On March 18, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services temporarily suspended in-person services at its field offices, asylum offices, and application support centers (ASCs) to help slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). USCIS offices will begin to reopen on May 4 unless the public closures are extended further. Employees in these offices are continuing to perform mission-essential services that do not require face-to-face contact with the public.
USCIS completed its H-1B CAP registration lottery and all of those employers with registrations selected in the lottery have been notified. USCIS announced that nearly 275,000 unique registrations were submitted during the initial registration period. Roughly 46% of all registrations were for prospective beneficiaries with U.S. advanced degrees. 275,000 registrations is more than three times the H-1B annual limit of 85,000. Nearly 81% of submitted registrations were for potential beneficiaries from India (67.7%) and China (13.2%).
Currently, USCIS plans to reopen its offices on April 7, 2020, unless public closures are extended further.
Due to precautions being implemented by employers and employees related to physical proximity associated with COVID-19, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced on March 20, 2020 that it will exercise discretion to defer the physical presence requirements associated with Employment Eligibility Verification (Form I-9) under Section 274A of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Employers with employees taking physical proximity precautions due to COVID-19 will not be required to review the employee’s identity and employment authorization documents in the employee’s physical presence. However, employers must inspect the Section 2 documents remotely (e.g., over video link, fax or email, etc.) and obtain, inspect, and retain copies of the documents, within three business days for purposes of completing Section 2. Employers should enter “COVID-19” as the reason for the physical inspection delay in the Section 2 Additional Information field.
For additional instructions on completing Form I-9 during this time of National Emergency, please contact Susan Lane.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services today announced the immediate and temporary suspension of premium processing service for all Form I-129 and I-140 petitions until further notice due to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).
A Message To Our Clients and The Community:
Cantey Hanger LLP has been a proud member of the Texas legal community for over 130 years. We have always worked hard to provide expert legal service in the past, and we strive to provide you with that same professional, yet compassionate service as we face these challenging times.
During the COVID-19 emergency, we are taking precautions to protect the safety and well-being of our clients, our attorneys and staff. We are following City of Dallas, City of Fort Worth, State of Texas and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations for managing the spread of the virus. At the same time, we are watching and coordinating with our local business community to lessen the impact on our workplace, as well as yours.
Cantey Hanger is open and doing business. Be assured that we are continuing to work on your legal matters and are prepared to address your future needs. Like you, we are dedicated to the use of technology to allow our attorneys and staff to work from home, supporting our families and the community. We are a call or click of the mouse away. You will still be able to contact us by telephone, email, fax, or videoconference, so reach out when you need us.
If you have a matter in the courts, most Texas courts are open; however, many are holding telephonic hearings and rescheduling non-emergency matters. Your attorney or our staff will keep you updated on your case and any upcoming hearings or pressing issues. Most court filings are done electronically across the nation, so there should be little interruption in our ability to continue advocating on your behalf.
For your business needs, we continue to confer with clients daily on COVID-19 and other challenging and novel legal issues. Whether it is an employment issue, contract interpretation, immigration matter or general business advice, our attorneys are continuing to provide service, but doing it just a little farther away than usual. We are sailing in uncharted waters, but Cantey Hanger has the expertise to navigate them safely for your company and employees, as well as for you and your family.
Please contact me or any of our legal professionals with questions or concerns, and know that while dedicated to maintaining the safety of our clients, colleagues and staff, we stand ready to serve you.
Brian C. Newby
For Family-Sponsored Filings:
In the F2A category, there is a cutoff date on the Dates for Filing chart. However, the category is “current” on the Final Action Dates chart. This means that applicants in the F2A category may file using the Final Action Dates chart for April 2020.
For all the other family-sponsored preference categories, you must use the Dates for Filing chart in the Department of State Visa Bulletin for April 2020.
For Employment-Based Preference Filings:
For all employment-based preference categories, you must use the Final Action Dates chart in the Department of State Visa Bulletin for April 2020.
ONLY APPLICABLE TO THOSE WHO WERE ADMITTED THROUGH IAH, HOUSTON HOBBY, DFW, AUSTIN AND SAN ANTONIO AIRPORTS OR ARE TEMPORARILY RESIDING WITHIN THE HOUSTON FIELD OFFICE AREA OF RESPONSIBILITY.
Individuals admitted under the VWP/ESTA program who find themselves unable to depart the US before the expiration of their current period of admission due to COVID-19 related issues and who were admitted to the US through IAH, Houston Hobby, DFW, Austin and San Antonio airports (only) or are temporarily residing with the Houston Field Office area of responsibility can contact the Deferred Inspections office at the locations below starting Thursday, March 19, 2020 to request Satisfactory Departure (up to 30 days).
The Deferred Inspection hours and contact numbers are listed below:
Location Contact number Hours of Operation
Houston Intercontinental Airport (IAH) 281-230-4886 Mon-Fri 0800-1600
San Antonio International Airport (SAT) 210-821-6965 Mon-Fri 0800-1600
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (OKC) 405-942-3405 Mon-Fri 1000-1500
Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) 972 456-2250 Mon-Thurs 0800-1400
Appointment Requests at email@example.com
USCIS will be temporarily suspending Premium Processing for FY2021 Cap-Subject Petitions. Petitioners filing FY 2021 cap-subject H-1B petitions will not be able to request premium processing when USCIS begins accepting cap-subject petitions on April 1. Until premium processing resumes for FY 2021 cap-subject H-1B petitions, USCIS will reject any Form I-907 concurrently filed with a cap-subject H-1B Form I-129.
As USCIS has done in the past, premium processing will resume in a two-phased approach during the FY 2021 cap season so that USCIS can best manage premium processing requests.
USCIS will resume premium processing for FY 2021 cap-subject H-1B petitions requesting a change of status from F-1 nonimmigrant status no later than May 27, 2020, and will notify the public before premium processing resumes for these petitions.
The earliest date that USCIS will resume premium processing for all other FY 2021 cap-subject H-1B petitions is June 29, 2020.
Petitioners filing FY 2021 H-1B cap-subject petitions will be eligible to upgrade to premium processing by filing Form I-907 once premium processing resumes, as applicable. USCIS will notify the public with a confirmed date for resuming premium processing for FY 2021 H-1B cap-subject petitions.
At this time, premium processing remains available for H-1B petitions that are exempt from the cap, such as extension of stay requests.
USCIS announced last night (3/17/2020) that effective March 18, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is suspending in-person services at its field offices, asylum offices and Application Support Centers (ASCs) to help slow the spread of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). This suspension of services will be effective until at least April 1. In the meantime, USCIS will provide limited emergency services. Please call the Contact Center for assistance with emergency services.
USCIS field offices will send notices to applicants and petitioners with scheduled appointments and naturalization ceremonies impacted by this closure. USCIS asylum offices will send interview cancellation notices and automatically reschedule asylum interviews. When the interview is rescheduled, asylum applicants will receive a new interview notice with the new time, date and location of the interview. When USCIS again resumes normal operations, USCIS will automatically reschedule ASC appointments due to the office closure. You will receive a new appointment letter in the mail. Individuals who had InfoPass or other appointments must reschedule through the USCIS Contact Center once field offices are open to the public again. Please check to see if your field office has been reopened before reaching out to the USCIS Contact Center.
Education and precautions are the strongest tools against infection. Get the latest facts by visiting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID-19 website. Continue to practice good health habits, refrain from handshakes or hugs as greetings, and wash hands and clean surfaces appropriately.