On January 31, 2020 President Trump issued a Presidential Proclamation expanding Travel Ban 3.0 to include certain foreign nationals of the following six countries: Burma (Myanmar), Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Nigeria, Sudan, and Tanzania. The ban on these additional countries becomes effective February 21, 2020.
According to the Department of Homeland Security, these additions were based on an assessment from the Department of Homeland Security after reviewing updated security assessment criteria first established after the first iteration of the travel ban. Curiously, restrictions have only been placed on those seeking immigrant visas from the newly added countries. Individuals from these countries seeking nonimmigrant visas should not be restricted.
The following table reflects the countries added to Travel Ban 3.0 on January 31, 2020. All individuals are subject to exceptions and waivers set forth in in the original Proclamation.
Unless an exemption applies or the individual is eligible for a waiver, the travel restrictions apply to foreign nationals of the designated countries who: (i) are outside the U.S. on the applicable effective date; (ii) do not have a valid visa on the applicable effective date; and (iii) do not qualify for a reinstated visa or other travel document that was revoked under Presidential Executive Order 13769.
The travel restrictions in the proclamation do not apply to:
lawful permanent residents;
foreign nationals who are admitted to or paroled into the U.S. on or after the applicable effective date;
foreign nationals who have a document other than a visa (e.g., transportation letter, boarding foil, advance parole document) valid on the applicable effective date or issued on any date thereafter;
Dual nationals of a designated country who are traveling on a passport issued by a non-designated country;
Foreign nationals traveling on a diplomatic visas, NATO visas, C-2/U.N. visas, or G-1, G-2, G-3, or G-4 visa; or
Foreign nationals who have been granted asylum in the U.S., refugees who have been admitted to the U.S.; or individuals who have been granted withholding of removal, advance parole, or protection under the Convention Against Torture.
While waivers may be available, the U.S. Department of State has issued very few waivers for individuals from the countries listed in the initial travel ban.
If you have any questions about how this may impact your immigration case, please contact SPS Immigration PLLC.
Based on a U.S. Supreme Court decision on Monday, January 27th, 2020 lifting a nation-wide injunction, USCIS announced that it will now be implementing a new “public charge” rule, except in Illinois, where the rule remains enjoined by a federal court as of Jan. 30, 2020. Essentially, USCIS will be asking additional questions to determine if a foreign national is able to support themselves and their families financially in the United States without requiring any public benefits. This impacts both immigrants and nonimmigrants.
USCIS will be changing many of its forms to include new questions regarding public charge concerns. USCIS has not yet released the new forms, so it remains unknown currently what specific information the forms will request. We also do not know precisely which applications/petitions will be impacted. However, we do know that we will be required to use the new forms for all applications/petitions filed on or after February 24, 2020. We expect the change to be widespread. This will likely impact all H-1B Petitions being filed in the H-1B Lottery.
There are certain groups of people who are either exempt from public charge, or may get a waiver for public charge when applying for a Green Card or other benefits with USCIS. These include:
Refugees and asylees applying for adjustment to permanent resident status
Amerasian Immigrants (for their initial admission)
Individuals granted relief under the Cuban Adjustment Act (CAA)
Individuals granted relief under the Nicaraguan and Central American Relief Act (NACARA)
Individuals granted relief under the Haitian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act (HRIFA)
Individuals applying for a T Visa
Individuals applying for a U Visa
Individuals who possess a T visa and are trying to become a permanent resident
Individuals who possess a U visa and are trying to become a permanent resident
Applicants for Temporary Protected Status (TPS)
Certain applicants under the LIFE Act Provisions
USCIS announced they would be releasing copies of the new forms the week of February 3, 2020. SPS Immigration is monitoring this release carefully and will provide updates as we know more.
At the beginning of each new year, employers inevitably start preparing for the annual H-1B Cap lottery system. This year, USCIS is changing the way it is running the H-1B Cap lottery by implementing a pre-registration process and charging $10 for each H-1B registration. It is also moving up the date to register any desired H-1B Cap lottery case to March 1st – March 20th, 2020. Selected cases will need to be filed right after selection.
While most of the details are still yet to be released by USCIS, it is important for employers to immediately identify which employees it seeks to sponsor this year in the lottery process. SPS Immigration generally recommends that employers conduct a full assessment of its employees and include in the lottery any employee in H-4 EAD status, L-1 status, or OPT / STEM OPT status.
Please contact SPS Immigration immediately if you seek assistance with the FY 2021 H-1B Cap lottery.
Wednesday, October 30, 2019, USCIS announced that it will be increasing the Premium Processing fee, effective December 2, 2019, from $1410 to $1440. The Premium Processing fee can be used to shorten the overall processing time at USCIS on certain types of Petitions, including the I-129 Petition (H-1B, O-1, L-1, TN) and certain types of I-140 Petitions. USCIS stated that it intends to use the funds generated by the fee increase to “provide certain premium processing services to business customers and to make infrastructure improvements in the adjudications and customer service processes.” Any filing postmarked on or after December 2, 2019 requesting Premium Processing must include the increased fee.
Please contact SPS Immigration if you have questions on how this may impact your immigration process.
Friday, October 11, 2019, the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York temporarily enjoined the implementation of USCIS’ Public Charge Regulation. This ruling prevents USCIS from implementing or requiring the use of any new forms that require responses to the information required by the Public Charge regulations. USCIS has not yet responded how it will proceed regarding implementation of the new forms it released Wednesday, October 9th, which require responses to the Public Charge regulations. The US Department of State just announced that its implementation of the regulation remains unchanged.
Please contact SPS Immigration if you have questions about how this may impact your immigration case.
On September 19, 2019, the U.S. Senate held an unanimous consent vote on S. 386, the Senate version of H.R. 1044, Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2019. The Senate bill contained several amendments to the House bill, which includes:
A set-aside provision for no fewer than 5,000 visas for shortage occupations, as defined in 20 C.F.R. 656.5(a), which would include nurses and physical therapists, for Fiscal Years 2020-2028.
Retains the H-1B internet posting requirement proposed in the Grassley Amendment to S. 386, with some change. Specifically, the H-1B internet posting requirements will not apply to an H-1B nonimmigrant who has been counted against the H-1B cap and is not eligible for a full 6-year period or an H-1B nonimmigrant authorized for portability under INA 214(n).
Retains the “do no harm” provision for all EB petitions approved on the date of enactment and the three-year transition period for EB-2 and EB-3 immigrants, but does not include EB-5 immigrants in the transition period.
The bill was blocked by David Perdue (R-GA) so the U.S Senate will now have to consider how it wants to move the bill forward, which will likely happen next week.
As background, on February 7, 2019, the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2019 was introduced in the House and Senate (H.R. 1044 / S. 386). This bill seeks to eliminate the per-country numerical limitation for all employment-based immigrants, and increase the per-country limitation for all family-sponsored immigrants from seven percent to 15 percent. This bill has a “do no harm” provision that states no one who is the beneficiary of an employment-based immigrant visa petition approved before the bill’s enactment shall receive a visa later than if the bill had never been enacted. The “do no harm” provision only applies to employment-based immigrants and does not apply to family-sponsored immigrants. The U.S. House passed H.R. 1044, Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act, on July 10, 2019.
This bill would dramatically change the entire U.S. Permanent Residence system. Because there are no increases in the overall numbers available, or changes to how USCIS counts dependent family members, passage of this bill would impact everyone seeking permanent residence in the U.S., and will dramatically slow down the process for all. That said, it is important to remember that until this bill passes both the U.S. Senate, and the U.S. House, and is signed into law by the President, no changes have been made to our current system.
SPS Immigration will provide updates as they become available.
On September 3, 2019, USCIS announced a notice of proposed rulemaking that would require US Employers seeking to file H-1B cap-subject petitions to pay a $10 fee for each electronic registration they submit to USCIS for the H-1B cap selection process. This is just a proposal, and USCIS will accept comments from stakeholders through October 4, 2019. Until the comment period concludes and USCIS releases a final rule, no changes have been made. Additionally, USCIS has not yet announced whether it intends to implement the H-1B registration system for the upcoming H-1B cap filing season.
Please contact SPS Immigration if you have any questions regarding how this proposed rule may impact your business.