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  • Type: News
    Post date: Jan 31st 2019
    Body:

    Final Rule Effective Beginning April 1, 2019 

    WASHINGTON—The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) posted today for public inspection, a final rule amending regulations governing H-1B cap-subject petitions, including those that may be eligible for the advanced degree exemption. The final rule reverses the order by which U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) selects H-1B petitions under the H-1B regular cap and the advanced degree exemption, and it introduces an electronic registration requirement for petitioners seeking to file H-1B cap-subject petitions. The rule will be published in the Federal Register on Jan. 31, and will go into effect on April 1, though the electronic registration requirement will be suspended for the fiscal year (FY) 2020 cap season. 

    “These simple and smart changes are a positive benefit for employers, the foreign workers they seek to employ, and the agency’s adjudicators, helping the H-1B visa program work better,” said USCIS Director L. Francis Cissna. “The new registration system, once implemented, will lower overall costs for employers and increase government efficiency. We are also furthering President Trump’s goal of improving our immigration system by making a simple adjustment to the H-1B cap selection process. As a result, U.S. employers seeking to employ foreign workers with a U.S. master’s or higher degree will have a greater chance of selection in the H-1B lottery in years of excess demand for new H-1B visas.”

    Effective April 1, USCIS will first select H-1B petitions (or registrations, once the registration requirement is implemented) submitted on behalf of all beneficiaries, including those that may be eligible for the advanced degree exemption. USCIS will then select from the remaining eligible petitions, a number projected to reach the advanced degree exemption. Changing the order in which USCIS counts these allocations will likely increase the number of petitions for beneficiaries with a master’s or higher degree from a U.S. institution of higher education to be selected under the H-1B numerical allocations. Specifically, the change will result in an estimated increase of up to 16% (or 5,340 workers) in the number of selected petitions for H-1B beneficiaries with a master’s degree or higher from a U.S. institution of higher education.

    USCIS will begin accepting H-1B cap petitions for FY 2020 on April 1, 2019. The reverse selection order will apply to petitions filed for the FY 2020 H-1B cap season. Petitioners may file an H-1B petition no more than six months before the employment start date requested for the beneficiary. USCIS will provide H-1B cap filing instruction on uscis.gov in advance of the filing season.

    Importantly, after considering public feedback, USCIS will be suspending the electronic registration requirement for the FY 2020 cap season to complete user testing and ensure the system and process are fully functional. Once implemented, the electronic registration requirement will require petitioners seeking to file H-1B cap petitions, including those that may be eligible for the advanced degree exemption, to first electronically register with USCIS during a designated registration period. Only those whose registrations are selected will be eligible to file an H-1B cap-subject petition. USCIS expects that the electronic registration requirement, once implemented, will reduce overall costs for petitioners and create a more efficient and cost-effective H-1B cap petition process for USCIS and petitioners.

    Additionally, USCIS will publish a notice in the Federal Register to announce the initial implementation of the H-1B registration process in advance of the cap season in which it will implement the requirement. Prior to implementation, USCIS will conduct outreach to ensure petitioners understand how to access and use the system. Once implemented, USCIS will announce the designated electronic registration period at least 30 days in advance for each fiscal year it is required.

    On April 18, 2017, President Trump issued the Buy American and Hire American Executive Order, instructing DHS to “propose new rules and issue new guidance, to supersede or revise previous rules and guidance if appropriate, to protect the interests of U.S. workers in the administration of our immigration system.” The executive order specifically mentioned the H-1B program and directed DHS and other agencies to “suggest reforms to help ensure that H-1B visas are awarded to the most-skilled or highest-paid petition beneficiaries.”  

  • Type: News
    Post date: Jan 29th 2019
    Body:

    Applicants Can Now Request Certificates of Citizenship Online

    WASHINGTON – U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today that applicants can now complete and file Form N-600, Application for Certificate of Citizenship, and Form N-600K, Application for Citizenship and Issuance of Certificate Under Section 322 online.

    “One of the major burdens to both benefit seekers and the agency’s adjudicators is the costly, time consuming, and cumbersome process of traditional paper filing,” said USCIS Director L. Francis Cissna. “This addition to our online capabilities is yet another positive advancement toward a more efficient and convenient filing experience for everyone involved.”

    Applicants can file Form N-600 to obtain a Certificate of Citizenship for themselves or their minor children if they:

    • Were born abroad and are claiming U.S. citizenship at birth through their parents; or
    • Automatically became a U.S. citizen after birth, but before they turned 18 years old.

    Applicants can file Form N-600K if they regularly reside in a foreign country and want to claim U.S. citizenship based on their parents. Applicants must secure lawful admission to the U.S. to complete Form N-600K processing. Children of U.S. service members have separate requirements for naturalization under INA Section 322.

    Forms N-600 and N-600K are part of the growing number of documents that USCIS has made available for easy and convenient online filing. This list includes: 

    • Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card;
    • Form N-336, Request for a Hearing on a Decision in Naturalization Proceedings;
    • Form N-400, Application for Naturalization; and
    • Form N-565, Application for Replacement Naturalization/Citizenship Document.

    To file a Form N-600 or N-600K online, an applicant must first create a USCIS online account. Through an online account, the applicant can securely and conveniently:

    • Complete Form N-600 or N-600K;
    • Submit accompanying evidence;
    • Upload passport-style photos;
    • Pay the filing fee;
    • Respond to USCIS requests for evidence;
    • Monitor the status of their application; and
    • Manage their contact information, including updating their address.

    Attorneys and accredited representatives who have an online account can also file online for their clients and perform the above listed functions.

    USCIS still accepts the latest paper version of Forms N-600 and N-600K. Because military service members do not pay a filing fee when submitting Form N-600 on their own behalf, they cannot currently file this application online.

    USCIS is using innovation and technology to meet the needs of applicants, employees, and stakeholders. Regardless of the paper or electronic format of an application, USCIS is committed to ensuring a secure and efficient process for all applicants.

  • Type: Guestbook Entry
    Post date: Jan 29th 2019
    Body:
  • Type: News
    Post date: Jan 29th 2019
    Body:

    WASHINGTON—U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today that applicants who have a pending affirmative asylum application with USCIS can now check the status of their applications online at uscis.gov/casestatus. Only asylum applicants with an application pending with USCIS will be able to use this new feature to check their case status online. It will not cover defensive asylum applicants whose cases are pending in immigration court.

    “The new capability increases transparency and assures applicants that they have the most up-to-date and accurate information about their case, 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” said USCIS Director L. Francis Cissna. “We strive to adjudicate all applications and petitions in a timely manner and are working to reduce the impact on processing times by aligning resources appropriately.”

    Previously, asylum applicants could only check their case status through an asylum office in person or by phone, fax, or email. Non-governmental organizations and stakeholders within the legal community informed USCIS that asylum applicants have found this process is very difficult. Furthermore, giving asylum applicants the ability to check their case status online allows asylum office staff to better focus their resources on scheduling interviews and adjudicating pending cases.

    This enhancement is a part of our overall modernization efforts to provide a more efficient and effective user experience.

  • Type: News
    Post date: Jan 26th 2019
    Body:

    USCIS will resume premium processing on Monday, Jan. 28, for all fiscal year (FY) 2019 H-1B cap petitions, including those eligible for the advanced degree exemption (the “master’s cap”). Petitioners who have received requests for evidence (RFEs) for pending FY 2019 cap petitions should include their RFE response with any request for premium processing they may submit.

    H-1B visas provide employers with skilled workers for a wide range of specialty occupations. When a petitioner requests the agency’s premium processing service, USCIS guarantees a 15-day processing time. If we do not take certain adjudicative action within the 15‑calendar day processing time, USCIS refunds the petitioner’s premium processing service fee and continues with expedited processing of the petition. This service is only available for pending petitions, not new submissions, because we have already received enough petitions to meet the FY 2019 cap.

    The previously announced temporary suspension of premium processing remains in effect for all other categories of H-1B petitions to which it applied. We plan to resume premium processing for the remaining categories of H‑1B petitions as agency workloads permit.

    USCIS will continue to notify the public via uscis.gov when they begin accepting premium processing for other categories of H-1B petitions.