USCIS Update Service Requests

As part of the agency’s efforts to streamline requests for case assistance, we are discontinuing the use of USCIS service center e-mail boxes for case-specific questions on Jan. 21, 2019. Instead, USCIS is focusing our resources online via self-help tools at uscis.gov/tools and my.uscis.gov, and through the USCIS Contact Center. These changes are a part of our overall modernization efforts to provide a more efficient and effective user experience

The service center e-mail addresses being discontinued are:

Marriage Fraud Conviction

USCIS has released the following press release regarding the recent conviction of a Worcester man who committed marriage fraud.

A Worcester man was sentenced Tuesday in connection with entering into six fraudulent marriages in order to evade immigration laws. 

Peter Hicks, 57, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Timothy S. Hillman to two years of probation.  In September 2018, Hicks pleaded guilty to one count of marriage fraud.  Hicks was arrested and charged in January 2018 and released on conditions following an initial appearance.

In 2014, federal law enforcement agents uncovered evidence that Hicks married six foreign national women from Sub-Saharan Africa between 2003 and 2013.  Hicks filed for immigration benefits for four of his six wives.

H2B Cap Reached 1st Half FY2019

USCIS has reached the congressionally mandated H-2B cap for the first half of fiscal year (FY) 2019.

Dec. 6, 2018, was the final receipt date for new cap-subject H-2B worker petitions requesting an employment start date before April 1, 2019. USCIS will reject new cap-subject H-2B petitions received after Dec. 6 that request an employment start date before April 1, 2019.

USCIS Guidance I751 Interviews

USCIS has issued a policy memorandum providing guidance to USCIS officers on when to consider waiving the interview requirement for Form I-751.

Generally, USCIS officers must interview a conditional permanent resident who is the principal petitioner on a Form I-751, unless the interview is waived. This guidance explains that officers may consider waiving an interview if they are satisfied that:

They can make a decision based on the record because it contains sufficient evidence about the bona fides of the marriage and that the marriage was not entered into in order to evade U.S. immigration laws;

For Form I-751 cases received on or after December 10, 2018, USCIS has previously interviewed the principal petitioner;

There is no indication of fraud or misrepresentation in the Form I-751 or the supporting documentation; and

There are no complex facts or issues that require an interview to resolve.

AOS Filing Chart 12/18

If USCIS determines that there are more immigrant visas available for a fiscal year than there are known applicants for such visas, USCIS will state whether you may use the Dates for Filing Visa Applications.

Otherwise, they will indicate that you must use the Application Final Action Dates to determine when you may file your adjustment of status application.

See the following link here for the month of December 2018:

https://www.uscis.gov/visabulletininfo

DHS Proposed H1B Changes

USCIS has announce a proposed rule that would require petitioners seeking to file H-1B cap-subject petitions to first electronically register with USCIS during a designated registration period. See the following press release for more information.

The proposed rule includes a provision that would enable USCIS to temporarily suspend the registration process during any fiscal year in which USCIS may experience technical challenges with the H-1B registration process and/or the new electronic system. The proposed temporary suspension provision would also allow USCIS to up-front delay the implementation of the H-1B registration process past the fiscal year (FY) 2020 cap season, if necessary to complete all requisite user testing and vetting of the new H-1B registration system and process. While USCIS has been actively working to develop and test the electronic registration system, if the rule is finalized as proposed, but there is insufficient time to implement the registration system for the FY 2020 cap selection process, USCIS would likely suspend the registration requirement for the FY 2020 cap season. 

DHS Proposed H1B Changes

USCIS has announce a proposed rule that would require petitioners seeking to file H-1B cap-subject petitions to first electronically register with USCIS during a designated registration period. See the following press release for more information.

The proposed rule includes a provision that would enable USCIS to temporarily suspend the registration process during any fiscal year in which USCIS may experience technical challenges with the H-1B registration process and/or the new electronic system. The proposed temporary suspension provision would also allow USCIS to up-front delay the implementation of the H-1B registration process past the fiscal year (FY) 2020 cap season, if necessary to complete all requisite user testing and vetting of the new H-1B registration system and process. While USCIS has been actively working to develop and test the electronic registration system, if the rule is finalized as proposed, but there is insufficient time to implement the registration system for the FY 2020 cap selection process, USCIS would likely suspend the registration requirement for the FY 2020 cap season. 

Visa Bulletin 12/18

The Visa Bulletin provides updated priority date information for family-based and

employment-based green cards.

Immigrants to the US are classified into two categories – those requiring placement on a waiting list and those not through their

relationship to a US immediate relative.

Further, there are numerical quotas on the green cards that require a priority date. If the number of applicants in a year is over the available visa numbers, those applicants are placed on a waiting list and are given a priority date, which estimates when an applicant would get a visa based on the number of previous applicants on the waiting list. Below are preference category information and visa allocations.

FAMILY-SPONSORED PREFERENCES
First: (F1) Unmarried Sons and Daughters of U.S. Citizens: 23,400 plus any numbers not required for fourth preference.

Second: Spouses and Children, and Unmarried Sons and Daughters of Permanent Residents: 114,200, plus the number (if any) by which the worldwide family preference level exceeds 226,000, plus any unused first preference numbers:

A. (F2A) Spouses and Children of Permanent Residents: 77% of the overall second preference limitation, of which 75% are exempt from the per-country limit;

B. (F2B) Unmarried Sons and Daughters (21 years of age or older) of Permanent Residents: 23% of the overall second preference limitation.

Third: (F3) Married Sons and Daughters of U.S. Citizens: 23,400, plus any numbers not required by first and second preferences.

Fourth: (F4) Brothers and Sisters of Adult U.S. Citizens: 65,000, plus any numbers not required by first three preferences.

EMPLOYMENT-BASED PREFERENCES

First: Priority Workers: 28.6% of the worldwide employment-based preference level, plus any numbers not required for fourth and fifth preferences.

Second: Members of the Professions Holding Advanced Degrees or Persons of Exceptional Ability: 28.6% of the worldwide employment-based preference level, plus any numbers not required by first preference.

Third: Skilled Workers, Professionals, and Other Workers: 28.6% of the worldwide level, plus any numbers not required by first and second preferences, not more than 10,000 of which to “*Other Workers”
Fourth: Certain Special Immigrants: 7.1% of the worldwide level.

Fifth: Employment Creation: 7.1% of the worldwide level, not less than 3,000 of which reserved for investors in a targeted rural or high-unemployment area, and 3,000 set aside for investors in regional centers by Sec. 610 of Pub. L. 102-395.

Below is the link for the Visa Bulletin for December 2018.

https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/law-and-policy/bulletin/2018/visa-bulletin-for-December-2018.html

For more information, contact ALO at 978-905-9992.

AOS Filing Chart 11/18

If USCIS determines that there are more immigrant visas available for a fiscal year than there are known applicants for such visas, USCIS will state whether you may use the Dates for Filing Visa Applications.

Otherwise, they will indicate that you must use the Application Final Action Dates to determine when you may file your adjustment of status application.

See the following link here for the month of November 2018:

https://www.uscis.gov/visabulletininfo

Visa Bulletin 11/18

The Visa Bulletin provides updated priority date information for family-based and

employment-based green cards.

Immigrants to the US are classified into two categories – those requiring placement on a waiting list and those not through their

relationship to a US immediate relative.

Further, there are numerical quotas on the green cards that require a priority date. If the number of applicants in a year is over the available visa numbers, those applicants are placed on a waiting list and are given a priority date, which estimates when an applicant would get a visa based on the number of previous applicants on the waiting list. Below are preference category information and visa allocations.

FAMILY-SPONSORED PREFERENCES
First: (F1) Unmarried Sons and Daughters of U.S. Citizens: 23,400 plus any numbers not required for fourth preference.

Second: Spouses and Children, and Unmarried Sons and Daughters of Permanent Residents: 114,200, plus the number (if any) by which the worldwide family preference level exceeds 226,000, plus any unused first preference numbers:

A. (F2A) Spouses and Children of Permanent Residents: 77% of the overall second preference limitation, of which 75% are exempt from the per-country limit;

B. (F2B) Unmarried Sons and Daughters (21 years of age or older) of Permanent Residents: 23% of the overall second preference limitation.

Third: (F3) Married Sons and Daughters of U.S. Citizens: 23,400, plus any numbers not required by first and second preferences.

Fourth: (F4) Brothers and Sisters of Adult U.S. Citizens: 65,000, plus any numbers not required by first three preferences.

EMPLOYMENT-BASED PREFERENCES

First: Priority Workers: 28.6% of the worldwide employment-based preference level, plus any numbers not required for fourth and fifth preferences.

Second: Members of the Professions Holding Advanced Degrees or Persons of Exceptional Ability: 28.6% of the worldwide employment-based preference level, plus any numbers not required by first preference.

Third: Skilled Workers, Professionals, and Other Workers: 28.6% of the worldwide level, plus any numbers not required by first and second preferences, not more than 10,000 of which to “*Other Workers”
Fourth: Certain Special Immigrants: 7.1% of the worldwide level.

Fifth: Employment Creation: 7.1% of the worldwide level, not less than 3,000 of which reserved for investors in a targeted rural or high-unemployment area, and 3,000 set aside for investors in regional centers by Sec. 610 of Pub. L. 102-395.

Below is the link for the Visa Bulletin for November 2018.

https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/law-and-policy/bulletin/2018/visa-bulletin-for-November-2018.html

For more information, contact ALO at 978-905-9992.