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Archive by Year: 2019 - Page 3

USCIS Increases Premium Processing Fee Beginning December 2, 2019

Posted November 5, 2019Lana Lee - ParalegalArticles

Beginning on December 2, 2019, the premium processing fee for Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, and Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, will be increasing to $1,440, from $1,410. The fee must be submitted at the time of filing in addition to any other applicable fees and cannot be waived.

Premium processing is an optional service that is available for many common visa petitions, including H-1B, L-1, O-1, TN and most I-140 petitions. Premium processing is requested using Form I-907 and requires USCIS to issue a response within 15 calendar days of receiving the request and fee. This response may come in the form of an approval or a request for evidence (RFE). If the latter is issued, USCIS will then have 15 calendar days to issue a decision once the response to the RFE has been received.

For more information on premium processing please contact your designated Meltzer Hellrung attorney.

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USCIS Publishes Screenshot of Proposed H-1B Online Registration Tool for Upcoming H-1B CAP Season

Posted November 1, 2019Articles

 

In October, USCIS published a screenshot of the new H-1B online registration tool that is expected to be implemented for the upcoming H-1B CAP season in April 2020. The full screenshot was posted on Regulations.gov and can be viewed here.

As published by USCIS earlier this year, the electronic registration process will require employers, or authorized attorneys, to submit an electronic registration for each petition first. The USCIS will then hold the lottery to determine which petitions are selected and invite employers to submit complete H-1B petitions subsequently.

As shown through this registration screenshot, the USCIS plans to collect the below information in order for the petitioning company to complete and submit H-1B CAP registrations for foreign national employees:

  • Petitioning company name, EIN, and primary address
  • Authorized signatory name and contact information for the petitioning company
  • Foreign national employee (“beneficiary”) information including name, date of birth, gender, country of birth/citizenship, passport number, and whether the beneficiary holds a master’s degree or higher from a U.S. institution
  • Attestation by the authorized signatory, under penalty of perjury, that the information is true and correct, and that the petitioner intends to file an H-1B petition for the individual if selected in the lottery

In September, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) also proposed that each electronic registration will require petitioners to pay a $10 fee for submission to the USCIS.

Meltzer Hellrung will continue to monitor the proposed changes to the registration, lottery, and submission process, to advise clients on how best to proceed in 2020 and beyond.

For more information on filing H-1B cap petitions, please contact your Meltzer Hellrung attorney.

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Federal District Court Issues Nationwide Injunction for Public Charge Rule

Posted October 14, 2019Stephanie Wedel - Sr. AssociateArticles

The new public charge regulation set to take effect on October 15, 2019 will now be delayed due to a preliminary injunction issued by the Federal District Court for the Southern District of New York. This injunction is effective nationwide, and two additional federal district courts have issued injunctions.  Multiple lawsuits against the expanded public charge rule remain pending in federal district courts across the country.

The injunction only applies to the regulation set forth by the Department of Homeland Security, and will not have any impact on the newly released State Department regulation which seeks to enforce a higher pubic charge standard on applicants for immigrant (permanent resident) and nonimmigrant visas (H-1B, TN, E-3, L-1, etc.) at U.S. Consulates.  The State Department regulation is also set to go into effect on October 15th, and is not affected by this injunction.  This injunction will also not apply to the presidential proclamation requiring health insurance for consular immigrant petitions that is set to take effect on November 3, 2019.

The injunction means that adjustment of status and nonimmigrant extension/change of status applicants will not be subject to the new expanded public charge regulations.  However, as the presidential proclamation and the State Department regulation are not affected by the injunction, applicants for immigrant and nonimmigrant visas should be prepared for additional scrutiny at the consulates.

Please reach out to your designated Meltzer Hellrung attorney if you have any questions.

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Health Care Requirement for Individuals Applying for Legal Permanent Residence Abroad

Posted October 9, 2019Stephanie Wedel - Sr. AssociateArticles

President Trump signed a proclamation October 4th which will prevent legal immigrants (legal permanent residents) from entering the U.S. if they cannot demonstrate that they will have health care coverage, or the ability to pay for it within 30 days of their arrival to the United States.  

As of November 3, 2019, only legal permanent residents who have approved health insurance or who can show that they can pay for “reasonably foreseeable medical costs” will be allowed to enter the United States.  Approved health insurance plans include employer-sponsored plans, unsubsidized health plans offered in the individual market, catastrophic plan, a family member's plan, Medicare, or any other plan providing adequate coverage as determined by the Department of Health and Human Services.

This proclamation will affect individuals applying for immigrant visas from overseas, spouses and parents of U.S. citizens and the immediate family members of legal permanent residents/green card holders.

This proclamation will not apply to individuals who hold a valid immigrant visa issued prior to the effective date, or those who already hold green cards. Non-citizen children of U.S. citizens, refugees and asylum-seekers will be exempt from this proclamation. This proclamation will not apply to non-immigrant visa holders, such as H-1B, TN, E-3, L-1, F-1 etc.

Please reach out to your designated Meltzer Hellrung attorney if you have any questions.

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U.S. Supreme Court Expands Definition of “Confidential” Information Under FOIA Exemption 4

Posted October 7, 2019Cheryl Kilborn - Sr. AssociateArticles

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) provides that all federal agency records are accessible to the public unless specifically exempt from disclosure, and it permits the public a broad right to receive information that federal agencies hold, including information submitted to agencies by private parties. 5 U.S.C. § 552(a).

The U.S. Supreme Court recently issued its opinion in Food Mktg. Inst. v. Argus Leader Media, 139 S. Ct. 915 (2019) and in doing so, expanded the definition of the term “confidential” when requesting an exemption under FOIA pursuant to 5 U.S.C. §552(b)(4). Specifically, Exemption 4 of the FOIA protects from disclosure “trade secrets and commercial or financial information obtained from a person [that is] privileged or confidential.” 5 U.S.C. §552(b)(4). The Court’s decision overturns the definition of confidential established over forty years ago in Nat’l Parks & Conservation Ass’n v. Morton, 498 F.2d 765 (D.C. Cir. 1974) which required a showing of “substantial harm” should certain information be released.

This decision is significant because it broadens the reach of Exemption 4, making it possible for employers to keep sensitive, private commercial or financial information from disclosure, even when they are required to provide this type of information to a government agency as part of an immigration filing under a statute or regulation (such as I-140 ability to pay documentation).

The Court held that “[a]t least where commercial or financial information is both customarily and actually treated as private by its owner and provided to the Government under an assurance of privacy, the information is ‘confidential’ within the meaning of Exemption 4.” Argus, 139 S. Ct. at 2366. Notably, the Court left open the question of whether Exemption 4 requires an assurance of confidentiality from the government agency.

Employers that submit sensitive information to federal agencies should be aware of this significant change and take steps to keep sensitive information private. Further, when submitting sensitive information to government agencies, Employers are encouraged to include a disclaimer in the submission advising the federal agency that the information contained therein is private and that they expect the agency to treat it as such.

Please contact your designated Meltzer Hellrung Attorney if you have any questions.

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