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.

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.