Articles Posted in Work permits

announcement-g9fd61cadf_1280

We are happy to share some great news for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) applicants! On November 29, 2021, the United States Citizenship, and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that TPS applicants may now file Form I-821 Application for Temporary Protected Status and I-765 Application for Employment Authorization entirely online for certain country designations.


Who is eligible to apply online?


First-time TPS applicants and TPS beneficiaries who are re-registering are eligible to file Form I-821 and Form I-765 online, provided they are a national under one of the following current designations for TPS:

  • Burma (Myanmar)
  • El Salvador
  • Haiti
  • Honduras
  • Nepal
  • Nicaragua
  • Somalia
  • South Sudan
  • Sudan
  • Syria
  • Venezuela
  • Yemen

Applicants can request an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) by submitting a completed Form I-765 with their Form I-821 online, or they may choose to submit their Form I-765 separately later. TPS applicants are recommended to file both forms together to help receive their Employment Authorization Document more quickly.


Where can I file?


To file Form I-821 online, eligible TPS applicants should visit the myUSCIS page to log into or create a USCIS online account. Through their myUSCIS account, applicants will be able to track the status of their application, review requests for more evidence, download a copy of their receipt notice, and have the ability to communicate with USCIS about their application through a secure inbox.


Why the change?


The new online filing capability is part of USCIS’ efforts to streamline the application process and reduce workloads by easily and conveniently retrieving applications and supporting documentation electronically. Previously, TPS online filing was only available to individuals from certain countries. The expansion of the online filing capability will now give USCIS the ability to process applications and EADs on a more timely basis through its secure and convenient platform.

Continue reading

megaphone-ge64a5e7b4_1920

We are happy to deliver some amazing news for H-4, E, and L dependent spouses! On November 12, 2021, following a settlement agreement known as Shergill v. Mayorkas, the United States Citizenship, and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a new Policy Memorandum (Policy Alert PA-2021-25) outlining that the agency will automatically allow for employment authorization for dependent E, L, and certain H-4 spouses of principal visa holders, without requiring spouses to file I-765 application for employment authorization to be eligible to work in the United States.

The new Policy Memorandum also rescinds the agency’s previous 2002 Memorandum which did not allow dependent spouses in E, L and certain H-4 visa holders to automatically qualify for work authorization in the United States.

Following this new settlement, E, L, and certain H-4 spouses will be able to work just by having their valid visas, and they will not need to file any separate applications nor need an employment authorization card (work permit) to lawfully work in the United States.

While some doubt initially arose regarding whether E dependent spouses would qualify for automatic employment authorization, USCIS has now explicitly confirmed that it will indeed consider E and L dependent spouses to be employment authorized incident to their valid E or L nonimmigrant status.

The new November 12, 2021, Policy Memorandum outlines the following:

  • Certain H-4, E, or L dependent spouses to qualify for an automatic extension of their existing employment authorization and accompanying employment authorization document (EAD) if they properly filed an application to renew their H-4, E or L-based EAD before the document expires and they have an unexpired Form I-94 evidencing their status as an H-4, E, or L nonimmigrant;
  • The automatic extension of the EAD will continue until the earlier of: end date on Form I-94 evidencing valid status the approval or denial of the EAD renewal application, or 180 days from the date of expiration of the prior EAD document; Form I-94, evidencing unexpired nonimmigrant status (H-4, E or L), Form I797C receipt for a timely – filed EAD renewal application stating “Class requested as “(a)(17),” “(a)(18) or ((c)(26)”, and the facially expired EAD issued under the same category);

Continue reading

win-gaa7fe7f08_1920

In this blog post we share amazing news with our readers regarding the settlement of a recent class-action lawsuit filed against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The agreement reached under the settlement will immediately allow for automatic renewals of employment authorization for: L-2 spouses of L-1 nonimmigrants and qualifying H-4 dependent spouses who (a) properly file an application to renew their H-4 based employment authorization document before expiration (b) have an unexpired Form I-94 showing their status as an H-4 nonimmigrant and (c) who will continue to have H-4 status beyond the expiration date of their employment authorization document. Shergill v. Mayorkas, No. 21-1296 (W.D. Wash.)


What does this new settlement mean?


 Effective immediately, the Shergill settlement will make it a lot easier for L-2 and H-4 dependent spouses to continue working in the United States without having to apply for a renewal of their employment authorization and without interruptions to their employment. As many are already aware, the processing of I-765 employment authorization applications is currently subject to extreme delays due to the pandemic and burdens on USCIS offices. This new settlement will prevent L-2 and certain H-4 dependent spouses from being stuck in these backlogs. Not to mention L-2 and certain H-4 spouses will no longer have to pay the required $410 filing fee to renew their employment authorization. Following this new settlement, L-2 spouses and certain H-4 spouses will be able to work just by having their valid H-4 and L-2 visas, and they will not need to file any separate applications nor need an employment authorization card (work permit) to work in the United States.


Guidelines for Dependent Spouses under the Settlement Agreement


Under the terms of the Shergill settlement agreement, as it relates to L-2 dependent spouses, USCIS will now interpret 8 CFR § 274a.13(d) to recognize that employment authorization for such spouses is now linked (incident) to their visa status. USCIS will also allow up to 180-day automatic employment authorization extensions when the applicant has already had the H-4 or L-2 status extension granted either through USCIS or through travel.

Automatic Renewals of Employment Authorization for applications that already have valid H-4 status

  • Pursuant to the settlement agreement, USCIS is now interpreting the law so that H-4 nonimmigrants who have timely filed their I-765 EAD renewal applications and continue to have H-4 status beyond the expiration date of their EAD, qualify for the automatic extension based on their (c)(26) EAD.
  • This automatic extension will terminate on the earlier of: the end date of the H-4 status, adjudication of the EAD renewal application, or 180 days from the previous card’s expiration date.

Continue reading

tingey-injury-law-firm-L4YGuSg0fxs-unsplash-1-scaled

Welcome back to Visalawyerblog! In this blog post we share with you some recent news regarding a new class action lawsuit that has been filed by 49 plaintiffs against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), seeking relief from the extreme processing delays currently taking place for I-765 applications for employment authorization (EADs) filed by individuals seeking adjustment of status (AOS) in the United States, and for I-765 applications filed by E-2 dependent spouses with USCIS.

Currently, USCIS reports that I-765 work permit applications based on a pending I-485 adjustment of status application are taking between 20 to 21.5 months to process at the California Service Center; while it is taking 9 to 9.5 months to process work permit applications at the National Benefits Center; and 9.5 to 10.5 months to process such applications at the Nebraska Service Center.

The new legal challenge against the government has been mounted by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), Wolfsdorf Rosenthal LLP, Joseph and Hall PC, Kuck Baxter Immigration LLC, and Siskind Susser PC.

The lawsuit seeks to hold the government accountable once and for all for the exorbitant processing times taking place for work permit applications to be adjudicated, especially those at the California Service Center. Under the law, applicants for adjustment of status are afforded the option of applying for temporary employment authorization while their green card applications are pending with USCIS, through what is supposed to be an easy procedure that involves filing a simple I-765 application for employment authorization. In normal circumstances, such employment authorization applications took on average 7 to 9 months to be adjudicated. Since the onset of the pandemic however USCIS has not been able to adjudicate these applications within reasonable timeframes.

Processing times have gotten worse and worse to the point that applicants are receiving their green card interview appointments before even coming close to receiving an approved employment authorization document. This has resulted in applicants being unable to seek employment while waiting for their green card applications to process. This has caused great cause for concern for individuals who have a job offer lined up or who need to work to maintain their households. Further, the American economy is experiencing more and more labor shortages as they struggle to get individuals back to work. The situation at the USCIS level is making it even more difficult for American businesses to find qualified workers.

Continue reading

angry-3233158_1920

Welcome back to Visalawyerblog! We hope that you are having a wonderful week and are looking forward to your Labor Day weekend.

In this blog post, we share with you some recent immigration updates relating to automatic renewals for certain categories of applicants filing Employment Authorization Document renewal applications. In this post we also discuss Form I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification flexibilities recently extended due to the COVID-19 health crisis.


DHS Extends Form I-9 Requirement Flexibility (Effective September 1, 2021)


In order to remain in compliance with federal regulations, U.S. employers must complete Form I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification, to verify the identity and employment authorization documents of their employees.

On September 1, 2021, the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, announced that they will be extending previously issued flexibility guidelines for employers and noncitizen employees to comply with Form I-9 requirements due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. DHS has extended these flexibility requirements until December 31, 2021.


What do the flexibility guidelines say?


DHS first introduced the I-9 flexibility guidelines on April 1, 2021, abandoning the requirement that employers inspect employees’ Form I-9 identity and employment eligibility documentation in-person for most employees. Employees who physically report to work at a company location on any “regular, consistent, or predictable basis” are not exempt from the in-person inspection requirement.

The physical inspection requirement would not apply to employees hired on or after April 1, 2021, who are working in a remote setting due to COVID-19-related precautions, under Section 274A of the INA, until they undertake non-remote employment on a “regular, consistent, or predictable basis,” or where the extension of the flexibilities related to such requirements is terminated, whichever is earlier.

Continue reading

cup-1615074_1920

The National Interest Waiver, a subcategory of the EB-2 employment based, second preference visa, is a great option for professionals who can demonstrate possession of an advanced degree or exceptional ability in their proposed field or endeavor. The National Interest Waiver is an extremely attractive choice for those who qualify because it allows applicants to self-petition for permanent residence without having to submit a Labor Certification Application (LCA) with the Department of Labor.

It is also an interesting choice because the professions that qualify for a National Interest Waiver are not defined by statute, however, to be successful applicants must demonstrate their exceptional ability and prove that their employment in the United States would be of benefit to the nation. Without the filing of a National Interest Waiver, applicants must have employment sponsorship and their employers must go through the lengthy PERM (Program Electronic Review Management) Labor Certification process.


Why is NIW an attractive choice over traditional Labor Certification?


Simply put the National Interest Waiver takes a lot less time and is much easier to file when compared to the traditional EB-2 visa requiring labor certification. Obtaining approval of a labor certification application is no easy task. It can take anywhere from 6 months to more than 1 year to obtain approval, depending on a variety of different factors.

The PERM process is also time consuming for both the U.S. employer and the applicant, making the National Interest Waiver option extremely advantageous. For instance, during the PERM process, the U.S. employer is required to undergo a series of recruitment activities to test the labor market before filing the labor certification application. As part of these activities, the employer must go through a recruitment process where the employer must prove that there is not a sufficient number of able, qualified, and willing applicants, whether U.S. citizens or permanent residents, to fill the position. The employer must also go through an advertising period for the position and wait a mandatory 30-day period after the last advertisement runs before the PERM application can be filed.

The National Interest Waiver does away with these arduous steps, and instead allows an applicant to request a waiver of the Labor Certification process, by demonstrating that his or her proposed endeavor is in the interest of the United States. The applicant does not need employment sponsorship but must demonstrate possession of an advanced degree (master’s or bachelor’s) or exceptional ability in their field or endeavor. Exceptional ability is defined as having a degree of expertise that is significantly above that ordinarily encountered in the profession. That means that you must be prepared to prove to USCIS that you are an expert in your field and have attained a level of mastery in your field and/or achievements such that that you are considered “exceptional.”

Continue reading

career-3449422_1920

In this blog post we share with you some happy news for first time Temporary Protected Status (TPS) applicants from Venezuela, Syria, and Burma.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has announced that it is extending the initial registration periods for applications under the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designations for Venezuela, Syria, and Burma (Myanmar), from 180 days to 18 months.

Foreign nationals eligible to file initial (new) applications under the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designations for Venezuela, Syria and Burma (Myanmar), will now have up to 18 months to submit their requests, up from 180 days, according to a recent Federal Register notice that has been published in the Federal Register by USCIS. The registration periods, which were to expire this fall, are being extended by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in an effort to ensure that eligible applicants have an opportunity to obtain TPS and to reduce operational burdens on U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) by spreading out applications over a period of time.

The new 18-month filing periods align with the TPS designation for each country and are in keeping with the filing periods recently allotted in for Yemen, Haiti, and Somalia TPS designations.


What does the new filing extension allow me to do?


This new filing extension will allow eligible individuals to submit an initial Form I-821, Application for Temporary Protected Status, application for an Employment Authorization Document (Form I-765 work permit), and application for Travel Permission (Form I-131) (if desired) at any time during the 18-month designation or redesignation periods for these three countries.

Continue reading

yemen-653086_1920

Welcome back to Visalawyerblog! We are happy to bring you the latest immigration updates recently announced by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).


USCIS Guidance Following DACA Permanent Injunction in State of Texas, et al., v. United States of America, et al., 1:18-CV-00068, (S.D. Texas July 16, 2021)


USCIS has announced on its official webpage that consistent with the permanent injunction granted by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas on July 16, 2021, declaring DACA policy illegal, USCIS is prohibited from granting initial requests for first time DACA applicants, and accompanying requests for employment authorization.

However, USCIS will continue to accept both initial and renewal DACA requests but will not be able to adjudicate requests for first time DACA applicant’s pursuant to the court order.

Renewal filings for those who have received DACA benefits in the past, will continue unaffected by the court order, and USCIS will continue to adjudicate renewal requests, and accompanying renewal requests for employment authorization as before.

What’s next? The Department of Justice will be appealing the District Court’s decision and the Biden administration is urging Congress to pass the American Dream and Promise Act of 2021.

Read Biden’s Statement responding to the Court’s injunction here.


Applicants Filing Change of Status Applications to F-1 No Longer Need to Submit Subsequent Applications to ‘Bridge the Gap’


We are happy to report that USCIS recently ended the “Bridge the Gap” policy. Previously, prospective students with a current nonimmigrant status in the United States, that was set to expire more than 30 days before their F-1 program start date, were required to “Bridge the Gap,” by filing Form I-539 with USCIS to request an extension of their current status, or a change to another status ensuring that they would not have a “gap” in status.

Effective July 20, 2021, USCIS announced that individuals who have applied for a change of status to F-1 student, will no longer need to “Bridge the Gap,” while their initial F-1 change of status application is pending with USCIS.

To prevent a “gap” in status, USCIS has said that it will now grant the change of status to F-1 effective the day the applicant’s Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status is approved. If USCIS approves an application more than 30 days before the student’s program start date, the student must ensure they do not violate their F-1 status during that time (such as engaging in unauthorized employment, more than 30 days before the program start date as listed on the Form I-20.)

These changes have been introduced to decrease current backlogs and USCIS workloads. A revision of the Form I-539 instructions will soon be published to reflect these new policy changes.

Continue reading

state-2731980_1920

Welcome back to Visalawyerblog! We hope you had a wonderful fourth of July weekend with your family and loved ones.

In this blog post, we share with you some exciting news for Yemeni nationals receiving benefits under the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program. The Biden administration has made the decision to extend Temporary Protected Status for Yemeni nationals currently receiving protections under the program until March 3, 2023. In addition, the re-designation means that certain eligible Yemeni nationals will be able to apply for TPS protections for the first time.

The main benefit of applying for this program is that those who are approved for Temporary Protected Status can remain in the country on a lawful basis, will receive protection against deportation (deferred status), and are eligible to apply for employment authorization and travel permission by filing, Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization, and Form I-131 Application for Travel Document, with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).


How did this all happen?


Extension of Designation of Yemen for TPS

On January 6, 2021, the Secretary of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, announced an 18-month extension and redesignation of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for the country of Yemen. This extension and re-designation will be in effect from September 4, 2021, through March 3, 2023 (an 18-month period)

Secretary Mayorkas made this decision after consulting with government officials and taking into consideration the ongoing armed conflict in Yemen, lack of access to food, water, and healthcare, the large-scale destruction of Yemen’s infrastructure, population displacement, the ongoing cholera outbreak since 2016, and the worsening COVID-19 situation in the country.

Mayorkas found that these circumstances ultimately prevented Yemeni nationals from safely returning to their home country stating, “Yemen continues to experience worsening humanitarian and economic conditions that prevent individuals from safely returning to their homes. Therefore, I have decided to extend and re-designate Yemen for Temporary Protected Status. We will continue to protect and offer these individuals a place of residency temporarily in the United States.”

Currently, there are an estimated 1,700 beneficiaries receiving TPS benefits under Yemen’s designation. The program’s extension will mean that these beneficiaries can re-register for benefits and retain TPS status through March 3, 2023, so long as they can demonstrate that they continue to meet the TPS eligibility requirements.

Continue reading

bill-oxford-udXD2NrbXS8-unsplash-scaled

Welcome back to the start of a brand-new week! We are excited to announce brand new developments in the world of immigration specifically for U visa victims of crimes.

On June 14, 2021, the United States Citizenship, and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a new policy alert, informing U visa applicants that the agency will now be exercising its discretion to issue four year Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) (also known as work permits),  as well as four-year “deferred action” status to certain U visa applicants, including those who have filed new U visa petitions, and those whose U visa petitions remain pending with USCIS, based on a new discretionary process called a “bona fide determination.”

This is a groundbreaking new development for U visa applicants because victims of crime will now be eligible to receive an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), as well as “deferred action” status, while their U visa applications remain pending with USCIS. With this new policy change, U visa applicants will no longer need to wait 5+ years for their U visa approval, in order to become eligible for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), and be protected from deportation.

Previously, only principal U visa applicants whose petitions were approved by USCIS, were authorized to work based on their approved status with immigration. Only those with an approved Petition for U Nonimmigrant Status (Form I-918) would automatically be issued an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). All other applicants with pending petitions were forced to wait in the visa queue for a visa to become available due to the mandatory U visa cap. This process on average has taken up to 5 years.

Continue reading