Articles Posted in Federal Register

If you are in participating in the H-1B visa program as an employer or beneficiary, you may be interested to learn all about the recent changes being made to strengthen the program and improve the H-1B registration selection process. Recently, the Department of Homeland Security published a final rule in the Federal Register, which will go into effect on March 4, 2024, just in time for this year’s H-1B cap season to kick off.

Learn all about these changes in this video, including filing fee increases and new fraud prevention measures being implemented to ensure H-1B beneficiaries have an equal chance of being selected in this year’s lottery.


Overview


FY 2025 H-1B Registration Period Begins at Noon ET March 6, 2024

The initial registration period for the FY 2025 H-1B cap season will open at noon Eastern on March 6, 2024, and run through noon Eastern on March 22, 2024. During the registration period, prospective petitioners and their representatives, if applicable, must use a USCIS online account to register each beneficiary electronically for the selection process and pay the associated registration fee for each beneficiary ($10 per registration and $215 per registration starting in fiscal year 2026).


Final Rule Brings New Changes to the H-1B Cap Electronic Registration Process


In anticipation of the H-1B cap season, on January 30, 2024, the United States Citizenship, and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced the publication of the final rule, “Improving the H-1B Registration Selection Process and Program Integrity.”

The purpose of the final rule is to strengthen the integrity of the program and reduce the potential for fraud in the H-1B electronic registration process, to prevent beneficiaries or their employers from gaming the electronic registration process to their advantage.

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In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick discusses a new press release shared by the Department of State which provides insights on the status of visa operations worldwide during fiscal year 2023. The report highlights that from October 2022 through September 2023, DOS issued more than 10 million visas worldwide, with half of U.S. Embassies and Consulates around the world issuing more visas than ever before.

In this post, we provide a summary of the agency’s impressive achievements and visa statistics over the past fiscal year.

If you would like to know more about this topic, we invite you to watch our video.


Overview


According to the press release, the Department of State hit a near historic record, issuing more than 10.4 million nonimmigrant visas worldwide in fiscal year 2023.

Nearly 8 million visitor visas were issued for business and tourism – more than in any fiscal year since 2016.

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Wouldn’t it be nice if you could get your U.S. Visa renewed inside of the United States without having to visit a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad?

This may soon become a reality based on a new pilot program announced by the Department of State for certain workers renewing their visas.


Overview


Visa stamping refers to the process of renewing a U.S. visa for foreign nationals working in the United States in certain visa categories. Traditionally, foreign workers must return to their home country and visit their local U.S. Embassy or Consulate to schedule an appointment and renew their U.S. visas. However, the vast majority of U.S. Embassies and Consulates have significant visa interview backlogs which delays the visa renewal process significantly and increases the visa backlog.

To provide relief for visa renewal applicants, the State Department recently announced the launch of a new pilot program that will allow a limited number of H-1B specialty occupation workers the opportunity to renew their visas from inside the United States, effectively decreasing work interruptions and such visa stamping delays.

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In this blog post, attorney Jacob Sapochnick talks about a brand-new proposal to increase the government filing fees for certain types of immigration benefits filed with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Following the announcement, on January 4, 2023, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) in the Federal Register outlining the proposed fee schedule which seeks to increase the filing fees of certain nonimmigrant visa classifications, as well as adjustment of status (green card) applications.

The government will be accepting public comments for the proposed rule until March 6, 2023. After the comment period has closed, the agency will review the public comments and issue a final version of the rule.

TIP: If you know that you will be applying for an immigration benefit that is subject to the proposed fee increase, you should apply as soon as possible to avoid incurring the higher fee.

Want to know more? Just keep on watching.

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In this blog post, we provide you with the latest details regarding upcoming changes to the N-400 Application for Naturalization in the new year. USCIS recently announced that it is planning to conduct trial testing of a newly redesigned naturalization examination that seeks to update the civics component of the N-400 examination, and potentially introduce a new English-speaking element to the examination. Trial testing is expected to begin in January 2023 and last for a period of 5 months.

Want to know more? Just keep on watching.

Did you know? During your naturalization interview, you will be asked to undergo a naturalization examination which is made up of two components, an English, and civics test. During the English examination, you must demonstrate an understanding of the English language and the ability to read, write, and speak basic English. During the civics test, you will be asked to answer questions about American government and history.


Overview


As you might be aware, this year the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) revealed that it received the highest number of naturalization applications since fiscal year 2008. According to statistics, approximately 1,047,000 permanent residents became U.S. Citizens in 2022, with naturalization applications rebounding to pre-pandemic levels.


What are the proposed changes to the N-400 Application for Naturalization?


Starting in January 2023, USCIS will conduct trial testing to introduce a new standardized English-speaking test as part of the requirement to demonstrate an understanding of the English language.

Additionally, the trial testing will include an updated civics examination with new content and a new multiple-choice format. The reading and writing portions of the English examination will remain unchanged.

USCIS will conduct the trial testing with volunteer community-based organizations (CBOs) that work with immigrant English language learners and lawful permanent residents (LPRs) preparing for naturalization.

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Welcome back to Immigration Lawyer Blog! In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick talks about an exciting new announcement released by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) regarding new initiatives the agency is taking to reduce the application backlogs, expand premium processing to broader categories of applications, and provide much needed relief to those waiting for their work permits to be processed.


Overview


As of March 29, 2022, USCIS is unveiling a trio of actions that will help improve the processing of applications and petitions currently awaiting adjudication by the agency. As you may know at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, USCIS along with other government agencies suspended in-person services at its field offices and Application Support Centers (ASCs) nationwide to help slow the spread of the virus. The agency also took precautions to slow its spread by limiting the number of people that could enter federal buildings for immigration interviews. The consequence of these closures has been a backlog of cases across the board that the agency has been working to reduce.

To help ease the number of pending cases at USCIS, the agency has introduced 3 new actions.


What are these new actions all about?


(1) Cycle Time Goals


First, the agency has said that it will be implementing agency-wide goals to reduce the substantial backlogs.

USCIS has established a new system known as “internal cycle time goals,” to process applications that remain pending with USCIS. According to USCIS, these “internal cycle time goals,” are internal metrics that the agency will now be using to help guide the reduction of the current backlog. These cycle times will determine how long it will take USCIS to process immigration benefits going forward.

To accomplish the stated “cycle time goals,” the agency has said that it plans to increase its capacity, adopt technological improvements (such as e-filing systems), train, and hire more staff to ensure that applications are processed within the stated “cycle time goals.” USCIS estimates that these new actions will help the agency reach its stated cycle time goals by the end of fiscal year 2023.

For easy reference, the new USCIS cycle time goals are listed down below.

The new cycle time goals provided by USCIS are as follows:


  • Processing of I-129 premium processing cases – 2 weeks
  • Processing of I-140 premium processing cases –2 weeks
  • Processing of I-129 non-premium processing cases –2 months
  • Processing of I-765, I-131 advance parole, I-539, I-824 applications – 3 months

Other types of applications – 6 months including

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Welcome back to Immigration Lawyer Blog! In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick discusses an exciting new procedure for individuals arriving at the United States border to apply for asylum, specifically with respect to those asylum seekers who are subject to expedited removal.

Want to know more? Keep on watching for all the details.


Overview


What is Asylum?

Asylum is a form of protection which allows an individual to remain in the United States instead of being removed to a country of feared persecution. To apply for asylum in the U.S., individuals must file the required application, form I-589, and submit it with the appropriate documentation within one year of arriving to the United States. To be successful, individuals must establish that they have suffered persecution or fear that they will suffer persecution based on their race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.

Under current immigration law, individuals applying for defensive asylum at the border (meaning that they do not have a valid visa at the time of entry) are detained by the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and become subject to removal proceedings. Once an immigration hearing is scheduled, the asylum seeker is given the opportunity to make his or her case for asylum before an immigration judge.

Currently, the defensive asylum process is taking over 7 years to complete in the United States, including the required scheduling of a hearing before an immigration judge.


New Interim Final Rule


To streamline the defensive asylum application process at the border, the Biden administration recently published a new interim final rule in the federal register entitled, “Procedures for Credible Fear Screening and Consideration of Asylum, Withholding of Removal, and CAT Protection Claims by Asylum Officers.”

Under the new interim final rule, released on March 29, 2022, the Biden administration seeks to overhaul the current defensive asylum system to drastically reduce backlogs in the immigration courts and improve filing procedures.

The final rule proposes sweeping changes to current asylum law including allowing asylum claims to be heard and evaluated by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) asylum officers instead of immigration judges.

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Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick gives you the most recent updates in the world of immigration including important information about the continuation of the International Entrepreneur Parole Program, the Department of Homeland Security’s recent decision to withdraw a biometrics rule that would have required biometrics to be taken for every applicant, the current status of interview waivers being granted during the COVID-19 pandemic, and finally new policy guidance issued by USCIS that provides deference to previous decisions for those filing extension requests with the agency.

Want to know more? Keep on watching.


Overview


The Continuation of the International Entrepreneur Parole Program

Today, May 10, 2021, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will be withdrawing a notice of proposed rulemaking first initiated under the Trump administration, which sought to terminate the International Entrepreneur Parole Program, a program first proposed by President Obama to facilitate the immigration of foreign entrepreneurs to the United States.

The proposed rule, “Removal of International Entrepreneur Parole Program,” was first issued by the Trump administration on May 29, 2018, shortly after President Trump signed Executive Order 13767 “Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements,” into law. The proposed rule was masterminded by the Trump administration to ultimately delay the planned implementation of the program on July 17, 2017, with the goal of eventually dismantling it altogether.

To hinder the implementation of the program, with the passage of Executive Order 13767, former President Trump narrowed the pool of applicants who could become eligible for “parole,” and directed federal agencies to “ensure that parole authority under section 212(d)(5) of the INA is exercised only on a case-by-case basis in accordance with the plain language of the statute, and in all circumstances when an individual demonstrates urgent humanitarian reasons, or a significant public benefit derived from such parole.”

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Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick discusses a new proposed rule published in the federal register that will soon change the regulations governing Form I-864 Affidavit of Support.

Want to know more? Keep on watching for more information.


Overview

On October 2, 2020, the Department of Homeland Security published a new proposed rule in the federal register that seeks to (1) strictly enforce the obligations of sponsors of the affidavit of support (2) tighten the types of documentation required by sponsors to demonstrate sufficient income (3) modify regulations regarding when an applicant is required to submit an affidavit of support from a joint sponsor and (4) enhance interagency reporting and information sharing among various government agencies.


What is the Affidavit of Support?

The affidavit of support is required for most family-based immigrants and some employment-based intending immigrants to show that the foreign national has adequate means of financial support and is not likely to become a public charge while in the United States.

The affidavit of support is essentially a contract between a sponsor and the U.S. government in which a sponsor must demonstrate that he or she has enough income and/or assets to support the intending immigrant. In most circumstances, the sponsor’s income must be at least 125 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines according to the size of the household.

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Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick discusses a new court order that prohibits the government from enforcing a final rule that sought to increase filing fees for certain applications and petitions filed with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). For more information keep on watching.


Overview

As many of you know on August 3, 2020, the Department of Homeland Security published a final rule in the Federal Register which sought to increase filing fees for most applications and petitions for immigration benefits payable to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). These filing fee increases were made by USCIS in order to help the agency meet its operational costs and ensure adequate resources to cover services provided by USCIS to applicants and petitioners.

Just days before the filing fee increase was scheduled to go into effect, a federal judge from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California issued a nationwide temporary injunction blocking the government from implementing the final rule. The court order essentially stops the government from enforcing the fee increases as the government had originally planned beginning October 2, 2020.

The preliminary injunction issued by the court took effect immediately as of the date of the ruling (September 29, 2020) and will remain in effect pending resolution of the lawsuit Immigrant Legal Resource Center, et al., v. Chad F. Wolf.


Why did the Judge Grant the Injunction?

Several nonprofit organizations including the immigrant Legal Resource Center came together to file a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California challenging the government’s planned enforcement of the final rule increasing USCIS filing fees. In their lawsuit, these organizations asked the court to grant a nationwide injunction to block the government from enforcing the rule to applications and petitions postmarked on or after October 2, 2020.

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