Nonimmigrant

USCIS Extends (and Expands) Premium Processing Ban

World map created with passport stamps, travel concept

Photo credit: iStock.com/Delpixart

By David S. Rugendorf

The USCIS announced today that it is extending its ban on premium processing on certain H-1B petitions. Premium Processing allows an employer to seek an adjudication of a visa petition within 15 days upon payment of an additional filing fee, currently $1,225 (increasing to $1,410 on October 1, 2018). Employers should review their current and upcoming H-1B visa needs to determine how the ban will impact their matters, so they can plan accordingly.

To be specific, USCIS estimated earlier this year it would reinstate Premium Processing for H-1B cap cases in September 2018 (in roughly two weeks from now). The suspension of Premium Processing for Fiscal Year 2019 H-1B Cap Petitions is now expected to be extended through at least February 19, 2019. USCIS expects this suspension will help reduce the processing time for H-1Bs by allowing it to process long-pending petitions. In addition, USCIS states that the temporary suspension will allow them to be more responsive to petitions with time-sensitive start dates, as well as to prioritize adjudication of H-1B extension of status cases that are nearing their 240-day work authorization limit dates. (more…)

Implementation of Executive Order Imposing Temporary Travel and Refugee Ban

By Benjamin Lau and David Rugendorf

On March 6, 2017, President Trump reissuedbusiness travel the Executive Order, “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States,” with an effective date of March 16, 2017. The previous Executive Order 13769 of January 27, 2017, will be revoked on March 16, 2017, and replaced with this reissued Order.

The new Executive Order bans immigrant and nonimmigrant entries for nationals of six designated countries – Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen – for at least 90 days beginning on March 16, 2017. The new Executive Order specifically removes Iraq from the list of designated countries.   (more…)

President Trump’s Executive Order Prohibiting Entry of Certain Individuals to the United States

By David Rugendorf and Benjamin Lau

On January 27, 2017, President Trump signed an Executive Order that provided the following:

  • Suspends nonimmigrants (persons coming temporarily to the United States) from designated countries from entry to the United States for a period of up to ninety (90) days from the date of the order (January 27, 2017). At this time, the designated countries are Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.  Additional countries may be added.  This prohibition does not apply to foreign nationals traveling on diplomatic visas, NATO visas, and United Nations visas.  It is unclear if the Executive Order applies only to (1) individuals who hold passports from the designated countries, or if it also applies to (2) foreign nationals who were born in the designated countries, but who are citizens of other, non-designated countries or who are dual nationals, or (3) whose parents were born or hold citizenship from the designated countries.  However, according to the Wall Street Journal, the State Department will announce that dual nationals are subject to the ban.  For example, a dual national of Iraq and the United Kingdom would be denied entry, even if the dual national travels on a UK passport.

(more…)

New USCIS Forms And USCIS Filing Fee Adjustment

By Benjamin Lau and Frida Glucoft

On December 23, 2016, the USCIS posted a large number of new form versions with effective dates of December 23, 2016, to its website and indicated that no other versions of the forms would be accepted. Numerous stakeholders, companies, immigration attorneys, professional organizations and advocacy groups contacted the USCIS to demand a grace period where prior form versions could be submitted since no notice of the updates were given. On December 29, 2016, the USCIS announced that it would accept prior versions of the recently updated forms until February 21, 2017. The only exception to this grace period is the Form N-400, the application for naturalization, which the USCIS announced on December 13, 2016.

As part of the forms update, the USCIS issued a new Form I-129S. The new I-129S requires  employers who file an L-1 extension of stay or a change of status for an employee based on an approved blanket L petition to use both the individual L1 application Form I-129 and to also submit the I-129S blanket. Previously, all L-1 petition extensions or change of status only required the one individual form, I-129. The filing fees for both forms, when both forms are required, remain unclear at this time.

In addition to the new forms, the USCIS fee changes that were announced in October 2016 went into effect on December 23, 2016. The fee changes saw an increase in the filing fees for nearly all immigrant and nonimmigrant categories. Some of the new filing fees are: I-129: $460, I-539: $370, I-140: $700, I-130: $535, and I-485: $1,225.