DHS Extends Form I-9 Requirement Flexibility (Effective September 1, 2021)

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced an extension of the flexibility in complying with requirements related to Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, due to COVID-19.

This temporary guidance was set to expire August 31, 2021. Because of ongoing precautions related to COVID-19, DHS has extended the Form I-9 requirement flexibility policy until December 31, 2021.

See the original ICE news release from March 23, 2020 for more information on how to obtain, remotely inspect, and retain copies of the identity and employment eligibility documents to complete Section 2 of Form I-9. Please also consult ICE’s guidance for clarification on this provision.

Employers must monitor the DHS and ICE’s Workforce Enforcement announcements about when the extensions end and normal operations resume.

E-Verify participants who meet the criteria and choose the remote inspection option should continue to follow current guidance and create cases for their new hires within three business days from the date of hire. Please see COVID-19 webpage for more information.

Starting October 1, 2021 COVID-19 Vaccinations Will be Required for Applicants Applying for Lawful Permanent Residence or Refugee Status, with some exceptions.

The entire vaccine series (1 or 2 doses depending on formulation) must be completed in addition to the other routinely required vaccinations. Please go to https://www.cdc.gov/immigrantrefugeehealth/civil-surgeons/covid-19-technical-instructions.html for details.

Temporary Extension of Form I-693 Validity and USCIS Filing Recommendation to File Form I-485 and Form I-693 at the Same Time

USCIS issued good news on Medical Exam validity today (8/12/2021)

USCIS is on track to approve more employment-based adjustment of status applications than it has since FY 2005.  We have prioritized employment-based adjustment of status applications during every step of its processing and adjudication during this fiscal year. We continue to make processing and resource allocation decisions to increase the pace of adjudications and limit the potential for employment-based visa numbers to go unused.

If you are applying for adjustment of status to that of a lawful permanent resident with USCIS (also known as applying for a Green Card), please file Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record, together with Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. Doing so may eliminate the need for us to issue a Request for Evidence (RFE) and helps avoid adjudication delays.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and related processing delays, USCIS has experienced delays in all aspects of operations. Applicants have also experienced difficulties beyond their control, including delays with completing the immigration medical examination.  To address these issues, USCIS is temporarily extending the validity period of an otherwise valid Form I-693.

Effective Aug. 12, 2021, USCIS is temporarily extending the validity period for Form I-693 from 2 years to now 4 years. For decisions on Form I-485 issued on or before Sept. 30, 2021, the adjudicating officer may accept an otherwise valid Form I-693, if no more than four years have passed since the civil surgeon’s signature. The officer may accept for consideration a Form I-693 for a decision issued on or before Sept. 30, 2021 if:

  • The civil surgeon’s signature is dated no more than 60 days before the applicant filed Form I-485;
  • No more than four years have passed since the date of the civil surgeon’s signature; and
  • A decision on Form I-485 is issued on or before Sept. 30, 2021.

Summary
You are not required to file the Form I-693 at the same time you file Form I-485, and many applicants bring their completed Form I-693 to their interview. However, some applications may not require an interview. USCIS makes decisions to waive interviews on a case-by-case basis. Therefore, to help save time and avoid adjudication delays, please file Form I-485 and Form I-693 at the same time. It is also important to note that the date of the civil surgeon’s signature on the Form I-693 must be no more than 60 days before the date you file Form I-485 in order to retain its validity, regardless of whether you submit Form I-693 with your Form I-485 or after you file your Form I-485.

USCIS 5/3/2021 ANNOUNCEMENT REGARDING FORM I-539 BIOMETRICS!

The biometrics requirement for certain I-539 applicants will be suspended for a two-year period beginning May 17, 2021. The biometrics suspension will apply to the H-4, L-2, and E-1, E-2, and E-3 categories of Form I-539 applications if they are (1) pending on May 17, 2021, and have not yet received a biometric services appointment notice, or (2) are new applications received by USCIS from May 17, 2021, through May 17, 2023.

 

The $85 biometrics fee will not be required during this period. USCIS will not refund any biometrics fees already paid to USCIS.

This is extremely welcome news!

FY2022 H-1B CAP UPDATE – 3/29/2021

USCIS began notifying registrants of cap selection on Saturday, March 27, 2021. The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) has asked USCIS to confirm if USCIS has completed its first round of notifications.  Although USCIS did not confirm either way, USCIS did inform AILA that the agency plans to send out formal communications to inform the public regarding if and when the selection period has closed and that stakeholders should see communications regarding this update from USCIS in the coming days.

H-1B FY2022 CAP UPDATE: H-1B Initial Electronic Registration Selection Process Completed

USCIS has received enough electronic registrations during the initial registration period to reach the fiscal year (FY) 2022 H-1B numerical allocations (H-1B cap) including the advanced degree exemption (master’s cap). We randomly selected from among the registrations properly submitted to reach the cap. We have notified all prospective petitioners with selected registrations that they are eligible to file an H-1B cap-subject petition for the beneficiary named in the applicable selected registration.

Registrants’ online accounts will now show one of the following statuses for each registration (that is, for each beneficiary registered):

  • Submitted: The registration has been submitted and is eligible for selection. If the initial selection process has been completed, this registration remains eligible, unless subsequently invalidated, for selection in any subsequent selections for the fiscal year for which it was submitted.
  • Selected: Selected to file an H-1B cap petition.
  • Denied: Multiple registrations were submitted by or on behalf of the same registrant for the same beneficiary. If denied as a duplicate registration, all registrations submitted by or on behalf of the same registrant for this beneficiary for the fiscal year are invalid.
  • Invalidated-Failed Payment: A registration was submitted but the payment method was declined, not reconciled, or otherwise invalid.

For more information, visit the H-1B Electronic Registration Process page.