DHS Statement on Sessions v. Dimaya

DHS released the following statement after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 to void certain aspects of the aggravated felony ground of deportability.

Today’s ruling significantly undermines DHS’s efforts to remove aliens convicted of certain violent crimes, including sexual assault, kidnapping, and burglary, from the United States. By preventing the federal government from removing known criminal aliens, it allows our nation to be a safe haven for criminals and makes us more vulnerable as a result. The Secretary has met with hundreds of members of Congress over the last few months to implore them to take action on passing legislation to close public safety loopholes, such as these, that encourage illegal immigration and tie the hands of law enforcement.

USCIS Lottery CW-1 FY2019

USCIS has received petitions for more than the number of visas available for fiscal year (FY) 2019 for the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI)-Only Transitional Worker (CW-1) program. The cap for CW-1 visas for FY 2019 is 4,999.

As a result, USCIS will be conducting a lottery to ensure that it does not exceed the CW-1 cap. USCIS will randomly select petitions received between April 2, 2018 and April 13, 2018. If USCIS receives your petition after April 13, it will be rejected and will not be considered for this lottery.

For more details on the FY 2019 CW-1 program and what to submit, refer to our March 20 alert. For more information on the CW-1 cap, visit our CNMI-Only Transitional Worker (CW-1) Cap page.

Reregistration Period of Syrians for TPS

USCIS has issued the following press release regarding the re-registration period of Syrians with Temporary Protected Status:

Current beneficiaries of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) under Syria’s designation who want to maintain their status through Sept. 30, 2019, must re-register between March 5, and May 4, 2018. Re-registration procedures, including how to renew employment authorization documentation, have been published in the Federal Register and on the USCIS website.

All applicants must submit Form I-821, Application for Temporary Protected Status. Applicants may also request an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) by submitting a completed Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, when they file Form I-821, or separately at a later date. Both forms are free on USCIS’ website at uscis.gov/tps.

USCIS will issue new EADs with a Sept. 30, 2019, expiration date to eligible Syrian TPS beneficiaries who timely re-register and apply for EADs. However, given the timeframes involved with processing TPS re-registration applications, USCIS is automatically extending the validity of EADs with an expiration date of March 31 for 180 days, through Sept. 27.

To be eligible for TPS under Syria’s current designation, individuals must have continuously resided in the United States since Aug. 1, 2016, and have been continuously physically present in the United States since Oct. 1, 2016, along with meeting the other eligibility requirements.

USCIS Reaches FY 2019 H-1B Cap

USCIS has reached the congressionally-mandated 65,000 H-1B visa cap for fiscal year 2019. USCIS has also received a sufficient number of H-1B petitions to meet the 20,000 visa U.S. advanced degree exemption, known as the master’s cap.

The agency will reject and return filing fees for all unselected cap-subject petitions that are not prohibited multiple filings (PDF, 119 KB).

USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions that are otherwise exempt from the cap.  Petitions filed for current H-1B workers who have been counted previously against the cap, and who still retain their cap number, will also not be counted toward the FY 2019 H-1B cap. USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions filed to:

• Extend the amount of time a current H-1B worker may remain in the United States;

• Change the terms of employment for current H-1B workers;

• Allow current H-1B workers to change employers; and

• Allow current H-1B workers to work concurrently in a second H-1B position.

U.S. businesses use the H-1B program to employ foreign workers in occupations that require specialized knowledge.

DHS On Securing the Southern Border

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has released the following press release regarding securing our Southern Border.

The Problem: Legal loopholes, asylum fraud, a massive court backlog, and drastically insufficient immigration enforcement resources encourage illegal immigration and threaten the security of our nation. The result is that even apprehended illegal aliens are released and cannot be removed.

Asylum:

• Before 2013, approximately 1% of arriving aliens claimed credible fear (asylum). Now 1 out of 10 claim credible fear.

◦ Credible fear claims increased 1700% from 2008 to 2016.

• Before 2011, over 90% of arriving aliens were single adult males. Today 40% are families and children.

• Before 2009, 90% of arriving aliens were Mexican nationals. Today nearly 50% are Central Americans.

Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC) and Family Units:

• In FY17, 48,672 UACs were apprehended by CBP compared to 3,598 UACs that were removed.

• In FY17, 104,999 Family Units were apprehended by CBP compared to 2,605 that were removed in FY17.

• Thus far in FY18, 13,186 UACs were released into the interior of the United States – that’s in addition to the 42,146 UACs and 52,147 UACs who were released in FY17 and FY16 respectively, bringing the total number of UACs released from FY16 to date in excess of 107,000.

• Thus far in FY18, 39,984 Family Units have been apprehended by CBP.

Securing Our Borders:

• In coordination with governors, National Guard units will be deployed to our southern border.

◦ The deployment is designed to support ongoing efforts to mitigate the crisis on our border. The deployment will support federal law enforcement personnel, including CBP.

• Federal immigration authorities will direct enforcement efforts.

The deployment’s duration will be determined by Congressional efforts to secure our southern border.

AOS Filing Charts – April 2018

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 April 2018:

https://www.uscis.gov/visabulletininfo

Reminder – Changing Office Locations

We are excited to announce that beginning April 1, 2018, we will be closing our Andover office and moving to a newer facility in Burlington, Massachusetts.  We will continue to maintain weekend appointments and these will be held at the new Burlington location.  We will also maintain our weekly appointments at our Framingham location.

This move comes after considerable thought regarding the most convenient location for our clients.  We strive to provide our clients with the best service possible, and believe that the new office in Burlington will be met with great enthusiasm due to its proximity to major highways, ample parking, and overall convenience.

Our current office addresses are:

945 Concord Street, Framingham MA 01701

67 South Bedford Street, Suite 400 West, Burlington MA 01803

We look forward to serving you there!

Visa Bulletin April 2018

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 April 2018.

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

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

Changing Office Locations

We are excited to announce that beginning April 1, 2018, we will be closing our Andover office and moving to a newer facility in Burlington, Massachusetts.  We will continue to maintain weekend appointments and these will be held at the new Burlington location.  We will also maintain our weekly appointments at our Framingham location.

This move comes after considerable thought regarding the most convenient location for our clients.  We strive to provide our clients with the best service possible, and believe that the new office in Burlington will be met with great enthusiasm due to its proximity to major highways, ample parking, and overall convenience.

Our current office addresses are:

945 Concord Street, Framingham MA 01701

67 South Bedford Street, Suite 400 West, Burlington MA 01803

We look forward to serving you there!

USCIS Premium Processing Update for H1B Petitions

USCIS has released a press release regarding the a temporary suspension of premium processing for FY 2019 H1B Cap Petitions:

Starting April 2, 2018, USCIS will begin accepting H-1B petitions subject to the Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 cap. We will temporarily suspend premium processing for all FY 2019 cap-subject petitions, including petitions seeking an exemption for individuals with a U.S. master’s degree or higher. This suspension is expected to last until Sept. 10, 2018. During this time, we will continue to accept premium processing requests for H-1B petitions that are not subject to the FY 2019 cap. We will notify the public before resuming premium processing for cap-subject H-1B petitions or making any other premium processing updates.

During this temporary suspension, we will reject any Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service, filed with an FY 2019 cap-subject H-1B petition. If a petitioner submits one combined check for the fees for Form I-907 and Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, we will reject both forms. When we resume premium processing, petitioners may file a Form I-907 for FY 2019 cap-subject H-1B petitions that remain pending.

Requesting Expedited Processing

While premium processing is suspended, a petitioner may submit a request to expedite an FY 2019 cap-subject H-1B petition if it meets the criteria on the Expedite Criteria webpage. It is the petitioner’s responsibility to demonstrate that they meet at least one of the expedite criteria, and we encourage petitioners to submit documentary evidence to support their expedite request. We review all expedite requests on a case-by-case basis and will grant requests at the discretion of USCIS office leadership.

Why We Are Temporarily Suspending Premium Processing for These Petitions

This temporary suspension will help us reduce overall H-1B processing times. By temporarily suspending premium processing, we will be able to:

  • Process long-pending petitions, which we have currently been unable to process due to the high volume of incoming petitions and the significant surge in premium processing requests over the past few years; and
  • Prioritize adjudication of H-1B extension of status cases that are nearing the 240 day mark.