Changes to H1B Rules

The US Department of Homeland Security has shared the following, a final rule amending regulations governing H-1B cap-subject petitions, including those that may be eligible for the advanced degree exemption.

Effective April 1, USCIS will first select H-1B petitions (or registrations, once the registration requirement is implemented) submitted on behalf of all beneficiaries, including those that may be eligible for the advanced degree exemption. USCIS will then select from the remaining eligible petitions, a number projected to reach the advanced degree exemption. Changing the order in which USCIS counts these allocations will likely increase the number of petitions for beneficiaries with a master’s or higher degree from a U.S. institution of higher education to be selected under the H-1B numerical allocations. Specifically, the change will result in an estimated increase of up to 16% (or 5,340 workers) in the number of selected petitions for H-1B beneficiaries with a master’s degree or higher from a U.S. institution of higher education.

New Tools Asylum Applicants

USCIS has announced a new online feature for asylum applicants.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today that applicants who have a pending affirmative asylum application with USCIS can now check the status of their applications online at

The new capability increases transparency and assures applicants that they have the most up-to-date and accurate information about their case, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, said USCIS Director L. Francis Cissna. We strive to adjudicate all applications and petitions in a timely manner and are working to reduce the impact on processing times by aligning resources appropriately.

Visa Bulletin 01/19

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 January 2019.

https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/law-and-policy/bulletin/2019/visa-bulletin-for-January-2019.html

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

USCIS Service Update

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:

Shutdown Effects

Per USCIS:

The current lapse in annual appropriated funding for the U.S. government does not affect USCIS’s fee-funded activities. Our offices will remain open, and all individuals should attend interviews and appointments as scheduled. USCIS will continue to accept petitions and applications for benefit requests.

DHS Southern Border Enforcement Data

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released the number of enforcement actions at the southwest border for the month of December. 

Total Enforcement Actions (individuals apprehended in between the ports of entry and deemed inadmissible at the ports of entry) for the month of December in Fiscal Year 2019 was 60,782. December marks the third consecutive month of enforcement actions surpassing 60,000.

The United States Border Patrol apprehended 50,753 individuals (83.5% of all enforcement actions) between the ports of entry on the southern border. The total number of individuals deemed inadmissible for entry at the ports of entry was 10,029.

Impact of Government Shutdown

USCIS has released the following statement regarding the government shutdown:

The current lapse in annual appropriated funding for the U.S. government does not affect USCIS’s fee-funded activities. Our offices will remain open, and all individuals should attend interviews and appointments as scheduled. USCIS will continue to accept petitions and applications for benefit requests, except as noted below.

Some USCIS programs, however, will either expire or suspend operations, or be otherwise affected, until they receive appropriated funds or are reauthorized by Congress. These include: EB-5 Immigrant Investor Regional Center Program (not the EB-5 Program). Regional centers are a public or private economic unit in the U.S. that promotes economic growth. USCIS designates regional centers for participation in the Immigrant Investor Program. The EB-5 Program will continue to operate. E-Verify. This free internet-based system allows businesses to determine the eligibility of their employees to work in the U.S. Conrad 30 Waiver Program for J-1 medical doctors. This program allows J-1 doctors to apply for a waiver of the two-year residence requirement after completing the J-1 exchange visitor program. The expiration only affects the date by which the J-1 doctor must have entered the U.S.; it is not a shutdown of the Conrad 30 program entirely. Non-minister religious workers. This special immigrant category allows non-ministers in religious vocations and occupations to immigrate or adjust to permanent resident status in the U.S. to perform religious work in a full-time, compensated position.

AOS Filing Chart 01/19

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 January 2019:

https://www.uscis.gov/visabulletininfo

Visa Bulletin 1/19

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 January 2019.

https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/law-and-policy/bulletin/2019/visa-bulletin-for-January-2019.html

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