On April 1, 2024, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) implemented new costs for many common immigration filings, resulting in a fee increase of 100% to 200% for certain visa categories including those utilized by US employers. In this Legal Update, we examine some of these new fees, the impact of the fee increase on

The US Supreme Court has declined to consider a lawsuit that sought to eliminate a work authorization program widely utilized by foreign graduates of US universities. The Supreme Court’s denial of a writ of certiorari ensures that foreign graduates may continue working through the Department of Homeland Security’s Optional Practical Training (OPT) program, eliminating a

On October 5, 2022, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit issued a widely anticipated ruling upholding a district court’s determination that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is unlawful. The decision has no immediate impact on current DACA recipients or their employers, as the three-judge panel stayed its decision pending further review by the district court. In particular, the district court must review a new DACA regulation published by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that is set to go into effect on October 31, 2022. The Biden Administration had crafted this new regulation to address the procedural concerns raised by the district court in its earlier ruling against the DACA program.

On October 14, 2022, the district court judge held a status hearing and ruled that the current version of the federal policy can continue, at least temporarily, with the limitations that are presently in place. The judge confirmed that the injunction preventing the government from adjudicating first-time requests for DACA applies to the new regulation. Thus, the new regulation will not take effect on October 31, 2022, for initial applications. The judge ordered attorneys for the federal government to provide more information on the new rule.Continue Reading DACA Developments: Vital Information for Employers and Employees

Note: Updated to reflect the Department of Homeland Security’s notice on 9/15/2022 regarding the next phase of premium processing for petitioners who have a pending Form I-140, Immigrant Petition, under the EB-1 and EB-2 classifications.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is expanding the availability of premium processing for certain pending, employment-based (EB) immigrant petitions, according to its recent alert. The changes specifically affect:

  • EB-1 multinational executives and managers; and
  • EB-2 professionals with advanced degrees or exceptional ability seeking a national interest waiver (NIW).

This is the third phase of the previously announced plan to expand premium processing. The agency aims to increase efficiency and reduce burdens to the immigration system.Continue Reading Need a Decision Faster? DHS Expands Premium Processing for Certain Employment-Based Petitions

Employers are responsible for verifying the identity and employment authorization of newly hired employees. The Form I-9 (Employment Eligibility Verification) is critical to any employer’s onboarding process for new hires, but ongoing Form I-9 maintenance is equally important with respect to existing employees who need to renew their work authorization documents with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Some employers have faced challenges in this regard following DHS’s recent announcement of a Temporary Final Rule increasing the automatic extension period for employment authorization for certain individuals from 180 to 540 days. The rule was intended to provide additional security to both employees and employers while their renewal applications are being adjudicated by U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS). However, the rule also raises significant considerations for employers seeking to maintain proper Form I-9 compliance and avoid liability for past errors.Continue Reading Critical Form I-9 Compliance Risks as DHS Changes Work Authorization Rules

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

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) updated the website information for Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status in January 2022 to include information related to green card availability and a process referred to as a “transfer of underlying basis.”

Each year, approximately 140,000 US employment-based immigrant visas (green cards) are made

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently announced its preliminary fiscal year (FY) 2021 agency statistics and accomplishments.  Over the years, the agency consistently has reported on substantially similar metrics that align with its mission, along with policy, legislative and regulatory items that comport with the strategic direction of the Administration.
Continue Reading USCIS Announces Fiscal Year 2021 Accomplishments

On November 12, 2021, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a Policy Alert and new policy guidance addressing Employment Authorization Document (EAD) auto-extensions for H-4, E, and L spouses and to clarify that E and L dependent spouses will be considered work authorized incident to nonimmigrant status.  USCIS confirmed that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will take steps to modify Forms I-94 to distinguish E and L dependent spouses from E and L dependent children.  Until Forms I-94 are updated, E and L spouses will continue to require an EAD (or an automatically extended EAD) as evidence of employment authorization.  Under the terms of a settlement entered into on November 10, 2021, the changes to L-2 Forms I-94 will be made within 120 days.
Continue Reading USCIS Relaxes Rules for H-4, L-2, and E-2 Spouse Work Permits