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

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

As anticipated and indicated in our “heat map” of immigration actions during the first 100 days in office, the Biden administration has withdrawn a rule proposed by the Trump administration that would have eliminated work authorization for the H-4 spouses of certain H-1B visa holders.  The decision to withdraw the rule will allow the H-4 dependent spouse of an H-1B nonimmigrant who:

  • Is the principal beneficiary of an approved Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker; or
  • Has been granted an extension of their H-1B status under sections 106(a) and (b) of the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-first Century Act of 2000 as amended by the 21st Century Department of Justice Appropriations Authorization Act (AC21)

to continue to file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD).  Under AC21 § 106, an H-1B nonimmigrant can receive H-1B status beyond the six-year maximum, in one-year increments, if 365 days or more have passed since either an application for Alien Labor Certification (Form ETA 750A-B or ETA 9089) or a petition for immigrant worker (Form I-140) has been filed on the nonimmigrant’s behalf. 
Continue Reading H-4 Dependent Spouses Breathing a Little Easier

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