Categories News & Updates

Spouses Will Now Receive Work Authorization Incident to Status

As we reported in a previous news release last November, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) reached a settlement agreement with nonimmigrant plaintiffs in which it agreed to, among other things, recognize work authorization incident to status for the spouses of L visa holders.

 

Earlier this week, the DHS began implementation of this change and expanded its application to the spouses of E visa holders. U.S. Customs and Border Protection is now inputting new Class of Admission (COA) codes on I-94 admissions records generated for spouses of E and L visa holders upon entry into the United States. With this new COA code, E and L spouses will have work authorization incident to status, and the I-94 can be used as a List C document for I-9 purposes. The new COA code will only be applied to new entries into the U.S. made by E and L spouses on or after January 31, 2022.

 

Please contact your Graham Adair attorney with any specific questions, or contact us at info@grahamadair.com; +1 408 715 7067.

Categories News & Updates USCIS

H-1B Cap Details Announced

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has announced that the registration period for the fiscal year 2023 H-1B cap will open at noon Eastern on March 1 and run through noon Eastern on March 18, 2022.

In order to file a new H-1B case, employers must complete registrations using the USCIS online H-1B registration system. H-1B registration is a simple online process, where employers submit details for each candidate they intend to sponsor for a new H-1B. The online form avoids extra paperwork and cost for employers. The cost for registration is $10 per candidate.

New H-1B cases are limited to an annual quota of 85,000. Of these, 20,000 are available to those who have earned an advanced degree from a U.S. college or university, while the remaining 65,000 are available to other qualified candidates.

USCIS introduced the concept of H-1B registration two years ago. There were 380,613 registrations filed for FY 2022 and 275,000 registrations filed for FY 2021. When USCIS receives more registrations than the annual cap of 85,000, a random lottery is run on the overall pool of registrations. Once the lottery is completed, USCIS notifies successful selections, at which point a full H-1B petition must be filed for the corresponding candidate.

Prospective H-1B cap-subject petitioners or their representatives will be able to create new accounts beginning at noon Eastern on Feb. 21. While companies can be set up in the system during this time, candidate information cannot be submitted until March 1st.

Anticipating that USCIS will receive more than 85,000 registrations by March 18th, they will run a lottery and notify successful registrants by March 31.

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.

Please contact your Graham Adair attorney with any specific questions, or contact us at info@grahamadair.com; +1 408 715 7067.

Categories Department of State News & Updates USCIS

Employment for spouses gets major win today

Today, fifteen nonimmigrant plaintiffs reached a settlement agreement with the Department of Homeland Security in a putative class action over long-delayed processing of H-4 and L-2  employment authorization documents (EADs).

 

The settlement agreement contains two key changes for H-4 and L-2 work authorization:

 

The first major victory is for automatic extension of EAD based on a timely filed extension. Qualifying H-4 nonimmigrants who timely file I-765 extension applications and will continue to have H-4 status beyond the expiration date of their EADs will now have their employment authorization automatically extended. The auto-extension of employment authorization will end once the nonimmigrant’s H-4 status expires according to their Form I-94; once the I-765 application is approved or denied; or 180 days from the expiration date on the face of the EAD.

 

To complete the I-9, qualifying H-4 nonimmigrants may provide a combination of documents in lieu of an unexpired EAD, including an expired EAD, I-765 receipt notice evidencing timely filed application, and unexpired Form I-94.

 

Within 120 days, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will amend I-765 receipt notices to detail the EAD auto-extension eligibility for qualifying H-4 nonimmigrants.

 

The second major victory is that USCIS will issue guidance stating that L-2 spouses will have work authorization incident to status. Within 120 days, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will change the Form I-94 to mention L-2 spouse where appropriate. Once CBP updates the Form I-94, it will be available for use as a List C document for I-9 purposes.

 

Further, L-2 spouses who timely file I-765 extension applications and will continue to have L-2 status beyond the expiration date of their EADs will have their employment authorization automatically extended. The auto-extension will end once the nonimmigrant’s L-2 status expires according to their Form I-94; once the I-765 application is approved or denied; or 180 days from the expiration date on the face of the EAD.

 

To complete the I-9, L-2 spouses may provide a combination of documents in lieu of an unexpired EAD, including an expired EAD, I-765 receipt notice evidencing timely filed application, and unexpired Form I-94.

 

USCIS will issue further guidance to employers and benefit granting agencies. Graham Adair will monitor the situation closely for developments. If you are an L-2 or H-4 spouse with a pending I-765 application and you have questions about the implications of the settlement agreement on your EAD processing, please reach out to the Graham Adair attorney handling your case.

 

Please contact your Graham Adair attorney with any specific questions, or contact us at info@grahamadair.com; +1 408 715 7067.

Categories News & Updates

U.S. lifting entry restrictions for vaccinated travelers starting November 8

The White House announced that the U.S. is lifting COVID-19 travel restrictions for fully vaccinated travelers starting November 8, 2021. The announcement applies to both land borders and air travel.

 

The U.S. will admit fully vaccinated foreign air travelers from the 26 Schengen countries in Europe, including France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and Greece, as well as Britain, Ireland, China, India, South Africa, Iran and Brazil. These travelers will be required to present proof of vaccination and a negative COVID test taken no more than 72 hours prior to flying.

 

Beginning November 8, the U.S. will also admit fully vaccinated foreign land travelers crossing into the U.S. from Canada or Mexico. Essential land travelers who were never banned from traveling into the U.S. will be need to be fully vaccinated by January 2022. Land travelers will not need to show a negative COVID test.

 

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is in charge of determining which vaccines qualify. Currently, all FDA approved and authorized vaccines, as well as all vaccines recognized by the World Health Organization, will be accepted.

 

Please contact your Graham Adair attorney with any specific questions, or contact us at info@grahamadair.com; +1 408 715 7067.

Categories News & Updates

U.S. to reopen land borders to fully vaccinated travelers from Canada and Mexico

In March 2020, the United States closed the land border to non-essential travel in an effort to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. On October 12, 2021, the Department of Homeland Security announced that the U.S. is lifting the COVID-19 restrictions starting in November 2021. The U.S. will allow travel for non-essential purposes, including to visit friends and family for tourism, via land and ferry. An exact date in November has not yet been announced. However, it is expected to be announced very soon.

 

Travelers entering the U.S. at the Mexico or Canada border will be questioned by Customs and Border Protection officers about their vaccination status before being allowed to enter. The officers will have the discretion to send travelers to a secondary screening for the vaccination documents to be checked. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to give an update on what sort of proof of vaccination will be accepted.

 

Additionally, beginning in January 2022, the United States will require essential travelers, including commercial drivers, students, and healthcare workers, to show proof of vaccination when crossing land borders.

 

The decision to open the U.S. land border and to require proof of vaccination coincides with the U.S. reopening for foreign air travelers. The White House announced on September 20, 2021 that the U.S. will lift travel restrictions in early November for air travelers from 33 countries including, China, India, Brazil and most of Europe. All non-U.S. air travelers will need to show proof of vaccination and a negative COVID test to enter the U.S. By contrast, land and ferry travelers will not need to provide a negative COVID test result.

 

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the U.S. will accept COVID-19 vaccines from visitors who received vaccines authorized by U.S. regulators or the World Health Organization. Currently, this includes two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna or Oxford-AstraZeneca/Covishield, Sinopharm or Sinovac vaccines, or a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. A remaining question is whether travelers who received mixed doses will be considered fully vaccinated.

 

Please contact your Graham Adair attorney with any questions, or email us at info@grahamadair.com.