USCIS FACES NEW CLASS ACTION LAWSUITS FOR ITS EXTREME DELAYS IN PROCESSING WAIVERS
A lawsuit was recently filed against U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on behalf of 248 people, and a class of tens of thousands more, to end the delays, which have increased exponentially to about three years.
The plaintiffs seek to certify a class of noncitizens who have filed or will file this type of waiver application and whose application has been pending for at least 12 months. For applications filed in the future, the lawsuit asks USCIS to decide the waiver application within six months from the date the application is filed.
FY 2024 H-1B Cap Initial Registration Period Opens on March 1
Today, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that the initial registration period for the fiscal year 2024 H-1B cap will open at noon Eastern on March 1 and run through noon Eastern on March 17, 2023. During this period, prospective petitioners and representatives will be able to complete and submit their registrations using our online H-1B registration system. USCIS will assign a confirmation number to each registration submitted for the FY 2024 H-1B cap. This number is used solely to track registrations; you cannot use this number to track your case status in Case Status Online.
Prospective H-1B cap-subject petitioners or their representatives are required to use a myUSCIS online account to register each beneficiary electronically for the selection process and pay the associated $10 H-1B registration fee for each registration submitted on behalf of each beneficiary. Prospective petitioners submitting their own registrations (U.S. employers and U.S. agents, collectively known as “registrants”) will use a “registrant” account. Registrants will be able to create new accounts beginning at noon Eastern on February 21. Representatives may add clients to their accounts at any time, but both representatives and registrants must wait until March 1 to enter beneficiary information and submit the registration with the $10 fee. Prospective petitioners or their representatives will be able to submit registrations for multiple beneficiaries in a single online session. Through the account, they will be able to prepare, edit, and store draft registrations prior to final payment and submission of each registration.
If USCIS receives enough registrations by March 17, it will randomly select registrations and send selection notifications via users’ myUSCIS online accounts. If USCIS does not receive enough registrations, all registrations that were properly submitted in the initial registration period will be selected. USCIS intends to notify account holders by March 31.
The U.S. Department of Treasury has approved a temporary increase in the daily credit card transaction limit from $24,999.99 to $39,999.99 per day for the FY 2024 H-1B cap season. This temporary increase is in response to the volume of previous H-1B registrations that exceeded the daily credit card limit. Additional information will be provided before the start of the initial H-1B registration period. An H-1B cap-subject petition, including a petition for a beneficiary who is eligible for the advanced degree exemption, may only be filed by a petitioner whose registration for the beneficiary named in the H-1B petition was selected in the H-1B registration process.
DHS EXTENDS AND REDESIGNATES HAITI FOR TPS
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) posted a Federal Register notice for the extension and redesignation of Haiti for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 18 months, from February 4, 2023, through August 3, 2024. DHS previously announced the decision to extend and redesignate TPS for Haiti on December 5, 2022.
This extension and redesignation of Haiti for TPS allows nationals of Haiti (and individuals having no nationality who last habitually resided in Haiti) who have continuously resided in the United States since November 6, 2022, and who have been continuously physically present in the United States since February 4, 2023, to apply for TPS. Those who have been continuously residing in the United States since November 6, 2022. and have a pending TPS application with USCIS do not have to refile at this time.
The Federal Register notice explains the procedures necessary for an existing TPS beneficiary to re-register under the extension and for an individual to submit an initial application under the redesignation and to apply for an Employment Authorization Document.
NEW IMMIGRATION RELIEF FOR NONCITIZEN WORKERS WHOSE LABOR RIGHTS HAVE BEEN VIOLATED
On January 13th, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security ("DHS") announced that noncitizen workers who are victims of, or witnesses to, the violation of labor rights can now access a streamlined and expedited deferred action request process and potentially receive work authorization for two years. Deferred action protects noncitizen workers from threats of immigration-related retaliation from the exploitive employers. Effective immediately, this process will improve DHS’s longstanding practice of using its discretionary authority to consider labor and employment agency-related requests for deferred action on a case-by-case basis.
EXTENSION AND RE-DESIGNATION OF SOMALIA
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) today announced the extension and redesignation of Somalia for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 18 months, from March 18, 2023, through Sept. 17, 2024. Individuals who were already residing in the United States as of Jan. 11, 2023, will be eligible for TPS under Somalia’s redesignation if they also meet all other eligibility requirements. Somalis entering the United States after Jan. 11, 2023, are not eligible for TPS under this redesignation.
USCIS IMPLEMENTS PREMIUM PROCESSING FOR MULTINATIONAL EXECUTIVE MANAGER AND EB-2 NATIONAL INTEREST VISA
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is implementing the final phase of the premium processing expansion for Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers, under the EB-1 and EB-2 classifications and it will start accepting Premium Processing Requests on January 30, 2023 for all pending and initial petitions.
Unlike previous phases of the expansion, this phase applies to new (initial) petitions, in addition to all previously filed Form I-140 petitions under an E13 multinational executive and manager classification or E21 classification as a member of professions with advanced degrees or exceptional ability seeking a national interest waiver (NIW).
Petitioners who wish to request premium processing must file Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service.
DHS ANNOUNCES SPECIAL RELIEF EMPLOYMENT BENEFITS INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS FROM YEMEN
On December 30, 2022, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) posted a notice in the Federal Register that provides Special Student Relief (SSR) employment benefits for F-1 nonimmigrant students from Yemen experiencing severe economic hardship as a direct result of the current crisis in Yemen. This notice extends relief from March 4, 2023, to September 3, 2024, for eligible Yemeni students.
SSR is the suspension of certain regulatory requirements by the secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for an F1 student from parts of the world that are experiencing emergent circumstances. Regulatory requirements that may be suspended or altered for an F-1 student include duration of status, full course of study and off-campus employment eligibility.
DHS REDESIGNATES TEMPORARY PROTECTED STATUS FOR YEMEN
On December 30, 2022, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced an extension of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Yemen for 18 months, from March 4, 2023, through September 3, 2024, due to ongoing armed conflict and extraordinary and temporary conditions that prevent Yemeni nationals from safely returning to their country. In addition, DHS announced a redesignation of Yemen for TPS for the same reasons, allowing Yemeni nationals (and individuals having no nationality who last habitually resided in Yemen) residing in the United States as of December 29, 2022, to be eligible for TPS.
Current beneficiaries re-registering under the extension of TPS for Yemen must re-register in a timely manner during the 60-day re-registration period from January 3, 2023, through March 4, 2023, to ensure they keep their TPS and work authorization without a gap. DHS recognizes that not all re-registrants may receive a new Employment Authorization Document (EAD) before their current EAD expires on March 3, 2023, and is automatically extending through March 3, 2024, the validity of certain EADs previously issued under the TPS designation of Yemen.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will continue to process pending applications filed under Yemen’s previous TPS designation. Individuals with a pending Form I-821, Application for Temporary Protected Status, or a related Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, do not need to file either application again. If USCIS approves a pending Form I-821 or Form I-765 filed under the previous designation of TPS for Yemen, USCIS will grant the individual TPS through September 3, 2024, and issue an EAD valid through the same date.
USCIS PROPOSES STEEP HIKE IN FILING FEES FOR H-1B, L-1 AND OTHER NONIMMIGRANT VISAS
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has proposed a new fee schedule that would significantly increase the cost of filing for many immigration benefits, particularly for employment-based petitioners. The proposed rule includes significant increases for filing fees for H-1B, L-1, and other nonimmigrant visas on Form I-129. It also includes a significant increase in the fee for H-1B cap registration, from $10 to $215, and a new $600 "Asylum Program Fee" for Form I-129 and Form I-140 petitioners.
The proposal also lengthens the premium processing timeframe from 15 calendar days to 15 business days and unbundles the filing fees for adjustment of status and related work and travel authorization applications.
The proposed fee schedule represents a 40% average increase from current fees, with some immigration groups seeing much steeper increases. Employment-based immigration petitions would be particularly affected, with the H-1B fee increasing by 70% and the L-1 fee increasing by 201%. However, fees for several “humanitarian programs” would remain at current levels or decrease.
The DHS claims that the proposed fee adjustments are necessary to improve processing times and provide adequate service, and that without increased revenue, agency backlogs will continue to grow. The public will have 60 days to submit comments on the proposal after it is published in the Federal Register.
USCIS WILL INCREASE EB-5 INVESTORS' FILING FEES
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced it is adjusting immigration and naturalization benefit request fees as part of a comprehensive fee review at the agency. The USCIS says the fee increase will allow the agency to help recover operating costs, reestablish and continue timely case processing and prevent future case backlog.
While the USCIS will not raise costs for everyone, EB-5 investors will bear the brunt of the fee hikes and will pay $1160 for I-526 petitions and $9535 for I-829 petitions. Application fees for the EB-5 visa, which will increase from $3,675 to $11,160, represent a 204% jump.