Articles Posted in Nonimmigrant Visas

50091854772_d0d3b61325_bMexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is set to visit the White House next month to discuss immigration and make a push for additional U.S. commitments to help curb rates of illegal immigration.

It has been rumored that during his visit, the Biden administration will announce an offer of 300,000 temporary work visas up for grabs for Mexican nationals and Central Americans.

Mexico’s Interior Minister Adan Augusto Lopez confirmed these reports in a business meeting explaining that the U.S. government has agreed to split the number of visas proportionally to both Mexican and Central Americans, in an effort to ease the migration challenges of both countries.

According to Lopez, “The American government agreed to issue, initially, 300,000 temporary work visas; 150,000 will be for Mexicans or for foreigners who are currently in Mexico waiting for the possibility to migrate north.” The Biden administration is expected to announce these measures during President Obrador’s visit in July.

“It’s a high price, in terms of social costs, for our country to be a crossing point for migrants and every day we’re talking with the American government to try to generate (better) conditions,” Lopez said in remarks during a business meeting in Tijuana, Mexico.

While the spokesperson at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico did not return requests for comment, it will be interesting to see how these developments will play out in the coming weeks.

Earlier this month, tensions grew between President Obrador and the Biden administration over the U.S. government’s decision to exclude Nicaragua, Cuba, and Venezuela from attending the Summit of the Americas due to human rights violations. Following the news, President Obrador declined to attend the Summit, and Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard took his place.

President Obrador’s visit will coincide with the 10th anniversary of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, prompting a renewed debate over U.S. immigration policy.

Continue reading

farmer-g9cc60a154_1920

A brand-new week means new developments in the world of immigration. In this blog post, we share with you a new announcement from USCIS released on May 16, 2022, which reveals that an additional 35,000 H-2B temporary nonagricultural worker visas are up for grabs during the second half of fiscal year 2022.

The H-2B nonimmigrant program makes it possible for U.S. employers to temporarily hire nonimmigrants to perform nonagricultural labor or services in the United States. To qualify, employment must be of a temporary nature for a limited period of time such as a one-time occurrence, seasonal need, peak load need or intermittent need. The H-2B program requires the employer to complete wage attestation requirements with the Department of Labor and certify that there are not enough U.S. workers able, willing, qualified and able to perform the temporary work, and that employment will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers.

This is especially welcome news for U.S. employers who are looking to employ nonagricultural workers on a temporary basis during the period on or after April 1, 2022, through September 30, 2022. Petitions for the H-2B visas can be filed by employers beginning on Wednesday, May 18, 2022.

DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas released these additional visa numbers to help U.S. employers meet labor shortages for seasonal workers.

The additional numbers will allow for 23,500 visas to be granted to returning workers who received an H-2B visa or were otherwise granted H-2B status during one of the last three fiscal years. The remaining 11,500 visas will be reserved for nationals of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Haiti, regardless of whether they are returning workers.

For more information about these additional visa numbers, please click here.

Continue reading

woman-g95091901a_1280

USCIS is about to make it a lot easier for certain noncitizens to remain employment authorized. On May 3, 2022, the agency announced a new Temporary Final Rule (TPR) that automatically extends the period of employment authorization on Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) from 180 days up to 540 total days.

The automatic extension time is counted from the expiration date of the employment authorization and/or EAD. This new regulation became effective as of yesterday, May 4, 2022, and will be in effect until October 15, 2025. Once the regulation reaches its time limit, the automatic extension will revert to 180 days.

USCIS decided to issue this new policy to prevent employment interruptions for noncitizens that have pending EAD renewal applications with the agency (Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization).


Who qualifies for the automatic extension?


The additional extension of up to 540 total days will be available only to renewal applicants who timely file a Form I-765 renewal application with USCIS from the period of May 4, 2022, to October 26, 2023, and who were previously eligible to receive the 180-day automatic extension.

For those who file their Form I-765 renewal application after October 26, 2023, the normal 180-day automatic extension period will apply.


You are eligible for the automatic extension if you:

  • Properly filed Form I-765 for a renewal of their employment authorization and/or EAD before their current EAD expired, and
  • Were otherwise eligible for a renewal, meaning that:
    • Their renewal application is under a category that is eligible for an automatic extension (see the list of categories below); and
    • The Category on their current EAD matches the “Class Requested” listed on their Form I-797C Notice of Action, Receipt Notice. (Note: If you are a Temporary Protected Status (TPS) beneficiary or pending applicant, your EAD and this Notice must contain either the A12 or C19 category, but the categories do not need to match each other. In addition, for H-4, E, and L-2 dependent spouses, an unexpired Form I-94 indicating H-4, E, or L-2 nonimmigrant status (including E-1S, E-2S, E-3S, and L-2S class of admission codes) must accompany Form I-797C when presenting proof of employment authorization to an employer for Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, purposes).

Which categories are eligible?


You must be in one of the following employment eligible categories to be eligible to receive an automatic extension of up to 540 days and your renewal application must be timely filed by October 26, 2023:

Continue reading

fist-bump-gee03fcfc3_1920

In this blog post, we breakdown the Biden administration’s new Humanitarian Parole program, known as “Uniting for Ukraine,” a new initiative that will allow up to 100,000 Ukrainian nationals displaced by the Russian invasion to live and work in the United States for a period of up to 2 years.


Who is eligible for Uniting for Ukraine?


Ukrainian citizens and their immediate family members who are outside the United States may remain temporarily for a two-year period of parole.

You are not eligible for humanitarian parole under the Uniting for Ukraine program if you are currently physically present in the United States, however you may be eligible to receive Temporary Protected Status instead.

Additionally, children traveling without their parent or legal guardian are not eligible for humanitarian parole under Uniting for Ukraine.

Ukrainians participating in Uniting for Ukraine must have a “supporter,” in the United States who agrees to provide them with financial support for the duration of their stay in the United States. U.S. Supporters are required to file a Form I-134 Declaration of Financial Support with USCIS online, which states that they agree to financial support the Ukrainian national in the United States, also known as the “beneficiary.” There is no fee to file Form I-134 online.


Beneficiaries are eligible for humanitarian parole if they:


  • Resided in Ukraine immediately prior to the Russian invasion (through Feb. 11, 2022) and were displaced as a result of the invasion;
  • Are a Ukrainian citizen and possess a valid Ukrainian passport (or are a child included on a parent’s passport);
    • If not a Ukrainian citizen, are an immediate family member of a Ukrainian citizen beneficiary of Uniting for Ukraine with a valid passport;
  • Have a supporter who filed a Form I-134 on their behalf that has been vetted and confirmed as sufficient by USCIS; and
  • Clear biographic and biometric security checks;
  • Note: To be eligible for this process, children under the age of 18 must be traveling to the United States in the care and custody of their parent or legal guardian.

The supporter must complete and file Form I-134 online with USCIS and be vetted by the U.S. government to protect against exploitation and abuse, and ensure that they are able to financially support the Ukrainians they are agreeing to support.


Who is eligible to be a supporter under Uniting for Ukraine?


Individuals who file Form I-134 on behalf of a beneficiary under Uniting for Ukraine must be:

  • in lawful status in the United States or
  • a parolee or
  • beneficiary of deferred action or
  • Deferred Enforced Departure (DED)

Continue reading

community-g744fa6a91_1920

We kick off the start of a brand-new week with the latest in the world of immigration. This week we are excited to announce new H-1B FY 2023 cap season updates — the lottery is now complete!


H-1B Fiscal Year 2023 Season Updates


As our readers will know, the mandatory electronic registration period for the H-1B fiscal year 2023 season kicked off on March 1, 2022, and ended on March 18, 2022.

We had expected USCIS to notify all H-1B petitioners of selection by April 1st (the earliest date when H-1B cap-subject petitions for FY 2023 can be filed). However, news of selection came much quicker.

On March 29, 2022, USCIS announced that the H-1B FY 2023 cap was reached, and that enough registrations were also received for the advanced degree exemption (U.S. master’s cap). From these registrations, USCIS selected petitioners at random to be eligible to file an H-1B cap-subject petition for the beneficiary named in the applicable selected registration.

Petitioners will need to login to their USCIS online accounts to check the status of their registration.

If you were not selected in the FY 2023 cap the following status will be shown in your online account:

  • Not Selected: Not selected – not eligible to file an H-1B cap petition based on this registration.

If you were one of the lucky winners of the FY 2023 cap the following status will be shown:

  • Selected: Selected to file an H-1B cap petition.

Continue reading

approved-g13d1183f5_1920

In this blog post, we share exciting news in the world of immigration law. On March 29, 2022, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released a much-anticipated announcement explaining the actions it will take to reduce the substantial backlog, and new policy changes that will be implemented to cut down processing times significantly.

The agency has outlined 3 main initiatives that will drastically improve processing times at the USCIS level across the board.

  1. USCIS has announced that it will be setting agency-wide backlog reduction goals
  2. Expansion of Premium Processing Service to other types of immigration petitions and
  3. Improving timely access to Employment Authorization Documents (EADs)

Backlog Reduction Initiatives


USCIS will be establishing a new system of “internal cycle time goals,” which are internal metrics that the agency will now be using to help guide the reduction of the current backlog and will determine how long it will take USCIS to process immigration benefits going forward.

The agency will be making certain efforts such as increasing its capacity, implementing technological improvements, and expanding staffing to improve these “cycle times,” so that processing times will be much quicker. USCIS expects these goals to be accomplished by the end of fiscal year 2023.


Cycle times explained


USCIS has stated that publicly, it releases processing times showing the average amount of time it takes the agency to process a particular form – from when the agency received the application until a decision was made on the case.

However, USCIS has said that it also utilizes internal mechanisms to monitor the number of pending cases in the agency’s workload through a metric called “cycle times.” A cycle time measures how many months’ worth of pending cases for a particular form are awaiting a decision.

According to USCIS, cycle times are generally comparable to the agency’s publicly posted median processing times. Cycle times are what the operational divisions of USCIS use to gauge how much progress the agency is, or is not, making on reducing the backlog and overall case processing times.

Continue reading

ukraine-1524617_1280

Welcome back to Visalawyerblog! New developments in the world of immigration are happening on a daily basis. In today’s post we cover the status of consular services at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, Ukraine.

As you may know, the region has been embroiled in political turmoil with U.S. sanctions on Russia escalating. To protect Americans in the region, the Department of State has announced the departure of all diplomatic employees from the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv.

Beginning February 13th, the Embassy in Kyiv has suspended Consular visa services including interview waiver services. The Department of State has indicated that applicants who had visa appointments in Kyiv can apply for their visas in any other country in which they are physically present, so long as appointments are available. Applicants are advised to contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where they wish to apply to inquire about case transfers.

Those with immigrant visas that were pending in Kyiv can request a transfer of their case to another U.S. Embassy by contacting the receiving U.S. Embassy’s country to authorize and initiate the transfer. Each Embassy will have a list of requirements that must be satisfied to initiate the transfer process.

Non-immigrants and immigrant visa holders must continue to abide by the vaccination mandate in order to gain admission to the United States.


Vaccination Mandate


 Effective November 8, all non-citizen, nonimmigrant (not a U.S. citizen, U.S. national, lawful permanent resident, or traveling to the United States on an immigrant visa) airline passengers traveling to the United States, must demonstrate proof of vaccination as defined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Order prior to boarding a U.S. bound aircraft. More details regarding what constitutes full vaccination are available on this page of the CDC website.

All travelers to the United States, regardless of vaccination status, must show a pre-departure negative COVID-19 viral test taken within one (1) day of travel to the United States prior to boarding. This applies to all travelers – U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents (LPRs), and foreign nationals. Additional information may be found on CDC’s website.

Continue reading

travel-g9748ded53_1920

In this blog post, we share great news for E and L dependent spouses!

As we previously reported on our blog, pursuant to a new USCIS policy, E and L nonimmigrant dependent spouses are now considered employment authorized “incident to their status.”

This means that upon admission and issuance of a valid I-94 arrival/departure document showing E or L-2 spousal status, E and L nonimmigrant spouses will automatically be authorized to work without the need to apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). Previously, E or L dependent spouses were required to apply for an EAD by filing Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization with USCIS.


How does this system work?


Effective January 31, 2022, CBP Office of Field Operations (OFO), in coordination with both USCIS and Department of State, began issuing new classes of admission on the I-94 arrival/departure record for E and L dependent spouses entering the U.S. at a Port of Entry. The new I-94 admission records indicate an “S” designation after the E or L class of admission to indicate that the spouse is authorized to work in the United States. The “S” designation is meant to indicate that the E or L nonimmigrant is a dependent “spouse” of a principal E or L visa holder. Please note that the new designation will not explicitly state that the spouse is “work authorized,” however the “S” designation signals to U.S. employers that the spouse is authorized to work for I-9 employment verification purposes.

Spouses who applied for an extension of their E or L visa status with USCIS, will receive I-94s that carry the new “S” designation at the bottom of their approval notices.


How can I prove that I am authorized to work as an E or L dependent spouse?


If you are an L or E dependent spouse who wishes to work in the United States without having to obtain an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), you must present an I-94 admission document with the “S” spousal annotation.

CBP has confirmed that the agency has been issuing new I-94’s with the “S” spousal annotation to E and L spouses who gained admission to the United States on or after January 31, 2022.


How does the annotation look?


sample-I94-963x1246-1

E/L Spousal Annotation

The I-94 will be annotated with an “S” next to the E or L-2 status designation, signaling to prospective employers that the individual is authorized to work during the validity period of the I-94. Spouses admitted in E or L-2 status should review their I-94 document immediately upon admission to ensure that it contains the appropriate annotation.


What if I gained admission to the United States prior to January 31, 2022 and I do not have the spousal designation on my I-94?


If you are an E or L dependent spouse who gained admission to the U.S. prior to January 31, 2022, and you do not have the “S” spousal annotation on your I-94, you must contact your closest CBP Deferred Inspection Office to determine whether they may, in their discretion, amend your I-94 arrival/departure record to include the “S” spousal annotation without requiring international travel. CBP may or may not agree to amend your I-94.

In cases where CBP will not amend your I-94 to include the spousal annotation, you may consider discussing with your immigration attorney whether you should depart the United States and re-enter at a U.S. port of entry to secure the new spousal annotated I-94. You must exercise caution before making any international travel plans. An immigration attorney will need to evaluate whether you have the proper documentation to gain re-admission after temporary foreign travel and determine whether your planned travel would result in the issuance of a new annotated I-94. Certain brief international trips may not result in a new I-94 issued by CBP.

Please note that if you are an E or L spouse admitted prior to January 31, 2022, and you have filed an application to extend your L or E status while in the U.S., USCIS is expected to issue the “S” spousal annotation on I-94’s printed at the bottom of USCIS-issued approval notices.

Continue reading

greg-bulla-P0tam674vzY-unsplash-scaled

With a new year comes new travel restrictions. In this blog post, we share with you a recent announcement published in the Federal Register by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

CBP has just released a notice of action informing the public of a brand-new temporary travel restriction that will apply to certain unvaccinated travelers seeking to enter into the United States along U.S. land ports of entry, including ferry terminals (‘‘land POEs’’) with Mexico and Canada.


What is this new travel restriction all about?


According to the new directive announced on January 24th, land ports of entry along the United States-Mexico border and United States-Canada border will continue to suspend normal operations and will allow processing for entry into the United States of only those noncitizen non-LPRs who are ‘‘fully vaccinated against COVID–19’’ and can provide ‘‘proof of being fully vaccinated against COVID–19’’ upon request, as those terms are defined under Presidential Proclamation and the CDC’s Order.


Who will the restriction apply to?


These restrictions will apply to non-citizens who are neither U.S. nationals nor lawful permanent residents (‘‘noncitizen non-LPRs’’) with limited exceptions.

Under the temporary restrictions, DHS will allow processing for entry into the United States of only those noncitizen non-LPRs who are fully vaccinated against COVID–19 and can provide proof of being fully vaccinated against COVID–19 upon request.


When do these travel restrictions go into effect?


These restrictions went into effect at 12 a.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST) on January 22, 2022 and will remain in effect until 11:59 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) on April 21, 2022, unless amended or rescinded prior to that time.


Are there any exceptions for unvaccinated travelers?


This travel restriction does not apply to U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, lawful permanent residents of the United States, or American Indians who have a right by statute to pass the borders of, or enter into, the United States.

In addition, the following exceptions to these restrictions have been authorized for the following categories of noncitizen non-LPRs:

  • Certain categories of persons on diplomatic or official foreign government travel as specified in the CDC Order;
  • persons under 18 years of age;
  • certain participants in certain COVID–19 vaccine trials as specified in the CDC Order;
  • persons with medical contraindications to receiving a COVID– 19 vaccine as specified in the CDC Order;
  • persons issued a humanitarian or emergency exception by the Secretary of Homeland Security;
  • persons with valid nonimmigrant visas (excluding B–1 [business] or B–2 [tourism] visas) who are citizens of a country with limited COVID–19 vaccine availability, as specified in the CDC Order;
  • members of the U.S. Armed Forces or their spouses or children (under 18 years of age) as specified in the CDC Order; and,
  • persons whose entry would be in the U.S. national interest, as determined by the Secretary of Homeland Security.

Continue reading

balls-gb03403383_1920

The H-1B cap season for FY 2023 is almost here!

USCIS has just announced that the H-1B initial registration period for the FY 2023 cap is scheduled to open at noon ET on March 1, 2022 and will remain open until noon ET on March 18, 2022.

As our readers are aware, in 2020 USCIS implemented a mandatory H-1B electronic registration system for the H-1B cap.

Under this new electronic registration process, prospective petitioners (also known as registrants), and their authorized representatives, who are seeking authorization to employ H-1B workers subject to the cap, must complete an electronic registration process on the USCIS website to receive a chance at selection. The registration process is simple and easy asking basic information about the prospective petitioner and each requested worker.

The H-1B selection process will be based off properly submitted electronic registrations. Only those with selected registrations will be eligible to file H-1B cap-subject petitions.

That means that in order to have a chance of being selected, all prospective petitioners and their authorized representatives seeking to file H-1B cap-subject petitions for FY 2023, including for beneficiaries eligible for the advanced degree exemption, must first register during the registration period (March 1, 2022, to March 18, 2022) and pay the associated $10 registration fee for each beneficiary.

Registrants will be able to create new accounts beginning at noon ET on February 21, 2022.

Continue reading