Executive Summary

The Trump Administration has introduced long-anticipated changes to the H-1B visa program for highly-skilled foreign workers, aimed at tightening eligibility for STEM talent working at major US employers, including by imposing a rigid requirement that any job offered to an H-1B worker require a single specific degree in a subspecialty, and that each

The White House has announced issuance of two new rules, both of which will take effect immediately upon publication in the Federal Register:

  1.  The Department of Homeland Security’s H-1B rule,  “Strengthening the H-1B Non-immigrant Visa Classification Program,” which has been on the DHS regulatory agenda for many years, including its first appearance in Fall 2017

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, in a divided decision, vacated a preliminary injunction issued by US District Judge Edward Chen in 2018 that prevented the administration from ending Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Sudan. The panel remanded to the district court for further proceedings.

The TPS program

COVID-19 developments, including the White House ban on green card applications made at US consulates abroad, economic changes, and reduced cross-border travel, reduced the volume of applications for immigrant visas in recent months, creating excess supply in employment-based (EB) immigrant quotas.

As a result, the US Department of State (DOS) adjusted the EB quotas to allow certain individuals who previously faced lengthy waits of up to multiple years to file for adjustment of status (AOS) to US permanent residency in the month of October 2020.


Continue Reading Executive Summary: The Gate to US Permanent Residency Opens in October 2020

On Tuesday, September 29, 2020, Federal District Court Judge Jeffrey White issued an order 2020-09-29 Order Granting dckt 98_0 enjoining US Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) and the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) from implementing proposed increases in filing fees, and the addition of a controversial filing fee for asylum, scheduled to become effective on

On March 30, 2020, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that the agency would allow flexibility in responding to certain agency notices, in an effort to minimize the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on individuals seeking immigration benefits.  The agency provided an additional 60 calendar days beyond the due date for responding to the

The new rules serve to implement Directive (EU) 2018/957 of 28 June 2018 (“Amending Directive”) amending Directive 96/71/EC (“Posted Workers Directive”) concerning the posting of workers in the framework of the provision of services.  The aim of Directive (EU) 2018/957 is to balance the relationship between the freedom to provide services

US Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS), the agency within Homeland Security responsible for adjudicating applications and petitions seeking immigration and naturalization benefits, announced on Tuesday, August 25, 2020, that it will not engage in en masse staffing furloughs before the close of the fiscal year on September 30, 2020. As previously reported on Mayer Brown’s

On August 3, 2020, President Trump issued an Executive Order (“EO” or the “Order”) directing the heads of all agencies that enter into contracts to review the impact of contractors and their subcontractors employing H-1B visa holders on the wages and employment opportunities of US workers. Specifically, the EO directs all federal agencies to review

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