Friday, July 3, 2015

USCIS Discontinues Electronic Form I-539, Form I-526, and RCDL

From USCIS: On June 15, 2015, USCIS stopped accepting electronically filed Forms I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status, and Forms I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur. USCIS also discontinued the Regional Center Document Library.

This change will not adversely affect customers who have pending or draft cases that were created before June 15. We will adjudicate those cases to completion and allow the standard 30 days for customers to complete and submit their draft cases.

Recently, USCIS updated the Form I-539 and Form G-28, Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Accredited Representative. To ensure that the paper and electronic versions of these forms are consistent with each other, we must temporarily remove the current electronic versions until we develop these updated forms in our new USCIS online filing system, which launched in March 2015.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

DACA Renewal Tips

From USCIS: Some people wait too long to request DACA renewal or do not correctly submit all the required forms and fees. As a result, their Employment Authorization Documents may expire before USCIS can finish processing their requests for DACA renewal.

You can lessen the chance that this may happen if you:
  • File on time. Submit your renewal request between 150 days and 120 days before the expiration date listed on your current Form I-797 DACA approval notice and Employment Authorization Document.
  • Correctly submit all required forms and fees. USCIS will reject your renewal request unless you properly submit:
  • Avoid processing delays. Be sure to submit:
    • Any new documents and information related to removal proceedings or criminal history that you have not already submitted to USCIS in a previously approved DACA request,
    • Proof of advance parole if you have traveled outside the United States since you filed your last DACA request that was approved; and
    • Proof of any legal name change.
  • Respond to Requests for Evidence. USCIS may deny your renewal request if you do not respond to a Request for Evidence in a timely manner.
For complete instructions, go to the Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) page.

Since March 27, 2015, USCIS has been mailing renewal reminder notices to DACA recipients 180 days before the expiration date of their current period of deferred action. Previously, these reminder notices were mailed 100 days in advance.

Monday, June 29, 2015

USCIS to Reopen H-2B Cap for the Second Half of Fiscal Year 2015

From USCIS: On June 5, 2015, USCIS will reopen the congressionally mandated fiscal year (FY) 2015 cap and will accept Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, requesting new H-2B workers with an employment start date between April 1 and September 30, 2015.

Why USCIS is Reopening the 2nd half FY 2015 Cap for H-2B Petitions
USCIS’s role in managing the H-2B cap involves ensuring that enough Form I-129 H-2B petitions with a sufficient number of beneficiaries have been approved to fully subscribe the H-2B cap each year. It can be difficult to estimate in advance how many beneficiaries of an H-2B petition approved by USCIS will actually seek H-2B status or eventually be issued an H-2B visa by the Department of State (DOS). USCIS strives to reasonably estimate the number of petitions the agency may approve before the annual cap will be reached.

On April 2, 2015, USCIS announced it accepted and approved a sufficient number of H-2B petitions to meet the congressionally mandated annual cap of 66,000 H-2B visas. USCIS considers numerous factors when determining how many petitions and beneficiaries to accept to fully utilize the H-2B cap. From June 3, 2014 through March 26, 2015, USCIS accepted about 3,900 petitions (consisting of about 77,000 beneficiaries) towards the H-2B FY15 cap.  USCIS believed this was sufficient to fully utilize the FY15 cap.

Friday, June 26, 2015

State Department Changes Reciprocity

The following chart shows the changes that have been made to the Country Reciprocity Tables since last publication.

Also, additional items may have been added to our homepage reflecting the various clearances that are required for some nationality groups, certain Presidential Proclamations affecting visa issuance, and the "Temporary Reciprocity Schedule" that is used for newly-independent countries, or when deemed necessary.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

FAQs: Employment Authorization for Certain H-4 Dependent Spouses - Part 2

This is part 2 of 2:

Applying for Employment Authorization
  1. Can I file the following applications/petitions concurrently? 
    1. An H-1B extension of stay petition, an H-4 extension of stay application, and an application for employment authorization?
      Yes. You may file your Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization together with your Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status and the Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker filed on behalf of your H-1B spouse. For extensions of nonimmigrant status, the Form I-129 for your H-1B spouse can be filed no more than six months before the date that the employer needs your spouse to work.
  1. A new H-1B petition, a new H-4 change of status application, and an application for employment authorization?
      Yes, but this scenario is possible only if your H-1B spouse has an approved Form I-140 or is requesting an extension of stay under sections 106(a) and (b) of AC21. Your spouse’s employer can file Form I-129 for your H-1B spouse no more than six months before the date the employer needs your spouse to work.
      Please note that under this scenario, we cannot adjudicate your Form I-765 until we make a determination about both your H-1B spouse’s eligibility for H-1B status under sections 106(a) and (b) of AC21 and your eligibility for H-4 nonimmigrant status.
      In either of the above scenarios, USCIS will not begin the 90-day interim EAD clock until we make a decision on your spouse’s H-1B status and your H-4 status.
  1. Will the Form I-765 be a paper-based application, or will it be an electronic application?
      If you are applying for employment authorization based on your H-4 nonimmigrant status, you must file a paper Form I-765 application. We will not accept electronic Form I-765 applications.
  1. What evidence should I, as an H-4 nonimmigrant, submit to demonstrate my eligibility for employment authorization?
      When applying for employment authorization based on your H-4 nonimmigrant status, submit the following with your application to demonstrate eligibility:
  • Evidence of your H-4 nonimmigrant status;
  • Evidence of your qualifying spousal relationship with the H-1B principal nonimmigrant (such as a copy of your marriage certificate);
  • Evidence of your spouse’s H-1B nonimmigrant status, such as:
    • A copy of Form I-797, Notice of Approval, for Form I-129 filed on your H-1B spouse’s behalf (if already approved and not being filed with your application for employment authorization);
    • A copy of your H-1B spouse’s Form I-94, Arrival-Departure Record;
    • The receipt number of the approved Form I-129 filed on behalf of your H-1B spouse (if already approved and not being filed with your application for employment authorization); and/or
    • A legible copy of the personal data pages of your H-1B spouse’s passport, the visas on which he or she last entered the United States, and the latest U.S. admission stamps in his or her passport.
    • If you are applying for employment authorization based on your spouse’s grant of H-1B status under AC21 §§ 106(a) and (b), include the following evidence:
  • Evidence that your H-1B spouse is the beneficiary of a Permanent Labor Certification Application filed at least 365 days before the expiration of his or her six-year limitation of stay as an H-1B nonimmigrant. Such evidence may include, but is not limited to:
    • A copy of a print out from the Department of Labor’s (DOL’s) website or other correspondence from DOL showing the status of  the Permanent Labor Certification Application filed on your H-1B spouse’s behalf; or
    • If DOL certified the Permanent Labor Certification, a copy of Form I-797, Notice of Receipt, for Form I-140 establishing that Form I-140 was filed within 180 days of DOL certifying the Permanent Labor Certification Application; OR
  • Evidence that your H-1B spouse’s Form I-140 was filed at least 365 days before the expiration of his or her six-year limitation of stay as an H-1B, and the Form I-140 remains pending. Such evidence may include, but is not limited to:
    • A copy of your H-1B spouse’s Form I-797 Receipt Notice for Form I-140; or
    • The receipt number of your H-1B spouse’s the pending Form I-140 filed on behalf of the H-1B spouse.
    • If you are applying for employment authorization based on your spouse being a beneficiary of an approved Form I-140, include evidence that the Form I-140 filed on your H-1B spouse’s behalf has been approved.  Such evidence may include, but is not limited to:
      • A copy of the Form I-797 Approval Notice for Form I-140; or
      • A copy of the Form I-797 Receipt Notice for Form I-140 along with an explanation about why the Form I-797 Approval Notice is unavailable.

Monday, June 22, 2015

FAQs: Employment Authorization for Certain H-4 Dependent Spouses - Part 1

From USCIS: USCIS recently hosted a teleconference about new regulatory changes, effective May 26, 2015, that extend employment authorization to certain H-4 dependent spouses of certain H-1B nonimmigrants who have already started the process of seeking employment-based lawful permanent resident status. Those eligible include H-4 dependent spouses of principal H-1B nonimmigrants who:
You can find these regulatory changes in sections 214.2(h)(9)(iv), 274a.12(c)(26), and 274a.13 of title 8 of the Code of Federal Regulations (8 CFR 214.2(h)(9)(iv), 8 CFR 274a.12(c)(26), and 8 CFR 274a.13).

Please note that you may not apply for employment authorization under these regulations until May 26, 2015. If granted employment authorization under these regulatory changes, H-4 dependent spouses will receive a Form I-766, Employment Authorization Document (EAD), as proof of that authorization.

We are posting these Frequently Asked Questions in response to this stakeholder teleconference.

Frequently Asked Questions
Determining If You May Apply for Employment Authorization
  1. As an H-4 nonimmigrant, would my employment authorization be limited to just my H-1B spouse’s time under AC21? For example, if my H-1B spouse’s petition is approved for the remaining time left in the 6-year period of admission plus the one year under AC21 §§ 106(a) and (b), and my H-4 status is granted the same period of time, how long will my employment authorization be valid for?
      Your employment authorization expiration date generally will match your H-4 nonimmigrant status expiration date. USCIS may grant employment authorization for the maximum time allowed even if the AC21 §§ 106(a) and (b) portion of your H-1B spouse’s extension is only for part of the full validity period. Under this scenario, your H-1B spouse’s extension has been granted under AC21 §§ 106(a) and (b), so you would be eligible for employment authorization for as long as your H-4 status is valid.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Temporary Protected Status Extended for Somalia

From USCIS: Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson has extended Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for eligible nationals of Somalia (and eligible individuals without nationality who last habitually resided in Somalia) for an additional 18 months, effective Sept. 18, 2015, through March 17, 2017.

Current TPS Somalia beneficiaries seeking to extend their TPS must re-register during the 60-day re-registration period that runs from June 1, 2015, through July 31, 2015. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) encourages beneficiaries to re-register as soon as possible once the 60-day re-registration period begins. USCIS will not accept applications before June 1, 2015.