USCIS Implements H-1B Registration for Next Year’s H-1B Lottery

Posted in H-1B, H-1B Lottery, H-1B Registration

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), after publishing the final rule for a new H-1B lottery process in January 2019 has announced that the testing period is now over for the registration process in relation to the H-1B lottery and implementation will go into effect for the  fiscal year 2021 H-1B cap. See the USCIS press release here

Employers who wish to file H-1B cap-subject petitions for their employees must pay a $10 registration fee to register each employee it wishes to place in the lottery. This process is designed to streamline and reduce paper waste that had been the practice for so many years, and instead have the employer or their authorized representatives complete a registration process that will only need basic information about the company and the employee.

The initial registration period will open from March 1 through March 20, 2020. During this period, the electronic registration must be submitted by the employer or its authorized representative. If the number of registrations exceeds the H-1B numerical allocation, a lottery will be conducted between March 20 and March 31, 2020. Only those petitioners with the selected registration, with the specific prospective candidate, will be able to file a cap-subject petition for only that candidate. Note that the H-1B petition will still need to be adjudicated on its merits. Duplicate registrations by the same employer for the same employee will be discarded. 

The Department of Homeland Security plans to publish a notice in the Federal Register in the next few weeks to formally announce the implementation of this process. For more updates, please contact your GT attorney or subscribe to this blog.

Greenberg Traurig’s Kristen Walker Ng Honored as 2019 National Law Review ‘Go-To Thought Leader’ on Immigration

Posted in Awards, Awards & Recognitions

Based on an analysis of more than 100,000 legal news articles, legal publisher The National Law Review (NLR) recognized Kristen Walker Ng, an associate in Greenberg Traurig LLP’s Immigration & Compliance Practice,  as a 2019 “Go-To Thought Leader” in Immigration.

According to NLR, the Go-To Thought Leadership Awards recognize exceptional authors in 35 legal practice areas for their contributions in providing practical guidance and highlighting timely and important legal news and developments. The awards also take into account whether articles are “reader favorites” and “quoted or cited by other publications and/or syndicated by other media.” The 75 honorees represent less than 1% of contributors to NLR’s daily legal news service.

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EB-5 Final Rule Challenged in U.S. Federal District Court

Posted in Department of Homeland Security, EB-5 Modernization Rule, EB-5 Program

On Nov. 26, 2019, a complaint for Injunctive Relief and a Temporary Restraining Order was filed by Florida EB-5 Investments, LLC against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) challenging a Nov. 21, 2019, DHS-issued final rule amending its regulations for the EB-5 program to purportedly modernize the rules (EB–5 Immigrant Investor Program Modernization, 84 Fed. Reg. 35750 (July 24, 2019). Case 1:19-cv-03573 FLORIDA EB5 INVESTMENTS, LLC v. WOLF et al.

The Rule proposed many changes to the EB-5 Program, including: (i) significant increases in the requisite investment levels; and (ii) a new targeted employment area (TEA) designation process that eliminates the input of the individual states in designating such areas in which investments are made. The complaint alleges statutory and constitutional grounds to challenge the rule, claiming that it violates the Administrative Procedures Act (APA), exceeds DHS’s authority, and violates the Tenth Amendment, among others. The complaint further alleges that the Rule’s changes impact the U.S. economy and were proposed without adequate studies or analysis.

For more on EB-5 modernization, click here.

OMB Releases Fall 2019 Unified Regulatory Agenda; DHS & USCIS Expect Active Rulemakings

Posted in Department of Homeland Security, H-1B, H-4, Immigration Reform, Office of Management and Budget, OMB, USCIS

Twice a year, the Office of Management and Budget, in concert with the General Services Administration and its own Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, publish the Unified Regulatory Agenda (Unified Agenda). The Unified Agenda is a transparency program that publishes federal agency rulemakings in process. It is not a process set in concrete but rather a snapshot in time to inform the public of rulemakings and regulations being developed by federal agencies.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) postings, released Nov. 21 for Fall 2019 are here. In addition to enabling the searching of regulations by agency and content, the agencies offer a regulatory “plan” which sets out regulatory principles. The DHS statement can be found here. Continue Reading

Reciprocity Now Effective for French Nationals

Posted in E Visa, E visa reciprocity, L-1, Visas

The Department of State (DOS) has implemented revised visa stamp reciprocity for L-1, L-2 and E-1/ E-2 visa holders. Now, the maximum validity date of an L-1 or L-2 visa of a French national will be seventeen (17) months. The previous validity period was five (5) years. The new validity period for E-1 and  E-2 visa holders is twenty five (25) months. The previous validity period was five (5) years.

This change will impact the ability of French nationals to travel in and out of the United States during the duration of their L-1 and L-2 validity periods, which will generally still be issued for a maximum of three (3) years, assuming an individual’s passport does not expire within three (3) years of L-1 or L-2 approval. Note, this change does not require L-1 and L-2 visa holders to depart the United States within seventeen (17) months. If an L-1 or L-2 visa holder does not have any international travel plans after the expiration of the L-1 and L-2 visa stamps, that individual may continue to remain lawfully in the United States until their I-94 expiration date, which is generally the same day as the validity period of their approval notice from USCIS or the I-129S form annotated by the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Travel after expiration of the relevant visa stamp will require a visit to a U.S. embassy or consulate to obtain a new visa stamp before returning to the United States.

For French nationals who are E-1 and E-2 visa holders, their period of authorized stay in the United States, as indicated on their I-94, is currently two (2) years after each entry, and this will continue even after the reciprocity change. They will be permitted to stay for two full years even if they enter the United States one day before their E-1 or E-2 visa expires. Once they leave the U.S. after expiration of their E-1 or E-2 visa, however, they will need to apply for a new visa.

U.S. immigration law requires DOS to set country-specific visa durations based on the principle of reciprocity, or, in other words, based on that country’s treatment of U.S. visa applicants in similar categories, among other considerations. While there have been press reports and announcements previously regarding the decreased validity periods for L-1, L-2 and E-1/E-2 visa holders, DOS has only recently updated its website to reflect these changes.

GT will continue to monitor possible changes to the reciprocity schedules of other nations as well.

For more on reciprocity, click here.

EB-5 Update – New Regulations to Take Effect and Regional Center Program to be Extended Through Dec. 20, 2019 

Posted in Continuing Resolution (CR), EB-5 Program, EB-5 Regional Center, EB-5 Regional Center Compliance, USCIS

The EB-5 Regional Center Program was set to expire on Nov. 21, 2019. On Nov. 18, Congress introduced a Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the government and extend vital programs such as EB-5 through Dec. 20, 2019. Leaders hope to use the additional time to extend current operations and complete fiscal matters and other priorities before the holidays. There is an ongoing effort to include new EB-5 legislation in a legislative vehicle in December.

New EB-5 regulations published on July 24, 2019, as final will take effect Nov. 21, 2019. There is no additional phase-in for these regulatory changes. Some of the key changes listed below will immediately impact the EB-5 program: Continue Reading

The Department of State (DOS) December 2019 Visa Bulletin Released

Posted in China, DOS, EB-1, EB-2, EB-5 Program, India, USCIS, Visa Bulletin

In the EB-1 category, the Dates of Filing is now current for all countries of chargeability except for China and India. For November, USCIS allowed I-485 filings based on Dates of Filing rather than Final Action dates; however, EB-1 was retrogressed for all categories, allowing only certain applicants to file. USCIS has not issued the December 2019 calendar or confirmed if it will follow Dates of Filing or Final Action. If USCIS continues to abide by the dates of filing calendar, many EB-1 candidates will be able to finally file their I-485/Adjustment of Status applications. For EB-1 Final Action dates, there was slight movement. Continue Reading

Washington EB-5 Update

Posted in EB-5 Compliance, EB-5 Program, EB-5 Regional Center, EB-5 Regional Center Compliance

As a reminder to our readers, the Obama-era EB-5 Regional Center regulations – see July post for details – go into effect Nov. 21, 2019. USCIS has published a webpage resource to help explain the implementation of the upcoming regulations here.

This is a period of significant change and activity on the EB-5 program. Clients are encouraged to stay in touch with their GT attorney, and reach out with any questions. Please check back, as this blog will be updated as events warrant.

For more on regional centers, click here.

House Introduces Continuing Resolution Funding Government, Including Vital programs Such as EB-5

Posted in Continuing Resolution (CR), EB-5 Program

On Nov. 18, Congressional Appropriation leadership introduced a 26-page Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund government and extend vital programs such as EB-5 through Dec. 20, 2019. Leaders hope to use the additional time to extend current operations and complete fiscal matters and other priorities before the holidays.

In addition to the extension of time, the CR allows for the extension of certain health programs and other key priorities of Congress, such as the census, military pay, highway funding, and other programs.

The House is expected to pass the CR tomorrow and then to the Senate and the president before the Nov. 21 expiration of the current CR.

For more on continuing resolutions, click here.

USCIS Announces More Fees and Fee Increases

Posted in Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, USCIS

Nearly 96% of the USCIS budget derives from fees. In our coverage of Congress, appropriations, continuing resolutions, and government shutdowns, we are reminded that USCIS is a fee-driven agency, as it does not depend on appropriations for its operations and, for example, remains open during government shutdowns over appropriations. We wrote last week about a $10.00 fee for H-1B Registration.

On Nov. 8, USCIS published a notice of proposed rulemaking for an adjustment of fees to meet operational needs. Among the diversity and breadth of fees addressed in the Examinations Fee Accounts 300+ page posting, a few proposed fees have received a lot of public attention:

  • DACA renewal fee from $495 to $765;
  • $50 dollar asylum application fee; and
  • Citizenship application fee from $640 to $1170.00, among others.

As we enter public discourse on the current Continuing Resolution and related Congressional discussions, we remind readers that in all likelihood USCIS will be fee-funded and open for business!

As always, please direct specific questions to your GT attorney, and check back as this blog is updated as events warrant.