Immigration News

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

Date: 02/21/2019

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

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

If your petition was transferred to the…

Send your premium processing request to…

Nebraska Service Center

USPS:

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

FedEx, UPS, and DHL deliveries:

USCIS Nebraska Service Center
850 S Street
Lincoln, NE 68508

Vermont Service Center

USPS, FedEx, UPS, and DHL deliveries:

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

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

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

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

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

USCIS signature

USCIS RESUMES PREMIUM PROCESSING FOR FISCAL YEAR 2019 H-1B CAP PETITIONS:

Date: 01/28/2019

USCIS RESUMES PREMIUM PROCESSING FOR FISCAL YEAR 2019 H-1B CAP PETITIONS:

USCIS will resume premium processing on Monday, Jan. 28, for all fiscal year (FY) 2019 H-1B cap petitions, including those eligible for the advanced degree exemption (the “master’s cap”). Petitioners who have received requests for evidence (RFEs) for pending FY 2019 cap petitions should include their RFE response with any request for premium processing they may submit.

H-1B visas provide employers with skilled workers for a wide range of specialty occupations. When a petitioner requests the agency’s premium processing service, USCIS guarantees a 15-day processing time. If we do not take certain adjudicative action within the 15‑calendar day processing time, USCIS refunds the petitioner’s premium processing service fee and continues with expedited processing of the petition. This service is only available for pending petitions, not new submissions, because USCIS has already received enough petitions to meet the FY 2019 cap.

The previously announced temporary suspension of premium processing remains in effect for all other categories of H-1B petitions to which it applied. USCIS plans to resume premium processing for the remaining categories of H‑1B petitions as agency workloads permit.

Visa Processing has been Suspended in Managua, Nicaragua

Date: 06/27/2018

The Department of State announced that all visa processing has been suspended in Managua, Nicaragua due to security reasons. The U.S. Embassy will resume operations when the security situation improves. It will analyze the situation on a daily basis and will resume normal operating status when it is possible for the Embassy to work more routine hours.

Supreme Court Upholds President Trump's Third Travel Ban

Date: 06/27/2018

The Supreme Court upheld President Trump's September 24, 2017 Proclamation (Travel Ban 3.0), which currently excludes nationals from seven countries, stating that the proclamation was "squarely within the scope of Presidential authority under the Immigration National Act." Chief Justice Roberts delivered the opinion of the Court, and Justice Kennedy, Thomas, Alito and Gorsuch joined. Justice Breyer filed a dissenting opinion, in which Justice Kagan joined. Justice Sotomayor filed a dissenting opinion, in which Justice Ginsburg joined.

USCIS to Conduct Lottery for Temporary Increase in FY 2018 H-2B Cap

Date: 06/06/2018

As previously announced, USCIS began accepting H-2B petitions on May 31, 2018, under the temporary final rule increasing the numerical limit, or cap, on H-2B nonimmigrant visas by up to 15,000 additional visas through the end of fiscal year (FY) 2018.

In the first five business days of filing, USCIS received petitions for more beneficiaries than the number of H-2B visas available under the FY 2018 supplemental cap. Accordingly, USCIS is required by regulation to use a computer-generated process, commonly known as a lottery, to randomly select the number of petitions required to meet the increased cap for FY 2018.

The lottery will include all H-2B cap-subject petitions received between May 31, 2018 and June 6, 2018.
USCIS will reject and return all unselected petitions with their filing fees, as well as any cap-subject petitions received after June 6.

All selected petitions will be assigned the same receipt date once the lottery is complete. Premium processing service for accepted petitions will begin on that receipt date.
USCIS will post another web alert once the lottery is completed.

For more information about the H-2B program, see Cap Count for H-2B Nonimmigrants.

Re-Registration Period Now Open for Hondurans with Temporary Protected Status

Date: 06/05/2018

WASHINGTON—U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announces today that current beneficiaries of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) under Honduras’ designation who want to maintain their status through the effective termination date of Jan. 5, 2020, must re-register between  June 5, 2018, and Aug. 6, 2018.

Re-registration procedures, including how to renew employment authorization documents, have been published in the Federal Register and on uscis.gov/tps.

All applicants must submit Form I-821, Application for Temporary Protected Status. Applicants may also request an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) by submitting a completed Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, at the time of filing Form I-821, or separately at a later date. Both forms are free for download on USCIS’ website at uscis.gov/tps.

USCIS will issue new EADs with a Jan. 5, 2020 expiration date to eligible Honduran TPS beneficiaries who timely re-register and apply for EADs. Given the time frames involved with processing TPS re-registration applications, however, USCIS recognizes that not all re-registrants will receive new EADs before their current EADs expire. Accordingly, USCIS has automatically extended the expiration date on EADs issued under the TPS designation of Honduras for 180 days, through Jan. 1, 2019. This automatic extension includes individuals who have EADs with an expiration date of Jan. 5, 2018, and who applied for a new EAD during the last re-registration period but have not yet received their new EADs.

On May 4, 2018, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen announced her determination that the statutory conditions supporting Honduras’ TPS designation on the basis of an environmental disaster are no longer met. Secretary Nielsen made her decision to terminate TPS for Honduras after reviewing country conditions and consulting with appropriate U.S. government agencies. To allow time for an orderly transition, she delayed the effective date of the termination by 18 months from the current expiration date of July 5, 2018. As a result of the delayed effective date, Honduras’ TPS designation will end on Jan. 5, 2020.

Hondurans with TPS may wish to consult with qualified immigration attorneys or practitioners about their eligibility for another immigration status or benefit, or whether there is any other action they may want to take regarding their individual immigration circumstances.

For more information on USCIS and its programs, please visit uscis.gov or follow us on Twitter (@uscis), YouTube (/uscis), Facebook (/uscis) and Facebook (/uscis).

- USCIS -

DHS Announces Additional Visas for Foreign Workers to Assist American Businesses at Risk of Failing

Date: 06/01/2018

On May 25, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen announced that an additional 15,000 H-2B temporary nonagricultural worker visas will be available for Fiscal Year 2018. In this determination, Secretary Nielsen determined there are not sufficient, qualified, U.S. workers available to perform temporary non-agriculture labor to satisfy the needs of American businesses in FY18. This allocation is in addition to the 66,000 visas already issued this year. Secretary Nielsen made this decision after consulting with Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta, members of Congress, and business owners.

“The limitations on H-2B visas were originally meant to protect American workers, but when we enter a situation where the program unintentionally harms American businesses it needs to be reformed,” said Secretary Nielsen. “I call on Congress to pass much needed reforms of the program and to expressly set the number of H-2B visas in statute.  We are once again in a situation where Congress has passed the buck and turned a decision over to DHS that would be better situated with Congress, who knows the needs of the program.  As Secretary, I remain committed to protecting U.S. workers and strengthening the integrity of our lawful immigration system and look forward to working with Congress to do so.”

The H-2B temporary nonagricultural worker program was designed to serve U.S. businesses unable to find a sufficient number of qualified U.S. workers to perform nonagricultural work of a temporary nature. Congress set the annual H-2B visa cap at 66,000. A maximum of 33,000 H-2B visas are available during the first half of the fiscal year, and the remainder, including any unused H-2B visas from the first half of that fiscal year, is available starting April 1 through September 30.

On February 27, 2018, USCIS determined that it had received sufficient H-2B petitions to meet the full FY 2018 statutory cap of 66,000.

In the FY 2018 Omnibus, Congress delegated its authority to the Secretary to increase the number of temporary nonagricultural worker visas available to U.S. employers through September 30, just as it did in the FY 2017 Omnibus. In the intervening time since enactment of the FY 2018 Omnibus, the Secretary consulted with the Secretary of Labor on the issue, in accordance with Congressional requirements, and developed this rule.

Starting today, 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.

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.

DHS is committed to ensuring that our immigration system is implemented lawfully and that American workers are protected. If members of the public have information that a participating employer may be abusing this program, DHS invites them to submit information to ReportH2BAbuse@uscis.dhs.gov and include information identifying the H-2B petitioning employer and relevant information that leads them to believe that the H-2B petitioning employer is abusing the H-2B program.

For more information on USCIS and its programs, please visit uscis.gov or follow us on Twitter (@uscis), YouTube (/uscis), and Facebook (/uscis).

E-2 VISA TREATY FOR CITIZENS OF ECUADOR IS SET TO EXPIRE

Date: 05/24/2018

The Department of State announced that the bilateral investment treaty between the United States and Ecuador terminated on May 18, 2018. Nevertheless, E-2 visa holders from Ecuador, who filed an application prior to May 18, 2018, will be able to extend their status for the next 10 years until May 18, 2028. The only nationals of Ecuador (other than those qualifying for derivative status based on a familial relationship to an E-2 principal alien) who may qualify for E-2 visas at this time are those applicants who are coming to the United States to engage in E-2 activity in furtherance of covered investments established or acquired prior to May 18, 2018."

News

Date: 05/22/2018

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today that current beneficiaries of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) under Nepal’s designation who want to maintain their status through the effective termination date of June 24, 2019, must re-register between May 22, 2018, and July 23, 2018.USCIS will issue new EADs with a June 24, 2019 expiration date to eligible Nepali TPS beneficiaries who timely re-register and apply for EADs. Given the timeframes involved with processing TPS re-registration applications, however, USCIS recognizes that not all re-registrants will receive new EADs before their current EADs expire on June 24, 2018. Accordingly, USCIS has automatically extended the validity of EADs issued and currently valid under the TPS designation of Nepal for 180 days, through Dec. 21, 2018.

On April 26, 2018, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen announced that the statutory conditions supporting Nepal’s TPS designation on the basis of an environmental disaster are no longer met and terminating the designation was required by statute. Secretary Nielsen made her decision after reviewing country conditions and consulting with appropriate U.S. government agencies. To allow time for an orderly transition, she delayed the effective date of the termination for 12 months from the current expiration date of June 24, 2018. As a result of the delayed effective date, Nepal’s TPS designation will end on June 24, 2019.

Automatic Termination of Optional Practical Training for F-1 Students If They Transfer to a Different School or Begin Study at Another Educational Level

Date: 05/18/2018

USCIS reminds F-1 students on Optional Practical Training (OPT) 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 employment authorization document (EAD).

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. Working in the United States without authorization has serious immigration consequences, including removal from the country and bars on reentry. Furthermore, remaining in the United States in violation of lawful nonimmigrant status could lead to an accrual of unlawful presence which includes another set of penalties under the Immigration and Nationality Act.

Currently, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Student and Exchange Visitor Program (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). This process is intended to strengthen the integrity of the F-1 and OPT programs, to ensure consistency between SEVP and USCIS systems, and to inform students of possible consequences of working with a terminated EAD.
 

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