IMPORTANT COVID-19 UPDATE FROM USCIS

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.

YEMEN TPS RE-REGISTRATION PERIOD IS OPEN THROUGH MAY 1, 2020

People who have Temporary Protected Status (TPS) under Yemen’s designation may re-register in order to maintain their status through September 21, 2021. Applicants must submit Form I-821, Application for Temporary Protected Status. If applicants are re-requesting employment authorization, they must file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization.

DOS’s Charlie Oppenheim: March Visa Bulletin

Charlie’s predictions as reflected in his comments on the March Visa Bulletin:

A final action date of January 1, 2017 is imposed in March for EB-3 Worldwide as well as for the EB-3 (EW) Other Workers category. Unfortunately, no forward movement is expected in these categories in the foreseeable future.

EB-1 Worldwide could possibly become current in the summer of 2020. However, it is also possible that this category could advance less quickly if USCIS shifts resources previously used to adjudicate EB-3 cases to EB-1 processing, thus increasing the demand.

After holding steady, the final action dates for EB-1 China and EB-1 India start to advance again in March, with EB-1 China advancing one week to June 1, 2017 and EB-1 India advancing two months to March 1, 2015.

 

EB-2 Worldwide could regress as early as April 2020.

USCIS To Implement H-1B Cap Online Registration System

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that it has completed testing of its new online H-1B registration system for the upcoming FY2021 cap season, with an initial registration period starting March 1, 2020.

Under this new process, employers seeking cap-subject H-1B workers, or their authorized representatives, will complete an initial registration process that requires basic information about the company and each requested worker, in addition to a $10 fee per applicant. This registration period will be held from March 1 through March 20, 2020. If the number of registrants meets the annual numerical cap for H-1B petitions, USCIS will run a random lottery on the pool of registrations no later than March 31, 2020. If the registration is selected in the lottery, Petitioners will then be eligible to file cap-subject H-1B petitions during a 90-day filing period on behalf of those beneficiaries.

USCIS is currently in the processing of posting instructions on its website and hosting webinars about this registration system.

If you need to file a cap subject petition, please contact Susan Lane for more information.

February Visa Bulletin Highlights from Charlie Oppenheim, Chief of the DOS Visa Control and Reporting Division

Family-Based Preference Categories

All F2A categories remain current in February. However, per the January 2020 Visa Bulletin, prepare for a final action date to be imposed within the next few months across all F2A categories.

Employment-Based Preference Categories

EB-1: Based on currently available information, it remains possible–yet too early to confirm–that this category could become current in the summer of 2020.

EB-2 Worldwide: A final action date may be imposed at some point during the second half of FY2020.

EB-3 Worldwide and EB-3 Other Workers Worldwide will become subject to a final action date in March 2020.

H-1B CAP SEASON – FY 2021

This year, USCIS will be utilizing an electronic registration requirement for H-1B cap subject petitions. USCIS will be providing additional information and instructions regarding the registration requirement, which will be online and will require a $10 registration fee for each case. USCIS will open the registration period from March 1, 2020 through March 20, 2020. The random selection lottery process will be run after the registration period, assuming USCIS receives more registrations than slots available. If selected, a 90 day period of time will be given during which the H-1B petition must be filed.

If you anticipate needing to file an H-1B cap subject petition this year, please contact Susan Lane immediately for more information.

December 2019: News for DACA Recipients

ICE has reopened long-closed deportation cases against Dreamers. ICE has sent letters to DACA recipients saying it will file to administratively reopen closed deportation cases against them. Many of these deportation cases were closed nearly a decade ago, and are against DACA recipients with little or no criminal record. This move comes while the Supreme Court is deciding whether the Trump administration has the authority to end DACA. If you receive such a letter from ICE, contact your attorney.

DOS’s Charlie Oppenheim: January Visa Bulletin

While EB-1 China and EB-1 India demand remains high, the rest of world demand has tapered off and is currently lower than Charlie’s monthly use target. If this trend continues, EB-1 Worldwide (including El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, Mexico Philippines and Vietnam) could potentially become current by the summer of 2020.

 

EB-1 China will continue to advance at a pace of up to three weeks, but EB-1 India is not expected to advance in the near future.

 

EB-2 Worldwide and EB-3 Worldwide categories remain current for January. EB-3 Worldwide will have a Final Action Date imposed no later than March 2020, with a strong possibility of that happening in February. EB-2 Worldwide is likely to remain current longer than EB-3 Worldwide, and hopefully no cut-off date will be required until after March 2020.

 

The longer these categories remain Current, the more likely it is that the retrogression will be more significant so as to severely limit the number usage for a period of time.

Over the coming months, Charlie expects EB-2 China to advance at a pace of up to one month, with EB-2 India advancing at a rate of up to one week. Charlie notes that EB-2 China demand has picked up at a steady pace, but still remains manageable for now. The EB-3 China Final Action Date advances one month to December 1, 2015, in January, which positions EB-3 China’s Final Action Date five months ahead of EB-2 China, maintaining a climate favorable for downgrades. Charlie predicts that the EB-3 China Final Action Date will continue to advance at a rate of up to six weeks. China EB-3 Other Worker category will continue to have an earlier Final Action Date than EB-3 China due to excessive demand in this category.

 

The EB-3 India Final Action Date holds at January 1, 2009, for January, keeping it almost five months behind EB-2 India, maintaining a climate favorable for upgrades. Charlie predicts advancement of “up to” three weeks for EB-3 India, but notes that we should not expect to see any movement in this category until the demand begins to drop below his monthly target number usage.

 

EB-3 Other Worker Worldwide is likely to have a Final Action Date imposed in the coming months.