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USCIS Announces Rescission of Restrictive H-1B Policies

On June 17, USCIS announced that it was rescinding two policy memoranda that formed the backbone of its heightened scrutiny of H-1B petitions.  This appears to follow directly from USCIS’ major loss in the ITServe Alliance litigation and the related settlement. The policy announcement is a sweeping reduction in the burden of evidence imposed upon H-1B employers.  Under this policy, USCIS officers are directed to no longer require: Itineraries covering the entire 3-year H-1B period. Contracts between the Petitioner and its clients. Evidence of day-to-day work assignments. Further, USCIS officers are directed to limit or shorten the approval period of H-1B petitions...

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H-1B CAP for FY2021

On February 6, 2020, the USCIS conducted a webinar for employers planning to register their hopeful candidates for the H-1B lottery this year.  USCIS showed screenshots of the employer registration process and responded to some questions from the public. The registration window will open at noon, Eastern, on March 1 and close at noon, Eastern, on March 20, 2020.  USCIS committed to notifying registering companies and their attorneys by March 31, 2020 of the results of the lottery and selection process.  They also confirmed that the filing window for selected candidates will open on April 1, and remain open for 90...

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US District Court Permanently Enjoins F-1 Unlawful Presence Memo

By Richard A Harding

A US District Court has invalidated a controversial USCIS policy shift.

In 2018, USCIS published a policy memorandum regarding when students and exchange visitors would begin to accrue unlawful presence.  Under that memorandum, students who violated their F-1, J-1, or M-1 status in any way would immediately be considered to be unlawfully present in the United States, even without a formal decision by a USCIS or other federal official.  This raised concerns among immigration practitioners, students, educators, and others about the effects this could have on students who unknowingly committed minor or technical violations of their status and thereby began accruing enough unlawful presence to trigger the 3- or 10-year bars.

These concerns drove several universities and associations to file a lawsuit in US District Court in 2018 (Guildford College v. Wolf, 18-CV891, N.D.N.C.) seeking a preliminary and ultimately a permanent injunction to prevent USCIS from enforcing that memorandum.  The Court granted a preliminary injunction in May 2019 to stop USCIS from enforcing the memorandum pending conclusion of the case.  Yesterday, after hearing arguments from the United States and the plaintiffs, the Court ordered the imposition of a permanent injunction against enforcement of the memorandum. 

USCIS is raising fees, effective December 23, 2016

The new fees will apply to all petitions and applications physically received on or after Friday, December 23, 2016.  The following is a partial list of the new fees by form type: I–90  Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card  $455 I–102 Application for Replacement/Initial Nonimmigrant Arrival-Departure Document. $445 I–129 Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker $460 I–129F Petition for Alien Fiance´(e) $535 I–130 Petition for Alien Relative $535 I–131 Application for Travel Document $575 I–140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker $700 I–290B Notice of Appeal or Motion $675 I–485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status $1,140 I–765  Application for Employment Authorization $410 I–824 Application for Action on an Approved Application...

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Visa posts to revoke nonimmigrant visas for individuals arrested for or convicted of DUI

The Department of State’s Visa Office sent the following guidance to overseas consular posts on September 9, 2016: Guidance Directive 2016-03 – 9 FAM 403.11-3 – VISA REVOCATION “The Department would like to bring to your attention a policy implemented on November 5, 2015, which requires consular officers to prudentially revoke (i.e., without making a determination that the individual is inadmissible) nonimmigrant visas of individuals arrested for, or convicted of, driving under the influence or driving while intoxicated, or similar arrests/convictions, that occurred within the previous five years, as detailed in 9 FAM 403.11-3(A). This requirement does not apply when the arrest/conviction occurred...

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How Immigration Statutes are Implemented

A great deal of confusion concerns what federal agencies may do. Before an agency may do anything, there must be a Congressional statute authorizing the agency to act. Congress might pass a law that provides: “The status of an alien who was inspected and admitted or paroled into the United States or the status of any other alien having an approved petition for classification as a VAWA self-petitioner may be adjusted by the Attorney General, in his discretion and under such regulations as he may prescribe, to that of an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence if . . .” [Emphasis...

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DHS Proposes New Rule for Entrepreneurs

WASHINGTON—U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is proposing a new rule, which would allow certain international entrepreneurs to be considered for parole (temporary permission to be in the United States) so that they may start or scale their businesses here in the United States. Read the advance version of the notice of proposed rulemaking: International Entrepreneur Rule. Once the notice of proposed rulemaking is published in the Federal Register, the public will have 45 days from the date of publication to comment. To submit comments, follow the instructions in the notice. “America’s economy has long benefitted from the contributions of immigrant entrepreneurs,...

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Asylum

Every year, individuals seek protection in the U.S. due to the conditions of their country of citizenship. Asylum is a legal status provided by the U.S government to individuals who have left their country of citizenship, entered the U.S., and are unable or unwilling to return to their country of citizenship due to fear for their safety. However, in order to obtain asylum benefits, there are certain requirements, some of which are difficult to overcome. In order to be eligible for asylum, you must be located in the U.S. (you can file for refugee status if you are outside of the...

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24 month STEM OPT Extension

Students with STEM designated degrees are now eligible to apply for 24-month STEM OPT extensions.  In order to qualify,  the student must have been granted initial OPT and in a current valid period of OPT, earned a bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree from an accredited institution, and the student’s proposed STEM OPT job opportunity must be directly related to the student’s STEM degree. As part of the extension process, the F-1 student must provide their Designated School Official (DSO) with a completed and signed Form I-983.  Subsequently, the DSO will issue the student an updated I-20 recommending the student for the...

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