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

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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

14 May 2018

Qualifying for EB-2 Beyond the Advanced Degree – Exceptional Ability

There are 5 Employment Based immigrant visa preference categories that individuals may use to obtain lawful permanent residence (green card) in the United States. Frequently, individuals are sponsored for the Employment Based Second Preference category, referred to as “EB-2”.

Often, individuals qualify for the EB-2 category based on a U.S. advanced degree or its foreign equivalent (or a U.S. Bachelor’s degree or foreign equivalent and 5 years of progressive post-baccalaureate experience). Individuals who do not meet the advanced degree requirement are frequently sponsored for an EB-3 immigrant visa, which can mean longer wait times for a green card depending on country of birth. However, there is another option for an individual to qualify for EB-2 without an advanced degree if they meet the exceptional ability requirements.  Continue reading

4 May 2018

Tech Companies Fight Back With Lawsuit Against H-1B Visa Restrictions

On May 1st, a group of small technology companies filed suit in federal court against the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) over a policy memo issued in February 2018, which places greater restrictions on H-1B employers who place employees at third-party work-sites. Continue reading

25 April 2018

Helpful Tips: PERM Labor Certification

There are usually 3 steps to the employment based green card process: (1) PERM Labor Certification, (2) I-140 Immigrant Petition and (3) Adjustment of Status. The PERM Labor Certification process is lengthy and requires careful maneuvering to avoid missteps along the way.

The PERM labor certification is usually the biggest hurdle to clear. So today I want to discuss some helpful tips when working on a PERM application. This list is in no way exhaustive and merely touches the surface of this complicated process. It’s important to understand that the Department of Labor’s (DOL) role in this process is to protect U.S. workers. Keeping this in mind will help you avoid mistakes.  Continue reading

12 April 2018

USCIS Completes H-1B Lottery for FY2019!

USCIS has completed the H-1B cap random selection process. On April 11, USCIS used a computer-generated random selection process, “lottery”, to select enough H-1B petitions to meet the 65,000 congressionally-mandated cap and the 20,000 Masters cap under the advanced degree exemption. USCIS announced that 190,098 H-1B petitions were received in this filing period. For Fiscal Year 2018, 199,000 H-1B petitions were received during the filing period.   Continue reading

6 April 2018

USCIS Announces H-1B Cap Has Been Met for FY2019

USCIS has reached the congressionally-mandated 65,000 H-1B visa cap for fiscal year 2019. USCIS has also received a sufficient number of H-1B petitions to meet the 20,000 visa U.S. advanced degree exemption, known as the master’s cap. USCIS will reject and return filing fees for all unselected cap-subject petitions that are not prohibited multiple filings.

USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions that are otherwise exempt from the cap.  Petitions filed for current H-1B workers who have been counted previously against the cap, and who still retain their cap number, will also not be counted toward the FY 2019 H-1B cap. USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions filed to:

  • Extend the amount of time a current H-1B worker may remain in the United States;
  • Change the terms of employment for current H-1B workers;
  • Allow current H-1B workers to change employers; and
  • Allow current H-1B workers to work concurrently in a second H-1B position.

USCIS encourages H-1B applicants to subscribe to the H-1B Cap Season email updates located on the H-1B Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 Cap Season page.