State Department Testing Digital Visa Authorization to Replace Traditional Visa Foils

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.

STEM OPT Update: Additional Degree Fields Now Eligible for 24-Month Extension

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.

DHS Announces the Release of a New Form I-9 and a Remote Verification Option for Certain Employers

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.

USCIS Releases Updated Eligibility Criteria for Compelling Circumstances EADs

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.

H-1B and L-1 Maximum Periods of Stay—A Refresher for Employers on Timelines, Extensions, and Recapture

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.