The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that US Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) will accept premium processing requests on a rolling basis for certain immigrant petitions (Form I-140) for multinational executives/managers and for members of professions with advanced degrees or exceptional ability seeking a national interest waiver. Immigrant petitions (Form I-140) are filed by employers sponsoring employees and individuals for US permanent residency (the US green card).  This is the first implementation phase of the previously announced premium processing expansion.

Employers will be able to request premium processing (expedited adjudication based on a government filing fee) in a staggered approach for the newly-included categories, but note that this benefit applies only to cases filed on or before a specific date in 2021.

Premium Processing May Be Requested Beginning On: Case Type Filed On or Before
June 1, 2022 EB-1C Multinational Managers/Executives January 1, 2021
July 1, 2022 EB-1C Multinational Managers/Executives March 1, 2021
July 1, 2022 EB-2 National Interest Waivers June 1, 2021


Continue Reading Long Awaited Expansion of Expedited Processing: EB-1 and EB-2 Employment Cases

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced several new measures including expanding premium processing to additional form types, providing relief to individuals waiting for work permits and setting agency-wide backlog reduction goals. USCIS, a fee-based organization, faced an unprecedented budgetary shortfall and backlog of cases to be processed in 2020 and 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic and resource constraints. According to data published by the agency, there are approximately 9 million forms pending adjudication.

Expanding Premium Processing

As part of the these efforts, USCIS published a final rule that expands premium processing (expedited adjudication for a fee). The final rule is expected to take effect at the end of May 2022, and USCIS will begin implementation – through a phased approach – as soon thereafter as feasible.

Continue Reading US Immigration Agency Announces Measures to Expedite Services and Decrease Pending Caseload

On March 17, 2022, the Canadian government announced that the country will end its pre-entry COVID-19 testing requirement for all fully vaccinated* travelers arriving via land, air, or water, beginning on April 1, 2022.

Canada’s Minister of Health, Jean Yves-Duclos, noted as part of the announcement that “as vaccination levels and healthcare system capacity

Chile’s Ministry of the Interior and Public Security announced an extension to the country’s border closure, due to COVID-19, to remain in place until October 31, 2021, as well as some modifications to the previously announced “Protected Borders Plan”.

Continue Reading Chile Extends Border Closures and Exit Restrictions, With Some Exceptions

On September 16, 2021, Chile’s Ministry of Health announced major modifications to the country’s “Protect Borders” plan, which will now allow for vaccinated non-resident visitors to enter Chile with a “Mobility Pass” (Pase de Movibilidad).  As of September 16, 2021, potential visitors to Chile can apply for a Mobility Pass with proof of vaccination* through the Chilean government’s website and receive a pass in approximately a month.  Visitors with a Mobility Pass will be able to enter Chile starting on October 1, 2021.

Continue Reading Chile Introduces a Mobility Pass Relaxing Rules for Entry of Vaccinated Visitors

USCIS announced today, August 9, 2021, that applicants filing for lawful permanent resident status are now able to apply for a Social Security number (SSN) or replacement card as part of the adjustment of status application process. Previously, these individuals had to apply for a Social Security number at a Social Security office. USCIS has

On Tuesday, March 30, 2021, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it received a sufficient number of H-1B registrations through its new electronic registration system needed to reach the annual cap, which includes registrations for both the 65,000 regular cap, as well as the 20,000 allotted US advanced degree exemption (or “master’s cap”).

USCIS states in its announcement that the lottery selection process is complete and that the Agency has notified all prospective petitioners if their registrations have been selected, meaning employers are eligible to file a FY2022 H-1B cap-subject petition on behalf of the employees for whom selection notices have been assigned.

Continue Reading USCIS Announces H-1B FY2022 Lottery Selection Complete, Selected Petitioners Notified

United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) announced today that, starting this month, the agency will no longer use the sticker issued to lawful permanent residents to extend the validity of their Form I-551, Permanent Resident Card, or “green card.”  Instead, the agency will issue a revised Form I-797, Notice of Action, a change from

On Friday, August 14, 2020, US Citizenship & Immigration Services completed a second round of lottery selection for FY 2021 H-1B cap-subject petitions. The new selection round was due to the fact that the number of timely filings for H-1B petitions corresponding to  registrations selected under the first round were insufficient to fill the annual quota of 85,000, which includes 65,000 H-1B petitions, and an additional 20,000 petitions allotted to beneficiaries who possess a US advanced degree.  Employers whose H-1B petitions were selected in the first round of the lottery had between April 1 and June 30, 2020, to file petitions.  As a result of the shortage in filings submitted by June 30, USCIS is allocating the unused numbers randomly among the non-selected cases under the first round.
Continue Reading USCIS Issues Second Round H-1B Cap Lottery Selection With A November 16, 2020 Deadline to File

USCIS announced last week the implementation of adjustments that will slow the processing of Premium Processing Service cases, as well as increase filing fees for the majority of requests as part of a published Final Rule.

As covered in our previous blog post, a proposed Final Rule was reopened in January and the comment period extended to February 10.  On May 27, 2020, the USCIS Fee Rule went to the Office of Management and Budget’s Office of Information & Regulatory Affairs (OIRA).  OIRA completed its review on July 22, 2020, and the Final Rule was published on July 31, 2020.

In addition to lengthening processing for the Premium Processing Service and adjusting fees for petitions filed with USCIS, the Final Rule removes certain fee exemptions, changes fee waiver requirements, modifies intercountry adoption processing, and makes certain adjustments to filing requirements for nonimmigrant workers.

The Final Rule, including the adjusted fee amounts, is effective October 2, 2020.  Any application, petition, or request postmarked on or after that date must include the new fees under the Final Rule.

Adjustment to Premium Processing Timelines

As part of the Final Rule, USCIS has adjusted the processing time for its Premium Processing Service, which provides accelerated processing of some visa submissions for an additional filing fee ($1,440).  The Final Rule will increase the processing time from fifteen (15) calendar days to fifteen (15) business days.  This change will increase processing times associated with the Premium Processing Service, which will provide less flexibility to employers and lengthen the time required to secure approvals of work authorization.

Changes to Filing Fees for Nonimmigrant and Immigrant Petitions

The Final Rule adjusts the USCIS fee schedule to “provide for recovery of the estimated full cost of immigration adjudication and naturalization services,” according to the language in the published Final Rule.  DHS is adjusting USCIS fees by a weighted average increase of 20 percent, adding new fees for certain immigration benefit requests, establishing multiple fees for nonimmigrant worker petitions, and limiting the number of beneficiaries for certain forms.

Of particular note, USCIS has implemented varying filing fees for Form I-129, petitions with USCIS for H, L, O, E, and TN visas.  Under the Final Rule, each non-immigrant category will be subject to a separate fee rather than the current fee of $460.

Continue Reading USCIS Lengthens Premium Processing Timeline and Implements Fee Increases, Among Other Adjustments