USCIS Announces Registration Period for the FY 2024 H-1B Cap

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that the registration period for the fiscal year (FY) 2024 H-1B cap will open on Wednesday, March 1, 2023, at noon ET, and will end on Friday, March 17, 2023, at noon ET. It is only during this period that employers or their representatives can register potential H-1B beneficiaries through a myUSCIS online account.

Employment-Based Immigration Updates for 2023

As we move deeper into the new year, the U.S. government continues to try to resolve the challenges facing the immigration system due to the disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting processing backlogs. These challenges may still continue, but new changes and updates have already taken effect—and more will likely come in 2023, impacting employers and the decisions they make with regard to their foreign national employees.

USCIS Expands Premium Processing to All EB-1 and EB-2 Classifications, Including New Petitions

Beginning January 30, 2023, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will accept Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service, for Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers E-13 (EB-1C) multinational executive and manager petitions and E21 (EB-2) National Interest Waiver (NIW) petitions.

DHS Announces Proposed Fee Increases for Immigration Benefits

On January 4, 2023, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that would increase fees for specific immigration and naturalization benefit requests. The department’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) cited the expansion of humanitarian programs, federally mandated pay raises, additional staffing requirements, and the need for essential investments as reasons for the proposed increases.

 

Foreign Worker Visas Issues Could Complicate Employers’ Planned Reductions in Force

Businesses across industries are reducing their workforces and implementing hiring freezes amid increasing labor costs and fears of slower economic growth. In fact, reports suggest that tens of thousands of workers could be looking for new jobs in 2023 following announced layoffs and job cuts at several major companies across the United States. Many of

CDC Announces Travelers From China Must Show Negative COVID-19 Result

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently announced that effective 12:01 AM ET on January 5, 2023, travelers entering the United States from flights originating in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macau will be required to present a negative COVID-19 test or proof of COVID-19 recovery.

U.S. Consulates in China Announce Suspension of Visa Services in Response to China’s Latest COVID-19 Surge

The U.S. Department of State’s U.S. Mission China Consular Services announced on December 15, 2022, that all routine visa services would be indefinitely suspended. As of December 19, 2022, routine visa appointments at all U.S. consulate offices in China have been canceled, with the exception of some visa appointments already scheduled at the U.S. consulate in Shanghai.

Traveling for the Holidays: Planning for Successful International Travel This Season for Foreign Nationals

With the pandemic finally drawing closer to an end, many foreign nationals may use the first opportunity they have had in years to plan international travel this holiday season. In order to avoid any unnecessary hiccups when departing from and returning to the United States pursuant to international travel, foreign national travelers may want to confirm that they have all of their documents in order.

Medical Marijuana in Your Suitcase? How One Basketball Player’s Conviction Raises Concerns for Employers

On October 25, 2022, U.S. professional basketball player Brittney Griner lost her bid in a Russian appeals court to overturn a nine-year sentence for attempting to smuggle illegal drugs into Russia. According to reports, Griner, a Women’s National Basketball Association star and two-time Olympic gold medalist, was arrested at a Russian airport in February 2022 while attempting to enter the country to play professional basketball with vaporizer cartridges containing less than one gram of hashish oil, a product derived from marijuana. Griner reportedly has a prescription for medical marijuana in Arizona, but marijuana, including medical marijuana, remains illegal in Russia.

Work Visas and One International College Athlete’s Slam Dunk on His Name, Image, and Likeness Rights

A basketball player from the Dominican Republic could be the first prospective National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) athlete to secure an O-1 temporary work visa for those with “extraordinary ability” in athletics to allow him to profit from his name, image, and likeness (NIL) while in school. The move comes as brands are looking to sign college athletes under the NCAA’s interim NIL policy, though international athletes have limited ability to do so under student visas.

U.S. Department of Education Ends Recognition of ACICS as National Accrediting Agency: the Effect on Immigration Benefits

The U.S. Department of Education has terminated federal recognition of the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) as a national accrediting agency. The loss of recognition will affect certain immigration beneficiaries because many immigration benefits are available only in cases in which a beneficiary has a degree from, or is currently enrolled in, a nationally accredited institution.

Child Status Protection Act May Offer Hope to Dependents Aging Out of Green Card Eligibility After AOS Retrogression

With the recent retrogression of employment-based priority dates for the EB-2 and EB-3 India and mainland China categories, many families with dependents nearing the age of twenty-one may be concerned about the impact these delays will have on their children’s green card applications. Fortunately, the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA) was implemented to provide some protection to dependents who turn twenty-one while waiting for their pending green card applications to be approved.

Information for H-1Bs Approved Under the H-1B Cap

For fiscal year (FY) 2023, the annual H-1B quota for 85,000 H-1Bs was met as of August 23, 2022, and on October 1, 2022, those H-1Bs that were approved as change-of-status petitions went into effect. To obtain H-1B status for the first time, a foreign national is required to go through the annual H-1B quota process, and selection is dependent on a randomized lottery system. If selected, the petitions can be prepared with two options to activate H-1B status.

Canada Temporarily Lifts International Students’ Off-Campus Work Limits

On October 7, 2022, Canadian Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship, the Honourable Sean Fraser, announced a pilot project to temporarily lift the weekly twenty-hour off-campus working limit for international students studying full-time in Canada. The pilot project is set to last just over a year, from November 15, 2022, until December 31, 2023.

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.