Written by Benjamin Lau The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently announced that it is implementing a new filing fee schedule that will take effect on October 2, 2020. USCIS is also revising numerous key employment-based immigration forms, such as new editions of the Form I-129 nonimmigrant worker petition for H-1B, L-1, O-1 and other nonimmigrant categories. The new forms are not currently … Continue reading USCIS Announces New Fees: What Employers Need to Know
On Wednesday evening, April 22, 2020, President Trump issued his highly anticipated immigration proclamation, temporarily suspending some types of immigration to the United States due to COVID-19 and its resultant damage to the domestic labor market. While the language of the order suggested that future actions may be necessary, the current order is very limited in its scope and application. Very few individuals are now prevented from entering the United States who had not previously been barred from entry. A summary of the order is as follows: Continue reading “Immigration Proclamation Sets Limited Curbs”
Employers should beware: even during the COVID-19 pandemic, certain employer compliance and obligations continue and others are created.
NOTICE: if your work force is working from home and you have any individuals in H1B or E3 status, there are postings and notice requirements. There are technical rules which must be followed and documents to retain for the future when we return to the worksite.
TRAVEL BAN: the travel ban for entry to the USA from abroad remains in effect. The exception is for US citizens and lawful permanent residents and their families. In addition, many countries around the globe do not permit anyone but nationals of their own countries to enter.
Exceptions: The travel restriction does not apply to US Citizens, legal permanent residents (green card holders), spouses of US Citizens or legal permanent residents, unmarried children under the age of 21 of US Citizens or legal permanent residents, parents or legal guardians of US Citizens or legal permanent residents who are unmarried and under the age of 21, or members of the US Armed Forces and spouses and children of members of the US Armed Forces. Additional less common immigration statuses, such as individuals traveling on diplomatic visas, United Nation visas, or C-1/D crewmember visas, are also excluded from the travel restriction. Continue reading “Novel Coronavirus European Travel Ban (Effective March 13, 2020)”
Today, the U.S. Department of State (DOS) changed the reciprocity schedule for France to reflect decreased E-1, E-2, and L-1 visa validity periods. Specifically, effective November 12, 2019, E-1 and E-2 visas are now limited to a validity of only 25 months per visa issuance. Similarly, L-1 visasare now limited to a validity of only 17 months per visa issuance. Until this change, E and L visas have had validity for 60 months.
In general, different types of U.S. nonimmigrant visas have different allowable validity periods depending on the nationality of the applicant, because the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) requires the DOS to set country-specific visa policies based on reciprocity. The validity periods, number of entries, and visa fees for different types of visas are based on each country’s treatment of similar classes of U.S. visitors to its territory, as well as national security, immigration, and other considerations. Since August 2019, there have been announcements by the U.S. Embassy in France regarding decreased E visa validity periods for French nationals. According to the U.S. Embassy in France’s website at that time, the reduction in validity time on E visas was implemented to correspond with the “treatment afforded to U.S. citizens by the Government of France”. However, until today, the DOS has not changed the reciprocity schedule to reflect the changes. Continue reading “Update to Critical Restrictions on French Nationals (E and L Visas) as of November 12, 2019”
On May 31, 2019, the US Department of State updated their Form DS-160 (online nonimmigrant visa application) and Form DS-260 (online immigrant visa application) to collect social media identifiers for those applying for nonimmigrant and immigrant visas. Applicants for US visas are now being asked to provide all social media identifiers they have used within the past five (5) years. This update was announced in a statement to the press by a US Department of State official on June 1, 2019.
A social media “handle” or “identifier” is any name used by the individual on social media platforms including, but not limited to, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. The updated visa application forms currently employ a drop-down menu which list the specific social media platforms for which identifiers are being requested. An example of the drop-down menu from online visa application form can be seen below: Continue reading “US Visa Applicants Now Required To Provide Social Media Identifiers”
Pursuant to a recent announcement by the U.S. Embassy in Israel, E-2 Investor visas will be available to Israeli citizens starting May 1, 2019. While the bill granting Israeli citizens eligibility for the United States E-2 Treaty Investor visa was signed into law in 2012, the availability of visas was delayed by lengthy negotiations over the final terms of the reciprocal agreement between Israel and the United States. Fortunately, the terms of the reciprocal agreement between the two countries have now been finalized, allowing for the issuance of E-2 investor visas to Israel citizens starting in May.
The E-2 investor visa is available to citizens of qualifying countries who are actively engaged in the development and direction of a United States enterprise. In order to qualify for the E-2 visa, the foreign investor must have already invested, or be in the process of investing, a substantial amount of capital into the United States company. Although the list of qualifying nations for the E-2 visa includes over 70 countries, that list did not include Israel – until now. Continue reading “The United States Finalizes Its Welcome Notice to Israeli Investors: E-2 Visas Available in May”
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. Continue reading “USCIS Extends (and Expands) Premium Processing Ban”
You did everything right. You got into the best school, you got the necessary work experience, you found an employer willing to sponsor you for an H-1B visa, and you filed on April 1. However, despite all your work, your case was not selected as part of this year’s H-1B lottery. Through forces beyond your control, you are now back to square one, wondering whether you must now leave the United States.
But wait! There may still be an alternative visa option available to you within the alphabet soup of U.S. work visas. So, before throwing in the towel and packing your bags, you may want to consider the list of alternative U.S. work visa categories below. One of these alternative visas may offer you the best chance for future employment in the United States – and while the list is not conclusive, it represents the most likely options for you to secure U.S. work authorization. Continue reading “My H-1B Was Rejected In The Lottery! What Now?”