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Premium Processing Resumes for H-1B Cap Cases

Posted September 18, 2017Matthew Meltzer - Partner and Co-FounderH-1B

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) resumed premium processing today for all H-1B visa petitions subject to the Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 cap. The FY 2018 cap has been set at 65,000 visas. Premium processing has also resumed for the annual 20,000 additional petitions that are set aside to hire workers with a U.S. master’s degree or higher educational degree.  

USCIS plans to resume premium processing for all other remaining H‑1B petitions not subject to the FY 2018 cap, as agency workloads permit.

We strongly recommend upgrading to premium processing service for any employee who is H-1B cap gap status and has not received a decision yet.

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Diversity Visa Lottery 2019 Open October 3rd through November 7th

Posted September 17, 2017Matthew Meltzer - Partner and Co-FounderGreen Card

The US will issue up to 55,000 green cards to lottery winners. Individuals from most countries around the world can submit a free application to be considered in the diversity visa lottery.

In order to qualify you must have been born (or your spouse must have been born) in one of the qualifying countries.

Individuals born in the following countries are NOT eligible to participate in the visa lottery:

  • Bangladesh
  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • China (mainland-born)
  • Colombia
  • Dominican Republic
  • El Salvador
  • Haiti
  • India
  • Jamaica
  • Mexico
  • Nigeria
  • Pakistan
  • Philippines
  • Peru
  • South Korea
  • United Kingdom
  • Vietnam

Second, you must have at least a high school education or its equivalent OR two years of work experience in the last five years in an occupation that takes at least two years of training or experience to perform. Guidance on determining whether your occupation qualifies can be found here.

The Department of State will electronically accept applications online between October 3rd and November 7th. We encourage individuals from qualifying countries to apply. If you are selected you can immediately apply for a green card.

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H-1B Delays and RFE's: The Impact on H-1B Cap Gap

Posted September 11, 2017Matthew Meltzer - Partner and Co-FounderH-1B

Processing delays for H-1B cap petitions, including the remarkable increase in H-1B Request for Evidence issued by USCIS, will have a substantial impact on F-1 OPT employees, especially those in "cap gap".

F-1 OPT employees whose OPT expired after April 1st and who are beneficiaries of H-1B petitions selected in the lottery have their OPT work authorization extended through September 30th. This extension of work authorization is called cap gap.

USCIS will clearly not complete the adjudication of all H-1B cap petitions, especially those with recently issued Requests for Evidence before October 1st. Employees in cap gap status will be able to remain in the United States while the H-1B petition is under review but they will not have authorization to work.

Employers should prepare for disruptions to their workforce in October as employees in this situation will not have work authorization. We will continue to respond to Requests for Evidence as expeditiously as possible.

In rare cases USCIS may expedite the review of an H-1B petition if true financial loss can be demonstrated. We also eagerly anticipate the return of premium processing service for H-1B petitions which will help expedite petitions for employees who have lost work authorization.

For all questions please contact your Meltzer Hellrung attorney.

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DACA to be Phased Out Over Six Months

Posted September 8, 2017Kristen Kellar - Sr. Paralegal - Team LeadArticles, Immigration Reform

Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced this week that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program would be phased out over the next six months. The purpose of DACA was to provide certain individuals who entered the United States as a child a temporary work permit and protection from deportation. DACA is granted in two-year increments for those who met eligibility criteria.

Individuals who currently have DACA will continue to hold it and their work authorization (EADs) until the expiration date. If the individual’s DACA and EAD card expire between September 5, 2017 and March 5, 2018, they must submit their renewal request by October 5, 2017. Applications received later will be rejected.

Current DACA recipients will be permitted to retain both the period of deferred action and their employment authorization documents (EADs) until they expire, unless terminated or revoked. DACA benefits are generally valid for two years from the date of issuance.

USCIS has stopped accepting any initial requests received on or after September 6, 2017. Application received prior to that date will be adjudicated.

The Department of Homeland Security has provided an FAQ regarding its handling of the DACA program.

Meltzer Hellrung LLC has supported the preservation of DACA or a similar legislative solution such as the DREAM Act.

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Reports of Advance Parole Denials For Travel While Application Pending

Posted September 7, 2017Matthew Meltzer - Partner and Co-FounderArticles

We have received reports from other attorneys of advance parole denials for applicants in H-1B or L-1 status who travel while the advance parole application is under review with the USCIS. This is a departure from USCIS practice over the last 15 years. The USCIS is denying petitions arguing that the applications for advance parole are abandoned by traveling. 

Individuals in H-1B and L-1 status can continue to travel while an I-485 petition is pending as these visas are considered dual intent. However, to receive the advance parole benefit applicants must remain in the US while the petitions are under review. The USCIS generally takes 90 days to review I-131 advance parole petitions.

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