Articles Posted in USCIS

student-5473769_1280A new California legislative bill known as AB 2586 may soon grant undocumented students the ability to work on college campuses without having a work permit.

The assembly bill introduced by David Alvarez is meant to provide relief to the millions of undocumented students unable to apply for employment authorization under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

As our readers may know, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) stopped processing new DACA applications in 2017, when former President Donald Trump rescinded the program. Since then, only renewal applications have been accepted by USCIS, putting millions of undocumented students out of work who can no longer apply for and obtain work permits.

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The Department of Homeland Security and Justice Department recently announced a new plan to expedite immigration court proceedings for asylum seekers who have recently arrived in the United States without lawful status.

On May 16th senior administration officials from the Department of Homeland Security and Justice Department made it known to the public that a new Recent Arrivals (RA) docket process will allow undocumented immigrants to resolve their immigration cases more expeditiously – within a period of 180 days.

Under the RA Docket process, DHS will place certain noncitizen single adults on the RA Docket, and EOIR adjudicators will prioritize the adjudication of these cases.

The RA Docket will operate in five cities: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York City. Immigration judges will aim to render final decisions within 180 days, although the time to make a decision in any particular case will remain subject to case-specific circumstances and procedural protections, including allowing time for noncitizens to seek representation where needed.

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The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs has published the June Visa Bulletin. In this blog post we breakdown the projected movement of the employment-based and family-sponsored categories in the month of June.


USCIS Adjustment of Status


For employment-based preference categories, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) confirmed that in June it will use the Final Action Dates chart to determine filing eligibility for adjustment of status to permanent residence.

For family-sponsored preference categories, USCIS will use the Dates for Filing chart to determine filing eligibility for adjustment of status to permanent residence.


Highlights of the June 2024 Visa Bulletin


Employment-Based Categories

The June Visa Bulletin shows no advancement in most employment-based categories.

  • The Dates for Filing chart in June remains unchanged from the previous months.
  • The Final Action Dates for EB-1, EB-2, and EB-5 remain unchanged.
  • Only EB-3 India will advance by one week.

Family-Sponsored Categories

For the family-sponsored preference categories, the Dates for Filing Chart remains unchanged from the previous month, with the exception of:

  • F2B Mexico will advance by 2 months to November 1, 2004
  • F3 Worldwide, China, and India will advance by 3 months to September 1, 2010
  • F4 Mexico will advance by 5 days to April 27, 2001

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If your case remains pending with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) beyond the posted processing times for your immigration benefit request, you may consider requesting assistance from the Ombudsman’s Office.


What is the USCIS Ombudsman?


The Office of the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman (CIS Ombudsman) helps individuals and employers resolve difficulties they are experiencing with USCIS. The Ombudsman functions independently and is part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Before an applicant can request for help from the Ombudsman, they must have contacted USCIS within the last 90 days and given the agency at least 60 days to resolve their problem. If a Congressional representative is already assisting you, the Ombudsman’s office cannot help you.

If USCIS does not resolve the issue (via submission of an e-request, or other communication method) the applicant can prepare and submit a case assistance request with the Office of the Ombudsman.

The most common issues the Ombudsman can assist with are:

  • Cases involving an emergency or a hardship that falls under the USCIS expedite criteria
  • Expedite requests approved by USCIS more than 2 months ago
  • Typographical errors
  • Improper rejections
  • Cases involving U.S. military personnel and their families
  • Aging out of eligibility
  • Undelivered USCIS notices or decisions
  • Transfers to the Department of State for approved petitions

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New fraud prevention mechanisms applied to the H-1B program in fiscal year 2025 have led to a dramatic decrease in the number of eligible registrations for H-1B cap visas, plunging to almost 40% from the past year.

These fraud prevention mechanisms were introduced with the final rule “Improving the H-1B Registration Selection Process and Program Integrity,” which changed the H-1B selection process to center around unique beneficiaries, preventing employers from gaming the system and unfairly increasing their chances of selection.

Starting this fiscal year, each beneficiary could only be registered under one passport or travel document to prevent the submission of multiple registrations.

Recent USCIS data suggests that these new changes to the H-1B system were successful at combating fraud. The agency recently released its selection statistics for the fiscal year 2025 H-1B cap season.

The data shows a significant drop in the number of eligible registrations for fiscal year 2025 totaling 470,342—representing a 38.6% reduction when compared to the 758,994 eligible registrations received in fiscal year 2024.

Of these eligible registrations (470,342), USCIS selected 114,017 beneficiaries, resulting in a total of 120,603 selected registrations for fiscal year 2025.

The number of workers who were registered did not change significantly at 442,000 when compared with 446,000 last year.

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If you are an EB-5 investor in a Regional Center project, you may be interested to learn of new information released by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) regarding Regional Center audits.

In March 2022, with the passage of the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act of 2022, Congress implemented new reforms designed to increase the oversight of Regional Centers to prevent fraud and abuse within the immigrant investor program.

Among these fraud prevention mechanisms, USCIS established the EB-5 Integrity Fund, funded by annual regional center fees and immigrant petition fees, to detect and investigate fraud and other crimes related to the program, ensure compliance, conduct regional center audits (every five years) and site visits (for each new NCE or JCE).

USCIS recently released information confirming that the agency must audit each designated regional center at least once every five years.


What is done during a Regional Center audit?


Audits are performed during a site visit which include a review of documentation required to be maintained by the regional center and a review of the flow of immigrant investor capital into any capital investment project.

Effective April 23rd audits will be utilizing the Generally Accepted Government Auditing Standards, also known as the Yellow Book. The Yellow Book provides standards and guidance for auditors and audit organizations.


What is the purpose of Regional Center audits?


Regional center audits are conducted to strengthen the integrity of the EB-5 program by verifying information in regional center applications, annual certifications, and associated investor petitions.

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The long-awaited May 2024 Visa Bulletin has arrived! If you’d like to know all about the projected movement of the employment-based and family-sponsored categories in the month of May, we’ve got you covered.


Highlights of the May 2024 Visa Bulletin


Dates for Filing Chart


For the family-sponsored preference categories, the Dates for Filing Chart remains unchanged from the previous month, with the exception of the F2B category for Mexico which will advance by 1 month to September 1, 2004. Additionally, F3 Worldwide, China, and India will advance by 3 months to June 1, 2010. Finally, F4 India will advance by 2.2 months to June 15, 2006, F4 Mexico will advance by 1 week to April 22, 2001, and F4 Philippines will advance by over 1 month to June 1, 2005.

For the employment-based petitions, the Dates for Filing remain unchanged from the previous month.


Employment-based categories Final Action Chart


The Final Action Dates Chart shows no movement for all employment-based preference categories.


Family-sponsored categories


Movement in the Final Action Dates


On the other hand, the Final Action Dates Chart for the family-sponsored categories advanced in almost all categories as follows:

  • F1 Mexico will advance by 5.5 months to October 15, 2001
  • F1 Philippines will remain the same at March 1, 2012
  • F1 All other countries will advance by 4.9 months to July 8, 2015
  • F2A Mexico will advance by 2.8 months to November 8, 2020
  • F2A Philippines will advance by 8.7 months to June 1, 2021
  • F2A All other countries will advance by 8.7 months to June 1, 2021
  • F2B Mexico will advance by 4.3 months to March 1, 2004
  • F2B Philippines will remain at October 22, 2011
  • F2B All other countries will advance by 4.3 months to April 1, 2016
  • F3 Mexico will advance by 10.4 months to July 22, 1999
  • F3 Philippines will advance by 1.8 months to August 1, 2002
  • F3 All other countries will advance by 3 months to January 1, 2010
  • F4 Worldwide and China will advance by 1.4 months to July 22, 2007
  • F4 India will advance by 1 month to January 15, 2006
  • F4 Mexico will advance by 3.3 months to January 22, 2001
  • F4 Philippines will advance by 2.8 months to September 8, 2003

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This week we bring you new updates regarding the I-693 medical examination.

On April 4, 2024, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that any Form I-693, Report of Immigration Medical Examination and Vaccination Record, that was properly completed and signed by a civil surgeon on or after November 1, 2023, does not expire and can be used indefinitely as evidence to show that the applicant is not inadmissible on health-related grounds.


What is Form I-693?


The Form I-693 is a medical examination report that must be completed by a USCIS approved civil surgeon. It is a required document for certain noncitizens who must prove to USCIS that they are free of any health-related conditions that would make them inadmissible to the United States. This includes applicants applying for adjustment of status on Form I-485 (green card applicants).

Beginning December 9, 2021, USCIS recognized the validity of Form I-693 for a period of 2 years from the date the civil surgeon signed the form, regardless of when the underlying application was submitted.


What changed?


Medical Examinations Completed On or After November 1, 2023

USCIS has consulted with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and determined that the validity of Form I-693 will no longer be limited to a certain period, so long as it was properly completed and signed by a civil surgeon on or after November 1, 2023.

Effective November 1st, the CDC has required civil surgeons to share certain medical data from the Form I-693 directly with CDC electronically. CDC and USCIS have also collaborated to improve the reporting of public health information collected on Form I-693 by civil surgeons to local U.S. health departments.

Before this policy update, civil surgeons were not required to share such information with CDC electronically.

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We are pleased to announce that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will soon publish a new temporary final rule in the federal register aimed at streamlining the processing of renewal applications for Employment Authorization Documents (also known as EADs) and increasing the automatic extension period of EADs.


What does this new rule propose?


The new temporary final rule (TFR) proposes an increase of the automatic extension period of certain employment authorization documents (EADs) from up to 180 days to up to 540 days from the expiration date printed on EADs.


Who will benefit?


This automatic extension will benefit employment-authorized noncitizens to prevent workforce interruption for those that have pending employment authorization renewal applications with USCIS, which were timely and properly filed on or after October 27, 2023.

Additionally, to be eligible for the automatic extension, the EAD renewal application must still be pending with USCIS on the date of the rule’s publication in the Federal Register on April 8, 2024.

It will also benefit any eligible applicant who files a renewal EAD application during the 540-day period beginning on or after April 8, 2024 (the date of the rule’s publication in the Federal Register).

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In this blog post, we bring you an important announcement regarding the H-1B fiscal year (FY) 2025 cap season.

Today, April 1st the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it received sufficient electronic registrations during the initial registration period to meet the annual numerical limitations for the fiscal year (FY 2025), including for the advanced degree exemption (also known as the master’s cap).

Due to this, the agency has completed the H-1B visa lottery and selected unique beneficiaries at random from the properly submitted registrations to reach the H-1B cap.

As of today, April 1st  USCIS has notified all prospective petitioners of their selection via their myUSCIS organizational accounts. Please be aware that only selected beneficiaries are eligible to file an H-1B cap-subject petition with USCIS.

Congratulations to all those who were selected!


How will I know if I was selected in the lottery?


Petitioners with selected registrations will have their myUSCIS online organizational accounts updated to include a selection notice, which includes details of when and where to file. If you submitted your electronic registration with the assistance of an attorney, you should contact your legal representative to determine whether you were selected in the randomized lottery and your next steps.

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