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.
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. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) recently announced that it is expanding a pilot program to eliminate admission stamps in passports. The record being eliminated is the ink stamp and not the “visa stamp” that a U.S. embassy or consulate affixes to passports.
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.
With the rise of inflation and other negative economic indicators, most news reports are suggesting that the U.S. economy is facing uncertain times. Some economists predict that the economy is headed for a recession or that the United States has already entered one, while others are more optimistic.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), recently extended until July 31, 2023, the temporary policy allowing remote verification of Form I-9 documents for employees working exclusively in remote settings due to COVID-19–related precautions.
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.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently announced that it would publish a regulation to make available an additional 64,716 H-2B temporary nonagricultural work visas for the 2023 fiscal year. The visas will be added to the standard annual allotment of 66,000 H-2B visas issued each fiscal year.
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.
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.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has extended the temporary waiver of the requirement that a civil surgeon’s signature on Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record, be dated no more than sixty days before the date it is accepted by USCIS.
On September 28, 2022, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that certain Permanent Resident Cards (also known as green cards) would automatically be valid for twenty-four months from the expiration date of the green card based on a properly filed application to renew an expiring or expired green card.
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
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.
On August 18, 2022, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a proposed rule in the Federal Register that would grant it broader authority to permit alternative document inspection procedures for I-9 document verification in lieu of the physical inspection requirement.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is encouraging certain employment-based adjustment of status (green card) applicants with approved I-140 petitions to complete their medical examinations before the end of the fiscal year (FY) on September 30, 2022.
E-Verify is phasing out a policy instituted at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic that had granted employees additional time to contact the Social Security Administration (SSA) to resolve discrepancies with their E-Verify submissions.
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.”
On July 25, 2022, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced an extension of flexibility periods for responding to USCIS requests and for filing forms I-290B and N-336 through October 23, 2022.
The U.S. Department of State’s July 2022 Visa Bulletin indicates a significant advancement for Indian nationals in the second preference category for employment-based (EB-2) visas.
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.
On June 15, 2022, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) ombudsman published formal recommendations on how the federal agency can address certain systemic issues.
Employers that accepted expired Form I-9 employment eligibility verification documents under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) policy of flexibility during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic must update their Forms I-9 by July 31, 2022, the department confirmed.
On July 25, 2022, the flexibility period for responding to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) requests and for filing forms I-290B and N-336 will expire.
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.
Employers and employees alike often inquire as to who may pay immigration sponsorship fees for certain nonimmigrant petitions and the permanent residency (green card) process. The answer often depends on a few details, including the specific immigration process, who is requesting the fee, the visa type, and the specific expense.
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.
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.