Immigration and Firm News

The Trump Administration has been very, very busy addressing business immigration in the last year. Three overriding themes are: 1) a slowdown in processing times in most categories and 2) increased Requests for Evidence (RFEs) in just about every immigration category and 3) a tightening of definitions by adjudication or policy memo.  Receiving an RFE doesn't necessarily mean a case will be denied, but there are more denials out there. Despite all the talk about needing "merit based" … [Read more...]

The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) has filed a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act against US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) demanding information about how the H-1B lottery is conducted. Every year, USCIS receives far more petitions than are allowed under the annual 85,000 cap, but the system for conducting the lottery to select those lucky 85,000 applicants remains a mystery. Looking for transparency, AILA wants to see how cap-subject petitions are … [Read more...]

On May 10, 2016 a new final DHS regulation will go into effect for foreign students with or desiring  STEM Optional Practical Training (OPT).  The new rule, issued March 11, 2016, includes a combination of new benefits as well as restrictions and clarifications for U.S. college graduates. In addition, ICE, the agency that monitors foreign students, has released a new STEM-OPT website hub. Unfortunately, the new rule stifles opportunities for entrepreneurial self-starters creating their own … [Read more...]

On January 15, 2016, USCIS announced new final regulations (Enhancing Opportunities for H-1B1, CW-1 and E-3 Nonimmigrants and EB-1 Immigrants) that will streamline certain country-specific work visa status for citizens of Australia, Chile, Singapore and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI).  These nationals are entitled to a variation of the professional worker H-1B visas (although CNMI is based on place of work v. nationality.)  Australians can get E-3 specialty occupation … [Read more...]

The F-1 Foreign Student Visa Optional Practical Training (OPT) program affects thousands of foreign students in the USA every year. Recently, OPT has been the subject of litigation, proposed regulations and changing adjudication trends.  This blog post covers each of these topics below as well as what does it mean for the thousands of students, schools and employers out there whose status could possibly be terminated next month. OPT is authorized off-campus paid experiential work status for … [Read more...]

L-1 and H-1B visa petition fees are increasing for companies that employ 50 or more employees and have more than 50% of their US workforce in H-1B or L-1 nonimmigrant status.  On December 18, 2015, Congress passed and the President signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016.   The previous supplemental fees for this group of employers expired.  Therefore, this bill extends and raises the fees through September 30, 2025.  L-1 petition fees will increase from $2,250 to $6000 per covered … [Read more...]

USCIS issued its final guidance memo on when employers must file amended or new H-1B petitions for employee changes in job location or other material changes.  The memo implements the April 9, 2015 AAO Decision in Matter of Simeio Solutions, LLC.  In a prior blog post, we discussed the case and USCIS' proposed guidance memo that was posted for public comment.  The final memo issued on July 21, 2015 addresses a number of issues and scenarios about when an H-1B employer must file a new or amended … [Read more...]

Premium Processing Extension Requests Update On July 13, 2015, USCIS resumed premium processing of H-1B extension request petitions. Previously, on May 19, 2015, USCIS announced that it would not process H-1B premium processing extension requests filed between May 26, 2015 and July 27, 2015 so that it could work on the new H-4 work authorization applications that began May 26, 2015.  (See a previous blog post about the new H-4 work authorization (EAD) program for certain spouses of H-1B … [Read more...]

On May 27, 2015, USCIS issued a draft guidance memo on when employers of H-1B visas workers should file amended petitions.  The guidance attempts to implement the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) decision in Matter of Simeio Solutions, LLC decided April 9, 2015.  Specifically, the case and the guidance deal with when a change of employment location or other factors constitute a material change warranting the filing of a new Labor Condition Application (LCA) and thus an amended or new … [Read more...]

Starting May 26, 2015, USCIS will begin accepting H-4 work authorization (EAD) applications from certain spouses of H-1B workers.  This is a regulatory amendment that was published as a final rule in the Federal Register on February 29, 2015.  USCIS published the H-4 notice of proposed rulemaking in May 2014 and finalizing it was part of the executive actions on immigration that President Obama announced in November 2014. Extending eligibility for employment authorization to certain H-4 … [Read more...]