On May 5th, 2019, the United States District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina enjoined “in all applications,” the USCIS memo titled “Accrual of Unlawful Presence and F, J, and M Nonimmigrants,” issued by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) on August 9, 2018, as well as the memorandum with the same title issued on May 10, 2018, until further order of the Court.
This means that USCIS cannot enforce any aspect of this memo until the Court further rules. Please contact SPS Immigration should you have questions on how this might impact your immigration case.
CBP announced that, beginning in May 2019, I-94 numbers will now be alphanumeric. The I-94 card governs the terms of legal status in the U.S., so is a critical piece of any individuals immigration journey in the U.S.
I-94 numbers are 11 digits long and have historically only contain numbers. Starting in May 2019, CBP is switching to alphanumeric I-94s. I-94 numbers will remain at 11 characters but will follow the format of 9 digits, followed by a letter in the 10th position, and a digit in the 11th position. Unexpired I-94s issued in the current numeric-only format will continue to be valid until the Admit Until Date printed on the paper I-94 and/or the date displayed on the public I-94 website.
If you have any questions on how this may impact your immigration case, please contact SPS Immigration.
On April 1, 2019, USCIS opened the Fiscal Year (“FY”) 2020 H-1B Cap. The cap was open for the mandatory five business days, at which time on April 5th, 2019, USCIS confirmed that it had received 201,011 Petitions for the:
– 65,000 available regular H-1Bs
– 20,000 available U.S. advanced degree H-1Bs
On April 10, USCIS conducted a computer-generated random lottery to select enough H-1B petitions to meet the congressionally-mandated regular cap and the U.S. advanced degree exemption for FY 2020. On April 12th, USCIS started issuing electronic receipts for H-1B Petitions that were filed using premium processing. On April 22, 2019, Petitioners started receiving receipts for H-1B Petitions filed under standard processing. Petitioners will continue to receive receipts over the next few weeks until USCIS announces that the program is closed and that it will be returning Petitions that were not selected.
Please contact SPS Immigration if you have questions regarding the FY 2020 H-1B Cap process.
On Monday, March 11, 2019, at 5pm, USCIS announced that starting Tuesday, March 12, 2019, it will resume premium processing for all H-1B Petitions. Currently, this announcement includes all FY 2020 H-1B Cap Petitions.
If you have questions on how this impacts your immigration case, please contact SPS Immigration.
Friday, February 15th, USCIS announced that starting on Tuesday, February 19th it will resume premium processing for cases filed on or before December 12, 2018. For cases that have been transferred to a different USCIS service center after filing, the premium processing request must go to the USCIS service center where this case is currently pending. The previously announced temporary suspension of premium processing remains in effect for H-1B petitions to which it applied that were filed on or after Dec. 22, 2018.
Please contact SPS Immigration if you have questions on how this development may impact your immigration case.
USCIS announced Monday, February 11, 2019 that it has revised Form I-539 and will be both releasing it and requiring it’s use starting March 11, 2019. This means that USCIS will reject any form I-539 filed March 11, 2019 or later that is not the latest version. Form I-539 is used by individuals seeking a wide variety of nonimmigrant benefits including A’s, B’s, CW’s, E’s, F’s, J’s, G’s, H-4’s, I’s, M’s, O-3’s, P-4’s, R’s, L-2 TD’s, T’s, U’s, and V’s.
USCIS is also making the following changes to the I-539 process:
Every co-applicant must sign and submit a separate Form I-539A, and parents or guardian may sign on behalf of children under the age of 14.
Every applicant and co-applicant must pay an $85 biometric fee and undergo biometric appointments, regardless of age.
This change has a variety of obvious issues:
USCIS, in its discretion, routinely premium processes Form I-539 applications with the primary Petition (Form I-129); now that biometrics will be required of dependents, it is functionally impossible for USCIS to keep these filings together.
The form both will be released and be required March 11, 2019. This means that applicants must either have their applications arrive at USCIS by Friday, March 8th, or, use the new form which will be released Monday, March 11, 2019.
If you have any questions about how this new change will impact your immigration case, please contact SPS Immigration.
An advance copy of the finalized H-1B preregistration rule is now available, and confirms that USCIS will defer online H-1B cap registration to the FY 2021 H-1B cap filing season, which begins April 1, 2020. This means that H-1B cap cases filed in April 2019 will be filed using the same process as in prior years, with petitioners submitting a complete H-1B petition together with filing fees to be eligible for selection in the H-1B lottery.
Under the terms of the new regulation, however, USCIS will be implementing for this year’s H-1B cap cycle a change that will reverse the order of the H-1B cap lotteries. USCIS will first run the lottery for the 65,000 regular H-1B numbers, and all filers will be eligible to be selected in that lottery. Petitions for individuals holding an advanced U.S. degree who are not selected in the regular lottery will then be eligible to be selected in the lottery for the 20,000 H-1B numbers reserved for U.S. advanced degree holders. This change to the lottery procedure is expected to make it more likely that a petition for an individual holding a U.S. advanced degree will be selected in the lottery.
The final rule is expected to be published in the Federal Register on January 31, 2019. Please contact SPS Immigration if you have questions on how this impacts your FY 2020 H-1B Cap filings.