USCIS Implements Third Phase of Premium Processing Expansion for Previously Filed EB-1C and EB-2 NIW Petitions

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that premium processing is now available for certain previously filed Form I-140 immigrant petitions seeking classification under the EB-1C multinational executive and manager and the EB-2 National Interest Waiver (NIW) categories. This is the third phase of the planned expansion of premium processing services by USCIS in an agency-wide effort to increase efficiency and reduce backlogs caused by COVID-19, among other things

USCIS Addresses Immigrant Visa Availability as the End of FY 2022 Approaches

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently published updated statistics in connection with immigrant visa usage for fiscal year (FY) 2022. According to the report, as of July 31, 2022, USCIS and the U.S. Department of State (DOS) had used a total of 210,593 employment-based immigrant visas, leaving a balance of more than 70,000 visas to be allocated before the end of the fiscal year on September 30, 2022. Given the short timeline and the significant number of unused visas, many people are asking if all of the remaining visas will be used.

USCIS Updates O-1 Guidance With Focus on STEM-Related Government Grants

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently updated its policy guidance related to O-1A nonimmigrants of extraordinary ability in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. Notably, the guidance states that evidence establishing that a beneficiary is named on a competitive government grant or stipend for STEM research may be “a positive factor indicating [the] beneficiary is among the small percentage at the top of the beneficiary’s field.”

USCIS to Implement Phase Two of Premium Processing Expansion for Certain Previously Filed I-140 Petitions

On May 24, 2022, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) began implementing an expansion of the agency’s premium processing service for certain pending Form I-140 petitions. Specifically, the expansion of premium processing services applied to the EB-1C multinational executive and manager and the EB-2 National Interest Waver (NIW) I-140 categories.

CDC Rescinds COVID-19 Testing Requirement for International Airline Passengers Entering the United States

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently announced that as of June 12, 2022, international airline passengers (regardless of citizenship or vaccination status) are no longer required to provide proof of a negative viral COVID-19 test result or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 before boarding a flight to the United States.

Updates in Visa Bulletin May Affect H-1B Extensions Beyond Six-Year Maximum

The U.S. Department of State’s June 2022 Visa Bulletin reflects a significant advancement in the EB-2 India category. This has provided an opportunity for many applicants for permanent residence to move forward with the filing, adjudication, and approval of their I-485, Application[s] to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, the final step in the green card process. While a positive development for many, this forward movement has also created a challenge for certain H-1B extensions.

USCIS Implements Premium Processing Upgrades for Certain Previously Filed I-140 Petitions

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.

DHS Extends I-9 Compliance Flexibility

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.

USCIS Publishes FY 2023 H-1B Cap Registration Statistics

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.

USCIS Announces FY 2023 H-1B Selection Process Completion

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.

USCIS Updates Guidance on Employment Authorization for Certain E and L Nonimmigrant Spouses

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.

Visa Processing Options for Ukrainian Nationals

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.”

DHS Grants Temporary Protected Status to Afghan Nationals

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.

USCIS Takes New Steps to Transition to Electronic Processing

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.

DHS Grants Temporary Protected Status for Ukrainian Nationals

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.