USCIS To Suspend Biometrics Requirements for Certain I-539 Applicants

From May 17, 2021, USCIS will suspend the biometrics requirements for the H-4, L-2, E-1, E-2 and E-3 categories of Form I-539 applications. The suspension will be for at least 2 years. USCIS will retain the discretion to require biometrics on a case-by-case basis.

 

The suspension will apply if: 1) the application is pending as of May 17, 2021 and a biometrics appointment notice has not been received; or 2) the application is received by USCIS between May 17, 2021 and the expiration date of the suspension.

 

USCIS has expressed an intention to eliminate the current backlog and to significantly reduce delays in processing times for these applications. The proposal came in a declaration from USCIS Service Center Operation Directorate Associate Director Connie L. Nolan in the pending federal case Edakunni v. Mayorkas.

 

If you have any questions, please contact your Graham Adair attorney.

USCIS Announces End of Enforcement of Public Charge Rule

USCIS has advised that it will immediately stop applying the Public Charge Final Rule to all pending applications and petitions. The previous public charge rule regarding inadmissilbity, in accordance with the 1999 Interim Field Guidance, remains in place.

 

USCIS will no longer apply public benefits conditions to applications or petitions for extension of non-immigrant status or change of non-immigrant status. USCIS will no longer consider an applicant’s receipt of Medicaid (except for long-term institutionalization at the government’s expense), public housing, or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits as part of the public charge inadmissibility determination.

 

In addition, USCIS has removed Form I-944 from its website. Information provided on Form I-944 with currently pending applications will not be considered by the officer adjudicating the case.

 

If you have any questions, please contact your Graham Adair attorney.

New Guidance on Visa Applications for H-4 and L-2 Dependents

Today, the Department of State (DOS) issued a clarification on the June 22 executive order that restricted entry against those applying for H-1B, H-4, L-1, L-2, H-2B, and J visas. As we previously reported, the executive order impacted individuals currently outside the United States who are waiting for U.S. consular posts to reopen in order to apply for visas in one of the newly restricted categories.

 

Today’s clarification by DOS alleviates the burden on some would-be visa applicants. Specifically, H-4 and L-2 dependents can apply for and receive visas if their H-1B or L-1 spouse or parent is currently in the United States.

 

Some families have been separated for months due to the shutdown of U.S. consulates and embassies around the world, and the June 22 executive order appeared to move the finish line out to the end of the year, and potentially longer. But with today’s clarification, some families can now start planning to be reunited in the near future as U.S. consular posts begin the slow process of reopening.

 

Please contact your Graham Adair attorney with any questions.

E.U. Lifting Travel Restrictions for Select Countries; U.S. Travelers Excluded

The E.U.?s European Commission is actively planning to re-open its borders on July 01, 2020 for select countries and have noted countries otherwise not selected will be temporarily barred from entering E.U. member states. The countries that will be allowed in are: Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia, Uruguay, and China (Subject to reciprocity). Notable countries that are not on the list include travelers from the United States, Russia, and Brazil. The E.U. cites COVID-19 concerns as the reason for the temporary policy.

 

It appears that the most recent E.U. directive is an extension of the already-implemented E.U. travel restrictions that took effect on March 17, 2020. Currently and through June 30, 2020, the E.U. and Schengen Associated countries continue to suspend all non-essential travel from third countries into the E.U.+ area. The ?E.U.+ area? includes 30 countries: all 26 E.U. member states (including the UK) as well as the four Schengen Associated states: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland.? Exemptions include all EU citizens, and citizens of the Schengen Associated states, and their family members for the purpose of returning home, and non-EU citizens who are long-term residents in the E.U. The newly implemented entry regulations, that will take effect on July, 01, 2020, lifts the travel restrictions to the above-mentioned countries.

 

The new E.U. directive continues to affect wide-spread travel into the E.U.+ entering from specific countries, including for both personal and business travel, while it exempts student visa holders, highly-skilled non-EU workers, and other work permit categories.

 

Companies should continue to consult with a Graham Adair attorney when coordinating any international travel for their employees to ensure country-specific entry requirements are met. Graham Adair will continue to closely monitor developments and provide updates accordingly.

New Executive Order Further Restricts U.S. Immigration

Today, President Trump issued an executive order further restricting immigration in light of the current Covid-19 pandemic.? This order extends the previous restrictions on new immigrant visas through the end of the year and adds certain nonimmigrant visa classifications to the list.

 

The new executive order will restrict new H-1B, H-2B, J, or L visas, and any dependents accompanying or following to join individuals in those classifications, which includes H-4 and L-2 spouses.? The order goes into immediate effect.

 

Individuals who hold valid H-1B, H-2B, J, or L visas as of today will be allowed to enter the U.S. This order will not impact our ability to file changes of status, extensions of status, change of employer petitions, adjustments of status, or amendments for those who are currently in the U.S.? Largely, this ban on new visas continues the status quo as U.S. consulates around the world continue to be closed and are not currently issuing new visas.

 

This will have an impact on those who are currently outside the U.S. and waiting for the consulates to reopen so that they can apply for visas, and those individuals will likely have to wait until next year to apply for their visas.? There are some limited exceptions to this rule for those who work in national security, health care or medical research directly related to Covid-19, or those who work in the food supply chain.

 

The order contains additional instructions to the secretaries of Homeland Security and Labor to investigate regulatory options to ensure that H-1B petitions and employment-based green card applications do not negatively impact U.S. workers.? We do not have any indication at this point as to what this would look like or when we can expect to see proposed regulations.

 

For further information please contact your Graham Adair attorney.

U.S. Supreme Court Blocks the Trump Administration from Ending DACA

This morning, in a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the DACA program could not be immediately rescinded by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

 

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, shields 1.7 million individuals brought to the United States as children from deportation proceedings and grants them temporary work authorization. It does not provide them a path to any kind of permanent status in the United States.

 

The Court’s decision leaves room for DHS to potentially revoke DACA by demonstrating how it would avoid harming those who have relied on DACA protections against deportation and the ability to work legally. President Trump had said previously that he would develop a different program for these individuals. Nonetheless, this could take several months and at this time it is unclear whether this effort will be undertaken.

 

For the time being, employers can count on maintaining employment for DACA beneficiaries.

 

If you have any questions, contact your Graham Adair representative.

Executive Order Suspending Issuance of Immigrant Visas

Today, President Trump signed an executive order that will temporarily halt the issuance of immigrant visas to individuals outside the United States. The order goes into effect at 11:59 p.m. on April 23, 2020 and will be in effect for 60 days.

 

Immigrant visas are permanent residence visas issued to individuals who are outside of the United States when they apply for permanent residence.? The order is very limited in its scope and only appears to halt the consular processing of immigrant visas.? It does not appear to limit the approval of adjustment of status applications for individuals who are currently in the U.S. and in the green card process.? The order only applies to those who are outside the U.S. and do not currently have a valid immigrant visa or other valid travel document.

 

There are several exceptions to the suspension of issuance of immigrant visas including:

 

  • any lawful permanent resident of the United States;

 

  • anyone seeking to enter the United States on an immigrant visa as a physician, nurse, or other healthcare professional; to perform medical research or other research intended to combat the spread of COVID-19; or to perform work essential to combating, recovering from, or otherwise alleviating the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak, as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their respective designees; and any spouse and unmarried children under 21 years old or any such person who are accompanying or following to join the person;

 

  • any person applying for a visa to enter the United States pursuant to the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program;

 

  • any person who is the spouse of a U.S. citizen;

 

  • any person who is under 21 years old and is the child of a United States citizen, or who is a prospective adoptee seeking to enter the United States pursuant to the IR-4 or IH-4 visa classifications;

 

  • any person whose entry would further important U.S. law enforcement objectives, as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their respective designees, based on a recommendation of the Attorney General or his designee;

 

  • any member of the United States Armed Forces and any spouse and children of a member of the United States Armed Forces;

 

  • any person seeking to enter the United States pursuant to a Special Immigrant Visa in the SI or SQ classification, subject to such conditions as the Secretary of State may impose, and any spouse and children of any such individual; or

 

  • any person whose entry would be in the national interest, as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their respective designees.

 

The order directs the Secretary of State and the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security to advise the President on whether this order should be extended no later than 50 days from now.? Further, they are directed to make other recommendations that the President can take on immigration to help protect U.S. workers.

 

For the time being, this order will largely not impact the clients of Graham Adair.? If you are going through the consular process for your immigrant visa, this will likely mean a delay in the issuance of the visa.? You should check in with your attorney at Graham Adair for further specifics on your situation.

President Trump Provides Additional Details on ?Pause? of Immigration to U.S.

On Tuesday, President Trump announced some details about what will be in an executive order related to U.S. immigration in light of the coronavirus pandemic. While the text of the executive order has yet to be made public, the President indicated that he would “pause” the issuance of green cards for a period of 60 days. This 60-day suspension could be extended depending on conditions at the end of the initial 60-day period.

The action is being described as an attempt to protect U.S. workers from new immigrants taking a diminishing number of open jobs. What is not yet clear is whether this will apply to both consular processing and adjustment of status applications. There also is not any clarity on whether there will be exceptions to the policy. Until we know for certain whether this will apply to would-be immigrants both in as well as outside the U.S., it is difficult to gauge the impact to our clients.

President Trump also indicated that there would be further review into other areas of immigration to determine whether additional restrictions should be implemented. Graham Adair will continue to monitor this situation and assess the impact on our clients. Please check back often for updates. When this policy is made public, we will provide more in-depth analysis.

Trump Announces Plans to Temporarily Stop All Immigration to U.S.

President Trump tweeted late Monday that he will sign an executive order temporarily suspending immigration to the United States. His announcement cited the coronavirus pandemic, as well as the millions who have become unemployed in recent weeks.? There are significant questions that are yet to be answered around this announcement: exactly when and how this will be implemented, who it will cover, and how long it will be in effect.? It does seem to indicate that the President plans to extend immigration restrictions beyond those already in place to travelers coming from most of Europe, China, Canada, Mexico and Iran.

 

Graham Adair will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates here as they become available.?If you have any questions, please contact your Graham Adair representative.

275,000 H-1B Cap Cases Registered

On April 1, 2020, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it had received?approximately 275,000 submissions for H-1B applications in the electronic lottery that was conducted at the end of March.? They reported that 46% of applications?were for individuals who hold advanced U.S. degrees. This was an increase of approximately 74,000 cases over the number that was received?last year in the H-1B cap.

 

In total numbers, this means that beneficiaries had less than a 31% chance of selection. Cases filed under the advanced U.S. degree cap had a higher chance, although we don’t know the total number of these applicants so we cannot say for sure what the likelihood of success was. We estimate that the chances of selection for cases filed under the advanced U.S. degree cap was somewhere between 40% and 50%.

 

It seems that the lower cost threshold of $10 per registration lowered the barrier to entry enough to result in a surge of submissions.

 

Registrations that have not been selected will be held in reserve. Between March 31, 2020 and Oct. 1, 2020, in the event that USCIS needs to select registrations from the reserve to meet the H-1B regular cap and the advanced U.S. degree cap, it may select from registrations held in the reserve to meet such allocations.

 

Graham Adair will be checking unselected cases regularly until USCIS sends out rejection notices. If you have any questions, please contact your Graham Adair representative.

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