New In-Person Interview Mandate for Green Card Applicants

The USCIS announced that certain applicants for green cards will now be required to partake in an in-person interview. This new mandate will apply to anyone moving from an employment-based visa to permanent residency. Visa holders who are family members of refugees or people who receive asylum will also be subject to an in-person interview when they apply for provisional status, which must be met before a green card is distributed. This change is expected to significantly slow down the process of obtaining a green card. 

Further details about this new mandate have yet to be announced, but Graham Adair is closely monitoring any new developments, and we will release information as it becomes available. Please reach out to the attorney overseeing your case or Sam Adair for advice on next steps, and follow us on Twitter for real-time updates as they become available.

Temporary Suspension of Nonimmigrant Visa Operations in Russia

On August 21, 2017, the U.S. Embassy & Consulates in Russia announced a temporary suspension of all nonimmigrant visa (NIV) operations across Russia beginning August 23, 2017. The halt is a result of the Russian government’s personnel cap imposed on the U.S. Mission to Russia. Beginning September 1, nonimmigrant visa interviews will only be conducted at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow; NIV interviews at the U.S. Consulates in St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg, and Vladivostok are suspended until further notice.

Because of the cap on staff numbers, visa operations will resume on a greatly reduced scale. The staffing changes will also affect the scheduling of some immigrant visa applicants. Affected applicants will be contacted if there is a change as to the time and date of their interview.

Premium Processing Suspension Lifted for Qualifying Cap-Exempt Organizations

USCIS announced that it is resuming premium processing for petitions filed on behalf of beneficiaries who will be employed at qualifying cap-exempt institutions and organizations. Qualifying institutions and organizations include:

  • An institution of higher education;
  • A nonprofit related to or affiliated with an institution of higher education; or
  • A nonprofit research or governmental research organization.

Starting today, qualifying cap-exempt institutions and organizations can submit Form I-907 along with an I-129 petition or they can submit the Form I-907 to upgrade a currently pending I-129 petition to premium processing.

USCIS says it plans to resume premium processing for all other H-1B petitions as workloads permit, but as of right now, the premium processing suspension still stands for all other H-1B petitions.

Sam Adair Talks to the LA Times About Delayed Startup Visa

Sam Adair was recently quoted in Tracey Lien’s Los Angeles Times article “Trump administration delays ‘start-up visa’ program for immigrant entrepreneurs.” In the article, Sam discusses the drawbacks of delaying implementation of the Obama-era startup visa.

“It’s an unfortunate thing, because there are no real winners in this implementation,” Sam said. “It’s bad for the economy, it’s certainly bad for job creation, and it is definitely stifling to innovation.”

Click here to read the full article.

A Restriction on Visitors from Six Predominantly Muslim Nations will be Enforced as the Supreme Court Prepares to Hear a Broader Challenge

On June 26, 2017, the Supreme Court lifted part of the injunction that prevented implementation of President Trump’s Executive Order, Protecting the National from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States. The Supreme Court also agreed to review legal arguments from the two federal court cases stemming from the Executive Order, which calls for a temporary suspension of entry of foreign nationals from six predominantly Muslim countries, this October.

The Supreme Court will allow the executive branch to implement the travel ban under strict limits, stating that the travel ban cannot be imposed on individuals who have “credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.” On June 28, 2017, the State Department issued a cable to U.S. consulates and embassies on how to apply the limited travel ban that will go into effect this evening. The cable defines individuals having a bona fide relationship with a person in the United States as “close family.” The cable’s definition of “close family” encompasses the following individuals:

  • Parent (including parent-in-law)
  • Spouse
  • Child
  • Adult son or daughter
  • Son-in-law
  • Daughter-in-law
  • Sibling, whether whole or half, including step relationships
  • Fiancée

The cable goes on to say that “close family” does not include the following:

  • Grandparents
  • Grandchildren
  • Aunts
  • Uncles
  • Nieces
  • Nephews
  • Cousins
  • Brothers-in-laws and sisters-in-law
  • Fiancés
  • Any other ‘extended’ family members

The cable states that individuals claiming a bona fide relationship with a U.S. entity must have a formal, documented relationship with the U.S. entity, a relationship that was formed in the ordinary course rather than for the purpose of evading the Executive Order. The cable provides examples of bona fide relationships with U.S. entities, including the following:

  • An eligible I visa applicant employed by foreign media that has a news office based in the U.S.
  • Students who have been admitted to U.S. educational institutions
  • A worker who accepted an offer of employment from a company in the U.S.
  • A lecturer invited to address an audience in the U.S.

Precisely how this cable’s framework will be implemented remains to be seen. We will provide updates on this breaking story as it develops.

Chad Graham Speaks to San Francisco Chronicle About Stricter Visa Vetting

Chad Graham was recently quoted in Trisha Thadani’s San Francisco Chronicle article “For some U.S. Visitors, ‘Extreme Vetting’ is Here.” In the article, Chad discusses how increased visa vetting policies make personal information subject to inspection upon request, and expresses his concerns about how visa processing as a whole can become more subjective as a result.

Read the full article here.

Sam Adair Discusses Visa Vetting Questionnaire in Bloomberg BNA

Sam Adair was recently quoted in Laura Francis’s Bloomberg BNA article “‘Extreme Vetting’ Immigration Form Causes Delays, Confusion.” In the article, Sam discusses the State Department’s new visa vetting questionnaire and its potential impact on business immigration. 

Click here to read the full article.

Full article reproduced with permission from Daily Labor Report, 106 DLR A-7 (Jun. 5, 2017). Copyright 2017 by The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. (800-372-1033) <http://www.bna.com>

U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s I-94 Website to Assist Visa Waiver Program Travelers

This week, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) began helping eligible Visa Waiver Program (VWP) travelers keep track of their last possible departure date through the I-94 website and via email. On the I-94 website, VWP travelers can now check how much longer they can remain in the U.S. without overstaying the terms of their admission by entering their name, birthdate, passport number and passport country of issuance. VWP travelers will also receive email alerts reminding them of their last possible departure date. CBP plans to expand the program to additional nonimmigrant travelers in the future.

The I-94 Arrival Record is important because it is a means to verify the immigration status and employment authorization of non-immigrant visitors. As a non-immigrant visitor, it is imperative that you check your I-94 record online for accuracy each and every time you enter the U.S. 

Australia to Abolish Most Common Temporary Work Visa

On April 18, 2017 Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced that the most commonly used temporary work visa program, subclass 457, will be abolished and replaced with a new visa stream.

Some changes are immediate, but the abolition is not. The subclass 457 visa will continue to be granted until March 2018. However, the Skilled Occupation List (SOL) will be replaced by the Medium and Long-Term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL), and the Consolidated Sponsored Occupation List (CSOL) will be replaced by the Short-Term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL), effective April 19, 2017.

The new lists eliminated over 200 occupations eligible for employment visas to limit the visas to the most skilled and high-demand occupations. Occupation-specific restrictions also apply to job positions in customer service, marketing and sales.

Current 457 visa holders are unaffected and can continue working until the validity period of their visas. However, pending 457 visa applications are subject to the new occupations list and will be issued under the new rules.

The New Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) Visa

In March 2018, the TSS visa will replace the subclass 457 visa. The TSS offers two streams: (1) Short-Term (2 years) and (2) Medium-Term (4 years). The applicable visa stream is not based solely on the length of assignment, but the type of occupation, the skill/qualifications of the candidate, salary, etc. The Labour Market Test will apply for both streams. In contrast, the Labour Market Test only applies to certain occupations under the 457 visa program.

Graham Adair is closely monitoring any new developments, and we will release information as it becomes available. Please reach out to the attorney overseeing your case or Sam Adair for advice on next steps, check our website for further updates and follow us on twitter for real-time updates as they become available.

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