA)

10/01/2018: Temporary Entry for Business Persons Rule Among Three Nations under the USMCA

  • Here is the text of entry of business people among three countries: United States, Canada, and Mexico.

10/01/2018: USCIS Announcement of 10/01/2018 of Transfers of Some H-1B Cases From California Service Center (CSC) to Nebraska Service Center (NSC)

  • Apparently for workload balancing.

10/01/2018: USMCA (Formerly NAFTA) and Questions on Visas and Immigration Among Three Countries in the North America

  • Yesterday, the United States and Canada signed a new trade agreement, which Mexico has already signed on its part, replacing NAFTA into USMCA (United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement). For immigration community and stakeholders, the NAFTA represented various inter-country special travel agreements between the U.S. and Canada and between the U.S. and Mexico. Since the NAFTA will be a history, immigrant community wants to learn the changes, if any, for inter-country travel and immigration requirements under the USMCA. There have been some concern that the travel and immigration privileges among the three countries will be negatively affected. Please stay tuned.

09/30/2018: USCIS Expanded NTA (Notice to Appear) Issuance Practice Starts from Tomorrow, 10/01/2018

  • There are several situations where the USCIS will start issuing NTA beginning from tomorrow. However, one specific reason which the nonimmigrants and immigrants will have to pay attention to is when they are considered "unlawful presence" when they decide the "pending" applications as well as the "new" filing cases in the future. The USCIS will release sooner or later the transcript of their NTA teleconference of 09/26/2018 which will give good guidances. Pending the release, there are a few things which people should keep in mind. One is that the new NTA policy applies to both pending applications and new applications when their applications are denied from tomorrow. Therefore, people whose applications, particularly I-485 and I-539, are pending and they are concerned whether their situation will lead to "unlawful presence" when the applications are denied, they should seek legal counsel to determine their courses of actions. Apparently, the USCIS will not issue NTAs when they deny applications if the nonimmigrant's I-94 has expired but under the statutes and regulations, their presence is either still considered "lawful presence" under the statute or regulations or they are entitled to appeal the decision of denial. When denial decision is appealled, pending the decision, they may not issue NTA, according to the teleconference. On the other hand, when they do not have such window period and receive NTA, their departure from the United States will not relieve them from the deportation proceeding.
  • For the foregoing reasons, I-485 applicants and I-539 applicants should immediately seek legal counsel to assess their situation, particularly when they receive denials of their pending I-485 or I-539 applications from tomorrow. It appears that they may not issue NTA in most cases together with the denial notice, particularly when they learn that the applicants have a right to appeal or in certain period of lawful presence even if their I-94 expired.

09/29/2018: Despite Vigorous Effort of Rep. Yoder to Pass Legislation to Eliminate Employment-Based Per Country Limit as Part of the DHS Spending Bill, It Failed

  • As reported earlier, the President signed the DHS stop-gap funding bill as part of Continuing Resolutions which are attached to H.R. 6157 2nd Minibus FY-2019 Spending Bill, which included neither Border Funding Bill nor Immigration Bill to Eliminate Employment-Based Per Country Limit because in order to avoid another government shutdown, the President conceded to sign spending bill without the immigration bills. Accordingly, the Congress decided to pass the FY 2019 2nd Minibus bill with DHS appropriations just as one of the "Continuing Resolutions" to keep funding at the FY 2018 level until December 7, 2018 and not as FY 2019 Minibus appropriations bill. See Ballopedia report. Another hurdle for elimination of EB per county limit was vigorous oppositions from anti-immigration groups including FAIR.
  • These immigration bills will thus have to wait until after Mid-Term national election, but depending on the results of the Mid-Term national election, such legislations may face steep hurdles.

09/28/2018: USCIS Reminder for F-1 H-1B Cap-Gap Filers of Expiring Cap-Gap Automatic Employment Authorization this Sunday 09/30/2018

  • USCIS has just announced that F-1 students who have an H-1B petition that remains pending on Oct. 1, 2018, risk accruing unlawful presence if they continue to work on or after Oct. 1 (unless otherwise authorized to continue employment), as their "cap-gap" work authorization is only valid through Sept. 30. Due to increased demand for immigration benefits, resulting in higher caseloads as well as a significant surge in premium processing requests, USCIS may not be able to adjudicate H-1B change of status petitions for all F-1 students by Oct. 1. USCIS regulations allow an F-1 student who is the beneficiary of a timely filed H-1B cap-subject petition requesting a change of status to H-1B on Oct. 1, to have his or her F-1 status and any current employment authorization extended through Sept. 30. This is referred to as filling the "cap-gap", meaning the regulations provide a way of filling the "gap" between the end of F-1 status and the beginning of H-1B status that might otherwise occur. The "cap-gap" period starts when an F-1 student's status and work authorization expire, and they are extended through Sept. 30, with Oct. 1 being the requested start date of their H-1B employment, unless otherwise terminated or the H-1B petition is rejected or denied prior to Oct. 1. While the temporary suspension of premium processing of certain types of H-1B petitions has allowed USCIS to allocate additional resources to prioritize the adjudication of these cap-gap cases, if a cap-gap H-1B petition remains pending on or after Oct. 1, the F-1 student is no longer authorized to work under the cap-gap regulations. However, the F-1 student generally may remain in the United States while the change of status petition is pending without accruing unlawful presence, provided they do not work without authorization. If an F-1 student with a pending change of status petition has work authorization (such as an I-765 with valid dates) that extends past Sept. 30, they may continue to work as authorized.

09/28/2018: USCIS Director, Honorable Lee Francis Cissna and Two Conflicting Views of his Achievements in Immigration Policies

  • On September 20, 2018, Politico reviewed and pictured him as The Man Behind Trump’s ‘Invisible Wall," because he was the force behind Trump's restrictive immigration policies as the Director of USCIS. Until this report was released, the Man Behind Trum's Invisible or Visible Wall for restrictive immigration policy was reported to be Mr. Stephen Miller, Special Policy Advisor to the President Trump. The Politico reported how these two government leaders have led the nation's conservative immigration policies until now. According to the report, the framework was developed by Mr. Stephen Miller, but when it comes to the specifics of implementation of such conservative immigration policies, the officer who implemented it into the policies and practices invisibly was Mr. Lee Francis Cissna.
  • On September 24, 2018, Center for Immigration Studes, published The Truth about Cissna's 'Invisible Wall' to defend Mr. Cissna from the conservative immigration angle. These two reports give our readers two benefits: One is the list and summary of main immigration policies of Mr. Cissna since he took office. The other is how these immigration policies are viewed from the pro-immigration and anti-immigration forces in the country. We post these two reports for our readers' weekend reading materials.

09/28/2018: President Signed Spending Bill and There will be No Government Shutdown

  • This spending bill includes stop-gap funding for a list of government agencies, including DHS, other than full funding throughout the year for most of the federal agencies. DHS must deal with running out of stop-gap funding on 12/07/2018 and must deal with full funding legislation in December 2018.
  • For now, it is a good news for immigrant community in that there will be no shut-down for any immigration agencies and immigration programs that were specheduled to expire at the end 09/30/2018 will be automatically extension through 12/07/2018.

09/28/2018: USCIS Seeks Before the Court on 09/21/2018 Upto Three (3) More Months to Submit the Final Rule of H-4 EAD Rule Changes

  • reports that in the H-4 EAD litigation, DHS asked the court in H-4 EAD rule a more time to complete the rule-making process and promised to report the final rule within three (3) months. This extension request was filed in response to the Plaintiff's motion seeking court decision. See also India Abroad report.
  • It thus appears that the USCIS is anticipated to initiate the proposed rule making process in the near future. Please stay tuned.

09/28/2018: USCIS Propose to Revise I-912 Fee Waiver Form, Removing Receipt of Public Benefits as Means-Tested Benefits From Eligibility Criteria

  • USCIS is proposing to revise our Form I-912, Request for Fee Waiver, to remove the receipt of means-tested benefits from the eligibility criteria. A means-tested benefit is a public benefit where eligibility for the benefit, the amount of the benefit, or both, is based on an individual’s income level. Eligibility for these benefits can vary from state to state, depending on the state’s income level guidelines. As a result, individuals who would not otherwise qualify under the poverty-guideline threshold and financial hardship criteria have been granted fee waivers by USCIS. Probably, this initiative is in line of the ongoing expansion of Public Charge to discourage public benefits as an incentive. See the Proposed Rule.

09/27/2018: Today's NTA Teleconference

  • They reported that they had received "200" written questions before today's teleconference and they had to quickly go over answers to some of these 200 questions in one-hour teleconference. For the reasons, they were not able to take any questions whatsoever. Since they had to go over some of these questions, they had to discuss very quickly some of those questions and answers. For the reasons, the USCIS has decided to post a copy of their NTA teleconference questions and answers at the "Electronic Reading Room" site in the USCIS website in the near future.
  • We initially planned to post our summary of today's teleconference, but in order not to mislead the readers, we have decided not to do it. There are huge number of issues involving the expanded NTA policy and readers are advised to wait for their posting at the USCIS website. They said it would not take too long.

09/26/2018: Reportedly, the Congress Passed a FY-2019 Spending Bill with Attached Concurrent Appropriations Bill for DHS to Fund Until Early December 2018

  • The President initially threated to veto this bill because the Congress failed to accomodate his border wall spending appropriations at the level of his demand, but the report indicates that yesterday, the President agreed to sign this bill. Accordingly, there will be no government shutdown at the end of September this year. However, the DHS funding bill must pass in early December 2018 to avoid its shut-down since the Congress just passed its bill as concurrent approriation (stop-gap) legislation. No full text is available at this time, but it appears that immigration reform attachment could have failed to be included in the final bill. Please stay tuned to this website for additional information.

09/26/2018: USCIS Begin Incremental Implementation of NTA Policy Memorandum on October 1, 2018, Next Monday!

  • USCIS announced that effective October 1, 2018, USCIS may issue NTAs on denied status-impacting applications, including but not limited to, Form I-485 and Form I-539. USCIS will send denial letters for status-impacting applications that ensures benefit seekers are provided adequate notice when an application for a benefit is denied. If applicants are no longer in a period of authorized stay, and do not depart the United States, USCIS may issue an NTA effective October 1, 2018.
  • The June 2018 NTA Policy Memo will not be implemented with respect to employment-based petitions and humanitarian applications and petitions at this time. Existing guidance for these case types will remain in effect for now.
  • USCIS will continue to prioritize cases of individuals with criminal records, fraud, or national security concerns. There has been no change to the current processes for issuing NTAs on these case types, and USCIS will continue to use its discretion in issuing NTAs for these cases.

09/26/2018: USCIS Policy Alert on 09/26/2018 on Special Naturalization Provisions for Children

  • New Policies include:
    • Eligibility for certain children subjected to battery or extreme cruelty and surviving children of deceased U.S. armed forces members.
    • Eligibilityt for a child seeking naturalization under INA 319(a) with no requiement to live with the U.S. citizen parent for the 3 years before the naturalization application is filed, as is usually required.
    • Surviving children of U.S. armed forces members who qualify for naturalization under INA 319(d) are exempt from the usual continuous residence and physical presence requirements for naturalization.
  • Comment must be received by 10/09/2018.

09/26/2018: September 2018 Edition of SEVP Spotlight Released Today 09/26/2018

  • This SEVP update should provide valuable information for foreign students and academic institutions for immigration issues for the stakeholders.

09/25/2018: H-4 EAD Repeal Plan Dragged Under the Court's Order of 02/21/2018 to File Progress Report of the Repeal Rule-Making Status Every 90 Days

  • The judge order, as reported in the Bloomberglaw, that mandates the Trump Administration to report its progress of rule-making to change the current H-4 EAD rule was an open-ended order without the firm final deadline. Under the court order, the Trump Administration filed the first report on 02/28/2018, second report on 05/22/2018, and third report on 08/20/2018, and the next report is currently due on 11/19/2018. Should they fail to complete the rule-making process in November 2019, the next due date for the report will move to February 2019.
  • Since the USCIS has yet to initiate "proposed rule" of rule making process, it is unlikely that they will be able to complete the rule-making process before 11/19/2018, and therefore, they may have to work on the rule-making before February 2019 or even shortly after February 2019. Readers are reminded that the rule-making process starts with "proposed" rule stage which must be first cleared by the OMB after they receive it. Even if OMB completes their review within a few days and clears it immediately, the draft of proposed rule must be published in the federal register with certain comment period. Supposing they publish with only 30 or less days of comment period, they will not be able to draft and submit to the OMB their "final" or "interim final" rule some period after the comment period is over. Once the draft of final or interim final rule is again submitted to the OMB, the OMB can or does not take time review and approve it quickly. Accordinly, hypothetically, the OMB approves within a few days after they receive the draft of final or interim final file, the Trump Administration may not be able to publish the final or interim final rule until early 2019, probably as early as February 15, 2019 in their best scenario. For the reasons, H-4 EAD community may as well take a good and deep breathe for a while until after the year-end or early new-year. EVEN THOUGH ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN THESE DAYS.

09/25/2018: President Trump and South Korean President Signed a New Free Trade Agreement Yesterday at the United Nations Site

  • Report indicates that this Agreement will help South Koreans to open up their markets on items like farm products, medicines, and vehicles. The Agreement is a product and compensation for the South Korean President's role of mediating between President Trump and North Korean leader for peace negotiations. The details have yet to be available. As soon as we find how it will affect the immigration between the two countries, we will promptly post it.

09/25/2018: DV-2019 Immigration Lottery Official Notice Published in the Federal Register on 09/25/2018

  • We wish all the luck for the lottery participants. They have been going through pains from the news that Congress might terminate annual immigration lottery program. At least for FY 2019, they will be O.K.

09/25/2018: Winners of Citizenship Assimilation Grants for 2018

  • USCIS has selected for award of 40 Citizenship Assimilation Grants to provide citizenship preparation services through September 2019.

09/24/2018: Uh Oh, USCIS Scheduling Teleconference on 09/27/2018 Thursday for Revised NTA (Notice To Appear) Policy

09/24/2018: DV-2020 Diversity Visa Immigration Lottery Registration Notice of the State Department

  • Registration Period: Between noon, Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) (GMT-4), Wednesday, October 3, 2018, and noon, Eastern Standard Time (EST) (GMT-5), Tuesday, November 6, 2018. See also State Department announcement.

09/24/2018: CRS Comprehensive Analysis of Expedited Removal of Aliens: Legal Framework on 09/19/2018

  • Very thorough research and articulated summary of the legal framework. Read on.

09/23/2018: DHS Released Unofficial Copy of the Proposed Rule of Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds

  • The unofficial copy which was released yesterday, 09/22/2018, indicates that this proposed rule was officially signed on 09/21/2018 and will be officially published in the federal register soon. It is also interesting that the announement named the proposed rule as "New Proposed Immigration Rule to Enforce Long-Standing Law that Promotes Self-Sufficiency and Protect American Taxpayers." As we reported yesterday, this proposed rule is very controvertial and a huge number of stakeholder government entities and other stakeholders raised oppositions. Once this rule is enacted into a final rule and implemented, the number of legal immigrants in this country will be substantially controlled and reduced. Obviously, release of the proposed rule will help hard-core Republicans in the Midterm National Elections at national, regional, and local levels.
  • It is likely that this proposed rule may be officially published on either 09/26/2018 or shortly thereafter in the federal register.

09/22/2018: White House OIRA Concluded on 09/20/2018 its Review of USCIS Proposed Rule Change for Public Charge Grounds

  • USCIS submitted this proposed rule to expand public charge grounds for inadmissibility of immigrants in March 2018. Since then the OIRA had numerous meeetings with a large number of immigration stakeholders including large cities and other entities. See how many meetings they have had and what they have heard. After all these struggles, they reached their decision yesterday. Please stay tuned for official release of their decision and text of the changes, if any.

09/22/2018: USCIS Statistics on Number of F-1s Who Changed Status to H-1Bs Between 2012 and Mary 15, 2018

  • This statistics include only "F-1" nonimmigrants. The number reached a pick at 39,305 in FY-2016, but it never passed 40,000. In FY-2017, it dropped to 34,488. For FY-2018, from October 1, 2017 to May 15, 2018, the number reached 23,063. Since the statistics counted only the approved H-1B petitions, the FY 2018 may not reflect the reality, considering the fact that a large number of FY 2018 H-1B cap petitions have yet to be adjudicated. However, considering the fact that H-1B annual cap is 85,000, as we reported earlier, substantial number of H-1B petitions included F-1 nonimmigrants.

09/20/2018: Congressional Research Services (CRS) Updates on 09/19/2018 Report on Frequently Asked Questions about “Public Charge”

  • As Trump Administration plans to expand the definition of "public charge" for inadmissibility of immigrants when the ongoing rule-making process is completed, this CRS report covers and updates various issues involving public charge, including the question of "Why do USCIS and DOS consider different ranges of benefits when making public charge inadmissibility determinations under the same statute?"

09/19/2018: Immigration Services Available for Those Affected by Hurricane Florence or Typhoon Mangkhut

  • USCIS has just announced that certain immigration services are available for those foreigners who are affected by the late natural disasters. Illustration of services the announcement listed are as follows:
    • Changing a nonimmigrant status or extending a nonimmigrant stay for an individual currently in the United States. If you don’t apply for the extension or change before your authorized period of admission expires, USCIS may excuse the delay if it was due to extraordinary circumstances beyond your control;
    • Re-parole of individuals USCIS previously granted parole to;
    • Expedited processing of advance parole requests;
    • Expedited adjudication of requests for off-campus employment authorization for F-1 students experiencing severe economic hardship;
    • Expedited adjudication of employment authorization applications, where appropriate;
    • Consideration of fee waivers due to an inability to pay;
    • Extension of response time or acceptance of a late response to a Request for Evidence or a Notice of Intent to Deny;
    • Rescheduling an interview with USCIS;
    • Expedited replacement of lost or damaged immigration or travel documents issued by USCIS, such as a Permanent Resident Card (Green Card); and
    • Rescheduling a biometrics appointment.
  • For other details, please read the announcement.

09/19/2018: iCERT & PERM Sites Will Remain "Down" Most of This Weekend

  • From Friday everning, 09/21/2018 8:00 pm to Sunday afternoon, 09/23/2018 2:00 pm (EST). Please take care of H-1B LCA and PERM filing before this weekend.

09/19/2018: USCIS Director Reconfirmed on September 6, 2018 No Change to its Plan to Publish H-4 EAD Repeal or Revision Proposed Rule

  • On August 22, 2018, the Internet Association (IA) representing over 40 of the world’s leading internet companies wrote the USCIS, emphasizing importance of keeping H-4 EAD rule and not to repeal H-4 EAD. On September 6, 2018, the USCIS Director wrote a response reconfirming its plan to introduce a proposed H-4 EAD repeal or revision rule in due course. It thus appears that even though the time is not fixed, the Trump Administration has no plan to change its decision either to revise or repeal H-4 EAD rule. However, no timeline has been released.

09/18/2018: Senate Passed on 09/18/2018 Continuing Appropriations Bill to Fund the Federal Government Until Decemer 7, 2018

  • This bill covers all the federal government agencies, including Department of Homeland Security. This stop-gap appropriations bill for DHS appears stop-gap funding at the FY 2018 level until December 7, 2018, and apparently does not include elimination of per country annual limit to employment-based immigrant quota. House has yet to pass this bill and it is likely that the House is likely to pass the bill without much changes. House does not return to the session until 09/20/2018. For the full report, please stay tuned to this website.

09/17/2018: Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC) Releases Hurricane Florence Guidance of 09/17/2018

  • Readers who are going through temporary or permanent labor certification proceedings who suffer from the Florence Hurrcane should read this guidance to find out what accodation the OFLC and DOL provide for you.

09/17/2018: USCIS Announces Change of Deadline for Use of Revised G-28 Form From 09/17/2018 to 11/19/2018

  • USCIS announces today that it has published a revised version of Form G-28 again with an edition date of 09/17/2018. This revised version removes the geographic requirement for sending an original notice to a U.S. address for attorneys and representatives that had been added to the 05/05/16 and 05/23/18 versions of the form. [Note: AILA brought up this issue because there are attorneys in immigration practice outside of the United States and do not have address in the United States. Apparently USCIS has agreed and decided to remove this part of requirement in the G-28 form. Good Job, AILA!]
  • Considering the changes, USCIS is also extending the grace period for prior versions of Form G-28 from 09/17/2018 to 11/19/2018. Accordingly, customers may continue to use the 05/05/16 and 03/04/15 versions of the form G-28 until Nov. 19, 2018.
  • Starting November. 19, 2018, USCIS will only accept a Form G-28 with edition date 09/17/18 or 05/23/18. You can find the edition date at the bottom of the page on the form and instructions. Please visit G-28 form site.

09/17/2018: USCIS Sending Text and Email Messages About Online Filing of I-90 Application

  • USCIS announces today that USCIS is sending text and email messages between Sept. 17 and Sept. 20, 2018, about filing Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card online. If you are a lawful permanent resident and your Green Card has expired or is about to expire, or if you need to replace it for another reason, you may file Form I-90 online. Go to the Form I-90 page on USCIS website to begin your online application process.

09/16/2018: Dynamics Involving Indian EB-3 Cut-Off Date More Opened Than Indian EB-2 Cut-Off Date in EB-485 Filing Charts in October

  • Such phenomena have rarely happened in the history of visa cut-off dates for Indians. Such change started to happen for Chinese recently showing EB-3 cut off date being more opened than EB-2 cut off date. For the reasons, Chinese in EB-2 struggled to deal with the situation as to whether they should move from EB-2 to EB-3 to get their pending EB-485 applications approved earlier. Believe it or not, some of them had to switch back and forth between EB-2 and EB-3 while I-485 was pending to deal with the changing visa cut-off dates between EB-2 and EB-3 for China.
  • However, the dynamics for Indians may not be the same. There are two factors, among others, that can affect the Indian EB-2s. One is the volumbe of Indian EB-2 with priority dates between May and October 2009 that may cause them to transfer from EB-2 to EB-3 in October to take advantage of the EB-3 cut-off dates being more favorable than EB-2 cut-off dates. Obviously such move can affect the EB-3 cut-off dates for Indian in the Visa Bulletin after October 2018. The other factor is the pending legislative bill to eliminate per country annual limit to employment-based immigrant visa numbers. Should this bill be enacted, obviously, a sort of heaven will open for Indians in EB-2 who have been waiting for years and years, unlike those Indians in EB-3. Third factor is delay in EB-485 adjudication caused by requirement for interviews at local district offices. Most local district offices are heavily backlogged with their EB-485 interview schedules. EB-485 processing delays will cause potential changes during the delayed processing period of changes with cut-off dates among different preference categories in EB immigration. For the reasons, those EB-2 Indians whose priority dates are earlier than October 1, 2009 will have a tough decision to make as to whether they should switch to EB-3. Eventually, it will depend on the specific facts of each applicant, but it may be prudent to watch carefully the movement of the pending legislation and watch of EB-1 prediction for Indians. Growing backlog in EB-1 has negatively affected the EB-2 very heavily.

09/15/2018: Effective 09/17/2018, Monday, Only 05/09/2018 Version of I-140 Form Acceptable

  • When you file I-140 petition, please make it sure that the I-140 form which you use is an updated form dated 05/09/2018, because the USCIS will reject any I-140 petitions with earlier versions of the form.

09/14/2018: I-485 Filing Chart for October 2018

  • For both family-based and employment-based, use "Filing Chart" and not "Final Action" Chart. Very good news for a lot of I-485 filers in October!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • Wow, for Indian EB-3s..............................!!

09/14/2018: USCIS Now Accepting Copies of Negative "O" Visa Consultations Directly from Labor Unions

  • This new policy will take effective immediately 09/14/2018. For the full text, please click here.

09/14/2018: Canadian Marijuana Users, Workers and Investors Reportedly Risk Lifetime Border Ban from Admission to the United States or Subject to Monetary Penalty

  • Politico reports that USCBP reportedly takes a position that regardless of local governments' legalization of use of marijuana in the United States, Canadians marijuana users, workers and investors, despite their new law that will legalize the retail sales of marijuana effective 10/17/2018, will risk ban to entry to the United States or subject to monetary penalty for first users. Canadians, watch out!

09/14/2018: Reminder of New Version Forms of G-28 and I-765 (EAD Application Forms)

  • Those who ship out petitions or applications for filing today using these forms should double check the edition dates of the forms. Effective Monday, they will reject these forms unless they are revised updated forms as follows:
    • G-28: May 23, 2018 edition only.
    • I-765: May 31, 2018 edition only.

09/13/2018: USCIS Policy Update on Issuing RFEs and NOIDs

  • USCIS has released update to the teleconference today, even though it is dated 09/06/2018. This update gives details of Q&A on this new policy.

09/13/2018: Lawmakers to Pass Continuing Resolution (CR) to Fund Goverment Until 12/07/2018 to Avoid Government Shutdown

  • Report indicates that today the lawyers reached an agreement to pass continuing resolution (government stop-gap funding bill) to avoid government shut at the end of this month. The details have yet to be released, but basically, it means the federal agencies will be funded at the FY 2018 level until 12/08/2018. This implicitly means that President Trump would also push back its demand for borderfunding and other immigration reforms until after the Mid-Term National Election in November in order to avoid government shutdown.
  • This development also means that immigration stakeholder agencies will keep working and remain opened at least until December 7, 2018 and immigration programs that are scheduled to sunset at the end of September 30, 2018 will be saved beyond September 30, 2018. Readers must have noticed in the October 2018 Visa Bulletin where the State Department announced that certain immigration programs would end after September 30, 2018 unless they are extended beyond September 30, 2018 by legislation. It also implies that the piecemeal immigration reform bill which the House passed at a Committee level to eliminate per country limit for employment based immigrant visa annual limit may also probably be pushed back until December 8, 2018. Please stay tuned for the details of Continuing Resolutions to be passed and signed by the President sooner or later.

09/12/2018: Trump Administration Under a Strong Pressure to Increase H-2B Visa Numbers

  • H-2B stakeholder lobbyists demanded DHS and DOL to increase the H-2B temporary worker visas owing to the statekholders under pressure of unavailable temporary workers in the country because of the country's booming economy. Readers will agree that the letter is one of the strongest letters one can see in the lobby communities. On August 27, 2018, the USCIS Director responded to the demand, explaining the H-2B visa numbers which are controlled by the statute and should be achieved only by legislation.

09/12/2018: October 2018 Visa Bulletin Released

  • India Employment-Based Categories:
EB-Final Action EB1:06/01/2016 EB2:03/26/2009 EB3:01/01/2009
EB-Filing Date EB1:10/01/2017 EB2:05/22/2009 EB3:10/01/2009

09/12/2018: September 2018 Edition of SEVP (Student and Exchange Visitor Program) Spotlight

  • Beginning in September, 2018, SEVP distributes its quarterly edition of SEVP Spotlight through GovDelivery. SEVP Spotlight, a newsletter for the academic community, includes important program news, seasonal reminders and updates relevant to the international student life cycle. International students may subscribe to this Spotlight to keep oneself updated with the changing practices, policies, rules, of laws of the stakeholder government agency (ICE/SEVP).

09/11/2018: Today's USCIS Release of Optional Checklist to Avoid Denial Without RFE or NOID Could be Affected (?) by Site Outage

  • The new policy of discretionary denial of applications without RFE or NOID took effect today. Customers have been anxious to see the expected release of "checklist" to avoid denial under the new policy, but the checklist has not been released today, probably as affected by their tools outage today.
  • Pending the release of checklist, employers and immigrants should understand when they may deny without first issuing RFE or NOID. Following three things:
    • Statutory: No legal basis for the petition or application.
    • Frivolous filing: Not qualified whatsoever for the petition or application.
    • Missing "Initial" Evidence:
  • The first two factors are too obvious. As for the third factor, employers and immigrants should make it sure from today to visit USCIS form site and read the "initial evidence" which are required for the specific nonimmigrant or immigrant or naturalization proceeding. The lists are already there in "Instruction Form" for the specific proceeding. If any of the listed evidence is missing, your case will be vulnerable for denial without RFE or NOID. Until yesterday, the agency has been lenient and even if some initial evidence was missing, they rather issued RFE rather than denial. We will set up the USCIS form site link at our home page such that our readers can just click and take care of this problem.

09/11/2018: USCIS Currently Experiencing Tools Outage

09/10/2018: OFLC PERM Processing Times as of 08/31/2018

  • Prevailing Wage Determination: June 2018 (83 days)\
  • PERM Processing Times:
    • Analyst Review (Clean Cases): July 2018 (73 days)
    • Audit Review: February 2018 (226 days)
    • Reconsideration: July 2018

09/10/2018: I-751 "Filing" Location Change From Service Centers to Lockbox Facility

  • On Septermber 10, USCIS changed the filing location for Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence. This form was previously filed at the California and Vermont service centers. Now, petitioners must send Form I-751 to a USCIS Lockbox facility. However, the California, Nebraska, Vermont, and Texas service centers will be the adjudicating offices. When filing at a Lockbox facility, petitioners have the option to pay the fee with a money order, personal check, cashier’s check, or credit card. Please follow the Where to File and Filing Fee directions on the I-751 page.

09/10/2018: Some I-539 Applicatsions for F,M,J,B Nonimmigrant Cases Transferred from VSC to Potomac Service Center (YSC) and the Nebraska Service Center (NSC)

  • USCIS announces on 09/04/2018 that they transferred some of the Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status, for F, M, J or B nonimmigrants cases from the Vermont Service Center to the Potomac Service Center and the Nebraska Service Center:

09/08/2018: House Passed Nine (9) FY 2019 Spending Bills, but Thus Far DHS Spending Bill Yet to be Passed with no Clear Sign in the Coming Week Legislative Schedules

  • As reported earlier, the President threatens to risk government shutdown unless the Congress passes FY 2019 spending bills with border spending bill before the end of September. The House leadership is known to work out the DHS bill, trying to compromise with the President's demand, but thus far there is no clear sign that they have reached the deal. The House Majority Leader's legislative schedules for next week that end on the 15th still miss the DHS spending bill in the agenda. Employment-based immigrant community needs its employment-based immigration reform in the proposed House committee bill passed before the end of September 2018. This Breaking News site will track down the development next week closely.

09/07/2018: OFLC Seeks Comments on Proposed Revisions of H-2B Program Forms

09/07/2018: There is no Glitch with EB-485 Inventory Data Sites and USCIS Reports for EB-485 Inventory Data are Correct

09/06/2018: "DHS Minibus"Appropriation Bill for FY 2019 in Limbo, Because of Trump's Threat of Government Shutdown unless Border Security Funds Are Guaranteed

  • Report indicates that lot of federal agencies and sectors "minibus" have been ironed out and moving into Senate-House conference stages to iron out compromises. However, DHS Minibus is currently stalled in the House without being placed on the House floor. This adds a problem for the employment-based immigration per country annual cap removal bill which is incorporated in the House bill in that without any other problem, the bill must overcome oppositions in the U.S. Senate. Report indicates today that President Trump is threatening again government shut-down unless border security funds are guarantee in the DHS Minibus, adding more serious challenge to the DHS appropriation legislation. Since we only have nine (9) legislative days in September, unless these hurdles are covercome successfully, employment-based immigration reform will face a deadlock.

09/06/2018: Excellent Ombudsman Teleconference Today on "Discretionary Denial w/o RFE or NOID" Policy Implementation from 09/11/2018

  • Today's presentation was excellent and very helpful and we would like to address appreciation for the Ombudsman Office Officers and USCIS Officers. In order not to mislead the readers, this reporter will not report the details of the teleconference information, other than the following key points:
    • USCIS will release "Optional Checklist" on 09/11/2018 to help the filers to figure out what the "initial evidence" will be.
    • USCIS provided "Yesterday" both in the morning and afternoon training to the immigration officers thoroughly as to how this new policy should apply.
    • The new policy applies only to the cases that are filed on or after 09/11/2018 and will not apply to any cases which were filed before 09/11/2018.
    • The new policy is intended to punish "frivolous" filing or "substantially incomplete" filing and not intended to punish for filing with "innocent"errors. Statistics reflected that the USCIS had issued RFEs in 40% of cases, adding a tremendous burden and workload, and the new policy is to get relief from such workload.

09/06/2018: REMINDER: USCIS Policy of Discretionary Denial Instead of Issuing RFE or NOID Before Denial Takes Effect TUESDAY 9/11

  • Beginning from next Tuesday, USCIS officials may outright deny instead of issuing RFE or NOID for flaws or lack of "initial evidence" in applications or petitions which they receive. Accordingly, nonimmigrant or immigrant applicants and petitioners should review "form instructions" for applications or petitions they want to file to ensure that there are no flaws in presentation of the forms and no initial evidence are missing in their presentation before they ship out their applications and petitions from today. Please remember that because of the Trump Administration's changes with the policies on various nonimmigrant and immigrant petitions and applications, the USCIS has been frequently changing the forms and the list of required "initial evidence" in the petitions or applications, some of which have changed. Reviewing instruction forms, particularly forms which have been recently revised, should be an important step for the petitioners, applicants, and their legal counsels. Remember that such denial will not only cause for the delays in processing applications and petitions, but also lose the expensive filing fees!
  • For the reasons, in our home page, we have set up a link to the updated form sites to help our readers to check the forms without too much hassle. Remember also that in order to help the immigration stakeholders, today, from 2:00 p.m. (EST), Ombudsman is scheduled host a teleconference on this policy changes, inviting USCIS officials.

09/06/2018: Wow! India’s Supreme Court on Thursday Struck Down a Ban on Gay Sex

  • India has been considered one of the most conservative countries when it comes marriages and sex. Thus, this should be an eye-opening news for Indians. Read on.

09/06/2018: DHS & HHS Propose Amendment to the Rules Relating to Apprehension, Processing, Care, Custody, and Release of Alien Juveniles

  • Late actions by DOJ, DHS, and HHS have yet to be resolved for the border crossing children and their separate from the parents. The stakeholders who are involved with the border crossing children and parents should review this proposed rule changes to prepare themselves for the upcoming changes of the Trumpt Administration for the border enforcement for alien children. Read the proposed rule.

09/06/2018: DOL/ETA to Revise H-2B Temporary Labor Certification Forms

  • ETA is seeking comments on proposed revisions to the Form ETA-9142B, H-2B Application for Temporary Employment Certification; Form ETA-9142B, Appendix B; Form ETA-9165, Employer-Provided Survey Attestations to Accompany H-2B Prevailing Wage Determination Request Based on a Non-OES Survey; and the instruction accompanying those forms. Current forms expires at the end of this year. H-2B stakeholders, including non-agricultural temporary foreign worker employers and legal counsels should review the proposed revisitions to the forms. For the announcement, please click here.

09/05/2018: USCIS Director Clarifies the Automatic Extension of Haiti TPS EAD Thru 01/17/2019 Pending Reissuance of Extended EAD Card Valid Until 07/22/2019

  • A stakeholder inquiry indicates that there are Haitii TPS who re-registered for extension of TPS but failed to receive the extended EAD valid trhough 07/22/2019. Apparently, their automatic extension expired 07/21/2018.
  • On 08/21/2018, the USCIS Director clarified that on July 20, 2018, users automatically extended the validity of certain EADs issued under TPS for Haiti through January 17, 2019, to avoid any gaps in work authorization documentation. Thus, Haitian TPS beneficiaries who applied for a new EAD during one of the last re-registration periods, and have EADs with an expiration date of January 22, 2018, are covered by this extension. Additionally, TPS beneficiaries who applied for a new EAD on or after May 24, 2017, and have EADs with an expiration date of July 22, 2017, are also covered by this extension. USCIS mailed a Notice of Continued Evidence of Work Authorization to TPS Haiti beneficiaries who have pending EAD applications. This notice provides additional evidence of this automatic EAD extension tlu·ough January 17, 2019.

09/04/2018: EB-485 Inventory Data as of July 2018 Update

09/03/2018: USCIS ICAM (Identity, Credential, and Access Management) as a Portal for Customers' Electronic Interaction with the Agency

  • Federal government, including USCIS, is accelerating removal of paper interaction, including immigration filing system. It appears that the USCIS is targeting at complete removal of paper filing and interaction with the customers ideally in two years. For the reasons, the USCIS established the ICAM system.
  • In order to interact with USCIS electronic systems accessible through the USCIS ICAM portal, a first time user must establish an account. The account creation process requires the user to submit a valid email address; create a password; select their preference for receiving a one-time password (via email, mobile phone, or both); select five password reset questions and responses; and indicate the account type they want to set up (customer or legal representative). The account creation and the account login processes both require the user to receive and submit a one-time password. The one-time password can be provided either as an email to an email address or to a mobile phone via text message. The customer also has the option of receiving a one-time password readable by a two-factor authentication application on a mobile device. If the authentication application option is selected, the customer can either scan a QR code or enter a text code. USCIS ICAM currently grants access to myUSCIS and the information collections available for e-filing.
  • USCIS submitted ICAM rule-making to the OMB on 08/31/2018 to legalize the mandatory electronic interaction system. Well, new world will fast approach in immigration filing system, eliminating paper filing system completely. Eventually, a lot of businesses will be affected negatively, including immigration form services, mail delivery systems, etc. in few years.

08/31/2018: Texas Federal District Court Rejected Preliminary Injunction Motion Against DACA Filed by Texas and Other States

  • For now, the preliminary injunction was blocked, but the court opened another option against DACA, should Texas, et al appeals the district court decision. See the full text of the decision which is reported by Dallas News.

08/31/2018: Board of Immigration Appeals Handed Down a Decision that Affects the Requirement for Notice to Appear (NTA)

  • Today, the Board of Immigration Appeals handed down a decisions in Matter of BERMUDEZ-COTA, 27 I&N Dec. 441 (BIA 2018) that a notice to appear (NTA) that does not specify the time and place of an alien's initial removal hearing vests an Immigration Judge with jurisdiction over the removal proceedings and meets the requirements of section 239(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, 8 U.S.C. § 1229(a) (2012), so long as a notice of hearing specifying this information is later sent to the alien. Pereira v. Sessions, 138 S. Ct. 2105 (2018), distinguished. Currently, the new NTA policy memorandum of the USCIS is on hold, but once it is implemented sooner or later, people should remember the impact of this BIA decision

08/31/2018: Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds Rule Making Notice Faced Challenges from Various Large Cities and States

  • This proposed rule was submitted to the OMB in March 29, 2018 to expand the definition of "Public Charge" and making more immigrants ineligible for admission and causing deportation proceedings. Obviously, most of the stakeholders of this proposed rule live in large metropolitan, such as New York, San Franciso, etc. Since then the OIRA had 21 meetings with the local entities for their challenges and the rule-making process has been stalled.
  • Stakeholders readers are advised to review these 21 meetings and statements of stakeholder local governments raising issues. The latest one was presented on the meeting on August 29, 2018 by the State of New York.

08/30/2018: USCIS Reminder of Workload Transfer of Some of I-539 for F, M, J, B Nonimmigrant Application from Vermont Service Center to California Service Center

  • This notice was posted on 07/19/2018 and the USCIS wants the stakeholders to remind the transfer.

08/30/2018: Wow, Justice Department Files Statement of Interest in Harvard Discrimination Case Defending Claim That Harvard Intentionally Discriminates on the Basis of Race in Admissions

  • In this lawsuit, the plaintiff, Students For Fair Admissions, an organization of students and parents, alleges that Harvard College intentionally discriminates against Asian-American applicants when making admissions decisions. The Justice Department agrees that substantial evidence also demonstrates that Harvard admissions officers and committees consistently monitor and manipulate the racial makeup of incoming classes, which has resulted in stable racial demographics in Harvard’s admitted classes from year to year. The Supreme Court has called such attempts to “racially balance” the makeup of a student body “patently unconstitutional.” See the DOJ Attorney General statement.

08/30/2018: OFLC Releases "PERM Labor Certification Program Online Registration Process" Presentation

  • The OFLC posted on 08/22/2018 'PERM Business Existence Online Registration Process presentation, releasing this video material to train and educate people for PERM application process. This material will serve update and training purposes for the employers and PERM program users.

08/30/2018: Effective Immediately, USDOL Implements President's Executive Order Excepting Administrative Law Judges from the Competitive Service (July 10, 2018).

  • The President issued the controversial Executive Order on July 10, 2018 to restrict the power of the administrative law judges of various departments. Today, the USDOL published its notice in the federal register for Procedures for Appointment of Administrative Law Judges for the Department of Labor. Read on.
  • There was a report that the administrative law judges had protested against such policy for restricting their judicial independence.

08/30/2018: United States Passports Invalid for Travel to, in, or through North Korea Until 08/31/2019

  • The State Department to publish a notice tomorrow that it extends the restriction of U.S. citizen travel to North Korea, unless it revokes the notice. This travel restriction has been in place until 08/31/2018 and the State Department is extending the current travel restriction policy for U.S. citizens to travel to North Korea. Read on.

08/30/2018: USCIS to Increase Premium Processing Fee from Current Rate of ,225 to ,410 Effective 30 Days from 08/31/2018

  • This rate increase will be officially announced in the federal register tomorrow. Here is the advance copy. See al the federal register notice.

08/30/2018: Labor Department Opens New Office for Regulatory Compliance

  • Era of enforcement and enforcement. Read on. Here is the DOL release of its initiation of the new Office of Compliance Initiatives ("OCI"). One of the OCI initiatives will involve providing helping enforcement agencies more effectively use online resources to deliver information and compliance assistance to the American people. For the purposes, the OCI has created two websites: Worker.Gov. and Employer.Gov.

08/29/2018: USICE Student & Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) Releases on 08/29/2018 Reminder of Importance of Maintaining "Status" to Avoid ULP

  • Remind Your International Students of the Importance of Maintaining Status: On Aug. 9, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services published a final policy memorandum on the accrual of unlawful presence for F, M, and J visa holders who fail to maintain their status. Accrual of unlawful presence can, under certain circumstances, render your international students ineligible for certain immigration benefits and may make them inadmissible to the United States. For more information, share the Broadcast Message: Accrual of Unlawful Presence by F and M Nonimmigrants with your F and M students.

08/28/2018: Extended/Expanded H-1B Premium Processing Services Suspension, and Potential Increased Victims of New NTA, ULP, and Denial Without RFE/NOID Policies

  • The fact that premium processing services will be suspended until February 19, 2019, for over five months from now, will raise a number of issues for H-1B foreign workers other than just delay of H-1B decision because of its potential impact on three monstrous new policies of (1) Notice to Appear (NTA), (2) Accrual of Unlawful Presence (ULP), and Instances of (3) Denials Without Request for Evidence (RFE) or Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID). This will be particularly true when their H-1B petitions are denied after a prolonged period of time, because denials after a prolonged period of time can potentially lead them to victims of these three new policies, facing a deportation proceeding in the worst cases. Currently, NTA policy memorandum is on hold, pending preparation of operational guidances within subcomponents of DHS, but it may not take too long before such operational guidances are completed and the USCIS may implement and enforce the NTA policy sooner or later. As for ULP, passage of time beyond September 30, 2018 and other issues which are caused by the delays are likely to produce increased number of F, M, J nonimmigrants, including those in regular OPT or STEM OPT statuses. Lastly, the new policy of potential denial of H-1B petitions without RFE or NOID will definitely increase the number of denials of the H-1B petitions and such denials will lead in many cases to the above cited related new policies with a potential serious consequences.
  • Obviously, as affected by the foregoing new policies, lately employers have been filing H-1B petitions with massive Premium Processing Requests, flooding the USCIS Service Centers, leading in part to the announcement of extension and expansion of suspension of H-1B Premium Processing Services until February 19, 2019. Under the circumstances, employers and H-1B applicants should assess the situation carefully and take an action to avoid becoming a victim of one of the foregoing three new policies while they go through H-1B decision process.

08/28/2018: USCIS Extends Suspension of H-1B Premium Processing for FY 2019 Cap Cases Until 02/19/2019 and Non-Cap Cases of CSC & VSC Effective 09/11/2018!!

  • USCIS has just announced that the USCIS will keep FY-2019 H-1B cap cases Premium Processing suspended until February 19, 2019. Effective 09/10/2018, the suspension will be expanded to all non-cap H-1B cases which are not filed before September 11, 2018 with the CSC and VSC. The suspension will not include to Cap-Exempt cases and H-1B extension cases filed with the NSC. Please other details, please read the following:
  • "USCIS is extending the previously announced temporary suspension of premium processing for cap-subject H-1B petitions and, beginning Sept. 11, 2018, will be expanding this temporary suspension to include certain additional H-1B petitions. We expect these suspensions will last until Feb. 19, 2019, and will notify the public via before resuming premium processing for these petitions.
    While H-1B premium processing is suspended, we will reject any Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service filed with an affected Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker. If a petitioner submits one combined check for the Form I-907 and Form I 129 H-1B fees, both forms will be rejected.
    Who Is Affected
    The expanded temporary suspension applies to all H-1B petitions filed at the Vermont and California Service Centers (excluding cap-exempt filings as noted below).
    The previously announced suspension of premium processing for fiscal year 2019 cap-subject H-1B petitions was originally slated to last until Sept. 10, 2018, but that suspension is being extended through an estimated date of Feb. 19, 2019.
    We will continue premium processing of Form I-129 H-1B petitions that are not currently suspended if the petitioner properly filed an associated Form I-907 before Sept. 11, 2018. Therefore, we will refund the premium processing fee if:
    " The petitioner filed the Form I-907 for an H-1B petition before Sept. 11, 2018; and
    " We did not take adjudicative action on the case within the 15-calendar-day processing period.
    Premium Processing Remains Available for Certain H-1B Petitions
    The suspension does not apply to:
    1. 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
    2. Those petitions filed exclusively at the Nebraska Service Center by an employer requesting a "Continuation of previously approved employment without change with the same employer" (Box b. on Part 2, Question 2, Page 2 of the current Form I-129) with a concurrent request to:
    1. Notify the office in Part 4 so each beneficiary can obtain a visa or be admitted. (Box on Part 2, Question 4, Page 2 of the current Form I-129); or
    2. Extend the stay of each beneficiary because the beneficiary now holds this status. (Box c. on Part 2, Question 4, Page 2 of the current Form I-129).
    This temporary suspension of premium processing does not apply to any other nonimmigrant classifications filed on Form I-129.
    Requesting Expedited Processing
    While premium processing is suspended, petitioners may submit a request to expedite an H-1B petition if they meet the criteria on the Expedite Criteria webpage. The petitioner must demonstrate that they meet at least one of the expedite criteria, and petitioners should be prepared to submit documentary evidence to support their expedite request.
    We review all expedite requests on a case-by-case basis and requests are granted at the discretion of the office leadership.
    Why We Are Temporarily Suspending Premium Processing for H-1B Petitions
    This temporary suspension will help us to reduce overall H-1B processing times by allowing us to:
    " Process long-pending petitions, which we have been unable to process due to the high volume of incoming petitions and premium processing requests over the past few months;
    " Be responsive to petitions with time-sensitive start dates; and
    " Prioritize adjudication of H-1B extension of status cases that are nearing the 240-day mark. "

08/27/2018: Ombudsman "Timely" Schedules a Teleconference 09/06/2018 2:00-3:00 PM (EST) on USCIS Policy of Denials Instead of RFE/NOID Effective 09/11/2018

  • This new policy will take effect allowing USCIS officers to deny applications/petitions without first issuing RFE or NOID in certain circumstances.On September 6, 2018, from 2:00pm to 3:00pm EDT, the Office of the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman will host a teleconference to discuss U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services' Policy Memorandum on "Issuance of Certain RFEs and NOIDs." Historically, USCIS adjudicators followed a 2013 policy memorandum titled, "Requests for Evidence and Notices of Intent to Deny," which encouraged the issuance of RFEs and NOIDs when the initial evidence submitted did not establish eligibility. However, the new policy which takes effect on "9/11" gives a broad discretion to deny, instead of firt issuing RFE or NOID, nonimmigrant or immigrant petitions and applications. The new policy applies to all applications, petitions, and requests, except for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) adjudications, received after September 11, 2018.
  • For registration, please click here.

08/27/2018: State Department Intends to Limit Use of DS-156 Papar Application Form for Nonimmigrant Visa Applications

  • The State Department intends to limit use of "paper" version form of DS-156 and seeks commments from the public before they implement such changes. The Nonimmigrant Visa Application (DS-156) paper version will be used only in the following limited circumstances when applicants cannot access the DS-160:
    • An applicant has an urgent medical or humanitarian travel need and the consular officer has received explicit permission from the Visa Office to accept form DS-156;
    • The applicant is a student exchange visitor who must leave immediately in order to arrive on time for his/her course and the consular officer has explicit permission from the Visa Office to accept form DS-156;
    • The applicant is a diplomatic or official traveler with urgent government business and form DS-160 has been unavailable for more than four hours; or
    • Form DS-160 has been unavailable for more than three days and the officer receives explicit permission from the Visa Office. In order to obtain a copy of form DS-156, an applicant must contact the Embassy or consulate at which he or she is applying, and request a copy.
  • For the full details, please read their notice which will be published in the federal register tomorrow.

08/27/2018: State Department Intends to Revise DS-260 Online Immigrant Visa Application Form and Seeks Public Comments

  • The proposed changes include:
    • One question lists multiple social media platforms and requires the applicant to provide any identifiers used by applicants for those platforms during the five years preceding the date of application. The platforms listed may be updated by the Department by adding or removing platforms. Additional platforms will be added only if collection is consistent with the uses described in the Supporting Statement and after Office of Management and Budget approval. In addition, the applicant will be given the option to provide information about any social media identifiers associated with any platforms other than those that are listed that the applicant has used in the last five years. The Department will collect this information for identity resolution and vetting purposes based on statutory visa eligibility standards.
    • Other questions seek five years of previously used telephone numbers, email addresses, and international travel; whether the applicant has been deported or removed from any country; and whether specified family members have been involved in terrorist activities.
    • The “Sign and Submit” statement will provide applicants information related to correcting records within Federal Bureau of Investigation databases and additional information regarding the immigrant visa medical examination.
    • Applicants from countries where female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) is prevalent will be provided a link in the DS-260 to an electronic pamphlet that covers the illegality of the practice in the United States. Further, applicants will be required to check a box verifying that the link was provided to them.
    • Finally, the revised visa application forms will include additional information regarding the visa medical examination that some applicants may be required to undergo. Additional details of the changes are available in supporting documents.
  • This notice will be published in the federal register seeking comments. The change will not take effect until the final notice is published.

08/24/2018: USCIS Releases on 08/24/2018 Regional Center Investment Immigration Policy Manual Update Requesting Expansion of "Geographical Area"

  • This updated Policy Manual guidance is controlling and supersedes any prior guidance.
  • Updated Policy Highlights
    • Clarifies that USCIS reviews whether an economic methodology is reasonable to demonstrate that a regional center¡¦s geographic area is limited, to include whether the multipliers and assumptions about a project¡¦s geographic impact are reasonable.
    • Explains that a regional center¡¦s geographic area must be limited, contiguous, and consistent with the purpose of concentrating pooled investment in defined economic zones.
    • Affirms that a Form I-924 amendment must be filed and approved in order to expand the regional center¡¦s geographic area for requests made on or after Febuary 22, 2017.
    • Clarifies how USCIS adjudicates regional center-associated Form I-526 petitions where the regional center has requested an expansion of its geographic area.
    • Explains that USCIS considers a change in regional center affiliation a material change in cases where the change takes place after Form I-526 has been filed.

08/24/2018: Congress Scheduled to Return to the Legislative Sessions After Labor Day and Hot Button for Immigration is Legislation of DHS Appropriations Bill

  • The end of the Fiscal Year (09/30/2018) is only a little over one month and the Congress must pass Mini-Appropriation Bills before 09/30/2018. The House has already passed its bill and Senate also has its own bill which are different from the House bill. Therefore, the two Chambers must work out a compromise bill.
  • Considering the short period left before the Midterm national election in early November, the chance is not too good that the Congress pass any comprehensive immigration reform bill. Under the circumstances, all eyes of the immigration community be on the House bill that includes a small immigration reform proposal which the Immigration Voice has worked so hard over the years to eliminate annual per country limit to employment-based immigration quota, and removal of DV immigration lottery program from the current immigration statutes. Without this legislation, the Indians, particularly high-tech worker Indians, will keep suffering from the endless wait for immigration to this country. For the reasons, the DHS appropriation bill will remain the hottest button for the next one month. Stay tuned.

08/24/2018: Somalia TPS "Re-Registration" Runs from 08/27/2018 for 60 Days

  • Eligible Somalians should not neglect to re-register the TPS timely. EAD will issue valid until 03/17/2020. For details, please see the advance copy of federal register notice.
  • Please note that the USCIS released announcement of TPS extension on 08/17/2018 with the notice re-registration start of 08/17/2018, which conflicted with the official notice which will be published on 08/27/2018, next Monday. The office notice clearly indicates that the re-registration will not start until 08/27/2018.

08/23/2018: USCIS Customer Online Service Tools Will be Not Available (Outage) for Three (3) Hours Tonight from 9:00 PM and 12:00 PM (EST)

  • Please beware.

08/23/2018: Today's Teleconference on F/M/J Accrual of Unlawful Presence Policy Revealed Some Confusion Caused by Difference Between "Status" and "Unlawful Presence"

  • The teleconference was very helpful and on behalf of the immigration stakeholders, we would like to send a gratitude to the officials from USCIS and ICE today. The teleconference encountered somewhat a confusion because most of questions which were raised needed clear understanding of the difference between the concepts of Legal "Status" or Illigal "Status" and Lawful or Unlawful "Presence," because understanding of this policy requires understanding of this difference between legal status and lawful presence. It thus appears that it will be extremely important that the stakeholder entities should help stakeholder nonimmigrants and immigrants with this policy within the context of the two critical rules of "legal status" and "lawful presence" under the immigration law. We hope we can help our readers as much as possible on this within the next several weeks. Please stay tuned.

08/23/2018: Asylum Workload Statistics for Approval Rates and Credible Fear Found Rates FY-2017 & FY-2018 Q3 (April-June)

  • Approval rate has droppted to average 30% in FY 2018 as compared to the rate of 36.5% in FY 2018.

08/22/2018: The Decision of Federal District Court in DC Vacating Trumpt Administration's Order of Rescission of 2012 DACA Program in Part "Stayed" on 08/17/2018

  • The Trump Administration moved that pending the appeal, the Federal Court should stay two parts (Initial New Filing of DACA Applications and DACA Beneficiaries' Advance Parole for International Travel) because of its injury on the government. The government showed that DHS estimates that full implementation of the Court’s order would lead to the filing of over 100,000 initial DACA applications and 30,000 requests for advance parole, which would in turn require the hiring of 72 temporary employees and the reassignment or hiring of 60 full-time employees. The Court accepted this evidence of injury and granted the government motion to stay (suspend) new initial DACA applications as well as Advance Parole applications for existing DACA beneficiaries. However, this order does not include "renewal" of DACA for the existing DACA beneficiaries. Therefore, existing DACA beneficiaries will be able to keep extending their DACA status despite of the Trump's rescission order pending appeal.
  • For the details, please read the full text of the court decision which is reported by

08/22/2018: OFLC Proposed Rule for H-2A Record Keeping Requirement for Employers Engaging in Sheep Herding, Goat Herding, and Open-range Production of Livestock

  • The U.S. Department of Labor uses the information collected from the employers to determine whether employers engaging in sheep herding, goat herding, and open-range production of livestock have met their obligations under Federal law. This proposed rule pertains to program obligations for employers seeking to hire foreign temporary agricultural workers for job opportunities in herding or production of livestock on the open range. Among the issues addressed through this ICR are timekeeping requirements of employers. In order to determine eligibility for the program based on the amount of work performed on the range, this ICR requires employers to note whether employees spend days on the ranch or on the range. This ICR also requires employers to record the reason for the worker’s absence where the employer chooses to prorate the required wage
  • OFLC will seek comments from stakeholders during 60 days beginning from tomorrow.

08/21/2018: H-4 EAD Rule-Making Progress Report to the Court by DHS on 08/20/2018

  • Perchingtree reports that DHS updated the Court on its H-4 EAD repeal rule-making progress. The Report indicates that there will be no change to its plan to complete the rule-making. However, DHS failed to address the timeline for completion of the rule-making process. It was scheduled to be published in June 2018, but there has been delay with the rule-making process. Unpublished rumor indicated that the Trump Administration was actually undetermined about the repeal of H-4 EAD, not to mention the timing. No one should complain about it.

08/20/2018: On-Going "Legal Immigration" Policy Changes and Answers from USCIS Director, Francis Cissna

  • USCIS has been announcing and implementing changes in policies on "legal" immigration processes for non-immigrants and immigrants, particularly employment-based immigration process, as we have been reporting for the past several months. Howevever, there has been no explanation for such move other than President's Executive Order of Buy American, Hire American.
  • On August 16, 2018, the Center for Immigration Stadies sat down with the USCIS Director asking all the questions which are related to the ongoing immigration policy changes for legal immigrants. This conversation with Director of USCIS Francis Cissna fully covers the background of ongoing legal immigration challenges. Readers cannot miss this report!!

08/17/2018: GOOD NEWS FOR STEM OPT-USCIS Changed Policy

  • USCIS has just released the following statements:

USCIS is updating the Optional Practical Training Extension for STEM Students (STEM OPT) page of our website to clarify the reporting responsibilities for participating in the STEM OPT program. Students and employers must report material changes to the Designated School Official (DSO) at the earliest opportunity by submitting a modified Form I-983. Employers must report the STEM OPT student's termination of employment or departure to the DSO within five business days. As previously indicated on the webpage, students must report certain changes, such as changes to their employer's name and address, to their DSO within 10 business days. Prompt reporting ensures that Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is able to exercise effective oversight of the program.
DHS is clarifying that STEM OPT participants may engage in a training experience that takes place at a site other than the employer's principal place of business as long as all of the training obligations are met, including that the employer has and maintains a bona fide employer-employee relationship with the student. DHS will review on a case-by-case basis whether the student will be a bona fide employee of the employer signing the Training Plan, and verify that the employer that signs the Training Plan is the same entity that employs the student and provides the practical training experience.

08/15/2018: OIRA Meeting with City of San Francisco on USCIS Pending Rule-Making on Inadmissibility of Public Charge

  • This controversial plan of USCIS to expand the grounds for inadmissibility for public charge that could lead to massive denials of nonimmigrant and immigrant benefits and naturalization applications has been under review by the OIRA since March 2018. On August 13, 2018, DHS/USCIS and OIRA representatives met with the officials of San Francisco to hear and review their arguments in opposition to the DHS intended action. It is not certain how soon the OIRA review will be completed and the DHS will initiate change with Public Charge, but the arguments which were presented by the City of San Francisco to the OIRA and DHS give some picture on impact of this initiative of the Trump Administration. Lately, the City of New York has also come forward addressing and opposing this rule changes.

08/14/2018: Effective 08/13/2018, I-829 Filing Location Changed from California Service Center to USCIS Lockbox

  • USCIS announced that on Aug. 13, USCIS changed the filing location for Form I-829, Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status. This form was previously filed at the California Service Center. Now, petitioners must send Form I-829 to a USCIS Lockbox facility. However, the Immigrant Investor Program Office continues to be the adjudicating office. When filing at a Lockbox facility, petitioners have the option to pay the fee with a money order, personal check, cashier’s check, or credit card. Please follow the Where to File and Filing Fee directions on the I-829 page.

08/14/2018: Yemen TPS Re-Registration Starts from 08/14/2018 thru 10/15/2018

  • The 60-day re-registration period runs from August 14, 2018 through October 15, 2018. It is very important for re-registrants to timely re-register during this 60-day period and not to wait until their EADs expire. For details, please read the notice published in the federal register today.
  • Read also USCIS announcement on Re-Registration Period and Requirements.

08/13/2018: September 2018 I-485 Filing Charts for Family-Based and Employment-Based Immigration

  • Employment-Based: Use "Final Action" Chart
  • Family-Based: Use "Filing Date" Chart

08/12/2018: REMINDER: Effective 09/11/2018 (Tuesday), Policy Memorandum on Denial of Petitions/Applications Instead of Issuing RFE/NOID for Missing Required Evidence

  • The impact of this policy memorandum can be monstrous leading to more than just denials and potentially leading to Notice To Appear (NTA) and other adverse actions, not to mention losing the filing fees and other expenses. For the reasons, this reporter reminded our readers earlier of importance of checking the "Instruction Form" of each immigration forms to assure that you do not miss "initial evidence" which is listed in the Instruction forms and other evidence to establish the "threshold" for the petition or application.
  • This is particularly critical when the forms are updated with the accompanying changes of requirements listed in the revised "Instruction Forms." For the reasons, we have posted a link to the Form Update Sites on our home page. We strongly urge the readers to check the form update site to make it sure that you comply with this monstrous policy memorandum.

08/11/2018: DACA Future Struggles in Federal Courts in Washington, D.C. and Texas

  • Currently two federal distircts struggle with the DACA future. A federal district court in Washington D.C. ordered Trump Administration to fully restore DACA program, giving 20 days, while in a federal district court in Texas, heard on Wednes day, 08/08/2018 a lawsuit by 10 States including Texas to remove DACA program. Report indicates that the judge did not make any decision on both merits and preliminary injunction motion, but Judge Hanen in Texas is likely to make a decision on injunction in one way or another sooner or later. Please stay tuned.
  • The judge and court in this new lawsuit against 2012 DACA program are the same judge and court that upheld preliminary injunctions against the 2014 DACA/DAPA program, freezing the 2014 program. CNN reports that the Trump administration has argued to Hanen that if he decides to issue an immediate stoppage of the program, he should limit any ruling to recipients in the states that have sued (10 States) and should delay his order's effectiveness to give the Trump administration time to appeal. A Justice Department attorney reiterated that position Wednesday in court. See the text of DOJ motion.

08/10/2018: USCIS Issued Revised Final Policy Memorandum on Accrual of Unlawful Presence for F, J. M Nonimmigrants Effective 08/09/2018 Yesterday

  • This final Policy Memorandum took effect yesterday 08/09/2018, but slightly revised the earlier version. Accordingly, the earlier version of the Memorandum dated 05/10/2018 is no longer valid. Accordingly, the F, J, and M nonimmigrants should follow the revised version of Policy Memorandum dated 08/09/2018.
  • For the changes in the revised final Policy Memorandum are summarized in its announcement yesterday. Under the revised final policy memorandum, effective Aug. 9, 2018, F and M nonimmigrants who fall out of status and timely file for reinstatement of that status will have their accrual of unlawful presence suspended while their application is pending. Thus, the revised final memorandum published yesterday supersedes that memorandum and describes the rules for counting unlawful presence for F and M nonimmigrants with timely-filed or approved reinstatement applications, as well as for J nonimmigrants who were reinstated by the Department of State. For purposes of counting unlawful presence, a timely reinstatement application for F or M status is one where the student has not been out of status for more than five months at the time of filing. Under the revised final policy memorandum, the accrual of unlawful presence is suspended when the F or M nonimmigrant files a reinstatement application within the five month window and while the application is pending with USCIS.
  • The alleged justification for accrual of Unlawful Presence policy for F,J, M nonimmigrants includes DHS release of the FY 2017 Entry/Exit Overstay Report where the estimated total overstay rates were lower in FY 2017 for F and J nonimmigrants, but the F, M, and J categories continue to have significantly higher overstay rates than other nonimmigrant visa categories.

08/09/2018: ALERT! USCIS is Silent on Status of Accrual of Unlawful Presence for F, J, M Nonimmigrants Despite its Release of Policy Memorandum with Effective Date of 08/09/2018

  • Despite the memorandum, the USCIS does not officially alert the immigrant community that this Policy Memorandum is in effect at this time. For the confusion, please read the NAFTSA's report of today. Under the circumstances, readers are advised to seek the legal advice from their legal counsels for the issue of Accrual of Unlawful Presence for F, J, M Nonimmigrants at this point. For J nonimmigrants, if the Department of State approves the reinstatement application of a J nonimmigrant, the individual will generally not accrue unlawful presence from the time the J nonimmigrant fell out of status from the time he or she was reinstated.

08/09/2018: Yemen TPS Registration Starts Tomorrow (08/10/2018) for 60 Days

  • The Notice will be officially published in the Federal Register tomorrow. USCIS will issue new EADs with a March 3, 2020 expiration date to eligible Yemeni TPS beneficiaries who timely re-register and apply for EADs. Given the timeframes involved with processing TPS re-registration applications, DHS recognizes that not all re-registrants will receive new EADs before their current EADs expire on September 3, 2018. Accordingly, through this Federal Register notice, DHS automatically extends the validity of EADs issued under the TPS designation of Yemen for 180 days, through March 2, 2019. Additionally, individuals who have EADs with an expiration date of March 3, 2017, and who applied for a new EAD during the last re-registration period but have not yet received their new EADs are also covered by this automatic extension. These individuals may show their EAD indicating a March 3, 2017 expiration date and their EAD application receipt (Notice of Action, Form I-797C) that notes the application was received on or after January 4, 2017 to employers as proof of continued employment authorization through March 2, 2019. This Notice explains how TPS beneficiaries and their employers may determine which EADs are automatically extended and how this affects the Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, and E-Verify processes. For other details, please read advance copy of the notice.

08/08/2018: Lawsuit Filed in Federal District Court in Texas on 07/14/2018 Seeking Injunction and Declaratory Judgment Against the USCIS STEM OPT Client Site Employment Prohibition Policy

  • Bloomberg Law reports that this lawsuit was filed on July 14, 2018. The Plaintiff anticipates that the court may rule on their motion for injunction in about two months and on the merit of the lawsuit in about six months. The challenges include that it is unlawful to implement this type of decision without rulemaking process and by change of USCIS website and that the court should rule that the USCIS decision should not apply retroactively those who have aleady started the STEM OPT training that conflicts with this USCIS new policy. For the full text of the complaint, please click here. For the report of Bloomberg Law on this lawsuit, please click here.
  • Readers are advised that until the court issue injunction, the USCIS new policy on STEM OPT Worksite is likely in force.

08/08/2018: September 2018 Visa Bulletin Released

08/08/2018: Reminder of New USCIS Policy "Effective 09/11/2018" to Deny Petitions/Applications Without Issuing RFE or NOID For Missing Threshold Evidence

  • Currently, when immigration customers file nonimmigrant or immigrant petitions, USCIS has been issuing RFE (Request for Evidence) when the submitted evidence is insufficient to establish the requirements or Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID) when they think the cases failed to establish threshold or the cases are considered outright ineligible. When submitted petition or application misses filing fee checks or missing pages of the forms or missing information in the forms, they have been rejecting and returning the packet rather than denying the application or petition. Accordingly, the current policy of USCIS has been to give a second chance to add evidence or forms or filing fee checks by rejecting or issuing RFE or NOID before they decide the petitions or applications in the form of "denial."
  • Effective 09/11/2018, there will be a change with the policy. When petitioner or applicant fails to include "initial evidence" which are required threshold documents/evidence for such petition or application, the USCIS will "deny" such petition or application rather than rejecting or issuing RFE or NOID to give them a second chance. What this means is that petitioners and applicants should be careful in submitting petitions or applications to make it sure that they submit "initial evidence" as part of the petition or application. Where do you find the list of evidence? Usually, it is listed in the "Instruction" form to the petition or application. Accordingly, people should read the instruction forms carefully to make it sure that they do not miss the required "initial evidence" in submitting a petition or application. Remember that there will be no more leniency in defective petition or application filing in the form of RFE or NOID. They will flatly "deny" the petition or application.
  • This policy gives illustration of "initial evidence" requirement as threshold requirement as follows:
    • If all required initial evidence is not submitted with the benefit request, USCIS, in its discretion, may deny the benefit request for failure to establish eligibility based on lack of required initial evidence. Examples of filings that may be denied without sending an RFE or NOID include, but are not limited to:
    • Waiver applications submitted with little to no supporting evidence; or
      Cases where the regulations, the statute, or form instructions require the submission of an official document or other form of evidence establishing eligibility at the time of filing and there is no such submission. For example, an Affidavit of Support (Form I-864), if required, was not submitted with an Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status (Form I-485).
  • Read again the Policy Memorandum and remember the effective date of 09/11/2018. 09/11 is a date which is easy to remember.

08/07/2018: Reminder for F, J, M Nonimmigrants: Effective 08/09/2018, Accrual of Unlawful Presence Rule Applies to F, J, M Nonimmigrants

  • Until now, these nonimmigrants enjoyed a privilege of not being subject to accrual of unlawful presence simply because they were in Duration of Status (D/S) unless the government takes one of the certain actions when they would otherwise have been in unlawful presence because of their violation of certain nonimmigrant rules. However, this privilege will disappear effective day after tomorrow (August 9, 2018) because the new rule of accrual of unlawful presence for F, J, M nonimmigrants takes effect. Please review our report of April 22, 2018 and June 27, 2018. Once they are subject to the new rule of accrual of unlawful presence, and if they are in STEM OPT working at the client sites of their employers, they may face addtional actions by the government to initiate a deportation proceeding by ICE. Addtionally, USCIS itself could have initiated the same action, instead of ICE, by issuing Notice to Appear (NTA), but since this USCIS NTA policy memorandum is currently on hold pending internal completiton and release by operational guidance by sub-components of the USCIS. But it may not take too long before the USCIS could also exercise their authority to initiate deportation proceeding by issuing such NTA intead of ICE.
  • For the foregoing reasons, F,J,M nonimmigrants are strongly advised to seek legal counsel when they think they are subject to accrual of unlawful presence rule because of their violation of certain rules. IMPORTANT!

08/07/2018: DHS Released on 08/07/2018 FY-2017 Entry-Exit Overstay Report

  • The highlight of the 43-page detailed report includes the following:
    • Total 52,656,022 in-scope nonimmigrant admissions to the United States through air or sea POEs
    • Overstays: 701,900 (1.33% of Total Entrants)
      • Visa Waiver Program Travelers: 22,472,710 (0.51 %)
      • Non-Visa Waiver Program Travelers: 14,659,249 (1.91%)
      • F, M, or J Visa Holders: 1,662,369 (4.15%)
      • From Canada: 9,215,158 (1.01%)
      • From Mexico: 2,916,430 (1.63%)
  • It appears that overstays should not pose a major problem from the perspective of immigration enforcement, unlike EWIs (Entry Without Inspections), mostly through the border.

08/07/2018: OFLC PERM Processing Times as of 07/31/2018

  • Prevailing Wage Determination: May 2018 (82 days)\
  • PERM Processing Times:
    • Analyst Review (Clean Cases): May 2018 (98 days)
    • Audit Review: January 2018 (246 days)
    • Reconsideration: June 2018

08/06/2018: USCIS Updates I-129CW Form 08/01/2018

  • Current edition is acceptalbe only until the end of September 2018. Effective 10/01/2018, people should use 08/01/2018 edition date of the form.

08/06/2018: Federal District Court Judge in DC Orders to Fully Restore DACA Program Effective 08/23/2018

  • Read the full text of the order, as reported by NPR.

08/06/2018: Proposed Expansion of Inadmissibility of Immigrants for Expanded Definition of "Public Charge"

  • The provision of inadmissibility of immigrants into the this country for public charge has been in the statutes for a long time. However, the definition was very limited, focusing on receiving cash based benefits from the government. However, there was a rumor flying around early this year that the President would issue an exectuve order to expand the definition of "public charge" to limit so called "undesirable" foreigners into this country. On March 29, 2018, indeed the DHS submitted its proposed rule of Public Charge Ground to the OMB to expand the definition of inadmissible grounds on public charge of aliens. The draft of this proposed rule has not been available for public until it was leaked and reported in the Washington Post. The impact of the expanded definition of public charge on the admissible foreigners will be indeed very steep.
  • The proposed rule was scheduled to be published in July 2018 but has been delayed for unknown reasons. For the full text of the leaked proposed rule, please click here.

08/03/2018: Court Orders USCIS to Issue EAD for Asylum Seekers Within 30 Days

  • Under the rule, the USCIS was required to issue EAD to the asylum seekers within 30 days, but the USCIS has failed to keep this rule and has been in the process of making a rule to remove this rule. Aside from the rule-making process of the USCIS, American Immigration Council brought a class action lawsuit before a federal court, and on 07/26/2018, the court sustained the lawsuit and ordered the USCIS to keep the rule and issue EADs within 30 days for asylum seekers pursuant to the existing rule. Congratulation is due to the American Immigration Council. See the court decision.
  • Sadly, the USCIS has been in the process of rule making to remove this 30-day EAD mandate rule in the current rule book and once this rule is enacted and published in the federal register, the 30-day mandate rule is likely to removed again. This proposed rule has been pending before the OMB since July 2, 2018. Since it is at the "proposed" rule making stage, it will take a while before they complete a binding final rule, but the stakeholders should be aware of the forthcoming changes with the 30-day rule.

08/02/2018: Astonishing Statistics of H-1B RFEs and Denials in 2017

  • According to the report of National Foundation for American Policy, H-1B employers and high-tech foreign workers have suffered shocking rate of H-1B RFEs and Denials in 2017 as follows:
    • H-1B RFEs in FY 2017:
      • 1st Quarter: 17% RFEs
      • 3rd Quarter: 23% RFEs
      • 4th Quarter: 69% RFEs
    • H-1B Denials in FY 2017:
      • 41% increase of denials of H-1B petitions between 3rd Quarter and 4th Quarter: In 3rd Quarter, 15.9% of H-1B cases were denied, while in 4th Quarter, 22.4% of H-1B cases were denied.
  • Latest statistics have yet to be released for FY 2018, but readers guess should be as good as this reporter's.

08/01/2018: Senate Passed a "Minibus" Appropriations Bill (H.R. 6147) Today When the House is Gone for the Recess

  • Government Executive reports that this bill does not meet the House bill and the President's demands for a large amount of border security funding, not to mention immigration reform proposals which the President demands as a bargain for signing of the Congressional approprietion bill. The House is currently in recess as we reported earlier, and the issue of government shutdown remain in limbo.

08/01/2018: DOJ and DOL Signs MOU 07/31/2018 for Information Sharing and Case Referals on Employer Discrimination Against U.S. Workers and Violations of Laws

  • This Memorandum of Understanding between the Civil Rights Division of DOJ and the ETA/OFLC of the Department of Labor is intended to enforce against employers in the United States for their potential discritimation and violation of foreign labor certification and other related laws by the employers against U.S. workers. Here are the announcements by DOJ and DOL.
  • A similar MOU was signed between the Civil Rights Division of DOJ and USCIS in May 2018. See the USCIS.
  • Late USCIS announcement of NTA memorandum plus this DOJ/DOL enforcement memorandum will place U.S. employers under increased scrutiny and subject to enforcement against violations of the rules and laws in immigration practice.

07/31/2018: House Convened and Adjourned Until Friday, 08/03/2018, With No Answer for FY 2019 Appropriations and Government Shut-Down Threat

  • Wow, Republican leaders are unable to resolve this critical issue between the Republican majority Congress and the Republican President, not to mention Democrats all in disarray. Would the Congress keep its emergency legislative session open, and keep working to resolve this critical legislation for the people, skipping their Summer recess that starts early August?
  • House was supposed to go into the Summer Recess after July 27, 2018 through September 3, 2018 and after weeks legislative sessions in September, they were against go back their homes for recess until through and after November 2018 Mid-Term national election. These regular Congressional schedules are likely to be changed due to the threat of potential government shutdown.

07/31/2018: Reported Late Completion of USCIS Launching of New Enterprise Model and Modern Platform for Case Management and Processing System

  • Earlier, immigration community has witnessed processing delays with petitions and applications by the Service Centers, which was reportedly in part caused by the USCIS initiation and migration of the case management, processing, and adjudication systems into more modernized platform and enterprise model of case management among the five Service Centers. This was disclosed by the USCIS in his response to a Congressional inquiry on the cause for delays of processing I-765 EAD applications.
  • The two changes the USCIS have just launched includes: (1) Modernization of I-765 application processing system for National Benefit Center, migrating cases and data from old system to the new modern system which has just lated completed. Accordingly, I-765 EAD processing will witness some improvement from here on. Good news. (2) Five Service Centers have adopted a so-called Enterprise system leading to change of each Service Center equipped with capability of all the Service Center Center cases, making available of sharing of case load and processing capability among the five Service Center and overcoming jurisdiction. Accordingly, in order to achieve case load balancing, it is anticipated that there will be a lot of case transfers or sharing of the workloads among five (5) Service Centers. Read on.
  • We are not sure whether the current issue of online case status sites not recognizing pending cases as pending cases for status check was related to this change. It is hoped that this confusion be removed as soon as possible.

07/30/2018: USCIS Confirms Delay of Implementation of NTA Policy Memorandum Pending its Operational Guidance by USCIS Components

  • USCIS has released its announcement on 07/30/2018 that the implementation of NTA policy memorandum is delayed until its components completes operation guidance. The USCIS componets are required to issue their operational guidance within 30 days from June 28, 2018. However, according to the USCIS, USCIS components have yet to complete the operational guidance even if it passed 30 days from June 28, 2018. Accordingly, the NTA implementation is currently on hold and will remain on hold until each component of the USCIS releases operational guidance.

07/30/2018: Some I-751 Transfers from CSC to TSC or VSC for Workload Balance

  • July 26, 2018: From the California Service Center (CSC) to the Texas Service Center (TSC): I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence
  • July 19, 2018: From the California Service Center (CSC) to the Vermont Service Center (VSC): I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence

07/29/2018: Looming Up Government Shutdown

  • The House passed FY 2019 appropriation bills at a committee level which have yet to be passed on the full House floor. Government Executive today reports President's threat to shut down the government in a twit which stated that he will be [willing to “shut down” government if the Democrats do not give us the votes for Border Security, which includes the Wall! Must get rid of Lottery, Catch & Release etc. and finally go to system of Immigration based on MERIT! We need great people coming into our Country!]. Reportedly, the Congress has only 11 legislative session days before their summer recess.
  • The House committee bill includes elimination of per country annual employment-based immigrant quota provision from the Immigration Statute. Shoud there be a government shut down, a number of immigration programs will be affected. Stay tuned.

07/28/2018: This Breaking News Site Will Return to Normal Operation After One-Week Absence

  • This reporter, Matthew Oh, was more or less unavailable most of the time during the past one week and this Breaking News site could not be updated to serve our loyal visitors and readers. We will return to a normal reporting beginning from coming Monday, July 30, 2018. Thank you for your patience.

07/25/2018: Alert for Employers: ICE Has Been Intensifying I-9 Audits and NOIs for Businesses

  • HSI’s worksite enforcement strategy focuses on the criminal prosecution of employers who knowingly break the law, and the use of I-9 audits and civil fines to encourage compliance with the law. HSI’s worksite enforcement investigators help combat worker exploitation, illegal wages, child labor and other illegal practices. ICE announced on 07/24/2018 that ICE delivered more than 5,200 I-9 audit notices to businesses since January 2018 across the U.S. in 2-phase nationwide operation.
  • From July 16 to 20, 2018 (the second phase of the operation), HSI served 2,738 NOIs and made 32 arrests. During the first phase of the operation, Jan. 29 to March 30, HSI served 2,540 NOIs and made 61 arrests.
  • From Oct. 1, 2017 through July 20, 2018, HSI opened 6,093 worksite investigations and made 675 criminal and 984 administrative worksite-related arrests, respectively. In fiscal year 2017 – October 2016 to September 2017 – HSI opened 1,716 worksite investigations; initiated 1,360 I-9 audits; and made 139 criminal arrests and 172 administrative arrests related to worksite enforcement. Read on.

07/20/2018: State Department Initiates Revision of the Form DS-156E, "E Nonimmigrant Treaty Trader (E-1)/Investor (E-2) Visas

  • The State Department will officially publish a notice on July 23, 2018, Monday, proposed revision of DS-156E form for visa application before the Department of State. We will post summary of this revision during the weekend. Please stay tuned.

07/19/2018: Somalia TPS Extension for 18 Months through 03/17/2020

  • DHS Secretary announced that DHS has decided to extend the designation of TPS for Somalia for 18 months. For details on the registration, please click here.

07/18/2018: City of Minneapolis Created a New Division Naming a Long Immigration Attorney Michelle Rivero as Director

  • A longtime immigration attorney Michelle Rivero who has been dedicated to advocacy of refugees has been appointed as the director of the newly created Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs (OIRA).

07/18/2018: Ombudsman Teleconference on I-751 Petition for Removal of Conditional Resident Status on 07/26/2018, Thursday, 2:00 - 3:00 PM (EST)

  • Lately, USCIS has witnessed a substantial delay and increased denials. More importantly, under the New NTA Guidance for Adjudicators, when I-751 is denied, the adjudicator may issue NTA to appear in immigration court for deportation proceeding.
  • In this teleconference, the officials engage in discussion on USCIS’ current policies and adjudication practices surrounding the Form I-751, including strategies stakeholders have adopted to overcome adjudication challenges, available recourse for wronged U.S. sponsors, and ways that USCIS can improve the overall process, specifically addressing recommendations made by the Ombudsman’s Office in 2013.
  • The stakeholders of I-751 may attend this teleconference to learn various issues and prospects for approvals of their pending I-751. Remember that the teleconference will reject any questions involving individual cases.

07/17/2018: USCIS Announces that It Will No Longer Provide Paper Form N-565 Other Than "Online Form" or USCIS "Form Site Download Printouts"

  • USCIS announces that an attorney or accredited representative can now file Form N-565, Application for Replacement Naturalization/Citizenship Document for his/her clients using your myUSCIS online account. USCIS also will no longer provide paper copies of Form N-565. People must file this form online or download a copy from USCIS website.

07/17/2018: USCIS Updated Forms Mandatory in September, 2018

  • I-765, Application for Employment Authorization; New Edition Dated 05/31/18 (Only this edition acceptable effective 09/17/2018).
  • I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker; New Edition Dated 05/09/18 (Only this edition acceptable effective 09/17/2018)
  • G-28I, Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney in Matters Outside the Geographical Confines of the United States; New Edition Dated 05/23/18 (Only this edition acceptable effective 09/17/2018)
  • G-28, Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Accredited Representative; New Edition Dated 05/23/18 (Only this edition acceptable effecive 09/17/2018)

07/17/2018: USCIS Updated Forms Mandatory in August, 2018

  • I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service; New Edition Dated 06/26/18 (Only this edition acceptable effective 08/28/2018)
  • G-845 Supplement, Document Verification Request Supplement; New Edition Dated 05/29/18 (Only this edication acceptable effective 08/28/2018)
  • I-910, Application for Civil Surgeon Designation; New Edition Dated 05/29/18 (Only this edication acceptable effective 08/14/2018)

07/16/2018: SEVT Proposes to Raise Service Fees for F, J, M Nonimmigrants

  • Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) proposes to raise the fee for Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) Form I-901, Fee Remittance for Certain F, J, and M Nonimmigrants, for nonimmigrants seeking to become academic (F visa) or vocational (M visa) students from 0 to 0. For most categories of individuals seeking to become exchange (J visa) visitors, SEVP proposes to increase the fee from 0 to 0.
    For those seeking admission as J exchange visitors in the au pair, camp counselor, and summer work or travel program participant categories, DHS proposes to maintain the fee at . In addition to raising the student and exchange visitor fees, SEVP proposes to increase the fee for submitting a school certification petition from ,700 to ,000. SEVP proposes to maintain the fee for an initial school site visit at the current level of 5, but clarify that, with the effective date of the rule, SEVP would exercise its current regulatory authority to charge the site visit fee not only when a certified school changes its physical location, but also when it adds a new physical location or campus. SEVP proposes to establish and clarify two new fees: a ,250 fee to submit a school recertification petition and a 5 fee to submit an appeal or motion following a denial or withdrawal of a school petition. Adjusting fees would ensure fee levels are sufficient to recover the full cost of activities of the program and would establish a fairer balance of the recovery of SEVP operational costs between beneficiary classes.

07/15/2018: EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program Modernization Rule Likely Finalized and Implemented Soon

  • On January 13, 2017, this proposed rule was published and comment period ended in April 11, 2017. The proposed rule intends to achieve integrity of EB-5 investor immigration and achieve enhanced contribution to the U.S. economy by bringing two changes, among others. One is to increase the minimum amount for investment immigration and the other is to change designation and oversight of targeted employment areas.
  • However, there has been some delays in finalizing this rule into a final rule. The U.S. Senate leaders who were involved in and leaders for Immigrant Investment program wanted to see this reform be finalized and implemented as soon as possible. On top of such political pressure, there are two developments which indicate that indeed the final rule of this modernization is likely published as early as next month, August 2018, according to the DHS Spring 2018 rule making agenda. Besides, the USCIS Director also confirmed as late as June 12, 2018 that the final rule will be indeed published very soon.
  • Pending the reform, USCIS has reportedly achieved the following actions:
    • USCIS terminated 83 regional centers in FY-2017 and 64 in FY-2018 that no longer promoted economic growth or failed to submit required information.
    • USCIS has begun a compliance review program to verify the evidence provided by designated regional centers in applications and annual certifications.
    • USCIS also verified compliance with applicable laws and authorities to ensure continued eligibility for the regional center designation.
    • USCIS conducted site visits to the EB-5 petitioners' job creating entities to ensure that projects are operating as expected. Of the 221 projects which USCIS visited in FY 2017, 153 were operating as expected. For those projects that are not operating as expected, USCIS has scheduled interviews or requested additional evidence from petitioners prior to USCIS adjudication of petitions to remove conditions on permanent residence.
  • Stay tuned for publishing of the final rule in the federal register sooner or later.

07/13/2018: USCIS Issued on 07/13/2018 Policy Memorandum Rescinding Current “RFE and NOID” (2013 PM) Requirement Policy, Expanding Adjudicating Official's Expanded Discretion to Deny Without Issuing RFE or NOID

  • Effective 09/11/2018, immigration officials will be able to deny application, petition, or request without issuing an RFE or NOID with a proof of “no possibility” that the deficiency could be cured by submission of additional evidence. Therefore, immigration officials adjudicating petitions, applications, or requests will have somewhat broader room and power to flatly deny applications, petitions, and requests. Immigrants and their legal counsels should review this new policy memorandum carefully not to face denial of their petitions, applications, or requests without expecting to receive RFE or NOID. Read the announcement.

07/13/2018: DOL PERM, H-1B, H-2A, H-2B, and Prevailing Wage Disclosure Data Ending 06/30/2018 for Each Specific Application

  • These data give for specific cases by each employer.

07/13/2018: H-1B LCA Processing Statistics as of June 30, 2018

  • Again, look at the changes of occupations employers filed for H-1B, from lower wage occupations to higher wage occupations. As the USCIS continues to restrict lower wage occupation approvals, this trend of change of occupations employers use will continue.

07/13/2018: H-2B Temporary Non-Agricultural Labor Certification Program Processing Statistics as of June 30, 2018

07/13/2018: H-2A Temporary Agricultural Labor Certification Program Processing Statistics as of June 30, 2018

07/13/2018: PERM & Other Prevailing Wage Determination Processing Statistics as of June 30, 2018

  • See how types of occupations have changed from lower wage occupations and higher wager occupations.

07/13/2018: OFLC Releases on 07/13/2018 PERM Processing Statistics as of June 30, 2018

  • In 3rd Quarter that ends on 06/30/2018, the number of PERM certification increased quite substantially to 37,403. For all other statistics, please read the full text.

07/13/2018: August Visa Bulletin

  • For India, there is no change for "Filing Date" charts between July and August. However, there is a change for two (2) months progress for EB-3 in August.

07/12/2018: Visa Posts Prudential Revocation of Visas for Arrest for DUI and Domestic Violence and its Reported Impact on USCIS Denial of Immigration Benefits

  • We reported earlier the State Deparment release of its AILA liaison Q&A on this subject. The State Department's policy to revoke a visa for an alien in the United States upon his/her arrest for DUI(DWI) or Domestic Violence, even before they are convicted in courts. The minutes made it clear that the State Department policy applies only when they leave the United States and USCIS one time admitted that the USCIS would not deny any immigrant visa benefits while they are in the United States. Accordingly, there are a large number of nonimmigrants who have remained in the United States and have not left the United States to avoid State Department denial of visas.
  • Report indicates that there are some reports that the USCIS has in some instances denied a nonimmigrant application or petition on the ground of the State Department prudential revocation of the visas for DUI or Domestic Violation arrests or convictions. AILA is seeking a resolution with the agencies and collecting such application and petition denial incidents. Those who have encountered with such USCIS actions may email us such that we forward such information to the AILA to help the immigrant community from potential nightmares.
  • In the meantime, nonimmigrants in the United States may behave themselves not to be arrested for drunken driving or domestic violation charges!!

07/12/2018: Effective 07/09/2018, U.S. Visa Sactions Against Certain Officials of Burma and Laos

  • On July 10, 2018, DHS announced, in coordination with the State Department, the implementation of visa sanctions on Burma and Laos due to lack of cooperation in accepting their citizens who have been ordered removed the United States. Specific sanctions effective dates are listed below:
    • BURMA: As of July 9, 2018, the U.S. Embassy in Rangoon, Burma has discontinued the issuance of all B1 and B2 nonimmigrant visas for current officials at the Director General level and above from the Burmese Ministries of Labor, Immigration, and Population (MOLIP) and Home Affairs (MOHA), and their immediate family members, with limited exceptions.
    • LAOS: As of July 9, 2018, the U.S. Embassy in Vientiane, Laos, has discontinued the issuance of all B1, B2, and B1/B2 nonimmigrant visas for current officials at the Director General level and above from the Lao Ministry of Public Security (MPS) as well as their immediate families; and all A3 and G5 nonimmigrant visas to individuals employed by Lao government officials, with limited exceptions.
  • The Department of State may change the covered visa applicants or visa categories at any time. Visa suspensions may include any categories of visa or visa applicants, as determined by the Department. Please read the full text of the DHS announcement of 07/10/2018.

07/10/2018: USCIS to Complete Mailing Out Receipt Notices for H-1B Cap Selected Cases or Returning Packages for Unselected Cap Cases by 07/22/2018

  • USCIS advises that if the employer fails to receive either Receipt Notice or returned package for FY 2019 H-1B cap cases, such employer should contact the USCIS for inquiry. Announcement does include its schedule for reopening Premium Processing Services for selected cases, but it is likely that the USCIS may resume premium processing services for FY 2019 H-1B caps sooner or later.

07/08/2018: Immigration Courts Are Rolling out an Electronic Filing Pilot Program Starting July 16, 2018

  • American Immigration Council reports on 07/06/2016 (Friday) that currently immigration courts in the United States generally do not permit any electronic filing, but beginning from July 16, 2018 (Monday), the immigration court system will start "electronic filing" pilot program, allowing filing electronicallly, in the following schdules at immigration courts in different locations:
    • San Diego, CA (July 2018)
    • York, PA. (July 2018)
    • Denver, CO. (August 2018)
    • Atlanta, GA. (August 2018)
    • Charlotte, NC. (September 2018)
    • Baltimore, MD. (September 2018)
    • Immigration courts in other locations and states:; starting in December 2018 until the pilot ends on July 31, 2019.
  • Readeers facing immigration court proceedings that begin with NTA, should review another article of the AIC on "Access to Counsel in Immigration Court." In a way, this reform of immigration court filing system is timely, considering the USCIS initiatives to expand NTAs which will without doubt create very crowded immigration courts ahead, which have already experienced mountains of backlogs in calendars of the immigration courts throughout the country. The country, especially foreigners, start living in new environment with a lot of political and legal challenges. Hope this report helps immigrants to learn to deal with new environment, especially when they face challenges to their privileges or rights to stay in the United States. Amen.........

07/07/2018: USCIS Significant Policy Change for Issuance of "Notice To Appear" for DHS Enforcement Actions

  • The first step for immigration court proceedings for DHS enfocement action is to issue and serve on immigrants and nonimmigrants "Notice To Appear" (NTA) before an immigrant court for hearing. ICE is the primary authority to issue such NTA for immigration enforcement before the immigration courts, but CBP and USCIS also have the authorities to issue such NTA in limited areas of immigration violations.
  • On June 28, 2018, the USCIS issued a Policy Memorandum PM-602-0050.1 to give guidances to the immigration officers as to when they may issue NTA to mandate the immigrants and nonimmigrants to appear before the designated immigration court before they can leave the country on his/her own decision and not before the court proccedings determines the issue of his/her violation of immigration laws. This Policy Guidance expands tremendously incidents when the immigration officials may issue such NTA as seen below: (See the USCIS announcement of July 5, 2018)
    • (1) Cases where "fraud or misrepresentation" is substantiated, and/or where an applicant abused any program related to the receipt of public benefits. USCIS will issue an NTA even if the case is denied for reasons other than fraud.
    • (2) "Criminal cases" where an applicant is convicted of or charged with a criminal offense, or has committed acts that are chargeable as a criminal offense, even if the criminal conduct was not the basis for the denial or the ground of removability. USCIS may refer cases involving serious criminal activity to ICE before adjudication of an immigration benefit request pending before USCIS without issuing an NTA.
    • (3) Cases in which USCIS "denies a Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, on good moral character grounds because of a criminal offense."
    • (4) Cases in which, "upon the denial" of an application or petition, an applicant is "unlawfully present" in the United States."
  • Out of the four cases above listed, (1), (2), and (3) cause less shock wave for immigration community, but the case (4) will bring a tremendous shock wave and affect the lives of nonimmigrants and immigrants who have considered themselves neither violators of the laws nor intended violation of the laws. Late decisions of the USCIS to expand "accrual of unlawful presence" to F, M, and J nonimmigrants and bar for STEM OPT for their employment at third party worksites will impact tremendously high tech foreign workers. Additionally, at this point, it is not clear whether the USCIS would be allowed to issue NTA for the accrual of unlawful presence post denial of such H-1B petitions. Immigration community has yet to assess the details of impact of this new policy of the USCIS. Immigrants should seek legal counsel to review his or her own situation to learn potential impact of this new policy on them.

07/06/2018: USCIS Service Tools Outage, Sunday, July 8, 2018, from 5 a.m. until 6 p.m. (EST).

  • For maintenance.

07/05/2018: DHS Extends Yemen TPS for 18 Months through 03/03/2020

07/05/2018: Final Rule of Elimination of Nonimmigrant Visa Exemption for Certain Caribbean Residents Coming to the United States as H-2A Agricultural Workers Effective 30 Days from 07/06/2018

  • This is a final rule which has been in effect since February 2018 in the form of interim final rule. Accordingly, effective 30 days from 07/06/2018, this final rule will require a British, French, or Netherlands national, or a national of Barbados, Grenada, Jamaica, or Trinidad and Tobago, who has his or her residence in British, French, or Netherlands territory located in the adjacent islands of the Caribbean area, or in Barbados, Grenada, Jamaica, or Trinidad and Tobago, to obtain a valid, unexpired visa if the alien is proceeding to the United States as an H-2A agricultural worker. The IFR also eliminated the visa exemption for spouses and children accompanying or following to join such workers. Additionally, the IFR eliminated a visa exemption for workers in the U.S. Virgin Islands, as well for their spouses and children accompanying or following to join such workers, pursuant to an unexpired indefinite certification granted by the Department of Labor.

07/05/2018: OFLC PERM PWD and PERM Processing Times as of 06/30/2018

  • PERM Prevailing Wage Determination Processing Times: April 2018 (89days)
  • PERM Application Processing Times:
    • Analyst Review (clean cut cases): March 2018 (132 days)
    • Audit cases: November 2017 (260 days)
    • Reconsideration cases: May 2018

07/03/2018: Attorney General Jeff Sessions Today Rescinds 24 Guidance Documents

  • On July 3, 2018, Attorney General released rescission of 24 previous governments (mostly Obama Administration) policy guidances of the Department of Justice, which were allegedly issued and implemented without legislative or proper rule-making procedures. This action of the Attorney General affect immigration enforcement and court proceedings down the road.

07/03/2018: DHS Implements Northern Border Strategy Since June 12, 2018

  • This strategy is to enhance border security as well as to improve flow of legal travels. Read on.

07/03/2018: DOL New SOC/OES Prevailing Wage Data Effective 07/01/2018 and Ending 06/30/2019 Released and Implemented

  • On July 1, 2018, OFLC uploaded the newest SOC/OES prevailing wage data from the Occupational Employment Survey as generated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics for the year from July 2018 - June 2019. The effective date is July 1, 2018. Prevailing wage determinations issued from the National Prevailing Wage Center will reflect the new data. Beginning from July 1, employers filing temporary or permanent labor certification applications must use the new prevailing wage data. It appears that the new prevailing wage data does not incorporate new 2018 occupational classifications. There was unconfirmed information that the changes to occupational classification will take time to implement it.

07/03/2018: State Department Proposes to Require Filing of DS-64 "Statement Regarding a Lost or Stolen U.S. Passport Book and/or Card"

  • This proposed rule with 30-day comment period is intended for Department of State to collect accurate information on lost or stolen U.S. passports and to enter that information into a data system. Form DS-64 collects information identifying the person who held the lost or stolen passport and describing the circumstances under which the passport was lost or stolen. Department of State will use the information collected to accurately identify the passport that must be invalidated and to make a record of the circumstances surrounding the lost or stolen passport. False statements made knowingly or willfully on passport forms, in affidavits, or other supporting documents, are punishable by fine and/or imprisonment under U.S. law. The form can be filed online or in papers.

07/03/2018: DHS Proposes Removal of 30-Day Processing Provision for Asylum EAD Applications

  • DHS proposes to withdraw its regulatory provision stating USCIS has 30 days from the date an asylum applicant files the initial EAD application to grant or deny that application for DHS to maintain customer service, respond to national security and fraud concerns, maintain technological advances in document production, and address identity verification considerations. DHS also proposes to make a technical amendment by deleting the provision requiring pending asylum applicants to submit Form I-765 renewal applications 90 days before their employment authorization expires.
  • Since this is a "proposed" rule, it will take sometime to complete the rule making process.

06/30/2018: DHS Secretary Announces 06/30/2018 New Acting Director of ICE Effective 06/30/2018

  • The DHS Secretary announces today that Ronald D. Vitiello who is the current Acting Deputy Commissioner of USCBP will serve as Deputy Director of USICE, effective today, Saturday, June 30, 2018. He will also take on the role as the Acting Director of USICE immediately. The current Acting Director of USICE, Tom Homan, resigned and departed immediately.
  • It is not certain how this change of leadership of the USICE will affect the ongoing political struggle involving separation of children from certain undocumented immigrants from Central America.

06/29/2018: Increased IMG H-1B Petition Scrutiny, its Impact on Country's Medical Services, and Stateholder Medical Service Community Demanded USCIS to Change the Practice, with No Avail

  • The information indicates that about one quarter of International Medical Graduates come to the United States in H-1B status and substantial H-1B petitions have used the Survey of Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMG) to get the required Labor Condition Application. However, lately the USCIS Service Centers have challenged H-1B petitions for IMGs using the Survey of AAMG issuing Request for Evidence or deny of the petitions.
  • For the reasons, on May 30, 2018, the stakeholder groups of Alliance for Academic Internal Medicine, American Academy of Family Physicians, American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists, American College of Physicians, American Psychiatric Association, and Council of Academic Family Medicine submit a letter to the USCIS Director to consider change of this restrictive practice.
  • On June 18, 2018, the USCIS Director responded to the request and confirmed the USCIS practice, refusing to consider any changes to current practice. Please read the exchange of the letters.

06/29/2018: Reminder of NVC Requirement of Filing of EB-5 Investment Immigrant Petitions by "Electronicall Only"

  • NVC announces that as of June, 2018, all applicants filing an I-526 petition (EB-5) are required to process their visa petition electronically. NVC will need an email address for all applicants in order to communicate and receive applicable case information. To submit documents (supporting civil documents with translations and financial forms with accompanying evidence) to NVC, all visa applicants in the EB-5 category should scan and save them as a PDF file. They should then submit their financial, civil, and supporting documents to NVC as attachments in one email package to . Please type your case number in the subject line of the email. You can attach multiple PDFs to a single email, but each PDF can be no more than 5 MB (megabytes) in size. If you have more than one case number, use a different email message for each case. For more information, review our Document Scanning FAQs.

06/29/2018: OFLC Notice of its New Practice of Assignment and Processing of H-2B ETA-9142B Applications Which are Filed on or after 07/03/2018

  • OFLC indicates that lately their offices are overwhelmed by H-2B Non-Agricultural Temporary Labor Certification Applications to the level of thousands of one second can count for timely filing and processing within the cap counts. For the reasons, OFLC releases this notice as to how they will assign and process new H-2B labor certification applications beginning from July 3, 2018. Employers and practitioners should read this notice carefully to timely file and process their H-2B labor condition applications under this rule.

06/28/2018: Weekend Reading Material - Immigration Reform Bill Melldown on 06/27/2018 and Drama Behind the Scene

  • As readers know it, both conservative and compromive immigration reform bills of H.R. 4760 and H.R. 6136 died before today. Massive GOP members rejected H.R. 6136, killing the bill. Here is the Politico report that shows remarkable drama and struggle that were displayed between conservative members and moderate members of GOP behind the scene.

06/28/2018: DHS Ombudsman Annual Report to Congress for 2018

  • The report is dated June 28, 2018. Immigration consumers usually contact with the Ombudsman's office to seek help relating to problems related to petitions and applications or other matters. Other than that, Ombudsman generally review and investigate agencies handling of immigration customer matters and management. This annual report provides some issues they have detected through the foregoing process. Read on to find out what problems the agencies have revealed.

06/27/2018: Quo Vadis for the House, Post Death of H.R. 4760 Conservative Immigration Bill and H.R. 6136 Compromise Immigration Bill?

  • The House's rejection of H.R. 6136 bill today after its rejection of H.R. 4760 bill earlier on the House floor leaves the GOP in disarray when it comes to their political agenda to reform the country's immigration system.

06/27/2018: Bomb Shell from the Sky - Justice Anthony Kennedy (middle of the ground) of SCOTUS Retirement Announcement

  • So many bombshells are dropping today. It is dizzy!!

06/27/2018: Ombudman's H-1B Cap Teleconference and Interesting Statistics Disclosed

  • What do you think about the following statistics? (Please ignore last three digits because they could not be correct). H-1B cap unselected numbers for U.S. Master degree cases and Regular cap cases are as follows:
 U.S. Master Degree Holders Non US Master or Bachelor Holders
 FY 2019 Lottery: 32,361 44,637
 FY 2018 Lottery: 30,541 63,512
 FY 2017 Lottery: 30,541 107,903
 FY 2016 Lottery: 17,171 116,802
  • For U.S. Master degree holders, they did not have separate statistics between those not selected in Master Cap Lottery and those not selected in their additional runs in Regular Cap Lottery after they were not selected in the initial U.S. Master cap lottery. What the statistics tell? U.S. Master Degree Holders have taken most of the numbers, considering the fact that the total U.S. Master cap receipts were: 87,380 (2018), 70,238(2017), 53,724(2016), 40,591(2015), 30,641(2014). Considering the fact that total U.S. Master degree holder filers increased drastically over the years, but their unselected numbers remained more or less steady, meaning larger numbers of H-1B cap winners appear to be U.S. Master degree holders. It Ain't Interesting?

06/27/2018: H.R. 6136 House Floor Debate Encountered First Hurdle

  • House floor started debating this bill at 1:00 p.m. with a motion to add: amendment to add a new section to the bill prohibiting an officer or employee of the United States to detain and alien who entered the United States with the alien's child who is under 18 years old separately from the child for the purpose of deterring immigration, notwithstanding any other provision of law, judicial determination, concent decree, or settlement agreement. The motion to commit with amendment failed in votes.
  • Wow. Short-lived legislative bill. Read on.

06/27/2018: USCIS Announcement of New Version Form I-907 Premium Processing Request Form

  • New Edition Dated 06/26/2018 mandatory effective 08/28/2018. Until then, the 04/11/2018 edition can be used.
  • Update again?! They updated on 04/11/2018 not too long ago.

06/27/2018: Effective Tomorrow, Extension of Employment Authorization for Certain Nepali F-1 Students Through 06/24/2019

  • ICE federal register provides that extension of suspension of certain regulatory requirements for F-1 nonimmigrant students whose country of citizenship is the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal (Nepal) in order to avoid severe economic hardship that otherwise would result from the immediate, abrupt cessation of the temporarily suspended regulatory requirements governing on-campus and off-campus
    employment previously afforded due to the damage caused by the earthquake in Nepal on April 25, 2015. An earlier notice suspended these requirements for eligible Nepali F-1 nonimmigrant students. This notice extends eligibility for relief afforded under that earlier notice. Qualified students will continue to be allowed to apply for employment authorization and work an increased number of hours while school is in session provided that they satisfy the minimum course load requirement, while continuing to maintain their F-1 student status until June 24, 2019. For other details, please read the full text of this notice of ICE.

06/27/2018: New Rule, Effective of 08/09/2018, of Accrual of Unlawful Presence for F, J, and M Nonimmigrants and Reminder for STEM OPTs of Third Party Placement Bar of USCIS

  • At the AILA annual conference, information indicates that AILA members raised this issue with the USCIS officials but USCIS officials apparently refused to back off from their new policy barring third party placement of STEM OPTs. Accordingly, unless and until this issue is litigated and resolved in court or change of mind of the USCIS, this new policy will remain in effect and in the worst cases, they may go after STEM OPS for enforcement actions. STEM OPTs are reminded that when the new rule of accrual of unlawful presence for F, J, and M nonimmigrants, the unlawful presence rule did not applied to these non-immigrants with D/S (Duration of Status) I-94s unless the DHS recognized violations of status or initiated any action for the alleged violation of nonimmigrant status. The DHS is eradicating this special privilege for the F, J, and M nonimmigrants and they will be treated the same with any other nonimmigrants when it comes to the rule of accrual of unlawful presence which leads to either three-year bar for 6-month accrual of such unlawful presence or 10-year bar for one-year accrual of such unlawful presence, from admitting to the United States. The consequences are considered "extremely" harsh and damaging.
  • Again, there are some issues involved with the late USCIS announcement of new STEM OPT third-party placement bar in its website, but it may be prudent for the STEM OPTs who work at the third party worksites of their employers to resolve this issue "urgently" and "seriously" and take actions as soon as possible, at least before August 9, 2018. Otherwise, they can potentially suffer irreparable damage for their inaction. Just a reminder!

06/27/2018: Today's House Floor Schedule for Legislative Session Including H.R. 6136 (Immigration Reform Bill)

  • The legislative business will begin at noon (EST) today, and then there will be the first votes between 1:15 p.m. -2:15 p.m, and the last votes are scheduled between 9:00 p.m.and 10:00 p.m. Accordingly, the result of the House floor action today may not be known probably not until late evening. Stay tuned.

06/26/2018: Summary of Updated H.R. 6136 by Bill Sponsor

  • The key sponsor of the bill is Chairman Bob Goodlatte of House Judiciary Committee which was backed by the House Speaker Paul Ryan. The bill which will be debated and voted tomorrow will have some changes, including the following:
    • Since the bill’s introduction, it has been improved to include a new, workable agricultural guestworker program for America’s farmers and ranchers, a returning worker exemption for the H-2B guestworker program, and the requirement that all U.S. employers use E-Verify to protect jobs for legal workers.

06/26/2018: Latest News Indicates that Immigration Bill H.R. 6136 Will be Put on Vote Tomorrow, Instead of 06/28/2018

  • The latest report of Bloomberg reports that the House Majority Leader said this immigration bill would be on the floor for votes tomorrow instead of day after tomorrow. Ripe in momentum!! Reportedly, GOP conservatives in the House are in upbeat now.

06/26/2018: SCOTUS Reversed and Remanded Lower Court's Decision for Trump v. Hawaii Travel Ban Lawsuit

  • This morning, a little after 10:00 a.m. (EST), the Chief Justice released the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court on travel ban lawsuit appealed by Trump to the SCOTUS in Trump v. Hawaii, and the 9th Circuit decision is reversed and the SCOTUS remanded the case to the 9th Circuit. It was a painful defeat for immigration stakeholders and a big win for Trump. Please read SCOTUSblog.
  • Please stay tuned for impact of this decision on Trump's Travel Ban Executive Order.

06/25/2018: House Likely to Pick up Unfinished H.R. 6136 "Border Security and Immigration Reform Act"Again in the Afternoon of Thursday 06/28/2018

  • The House is scheduling up the unfinished legislative action for the compromise immigration reform bill of H.R. 6136. Along with this reschedule, President Trump reportedly threatened Democats not to resist to the bill. Please stay tuned.

06/25/2018: The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) Expected to Release Decision on Trump v. Hawaii Travel Ban Appeal Tomorrow at the Earliest

  • Please stay tuned.

06/22/2018: iCERT and PERM Outages for System Maintenance

  • 06/22/2018, Friday from 8:00 pm EDT until 06/23/2018, Saturday 2:00 pm EDT

06/21/2018: House Votes on Two Immigration Reform Bills

  • H.R. 4760 conservative bill: Rejected by 193-231 votes.
  • H.R. 6136 compromise vill: Fail to get enough support backers and House leaders decided delay in vote to a later date. Initially, it was speculated that Speaker Paul Ryan will try again tomorrow, Friday, but it is not 100% certain and may remain in limbo.

06/21/2018: SAVE Jobs USA Submitted the Same Court's Recent Decision on STEM OPT Litigation by Washington Technology Workers as Reference to SAVE Jobs Standing for the Lawsuit in H-4 EAD Lawsuit

  • Perchingtree reports that SAVE Jobs USA submitted on 06/18/2018 statement to remind the Appeals Court that the same Court's recent decision in STEM OPT litigation recognized the standing for Washington Tech to sue and argued in the statement that the Court should also recognize the standing of SAVE Jobs USA for H-4 EAD challenge lawsuit. It is not certain how the SAVE Jobs USA can be persuaded by this evidence when the Court more or less recognizes and waits for the government/s H-4 EAD rescission rule making, which will make the pending lawsuit mute.

06/21/2018: White House Releases its "Blueprint" for 21st Century Government Reform

  • Lots of surprises, and the proposed reform is extremely pervasive. For the summary, please read the Government Executive report. For DHS, limited details are released, but for Labor Department, it proposes to merge with Education Department!

06/21/2018: CIS Ombudsman Schedules Webinar on H-1B Lottery Process 06/27/2018 2:00 PM (EST)

  • On April 11, 2018, USCIS used a computer-generated selection process to select H-1B petitions to meet the congressionally-mandated cap for fiscal year 2019. Currently, there are so many questions unanswered for FY-2019 H-1B cap lottery case processing. USCIS officials will explain how it processed over 190,000 H-1B petitions received during the brief filing period. Ombudsman's office will look at how businesses prepare for the H-1B cap filing season and offer suggestions on how USCIS can improve the process. It is just one-hour session and people are not to do anything to waste the valuable time for answers from the USCIS office.

06/21/2018: OFLC Releases Webinar of 06/13/2018 on PERM Appeals Submission and Practice Tips

  • Those who missed this webinar can now access to the Webinar materials.

06/21/2018: Beginning Today, USCIS to Recall 800 Incorrectly Printed EAD (Employment Authorization Documents) in I-589 Asylum/Withholding of Removal Proceedings

  • On June 21, 2018, USCIS will begin recalling approximately 800 Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) that were issued in conjunction with Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal, which were granted by USCIS asylum officers. The cards contain a production error that transposed the first and last names of the individuals receiving the EADs. These cards were mailed to recipients in April and May 2018.
  • USCIS will send notices to individuals who received the incorrect EADs, as well as to their attorneys or accredited representatives, if a G-28 was submitted with the corresponding Form I-589. The affected individuals should return their incorrect EADs to USCIS in the provided pre-paid envelope within 20 days of receiving the notice. Recipients may also return their EADs to a USCIS field office. Replacement EADs will be sent within 15 days of receiving the incorrect card.
  • The recall does not affect these individuals’ employment authorization since they are authorized for employment without needing an EAD. Affected recipients’ Form I-94 showing that they were granted asylum is also evidence that they are authorized to be employed. If affected individuals need proof of their employment authorization, they may reach out to the USCIS Contact Center.

06/21/2018: SCOTUS Handed Down a Very Important Decision Today Concerning Cancellation of Removal on 10-Year Continuous Physical Presence in the United States

  • Under the immigration statutes, this continuous physical presence can be broken under the stop-time rule when the period of continuous presence is “deemed to end . . . when the alien is served a written notice to appear, specifying, among other things, “[t]he time and place at which the [removal] proceedings will be held.” §1229(a)(1)(G)(i). The federal lower courts, including federal court of appeals interpreted this provision broadly with their rulings that service of written notices even without the specific time and place for the removal proceedings could broke such continous residence rule and the alien would be not eligible for cancellation of removal even if he/she continuiously was physically stayed in the country. Today, the Supreme Court of the United States overturned the lower courts rulings and sustained the appeal before the SCOTUS in Pereira v. Sessions. See SCOTUSBlog.

06/21/2018: ICE SEVT Webinar and Reminder for School Record Keeping Requirements & Students Reporting Requirement

  • Important updates of SEVT on 06/21/2018 for the subjects for Student and Exchange Visitor Program community.

06/21/2018: House Floor Schedule for GOP Immigration Reform Bills Today

  • H.R. 4760 Securing America’s Future Act (Closed Rule, One Hour of Debate) (Sponsored by Rep. Bob Goodlatte / Judiciary Committee / Homeland Security Committee: This is conservative version of Rep. Goodlattee which was introduced in January 2018.
  • H.R. 6136 Border Security and Immigration Reform Act (Closed Rule, One Hour of Debate) (Sponsored by Rep. Bob Goodlatte / Judiciary Committee / Homeland Security Committee): This is Speaker Paul Ryan "comprovise" version of the GOP bill.
  • The House schedules both bills on the floor today with the decision of the House Committee Rules to bypass complex House committee procedures. We have posted both versions of the bill in the Breaking News site. House is scheduled to return to the session at 10:00 a.m. (EST) this morning.

06/20/2018: Presidential Executive Order of 06/20/2018 Not to Separate Children from Arrested Undocumented Immigrants

  • The President signed this Executive Order today, titled "Affording Congress an Opportunity to Address Family Separation." Earlier report indicated that the Executive Order might be signed by tomorrow when the House would also be in session to vote for the GOP immigration reform bill. The Executive Order was thus signed somewhat earlier than expected, probably due to the uncontrollable wild foest fire spreading all over the country and the world.
  • The definition of "Child" and "Children" in the Executive Order includes children under the age of 18 and not 21.

06/20/2018: Border Security and Immigration Reform Act of 2018, H.R. 6136, Introduced in the House Yesterday, 06/19/2018

  • This is the House GOP immigration reform bill which was introduced yesterday in the House by Rep. Bob Goodlatte, Chairman of House Judiciary Committe, and co-sponsored by three GOP legislators, Rep. Carlos Curbelo [R-FL-26], Rep. Michael McCaul, R-TX-10], and Rep. Jeff Denham, R-CA-10]. This bill proposes President's "four-tier reforms" to the immigration system. For the sponsor's statement and summary of this bill, please click here.

06/20/2018: Foreign Labor Certification iCERT and PERM Sites Outage Notice

  • From 06/22/2018 (Friday):8:00 pm EDT 06/23/2018 (Saturday): 2:00 pm EDT for system maintenance.

06/19/2018: July 2018 I-485 Filing Charts per Visa Bulletin

  • Employment-Based: Use "Final Action Date" Chart
  • Family-Based: Use "Filing Available Date" Chart

06/19/2018: Stay Tuned to This Website for House Legislation of Immigration Reform Bills This Week Beginning from Today

  • The House will start debating, working, and voting three pending immigration reform bills. One is the far right bill of Rep. Bob Goodlatte Bill, the second is Speaker Paul Ryan's Compromise Bill, and the third is Bi-Partisan Bill. The first two bills are GOP bills that pursue President Trump's four-tier immigration reforms of (1) Remove Chain Migration; (2) Remove Immigration Lottery; (3) Merit-Based Immigration; (4) Souther Border Walls, but at different extents. Third is a bi-partisan immigration bill which was introduced in January 2018, which is far from the foregoing GOP bills. The chance for the bi-partisan bill is considered slim, but the chance of one of two GOP bills which go more or less with the Senator Tom Cotton bill of RAISE Act, which the President Trump admires and persistently demands may have a chance to make it at the lower chamber of this nation's legislature this week. Please stay tuned.

06/18/2018: USCIS Director Remarks of May 4, 2018 Before US Chamber of Commerce, Labor Relations Committee on Employment-Based Nonimmigration Visa Program Reform per Presidential Order of Buy American, Hire American

  • This remark summarizes the USCIS initiatives and intent to push for change of employment-based nonimmigrant visa programs which are also summarized in the Presidential Order of Buy American, Hire American site. This remak focuses on the Trump Administration's restrictive reform initiatives and intent to push against employment-based nonimmigrant visa programs, allegedly to protect American workers. Along with this continued push for the actions against employment-based "nonimmigrant" programs, the "immigration reform" legislation initiatives which focuses on GOP's initiatives to restrict "immigrant"visa programs in the Congress this week will mark a historic change to the country's immigration system ahead. USCIS Director rarely communicates with the consumers and public, either in writing or in meetings, and we appreciate the USCIS for making this material available for the public, giveng us an opportunity to peek through a window to learn the direction of the agency.

06/18/2018: Canadian Immigration Reform to Compete and Attract More Foreign Talents

  • A Canadian immigration law firm reports Canada's effort to expand their immigration system to attract more foreign talents. Read on.

06/18/2018: Approaching Expiration of July 2017-June 2018 SOC Prevailing Wage Data at the End of June 30, 2018

  • OFLC has been updating SOC/OES wage data on July 1 each year and employers filing either permanent or temporary labor certification applications must use the new data effective July 1, 2018. There are two things employers should keep in mind. Firstly, there is no question about that the prevailing wage will definitely go up and employers may get the wage determinations before the end of June 2018. Secondly, the OMB released revised occupational classification for SOC efffective January 1, 2018. However, the DOL/OFLC has yet to officially announce when the new classification will be mandatory foreign labor certification applications. But sources indicates that they will not be able to adopt the new classification until 2020. The new classification could have brought good news for some and bad news for some for filing H-1B cases and determination of "specialty occupation." Lately, USCIS has been massively denying H-1B cap cases challenging 'specialty occupation' nature of certain occupations under the current SOC/OES prevailing wage data. For now, employers are stuck with the current OES/SOC classification and continue struggle to deal with 'specialty occupation' challenges in H-1B filings.

06/18/2018: Reminder of USCIS Alert on Extension of OPT and F-1 Status for Eligible Students under the H-1B Cap-Gap Regulations

  • USCIS has yet to return FY 2019 H-1B lottery failed cases and there are a large number of OPTs and STEM OPTs who filed H-1B cap petitions without knowing the results of their H-1B filing. The OPTs and STEM OPTs, who filed and failed to get notice of H-1B cap selection should read the rules and policies on their status and actions that can affect their legal status. Please review this alert!

06/17/2018: List of New Editions of Immigration Forms Mandatory in July 2018

  •  Mandatory Date  New Version Date Form Number
     07/06/2018 04/27/2018 I-212
     07/24/2018 05/09/2018 I-129CW
     07/24/2018 05/16/2018  I-694
  • For new versions of forms that become mandatory in June 2018, please refer back to our report on 05/28/2018.

06/17/2018: Count of Approved I-140, I-360, and I-526 Employment-Based Petitions by Country as of April 20, 2018 with Priority Date On or After May 2018 Visa Bulletin

  • Interesting.

06/17/2018: I-907 Premium Processing Form New Edition Effective Monday, 06/18/2018

  • Beginning from Monday 06/18/2018, USCIS will reject I-907 filing unless its new edition dated 04/11/2018 is used. Please make it sure that you use the new edition if you file Premium Processing Request. You may also have to read the new version Instruction form to learn the changes. They made some changes.

06/15/2018: House Released Compromised Immigration Bill 06/14/2018 for Discussion

  • Politico released a copy of House compromise bill dated 06/14/2018. It adopted the far right proposals. Despite the House effort, Bloomberg reports that President Trump has already decided not sign this GOP compromise bill!!
  • The bill keeps the hardline GOP group proposals: No automatic green card and citizenship for DACA Dreamers other than 6-year renewable temporary legal relief, reform legal immigration system to merit based system, removal of diversity lottery immigration program, removal of certain family-based immigration program, etc. Reportedly, at this point, this bill is two-vote short for passage in the House, but we will see a lot of activities throughout this weekend and next week. The hardline bill is Rep. Goodlatte's bill which we reported on June 13, 2018 and the compromise bill is the bill which House Speaker supports and is released today. Informted sources indicate that the House floor will schedule a voite on Thursday next week which is June 21, 2018. On the White House site, Stephen Miller who was the Senate assistant to the current Attorney General, Jeff Sessions and a very conservative force for the nation's immigration law and system and current senior advisor to the President is reportedly working hard to coordinate between the House and the President to pass a conservative GOP immigration reform legislation. Considering the fact that President Trump's strategies are to take an extreme hardline position before agreening to other party's position in almost in every matter, the GOP House leaders may be able to successfuly pass an immigration reform bill next week. Please stay tuned to this website for development of this news which is considered critically important for immigrantion community.

06/15/2018: International Medical Graduates, ECFMG Just Released June 14, 2018 Report

06/15/2018: State Department Prediction of Visa Bulletin for Employment Based Categories, Post July 2018 Visa Bulletin

  • In recent weeks there has been a steadily increasing level of Employment-based demand for adjustment of status cases filed with USCIS. A continuation of the current demand pattern would result in a temporary establishment or retrogression of some final action dates in an effort to hold number use within the FY-2018 annual limits.
  • Should such action be required, there would be a full recovery in the preference category for October, the first month of fiscal year 2019.

06/15/2018: July 2018 Visa Bulletin

06/13/2018: Increased RFE & Denial of H-1Bs and American Immigration Council Just Filed a FOIA Lawsuit Demanding to Release Undisclosed New Standards for RFE & Denials

  • Obviously pursuant to the Presidential Order of Buy American, Hire American, the USCIS has growingly issued RFE (Request for Evidence) and Denials of H-1B petitions on obscuous standards. In order to find out what standards the USCIS applies for such massive RFE and denials, the American Immigration Council lately filed a FOIA requests demanding to disclose it without success. For the reasons, the American Immigration Council, on behalf of the AILA,just filed a lawsuit before the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to force the agency to release the data. Specifically, the Council wants to find out on what standards and grounds the USCIS has been issuing RFEs or denials of H-1B petitions for the two issues: (1) Issues related to wage levels, wage surveys, and prevailing wage determinations; and (2) Determination of what constitues a "specialty occupation."
  • Thumbs up to the Council. Other than these two issues of the Council's contention, lately there have been some incidents where the agency adopted or changed the legal standards for adjudication of employment-based immigration legal issues. For instance, the agency changed its policy of outplacement of STEM OPT on its website without any published policy memorandum or official notice, not to mention the rule-making procedures. For this issue, the stakeholder entity "NAFSA" mailed a protest to the agency. It is hoped that these two events lead the leadership of USCIS more open to the public and enhance the efforts to more interact with the stakeholders and the public.

06/13/2018: House Reportedly Will Vote on Immigration Reform Bills Next Week

  • Reportedly, the House Speaker Paul Ryan has decided to schedule vote on Republican Immigration Reform bills next week from the judgment any further delays with the immigration reform legislation could negatively affect the current Republican majority House in the coming November mid-term national elections. Thus far the House has failed to reach a compromise bill between the far right members group and moderate members group, but the Speaker is pushing for the Republican legislation next week. Reportedly, the far right group bill is Securing America's Future Act (H.R. 4760), which was introduced by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas), House Judiciary Committee Immigration and Border Security Subcommittee Chairman Raúl Labrador (R-Idaho), and House Homeland Security Committee Border and Maritime Security Subcommittee Chairwoman Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) on 01/10/2018. Moderate group has yet to produce their proposal, but it is anticipated that they will produce their bill for the votes next week. H.R. 4760 proposes to eliminate immigration lottery, reduce chain migration, increase employment-based immigrant workers, and provide a temporary relief for stay and work for "current DACAs" on three-year terms without permanent residence or naturalization reliefs. Reportedly, this bill is supported by President Trump. See below for the details of this bill:
  • Reportedly, the House GOP does not have enough votes to pass this bill. Neither the moderate GOP group bills will have enough votes. Accordingly, there will be a lot of movements among the House members for the next one week and further future.

06/13/2018: USCIS Notice of Form I-751 Data Entry Delay at California Service Center

  • Wow, there are a lot of announcements and delay notices relating to I-751 processing. Further to earlier notice, the USCIS has just released another announcement that California Service Center (CSC) is experiencing a delay in initial data entry for Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence. Since initial data entry has to be completed before a receipt notice can be issued, some petitioners and their dependents may experience a delay in receiving a receipt notice for a Form I-751 submitted to the CSC. If you submitted a Form I-751 to the CSC in May 2018 and you have not received a receipt notice, do not file a duplicate Form I-751 unless you have received a rejection notice or have been instructed to do so by the CSC.
  • The CSC is working to complete data entry of these petitions by the end of June 2018, and will issue another web alert once initial data entry has returned to normal. Petitioners will receive a receipt notice once their data is entered into USCIS systems.
  • If your 2-year green card has expired, you should call the USCIS Contact Center at 1-800-375-5283 (TTY for people with hearing or speech disabilities: 1-800-767-1833). The USCIS Contact Center will setup an appointment for you and any eligible dependents at your local field office. If possible, bring evidence that you sent your Form I-751 via USPS or courier service, such as FedEx.

06/13/2018: Receipt Notices of I-751 & I-829 as Proof for Permanent Resident Status for 18 Months After the Card Expired Effective 06/11/2018

  • Conditional permanent residents based on marriage or investment immigration petition approvals must file in two years either I-751 (marriage) or I-829 (investment) petitions to remove "conditional permanent resident" status and to become unconditional permanent residents. Once such petitions are timely filed, such conditional residents could prove their continuing permanent resident status through the Receipt Notices for pending I-751 or I-829 for a period of one-year after expiration of the conditional permanent resident cards.
  • Effective 06/11/2018, the USCIS extends the period from one year to one year and a half allowing the applicants to prove their permanent resident status through the Receipt Notices of their pending I-751 or I-829 inasmuch as such petitions are still pending. This change applies to both the applicants whose I-751 or I-829 were filed before 06/11/2018 or after 06/11/2018 inasmuch as their conditional permanent resident card has expired less than 18 months and I-751 or I-829 petitions are still pending.
  • USCIS has decided to extend the period because of USCIS ongoing delays with the adjudication of I-751 or I-829 beyond one year. Accordingly, the I-751 or I-829 applicants would be able to apply for Advance Parole to travel overseas even if their permenent resident case has expired more than one year ago by submitting a copy of their conditional permanent resident card and a copy of I-797 Receipt Notice for the pending I-751 or I-829. For the details, please read the USCIS announcement of 06/12/2018.

06/11/2018: Big Thumbs Up for California Service Center Officials

  • We filed a H-1B cap which was selected in the lottery years back and expired for a while due to the circumstances of the employee. We filed H-1B petition for this employee in cap exempt petition with full payment of filing fees. The Service Center returned the check for Fraud Prevention Fee payment in a special envelope. We were not certain whether the fraud fee would be required in the circumstances. The agency could have accepted the full fees and processed the petition, but honest enough to return the fraud fee and started processing this case. Thumbs up to the officials for their integrity and honesty.

06/11/2018: Legal Challenge Against USCIS Policy Prohibiting 3rd Party Placement of STEM OPT in Federal Court

  • Bloomberg Law reports that employers filed a lawsuit in federal district court in New Jerjey on May 1, 2018, challenging recent USCIS policy change prohibiting prohibition of STEM OPTs at 3rd party worksite. This case is currently actively litigated in the court. STEM OPT stakeholders may monitor development of this litigation.

06/11/2018: USCIS Start Accepting Premium Processing Service Request for 15,000 H-2B Cap Cases Which Have Been Selected in Lottery Selection on 06/07/2018

  • USCIS announces that USCIS ran this lottery on June 7, 2018, and on June 11, 2018, began issuing notifications to the petitioners that were selected. Petitions accepted for processing will have a receipt date of June 11, 2018. Premium processing service for these petitions begins on that receipt date.

06/08/2018: STEM OPT Lawsuit: U.S. Court of Appeals Handed Down Decision Today Mostly Sustaining Lower Court Decision, Except Count II Claim

  • The Washington Alliance of Technology Workers brought a lawsuit against STEM OPT rule, which was dismissed by the U.S. District Court for District of Columbia, but Washington Alliance appealed the decision of the lower court to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia with a clairm to overtun the lower court decision. Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals handed down a mixed decision, dismissing appeals for Count I, Count III, and Cournt IV, but return the lower court's decision of dismissal to the U.S. District Court to decide again. See Washington Alliance of Technology Workers v. DHS., Case 17-5110, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Columbia Circuit.
  • For now, it is a good news for STEM OPT community.

06/07/2018: USCIS to Revise I-539 Form to Incorporate Local Biometric and Interview Procedure and Requirement for Some Selected Nonimmigrants

  • USCIS has been revising extensively immigration forms and procedures. For instance, USCIS initiated interview requirement for employment-based I-485 applicants. Apparently, these initiates are intended to enhance security and integrity of the proceedings.
  • I-539 form is used by a huge number of nonimmigrants to apply, extend, and change nonimmigrant status for a large number of nonimmigrants. Currently, there are no security procedures in place other than internal "name check" using photographs, visas, passport, and related documents which the applicants submit as part of the application process. However, the proposed revision of the I-539 notifies the I-539 applicants that the USCIS will notify some applicants to appear at local offices, biometric centers, and interviews before I-539 application is adjudicated. The foremost concerns which will impose on these nonimmigrants are potential delays for I-539 proceedings. The proposed revision of this I-539 form is currently under review by the OMB, but we will watch closely development and alert the nonimmigrant community as soon as we learn decision of the OMB.

06/07/2018: New Version of G-325A Form of Biographic Information for Deferred Action Mandatory Effective Monday, 06/11/2018

  • People filing this form should double check from today to make it sure the edition date of the form is 03/29/2018 because beginning from Monday, USCIS will reject earlier versions of the form. For the reason, if people file this form via Fedex or other overnight delivery services, today will be the last date when they file earlier version of the form since it can be delivered tomorrow, Friday. However, for safeside, people may use only 03/29/2018 form even today, not to mention tomorrow or in the future, to avoid rejection of their filing next week.

06/06/2018: USCIS Selects 15,000 Addtional H-2B Cap Petitions by Computer Random Selection Which are Received between 05/31/2018 and 06/06/2018

  • USCIS announces that it will select 15,000 H-2B additional cap cases which were received between May 31, 2018 and June 6, 2018. Any H-2B cap petitions which are received after June 6, 2018 will thus be rejected.

06/05/2018: Hondurans, Here is USCIS Announcement Today on TPS Re-Registration Details

06/04/2018: Effective 06/01/2018, SAVE Goes Completely Paperless

  • Starting June 1, 2018, benefit-granting agencies using USCIS SAVE (Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements) Program can no longer submit paper versions of Form G-845, Verification Request. Previously, agencies submitted paper forms to request immigration status verification and for additional verification requests. Now all agencies must submit their requests and institute additional verification electronically, drastically reducing case processing time.

06/04/2018: USCIS Began Issuing Redesigned Certificates of Citizenship and Naturalization Today

  • USCIS announced today that after testing in a limited location, the USCIS began issuing newly designed Certificates of Citizenship and Certificates of Naturalization. For the details, please read the announcement.

06/04/2018: Another Forthcoming Big Immigration Reform, Related to November 2018 Mid-Term National Election

  • Congress is returning to the Hill beginning today and GOP plans to introduce two big items that will affect the immigration community. One is Immigration Reform Legislation including DACA relief and the other is Congressional decision not to take August Summer Recess to take care of hot-botton legislations, obviously the ones which will affect tremendously November National Election. Readers should start watching burning fires in the Congress and White House for immigration reform legislations for a while.

06/04/2018: Trump Administration to Reform Shortly H-2A Agricultural Temporary Worker Application Program

  • DOL announces on 05/24/2018 that the agencies tasked with administering or facilitating the H-2A visa program, and thus closest to farmer and labor stakeholders, the Departments of State, Agriculture, Labor, and Homeland Security, are embarking on a process to modernize the H-2A visa program by clarifying and improving the regulations governing the program soon. It will be a good news for agcultural community, but will also help GOP in November 2018 Mid-term National Election.

06/04/2018: Surge of H-2B Non-Agricultural Temporary Worker Temporary Labor Applications and OFLC Announcement of H-2B Applications Processing

  • OFLC and DHS has now additional 15,000 H-2B cap numbers that can be used by the stakeholders until the end of September 2018. Under the circumstances, OFLC reports that it is experiencing continuing surge of H-2B labor applications. Under the circumstances, OFLC has announced on June 1, 2018 how and in what way they will process the incoming applications since they anticipate that they will receive more than 15,000 new applications before the end of this fiscal year (09/30/2018). H-2B employers and other stakeholders may read this announcement.

06/04/2018: Honduras TPS Program Termination and Re-Registration Procedure for Temporary TPS Extention for 60 Day Beginning from 06/05/2018

  • USCIS will publish in the federal register tomorrow announcing that TPS program for Hondurans will officially end on 01/05/2020. However, Hondurans with current TPS will be allowed to re-register for extension of TPS and EAD beginning from tomorrow for 60-day period to obtain the extension of their expiring TPS until 01/01/2020. However, Given the timeframes involved with processing TPS re-registration applications, DHS recognizes that not all re-registrants will receive new EADs before their current EADs expire on July 5, 2018. Accordingly, through this Federal Register notice, DHS automatically extends the validity of EADs issued under the TPS
    designation of Honduras for 180 days, through January 1, 2019. Additionally, individuals who have EADs with an expiration date of January 5, 2018, and who applied for a new EAD during the last re-registration period but have not yet received their new EADs are also covered by this automatic extension. These individuals may show their EAD indicating a January 5, 2018 expiration date and their EAD application receipt.
  • For the details, please read the notice published in the federal register tomorrow.

06/01/2018: OFLC Releases Official PERM PWD and PERM Processing Times as of 05/31/2018

  • PERM Prevailing Wage Determination Processing Times: 03/2018 (72 days)
  • PERM Application Processing Times:
    • Analyst Review (clean cut cases): January 2018 (139 days)
    • Audit cases: September 2017 (249 days)
    • Reconsideration cases: April 2018

05/31/2018: DHS Report of 05/22/2018 with the Court on Progress of H-4 EAD Removal Rule-Making Process Pursuant to the Court Order

  • Perchingtree reports that in the pending H-4 EAD repeal litigation, the DHS filed a progress report on 05/22/2018 stating the proposed rule is in final DHS clearance process and will soon be submitted to the OMB as planned.

"The proposed rule is currently in final DHS clearance. Once it is cleared
through DHS, it will be sent to the Office of Management and Budget for review
under Executive Order 12,866, Regulatory and Planning Review. As previously
represented to the Court, DHS’s intends to proceed with publication of an NPRM
concerning the H-4 visa rule at issue in this case remains unchanged."

  • It thus appears that despite the petitions by a group of Congress people to cease the H-4 EAD repeal rule, the Trump Administration is pushing ahead the rule-making process to resciend H-4 EAD, beginning from "proposed" rule in the near future and completing the process as a final rule due course. Disappointing news, indeed!

05/31/2018: Watch for Upcoming Immigration Reform Legislation Activities on the Hill Beginning from Next Month as Part of Midterm National Election Strategy in November

05/31/2018: NAFSA Letter to USCIS Director on 05/25/2018 Raising Procedural Legal Issue of Releasing New Policy on its Website to Ban on Third-Party Placement of STEM OPTs

  • The NAFSA addressed the problem of this new policy on ban on placement of STEM OPT at third party worksite with procedural compliance instead of substantive issues. The problem of procedural compliance is addressed as follows:
    • "New guidance should be implemented through appropriate vehicles, such as the USCIS Policy Manual or policy memoranda. Communication vehicles such as news releases, alerts, and the news section of your website should not be used to establish new USCIS guidance. Perhaps most important, I would strongly encourage you to avoid seeking to implement new restrictions or burdens on the regulated community through web site changes, announcements, or even new policy guidance. Rather, you should follow the Administrative Procedure Act and the notice and comment process. I hope that you will consider these recommendations with the introduction to the administration’s Fall 2017 Regulatory Plan in mind: Moreover, the Administration has reinforced the importance of fair notice and due process. In particular, this means agencies should closely examine their use of subregulatory actions, such as guidance documents, enforcement manuals, interpretive rules, “FAQs,” and the like. Such documents can serve an important role in explaining existing statutory or regulatory requirements; however, they should not be used to impose new or additional legal obligations or requirements . . . Limiting guidance to its intended purpose of clarifying existing law rather than making new law will provide greater transparency about the regulatory process and ensure that regulated entities and the public have notice and an opportunity to comment on significant changes in regulatory requirements. ("
  • The immigration community detected this new policy in the USCIS website around 04/19/2018 which had been posted unnoticed to the stakeholders and immigration community. Since then, there have been no official or unofficial reports as to how the new policy has been enforced and how many OPTs and their employers have been punished by the USCIS and USICE. We urge OPTs to send us email to report anonimously the incidents of such actions by the USCIS and USICE. Please do not disclose your names. Employers who filed H-1B cap for STEM OPT which is denied may also provide such information to us via email such that we can share the information to the STEM OPT community.
  • We urge the AILA to raise this issue seriously with the stakeholder government officials at the Annual National Conference in June.

05/31/2018: Effective Today, H-2B I-129 Petition Filing Available for Additional 15,000 Numbers for FY 2018

  • USCIS announces that starting today, eligible petitioners for H-2B visas can file Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, using additional 15,000 H-1B cap numbers which are made available until the end of September 2018. Eligible petitioners must submit a supplemental attestation on Form ETA 9142-B-CAA-2 with their petition. See also the accompanying Instruction for this ETA form. Details on eligibility and filing requirements are available in the final temporary rule published today and on the Increase in H-2B Nonimmigrant Visas for FY 2018 webpage. Details on eligibility and filing requirements are available in the final temporary rule published today.

05/30/2018: USCIS to Extend EVUS (Electronic Visa Update Systems) Requirement for Next Three Years for PRC Travlers in B-1, B-2, and B-1/B-2 Until 05/31/2021

  • Current EVUS rule expires tomorrow, 05/31/2018, but USCBP has just received its request to the OMB to extend the EVUS requirement for the next three years. For the extension plna, the CBP receipt strong negative opinions on issues related to collection of data from travelers through their social media, but the CBP has decided that optional social media question will not be added to EVUS this time around. Currently, EVUS requirement is limited to PRC nationals, but it can be extended to other nationals in the future. The EVUS Extension Rule will be published in the federal register soon.

05/28/2018: Reminderof New Versions of USCIS Forms as Mandatory New Forms in June 2018

Mandatory Date New Version Date Form Number
06/11/2018 03/29/2018 G-325A Form
06/18/2018 04/11/2018 I-907 Form
06/19/2018 04/12/2018 or 12/13/2016 I-360 Form
06/25/2018 04/11/2018 I-821 Form

(USCIS has been revising immigration forms a lot lately to implement the Trump Administration's new policy of security and integrity information collections from the forms. Effective mandatory date, these forms will be rejected unless the forms show new version date. If you use forms from sources other than USCIS website, please make it sure the forms you use are valid and not rejected)

05/25/2018: Advance Copy of Temporary Rule of USCIS, DHS, ETA, WHD on "Exercise of Time-Limited Authority to Increase the Fiscal Year 2018 Numerical Limitation
for the H-2B Temporary Nonagricultural Worker Program"

  • This rule will be officially published in the federal register on 05/31/2018, Thursday. Accordingly, 15,000 additional H-2B cap number stakeholder employers should follow this rule. Here is the advance copy.

05/25/2018: DHS Announces Today, 05/25/2018, Additional 15,000 H-2B Cap Numbers Available for FY 2018

  • Good news for the H-2B employers. Eligible petitioners for H-2B visas can file Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker. Eligible petitioners must submit a supplemental attestation on Form ETA 9142-B-CAA-2 with their petition.

05/25/2018: Stay Tuned for USCIS Notice for Honduras TPS Re-Registration Pending Termination of TPS Program for Honduras on 01/05/2020

  • Current TPS for Honduras is scheduled to expire on 07/05/2018. Their TPS will be temporarily extended for 18 months before they are required to depart from the United States by January 5, 2020. There is no automatic extension. They are required to register for extension of their current TPS, which requires USCIS to publish notice for re-registration procedures in the federal register.
  • Yesterday, USCIS submitted their notice to the OMB for its clearance and publication in the federal register before 07/05/2018. The re-registration notice is officially published in the federal register usually at least one month before 07/05/2018, meaning that the notice will be published in the federal register soon. Please stay tuned.

05/25/2018: Proposed Rule to Remove International Entrepreneur Parole (IE Parole) Program

  • IE Parole was enacted by the Obama Administration a few days before the Trump Administration took over the government. Trump Administration then took steps to get rid of this program: Firstly enacting regulation to delay the effective date of the rule to March 2018. And then presented to OMB another proposed rule to rescind this rule to get rid of IE Parole program at the end of 2017. Since then, it has gone through a drag in the rule making process. OMB had a meeting in March 2018 inviting stakeholders to hear their opinions. Obviously stakeholders presented all the evidence to support the IE Parole program as a legal devide to attract the foreign invementment in the United States. One of the argument alluded that China was a leader using similar program to attract foreign investment to China in competition with other country. (See handouts at the meeting) (Use Chrome Browser)
  • After all the delays, OMB finally approved the proposed rule to rescind the program ealier and it again took quite a while for the Trump Administration to decide to publish the proposed rule. This rule will be published in the federal register, but here is a copy of the proposed rule which is an advance copy. Read also read the USCIS announcement.

05/24/2018: NAFSA Letter of 05/24/2018 to USCIS Director Against USCIS Policy Memorandum of 05/10/2018 “Accrual of Unlawful Presence and F, J, and M Nonimmigrants”

  • It strongly addresses against this new policy memorandum which throws out historical immigration rule for no accrual of unlawful presence for F, J, and M nonimmigrant when they fail to maintain nonimmigrant status. Read on.

05/24/2018: State Department & AILA Liaison Meeting 04/12/2018 Updates Various Questions & Answers on Visa Processing Issues

05/23/2018: Alert: I-751 "Biometric Appointment Notices" of 05/04/2018 in Errors with Wrong ASCs at Wrong Locations

  • USCIS announced today that the agency detected that due to a processing error, USCIS mailed a number of biometric services appointment notices "dated 05/04/2018" with incorrect ASC locations to petitioners who filed Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence, telling petitioners to appear for their biometric services appointments starting the week of May 21, 2018 at ASCs located out of the normal geographic area.
  • On June 8, 2018, USCIS will mail new biometric services appointment notices to these I-751 petitioners who received such an incorrect notice inasmuch as they did not reschedule their appointment or did not appear as a walk-in at the closest ASC to their location.
  • If you received such incorrect appointment notice, you do not need to travel out of the normal area to attend your biometric services appointment. Instead, you have two options:
    •Wait until you receive a new biometric services appointment notice with the correct ASC and new appointment date. You can confirm that we sent a new appointment notice by checking Case Status Online. Or
    •Go to the ASC closest to you as a walk-in. However, you may experience a long wait time and may not be seen that day. You can find the closest ASC by using the ASC locator on
  • If you have questions regarding your biometric services appointment notice, you may connect with the USCIS Contact Center at

05/23/2018: USCIS Policy Alert of 05/23/2018 on CSPA Policy Manual Update

  • This guidance is controlling and supersedes any prior guidance on the topic.

05/23/2018: Revised I-129CW Form for CNMI-Only Nonimmigrant Worker

  • USCIS has revised new edition of this form dated 05/09/2018 today. Beginning from July 24, 2018, CNMI stakeholders must use this revised version of the form.

05/23/2018: DOL Initiates Process of Revision of ETA 9035/ETA 9035E Forms Plus WH-4 Form for Enhanced Transparency and Tracking of Employer Records

  • The DOL has determined that additional information is required to be collected through Form ETA-9035/9035E to allow the DOL to better track employer usage of the program and provide greater transparency to the public with respect to the employment of H-1B, H-1B1, and E-3 nonimmigrant workers in the United States. With respect to Form WH-4, the Department is modifying naming conventions for certain data fields, to align them better with current DOL data systems.
  • Proposed revision has yet to be made available to the public, but the proposal is just submitted to the OMB for the approval. It is obvious that this change is intended to implement the Presidential Executive Order of Buy American, Hire American to restrict and track down abuse of these non-immigrant visa programs negatively affecting U.S. workers jobs. Stakeholder entities, including AILA, are likely to participate in this process once it is published tomorrow in the federal register.

05/21/2018: BIA Ruled Today "Engaging in" or "Agreeing or Offering" to Engage in Sexual Conduct for "Anything of Value" as Aggravated Felony

  • The Board of Immigration Appeals ruled "today" that "The term "prostitution" in section 101(a)(43)(K)(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(43)(K)(i) (2012), which provides that an offense relating to the owning, controlling, managing, or supervising of a prostitution business is an aggravated felony, is not limited to offenses involving sexual intercourse but is defined as engaging in, or agreeing or offering to engage in, sexual conduct for anything of value." See Matter of Shuying DING, 27 I&N Dec. 295 (BIA 2018), Interim Decision #3927.
  • Aggravated felony is cause for removal under the immigration law. Immigrants, behave yourself!

05/21/2018: Reportedly 130 House Bi-Partisan Members Demanded DHS Secretary in a Joint-Letter to Continue H-4 EAD Program

  • As the DHS is scheduled to initiate a rule-making process probably beginning from June 2018 to rescind the H-4 EAD rule. site reports that 130 House of Representatives wrote a joint letter on May 16, 2018 demanding not rescind the H-4EAD program. Readers are aware that H-4 EAD rule is currently under litigation and AG reported to the Congress its plan on H-4 EAD future to mitigate the pending litigation. Let's watch development carefully hereon.

05/21/2018: Procedure for "Nepal" TPS Re-Registration for One Year Before Termination of TPS Effective 06/24/2019

  • The Notice was released by the DHS Secretary earlier but it had yet to be published in the federal register to comply with the law. This notice will be officially published in the federal register, 05/22/2018. The one-year TPS extension re-registration will begin from 05/22/2018 for 60 days. Those Nepalese who are in TPS should make it sure that they re-register during the 60-day period for them to stay in this country for one more year from 06/24/2018 and depart on 06/24/2019.

05/18/2018: Alert for OPTs! "Transfering to Another School" or "Study at Another Ed Level" Automatically Terminates OPT & EAD!!

  • USCIS announcement confirming automatic termination of OPT for F-1 Students if they transfer to a different school or begin study at another educational level. It means that transferring to another school or beginning study at another educational level (for example, beginning a master’s program after completing a bachelor’s degree) automatically terminates their OPT as well as their corresponding EAD! Such termination of OPT may not lead to out of status. It states that although authorization to engage in OPT ends upon transferring to a different school or changing educational level, students in F-1 status will not be otherwise affected as long as they comply with all requirements for maintaining their student status. These requirements include not working with a terminated EAD, because termination means that students are no longer authorized to work in the United States.
  • USCIS and USICE SEVP have already taken an action. The announcement states that currently, ICE SEVP informs USCIS of the termination date, and the OPT termination is automatic under current regulations. USCIS has updated its systems and will begin to enter the EAD termination date into these systems after being notified by SEVP. USCIS will notify affected students and provide them with an opportunity to correct any errors in the record via their designated school official (DSO).

05/15/2018: USCIS Announces FY-2019 H-1B Cap Data Entry Completed and Started to Return Unselected Cases

  • USCIS has released announced that it has completed data entry for all fiscal year 2019 H-1B cap-subject petitions selected in our computer-generated random selection process. USCIS will now begin returning all H-1B cap-subject petitions that were not selected. Due to the high volume of filings, USCIS cannot provide a definite time frame for returning unselected petitions. USCIS asks petitioners not to inquire about the status of their cap-subject petitions until they receive a receipt notice or an unselected petition is returned. USCIS will issue an announcement once all the unselected petitions have been returned. Additionally, USCIS may transfer some Form I-129 H-1B cap subject petitions between the Vermont Service Center and the California Service Center to balance the distribution of cap cases. If your case is transferred, you will receive notification in the mail. After receiving the notification, please send all future correspondence to the center processing your petition.
  • Please note two important points from the announcement: (1) For workload balances, the cap cases may be transferred between California Service Center and Vermont Service Center. (2) Receipt notices for selected cases and return of unselected cases cases be sent out in parallel in the mail. Accordingly, this announcement does not imply that it has completed sending out notices for selected cases. What would be followed? The announcement does not tell the cap filers, but it is anticipated that tons of Request for Evidence (RFE) will start being sent out as well.

05/14/2018: USCIS Recalling Approximately 8,543 Incorrectly Dated Green Cards

  • USCIS announces today, 05/14/2018, that the cards were printed with an incorrect “Resident Since” date and mailed between February and April 2018. The affected individuals should return their incorrect Green Card to USCIS in the provided pre-paid envelope within 20 days of receiving the notice. They may also return their cards to USCIS field offices. USCIS will send replacement Green Cards within 15 days of receiving the incorrect card.

05/12/2018: USCIS & DOJ Formalize Partnership to Protect U.S. Workers from Discrimination and Combat Fraud

  • Yesterday, 05/11/2018, USCIS and U.S. Department of Justice signed Memorandum of Understanding to combat immigration fraud and to protect American workers as part of the Presidential Executive Order of "Buy American, Hire American." DOJ and USCIS explained the purpose as follows:
    • USDOJ Acting Assistant Attorney General: “In the spirit of President Trump’s Executive Order on Buy American and Hire American, today’s partnership adds to the Civil Rights Division’s tools to stop employers from discriminating against U.S. workers by favoring foreign visa workers,” and “The Division (DOJ) looks forward to expanding its partnerships with USCIS to hold accountable employers that discriminate against U.S. workers based on their citizenship status.”
    • USCIS Director: “Protecting and maintaining the integrity of our immigration system remains a key priority for me, and underpins the exceptional work of the professionals at USCIS,” and “This agreement enhances the level of coordination among investigators who often work on the same issues at different agencies. Breaking down silos and working with our federal partners to combat employment discrimination will help ensure that U.S. workers have the advocate they need at the highest level.”
  • Employers, beware!

05/11/2018: Important USCIS Policy Memorandum of 05/10/2018on "Accrual of Unlawful Presence" for F, J, and M Nonimmigrants

  • This very and very important policy memorandum was posted today, 05/12/2018. All the F, J, and M visa holders and their dependent family members should immediately read this policy memrandum. USCIS announcement summarizes the Memorandum as follows:
    • Individuals in F, J, and M status who failed to maintain their status before Aug. 9, 2018, will start accruing unlawful presence on that date based on that failure, unless they had already started accruing unlawful presence, on the earliest of any of the following:
      • The day after DHS denied the request for an immigration benefit, if DHS made a formal finding that the individual violated his or her nonimmigrant status while adjudicating a request for another immigration benefit;
      • The day after their I-94 expired; or
      • The day after an immigration judge or in certain cases, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), ordered them excluded, deported, or removed (whether or not the decision is appealed).
    • Individuals in F, J, or M status who fail to maintain their status on or after Aug. 9, 2018, will start accruing unlawful presence on the earliest of any of the following:
      • The day after they no longer pursue the course of study or the authorized activity, or the day after they engage in an unauthorized activity;
      • The day after completing the course of study or program, including any authorized practical training plus any authorized grace period;
      • The day after the I-94 expires; or
      • The day after an immigration judge, or in certain cases, the BIA, orders them excluded, deported, or removed (whether or not the decision is appealed).
    • Individuals who have accrued more than 180 days of unlawful presence during a single stay, and then depart, may be subject to three-year or 10-year bars to admission, depending on how much unlawful presence they accrued before they departed the United States. Individuals who have accrued a total period of more than one year of unlawful presence, whether in a single stay or during multiple stays in the United States, and who then reenter or attempt to reenter the United States without being admitted or paroled are permanently inadmissible.
    • Those subject to the three-year, 10-year, or permanent unlawful presence bars to admission are generally not eligible to apply for a visa, admission, or adjustment of status to permanent residence unless they are eligible for a waiver of inadmissibility or another form of relief.

05/11/2018: Upcoming ICE F/M Student Pratical Training Reform Rule-Making Agenda for 2018 (Open with Chrome)

  • ICE 2018 Rule-Making agenda indicates that ICE will propose student practical training rule to improve protections of U.S. workers who may be negatively impacted by employment of nonimmigrant students on F and M visas. The rule is a comprehensive reform of practical training options intended to reduce fraud and abuse. They plan to initiate in October 2018 in the form of "Proposed" rule and it will take some time to complete the rule making process, probably not before Spring 2019, at the earliest. No details is currently available about, even though we know the purpose of the rule will be to restrict student employment programs in a negative direction. Please stay tuned.

05/11/2018: USCIS "Upcoming" 2018 Rule-Making Agenda (Open with Chrome)

  • Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds
  • Registration Requirement for H-1B Cap Filing (Section 5(b) of Buy American, Hire American Executive Order which is referred to in this H-1B cap reform rule making agenda means "In order to promote the proper functioning of the H-1B visa program, the Secretary of State, the Attorney General, the Secretary of Labor, and the Secretary of Homeland Security shall, as soon as practicable, suggest reforms to help ensure that H-1B visas are awarded to the most-skilled or highest-paid petition beneficiaries.)
  • Requirements for Filing Motions and Administrative Appeals
  • Removal of International Entrepreneur Parole Program
  • EB-5 Immigrant Investor Regional Center Program
  • Strengthening the H-1B Nonimmigrant Visa Classification Program (Will propose to revise the definition of specialty occupation to increase focus on obtaining the best and the brightest foreign nationals.)
  • USCIS Biometrics Collection for Consistent, Efficient, and Effective Operations
  • Removing H-4 Dependent Spouses From EAD
  • EAD for Battered Spouses of Certain Nonimmigrants
  • USCIS New Fee Schedule
  • Removal of 30-Day Processing Provision for Certain EAD Applications
  • Electronic Filing of Requests for Immigration Benefits
  • Eligibility for T Nonimmigrant Status
  • EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program Modernization
  • Updated English Language Proficiency Requirements for Certain Foreign Health Workers

05/11/2018: USCIS June 2018 485 Filing Available Charts

Family-Based=Use Filing Date Charts
Employment-Based: Use Final Action Date Charts

05/11/2018: USCIS Plans to Remove Current Requirement of Decision of EAD Applications in 30 Days Filed by First Asylum Applicant

  • In order to have more time for the agency to determine various issues when they receive asylum applications with the EAD applications, USCIS want to remove this time-line for their determination of asylum applicant's EAD application. The USCIS is likely to act very soon to propose a rule to make this change. Please stay tuned.

05/11/2018: Trump Administration Plans to Push Ahead H-1B Program Reform in General with Changes of Definitions of "Specialty" Occupation and "Employer-Employee" Relationship [Correction]

  • We want to remove this posting because the 2018 Rule-Making agenda initially had this item, but has removed this plan in their agenda.

05/11/2018: Trump Administration Plans to Reform H-1B Cap Selection Rule Coming Years Selecting Based on the Most-Skilled or Highest-Paid Beneficiaries [Correction]

  • We want to remove this posting because the 2018 Rule-Making agenda initially had this item, but has removed this plan in their agenda.

05/11/2018: DHS Plans to Abandon its Proposed Rule to Require Alien Biometric Data Upon Exit From the United States at Air and Sea Ports of Departure

  • DHS published this proposed rule to push for exit biometric collection requirement for the aliens on 04/28/2018. However, they plan to abandon this aggressive exit requirement reform. They are likely to publish this plan in August 2018. Please stay tuned.

05/11/2018: Effective Today, 05/11/2018, State Department Implements Revised "Passport" Rule

  • This final rule provides various changes and updates to the Department of State passport rules. The final rule incorporates statutory passport denial and revocation requirements for certain convicted sex offenders. It notes that, notwithstanding the legal bases for denial or revocation of a passport, the Department may issue a passport for direct return to the United States. It sets out the Department's procedures for denying and cancelling Consular Reports of Birth Abroad. Finally, the final rule provides additional information relating to the conduct of review hearings. Please read the revised Passport Rule.

05/10/2018: Alert: Trump Administration to Expand Definition of "Public Charge" Grounds for Inadmissibility of Immigrants

  • On March 29, 2018, USCIS submitted a proposed rule of "Inadmissibility of Public Charge Grounds" which is currently under review by the OMB. Current plan indicates that the draft proposed rule may be published in the federal register in July 2018. NPR reports that uder this proposed plan, a lawful immigrant holding a visa could be passed over for getting permanent residency — getting a green card — if they use Medicaid, a subsidized Obamacare plan, food stamps, tax credits or a list of other non-cash government benefits. This change is likely to impact in one way or another the health care for certain non-immigrants and immigrants. Please read the full text.

05/10/2018: Bad News for Mexico Visa Bulletin Ahead and Negative Impact on Worldwide Category Ahead

  • State Department predicts that Mexico is likely to see the retrogression of the E4 in July 2018 and SR Final Action Dates. This action will allow the State Department to hold worldwide number use within the maximum allowed under the FY-2018 annual limits.

05/10/2018: June 2018 Visa Bulletin Released

  • Very depressing Visa Bulletin Employment-Based India categories. There is no change from May cut-off dates in employment-based categories other than move of only four (4) days for EB-2 Final Action date chart. No retrogression in EB categories for India, though.

05/07/2018: Some I-601A Cases Processed by NSC and PSC, and NBC No Longer Processes I-601A Cases Hereon

  • USCIS announced on May 7, 2018 that the Potomac Service Center (PSC) will begin processing Forms I-601A, Application for Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver. The PSC will share this workload with the Nebraska Service Center to balance workloads and to provide flexibility as USCIS works towards improving processing times and efficiency. The National Benefits Center will no longer process any Form I-601A applications.

05/07/2018: H-1B Regular Cap Receipt Notices in the Mail

  • Very good news for the H-1B regular cap employers and foreign workers. We started receiving in the mail receipt notices.

05/07/2018: New Versions of Immigration Forms & Date of Mandatory to Use the New Versions

 Mandatory Date New Version Date Form Number
04/23/2018 11/01/2017 I-824 Form
04/23/2018 11/07/2017 I-817 Form
05/16/2018 03/06/2018 I-864 Fom
05/28/2018 03/03/2018 N-300 Form
06/11/2018 03/29/2018 G-325A Form
06/18/2018 04/11/2018 I-907 Form
06/19/2018 04/12/2018 or 12/13/2016 I-360 Form
06/25/2018 04/11/2018 I-821 Form

(USCIS has been revising immigration forms a lot lately to implement the Trump Administration's new policy of security and integrity information collections from the forms. Effective mandatory date, these forms will be rejected unless the forms show new version date. If you use forms from sources other than USCIS website, please make it sure the forms you use are valid and not rejected)

05/04/2018: Seven States (Texas, Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, South Carolina, West Virginia) Filed Lawsuit Seeking Declaratory Judgment Against DACA

  • On May 1, 2018, Tuesday, these states filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court, Southern District, Brownsville Division seeking relief of declaratory of DACA Program unlawfu and orders to enjoin stakeholder agencies (Defendants) from issuing new DACA and renewing current DACA. The goal of the Plaintiffs is to eradicate DACA completely within two years.

05/04/2018: DHS Secretary Announces Honduras TPS Termination

  • The Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen has determined that termination of the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation for Honduras is required pursuant to the Immigration and Nationality Act. To allow for an orderly transition, she has determined to delay the effective date of the termination for 18 months. The designation will terminate on January 5, 2020.

05/04/2018: Canada Reportedly Scheduled to Expand Biometrics Requirements Effective 07/31/2018

05/04/2018: USCIS FY-2018 Budget Overview

  • Wow!

05/04/2018: OFLC PERM PWD and PERM Processing Times as of 04/30/2018

  • PERM Prevailing Wage Determination Processing Times: 02/2018 (75 days)
  • PERM Application Processing Times:
    • Analyst Review (clean cut cases): December 2017 (147days)
    • Audit cases: August 2017 (251 days)
    • Reconsideration cases: April 2018

05/03/2018: OMB Approved on 05/02/2018 Proposed Rule of Rescission of International Entrepreneur Rule

  • This proposed rule to rescind International Entrepreneur Rule has gone through an unusual course of difficulties and delays ever since the Trump Administration decided to rescind this rule which was enacted and about to take effect in July 2017. Trump Administration then decided to suspend this rule, even before it was implemented for a day, and enact a final rule to delay effective date of the rule to March 2018. And then, Trump Administration introduced this "proposed" rule to rescind the final rule in November 2017. Since then it has taken almost close to six months for the OMB to approve the proposed rule. Considering the fact that usually OMB takes upto 90 days (three months) to decide any proposed rule, it has gone through an unusual delay at the stage of proposed rule making. As readers may recall, not too long ago, OIRA has a meeting with stakeholders to hear their opinions. Stakeholders strongly opposed rescission of the rule, but VOILA! OMB approved the proposed rule yesterday. The Rescission Proposed Rule is expected to be published in the federal register soon. Please stay tuned.

05/02/2018: USCIS Completes CW-1 Cap Lottery for FY-2019 and Returns All Unselected Petitions

  • If you submitted a CW-1 cap-subject petition between April 2 and April 13 and have not received a receipt notice or a returned petition by May 16, you may contact USCIS for assistance.

05/02/2018: USCIS Policy AlertReaffirming Continuing CPR Status Pending I-829 Removal of Conditional Permanent Resident Status for EB-5 Immigrants

  • USCIS issued a policy alert on 05/02/2018 to reaffirm that USCIS provides immigrant investors documentation of CPR (Conditional Permanent Resident) status until the Form I-829 is adjudicated or a final order of removal is issued.

04/27/2018: Effective Monday, 04/30/2018, USCIS Will Phase in Requirement of Identification & Signature for Postal Service Delivery of Secure Documents

  • USCIS announces today that USCIS will begin phasing in use of the U.S. Postal Service's "Signature Confirmation Restricted Delivery service" to mail Green Cards and other secure documents beginning April 30, 2018. The first phase will include Permanent Resident Cards (also called Green Cards), Employment Authorization Cards (EAD), and Travel Booklets, which have been returned as non-deliverable and remailed. Those who have changed mailing addresses during the course of the application process are more likely to have their secure documents sent with the new delivery method, which USCIS will expand to all secure documents in the future. USCIS has decided to use "Signature Confirmation Restricted Delivery" for enhanced security, integrity, and efficiency of document delivery. For the details, please read the announcment.

04/26/2018: USCIS FY 2017 Annaul H-1B Petition Report to Congress on 04/09/2018

  • This annual report covers the following details during the FY 2017:
    • Number of H-1B petitions filed and approved;
    • Number of H-1B petitions field by institutions;
    • Number of H-1B petitions with waiver of ACWIA fees;
    • Number of H-1B petitions paid with fraud prevention fees.
  • Additional information on FY 2017 H-1B petitions can also be found in the Buy American, Hire American site of the USCIS website.

04/26/2018: DHS Announcement of Termination of TPS for Nepal on 06/24/2019

  • DHS Secretary released announcement today that DHS has decided to terminate TPS for Nepal as of 06/24/2019. 12-month period is granted for departure.

04/26/2018: White House OMB Director Memorandum to All the Departments and Agencies to Review & Report Progress of Regulatory and Management Reform of Each Department and Each Agency per the Presidential Earlier Order

  • This Memorandum directs all the federal Departments and Agencies to submit the progress of the reform actions by May 21, 2018. OMB will call a meeting of all Departments and Agencies in June or July of 2018. The Departments and Agencies are then requited to submit in August 2018 the performance planning or managment documents for FY 2020 budget planning.
  • May 21, 2018 is less than a month away and it will be very interesting to learn what progress report and plans the immigration stakeholder agencies will prepare and submit to the OMB, including DHS (USCIS particularly), DOS, DOL, DOJ. For the USCIS, the agency has been implementing restrictive reforms to implement Buy American, Hire American Presidential Order. We also reported yesterday the USCIS director report to the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee on the progress of the reforms and additional reforms ahead. We are particularly interested how H-1B program will be reformed and implemented probably beginning from 2019 (FY-2020). We will keep track of the movement ahead. We thank the Government Executive for sharing this news.

04/25/2018: Not Too Promising Signs from Today's SCOTUS Hearing Against Travel Ban Presidential Order

  • New York times reports after the hearing that it appears the chance for overturning Travel Ban Order not too promising. We'll see the decision soon.

04/25/2018: SCOTUS to Hear Arguments on Pending Travel Ban Litigation Today

  • Scotusblog reports that today, the Supreme Court of United States will hear arguments for pending appeal of Trump v. Hawaii case involving Presidential Order of Travel Bans for certain natiolities, mostly Muslim countries. For the summary, please report of the Scotusblog.
  • Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, issues a statement on the today's SCOTUS hearsing and his dedication to defend the Presidential Travel Ban Order.

04/25/2018: Federal District Court in D.C. Ruled on 04/24/2018 Against President Trump Executive Order to Repeal DACA Program

  • Politico reports that the court decision is very important for those who are currently in DACA status since the court hold that the Trump Administration's decision to rescind the program was arbitrary and capricious. The Trump Administration reportedly appealed directly to the Supreme Court of the United Staes, which was apparently refused by the SCOTUS with its decision that they should first go to a U.S. Court of Appeals first. Accordingly, this decision not only keep opened the DACA extensions, but also opening up the possibility that the Trump administration could be ordered to take new DACA applications, something no other judge has required. The judge reportedly said in his decision on Tuesday that if DHS didn’t come up with a new, better explanation for the rescission within 90 days, the entire program would be restored. Wow!

04/25/2018: USCIS Releases Updated Version of I-821 TPS Application of 04/11/2018

  • Starting 06/25/2018, USCIS will only accept the 04/11/18 edition. Until then, the 10/19/17 edition can be used.

04/24/2018: Nebraska Service Center No Longer Accept Form N-565, Application for Replacement Naturalization/Citizenship Document

  • USCIS has just announced that as of April 18, the Nebraska Service Center no longer accepts N-565 form and forwards N-565 applications to the Phoenix Lockbox. Those who are scheduled to file this form anew should file it with the Lockbox facility. The USCIS Phoenix Lockbox facility is now accepting Form N-565, Application for Replacement Naturalization/Citizenship Document.
  • With the transfer to a Lockbox facility, applicants may now pay the filing fee by credit card using Form G-1450, Authorization for Credit Card Transactions. USCIS began accepting credit card payments for all forms accepted at Lockbox facilities in February 2018. For more information on paying fees, visit Paying USCIS Fees.

04/23/2018: USCIS EB-485 Inventory Data as of April 2018

  • USCIS has released EB-485 Inventory Data as of April 2018. Inventory Data is important to assess and predict future movement of Employment-Based 485 backlogs since the data are collected and inventoried based no receipt date of applications but priority dates of applications.

04/23/2018: USCIS Director Reports in Writing on 04/04/2018 to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committe Chairman listing USCIS Current and Future Efforts to Reform Nonimmigrant Programs to Enhance Integrity

  • This report is literally perfect and complete summary of what the USCIS has done and what the USCIS will do in the near future in the form of changes with its practice, policies, and rule-making. The summaries of what the USCIS has done is also listed in the USCIS wesite on "Buy American, Hire Ameriran." Readers may review this report along with the USCIS Buy American, Hire American actions site. These actions have been undertaken primarily without rule-making.
  • For the actions which the USCIS intends to initiate within this year are H-4 EAD Rescission proposed rule and Reform of H-1B Requirements including changes with the definition of "Specialty Occupation" and "Employer-Employee Relationship." These forthcoming actions will be untaken in the form of rule-making. As readers are aware of, the proposed rule for H-4 EAD repeal is scheduled to be published in June 2018 and H-1B program reform including changes with H-1B lottery is scheduled to be published in October 2018 in the form of proposed rule and probably timing at implementation of the reformed rule beginning from FY 2020 H-1B cap season that starts on April 1, 2019. This reporter will closely monitor the forthcoming rule-making action of the USCIS hereon.

04/23/2018: ETA-9089 Permanent Labor Certification Application Form

  • The U.S. Department of Labor previously reported that: It would receive 67,900 applications per year in connection with the PERM program; DHS would receive 1,300 Form ETA-9089s in lieu of the Form ETA-750 for its National Interest Waiver (NIW) application process, and 4,200 for Schedule A and Sheepherder applications combined. The applications received by the Department in recent years, however, have significantly exceeded prior projections (see Table 1 below). Recent filing data suggests a further increase in applications in upcoming years. The Department and DHS now estimate that approximately 113,304 PERM applications will be submitted, on average, annually (107,254 submitted to ETA, 1,430 submitted to DHS via the NIW application process, and 4,620 submitted to DHS for Schedule A and Sheepherder applications).
  • Table 1: PERM Applications Filed with the Department of Labor by Fiscal Year
    FY 2010 FY 2011 FY 2012 FY 2013 FY 2014 FY 2015 FY 2016
    43,984 67,383 69,738 72,462 74,937 87,644 97,504
  • For the U.S. Department of Labor, PERM services are provided on government tax-funds, adding a financial stress on the Department. For the last several years, it has attempted to convert the program from tax-funded program to consumar fee funded program in vain. Report indicates that the Department intends to try it again. Fee-funded services will not only help the Department, but also the consumers. We will see whether they will be able to successfully convert the program to fee-based services in the next year or so.

04/23/2018: DHS Ombudsman Case Assistance Form, DHS-7001 and Instructions

  • Ombudsman is not a part of the USCIS but a part of the DHS that provides customers assistance when the USCIS customers face a problem of their cases with the USCIS. Some people seek its services fairly often but some not for the reasons that they are not familiar with the procedure. Those who seek Ombusman's Office assistance with a case pending with the USCIS may familiarized with this form, procedure, and instructions. This form is currently undergoing update procedure with the OMB. The information collected on this form will allow the CIS Ombudsman to identify the problem as either a case problem, which is a request for information about a case that was filed with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) (“case problem”). Ombudsman's Office is seeking comments for renewal of this form.

04/23/2018: I-485 Filing Availability Dates Charts for May 2018

  • Employment-Based 485: Final Action Date Chart
  • Family-Based 485: Filing Availabile Date Chart

04/22/2018: USCIS Changes STEM OPT Employment Policy Prohibiting Out-Placed Employment and Training

  • Without a visible notice or policy memorandum or rule-making or legislation, USCIS abruptly changed on its website the policy for STEM OPT employment and training, prohibiting STEM OPT's work or training at site other than employer's own sites. The justification for change is stated that the ICE should be able to make site visits for FDNS , but when STEM OPTs work at sites other than employer's own site, ICE will not be able to do that. Read the following carefully:

"While employers may rely on their otherwise existing training programs or policies to satisfy the requirements relating to performance evaluation and oversight and supervision, the student’s Training Plan must nevertheless be customized for the individual student. For instance, every Training Plan must describe the direct relationship between the STEM OPT opportunity and the student’s qualifying STEM degree, as well as the relationship between the STEM OPT opportunity and the student’s goals and objectives for work-based learning. Moreover, a STEM OPT employer may not assign, or otherwise delegate, its training responsibilities to a non-employer third party (e.g., a client/customer of the employer, employees of the client/customer, or contractors of the client/customer). See 8 C.F.R. 214.2.(f)(10)(ii)(C)(7)(ii) and 2016 STEM OPT Final Rule (pp. 13042, 13079, 13090, 13091, 13092, 13016).

Moreover, the training experience must take place on-site at the employer’s place of business or worksite(s) to which U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has authority to conduct employer site visits to ensure that the employer is meeting program requirements. This means that ICE must always have access to a student’s worksite; if the student is sent to different worksite locations as part of the training opportunity, ICE must be able to access such worksite locations. For instance, the training experience may not take place at the place of business or worksite of the employer’s clients or customers because ICE would lack authority to visit such sites.

For the same reason, online or distance learning arrangements may not be used to fulfill the employer’s training obligation to the student. For instance, the employer may not fulfill its training obligation to provide a structured and guided work-based learning experience by having the student make periodic visits to the employer’s place of business to receive training, while the student is actually working at the place of business or worksite of a client or customer of the employer. Similarly, the employer may not fulfill its training obligation by having the student make periodic telephone calls or send periodic email messages to the employer to describe and discuss their experiences at the place of business or worksite of a client or customer of the employer. See 8 C.F.R. 214.2.(f)(10)(ii)(C)(11) and 2016 STEM OPT Final Rule (p. 13041, 13042, 13049, 13062, 13064-66, 13070, 13071, 13090, 13113)."

  • For the details, please read NAFSA report. Please note that according to the NAFSA, even though the revised page changing the policy is dated at January 24, 2018, but they have a copy of the page of April 2018 which did not show this change in the page. There are a number of reports that this started showing late last week. We urge the USCIS to clarify its revision date of the page adding this change!
  • There is a question as to whether the agency can make a policy or rule in this way by just changing its STEM OPT pages without even a notice published in a policy memorandum, not to mention the rule-making process to change the rue, but employers and foreign workers in STEM OPT cannot afford taking a chance and challenge the changed policy in courts. Accordingly, the employers who have yet to place a STEM OPT employee for employment with a client worksite should seek legal counsel immediately. They should do the same if any of their employees are foreign workers with STEM OPT.
  • Obviously, this change should not apply retroactively affecting those STEP OPT who has been working at the sites other than the employer's own sites at the time this revision was published and implemented, which should also be clarified by the USCIS as soon as possible.

04/22/2018: Immigration Consumers Are on Alert for Immigration Fraud Activities Out There

  • USCIS reported on 04/20/2018 the its Fraud Detection and National Security (FDNS) unit detected and convicted two groups of fraud activities in California for immigration frauds. One group reportedly stole and used the name of a licensed immigration attorney and engaged in fraudulent immigration law practice, committing immigration fraud activities. The other group set up schools to mislead the students that they are legitimate schools that could give visa and immigration opportunities of foreign student visas and related immigration benefits. Please watch out for such vicious immigration criminals out there!

04/21/2018: USCIS Releases New Edition of I-360 Form Dated 04/12/2018

  • Update to Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant; New Edition Dated 04/12/18. Starting 06/19/2018, USCIS will only accept the 04/12/18 and 12/23/16 editions.

04/20/2018: E-Verify Outage for Enhancements from Late Evening Tonight through Late Evening Sunday

  • Unavailable from April 20 at 9 p.m. until April 22 at 11:59 p.m. Eastern, while they implement system enhancements. Employers may visit the new E-Verify site on Monday to learn the new features.

04/20/2018: New 04/11/2018 Version of I-907Premium Processing Request Form Released

  • This new version of I-907 will be mandatory starthing 06/18/2018. Until then, we can still use the current version of this form.

04/19/2018: Alert of PERM and iCERT System Interruptions/Degraded Performance During This Weekend!

  • OFLC alerts that due to planned maintenance, service interruptions and degraded performance may be possible for both the iCERT and PERM systems from 8:00 pm EDT on Friday, April 20, 2018 until 11:00 pm EDT on Sunday, April 22, 2018.

04/19/2018: Form I-829 Credit Card Payment Not Available

  • USCIS announces that on February 14, 2018, USCIS announced that it will accept credit card payments for 41 fee-based forms processed at USCIS Lockbox facilities. Unfortunately, the announcement mistakenly included Form I-829, Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status. USCIS has since removed the I-829 from the list because it is not among the forms processed at a USCIS Lockbox. Please continue to file the I-829 at the California Service Center. Please note that service centers are not able to process credit card payments for I-829 form. See the I-829 webpage for more information.

04/19/2018: Unusual Pattern of H-1B Cap Development in FY-2019 H-1B Cap Season

  • USCIS announced on 04/06/2018 that the annual H-1B cap for FY-2019 had reached, receiving total of 190,098. The announcement was followed by its release of the numbers by Regular Cap of 94,213 and Master Cap of 95,885 which they had received. We reported earlier that these cap numbers between regular cap petitions and master cap petitions appeared very unusual, considering the history of the H-1B cap seasons in the past. Remember that Master cap includes only graduates of foreign students earning Master's degrees or advanced professional degrees from only the higher learning institutions in the United States that had been recognized and accredited by the United States Department of Education.
  • Following statistics of the USCIS relect a clear upward increase of potential OPT candidates with EAD for H-1B over the years:
    • F-1 Pre-completion OPT with EAD: 3,218(2012), 3,515 (2013); 3,584 (2014); 3,955 (2015); 3,351 (2016); 2,345 (2017, only from 10/01/2016 to 06/29/2017)
    • F-1 Post Completion OPT with EAD: 95,504 (2012); 100,777(2013); 109,874(2014); 132,163(2015); 154,120 (2016); 112,890 (2017, only from 10/01/2016 to 06/29/2017)
    • F-1 STEM OPT with EAD: 16,624(2012); 19,115(2013); 21,977(2014); 28,083(2015); 45,184(2016); 33,055 (2017, only from 10/01/2016 to 06/29/2017)
  • This distribution of petition numbers between the regular cap and master cap raises some concerns for the foreigners who only have a Bachelor or Master or Ph. D degree from higher learning institutions in foreign countries since their future for H-1B visa opportunities in the United States may turn slimmer in the future. This new development may be a good news for the graduates with an advance degrees from the United States (most of whom represent OPTs) may be good news for their futures, but those with foreign degrees, no matter how higher degree, including Ph.D. degree, may face slimmer opportunities to join employment in the United States in the future. We are concerned that whether these statistics may encourage the Trump Administration to reform H-1B program into requirement of minimum of an advanced degree, especially an advanced degree in the United States, in the future. We will watch carefully the forthcoming H-1B reform rule-making which is scheduled in October 2018. One of these reforms of H-1B which we were concerned was President Trump's announcement earlier that he wanted to reform the H-1B cap selection based on the highest wage offered. We will watch carefully how these two potential reforms will affect the future for foreign high-tech professionals.

04/18/2018: USCIS Policy Manual Update of 04/18/2018 on "Acquisition of U.S. Citizenship for Children Born Out of Wedlock"

  • U.S. immigration laws allow certain children born outside the United States to acquire U.S. citizenship at birth through their U.S. citizen parent(s).3 In general, these provisions require at least one of the child’s parents to be a U.S. citizen at the time of the child’s birth and for the parent to have been physically present in the United States for a certain period of time. On June 12, 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Sessions v. Morales-Santana, held that the different physical presence requirements for an unwed U.S. citizen "father "and an unwed U.S. citizen "mother" violated the U.S. Constitution’s equal protection guarantee. In addition, some acquisition of citizenship cases require the U.S. citizen father of a child born out of wedlock outside the United States to provide a written agreement of financial support for the child. Certain requirements must be met in order for a document to qualify as a written agreement. For the details, please read the Policy Alert.

04/17/2018: Some I-601A Applications Transferredfrom Nebraska Service Center to Potomac Service Center

  • USCIS announced on April 16, 2018 that some of the I-601A cases have been transferred from the Nebraska Service Center to the Potomac Service Center:

04/15/2018: Reminder of Trump Administration to Further Tighten H-1B Nonimmigration Program to Protect American Workers

  • The H-1B nonimmigrant program has already been tightened up substantially in the form of the Presidential Order without regulations and legislations. However, a fundamental restrictions to the H-1B nonimmigration is yet to come towards the end of this year. There is a pending rule-making agenda which is scheduled to be inititated in October 2018 that will propose to (1) revise the definition of specialty occupation to increase focus on obtaining the best and the brightest foreign nationals via the H-1B program, and (2) revise the definition of employment and employer-employee relationship to better protect U.S. workers and wages. In addition, DHS will (3) propose additional requirements designed to ensure employers pay appropriate wages to H-1B visa holders. The details have yet to be disclosed, but employers should beware of forthcoming further restrictions to the H-1B program down the road. For unknown reasons, employers reduced substantially the number of H-1B cap petition filing during FY 2019 H-1B cap season.

04/13/2018: H-1B Cap Counts by Regular and Master Caps

  • Thank you, USCIS. The original posting of FY-2019 H-1B cap petition numbers by Regular Cap and Master Cap remains valid and correct. The total cap cases received remain at 94,213 for Regular Cap cases and 95,885 for Master Cap cases. Whew...........................!

04/12/2018: OFLC Releases Foreign Labor Certification Applications Performance Data for FY 2018 Second Quarter Ending 03/31/2018

04/12/2018: USCIS Releases G-325A Form of 03/29/2018 for Deferred Action

  • Effective 06/11/2018, USCIS will receive only the new 03/29/2018 edition and current editions will be rejected!

04/12/2018: SHOCKS, SHOCKS! Devastating H-1B Master Cap Random Selection Chances

  • USCIS received the following numbers (NUMBERS ARE REAL!!! HOW CAN THIS BE REAL?):
    • Regular Cap: 94,213 (for 65,000 cap)
    • Master Cap: 95,885 (for 20,000 cap)
  • It means that the second random selection involving Bachelor degree or Non-U.S. Master or Ph.D foreign degrees ended upto the number of 170,098 since the U.S. Master degree cases of 75,885 which failed to be selected in the U.S. Master cap are added to the non U.S. advanced degree cases.

04/12/2018: FY 2019 H-1B Cap Random Selection Completed

  • Total received numbers are 190,098, including both regular cap and U.S. master cap. The total numbers received are somewhat lower than speculated. No one should complain, though, since the odds for selection will be higher than speculated.

04/12/2018: Forthcoming Changes to I-907 Premium Processing Request Form

  • The draft of the changes was published in the federal register in December 2017. On April 11, 2018, OMB approved the changed form, which is likely to be published in the federal register sooner or later. There are two important changes in the new Premium Processing Service. Firstly, the USCIS can request an interview or collection of biometric as part of the premium processing services, which will delay the running of 15-day processing requiement. Secondly, until now, some legal representatives have filed I-907 as a "requestor" without the signature of the petitioner/employer. Because of the foregoing changes as well as other attestation which will be required, legal counsels may not file I-907 as a requestor himself or herself. They may as well file as a "Preparer" and let their client (petitioner) sign the I-907 as the requestor along with the signature by the legal representative as a preparer. Please stay tuned.

04/11/2018: Reminder of Immigrant Visa Processing Location Change from U.S. Embassy in New Delhi to U.S. Consulate General in Mumbai, India

  • Effective April 1, 2018, the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi no longer processed IR5, IR1, IR2, CR1, or CR2 visas. The U.S. Consulate General in Mumbai is your interview location if you are in process for an IR5 (Parent of a U.S. citizen), IR1/CR1 visa (spouse of a U.S. citizen) or IR2/CR2 visa (unmarried minor child of a U.S. citizen), AND your interview is scheduled on or after April 1, 2018. Your letter from the National Visa Center will specify the location of your interview, along with further details about interview preparation. Just reminder.

04/11/2018: USCIS Lottery for FY-2019 CW-1 Visa Cap of 4,999

  • For the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI)-Only Transitional Worker (CW-1) program, CW-1 visa cap for FY 2019 is 4,999. USCIS announces that it has received more than cap numbers and
    will randomly select the cap petitions received between April 2, 2018 and April 13, 2018. If USCIS will reject any CW-1 cap petitions after April 13, it will be rejected and will not be considered for this lottery. For the details, please visit the CNMI-Only Transitional Worker (CW-1) Cap site.

04/11/2018: May 2018 Visa Bulletin Released

  • Oops! Typos in the earlier chart in this page.

04/10/2018: USCIS Launches New E-Verify Website to Verify Employment Eligibility

  • The new website provides information about E-Verify and Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, including employee rights and employer responsibilities in the employment verification process. allows employers to enroll in E-Verify directly and permits current users to access their accounts. Individuals with myE-Verify accounts can also access their accounts through Read announcement.

04/08/2018: Upcoming Decision of the Supreme Court of United States (SCOTUS) and Fate of DACA Dreamers

  • DACA Dreamers one time relied on their fate on their political supporters to resolve the hurdle to their legalization through the political push using federal budgetary negotiation process. Unfortunately, this powerful political tool is gone and disappeared. Under the circumstances, they will have to face one sure thing that can determine their fate for good - the decision of the SCOTUS, which will for sure come in the future. Considering the fact that the current SCOTUS is a pro-conservative court, one of two things or both of them should develop very quickly in the future. One is another deal between the Trump Administration and Democrats to settle the DACA issue as a bargain for the Southern border wall funding legislation. There is already a prediction that this negotiation will be initiated in the near future. The other key development is the Midterm National Election in November 2018. Obviously, Dreamers and their supporters have been pushing hard to add their pressure on primaries and elections at all levels from the Congressional elections at the top to local community political elections at the bottom.
  • At this time, there is no clear picture or prediction for the developments in favor of the DACA community. Considering the time pressure coming from the forthcoming decision of the SCOTUS as well as the national election, DACA community should really work hard to achieve one of the two developments in their favor before the SCOTUS hands down its decision sooner or later.

04/07/2018: FY-2019 H-1B Cap Filing Deadline is Over, Followed by Scheduled USCIS Computer Random Selection Process

  • Contractors and the Service Center employees will be very busy now to upload cap petitions they have received during the past five days ending yesterday. What processes are followed?
  • The agency first runs computer radom selection process, first for U.S. Master or higher degree holder cases. It has nothing to do with the employer's requirement of such U.S. degrees for the jobs. Inasmuch as the prospective H-1B employees have a U.S. advanced degrees, they enjoy the privillege of this priority computer random selection process, even if the job does not require such a U.S. advanced degree. The numbers are 20,000. Usually the U.S. Master degree holder cap computer random selection is complete during a first few days of the following week, usually by Wednes day or even earlier.
  • As soon as U.S. Master degree holder random selection is over, the agency starts running computer random selection process for the rest of H-1B cap cases they have received. These invove two types of cases: Firstly if the agency received more than 20,000 U.S. advanced degree holder petitions, the agency adds the U.S. advanced degree holder cases which failed to be selection in the first run in to this second run process. Accordingly, as we reported earlier, U.S. advanced degree holders enjoy double dips. For the reasons, the odds in winning the H-1B cap lottery process are very high for the two reasons: Firstly, U.S. advanced degree case candidates are usually not that large in numbers even if they exceed 20,000. Secondly, some unfortunate cap applicants of this category can enjoy the second chance of lottery in competition with Bachelor or non-U.S. Master degree or equivalent education and experience holders. Here their odds of winning will be no different from any other non-U.S. advanced degree holders. Exactly how many cases will they select? Excluding about 6,200 special cap numbers for Singapore and Chile, the cap limit for this category will be 58,200 in numbers and not 65,000. Does this mean that they only select 58, 200 cases? Nope! They usually select more cases from 10% to 15% of the cap numbers, considering the statisitcs that these numbers of cases will be either "rejected" for a number of reasons, or denied for a number of reasons. Therefore, odds are practically better than 58,200 limit, actually close to 65,000, including unused Singpore or Chile cap numbers!
  • Usually, the whole computer random selection process, including the non-U.S. advanced degree holder candidates, are completed before the end of the week following closure of H-1B cap filing, which was Friday, yesterday, this year.
  • This does not, however, mean that the petitioners will be immediately notified of results of their cases in the lottery. Some of the employers may find out whether their cases were selected by checking with their banks to learn whether the filing fee checks which they submitted have been cleared. This, however, will take time for most of the employers since their processing of filing fee checks will also take some time, even though they should not take any prolonged period of time. What this means is that employers may start checking with their banks to learn with their filing fee checks beginning probably from the end of next week or a little after that. Some of the employers may get a good news from their banks.
  • Employers whose cases were selected will receive Receipt Notices in the mail. Believe me, it usually takes a lot of time. What does this mean? The employers whose cases were not selected will have to go through an emotional pain of waiting and waiting just to learn whether they cases had been selected!! Sometime, even close to October 1, 2018!!! All these periods, they should keep checking with their banks to learn status of their filing fee checks.
  • A lot of the winners of the lottery will, unfortunately, experience a second level of pains or "bleeding" hearts: Anticipated challenges by the USCIS in the forms of Request for Evidence (RFE), Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID) or Denials, probably more intensively than last year when employers had experienced these pains throughout the year. Thanks to what? You got it - "Presidential Executive Order of Buy American, Hire American."
  • For now, though, lets pray for lottery winning chances...................................................

04/06/2018: USCIS Official Announcement of H-1B Cap Reach Today

  • This announcement was published at about 11:00 a.m. (EST) today, but it may mean that at the end of the day today, H-1B cap will close since it has received more than 85,000 numbers.

04/06/2018: H-4 EAD Statistics by Gender FY 2015 - FY 2018

  • Statistics as of December 31, 2017. Understandably, absolute majority applicants were females.(Oops!)

04/04/2018: DOL FY 2018-2022 Strategic Plan

  • Practical ignorance of foreign labor certification program in 42-page document. In Page 9, readers see just a tiny one paragraph that states Congressional legislation will not be necessary for modernization of the foreign labor certification program. It is indeed interesting that for four-year strategic plan of the Department, foreign labor certification program is practically ignored.

04/04/2018: OFLC PERM PWD and PERM Processing Times as of 03/31/2018

  • PERM Prevailing Wage Determination Processing Times: 01/2018 (70 days)
  • PERM Application Processing Times:
    • Analyst Review (clean cut cases): November 2017 (156 days)
    • Audit cases: August 2017 (250 days)
    • Reconsideration cases: February 2018

04/03/2018: ALERT! Undeliverable Permanent Resident and Employment Authorization Cards and Travel Documents to be Destroyed After 60 Days

  • Starting April 2, USCIS will destroy Permanent Resident Cards, Employment Authorization Cards and Travel Documents returned as undeliverable by the U.S. Postal Service after 60 business days if USCIS is not contacted by the document's intended recipient to provide the correct address.
  • USCIS encourages applicants to report a change of address within 10 days of relocation using the procedures outlined at When your case is pending involving the cards and move, just filing AR-11 is not enough. Repeat, filing AR-11 alone is not enough!! You should also report change of address to the USCIS office where a case is pending by phone call (800 number) or online, persuant to the instruction which is linked above.

04/03/2018: Effective 05/01/2018, SAVE to Reject Submission of Paper Form G-845, Documentation Verification Request

  • SAVE announces that as of May 1, 2018, stakeholders must submit all verification requests electronically and SAVE will no longer process mailed submissions of Form G-845, Documentation Verification Request, and Form G-845, 3rd Step Document Verification Request. Any paper forms received after May 1, 2018 will be returned without a response.

03/31/2018: Delay in Rule-Making Process for Proposed Rule to Remove International Entrepreneur Parole Program of Obama Administration

  • The International Entrepeneur Paraole Program was pushed by the Obama Administration as one of the last rule-making act of the Obama Administration. The Rule was published a few days before the President Trump was sworn in as the President of United States. Under the revised rule, the rule was supposed to take effect in July 2017, but Trump Administration proposed to rescind this rule. However, for unknown reasons, the rule-making process has revealed a snag and even after four months, there has been no action on the rule-making process.
  • And "Voila!" On March 29, 2018, OIRA called a meeting with the stakeholder government agencies and investment stakeholders. At the meeting, there were presented a lot of information and statistics to demonstrate that the United States is behind of other countries, especially China, to take advantage of international entrepreneurs and their investments, and investment stakeholders strongly demanded President Trump to abandon the pending rule-making process to rescind the International Entrepreneur Rule.
  • Interesting development. We will see how soon the Trump Administration will make a decision on the fate of International Entrepreneur Parole Program!

03/31/2018: USCIS/CSC and CBP POE at Blaine, Washington State to Implement Joint Pilot Program for Processing of Canadian NAFTA L-1 Visa Petitions

  • From 04/30/2018, to 10/31/2018, the USCIS California Service Center (CSC) and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Blaine, Washington, port of entry (POE) will implement a joint agency pilot program for Canadian citizens seeking L-1 nonimmigrant status under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). This pilot is designed to facilitate the adjudication and admission process of Canadians traveling to the U.S. as L-1 nonimmigrants. For details, please click here.

03/30/2018: FY 2018 Omnibus Spending Legislation Authorized DHS to Double H-2B Non-agricultural Temporary Workers Cap FY-2018

  • Report indicates that the Omnibus spending bill which has been signed into law included authorization for the DHS to increase H-2B cap numbers to double of the 66,000 annual cap, should DHS and DOL find there is such need this year. Thus all eyes are on the stakeholder agencies decision and announcement sooner or later.

03/29/2018: USCIS Release New Policy Memorandum on "Related Entities" for Filing Multiple H-1B Cap Petitions for Same Foreign Worker

  • The Policy Memoranda adopts Matter of S- Inc., Adopted Decision 2018-02 PM-602-0159. For purposes of the bar to filing multiple H-1B cap-subject petitions for the same beneficiary, Matter of S- Inc. clarifies that the term "related entities" includes petitioners, whether or not related through corporate ownership and control, that file cap-subject H-1B petitions for the same beneficiary for substantially the same job. Absent a legitimate business need to file multiple cap-subject petitions for the same beneficiary, USCIS will deny or revoke the approval of all H-1B cap-subject petitions filed by "related entities" for that beneficiary.

03/29/2018: State Department Proposal to Revise DS-156 and DS-160, Nonimmigrant Visa Application Forms, to Collect Additional Information

  • The State Departments intends to add several additional questions for nonimmigrant visa applicants. One question lists multiple social media platforms and requires the applicant to provide any identifiers used by applicants for those platforms during the five years preceding the date of application. The platforms listed may be updated by the Department by adding or removing platforms. Additional platforms will be added only if collection is consistent with the uses described in the Supporting Statement and after Office of Management and Budget approval. In addition, the applicant will be given the option to provide information about any social media identifiers associated with any platforms other than those that are listed that the applicant has used in the last five years. The Department will collect this information from visa applicants for identity resolution and vetting purposes based on statutory visa eligibility standards; however, the Department intends not to routinely ask the question of applicants for specific visa classifications, such as most diplomatic and official visa applicants. Other questions seek five years of previously used telephone numbers, email addresses, and international travel; whether the applicant has been deported or removed from any country; and whether specified family members have been involved in terrorist activities. Additionally, some E nonimmigrant visa applicants will be asked whether the principal treaty trader was issued a visa. The “Sign and Submit” statement will provide applicants additional information related to correcting records within Federal Bureau of Investigation databases. Finally, the revised visa application forms will include additional information regarding the visa medical examination that some applicants may be required to undergo.

03/29/2018: State Department Proposal to Revise DS-260, Immigrant Visa Application Form, to Collect Additional Information

  • The Notice indicates that State Department inetends to add several additional questions for immigrant visa applicants. One question lists multiple social media platforms and requires the applicant to provide any identifiers used by applicants for those platforms during the five years preceding the date of application. The platforms listed may be updated by the Department by adding or removing platforms. Additional platforms will be added only if collection is consistent with the uses described in the Supporting Statement and after Office of Management and Budget approval. In addition, the applicant will be given the option to provide information about any social media identifiers associated with any platforms other than those that are listed that the applicant has used in the last five years. The Department will collect this information for identity resolution and vetting purposes based on statutory visa eligibility standards. Other questions seek five years of previously used telephone numbers, email addresses, and international travel; all prior immigration violations; and whether specified family members have been involved in terrorist activities. The “Sign and Submit” statement will provide applicants information related to correcting records within Federal Bureau of Investigation databases and additional information regarding the immigrant visa medical examination. Applicants from countries where female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) is prevalent will be provided a link in the DS-260 to an electronic pamphlet that covers the illegality of the practice in the United States. Further, applicants will be required to check a box verifying that the link was provided to them. Finally, the revised required to check a box verifying that the link was provided to them. Finally, the revised visa application forms will include additional information regarding the visa medical examination that some applicants may be required to undergo. Additional details of the changes are available in supporting documents.

03/29/2018: USCIS Notice of Filing Procedures for EAD and Automatic Extension of Existing EAD for Eligible Liberians Before Period of DED Ends on 03/31/2019

  • This notice gives details of the procedures re-registration and EAD application for temporary extension of their stays in the United States until March 31, 2019 when the Liberian DED will be permanently ended.
  • Liberians who will be affected by their DED next year should review and follow the instructions in this notice for extension of their EAD.

03/29/2018: DOL Seeks Comments & Inputs for O'Net System with Scheduled Implementation of New Occupational Classification in 2018

  • DOL released earlier revised Occupation Classification System with the changes to the current Occupational System which has been in place since 2010. The OFLC has yet to implement the new OES/SOC system, but this DOL notice seeking comments and inputs on O'Net system confirms that the new classification will be implemented in 2018. OFLC may release the new classification before July 1, 2018. O'Net and SOC/Onet systems are very critical for the employment-based immigration in this country and we will see how it will affect the employment-based nonimmigrant and immigrant proceedings. Stay tuned.

03/27/2018: Presidential Memorandum Terminating DED for Liberians on 03/31/2019 With Temporary Extension of Current DED Until 03/31/2019

  • The President relased a Memorandum today allowing current Liberians in the U.S, in the DED status for one more year as a tansition to the date of termination of DED on 03/31/2019. Their current DED is scheduled to expire on this Friday, 03/31/2018.

03/27/2018: Omnibus Spending Bill Defeated Trump Administration Scheme to Expand En Masse Immigration Enforcement

  • Government Executive Reports that the Omnibus spending bill which was just passed by the Congress and signed by the President authorized only new hiring of just 65 additional criminal investigations agents. Trump’s budget had reportedly requested funding for 1,000 new agents as part of the his mandate that ICE bring on 10,000 law enforcement personnel.

03/27/2018: USCIS Initiates New "Pilot" Processing Times Reports

  • The DHS Inspector General released earlier the problem of USCIS releasing inaccurate processing times in its Processing Times site. Apparently in order to deal with the problem, the USCIS is initiating a new pilot processing time reports for the following four mostly used forms:
    • Form N-400
      Form I-90
      Form I-485
      Form I-751
  • In the pilot reports, visitors are requied to type in the form number and the name of the field office or Service Center. It then gives two figures. The low end of the range for pilot forms shows the time it takes to complete 50 % of cases, and the high end shows the time it takes to complete 93%. For instance, it you check I-485 processing times for Texas Service Center, it will show 9 months and 21 months. It means its 50% of I-485 cases processing times is 9 months, while its 93% of cases processing times is 21 months.
  • Meanwhile, for non-pilot forms other than N-400, I-90, I-485, and I-751, the two same figures will mean different processing time ranges: The high end for the non-pilot forms will be adjusted by 30 percent above current cycle times to reflect the time it takes to complete a majority of the cases.
  • Simply put, the USCIS will no longer release a single date or month of processing times for each form. One wonders whether the new report formats will help the consumers any better than the previous formats.

03/23/2018: Senate Concurred to House Omnibus Spending Bill, Resulting in Passage of Omnibus Bill Yesterday

  • No more concurrent resolutions after concurrent resolutions at least for a while. All sunsetting immigration programs in the current immigration statute do not have to worry about government shutdown and CR, CR, CR!!! At the same time, all the immigration legislatiive and political confrontations will be also silenced for now. Jeee...............................

03/22/2018: AAO Decision of 03/19/2018 Affecting EB-1C Immigrant Seekers Leaving the Foreign Employers for Their Nonimmigrant Stay in the United States for Two Years

  • Matter of S-P-, Inc., Adopted Decision 2018-01 (AAO Mar. 19, 2018) clarifies that a beneficiary who worked abroad for a qualifying multinational organization for at least one year, but left its employ for a period of more than two years after being admitted to the United States as a nonimmigrant, does not satisfy the one-in-three foreign employment requirement for EB-1C immigrant classification as a multinational manager or executive. On the same day of March 19, 2018, the USCIS issued a Policy Memorandum adopting this decision as "precedent" binding decision for any future cases. Read on.
  • For the last few years, the number of immigrants using this EB-1C classification has steadily increased, affecting EB-1 immigrant visa numbers backlog for Indians and Chinese. This precedent and binding decision will somehow affect some of them who stay here for two years after their leaving from their employers in their home countries.

03/22/2018: House to Pass FY 2018 Omnibus Spending Bill Today: What’s in and What’s out?

  • To avoid government shut down after tomorrow, the House is scheduled to vote its version of massive spending bill today. Politico reviews "What's in and What's out." DACA is reportedly left out as well as massirve border wall spending is also reportedly left out. There was a speculation that the per country employment-based immigration limit removal bill would be a part of the spending bill, but this information has yet to be disclosed. The bill is known to be thousands of pages and it is possible that a lot of attachments could have been included in the bill without much publicity and public notice.
  • This bill has to be passed by the Senate, which remains an open question at this point. Whatever bill they come out, a spending bill must be passed and signed by the President before the mid-night of tomorrow to avoid a government shutdown. The pundits predict that there may be no government shutdown this time around. We'll see.

03/21/2018: OPT Students, SEVP Launches the SEVP Portal Effective 03/23/2018

  • On March 23, 2018, SEVP will launch the SEVP Portal, a new tool that allows F-1 students on post completion optional practical training and M-1 students on practical training to report certain information directly to SEVP.
    Learn more about the SEVP Portal and how to ensure eligible students can create an account on Study in the States. For more in-depth information about how to use the portal, visit the SEVP Portal Help section.

03/20/2018: Please Visit FY 2019 H-1B Cap Season Site for All Other Details, Including Filing Tips

03/20/2018: USCIS Suspends Premium Processing Services for FY-2019 H-1B (Regular & Master Caps)

  • USCIS has announced that it will temporarily suspend all the H-1B cap cases for FY 2019 beginning from 04/02/2018 and it is likely remain suspended through September 10, 2018. Wow, one wonders how many RFEs Service Centers will issue during this cap season. Worse than FY 2018 cap season? Probably yes.
  • The Premium Processing Services for other H-1B cases will not be affected and the USCIS will keep processsing such non-cap H-1B petitions without suspension.

03/20/2018: USCIS Processing Times Updated 03/19/2018 and H-1B Processing Times are as Follows

   Extension  COS  Consular Proc
 CSC 11/01/2017 11/01/2017 11/01/2017
 VSC 08/14/2017 04/10/2017 04/10/2017
 NSC N/A - -

03/20/2018: Annual Update to Allowable Charges for Agricultural Workers' Meals and for Travel Subsistence Reimbursement, Including Lodging, for H-2A & H-2B Labor Certification Application

  • This allowable charges will take effect tomorrow, 03/21/2018.

03/19/2018: USCIS Announces H-1B Changes in Three (3) Ways

  • USCIS announces that USCIS is working on a combination of (1) rulemaking, (2) policy memoranda, and (3) operational changes to implement the Buy American and Hire American Executive Order. USCIS is creating and carrying out these initiatives to protect the economic interests of U.S. workers and prevent fraud and abuse within the immigration system.
  • When it comes to the rule-making, there has been some delays in initiating the rule-making process. As for the policy memoranda, it has released a few new memoranda including removal of deference of previous decision and contract and itinerary requirement for outplaced H-1B employees. The really troublesome means which the USCIS wants to use to restrict H-1B sounds the last one "Operational Changes." Probably this predicts its potential expansion of RFEs and denials, especially in the upcoming FY-2019 H-1B cap adjudications. Beware!!

03/16/2018: New Edition of I-864, Affidavit of Support Form, Edition of 03/06/2018

  • USCIS has just released updaed I-864 form of 03/06/18 edition. Starting 05/16/2018, USCIS will only accept the 03/06/18 edition. Until then, you can use previous editions.

03/15/2018: Employers, Effective 03/26/2018, USCIS is Scheduled to Release Enhanced E-Verify System

  • Enhancement includes (1) Ehanced usability features; (2) Streamlined process for creating and managing cases to increase the speed and accuracy of verification results; (3) Modernized data matching process to reduce Tentative Nonconfirmations; (4) Improved overall data integrity and system compliance; and (5) Transfer of case data to a new modernized system.

03/15/2018: I-485 Filing Charts for April 2018

  • Family-Based I-485: Use "Filing Date" Chart
  • Employment-Based I-485: Use "Final Action Date" Chart

03/15/2018: USCIS Updates 03/14/2018 H-1B Processing Times

   Extension  COS  Consular Proc
 CSC 11/01/2017 11/01/2017 11/01/2017
 VSC 08/14/2017 04/10/2017 04/10/2017
 NSC N/A - -

03/14/2018: DHS Office of Inspector General Reports Discrepancy of USCIS Website Report on Processing Times for I-485 Applications

  • The report indicates that USCIS regularly posts information on its website about the time it takes field offices to adjudicate I-485 green card applications (processing time). Yet, the information is unclear and not helpful to USCIS’ customers because it does not reflect the actual amount of time it takes field offices, on average, to complete green card applications. Website reports I-485 applications adjudication times to four (4) months, but OIG analysis revealed that the average time it takes USCIS field offices to complete applications has risen over time. As shown in figure 2, from FY 2011 through FY 2016, actual completion times for green card applications requiring an interview rose by 43 days. As of May 2017, the FY 2017 average actual completion time was 282 days or just over 9 months — more than double the goal set by USCIS.
  • It appears that the situation has deteriorated ever since the USCIS determined that all the EB-485 applications for employment-based foreign worker green cards should be determined after the scheduling interviews at the local field offices. Unconfirmed information indicates that for some field offices, such EB-485 interview and adjudications are tremendously delayed because of the limited resources at the local field offices. Employment-based 485 applicants lately suffers from two delays: One is incredible backlog of the EB immigrant visa numbers. The other is the USCIS delays in adjudication after it required an interview mandatory for the offices to determination EB-485 applications. One wonders what options the USCIS would have when they have limited resources.

03/14/2018: Extension of Employment Authorization for Syrian F-1 Students Experiencing Severe Economic Hardship as a Direct Result of Civil Unrest in Syria Since
March 2011

  • Effective tomorrow, USCIS will suspend the applicability of certain requirements governing on-campus and off-campus employment for F-1 nonimmigrant students whose country of citizenship is Syria, who are lawfully present in the United States in F-1 nonimmigrant student status, obtained F-1 nonimmigrant status by September 9, 2016, and who are experiencing severe economic hardship as a direct result of the civil unrest in Syria since March 2011. This notice will be officially published in the federal register tomorrow and the suspension of the employment limitations will be extended for 18 months from March 31, 2018 until September 30, 2019.

03/11/2018: USCIS Discloses All the Names of H-1B Visa (364,584 Approved in FY 2017) User Employers

  • The total includes extensions and amendments as well. This list includes average salaries they pay as well.

03/11/2018: USCIS Discloses All the Names of L-1 Visa (36,315 Approved in FY 2017) User Employers

  • Top 10 employers consumed most of the numbers, but this list is an eye-opener for the huge number of employers that have used L-1A and L-1B visas as well.

03/08/2018: DACA March 5, 2018 Rescission Order and DHS Announcement of Continuous Renewal Application Receipt Per the Court Order

  • As we reported earlier, when it comes to renewal of DACA, March 5 rescission order of the President Trump turned meaningless when it comes to renewal of current DACA holders because of the court orders. This is confirmed by the DHS in its press release of March 7, 2018.

03/08/2018: USCIS New Poverty Guidelines of March 1, 2018 Version Released

  • The new version I-864P must be used. Old version is no longer valid.

03/07/2018: OFLC PERM PWD and PERM Processing Times as of 02/28/2018

  • PERM Prevailing Wage Determination Processing Times: December 2017 (72 days)
  • PERM Application Processing Times:
    • Analyst Review (clean cut cases): August 2017 (156 days)
    • Audit cases: June 2017 (250 days)
    • Reconsideration cases: December 2017

03/05/2018: Supposed Death Valley for DACA "MARCH 5" To Come and Gone, in Part Abandoned by the Leaders in the Hill

  • Currently, Dreamers are temporarily saved from the death valley of March 5, 2018 for now, thanks to the actions by the nation's Federal Judiciary Branch, but the survival is hanging at the clip of the roof with uncertain futures. Both Democrats and Republicans, as well as the White House, have disappeared from any action for now to avoid any potential political blame on their shoulder for using DACA as a hostage to stall the nation's other important governance. It is not certain whether another drama of government shut-down will be displayed as they approach March 23, 2018 when the federal government money runs out again unless the leaders pass appropriations before the date. Unfortunately, there is a sign that federal courts may not take any quick actions either pro or con decision, and the politics may shy away legislators and the White House from using DACA as the key tool of hostage for extension of another stop-gap appropriation legislation on or before March 23, 2018.

03/05/2018: Alert - SAVE Goes "Paperless" Effective 05/01/2018

  • SAVE announces that SAVE is two months away from paper processing. As of May 1, 2018, SAVE will no longer process mailed paper submissions of the form G-845, Documentation Verification Request, or the paper G-845, 3rd Step Document Verification Request. All verification requests must be submitted electronically starting May 1st. Any paper G-845 forms received after that date will be returned without a response.

03/02/2018: OPM Announced All the Federal Offices in Washington D.C. Areas Closed Today for Wind Storm

  • Beware!
  • Government Executive reports that the storm moving up the East Coast was expected to bring sustained winds of 30 to 40 miles per hour with gusts as high as 70 miles per hour on Friday, potentially knocking down trees and causing widespread power outages. The National Weather Service warned that travel could be hazardous. Further up the coast, the storm was expected to produce flooding and blizzard-like conditions.

03/02/2018: State Department Massive Updates for Visa Reciprocity for the Last Several Months

  • State Department updated "General, Birth, Death, Marriage, Divorce, Adoption, ID Card, Court/Prison, Police, Military, Travel, Post Contact, and Visa Services" document requirements for many and many countries since beginning this year. Those are applying for the immigrant visas should check with the State Department's Visa Reciprocity sites urgently to comply with the changed reciprocities!

03/02/2018: TPS Designation Extension for Syria Until 09/30/2019

  • DHS announces that the Secretary of Homeland Security is extending the designation of Syria for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 18 months, from April 1, 2018, through September 30, 2019. The 60-day re-registration period will start to run from Monday, 03/05/2018. This notice will be officially published in the federal register Monday 03/05/2018, but stakeholders may read the advance copy now and start taking care of registration process pursuant to the notice.

03/01/2018: H-4 EAD Rescission Proposed Rule Publication Schedule Changed from February 2018 to June 2018

  • It appears the USCIS prepared an initial draft of its proposed rule with a schedule to publishing in February 2018 as published in the rule making agenda. However, USCIS learned that it needed to make a "significat economic analysis" which will take some time. Therefore, the USCIS has changed the schedule of publication of the "proposed rule" from February to June 30, 2018. The proposed rule may be published in the federal register with probably upto 90 days of comment period. It thus appears that the binding rule may not be published until next six months or so from now. Please stay tuned.

03/01/2018: DOL PERM "Supervised Recruitment" Webinar of 03/07/2018 from 2:00 to 3:00 PM (EST)

  • The number of supervised recruitment is not that large, but hopefully this webiner can give some guidance for these unfortunate PERM stakeholders.

03/01/2018: American Immigration Council Won in Litigation for EB-1C I-140 Petition for its Employee in a Foreign Country for Nine (9) Years W/O Subsidicary or Affiliate in the Foreign Country

  • This is not a precent and binding decision, but in this case, AIC reports that AIC and entity brought a lawsuit for denying EB-1C immigrant petition for the reason that the company did not have either affiliate or subsidicary in the country where the company's worker worked for nine years for the company overseas. Interestingly, AIC reports that the USCIS has backed down and approved the I-140 petition. For the details, please read the litigation copy. It is uncertain whether this record will help other employers to file and win for EB-1C in similar context, but very interesting case.

03/01/2018: USCIS Completes Random Selection Process for H-2B Visa Cap for Second Half of FY 2018

  • USCIS announces today that during the first five business days, USCIS received approximately 2,700 H-2B cap-subject petitions requesting approximately 47,000 workers, which is more than the number of H-2B visas available. As a result, USCIS, in accordance with applicable regulations, conducted a lottery on Feb. 28 to randomly select enough petitions to meet the cap. Accordingly, USCIS will reject and return the petitions and associated filing fees to petitioners that were not selected, as well as any cap-subject petitions received after Feb. 27.

For the News Before 03/01/2018, Please Click Here.

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