Articles Posted in Work Visas

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Are you ready for the upcoming H1B season for fiscal year 2021?

With the registration period fast approaching, we want to make sure you know everything there is to know about the new mandatory H-1B electronic registration process for fiscal year 2021 (FY 2021).

The following FAQ provides the most up to date information regarding the mandatory electronic registration requirement.

 

H-1B Registration Process Timeline

Feb. 24: Prospective petitioners may begin creating H-1B registrant accounts (account creation will remain open throughout the entire registration period). Representatives may create an account at any time.

March 1: H-1B registration period opens at noon ET.

March 20: H-1B registration period closes at noon ET.

March 31: Date by which USCIS intends to notify selected registrants.

April 1: The earliest date that FY 2021 H-1B cap-subject petitions may be filed.

FAQs

Q: What is the electronic registration requirement?

A: In order to participate in the upcoming H-1B lottery, prospective petitioners seeking to file H-1B cap-subject petitions for FY 2021, including for beneficiaries eligible for the advanced degree exemption, must first electronically register and pay the associated $10 H-1B registration fee for each beneficiary.

Only those petitioners who have submitted an electronic registration and have received a “Selected” registration notification may properly file an H-1B cap-subject petition for FY 2021.

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On January 23, 2020, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) formally announced by way of a notice published in the Federal Register that nationals of Iran and their dependents are no longer eligible to change or extend their stay in E-1 or E-2 nonimmigrant status due to the termination of the 1995 Treaty of Economic Relations (also known as the Treaty of Amity) between the United States and Iran.

Under current immigration law, “the existence of a qualifying treaty or authorizing legislation is . . . a threshold requirement for issuing an E visa.” Therefore, the termination of the Treaty of Amity between the United States and Iran no longer provides a basis for Iranian nationals to qualify for the E nonimmigrant visa classification.

When did the Treaty end?

On October 3, 2018, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security notified Iran of the Termination of the Treaty of Amity. On October 23, 2019, the Department of State provided DHS with formal notice of the termination of the treaty. Currently, there are no other qualifying treaties with Iran or any legislation for granting E-1 or E-2 status to Iranian nationals.

What does this mean?

Accordingly, a national of Iran is no longer eligible for an extension of stay in E-1 or E-2 status or a change of status to E-1 or E-2 on the basis of the Treaty of Amity.

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Welcome back to Visalawyerblog! In this post, we bring you the latest immigration news for the week.

USCIS Announces Workload Transfers

In an effort to manage heavy workloads, increase efficiency, and decrease processing times, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has been transferring cases between service centers.

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It’s official. Yesterday, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published a notice in the Federal Register formally implementing the mandatory registration requirement for H1B petitioners seeking to file a cap-subject petition for Fiscal Year 2021. The notice went into effect on January 9, 2019, the date of publication.

Beginning March 1, 2020, before a petitioner can file an H-1B cap-subject petition, including petitions eligible for the advanced degree exemption, the petitioner must first electronically register with USCIS. Only petitioners with a valid registration selection will be eligible to file an H-1B petition with USCIS.

The initial registration period for FY 2021 will open on March 1, 2020 and is expected to close on March 20, 2020. The actual end date will be provided on the USCIS website.

Who must register?

H-1B cap-subject petitioners, including those eligible for the advanced degree exemption, seeking to file a FY 2021 H-1B cap petition will be required to first register electronically with USCIS and pay the associated $10 H-1B registration fee for each submission

Prospective petitioners or their authorized representatives must electronically submit a separate registration naming each alien for whom they seek to file an H-1B cap-subject petition. Duplicate registrations are prohibited.

What happens after the registration period closes?

Once the registration period closes, USCIS will conduct the initial selection process.

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In this blog post, we would like to remind our readers that today is the last day to submit a public comment on the USCIS proposed rule increasing immigration fees for certain petitions. Initially USCIS had set a 30-day comment period ending on December 16, 2019, however the comment period was later extended for two more weeks, ending today December 30, 2019.

Once the comment period has closed, USCIS will review all public comments and publish a final rule in the Federal Register which will contain the rule’s effective date of implementation.

The filing fees for the following petitions would increase substantially under the proposed rule:

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As we approach the end of the year, in this blog post, we look back at the major policy changes implemented by the Trump administration in the year 2019 that have had a profound impact on the way our immigration system functions today.

JANUARY 

Government Shutdown Woes

The start of 2019 began on a very somber note. From December 22, 2018 to January 25, 2019 Americans experienced the longest government shutdown in American history (lasting a period fo 35 days) largely due to political differences between the Republican and Democratic parties on the issue of government funding to build a border wall along the U.S. Mexico border.

The government shutdown created a massive backlog for non-detained persons expecting to attend hearings in immigration court. Because of limited availability of federal workers, non-detained persons experienced postponements and were required to wait an indeterminate amount of time for those hearings to be re-scheduled.

To sway public opinion, 17 days into the government shutdown, the President delivered his first primetime address from the Oval office where he called on Democrats to pass a spending bill that would provide $5.7 billion in funding for border security, including the President’s border wall.

With no agreement in sight, on January 19, 2019, the President sought to appease Democrats by offering them a compromise solution. In exchange for funding his border wall and border security, the President announced a plan that would extend temporary protected status of TPS recipients for a three-year period and provide legislative relief to DACA recipients for a three-year period. The President’s proposal however did not provide a pathway to residency for Dreamers, and was quickly rejected by Democrats.

On January 25, 2019, with still no solution and pressure mounting, the President relented and passed a temporary bill reopening the government until February 15, 2019.

Meanwhile, immigration courts across the country were forced to postpone hundreds of immigration hearings, with Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky being the most deeply affected by the shutdown.

Changes to the H1B Visa Program

On January 30, 2019, the Department of Homeland Security announced proposed changes to the H-1B visa program including a mandatory electronic registration requirement for H1B petitioners filing cap-subject petitions beginning fiscal year 2020, and a reversal in the selection process for cap-subject petitions. The government outlined that it would first select H-1B registrations submitted on behalf of all H-1B beneficiaries (including regular cap and advanced degree exemption) and then if necessary select the remaining number of petitions from registrations filed for the advanced degree exemption. Moreover, only those registrations selected during fiscal year 2020 and on, would be eligible to file a paper H1B cap petition.

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The House of Representatives recently made a bold move that could give undocumented farmworkers a pathway to permanent residence.

Yesterday, December 11, 2019, by a vote of 260-165, the House passed the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, a progressive bill that if approved by the Senate, would create several exciting opportunities for undocumented farmworkers as well as U.S. employers.

What does the Bill propose?

The bill would allow existing agricultural workers in the United States to legalize their status through continued agricultural employment and contribution to the United States economy.

Which workers would be eligible for Permanent Resident Status?

Earned Pathway to Legalization

  • Individuals who have worked in agriculture in the U.S. for at least 10 years before enactment of the bill, must continue to work for at least 4 more years in agriculture on Certified Agricultural Worker (CAW) status before being eligible to apply for permanent residence OR
  • Individuals who have worked in agriculture in the U.S. for less than 10 years, must work at least 8 more years in agriculture on CAW status before being eligible to apply for permanent residence
    • Applicants who qualify based on one of these criteria would be required to pay a $1,000 fine

In addition, the bill would:

  • Create a new temporary worker visa program for current unauthorized farmworkers called Certified Agricultural Worker (CAW) status. CAW visas would be renewable and five-and-a-half years in length. The number of CAW visas would be uncapped.
  • Establish eligibility requirements of the CAW visa.Unauthorized immigrants who have spent at least 180 days of the last two years in agricultural employment would be eligible for the Certified Agricultural Worker Visa.
  • With few exceptions, applicants must meet existing work visa admissibility requirements to be eligible and must pass a criminal background check.
  • Felons and those who have been convicted of multiple misdemeanors (two or more offenses of moral turpitude or three offenses in general) would not be eligible.

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It’s official. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that beginning March 1, 2020 through March 20, 2020, the agency will be implementing a mandatory, Internet-based, electronic registration process for U.S. employers seeking to file H-1B petitions for workers subject to either the 65,000 or 20,000 annual numerical limitations for the fiscal year 2021 cap.

All H-1B petitioners seeking to file a petition for the fiscal year 2021 cap, will be required to complete the mandatory registration process by electronically registering online beginning March 1, 2020 through March 20, 2020, and paying the associated $10 H-1B registration fee.

The registration process will require H-1B petitioners or their authorized representatives to provide basic information about the company and each requested worker. As we get closer to the initial registration period, USCIS will provide step-by-step instructions on its website to inform petitioners on how to complete the registration process. These instructions will be shared on our blog as soon as they become available.

Please note that only petitioners with selected registrations will be eligible to file an H-1B cap-subject petition. If USCIS receives submissions in excess of the 65,000/20,000 annual numerical limitations during the authorized registration period, USCIS will be using electronic submissions to conduct the randomized H-1B computer generated lottery.

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In this blog post we highlight the best features of E-2 Treaty Investor Visa program, for individuals seeking to live and work in the United States for a temporary period of time.

First let’s discuss what the E-2 visa is. The E-2 visa is a non-immigrant visa type, which means that it is a temporary visa option for individuals who do not wish to immigrate to the United States, but rather are interested in remaining in the United States for a limited period of time.

Secondly, the E-2 visa is a treaty investor visa. This means that in order to qualify for this visa type you must be a national of a country with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation. This visa type allows a national of a treaty country to apply for admission to the United States under the E-2 visa category for the purpose of investing a substantial amount of capital in a United States business.

Currently, 89 countries maintain a treaty of commerce and navigation with the United States. Israel and New Zealand are the most recent countries to enter into a treaty commerce and navigation with the United States, allowing nationals of these countries to participate in the E-2 visa program. For a complete list of the countries with which the U.S. maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation, please click here.

The most frequently asked question when it comes to the E-2 visa is, how much money must I invest in order to qualify for this visa type?

The amount of money that must be invested depends on the nature of the business’ operations. USCIS defines the amount of capital to be invested as “a substantial amount of capital” interpreted as:

  • Substantial in relationship to the total cost of either purchasing an established enterprise or establishing a new one
  • Sufficient to ensure the treaty investor’s financial commitment to the successful operation of the enterprise
  • Of a magnitude to support the likelihood that the treaty investor will successfully develop and direct the enterprise.  The lower the cost of the enterprise, the higher, proportionately, the investment must be to be considered substantial.

Thirdly, to qualify for the E-2 visa the investment must be in a bona fide business enterprise that is real, active, and operating and is producing either services or goods for profit. Passive investments are not allowed.

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On November 14, 2019, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services will publish a proposed rule in the Federal Register to increase immigration fees for certain petitions. After publication, the proposal will be open for a 30-day comment period. After that point the agency will review public comments and draft the final rule. At this time there is no definitive date set out in the proposed rule for enforcement of these fees. Therefore, readers should note that these fee increases will likely not take effect until well into Fiscal Year 2020.

What does the rule propose?

The rule proposes the following fee increases by immigration benefit:

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Moreover, DHS proposes that fees for the following types of petitions be limited to a 5 percent increase above current fees:

  • Form I-290B, Notice of Appeal or Motion.
  • Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er) or Special Immigrant.
  • Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative
  • Form I-600A, Application for Advance Processing of an Orphan Petition
  • Form I-600A/I-600, Supplement 3, Request for Action on Approved Form I-600A/I600.42
  • Form I-800, Petition to Classify Convention Adoptee as an Immediate Relative.
  • Form I-800A, Application for Determination of Suitability to Adopt a Child from a Convention Country.
  • Form I-800A, Supplement 3, Request for Action on Approved Form I-800A

Changes to Fee Waiver Requests

DHS further proposes to limit fee waivers grants to individuals who have an annual household income of less than 125 percent of the Federal Poverty Guideline as defined by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

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