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

4 August 2018

Qualifying for the Job Using Experience Gained from the Same PERM Employer: Infeasibility to Train Exception

When an employer files a PERM Labor Application, it must demonstrate that the beneficiary fully qualifies for the sponsored position.

Generally if experience is required, a beneficiary cannot use the experience gained with the sponsoring employer to qualify for the sponsored position. But, as with most things, there are exceptions to this rule:  Continue reading

30 July 2018

USCIS Postpones Implementation of Policy Memo on Notices to Appear

USCIS announced today that  it will postpone the implementation of its June 28th policy memo that instructs USCIS officers to issue a Notice to Appear (NTA) for a much wider range of cases. (New USCIS Policy Puts More Foreign Nationals at Risk of being Placed in Removal Proceedings). USCIS was given 30 days from when the policy memo was implemented to provide operational guidance on how to process the issuance of NTAs. As of today, USCIS has not provided that information. Therefore, the implementation of the June 28th policy memo will be postponed until new operational guidance is finalized.

An update on the expected timeline will be provided once that information becomes available.

13 July 2018

USCIS Updates Policy Guidance for Requests for Evidence and Notices of Intent to Deny

On July 13, 2018, USCIS posted an updated policy memorandum that will now give USCIS adjudicators full discretion to deny an application, petition, or request without first issuing a Request for Evidence (RFE) or Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID). This updated guidance is effective September 11, 2018 and will apply to all requests received after this date. Continue reading

13 July 2018

August 2018 Visa Bulletin Released: EB-3 India Now Only 2 Months Behind EB-2

The August 2018 Visa Bulletin has been released by the U.S. Department of State (DOS) with a few notable changes to cutoff dates:  Continue reading

9 July 2018

New USCIS Policy Puts More Foreign Nationals at Risk of being Placed in Removal Proceedings

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued new policy guidance that instructs USCIS officers to issue a Notice to Appear (NTA) for a much wider range of cases. An NTA is a charging document given to a foreign national that begins removal proceedings and instructs the individual to appear before an immigration judge. Although USCIS has the legal authority under current immigration laws to issue NTAs, the agency’s main focus has been to adjudicate immigration benefits. Previously, the USCIS would only issue NTAs under limited circumstances. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) instead relied upon enforcement agencies such as U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to handle NTAs.

The new policy now places more of this responsibility on USCIS and instructs officers to issue an NTA upon denial of an immigration benefit request where the individual is removable. The revised policy generally requires USCIS to issue an NTA in the following types of cases: Continue reading

5 June 2018

USCIS No Longer Accepting EAD Service Requests for Applications Pending More than 75 Days

There have been reports that the USCIS Contact Center is no longer allowing individuals to place service requests for Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, that have been pending for more than 75 days unless the applications are outside of USCIS’s posted processing times. Previously, USCIS had been accepting service requests to inquire about a case for those applications pending more than 75 days, even after the elimination of the 90-day adjudication requirement for EAD applications.
USCIS stated that this change was implemented when its updated processing times webpage went up in March. The new webpage was created to make it easier for individuals to determine processing times and when it is necessary to contact USCIS to inquire about a specific case.

It is suggested that EAD extensions be filed as early as possible within 180 days prior to expiration and that you track I-765 processing times on the USCIS processing times webpage. If the EAD application has been pending beyond the posted processing time, you may then call the USCIS Contact Center or submit an e-Request.

Email: krystal@rnlawgroup.com

Direct: 713-457-5703

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18 May 2018

USCIS Reminds F-1 Students About Actions Warranting Automatic Termination of OPT

On May 18th, USCIS issued a reminder to F-1 Students on Optional Practical Training (OPT) that transferring to another school or beginning study at another educational level automatically terminates the student’s OPT and corresponding Employment Authorization Document (EAD).  Continue reading