Department of State Aust 2017 Visa Bulletin Summary

The Department of State has released the August 2017 Visa Bulletin.  D&S provides a Monthly Summary of the family and employment-based priority dates.  

With respect to Final Action Dates, there is significant retrogression in the EB-2 worldwide category to April 1, 2015.    EB-1 China and EB-1 India remain unchanged at January 1, 2012. EB-2 China progressed by one month to April 22, 2013 and EB-3 China remains unchanged at January 1, 2012.  EB-2 India remains unchanged at July 22, 2008 and EB-3 India progressed by five months to July 15, 2006.  EB-3 worldwide is current. EB-2 Mexico and Philippines have retrogressed to April 1, 2015 and EB-3 Mexico is now current.  EB-3 Philippines has progressed one year to June 1, 2015.

EB-5 for both regional centers and non-regional centers remains current, with the exception of China, which has progressed by one week to June 15, 2014.

Application Filing Dates for EB-1, EB-2 and EB-3 Worldwide are current.  Additionally, Application Filing Dates for China remain unchanged in both the EB-2 and EB-3 categories with EB-2 China at October 1, 2013 and EB-3 China at September 1, 2015.  Similarly, Application Filing Dates for India in the EB-2 category remains unchanged at February 1, 2009.  The EB-3 India category progressed by three months to January 1, 2007.  Application Filing Dates for EB-3 Philippines progressed by six months to January 1, 2016.  Application Filing Dates for EB-5 China remain unchanged at September 1, 2014.

USCIS has announced that both family-based and employment-based adjustment of status applicants must use the Final Action Dates chart in the Department of State Visa Bulletin for August 2017.

D&S Update: Delay of Effective Date of Final Rule on Parole for Start-Up Entrepreneurs

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has issued an update to the Federal Register postponing the effective date of the Final Rule on Parole for Start-Up Entrepreneurs until March 14, 2018.

Prior to the postponement, the rule was set to become effective next week, on July 17, 2017. Once effective, the rule would permit DHS to grant parole to qualified foreign entrepreneurs on a case-by-case basis where the entrepreneur can demonstrate, substantial and demonstrated potential for rapid business growth and job creation and that they would provide a significant public benefit to the United States.

According to DHS, this delay will provide an opportunity to obtain comments from the public regarding a proposal to rescind the rule pursuant to the Trump Administration's January 25, 2017 Executive Order, ‘‘Border Security and Immigration Enforcement". 

Comments are due by August 10, 2017. 

D&S Immigration Update: SCOTUS Partially Lifts Injunction on Trump Administration's Revised Executive Order “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States”

Today, Monday, June 26, 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court announced that it will review the currently pending challenge to the Trump Administration’s Revised Executive Order “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States” this fall. In the interim, the Court announced that the current injunction on the travel ban is too broad and, thus, the Court is allowing the ban to go into effect for foreign nationals from the 6 majority Muslim countries who lack any bona fide relationship to a U.S. person or business interest.

Read More

Department of State July 2017 Visa Bulletin Summary

The Department of State has now released the July 2017 Visa Bulletin.  D&S provides a Monthly Summary of the family and employment-based priority dates.  Application Filing Dates for EB-1, EB-2 and EB-3 Worldwide are current.  Additionally, Application Filing Dates for China remain unchanged in both the EB-2 and EB-3 categories with EB-2 China at October 1, 2013 and EB-3 China at September 1, 2015.  Application Filing Dates for EB-2 India remain unchanged at February 1, 2009 and EB-3 India progressed by nearly six months to October 1, 2006.  Application Filing Dates for EB-3 Philippines remain progressed by one year to July 1, 2015.  Application Filing Dates for EB-5 China remain unchanged at September 1, 2014.

With respect to Final Action Dates, EB-1 China and EB-1 India remain unchanged at January 1, 2012.  EB-2 China advanced by 21 days to March 22, 2013, but EB-3 China retrogressed by about 2.5 years to January 1, 2012.  Both EB-2 and EB-3 India progressed slightly to July 22, 2008 and February 15, 2006 respectively.  

EB-2 Worldwide remains current, while EB-3 Worldwide progressed nearly two months to June 8, 2017.  EB-3 Mexico progressed by approximately two months to June 8, 2017 and EB-3 Philippines advanced by one year to May 15, 2014. EB-5 for both regional centers and non-regional centers remains current, with the exception of EB-5 China, which remains unchanged at June 8, 2014.

As of today, June 13, 2017, USCIS has not advised whether, in July 2017, it will accept adjustment of status applications for family and employment-based petitions based on final action dates or application filing dates.

 

D&S Practice Pointer: Bona Fide Termination of H-1B Employees

Many employers are aware of the fact that they are responsible for the reasonable cost of a H-1B employee's return transportation home if they terminate an employee prior to the expiration of their H-1B petition.  What many employers don't realize is that this requirement is also an important step in effecting a "bona fide" termination of an H-1B employee.  In this post, D&S provides some additional information, details, and guidance on ensuring that H-1B employers effect a bona fide termination of an H-1B employee to reduce the risk that they could be subject to payment of back wages and penalties from the Department of Labor (DOL).

Read More

Department of State June 2017 Visa Bulletin Summary

This week the Department of State released the June 2017 Visa Bulletin.  D&S provides a Monthly Summary of the family and employment-based priority dates.  Application Filing Dates for EB-1, EB-2 and EB-3 Worldwide are current.  Additionally, Application Filing Dates for China remain unchanged in both the EB-2 and EB-3 categories with EB-2 China at October 1, 2013 and EB-3 China at September 1, 2015.  Similarly, Application Filing Dates for India in both the EB-2 and EB-3 categories remain unchanged at February 1, 2009 and April 22, 2006 respectively.  Application Filing Dates for EB-3 Philippines remain unchanged at July 1, 2014.  Application Filing Dates for EB-5 China remain unchanged at September 1, 2014.

With respect to Final Action Dates, there was significant retrogression of nearly 5.5 years for EB-1 China and EB-1 India, with each category retrogressing to January 1, 2012. EB-2 China progressed one month to April 1, 2013 and EB-3 China remains unchanged at October 1, 2014.  EB-2 India progressed slightly to July 1, 2008 and EB-3 India retrogressed by 10 days to May 15, 2005.  EB-3 El Salvador progressed 1 month to April 15, 2017.  Certain Religious Workers are once again current for all groups except Mexico and El Salvador, which are both retrogressed to July 15, 2015.  EB-3 Philippines has progressed 4 months to May 1, 2013.

EB-2 Worldwide remains current and EB-3 Worldwide has progressed one month to April 15, 2017. EB-5 China progressed by one week to June 8, 2014.

As of today, May 9, 2017, USCIS has not advised whether, in June 2017, it will accept adjustment of status applications for family and employment-based petitions based on final action dates or application filing dates.

President Trump Signs Executive Order Titled “Buy American and Hire American”

Today, April 18, 2017, President Trump signed an Executive Order (EO) titled “Buy American and Hire American” with the intent of making changes to the U.S. visa program to protect the jobs of American workers (which includes U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents).

In addition to provisions calling for the enforcement of laws which require, or provide a preference for, the purchase of goods produced in the United States, the EO directs various federal agencies to propose new rules and issue new guidance relating to the administration of the U.S. immigration system in order to protect the interests of U.S. workers. The EO indicated that these “Hire American” provisions are intended to create higher wages and employment rates for U.S. workers and to protect their economic interests.  Of particular note, the EO focuses specifically on reforms to the H-1B visa program, though it remains to be seen whether such reforms, once implemented, would impact other visa categories as well.

Read More

Department of State May 2017 Visa Bulletin Summary

The Department of State has released the May 2017 Visa Bulletin.  D&S provides a Monthly Summary of the family and employment-based priority dates.  The Application Filing date for EB-2 China progressed 7 months to October 1, 2013 and EB-3 China progressed 4 months to September 1, 2015.  The Application Filing date for EB-2 India retrogressed just under 3 months to February 1, 2009 and EB-3 India progressed nearly 10 months to April 22, 2006.  The Application filing date for EB-3 Philippines progressed 10 months to July 1, 2014 and EB-5 China progressed nearly 3 months to September 1, 2014.

The Final Action date for EB-3 Worldwide progressed one month to March 15, 2017.  EB-2 China progressed 24 days to February 8, 2013 and EB-3 China progressed 1.5 months to October 1, 2014.  EB-2 India remains unchanged and EB-3 India progressed 1 day March 25, 2005.  EB-2 Mexico remains current and EB-3 Mexico progressed 1 month to March 15, 2017.  EB-2 Philippines remains current and EB-3 Philippines progressed 3.5 months to January 1, 2013.

All non-regional center EB-5 categories remain current, with the exception of EB-5 China, which progressed 10 days to June 1, 2014.  There are no available EB-5 visas for Regional Center filings in May.

As of today, April 12, 2017, USCIS has not advised whether, in May 2017, it will accept adjustment of status applications for family and employment-based petitions based on final action dates or application filing dates.

D&S Immigration Update - USCIS’s Implementation of Increased H-1B Fraud Detection Practices & Recommended Employer Preparedness Measures

WHAT’S HAPPENING

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) announced on its website that it is taking additional measures to detect and prevent visa fraud and abuse, with specific focus on the H-1B visa.  These measures for part of the Trump Administration’s initiative to put “American Workers First” and will take effect immediately.  In its announcement, USCIS (1) provided clarification the five indicators of fraud and abuse that it will use to assess H-1B violations and (2) outlined several new vehicles for fraud abuse and detection.

Read More

USCIS Announces Further Measures to Detect H-1B Visa Fraud and Abuse

Today, Monday April 3, 2017, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced multiple measures to “deter and detect H-1B visa fraud and abuse,” including targeted site visits and a new avenue for H-1B visa holders and U.S. workers to report potential violations of the H-1B visa program.

Effective immediately, USCIS will also take a more targeted approach when making site visits to H-1B petitioners and the worksites of H-1B employees. USCIS has indicated that the targeted site visits will focus on:

  • Cases where USCIS cannot validate the employer’s basic business information through commercially available data;
  • H-1B-dependent employers (those who have a high ratio of H-1B workers as compared to U.S. workers); and
  • H-1B workers who work offsite at another company or organization’s location.

USCIS will continue to conduct random, unannounced administrative site visits nationwide. However, USCIS has indicated that the addition of these targeted site visits will allow the Agency to focus resources where they believe fraud and abuse of the H-1B program may be more likely to occur.

The Agency further clarified that the site visits are not meant to target nonimmigrant employees for any kind of criminal or administrative action, but rather to identify employers who are abusing the H-1B visa program.

USCIS has also established an email address which will allow individuals (including both American workers and H-1B workers who suspect they or others may be the victim of H-1B fraud or abuse) to submit tips, alleged violations and other relevant information about potential H-1B fraud or abuse.

USCIS Updates H-1B Adjudication Guidance for Computer-Related Occupations

On Friday, March 31, 2017, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)  published a policy memorandum which updates guidance related to determining whether certain computer-related positions qualify as a specialty occupation for H-1B eligibility. This memo rescinds the Agency’s long-standing position that adjudicators should “generally consider the position of programmer to qualify as a specialty occupation,” as outlined in their December 22, 2000 “Guidance memo on H1B computer related positions.”

Read More

State Department Extreme Vetting Cables Call for Tougher Screening of Visa Applicants

Between March 10 and March 17, 2017, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson issued four diplomatic cables to U.S. consular posts instructing consular officials to broadly increase scrutiny of visa applicants.  The cables provide more specific guidance to consular staff regarding implementing President Trump's "extreme vetting" measures for non-citizens entering the United States.

Read More

Department of State April 2017 Visa Bulletin Summary

The Department of State has released the April 2017 Visa Bulletin.  D&S provides a Monthly Summary of the family and employment-based priority dates.  For the employment-based preference categories, Application Filing dates remain unchanged.

EB-2 India and EB-3 India remain unchanged at June 1, 2008 and March 22, 2005  respectively.  EB-2 China, progressed 1 month to January 15, 2013 and EB-3 China progressed 5 months to August 15, 2014.  

Final Action dates for EB-3 Worldwide and EB-3 Mexico progressed 2.5 months to February 15, 2017 and EB-3 Philippines progressed just under 6 months to September 15, 2012.

EB-5 China Final Action dates progressed 3 weeks to May 22, 2014

As of today, March 13, 2017, USCIS has not advised whether, in April 2017, it will accept adjustment of status applications for family and employment-based petitions based on final action dates or application filing dates.


 

D&S Immigration Update Regarding Trump Administration's Revised Executive Order: "Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States"

President Trump has issued a revised version of his judicially-suspended January 27, 2017 Executive Order (EO) titled "Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States". The newly-issued order revokes the earlier EO and will go into effect at 12:01 am on March 16, 2017. Among other changes, the new Order removes Iraq from the list of banned countries and expressly exempts from the 90-day ban visa holders, those lawfully present in the U.S., and lawful permanent residents from the six (6) designated countries. Additionally, in an apparent effort to avoid the widespread confusion and implementation difficulties faced following the issuance of the previous order, the new version is accompanied by a fact sheet and a Q&A provided by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Read More

USCIS Announces Temporary Suspension of Premium Processing for All H-1B Petitions Filed On or After April 3, 2017

Today the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) issued a statement confirming that the agency will be temporarily suspending premium processing service for all H-1B nonimmigrant visa petitions filed on or after April 3, 2017 and has indicated that the temporary suspension may last up to six (6) months.  The agency confirmed that this will apply to all H-1B petitions, including those filed under both the regular and master's cap and those that are cap-exempt.

USCIS indicated that while H-1B premium processing is suspended it will not accept Forms I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service filed with an H-1B petition. USCIS also confirmed that they will reject the entire H-1B petition for cases where the premium processing fee is combined in one check with the standard Form I-129 filing fees.  Therefore, individuals submitting H-1B petitions should not file any cases with a request for premium processing and should issue separate checks for each filing fee in order to avoid any issues with rejection of the petition.

USCIS has indicated that it has temporarily suspended premium processing service in order to reduce overall H-1B processing times, including long-pending cases and unadjudicated H-1B extension requests that are approaching 240 days since filing (after which the beneficiary would lose their automatic extension of employment authorization until the new petition is approved).  The agency confirmed that it will notify the public before resuming premium processing for H-1B petitions.

D&S is continuing to monitor this developing situation and will provide updates as they become available.

D&S Immigration Update: DHS Issues Implementing Memoranda In Response to Immigration Executive Orders

In late January 2017, President Donald J. Trump issued a series of Executive Orders (EOs) dealing with immigration and border security.  In response to these EOs, this week, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has issued several Implementation Memoranda and Fact Sheets to provide additional clarity on how they will implement the President’s directives.

Read More

Department of State March 2017 Visa Bulletin Summary

The Department of State has released the March 2017 Visa Bulletin.  D&S provides a Monthly Summary of the family and employment-based priority dates.  For the employment-based preference categories, Application Filing dates remain unchanged.

EB-3 India remains unchanged at March 22, 2005 and EB-2 India progressed 1.5 months to June 1, 2008.  EB-2 China, progressed 1 month to December 15, 2012 and EB-3 China progressed 5.5 months to March 15, 2014.  

Final Action dates for EB-3 Worldwide and EB-3 Mexico progressed 2 months to December 1, 2016 and EB-3 Philippines progressed just under 5 months to March 15, 2012.

EB-5 China Final Action dates progressed 2 weeks to May 1, 2014

As of today, February 14, 2017, USCIS has not advised whether, in March 2017, it will accept adjustment of status applications for family and employment-based petitions based on final action dates or application filing dates.

 

D&S Immigration Update Regarding Trump Administration's Executive Order: "Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States."

On Friday, January 27, 2017 President Trump signed an Executive Order relating to visa issuance, screening procedures, and the admission of refugees. The Executive Order is titled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States.” Among other immigration restrictions, Section 3 of the Executive Order, "suspends" the immigrant and nonimmigrant entry of nationals from certain designated countries for 90 days from the date of the order. The list of designated countries includes Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. It is important to note that travel will not be automatically reinstated after the 90 day period. Instead, The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will be required to report compliance from each of the countries in providing the information "needed … to determine that the individual seeking [entry to the U.S.] is who the individual claims to be and is not a security or public-safety threat." If DHS reports noncompliance, the country would have an additional 60 days to comply, or the travel ban would become indefinite.

Read More

DHS Releases Final Rule Regarding Parole For Startup Entrepreneurs

This week the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a final regulation providing the Department the discretionary authority to grant parole to entrepreneurs of startup entities in order to increase and enhance entrepreneurship, innovation, and job creation in the United States.

The final rule adds new regulatory provisions which permit DHS to grant parole to qualified foreign entrepreneurs on a case-by-case basis where the entrepreneur can demonstrate, with respect to their startup entity, substantial and demonstrated potential for rapid business growth and job creation and that they would provide a significant public benefit to the United States.

Read More

DHS Announces New Proposed Rule on EB-5 Modernization That Would Significantly Increase the Minimum Investment Amounts

Today the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released an advance copy of their Notice of Proposed Rulemaking entitled “EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program Modernization.” The proposed regulation looks to make several significant changes to the EB-5 program, most notably a significant increase in the minimum investment amounts.  The principal proposed changes would impact both regional center and direct investments.

Read More