The White House appears to be eyeing the former head of a well-known anti-immigration group, the Federation for American Immigration Reform, Julie Kirchner, to take the helm of US Citizenship & Immigration Services, the agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with administering immigration and naturalization benefits. Kirchner, who joined the administration shortly after the president took office, currently serves as USCIS Ombudsman, the office tasked with resolving complex individual case issues, as well as providing recommendations for improvement in the administration of overall case processing.
On Friday, April 5, 2019, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it received a sufficient number of H-1B petitions needed to reach the annual 65,000 regular cap, making 2019 the seventh year in a row in which the cap was reached within the first five working days of April. USCIS has not yet announced whether it has received enough petitions to meet the US advanced degree exemption (or “master’s cap”) for 20,000 petitions.
Per the final rule published on January 31, 2019, if USCIS has received a sufficient number of petitions to meet both the bachelor’s degree quota and US advanced degree exemption, the agency will first conduct a random lottery to select petitions needed to meet the regular cap, and will then conduct a second lottery to select petitions to meet the master’s cap. The agency will reject and return filing fees for all unselected petitions.
We will report further on the H-1B Cap as additional information becomes available from USCIS.
Last week’s series of Brexit votes in Parliament could mark a profound shift in the trajectory of the UK’s exit from the EU. However, businesses still do not know when Brexit will happen (if at all) and what the UK’s relationship with the EU and the rest of the world will be.
In the space of three days, the House of Commons voted (i) on Tuesday to reject the UK government’s negotiated withdrawal agreement in the second so-called “meaningful vote”; (ii) on Wednesday to reject a no-deal Brexit, with even Cabinet ministers defying the Conservative party whip to vote against it; and (iii) on Thursday to request an extension to Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty to delay the UK’s exit from the EU. And if that was not enough, on Thursday the House also voted marginally against exercising more control over Brexit and overwhelmingly against a measure calling for a second referendum, with even supporters of a second referendum calling on MPs not to back it because it was not the right time.
As USCIS increases scrutiny of immigration filings, processing times for nearly all immigration categories has increased, as has the margin of error at agency service centers. Liz Stern discusses changes within the agency, and how those changes are impacting employers and foreign nationals applying for US immigration benefits in a recent Law360 article.
With the March 29, 2019 date for Brexit looming and no deal to address the separation yet approved, the House of Commons voted on March 14, 2019, to defer Brexit until at least June 30, 2019. The vote of 413 in favor versus 202 against provided a clear majority of 211 for the government, a move that may avert the expected chaos that a “no deal” scenario would pose.
By law, however, the delay can only be authorized by the EU, with unanimous approval of the leaders of the remaining 27 countries in the bloc. The prime minister faces a significant challenge in seeking that approval, as EU officials have said they will permit a delay only if Britain makes a fundamental shift in its approach to Brexit. Although the bloc could consider a delay to Brexit, it has made clear that after two years negotiating with Ms. May, it is not open to more talks on her deal, meaning the prime minister needs to find a way to convince British lawmakers to accept it.
The prime minister thus plans to make a third attempt to have parliament agree to a divorce deal — which the MPs have already rejected twice — next week, in advance of an upcoming EU summit. Lawmakers also rejected, by a vote of 334 to 85, a second referendum on EU membership. Continue Reading MPs Vote To Extend Brexit Deadline for Three Months
The US Department of Homeland Security quadrupled its worksite immigration enforcement actions in fiscal year 2018 and no employer is immune from the increased scrutiny on immigration compliance. Mayer Brown’s Liz Stern and Dan Stein offer five questions to help employers assess their risk in an article published in Bloomberg Business.
On March 11, 2019, USCIS will publish a revised Form I-539 with an edition date of February 4, 2019. Effective March 11, USCIS will only accept the new I-539; all previous editions will be rejected. In addition, the agency will introduce a new Form I-539A, Supplemental Information for Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status to change or extend the nonimmigrant status of additional dependents (or “co-applicants”). Each co-applicant must completed and sign a separate Form I-539A.
At the same time, USCIS will require that all I-539 applicants and co-applicants each pay a $85 biometrics fee and have their biometrics taken at a USCIS Application Support Center. However, certain A, G, and NATO nonimmigrants will be exempt from the biometrics requirement. For more information, please refer to USCIS’s news alert.
USCIS has announced that starting February 19, 2019, it will resume premium processing service for all H-1B petitions (including change of employer or “port” petitions) filed on or before December 21, 2018. Petitioners seeking to upgrade their pending H-1B petitions to premium processing must submit their request to the service center where the petition is pending. In some instances petitions have been transferred to a service center other than the office where the petition was originally filed. The premium processing request must be filed at the service center where the petition was transferred and a copy of the transfer notice must be submitted with the request. If the premium processing request is sent to the wrong service center, USCIS will forward the request to the correct location. However, the 15-day premium processing clock will not start until the premium processing request has been received at the correct center. If a petitioner was issued a request for evidence (RFE) for a pending petition, it should include the RFE response with the premium processing request. This follows last month’s USCIS announcement to resume premium processing for FY 2019 cap-subject H-1B petitions filed in April 2018. There has been no update, yet, regarding the availability of premium processing for this year’s cap-subject petitions, which will be filed in April 2019.
Earlier this week USCIS published its final rule introducing an online pre-registration process for H-1B cap petitions and changing the order of the two lotteries for visa beneficiaries. In reaction to USCIS’s announcement, Law360 spoke with immigration practitioners, including Mayer Brown’s Paul Virtue, about the impact of these changes on employers and the business community. Read more at Law360.
The Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) has posted a final rule regarding the H-1B cap selection process. The rule will be published in the Federal Register on January 31, 2019 and will go into effect on April 1, 2019.
The Final Rule
The posted rule is the final version of the proposed rule titled “Registration Requirement for Petitions Seeking to File H-1B Petitions on Behalf of Cap-Subject Aliens,” which was published for public comments on December 3, 2018. During the 30-day comment period, the proposed rule received over 800 public comments. Continue Reading Department of Homeland Security Posts Final Rule Regarding H-1B Cap Filings