30 November 2018

Proposed Changes to the H-1B Lottery Process Released

DHS has released its notice of proposed rule-making that will bring major changes to the H-1B lottery process. DHS expects the new rule to be implemented in time for the upcoming cap-season.  Continue reading

27 November 2018

Fiscal Year 2018 PERM Statistics Released: PERM Labor Certification Filings Remain Steady

The Department of Labor (DOL) released PERM statistics for Fiscal Year 2018 (FY 2018), indicating that filed PERM Labor applications remained steady with only a slight drop, and India continued to top the list of PERM Labor applications certified that year.  Continue reading

22 October 2018

DHS’s Fall 2018 Regulatory Agenda Provides a Glimpse of What’s to Come for Employment Based Immigration

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released its Fall 2018 Regulatory Agenda outlining regulations that administrative agencies plan to take action on in the near future.  The Fall 2018 agenda gives us a glimpse into the expected regulatory changes for employment based immigration: Continue reading

26 September 2018

USCIS Will Begin Implementing New Policy Memorandum on Notices to Appear

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that on October 1, 2018, the agency will begin gradually implementing the June 28th policy guidance that instructs USCIS officers to issue Notices to Appear (NTA) for a much wider range of cases. If you recall, on July 30, 2018, USCIS announced that is would postpone implementation of the updated guidance until operational guidance was finalized.  Continue reading

24 September 2018

Impact of Extended Premium Processing Suspension on F-1 Students in the Cap-Gap

With October 1st quickly approaching, F-1 students currently in the cap-gap should be aware of how they may be impacted by the extended premium processing suspension for H-1B cap-subject petitions, that is expected to last until February 19, 2019. Here’s why:  Continue reading

8 September 2018

Strict Employer Compliance Is Key as I-9 Audits Dramatically Increase

Under federal law, U.S. employers are required to verify the identity and employment authorization of all hired workers. This verification process requires a new hire to complete Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification and submit certain documentation proving employment authorization. Proper employment verification helps ensure that employers do not fall victim to hiring or retaining “unauthorized” workers. It is crucial for employers to maintain strict compliance with all I-9 rules and procedures, especially as we see I-9 audit numbers dramatically increase under the Trump administration. Continue reading

31 August 2018

USCIS Increases Premium Processing Fee, Effective October 1st, 2018

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that effective October 1st, 2018, it will increase the premium processing fee from $1,225 to $1,410. The premium processing fee was last adjusted in 2010 and is now being increased to account for inflation.   Continue reading

28 August 2018

USCIS Strikes Again! USCIS Extends and Expands Premium Processing Suspension for H-1B Petitions

Today USCIS announced its plan to extend the current temporary suspension of premium processing for cap-subject H-1B petitions, which initially went into effect on April 02, 2018. Further, beginning September 11, 2018, USCIS will expand this suspension to include certain additional H-1B petitions. These suspensions are expected to last until February 19, 2019.  Continue reading

17 August 2018

USCIS Backtracks its STEM OPT Policy Regarding Third Party Placement

USCIS has issued the following press release on August 17th clarifying issues regarding third party placement for STEM OPT students:

“USCIS is updating the Optional Practical Training Extension for STEM Students (STEM OPT) page of our website to clarify the reporting responsibilities for participating in the STEM OPT program. Students and employers must report material changes to the Designated School Official (DSO) at the earliest opportunity by submitting a modified Form I-983. Employers must report the STEM OPT student’s termination of employment or departure to the DSO within five business days. As previously indicated on the webpage, students must report certain changes, such as changes to their employer’s name and address, to their DSO within 10 business days. Prompt reporting ensures that Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is able to exercise effective oversight of the program.

Additionally, DHS is clarifying that STEM OPT participants may engage in a training experience that takes place at a site other than the employer’s principal place of business as long as all of the training obligations are met, including that the employer has and maintains a bona fide employer-employee relationship with the student. DHS will review on a case-by-case basis whether the student will be a bona fide employee of the employer signing the Training Plan, and verify that the employer that signs the Training Plan is the same entity that employs the student and provides the practical training experience.” 

Although restrictions still apply, it is a major shift from its previous stance on third party placement for STEM OPT students. Under the previous guidance provided on the USCIS website, the employer could not fulfill its training obligation by having the student perform work for the employer at a third party client location. This caused major issues for those students already engaged in this type of training arrangement, especially in light of the unlawful presence memo issued this year. With this updated guidance, those STEM OPT students engaged in training with an employer that takes place at a third party location can breathe a sigh of relief so long as the current training guidelines are followed.


10 August 2018

USCIS Issues Final Guidance on How Unlawful Presence Will Accrue for F, J, and M Nonimmigrants

On August 9th, 2018 at 10pm EST, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued the final policy memorandum that changes how unlawful presence will be calculated for those in F, J, and M status. The guidance was published after considering feedback received during a 30-day public comment period. The final version of the memo provides the same guidance as the original memo with one change. Continue reading