The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) recognizes Sarah Peterson of Minneapolis, MN, with the 2021 Susan D. Quarles AILA Service Excellence Award, in recognition of her outstanding service, over a period of years, in advancing the mission, development, and value of AILA for its members and the public it serves.
One of the nomination letters highlighted the concept known as “servant leadership” and lauded Ms. Peterson’s embodiment thereof: “Servant leadership is a leadership philosophy in which the main goal of the leader is to serve. A servant leader shares power, puts the needs of others first, and helps people develop and perform as highly as possible. A servant leader exists to lead others through their service…Over the better part of the last decade, one would be hard pressed to name another member of AILA who has so tirelessly worked for the betterment of the membership with so much distinction.”
Sarah K. Peterson is the founder of SPS Immigration PLLC based in Minneapolis, MN. Her employment-based practice focuses on physicians, academia, start-ups, and high-tech companies.
Ms. Peterson actively participates in AILA efforts on both a local and national level. She currently serves as Chair of AILA’s Department of Labor (DOL) liaison committee since 2017 and has been an active Elected Director on the AILA Board of Governors since 2012. She previously served on AILA national Liaison committees with the California and Nebraska USCIS Service Centers, chaired and served as a member of AILA’s Healthcare Professionals Committee, and chaired the Minnesota/Dakotas Chapter of AILA.
Recognized in the 2020 and 2021 editions of The Best Lawyers in America, she has also been recognized as one of the Best Lawyers in Minnesota 2020, as one of 40 Up and Comers in Employment Law by HRE/LawDragon for several years and since 2020 in LawDragon 500 Leading U.S. Corporate Employment Lawyers.
Ms. Peterson is listed in the International Who’s Who of Corporate Immigration Lawyers since 2014 including selection since 2018 as a ‘Thought Leader,’ and was one of Minnesota’s Lawyer’s Up and Coming Attorneys for 2010.
She is a three-time recipient of AILA’s Presidential Commendation for her service chairing AILA’s DOL committee. She was a contributing author to AILA’s Business Immigration Law & Procedure, second edition, frequently speaks with the press, and travels internationally to speak on employment-based immigration.
Ms. Peterson is an Adjunct Professor at the University of Minnesota Law School and holds a joint law degree and master’s in public policy from the University of Minnesota Law School and the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs.
As part of litigation by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (“AILA”), Edakunniv. Mayorkas, the Acting Associate Director of Service Center Operations (“SCOPS”) for USCIS confirmed in a declaration that starting around May 17th it will no longer require biometrics for the dependents of H-1B, L-1, and E-2 visa holders. AILA has also requested that USCIS return to the policy of exercising discretion in approving dependent cases with the H-1B/L-1/E-2 Petitions, so hopefully we will eventually start to see this shift back, too.
Please contact SPS Immigration if you have questions on how this may impact your case.
Friday, February 26, 2021, USCIS announced flexibility for OPT receipt delays and improper rejections. These flexibilities apply only to OPT submissions received by USCIS on or after October 1, 2020 through May 1, 2021. USCIS’ flexibility includes the following:
14-month OPT Period Flexibilities
F-1 students are eligible for 12 months of post-completion OPT, which must be completed within 14 months from the end of their program. Due to the delays at the lockbox, some applicants may only be eligible for a shortened period of OPT within that 14-month period. To allow F-1 students to complete the full period of requested OPT (up to 12 months), USCIS will allow the 14-month period to commence from the date of approval of the Form I-765 for applications for post-completion OPT.
USCIS will now approve applications for post-completion OPT with validity dates reflecting the same amount of time originally recommended by the designated school official (DSO) from their school on the Form I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status. F-1 students who receive an approval of Form I-765 for less than the full amount of OPT time requested (not to exceed 12 months) due to the requirement that the OPT be completed within 14 months of the program end date may request a correction of the EAD due to USCIS error. USCIS will issue a corrected EAD with a new end date, as requested, to cover the full amount of OPT time recommended in the original application.
Refiling Following Rejection
USCIS will accept a refiled Form I-765 for OPT and STEM OPT as filed on the original filing date if:
– The original, timely filed application was received on or after Oct. 1, 2020, through May 1, 2021, inclusive; and
– USCIS subsequently rejected it.
Refiled applications must be received by May 31, 2021, for USCIS to treat the application as though filed on the original received date.
Applicants refiling a Form I-765 for OPT or STEM OPT do not need to obtain a new Form I-20 with an updated OPT recommendation from the DSO, as long as they originally submitted an application for post-completion OPT within 30 days of the DSO’s recommendation or an application for STEM OPT within 60 days of the DSO’s recommendation as required by the regulations.
Missing or Deficient Signatures
If the lockbox accepts a Form I-765 application for OPT or STEM OPT with a missing or deficient signature, USCIS will issue a Request for Evidence rather than deny the application, to give the applicant the opportunity to respond and provide the necessary signature or correct the deficiency.
Please contact SPS Immigration should you have questions regarding your immigration status.
USCIS announced that all In-Person Services are suspended January 19th and 20th, 2021, to ensure the safety of employees and individuals with appointments. This announcement was made in response to the attacks on our Nation’s Capitol and the ongoing security threats to the U.S. government and its buildings. These closures include all in-person services at all USCIS field offices, asylum offices, and application support centers. USCIS will reschedule individuals who had appointments and send fresh appointment notices reflecting the new appointment dates. SPS Immigration urges clients to not try to attend any scheduled appointments on these days.
The U.S.Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) announced Thursday, January 7th, 2021, the final rule to amend H-1B regulations governing the process by which U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) selects H-1B registrations for H-1B cap-subject petitions.
Under this new rule, which takes effect 60 days after publication in theFederal Register,USCIS will first select H-1B registrations based on the highest Occupational Employment Statistics prevailing wage level that the offered wage equals or exceeds for the relevant Standard Occupational Classification code and area(s) of intended employment. This means level IV wages will be prioritized above any H-1B Registration that includes the lower wage levels.
It is important to note that the President-elect Biden has already stated that his administration plans to delay the implementation of all regulations that have not taken effect on January 20, 2021, which includes this rule. This standard practice will delay the effective date of this rule by 60 days, which would push its applicability to the next cap period in FY’23. It is also likely that litigation will ensue as this regulation appears to violate Congressional intent in how Congress sought to implement the H-1B Cap Lottery.
Please contact SPS Immigration if you have questions regarding how this may impact your immigration case.
On December 7th, 2020, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced a Federal Register notice extending Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and the validity of TPS-related documentation for beneficiaries under the TPS designations for El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, and Sudan.
The notice automatically extends through Oct. 4, 2021, the validity of the following documents for beneficiaries of all six countries:
– Employment Authorization Documents (EADs); and,
– Forms I-797, Notice of Action; and Forms I-94, Arrival/Departure Record.
The notice also sets forth procedures necessary for nationals of these six countries (or aliens having no nationality who last habitually resided in these countries) to apply for EADs if they wish.
This notice ensures continued compliance with the orders issued by the federal district courts in the Ramos v. Nielsen, Bhattarai v. Nielsen, and Saget v. Trump lawsuits that require DHS to maintain the TPS designations for El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, and Sudan, as well as the TPS and TPS-related documentation for eligible affected beneficiaries.
The TPS designations for El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Sudan will remain in effect, as required by the Ramos district court order, so long as the preliminary injunction remains in effect. Although a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit vacated the injunction on Sept. 14, 2020, no directive has been issued to the district court, thus the injunction remains in effect.
The TPS designation for Haiti will remain in effect, as required by the preliminary injunction orders in both Ramos and Saget, so long as either of those preliminary injunctions remains in effect.
The TPS designations for Honduras and Nepal will remain in effect so long as the Bhattarai order staying proceedings and approving the parties’ stipulated agreements continues in effect.
Please reach out to SPS Immigration if you have questions on how this may impact your immigration case.