Department of State November 2018 Visa Bulletin Summary

The Department of State has released the November 2018 Visa Bulletin. D&S provides a Monthly Summary of the family and employment-based priority dates.

With respect to Final Action Dates, all EB-1 chargeability areas remain unchanged. EB-2 China has progressed by 1.5 months to May 15, 2015, while EB-2 India remains the same. EB-2 across all other areas of chargeability remain current. Likewise, EB-3 Philippines progressed by 7 days to June 8, 2017 and the rest of the EB-3 categories remain unchanged. EB-5 Non-Regional Center is current across all areas of chargeability with the exceptions of China, which remains retrogressed at August 15, 2014, and Vietnam, which has progressed by 1 month to February 1, 2016. Similarly, EB-5 Regional Center is now current across all areas of chargeability with the exceptions of China, which remains retrogressed at August 15, 2014, and Vietnam, which has progressed by 1 month to February 1, 2016.

Application filing dates for all Employment Based categories across all areas of chargeability remain unchanged.

With respect to family-based filings, F1 Worldwide, China and India have progressed to June 22, 2011, while F-1 Mexico remains unchanged and F-1 Philippines progressed to February 1, 2007. All F2A chargeability areas have progressed to September 15, 2016. F2B Worldwide, China and India have progressed to January 1, 2012, with F2B Mexico and F2B Philippines progressing by less than a month to June 8, 1997 and June 1, 2007 respectively. F3 Worldwide, China and India has progressed less than a month to July 8, 2006, while F3 Mexico and F3 Philippines remains unchanged. F4 Worldwide and China have progressed by about 1 month to March 22, 2005. Similarly F4 India has progressed to June 1, 2004. F4 Philippines has progressed by about 1 week to June 15, 1995. F4 Mexico has progressed to February 8, 1998.

Application filing dates for all Family Based categories across all areas of chargeability remain unchanged.

As of today, October 11, 2018, USCIS has not advised whether, in November 2018, it will accept adjustment of status applications for family and employment-based petitions based on final action dates or application filing dates.


FY2020 Diversity Visa Lottery Opens at 12 noon (EDT) On Wednesday, October 3, 2018

WHAT'S HAPPENING

The Fiscal Year 2020 Diversity Visa lottery (DV-2020), which makes 50,000 green card numbers available each year to nationals of countries among six different geographic regions with low rates of immigration to the U.S., will be open for entries beginning noon Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) on Wednesday, October 3, 2018, and will close for entries at noon Eastern Standard Time (EST) on Tuesday, November 6, 2018. Eligible individuals who wish to participate in the program must apply in advance of the November 6th deadline and are encouraged to do as close to October 3rd as possible as heavy demand may result in website delays. No late entries or paper entries will be accepted.

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Administration Aiming to Restrict Green Card Eligibility for Those on Public Aid

On Saturday, September 22, 2018, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) formally announced that it intends to introduce a notice of proposed rulemaking titled “Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds” to amend the regulations governing “public charge” determinations for individuals applying for U.S. permanent residence (“green cards”). In the notice DHS states that the proposed rule is intended to provide a standard for determining whether an applicant for a green card is likely at any time to become a public charge (e.g., that they will be unable to financially support themselves while in the U.S.) and seeks to provide a more comprehensive framework under which the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) will consider public charge inadmissibility.

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Department of State October 2018 Visa Bulletin Summary

The Department of State has released the October 2018 Visa Bulletin. D&S provides a Monthly Summary of the family and employment-based priority dates.

Final action dates for EB-1 China and EB-1 India have progressed by 4.5 years to June 1, 2016. All other EB-1 areas of chargeability have progressed by 8 months to April 1, 2017. EB-2 China and EB-2 India have each progressed by a little over 2 years to April 1, 2015 and March 26, 2009 respectively. EB-3 China has progressed by 7 months to June 1, 2015, while EB-3 India has progressed by 6 years to January 1, 2009. EB-3 Philippines has progressed by 7 months to June 1, 2017. Other Workers China remains unchanged, while Other Workers India has progressed by 6 years to January 1, 2009. EB-4 El Salvador/Guatemala/Honduras remains unchanged, while EB-4 Mexico has progressed by approximately 8 months to October 22, 2016. Certain Religious Workers are now unavailable across all areas of chargeability, as is EB-5 Regional Center. EB-5 Non-Regional Center China has progressed by 1 week to August 15, 2014 and EB-5 Non-Regional Center Vietnam has progressed by approximately 1.5 years to January 1, 2016. All other Employment Based categories across all areas of chargeability are now current.

F1 Worldwide, China and India have progressed to June 1, 2011, while F-1 Mexico and F-1 Philippines remain unchanged. Likewise, F2A Worldwide, China and India have progressed by 1 month to August 22, 2016, and F2A Mexico and F2A Philippines have progressed to August 1, 2016 and August 22, 2016 respectively. F2B Worldwide, China and India have progressed by 3 weeks to November 22, 2011, with F2B Mexico and F2B Philippines progressing by less than a month to May 15, 1997 and May 15, 2007 respectively. F3 Worldwide, China and India has progressed by 1.5 months to June 15, 2006, while F3 Philippines has progressed by 1 week to June 8, 1995. F3 Mexico remains unchanged. F4 Worldwide and China have progressed by about 1 month to February 15, 2005. Similarly F4 India has progressed to May 1, 2004. F4 Mexico and F4 Philippines have progressed by about 1 week to January 22, 1998 and June 8, 1995 respectively.

Application filing dates for EB-1 China and EB-1 India have retrogressed to October 1, 2017 and EB-1 for all other areas of chargeability has retrogressed to June 1, 2018. EB-2 China has progressed by 2.5 months to June 15, 2015 but EB-3 China has retrogressed by approximately 4 months to August 8, 2015. EB-3 India has progressed by 4 months to October 1, 2009, as has Other Workers India. All other Employment Based categories across all areas of chargeability remain unchanged.

Application filing dates for F1 Mexico have progressed to October 8, 1998. F2B Mexico has progressed by approximately 2 weeks to June 22, 1997. F3 Worldwide, China and India have progressed by nearly 4 months to January 8, 2007, while F3 Mexico has progressed by approximately 2 months to December 22, 1998. Similarly, F3 Philippines has progressed by more than 1 year to June 1, 1997. F4 Worldwide, China and India have progressed by 1 month to June 1, 2005, while F4 Mexico has progressed by 3 weeks to June 22, 1998, and F4 Philippines has progressed by 4 months to April 8, 1996. All other categories across all areas of chargeability remain unchanged.

As of today, September 13, 2018, USCIS has not advised whether, in October 2018, it will accept adjustment of status applications for family and employment-based petitions based on final action dates or application filing dates.


USCIS Extends and Expands Temporary Suspension of Premium Processing

USCIS announced that it will be expanding the temporary suspension of premium processing for H-1B petitions.  As, background on March 20, 2018, USCIS announced that it was temporarily suspending premium processing service for cap-subject H-1B petitions for FY2019. At that time, the Agency indicated that premium processing service was expected to  resume for these petitions on September 10, 2018.

Today, however, USCIS announced that premium processing for H-1B cap petitions will not resume on September 10th and, rather, USCIS will be expanding the suspension to apply to other H-1B petitions, including petition amendments and change of employer requests filed on or after September 11, 2018. The update also suggests USCIS might refund premium processing fees and proceed with standard process for cases filed before the new suspension becomes effective but which remain pending beyond this date.  Premium processing service will remain available to H-1B extension requests where there is no change in the petitioning employer as well as to petitions filed by certain qualifying cap-exempt non-profits and research organizations.

For impacted cases filed during the suspension, note that USCIS will still review and consider expedite requests if they meet the agency’s standard Expedite Criteria. However, expedited processing does not guarantee a certain processing timeline and is entirely discretionary.

USCIS has stated that it expects this expanded premium processing suspension to continue until February 19, 2019 and D&S will closely monitor this.  

USCIS Dials Back New Policy Limiting STEM OPT to In-House Employment

Earlier this year, USCIS updated its STEM OPT website with a more narrow interpretation of the STEM OPT regulations, indicating that all STEM OPT training must take place on-site at the employer’s place of business, thereby limiting an employer's ability to place STEM OPT workers at third-party worksites.  However, the STEM OPT website has once again been updated and USCIS appears to have scaled back this new interpretation. The most recent update removed the the pertinent language from the earlier update which suggested that off-site placement, including placement at a client site, was prohibited. The website now clarifies that employers are not prohibited from placing F-1 workers on STEM OPT at third-party worksites provided that a bona fide employer-employee relationship exists and all other STEM OPT training obligations are met.

More specifically, the updated guidance makes clear that, where an employer and the F-1 student working pursuant to STEM OPT have a valid employer-employee relationship, and that same employer provides the practical training experience and signs the STEM training plan, third party placement would not be prohibited under the STEM OPT regulations.

Employers and employees should continue to ensure all training and reporting obligations are met and F-1 students are reminded that status violations or a failure to maintain their status will result in the accrual of Unlawful Presence under USCIS’s new policy.

Department of State September 2018 Visa Bulletin Summary

The Department of State has released the September 2018 Visa Bulletin.  D&S provides a Monthly Summary of the family and employment-based priority dates.  

EB-1, EB-2, and EB-3 Worldwide will no longer be current in September, retrogressing to June 1, 2016, January 1, 2013, and November 1, 2016 respectively. They are expected to become progress or become current again at the start of the new fiscal year in October.  EB-1 China remains unchanged, EB-2 China retrogressed more than 2 years to January 1, 2013, and EB-3 China progressed 4 months to November 1, 2014. EB-1 India remained unchanged, EB-2 India retrogressed more than 2 years to January 1, 2007, and EB-3 India retrogressed 6 years to January 1, 2003.  EB-5 regional center and non-regional center filings remain current except for China and Vietnam, both of which progressed one week to April 8, 2014.

Application Filing Dates remain unchanged across all areas of chargeability for September 2018, with exception of F2B Worldwide, China and India, which progressed over 2 years from January 8, 2012 to March 22, 2014.

As of today, August 9, 2018, USCIS has not advised whether, in September 2018, it will accept adjustment of status applications for family and employment-based petitions based on final action dates or application filing dates.

 

USCIS Delays Implementation of NTA Policy Memo

USCIS has announced that the Policy Memorandum (PM) titled “Updated Guidance for the Referral of Cases and Issuance of Notices to Appear (NTAs) in Cases Involving Inadmissible and Deportable Aliens”  which directs USCIS to issue Notices to Appear (NTAs) when denying certain applications for benefits has been temporarily suspended in order to allow for the issuance of operational guidance regarding implementation of the new policy.

USCIS did not provide a timeline for when the NTA Issuance policy will ultimately become effective and D&S will continue to monitor this situation closely.

UPDATE: On September 26, 2018 USCIS announced that it would be rolling out implementation of the NTA Policy Memo starting on October 1, 2018, after which time USCIS may issue NTAs on denied status-impacting applications, including but not limited to, Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, and Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status.

USCIS has indicated that it will send denial letters for status-impacting applications that ensures applicants are given adequate notice when an application for a benefit is being denied. If applicants are no longer in a period of authorized stay, and do not depart the United States, USCIS has stated that it may issue an NTA.

USCIS has further stated that the NTA Policy Memo will not be implemented with respect to employment-based petitions and humanitarian applications and petitions at this time. Existing guidance for these case types will remain in effect.

USCIS Grants Adjudicators Full Discretion to Deny Filings Without Issuing a Request for Evidence

Today, Friday, June 13, 2018 U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) posted a policy memorandum (PM) that provides 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) when required initial evidence was not submitted or the evidence of record fails to establish eligibility.

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Department of State August 2018 Visa Bulletin Summary

The Department of State has released the August 2018 Visa Bulletin.  D&S provides a Monthly Summary of the family and employment-based priority dates.  

The EB-1 category has retrogressed by more than two years to May 1, 2016 for all areas of chargeability with the exception of EB-1 China and EB-1 India, which remain unchanged. EB-2 China has progressed by 2 months to March 1, 2015. EB-3 China has progressed by 1.5 years to July 1, 2014, while EB-3 India and Other Workers India have progressed by 2 months to January 1, 2009. EB-4 India and Certain Religious Workers India have retrogressed by just under 2 years to February 8, 2016. All other categories remain unchanged across all areas of chargeability.

Application Filing Dates remain unchanged across all areas of chargeability for August 2018.

As of today, July 13, 2018, USCIS has not advised whether, in August 2018, it will accept adjustment of status applications for family and employment-based petitions based on final action dates or application filing dates.

 

USCIS Policy Memo Expands USCIS's Ability to Place Foreign Nationals in Removal Proceedings

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) recently issues a new Policy Memorandum (PM) titled Updated Guidance for the Referral of Cases and Issuance of Notices to Appear (NTAs) in Cases Involving Inadmissible and Deportable Aliens.”  This new guidance stems from the January 25, 2017 Executive Order “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States” and it seeks to expand the instances in which USCIS must issue Notices to Appear (NTAs) when denying certain applications for benefits, such as requests for extensions of status, changes of status, and adjustment of status.  

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Department of State July 2018 Visa Bulletin Summary

The Department of State has released the July 2018 Visa Bulletin.  D&S provides a Monthly Summary of the family and employment-based priority dates.  

With respect to Final Action Dates, EB-1 China and EB-1 India will both retrogress significantly to January 1, 2012. EB-2 China has progressed by 4 months to January 1, 2015. EB-3 China has retrogressed by nearly 2.5 years to January 1, 2013.  EB-2 India has progressed by nearly 2.5 months to March 15, 2009. EB-3 India and Other Workers India have both progressed by 5 months to November 1, 2008. EB-4 El Salvador/Guatemala/Honduras and Religious Workers El Salvador/Guatemala/Honduras have each progressed by nearly 2 months to February 8, 2016. EB-4 Mexico and Religious Workers Mexico have retrogressed by 8 months to February 8, 2016. All other categories remain unchanged across all areas of chargeability.

With respect to Application Filing Dates, EB-2 China has progressed by 2 months to April 1, 2015, and EB-2 India has progressed nearly 2 months to May 22, 2009. EB-3 India and Other Workers India have each progressed by 8 months to May 1, 2009. EB-4 El Salvador/Guatemala/Honduras and Religious Workers El Salvador/Guatemala/Honduras have both progressed by two weeks to May 1, 2016. EB-5 China has progressed by 1 month to October 1, 2014 for both Regional Centers and Non-Regional Centers. All other categories remain unchanged across all areas of chargeability.

As of today, June 15, 2018, USCIS has not advised whether, in July 2018, it will accept adjustment of status applications for family and employment-based petitions based on final action dates or application filing dates.

 

USCIS Announces that Data Entry for all FY2019 H-1B Cap Cases is Complete

USCIS has confirmed that data entry for all fiscal year 2019 H-1B cap-subject petitions selected in the computer-generated random selection process ("the lottery") has been completed. The Agency will now begin returning all H-1B cap-subject petitions that were not selected in the lottery. 

USCIS has indicated that, due to the high volume of H-1B filings, the Agency cannot provide a definite time frame for returning unselected petitions but that they will issue an announcement once all the unselected petitions have been returned. 

USCIS Policy Memo on Accrual of Unlawful Presence and F, J and M Nonimmigrants

On May 11, 2018, United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) posted a draft policy memorandum announcing a change in policy regarding the accrual of Unlawful Presence by Nonimmigrant Students and Exchange Visitors.

The policy seeks to change how USCIS will calculate unlawful presence for students and exchange visitors in F, J, and M nonimmigrant status (including F-2, J-2, or M-2 dependents) who fail to maintain their status in the United States.

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Department of State June 2018 Visa Bulletin Summary

The Department of State has released the June 2018 Visa Bulletin.  D&S provides a Monthly Summary of the family and employment-based priority dates.  

With respect to Final Action Dates, EB-2 India has progressed by 4 days to December 26, 2008. Similarly, EB-5 China and EB-5 Vietnam have progressed slightly to August 1, 2014 for both regional centers and non-regional centers. All other categories remain unchanged across all areas of chargeability.

Application Filing Dates for all categories and across all areas of chargeability are unchanged in June 2018.

As of today, May 10, 2018, USCIS has not advised whether, in June 2018, it will accept adjustment of status applications for family and employment-based petitions based on final action dates or application filing dates.

 

USCIS Letter to Senator Grassley Provides Details of Planned Immigration Regulatory Changes on the Horizon

On April 4, 2018, United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) Director L. Francis Cissna wrote a letter to Senator Charles Grassley, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, to provide him with an update on measures USCIS is taking to improve the integrity of the nonimmigrant employment visa program following the April 18, 2017 “Buy American, Hire American” Executive Order.  Director Cissna indicated that changes have and will continue to be made in the form of regulations, policy memoranda, and operational changes.

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USCIS Narrows Interpretation of STEM OPT Regs to Permit Only In-House Employment

USCIS recently updated its STEM OPT website with what appears to be a new interpretation of the 2016 STEM OPT regulations.  More specifically, the 2016 STEM OPT regulations added more formality to the STEM OPT process, requiring employers and students to execute a formal training plan (Form I-983) outlining the training provided and establishing the existence of a bona-fide employer-employee relationship between the employer and the STEM OPT student.  

USCIS’s new regulatory interpretation focuses on the nature of the bona fide employer-employee relationship and now requires all STEM OPT training to take place on-site at the employer’s place of business.  

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Department of State May 2018 Visa Bulletin Summary

The Department of State has released the May 2018 Visa Bulletin.  D&S provides a Monthly Summary of the family and employment-based priority dates.  

With respect to Final Action Dates, the EB-1 category remains unchanged across all areas of chargeability. Similarly, EB-2 remains unchanged across all areas of chargeability, with the exception of EB-2 China, which has progressed by 1 month to September 1, 2014. EB-3 India has progressed by 3 months to May 1, 2008. All other areas of chargeability remain unchanged. Other Workers China and Other Workers India have progressed to May 1, 2007 and May 1, 2008 respectively. All other areas of chargeability remain unchanged. Similarly, EB-4 remains unchanged across all areas of chargeability with the exception of EB-4 Mexico, which has progressed slightly more than 2 months to October 22, 2016. Certain Religious Workers are now current across all areas of chargeability, with the exception of El Salvador/Guatemala/Honduras, which is retrogressed to December 15, 2015, and Mexico, which is retrogressed to October 22, 2016. EB-5 for non-regional centers remains unchanged with the exception of EB-5 Vietnam, which is now retrogressed to July 22, 2014. EB-5 for regional centers is now current across all areas of chargeability, with the exceptions of EB-5 China and EB-5 Vietnam, which are both retrogressed to July 22, 2014.

Application Filing Dates for all categories and across all areas of chargeability are unchanged in May 2018, with the exceptions of EB-2 India, which has progressed 2 months to April 1, 2009, EB-3 India, which has progressed 5 months to September 1, 2008, and Other Workers India, which has progressed 5 months to September 1, 2008.

As of today, April 12, 2018, USCIS has not advised whether, in May 2018, it will accept adjustment of status applications for family and employment-based petitions based on final action dates or application filing dates.

 

USCIS Announces FY2019 H-1B Cap has Been Reached

USCIS has confirmed that the H-1B cap has been reached for both Bachelor's and Master's filings. This is of course not unexpected and we will be providing updates as they become available, including information on how many applications were filed this year and the expected timeline for notification of accepted petitions.

As a reminder, the agency will reject and return filing fees for all unselected cap-subject petitions (with the exception of fees for cases rejected as prohibited multiple filings).

UPDATE: On April 11, 2018, USCIS announced that it has completed the random lottery selection process and that 190,098 cases were received this fiscal year.