The October 2023 Visa Bulletin has been released by the U.S. Department of State and shows some encouraging movement forward from last month, with the exception of the filing date for EB-3 worldwide, which will retrogress four months.
The U.S. Department of State recently announced that it is developing the capability to issue digital visa authorizations (DVA) instead of the traditional visas that are printed and placed in applicants’ passports. This development would streamline the travel authorization process by automating the transfer of data from visa application, to airline verification, to border inspection, and U.S. admission.
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has announced that it is working to update and improve the protections available to H-2A workers. The proposed changes would include both worker protection measures and compliance and enforcement enhancements.
All receipts for payment of Machine-Readable Visa (MRV) fees issued prior to October 1, 2022, are set to expire on September 30, 2023, the U.S. Department of State recently announced.
The impact of a federal government shutdown come October 1, 2023, will vary among agencies, including those responsible for immigration-related matters, based on whether the agencies are fee generating (among other factors), though it is expected that certain government functions would continue.
On August 3, 2023, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) replaced the endorsed Form I-129S for L-1 blanket petitions with an I-129S approval notice that will now serve as the endorsement.
Several J-1 visa waiver application windows are set to open in fall 2023 for physicians who plan to start working for an employer following completion of their residency or fellowship programs in spring/summer 2024.
On the heels of a surprise announcement, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has conducted a second round of H-1B cap lottery selections. This move was much-anticipated by employers and foreign national workers alike.
On July 6, 2023, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) updated the existing Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) application to add questions focusing on an applicant’s travel and connection to Cuba, which has been designated as a state sponsor of terrorism by the U.S. secretary of state.
On Thursday, July 27, 2023, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced that it will “need to select additional registrations to reach the fiscal year 2024 numerical allocations” for the H-1B visa. Previously submitted H-1B visa electronic registrations are anticipated for a second lottery selection “soon,” USCIS said.
On July 12, 2023, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security added eight new qualifying fields of study to the STEM Designated Degree Program List. F-1 nonimmigrant students who complete certain programs of study in the fields of science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) are eligible to apply for a twenty-four-month extension of their post-completion optional practical training.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services recently announced the expansion of the myProgress tool to include Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, and Form I-131, Application for Travel Document.
On July 21, 2023, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced that it would publish a revised Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification. In addition, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced a final rule establishing an optional remote procedure for employers meeting certain requirements to complete the I-9 employment verification process.
The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs’ August 2023 Visa Bulletin illustrates a continued trend of significant backlogs in the employment-based immigrant visa process.
Florida’s Senate Bill (SB) 1718 went into effect on July 1, 2023. One section of the new law—which criminalized the transport into the State of Florida of individuals who entered the United States without inspection—now faces a legal challenge.
In an effort to improve the customer experience, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has launched a self-service tool that allows online rescheduling of biometric services appointments.
The U.S. Department of State recently updated four provisions in the Foreign Affairs Manual related to visa processing for E-1, E-2, and E-3 applicants and eligible family members (i.e., spouses and children) seeking derivative status.
The U.S. Department of State anticipates that by July 1, 2023, all prorated employment-based third preference (EB-3) visa numbers available for Indian applicants in fiscal year (FY) 2023 will be exhausted; however, on October 1, 2023, the EB-3 final action date for India is expected to advance.
Canada has announced an open work-permit stream directly recruiting U.S. foreign national H-1B visa holders to relocate to Canada.
On June 21, 2023, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced the launch of a mobile app that will allow travelers from forty countries to apply for visa-free travel authorization directly on their handheld devices.
On June 14, 2023, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released detailed guidance regarding the eligibility criteria for the Compelling Circumstances Employment Authorization Document (EAD) application. The new guidance delineates seven eligibility criteria applicants must meet to qualify for the Compelling Circumstances EAD, and provides specific examples of situations that USCIS may find sufficiently compelling to warrant issuing the EAD.
On June 12, 2023, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced an expansion of premium processing service for applicants filing Form I-539 to change their status to F, M, or J status.
A recent employer fact sheet from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division highlights an area of exposure for employers related to document requests in connection with export compliance assessments.
The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs’ July 2023 Visa Bulletin continues to demonstrate a trend of backlogs in the employment-based immigrant visa process.
On May 26, 2023, the U.S. Department of State announced the delay of the implementation of the final rule raising nonimmigrant visa application processing fees and the fee for a Border Crossing Card for Mexican citizens age fifteen and older. The effective date has been delayed from May 30, 2023, to June 17, 2023.
The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs has released the June 2023 Visa Bulletin and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has confirmed that it will accept employment-based I-485 adjustment of status applications per the bulletin’s Final Action Dates chart.
Employers may find it useful to have an understanding of the H-1B, L-1A, and L-1B maximum periods of stay. As a reminder, H-1B status is granted for certain specialty occupations and fashion models, L-1A status is granted for intracompany transfers of executives and managers, and L-1B status is granted for intracompany transfers of employees with specialized knowledge. Understanding the relevant periods of stay helps employers to timely initiate an employment-based green card process on behalf of an employee. It also allows employers to proactively plan their immigration policies to ensure business continuity and to reduce costs.
On May 10, 2023, Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law Senate Bill (SB) 1718, immigration-related legislation that will require employers to use the E-Verify system and will impose criminal penalties on individuals transporting undocumented immigrants into Florida.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has announced that the temporary COVID-19 accommodations for Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, will expire on July 31, 2023.