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

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published details in the Federal Register about how it will implement the temporary “safe haven” program, also called Deferred Enforced Departure – (DED), for certain Hong Kong residents in the United States. The notice also provides instructions for employers regarding acceptable documentation to hire workers under this program.

Continue Reading U.S. Government Issues New Details of Safe Haven Program for Hong Kong Residents

On October 8, 2021, President Biden officially set an annual ceiling of 125,000 for refugee admissions to the United States during Fiscal Year (FY) 2022. This number represents the maximum number of refugees that may be admitted to the United States through September 30, 2022. The President set the annual refugee ceiling after consulting with members of the Senate and House Judiciary Committees.

Continue Reading White House Raises the Cap on Refugee Admissions to 125,000

Federal law requires that employers must properly complete Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, for each worker hired to perform labor or services in the United States. The form documents that the employer took steps to verify the identity and employment authorization of the worker. Normally, the employer must physically examine each document submitted by the employee to determine whether it reasonably appears to be genuine and related to the person presenting it.

Due to safety precautions implemented to protect communities from the coronavirus (COVID-19), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued guidance in March 2020 that employers may temporarily postpone the in-person verification requirement with a remote inspection (e.g., video, fax, email). The announcement included instructions for annotating the Form I-9 when using the flexibility rules. Recently, DHS extended this policy through December 31, 2021
Continue Reading DHS Extends Flexibilities of Form I-9 Employment Requirements

Under the immigration laws of the United States, an individual who applies for an immigrant visa abroad, or who seeks permanent residency while in the United States, must undergo a medical examination to establish that they are free from any conditions that would render them inadmissible on health-related grounds.

Effective October 1, 2021, in addition to the current list of mandatory inoculations, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) mandates that applicants must also demonstrate completion of a COVID-19 vaccination series (one or two doses, depending on the vaccine) to the panel physician or civil surgeon performing the medical evaluation. According to the CDC, the following constitute acceptable proof of vaccination: (1) an official vaccination record, or (2) a copy of a medical chart with entries made by a physician or other appropriate medical personnel. Absent this documentation, the panel physician or civil surgeon may agree to administer the vaccine to the applicant to meet this requirement.

Continue Reading New COVID-19 Vaccination Requirement for Immigrants