DHS Announces Additional Visas for Foreign Workers to Assist American Businesses at Risk of Failing
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
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."
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
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.
Chad has Met Baseline Security Requirements, Travel Restrictions to be Removed
The President announced today that Chad has raised its security standards to
meet important baseline U.S. national security requirements. Therefore, its nationals will
again be able to receive visas for travel to the United States. The removal of the restrictions is
the result of close cooperation conducted with Chad during a required 180-day review of the
Administration’s enhanced global security measures (https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefingsstatements/
president-donald-j-trump-announces-enhanced-national-security-measures/) , as outlined by
Presidential Proclamation 9645. The Presidential Proclamation established for the first time in history minimum requirements for international cooperation to support U.S. visa and immigration vetting and adjudications.
Since implementing these travel restrictions and the 180 day review process in September 2017, the Administration has recorded notable improvements in identity management and information sharing with foreign governments.
The higher security standards implemented by the President have incentivized our
international partners to take action—including improving sharing of data on terrorists and criminals, making travel documents more secure, and taking steps to crack down on identity fraud. Specifically, Chad, a critical U.S. counterterrorism partner, has made strides in meeting the criteria established in the Presidential Proclamation and has addressed previous deficiencies. For this reason, the travel restrictions placed on the Chad have been terminated effective Friday, April 13.
The removal of travel restrictions on Chad further demonstrates that the criteria set forth in the Presidential Proclamation can and have worked to enhance the security of the United States. Furthermore, it sends a clear message to foreign governments that cooperating with us in mutual security gains, while failure to comply with baseline U.S. information sharing requirements will result in consequences.
Over the 180-day review period, DHS and the Department of State actively engaged those countries currently subject to travel restrictions—and other nations around the world—in an effort to address and correct any deficiencies in achieving the baseline standard for identity management and information sharing. The process overall has resulted in increased international cooperation to counter threats to our homeland and to prevent individuals from exploiting our immigration system.
The Administration originally announced these enhanced security measures in September 2017. In accordance with Executive Order 13780 and Presidential Proclamation 9645, if foreign countries do not meet the U.S. Government’s traveler vetting and information sharing requirements, their nationals may not be allowed to enter the United States or may face other travel restrictions.
On April 11, 2018, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) today announced the launch of a new website, E-Verify.gov.
On April 11, 2018, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) today announced the launch of a new website, E-Verify.gov. This is the authoritative source for information on electronic employment eligibility verification. E-Verify.gov is for employers, employees and the general public.
The user-friendly website provides information about E-Verify and Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, including
employee rights and employer responsibilities in the employment verification process. E-Verify.gov 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 E-Verify.gov.
“For the past decade, E-Verify has been the cornerstone of our continued commitment to helping employers maintain a
legal workforce,” said USCIS Director L. Francis Cissna. “E-Verify.gov now allows users to better understand and
navigate through the employment verification process.”
E-Verify is a free, easy-to-use internet-based system. Employers can access E-Verify anytime, anywhere directly from
a web browser. Nearly all employees are confirmed as work-authorized instantly or within 24 hours. The system,
which has nearly 800,000 enrolled employers, compares information from an employee’s Form I-9 to records available
to the Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration to verify authorization to work in
On April 18, 2017, President Trump signed the Buy American and Hire American executive order to help reduce illegal immigration and preserve jobs for U.S. workers. To support these objectives, USCIS encourages all U.S. employers to verify
all new hires through E-Verify.
USCIS has reached the congressionally-mandated 65,000 H-1B visa cap for fiscal year 2019.
USCIS has reached the congressionally-mandated 65,000 H-1B visa cap for fiscal year 2019. USCIS has also received a sufficient number of H-1B petitions to meet the 20,000 visa U.S. advanced degree exemption, known as the master’s cap.
The agency will reject and return filing fees for all unselected cap-subject petitions that are not prohibited multiple filings.
USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions that are otherwise exempt from the cap. Petitions filed for current H-1B workers who have been counted previously against the cap, and who still retain their cap number, will also not be counted toward the FY 2019 H-1B cap. USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions filed to:
Extend the amount of time a current H-1B worker may remain in the United States;
Change the terms of employment for current H-1B workers;
Allow current H-1B workers to change employers; and
Allow current H-1B workers to work concurrently in a second H-1B position.
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 http://uscis.gov/addresschange
USCIS Will Temporarily Suspend Premium Processing for Fiscal Year 2019 H-1B Cap Petitions
Starting April 2, 2018, USCIS will begin accepting H-1B petitions subject to the Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 cap. We will temporarily suspend premium processing for all FY 2019 cap-subject petitions, including petitions seeking an exemption for individuals with a U.S. master’s degree or higher. This suspension is expected to last until Sept. 10, 2018. During this time, we will continue to accept premium processing requests for H-1B petitions that are not subject to the FY 2019 cap. We will notify the public before resuming premium processing for cap-subject H-1B petitions or making any other premium processing updates.
During this temporary suspension, we will reject any Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service, filed with an FY 2019 cap-subject H-1B petition. If a petitioner submits one combined check for the fees for Form I-907 and Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, we will reject both forms. When we resume premium processing, petitioners may file a Form I-907 for FY 2019 cap-subject H-1B petitions that remain pending.
Requesting Expedited Processing
While premium processing is suspended, a petitioner may submit a request to expedite an FY 2019 cap-subject H-1B petition if it meets the criteria on the Expedite Criteria webpage. It is the petitioner’s responsibility to demonstrate that they meet at least one of the expedite criteria, and we encourage petitioners to submit documentary evidence to support their expedite request. We review all expedite requests on a case-by-case basis and will grant requests at the discretion of USCIS office leadership.
Why We Are Temporarily Suspending Premium Processing for These Petitions
This temporary suspension will help us reduce overall H-1B processing times. By temporarily suspending premium processing, we will be able to:
Process long-pending petitions, which we have currently been unable to process due to the high volume of incoming petitions and the significant surge in premium processing requests over the past few years; and
Prioritize adjudication of H-1B extension of status cases that are nearing the 240 day mark.
We encourage H-1B petitioners to subscribe to email updates on the H-1B FY 2019 Cap Season webpage.
Re-Registration Period Opens for Syrians with Temporary Protected Status
WASHINGTON—Current beneficiaries of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) under Syria’s designation who want to maintain their status through Sept. 30, 2019, must re-register between March 5, and May 4, 2018. Re-registration procedures, including how to renew employment authorization documentation, have been published in the Federal Register and on the USCIS website.
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, when they file Form I-821, or separately at a later date. Both forms are free on USCIS’ website at uscis.gov/tps.
USCIS will issue new EADs with a Sept. 30, 2019, expiration date to eligible Syrian TPS beneficiaries who timely re-register and apply for EADs. However, given the timeframes involved with processing TPS re-registration applications, USCIS is automatically extending the validity of EADs with an expiration date of March 31 for 180 days, through Sept. 27.
To be eligible for TPS under Syria’s current designation, individuals must have continuously resided in the United States since Aug. 1, 2016, and have been continuously physically present in the United States since Oct. 1, 2016, along with meeting the other eligibility requirements.
On Jan. 31, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen announced her determination that the conditions supporting Syria’s TPS designation continue. The secretary made her decision after reviewing country conditions and consulting with appropriate U.S. government agencies. Before the 18-month extension ends, the secretary will review conditions in Syria to determine whether its TPS designation should be extended again or terminated.
For more information on USCIS and its programs, please visit uscis.gov or follow us on Twitter (@uscis), YouTube (/uscis), and Facebook (/uscis).