Stating 10/1/2017, employment based green card Applicants will need to attend in person interviews
On August 28, 2017, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it will start conducting in-person interviews for permanent resident “green card” applications, effective Oct. 1. USCIS will start interviewing the following two categories of green card applicants:
Employment-based adjustment of status applications;
Refugee/asylee relative petitions (Form I-730, Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition) for beneficiaries who are in the United States and are petitioning to join a principal asylee/refugee applicant.
USCIS stated the changes is to improve the detection and prevention of immigration fraud pursuant to Executive Order 13780, “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States.” USCIS is planning an incremental expansion of interviews to other benefit types.
The two categories of immigrants were not subject to in-person interviews before. Employees who are applying for adjustment of status based on qualifying jobs are in the United States with valid non-immigrant status.
International students choose to study in the U.S. for many different reasons, and many choose to stay and work after they graduate from U.S. colleges and universities. The Pew Research Center analyzed U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) data and found that more and more high-skilled foreign graudates find jobs in the United States under the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program. The OPT program provides an important opportunity for foreign graduates to work in the U.S. for up to 12 months or 36 months, depending on their field. Many students choose to take advantage of the OPT programs to utilize the skills they learned.
The Pew Research Center found that the federal government approved nearly 700,000 OPT applications between 2008 and 2014. Below are the interesting findings:
The annual number of OPT approvals rose from 28,497 in 2008 to 136,617 in 2014.
Many of those working in the U.S. under the OPT program go on to apply for H-1B visas to stay longer in the U.S.
Those with STEM majors had a higher employment rate (73%) than non-STEM majors (57%).
Foreign students from India and China accounted for more than half (57%) of all those who were approved for OPT.
American Immigration Lawyer’s Association (AILA) confirmed on March 27, 2017 that USCIS will be conducting a lottery for Fiscal Year 2018 H-1B petitions. The process for receiving and receipting H-1B cap cases for 2018 will be the same as with prior years. During the period of April 3-7, 2017, if USCIS receives enough petitions to reach the 65,000 statutory H-1B cap and the 20,000 cap for petitions filed under the advanced degree exemption, a lottery will be conducted. As in the past, a random computer selection will be run first the 20,000 master’s cap petitions. Any petitions not selected for the master’s cap will then be included in the random selection process for the 65,000 regular cap.
Good luck to everyone facing the lottery this year.
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has brought back premium processing for certain CAP exempt petitions.
On April 3, 2017, USCIS halted premium processing of H-1B visa petitions, for up to six months. While H-1B premium processing is suspended, petitioners will not be able to file Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service for a Form I-129. Prior to the halt, employers can request premium processing of H-1B petitions to ensure that USCIS will review the petition within 15 days at a cost of $1,225. Most non-premium processing types of H-1B petitions are currently averaging 6 to 8 months processing time. This suspension will apply to all H-1B regular cap and master’s cap petitions filed for the FY18 H-1B.
The only option for H-1B employers is that they may submit requests to expedite an H-1B petition if they meet the Expedite Criteria. The employer must meet one of these concerns concerns as “severe financial loss,” “emergency situation” or “humanitarian reasons.”
The final rule is published on January 17, 2017, available online at Federal Register. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) encourages foreign entrepreneurs to create and develop start-up entities. This rule provides guidance on the use of advanced parole for international start-up entrepreneurs. If granted, parole would provide an initial stay of up to 30 months (2.5 years), and may be extended to an additional 30 months (2.5 years), the equivalent of 5 years. This rule is effective 180 days from the publication.
DHS retains discretion to grant parole on a case-by-case basis. The applicant must demonstrate that his or hers new start-up entity has significant potential for rapid growth and job creation. The parole applicant must demonstrate: (1) he has formed a new entity in the United States within the 5 years prior to filing of the parole application; (2) the applicant must possess at least 10 percent ownership interest, and has an active and central role in the business operation; and (3) the applicant must show the start-up entity has received investments of capital totaling $250,000 or more.
If parole is granted, the entrepreneur will be authorized for employment. If the parolee seeks an extension, he or she must continue to be an entrepreneur of the start-up entity, and must further validate the entity’s potential for rapid growth and job creation. The applicant can do so by showing additional substantial investments of capital, substantial and rapidly increasing revenue, or it created at least 5 full-time jobs.