Category Archives: Uncategorized

President Biden Rescinds Immigrant Visa Ban

Yesterday, President Biden rescinded Proclamation 10014. Proclamation 10014 suspended the entry of certain immigrants until March 31, 2021. This immigrant visa ban affected employment-based, family-based and Diversity Lottery immigrant visa (green card) applications, with limited exceptions. Effective immediately, consulates are permitted to resume processing affected immigrant visa applications.

 The nonimmigrant ban affecting certain H-1B, H-2B, L-1 and J-1 visa categories remains in effect. It is currently set to expire on March 31, 2021.

 Additionally, COVID-19 related travel bans remain in effect for certain individuals who were physically present in any Schengen country, UK, Ireland, China, Brazil or South Africa within the 14 days prior to their attempt at entering the U.S. As such, even if foreign nationals are no longer subject to the immigrant visa ban, they may need to apply for national interest exceptions to be able to enter the U.S.

H-1B Registration For FY 2022 Begins March 9, 2021

USCIS has just announced that the initial registration period for the fiscal year (FY) 2022 H-1B cap will open at 12pm EST on March 9 and run through 12pm EST on March 25.
During this period, prospective petitioners and representatives will be able to fill out petitioner and beneficiary information and submit their registrations online. As before, there will be a $10 registration fee.
USCIS intends to complete selections and notify registrants of selections by March 31, 2021.

H-1B Random Selection Process Will Apply Again This Year

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has announced that it will delay the H-1B Selection final rule, which amends the regulations governing the process by which USCIS selects H-1B registrations for the filing of H-1B cap-subject petitions, until December 31, 2021.
The final rule, which was to take effect on March 9, 2021, would replace the random, computerized H-1B cap lottery with a system that allocates H-1B visa numbers according to the Department of Labor’s Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) four-level wage system.
The rule’s delay means that for the upcoming H-1B cap season, USCIS will apply the current regulations (i.e. random selection). The H-1B cap lottery will follow a cap registration period this March.
USCIS has not yet released the exact start and end dates for the FY 22 H-1B cap registration period yet but we will let you know as soon as more information is available.

Trump Visa Issuance Ban Extended

President Trump has extended Proclamation 10052 and Proclamation 10014 which were set to expire on December 31, 2020. Both Proclamations have been extended until March 31, 2021 and may be extended further.

Proclamation 10052 restricts the issuance of certain nonimmigrant visas such as H-1B, H-2B, L-1, and certain J-1 statuses, including those for dependents. The full text of the original Proclamation can be found here: https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/proclamation-suspending-entry-aliens-present-risk-u-s-labor-market-following-coronavirus-outbreak/.

Proclamation 10014 bans issuance of certain immigrant visas (green cards for applicants processing from outside of the U.S.). The full text of the original Proclamation can be found here: https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/proclamation-suspending-entry-immigrants-present-risk-u-s-labor-market-economic-recovery-following-covid-19-outbreak/

Limited exceptions to both Proclamations remain available and are granted at the discretion of the U.S. Consulate/Embassy abroad and/or U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

 

Trump Seeks Review of Foreign Hiring By Federal Contractors

On August 3, 2020, President Trump signed a new Executive Order (“Aligning Federal Contracting and Hiring Practices With the Interests of American Workers”) directing federal agencies to conduct a review of federal contractors’ and subcontractors’ use of nonimmigrant workers and overseas labor on federal contracts. The agencies are directed to review the nature of the work performed by temporary foreign labor on such contracts; whether opportunities for United States workers were affected by such hiring; and any potential effects on the national security caused by such hiring. After the review, the agencies are required to recommend improvements to their procurement processes within 120 days. The Order also directs the Department of Labor and the Department of Homeland Security to take action within 45 days to ensure that the wages and working conditions of U.S. workers are not adversely affected by the hiring of H-1B workers.

It is important to note that the Order does not have an immediate impact on H-1B workers. At this point, other than imposing a reporting requirement on the contracting agencies, it is unclear what the Order will accomplish. We must wait and see if any changes will result from this latest Executive Order.

 

 

USCIS Suspends Implementation of Final Rule on Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds

As a result of an injunction issued by the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York on July 29, 2020, USCIS will not apply the enhanced “public charge” requirements that went into effect on February 24, 2020.

Pursuant to this decision, USCIS has indicated that applications or petitions filed on or after July 29, 2020 will not be adjudicated under the expanded public charge requirements. As such, at this time, the Declaration of Self Sufficiency (Form I-944) with its onerous documentation requirements need not be filed with an I-485 Application for Adjustment of Status. Additionally, applications or petitions for extension of stay or change in nonimmigrant status (Form I-129 and Form I-539/I-539A) need not include additional information regarding receipt of public benefits.

This could change at any time and the requirement could be reinstated depending on what happens with the litigation.

We will continue to keep you updated regarding any further developments.

 

USCIS Adjusts Filing Fees for Applications and Petitions

For the first time since 2016, USCIS is adjusting the fees required to file applications and petitions with the Service.  They have calculated that the weighted average of the change is an increase of approximately 20%.  Some fees have increased dramatically, and others have actually decreased.

Some of the changes impacting cases frequently filed by our office include the following:

  • H-1 Visa Petitions increased from $460 to $555
  • O-1 Visa Petitions increased from $460 to $705
  • L-1 Visa Petitions increased from $460 to $805
  • B-2, H-4, and L-2 Applications for Extension or Change of Status increased from $370 to $400 *
  • Fiancé Visa Petition decreased from $535 to $510
  • Family-based immigrant visa petition increased from $535 to $560
  • Adjustment of Status application decreased from $1,140 to $1,130*
  • However, the fee for an accompanying child is now increased to $1,130
  • Employment-based immigrant visa Petition decreased from $700 to $555
  • Reentry Permit Application increased from $575 to $590*
  • Advance Parole Application increased from $575 to $590*
  • Employment Authorization Application Increased from $410 to $550
  • Application for Naturalization increased from $640 to $1,170

For a complete list of all the changes and the reasons given for those changes, click on:

https://www.uscis.gov/news/news-releases/uscis-adjusts-fees-to-help-meet-operational-needs

*these applications also require payment of the “Biometrics” fee.  This fee has been reduced from $85 to $30

 

 

Update on USCIS Reopening Plans

Beginning June 4, 2020, certain USCIS field offices resumed non-emergency face-to-face services to the public. USCIS has indicated that it has enacted precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in reopened facilities. We have seen some Naturalization Oath Ceremonies scheduled recently but have not received any new interview appointment notices since the closure of USCIS offices in early March.Per a recent presentation, USCIS announced that Application Support Centers (which provide biometrics collection and fingerprinting services) will begin reopening on July 13. The opening date for different locations around the country will depend upon local guidelines, ability to prepare space, etc. Please note that it could take several weeks to receive appointment notices even after reopening.

Please also note the following changes to ASC policies/procedures:

·     No more walk-ins will be allowed, with limited exceptions for US military members.

·     Appointment numbers will be reduced to allow for social distancing.

·     Only those called for appointments should appear, with some exceptions for attorneys, interpreters, disability accommodations, parents, etc.; see appointment notice for details.

·     All must wear face covering if over 2 years old. You must call to make arrangements, if for any reason, you cannot cover your face (health/disability).

·     COVID screening questions will be asked at points of entry.

·     USCIS may ask people to remove face coverings briefly to confirm identity or photograph.

We will continue to provide you with updates as they become available.

 

 

 

Trump Proclamation on Entry of Nonimmigrant Workers

President Trump has issued a Proclamation that suspends the entry of foreign nationals on certain employment-based nonimmigrant visas into the United States. The Proclamation takes effect on June 24, 2020 at 12:01 AM ET. It will remain in effect through December 31, 2020 and may be continued or modified, as necessary.

The Proclamation suspends the entry of any foreign national who is seeking to enter the U.S. pursuant to a(n):

  • H-1B visa or H-2B visa, and any foreign national accompanying or following to join them;
  • J visa, to the extent the foreign national is participating in an intern, trainee, teacher, camp counselor, au pair, or summer work travel program, and any foreign national accompanying or following to join them; and
  • L visa, and any foreign national accompanying or following to join them.

The Proclamation will only apply to an individual identified above if they are:

  • Outside the United States on the effective date of the Proclamation;
  • Do not have a nonimmigrant visa that is valid on the effective date of the Proclamation; and
  • Do not have an official travel document other than a visa (such as a transportation letter, boarding foil, or advance parole document), valid on the effective date of the Proclamation or issued thereafter permitting the individual to be admitted to the United States.

Exemptions – The Proclamation will not apply to the following individuals:

  1. a)     lawful permanent residents;
  2. b)    spouse or child of a U.S. citizen;
  3. c)     any individual seeking entry to provide temporary labor essential to the U.S. food supply chain;
  4. d)    any individual whose entry would be in the national interest as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their respective designees.

For the purposes of determining who is covered under the “national interest” exemption, the Proclamation directs the Secretaries of State, Labor, and Homeland Security to determine standards for those to whom such an exemption would be available, including any individuals who:

  1. a)     are critical to the defense, law enforcement, diplomacy, or national security of the United States;
  2. b)    are involved with the provision of medical care to individuals who have contracted COVID-19 and are currently hospitalized;
  3. c)     are involved with the provision of medical research at U.S. facilities to help the United States combat COVID-19;
  4. d)    are necessary to facilitate the immediate and continued economic recovery of the United States; or
  5. e)     are children who would age out of eligibility for a visa because of this Proclamation or Proclamation 10014.

IMPORTANT NOTES

It is important to note that the Proclamation does NOT suspend all entry of individuals who hold nonimmigrant visas. The Proclamation specifically applies to individuals who must apply for nonimmigrant visas outside the country and subsequently travel to the U.S. and who do not have an alternative travel document (such as Advance Parole) that permits them to travel to the U.S. and seek entry or admission.

TN, E-1 E-2, E-3, and O-1 nonimmigrant worker visas remain unaffected. Employees currently in the U.S. seeking to change their nonimmigrant status or apply for extensions within the U.S. will not be affected by this Proclamation.

Given this Proclamation and additional COVD-19 related travel restrictions that are currently in effect, all current H-1B, H-2B, L-1, and J-1 nonimmigrant visa holders should avoid international travel. If travel is absolutely necessary, it is strongly advised that you discuss with our office first and that you ensure the validity of your current nonimmigrant visa prior to leaving the U.S.

At this early stage, there is still uncertainty regarding how the Proclamation will be implemented and who may be exempted. We are awaiting clarification from the government and will update you as we receive more information.

Visit our website at www.costariccio.com

 

 

Continuing Obligation to Pay Offered Wages to H-1B Workers

This is a reminder to all employers of H-1B foreign nationals.
The filing and approval of an H-1B Petition requires the employer to pay the H-1B worker no less than the wages offered in the H-1B Petition filed with USCIS. This requirement exists even for nonproductive time (i.e. time during which employee is not working) caused by conditions related to employment, such as lack of assigned work. However, no payment is required under the H-1B program for nonproductive time due to reasons not related to employment, such as a worker’s voluntary absence from work.
Any reductions in salary contemplated in light of the current economic situation which would lower the H-1B worker’s salary below the offered amount would constitute a violation of the employer’s obligations agreed to at the time of filing.
If the employer wishes to proceed with a salary reduction, they must file an amended Labor Condition Application and H-1B Petition, and must continue to offer wages which equal or exceed the “Prevailing Wage” for the occupation. Doing so will incur additional fees and costs including legal fees and government filing fees.
If the H-1B worker is now earning more than the wages offered in the H-1B Petition, the employer can reduce the wages to an amount no less than the amount offered in the Petition without filing an amendment.
Visit our website at www.costariccio.com