Department of State March 2019 Visa Bulletin Summary

The Department of State has released the March 2019 Visa Bulletin. D&S provides a Monthly Summary of the employment-based priority dates.

With respect to Final Action Dates, EB-1 China and EB-1 India progressed by two weeks to February 22, 2017. All other EB-1 categories progressed by 1 month to January 1, 2018. EB-2 China progressed by 3 months to January 01, 2016 and EB-2 India progressed by only 3 days to April 9, 2009. All other EB-2 chargeability areas remain current. EB-3 Philippines progressed by 4 months to December 1, 2017. EB-3 India and EB-3 China progressed to May 22, 2009 and July 08, 2015 respectively. All other EB-3 areas of chargeability remain current. EB-5 Regional Center is currently unavailable. EB-5 Regional Center final action dates are current with the exception of China and Vietnam, which remain backlogged at September 8, 2014 and July 15, 2016 respectively.

Application filing dates for EB-1, EB-2 and EB-3 workers across all areas of chargeability remain unchanged, except for EB-2 China which progressed by 6 months to May 01, 2016 and EB-3 Philippines which progressed by 5 months to March 01, 2018. Application filing dates for EB-5 Regional Center and Non-Regional Center remain current with the exception of China, which remains backlogged at October 1, 2014.

As of today, February 15, 2019, USCIS has advised that in March 2019 it will accept adjustment of status applications for employment-based petitions based on final action dates and family-based petitions based on application filing dates.

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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USCIS Issues New Policy Memo on Third Party Placement for H-1B Petitioners

This week the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) issued a new Policy Memorandum (PM) titled “Contracts and Itineraries Requirements for H-1B Petitions Involving Third-Party Worksites” which increases the amount and type of documentation that must be submitted in support of H-1B petitions involving third-party worksite placement (H-1B petitions in which the the H-1B beneficiary will be employed at the worksite of a third-party client).  Common examples of such placements include consultants placed at a client site in order to provide consulting services, certain staffing agencies/IT service vendors, and some subcontractor arrangements.

The PM supersedes prior policy memoranda on this issue and clarifies and consolidates the documentary requirements for H-1B petitioners submitting petitions for third-party placement. The PM makes clear that such petitions must include additional documentation, namely contracts and itineraries, showing that the beneficiary will be employed in a specialty occupation and that the petitioner will maintain an employer-employee relationship with the beneficiary throughout the requested petition validity period.

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Impact of Potential Government Shutdown on U.S. Immigration Services

Following the passage of several continuing resolutions, Congress now has until midnight tonight (January 19, 2018) to pass a spending bill or another continuing resolution to keep the Federal government funded.  If Congress is not able to come to an agreement this would result in a government shutdown that would impact several government agencies responsible for administering parts of various immigration and visa programs.  While the situation continues to develop, we outline below the impact of a government shutdown on the various Federal immigration functions should Congress fail to take action prior to the deadline:

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Media Reports Suggest Changes to AC-21

1/9/2018 UPDATE: USCIS has confirmed with news sources that it is NOT currently considering changing its interpretation of AC-21.

Media reports have been circulating which suggested that new regulations eliminating H-1B extensions beyond the six-year limit under The American Competitiveness in the 21st Century Act (AC-21) may be proposed.

While D&S is closely monitoring the situation, it is important to stress that as today, January 8, 2018, these reports remain unsubstantiated.  At this point, there has been no confirmation from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) or any other government agency that the current administration is planning to take action to restrict or eliminate AC-21 benefits. Note that it would be unlikely and difficult for DHS to implement this change without going through the formal rulemaking process, which can take several months and requires a period of public notice and comment. Further, as of today, no rules have been proposed and no AC-21 related immigration rules appear on the agency’s recently-published regulatory agenda. Therefore, individuals with approved I-140 petitions or labor certifications filed more than one year before their final date in H-1B status continue to be eligible for H-1B extensions beyond the six-year limit at this time.

Again, D&S continues to review and monitor all actual proposed changes and will be updating clients in the coming days, weeks and months as any proposed immigration-related regulatory changes are introduced and reviewed.

 

 

USCIS To Resume In-Person Interviews For Employment-Based AOS Applicants Starting October 1, 2017

On August 28, 2017, United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) announced on its website that, starting October 1, 2017, the agency will require applicants for employment-based adjustment of status (“green cards”) to appear for an in-person interview at a local USCIS office as part of the green card adjudication process.

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The RAISE ACT (Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment)

Today, August 2, 2017, Republican Senators Tom Cotton (Arkansas) and David Perdue (Georgia), with the support of President Trump, announced the Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment (RAISE) Act, a bill which would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act and implement significant changes to the current U.S. immigration system.

The RAISE Act primarily focuses on significant reforms to the bases for immigrant visa (“green card”) eligibility. In addition to provisions eliminating the Diversity Immigrant Visa program and limiting the number of refugees admitted to the U.S. to 50,000 per year, the RAISE Act would replace the current employment-based preference system with a points-based system and would eliminate some of the current family-based green card categories.

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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.

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Department of State July 2016 Visa Bulletin Summary

The Department of State released the July 2016 Visa Bulletin this week.  D&S provides a Monthly Summary of the family and employment-based priority dates.  For the second and third employment-based preference categories, Application Filing dates remained unchanged.

There was modest forward movement of 1 month for both EB-2 and EB-3 India.  EB-2 and EB-3 China, which both both experienced significant retrogression last month, remain unchanged with priority dates for both categories remaining at January 1, 2010.

Final Action dates for EB-3 Worldwide and EB-3 Mexico each progressed 2 weeks and EB-3 Philippines progressed 3.5 months.

Notably, EB-5 China Final Action dates remained unchanged at February 15, 2014.

Today USCIS posted an announcement on its website informing family-based and employment-based adjustment of status applicants that they must use the "Application Final Action Dates" chart in the DOS Visa Bulletin for July 2016.