On May 24, 2022, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced an expansion of the agency’s premium processing service for certain pending Form I-140 petitions in the EB-1C multinational executive and manager and the EB-2 National Interest Waiver (NIW) categories, which have experienced lengthy processing delays in recent years.
On May 3, 2022, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced a temporary final rule (TFR) that increases the automatic extension period for expiring employment authorization documents (EAD) for renewal applicants in certain categories for up to 540 days.
On April 25, 2022, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency announced an extension of compliance flexibility related to Form I-9 employment eligibility verification requirements until October 31, 2022.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently published fiscal year (FY) 2023 H-1B cap registration statistics, confirming that more than 48,000 prospective petitioners submitted 483,927 registrations—an approximate 57 percent increase over the number of registrations submitted in the FY 2022 filing season. USCIS selected 127,600 FY 2023 registrations in the initial lottery, representing roughly 26 percent of the total registrations.
On March 29, 2022, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it would implement three new actions to reduce lengthy processing times that resulted from COVID-19–related delays.
Starting from 6 April 2022, Biometric Residence Card (BRC), Biometric Residence Permit (BRP), and Frontier Worker Permit (FWP) holders in the United Kingdom will evidence their right to work by using the Home Office online service.
On March 29, 2022, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it had completed the initial H-1B regular cap and master’s cap selection process for fiscal year (FY) 2023. Continuing its use of an electronic preregistration system to conduct the random selection lottery, USCIS confirmed that it has sent notifications to registrant employers and their representatives about selection results.
On March 18, 2022, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it would update the USCIS Policy Manual to address acceptable evidence of work authorization for E and L nonimmigrant spouses. The updates, provided in response to the settlement agreement reached in the class action Shergill v. Mayorkas, also address Forms I-94 issued by USCIS prior to January 31, 2022.
On March 2, 2022, the U.S. Department of State added Ukraine to the Homeless Nationalities list. The Department of State defines a homeless visa applicant as someone who is “a national of a country in which the United States has no consular representation or in which the political or security situation is tenuous or uncertain enough that the limited consular staff is not authorized to process [immigrant visa] applications.”
On March 16, 2022, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced the designation of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Afghan nationals for eighteen months. Under the designation, TPS will apply to nationals of Afghanistan who have continuously resided in the United States since March 15, 2022. The TPS designation is based on the ongoing armed conflict by the Taliban and the “extraordinary and temporary conditions” in Afghanistan that prevent Afghan nationals from returning safely.
For nearly two decades, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has signaled its intention to modernize with the creation of an electronic filing system (officially known as the Electronic Immigration System or ELIS). At its inception in 2005, ELIS was reported to be a $500 million dollar investment that would be completed and implemented by 2013. However, a recent report noted that ELIS is expected to cost upwards of $3.1 billion dollars, and all signs indicate that USCIS is far from implementing the system.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has announced the designation of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Ukrainian nationals for eighteen months. TPS status will apply to nationals of Ukraine who have continuously resided in the United States since March 1, 2022. According to DHS, this designation is based on “the extraordinary and temporary conditions” in Ukraine that “result from the full-scale Russian military invasion” that prevent Ukrainian nationals from returning safely.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has confirmed it will be decoupling the standard employment authorization document (EAD) and advance parole (AP) “combo card” and sending out separate EAD and AP documents in an effort to expedite EAD processing times.
On January 20, 2022, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security updated its travel advisory to require all foreign national travelers (except U.S. permanent residents) to present proof of COVID-19 vaccination when seeking entry to the United States via land ports of entry and ferry terminals. The new guidance expands upon already existing COVID-19 travel requirements and establishes similar COVID-19 vaccination requirements for non-U.S. travelers seeking entry to the United States by both air and land.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently issued policy guidance addressing the automatic extension of status for H-4, L-2, and E dependent spouses in response to the settlement of a class action lawsuit.
The H-2B program is available to employers that can demonstrate a temporary need to supplement their staffs based on a one-time, seasonal, intermittent, or peak-load need basis. The program is generally used by employers with peak busy seasons, such as hotels, amusement parks, and landscapers. The last two years have shown an increase in demand from employers requesting one-time need due to an inability to hire temporary or full-time workers within the United States.
While H-1B cap efforts remain underway for fiscal year (FY) 2022, employers may want to push forward now with preparations for FY 2023 H-1B cap season. (According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the petition filing period for registrations that were selected on November 19, 2021, is currently open and will close on February 23, 2022.) Employers have one opportunity each year to see H-1B visa numbers for employees who will be first-time applicants.
On November 10, 2021, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) reached a settlement in the class action Shergill v. Mayorkas. As part of the settlement, USCIS agreed to update its policy relating to H-4 and L-2 spousal Employment Authorization Document (EAD) applications, and the settlement terms for H-4 and L-2 applicants have potential I-9 compliance implications for employers.
On January 28, 2022, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced the registration window for the fiscal year 2023 H-1B quota lottery will open March 1, 2022, at noon EST and will close March 18, 2022, at noon EST. During this period, employers (or their representatives) can electronically register each potential H-1B beneficiary through a myUSCIS online account. Registrants will be able to create new accounts starting February 21, 2022, at noon EST; however, registrants must wait until March 1, 2022, to enter beneficiary information and pay the $10 registration fee. Registrations for multiple beneficiaries can be submitted together.
F-1 nonimmigrant students who have U.S. degrees in certain programs in the fields of science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) are eligible to apply for a twenty-four-month extension of Optional Practical Training (OPT), in addition to the standard twelve months of OPT available to all F-1 nonimmigrant students.
On December 31, 2021, the White House revoked Presidential Proclamation 10315, which had prohibited travel into the United States for travelers who were physically present in the following eight countries in southern Africa: Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe.
The U.S. secretary of state, in consultation with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), has authorized consular officers to waive in-person interviews for certain nonimmigrant visa applicants through the end of 2022.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an order on December 2, 2021, amending requirements related to a negative pre-departure COVID-19 test result or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 for all airline passengers arriving into the United States from any foreign country. The new order will require all travelers seeking to enter the United States, regardless of vaccination status, to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than 1 day before travel to the United States.
On November 26, 2021, President Joe Biden issued a presidential proclamation prohibiting travel into the United States for travelers who were physically present in eight countries in southern Africa (Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe), beginning on Monday, November 29, 2021. The restrictions, which prohibit travel from these eight African countries, come approximately three weeks after the White House relaxed prior location-based travel restrictions, moving to vaccination status-based travel restrictions on November 8, 2021.
In a move not seen since the introduction of the electronic H-1B registration process, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced a third round of lottery selections for the fiscal year (FY) 2022 H-1B cap season.
On November 12, 2021, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued policy guidance addressing the automatic extension of employment authorization for H-4, L-2, and E dependent spouses in response to a class action lawsuit.
On November 10, 2021, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) settled the class action lawsuit Shergill v. Mayorkas. The settlement agreement will update USCIS policy related to certain H-4 and L-2 spousal Employment Authorization Document (EAD) applications. Notably, the settlement agreement provides for an automatic extension of employment authorization for H-4 spouses who have timely filed for a renewal of the EAD work card via Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, if given criteria are met.
On October 25, 2021, the White House issued a presidential proclamation revoking the following proclamations with country-specific COVID-19 travel restrictions: Proclamation 9984 (China); Proclamation 9992 (Iran); Proclamation 10143 (Brazil, Ireland, the Schengen Area, South Africa, and the United Kingdom); and Proclamation 10199 (India).
As a follow-up to its September 20, 2021 announcement, the White House announced on October 15, 2021, that it would lift the travel ban for fully vaccinated foreign nationals starting November 8, 2021.
On September 13, 2021, the U.S. Department of State issued the Visa Bulletin for October 2021, which showed minor advancement on priority for backlogged filings of employment-based (EB) immigrant visa (green card) beneficiaries. The Visa Bulletin for October 2021 had been eagerly anticipated, in part due to substantial advancements seen in October 2020 that had permitted thousands of employment-based foreign nationals to file Form I-485 applications for adjustment of status to permanent residence.