News

USCIS REVISES FORM I-539 and I-539A, EFFECTIVE MARCH 11, 2019

The revised Form I-539 includes the following significant changes:

Every co-applicant included on the primary applicant’s Form I-539 must submit and sign a separate Form I-539A, which will be available on the Form I-539 webpage on March 11. Parents or guardians may sign on behalf of children under 14 or any co-applicant who is not mentally competent to sign.

Every applicant and co-applicant must pay an $85 biometric services fee, except certain A, G, and NATO nonimmigrants as noted in the new Form I-539 Instructions to be published on March 11.

Every applicant and co-applicant will receive a biometric services appointment notice, regardless of age, containing their individual receipt number. The biometric services appointments will be scheduled at the Application Support Center (ASC) closest to the primary applicant’s address. Co-applicants who wish to be scheduled at a different ASC location should file a separate Form I-539.

Check-in with Department of State Charlie Oppenheim Regarding March 2019 Visa Bulletin

As predicted, there is only modest movement of one month for the EB-1 Worldwide Final Action Date in March, from December 1, 2017 to January 1, 2018. Similarly, the Final Action Dates for EB-1 China and EB-1 India creep forward only three weeks from February 8, 2017 to February 22, 2017.

 

Charlie underscores that we should expect EB-1 to move at the lower end of the projected range of 0-2 months for EB-1 Worldwide and 0-1 months for EB-1 China and EB-1 India. Based on the continuing high demand, we should expect “minimal if any’ movement in the EB-1 categories, and especially in EB-1 China and EB-1 India.

 

India EB-2 and EB-3 Remain Flipped

The EB-2 India Final Action Date advances only three days to April 9, 2009 in March, whereas the Final Action Date for EB-3 India, which was already ahead of EB-2 India in February, advances a full month to May 22, 2009. Although the possibility of this inversion was hinted at for some time, this phenomenon only occurred in February 2019, so it is too soon to know if EB-2 downgrades will be filed, and if so, how that might impact the relative Final Action Dates between these two categories

 

EB-2 and EB-3 China

The Final Action Date for EB-2 China remains ahead of EB-3 China, and continues to advance at a faster rate, with EB-2 China advancing three months to January 1, 2016 in March, and EB-3 China advancing only one week to July 8, 2015 for March. Given the projected advancements and barring any changes in the demand trends, members can expect this to continue for the foreseeable future.

 

EB-3 Philippines

Demand in this category continues to remain below the targeted level, requiring the Final Action Date for EB-3 Philippines to advance 4 months to December 1, 2017, in an attempt to generate demand.

 

EB-4

The Final Action Date for EB-4 El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras holds at March 1, 2016 in March, and EB-4 Mexico advances 4 months to January 1, 2018.

 

EB-5

EB-5 China advanced the Final Action Date by one week to September 8, 2014 for March. The Final Action Date had previously been advanced in January in anticipation of the Chinese New Year but processing was limited due to the sunsetting of the EB-5 I5 and R5 programs until very late in the month. Guangzhou is working to process as many cases as it can in February, but these may spill into March.

EB-5 Vietnam has less demand with early priority dates and as such reaches a Final Action Date of July 15, 2016.

Update on Rule Eliminating H-4 Dependent Employment Authorization

The rule was sent to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on February 20, 2019, and is currently pending review. Once OMB completes its review, a notice of proposed rulemaking will be published in the Federal Register and will be open to the public for notice and comment. The proposed regulation will not take effect until finalized by DHS, a process that typically takes several months.
Please note that the text of the proposed rule has not yet been made available to the public.

PREMIUM PROCESSING RESUMES FOR FY2019 H-1B CAP CASES

USCIS announced late Friday that it will resume premium processing on Monday, January 28, 2019, for all FY2019 H‑1B cap petitions, including those eligible for the advanced degree exemption (the “master’s cap”). The previously announced temporary suspension of premium processing remains in effect for all other categories of H‑1B petitions to which it applied

Potential Monthly Movement through May 2019

Family-Based Preference Categories:

Worldwide dates (except oversubscribed countries):

FB-1: Up to 5 weeks
FB-2A: Up to 1 month
FB-2B: Up to 2 months
FB-3: Up to 2 weeks
FB-4: Up to 6 weeks

Employment-Based Preference Categories:

Employment First (EB-1):
Worldwide: Up to 2 months
China and India: Up to 1 month

Employment Second (EB-2):
Worldwide: Current for the foreseeable future
China: Up to 3 months

Employment Third (EB-3):
Worldwide: Current
China: Up to 3 weeks
India: Up to 3 months
Mexico: Current
Philippines: Rapid movement to generate demand

Employment Fourth (EB-4):
Worldwide: Current
El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras: Up to 1 week
Mexico: Rapid forward movement until per country limit is reached

Employment Fifth (EB-5):
Worldwide: Current
China-mainland born: Up to 1 week
Vietnam: Up to 3 weeks

Members may wonder why EB-2 Worldwide would remain current “for the foreseeable future” while EB-3 Worldwide would simply be “current.” According to Charlie, both categories will remain current through May 2019 and are likely to remain current throughout this fiscal year. As a Final Action Date was imposed for EB-2 Worldwide during the last fiscal year, Charlie wanted to underscore the fact that based on current demand trends, he does not anticipate a Final Action Date will be imposed for EB-2 Worldwide during FY19. However, if USCIS demand significantly increases in the coming months, there is always the possibility that a Final Action Date will be imposed, in EB-2 Worldwide, or any other category.

Check in with Department of State’s Charlie Oppenheim regarding the February 2019 Visa Bulletin

In the February 2019 Visa Bulletin, Charlie provides his predictions for monthly forward movement for various categories. These predictions are based on current demand trends and are reliable through May 2019. Movement “up to five weeks” should be interpreted as a range of movement per month between zero and five weeks. Charlie anticipates publishing updated projections for potential monthly movement in the July 2019 Visa Bulletin.