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H and L Visa Adjudications in China Restricted to Three Locations

Posted February 4, 2019Karen GillespieArticles

The Department of State announced that as of March 1, 2019, H and L visa interviews will only be conducted the following locations:

  • U.S. Embassy in Beijing
  • U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou
  • U.S. Consulate in Shanghai

This change reduces the number of available consulates for H and L visa interviews from five to three locations. The Department of State has implemented similar consolidations in other countries and this action appears to be part of a Department project to streamline consular operations. If examples from prior consolidations, such as in India, are any indicator then applicants seeking new or renewed H or L visas in China should expect longer wait times for an appointment.

We urge applicants to plan ahead when traveling internationally if a new or extended visa needs to be obtained regardless of country of origin, but this is now especially true for Chinese citizens. Such planning includes booking a consular appointment prior to exiting the U.S. and allowing at least 3 business days after your interview appointment for your visa to be processed. In emergency cases, where the wait time in China may be prohibitively long, please reach out to your Meltzer Hellrung attorney so that we can explore consular options in other countries or request expedited service if possible. Such options vary by individual and would be assessed at the time by your attorney.

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E-Verify After Government Shutdown

Posted January 28, 2019Articles

During the 35 day federal government shutdown E-Verify was not available to employers. Employers have until February 11th to enter cases for all hires made during the shutdown period.

USCIS instructed that employers use the hire date from the employee's Form I-9 when creating an E-Verify case. If the case creation date is more than three days following the worker's start date, select "Other" from the drop-down list asking for an explanation and enter "E-Verify Not Available" as the reason.

For further information on handling tentative nonconfirmations please see USCIS guidance.

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USCIS Confirms SAVE Program is Operational During Shutdown

Posted January 24, 2019Kristen KellarArticles

USCIS has confirmed that its SAVE Program is available during the government shutdown. The Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements Program is used by government agencies to verify immigration status when offering government benefits. Examples of agencies that may use the program are a state's department of motor vehicles, department of human services, and department of employment security. Agencies using the program will continue to be able to use the system during the shutdown. The SAVE CaseCheck system is also still available for individuals looking to follow the status of their verification case.

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USCIS Updates Guidance on Traveling with Advance Parole

Posted January 3, 2019Articles

USCIS updated its form instructions for when the agency will deny pending Form I-131 applications for advance parole for applicants who travel while the application is  pending. Previously, USCIS has denied all advance parole petitions when an individual traveled while the application was pending. 

USCIS indicates that when an applicant applies for advance parole, and the applicant travels internationally without the advance parole document that is valid for the entire period of travel, USCIS will consider the pending Form I-131 to be abandoned.

Further, USCIS notes that an applicant may have an approved advance parole document while a second one is pending. Individuals can travel while a new advance parole petition is pending as long as a previously approved advanced parole document is valid for the entire time spent abroad. In this situation, the pending application for advance parole will not be considered abandoned.

USCIS indicates that when an applicant applies for advance parole, and the applicant travels internationally without the advance parole document that is valid for the entire period of travel, USCIS will consider the pending Form I-131 to be abandoned.

We will continue to update this practice alert as more information becomes available. If you have any questions, please reach out to your designated Meltzer Hellrung attorney. 

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Effect of the Government Shutdown on Employment-Based Immigration

Posted December 26, 2018Articles

With the government partially shut down as of December 22, 2018, many agencies are still operating, but other services will be unavailable until a new spending bill is signed. Here is an overview of how some of the immigration related agencies and services are being affected.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services budget is fee based and generally is not affected by a government shutdown. USCIS offices will be open and interviews and appointments should be attended.

The following USCIS programs are affected:

  • EB-5 Immigrant Investor Regional Center Program

EB-5 applications are on hold due to a lapse in congressional authorization for the program. Forms I-526 and I-924 can be submitted but will not be adjudicated until congressional authorization is received. Forms I-829, submitted to remove conditions to remove conditions on permanent resident status for entrepreneurs are not affected.

  • E-Verify

E-Verify services are unavailable. During this time, the following policies have been implemented to assist employers:

  1. The 'three-day rule" for creating cases is suspended for cases affected by the unavailability of E-Verify.
  2. The time period which employees may resolve tentative nonconfirmations (TNCs) will be extended. Additional guidance will be provided by E-Verify when operations resume.
  3. Employers may not take adverse action against employees because the E-Verify case is in an interim case status, including while the employee's case is in an extended interim case status due to the unavailability of services.
  4. Federal contractors with the Federal Acquisition Regulation E-Verify clause should contact their contracting officer for information on extending deadlines.
  • Conrad 30 Waiver Program for J-1 medical doctors

Conrad 30 waivers are not being granted.

  • EB-4 Non-Minister Religious Workers

The non-ministerial special immigrant religious worker program is currently on hold.

Department of Labor

The Department of Labor has been funded through October 2019 so it is not affected by the shutdown.

Department of State

The State Department has announced that it will continue to provide scheduled passport and visa services at U.S. Embassies and Consulates during the shutdown, however delays may occur.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection

Ports of entry are open and Customer and Border Protection will continue to work. CBP is affected by the shutdown but employees with be working without pay.  

If you have any additional questions about how the shutdown could affect you or your employees, please reach out to your designated Meltzer Hellrung LLC attorney.

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