Immigration Newsletter - February 2024

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Immigration Newsletter - May 2024

USCIS Completes FY2025 H-1B Cap Initial Registration Selection Process and Reports Decrease in Attempts to Game the System

On Monday, April 1, 2024, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced it had already received enough electronic registrations for unique beneficiaries to reach the fiscal year (FY) 2025 H-1B numerical allocations cap, including the cap that applies to registrants with advanced degrees. 

The agency also announced that it has notified all prospective petitioners with selected beneficiaries that they are eligible to file an H-1B cap-subject petition. H-1B cap-subject petitions for FY 2025 may be filed with USCIS beginning April 1, 2023.

On April 30, 2024, USCIS announced that, during the initial selection process, it had selected 114,017 beneficiaries, resulting in 120,603 selected registrations. There was a significant decrease in the total number of registrations submitted during the selection process compared to FY2024. The total number of registrations submitted on behalf of beneficiaries with multiple registrations also went down. Specifically, USCIS reported:

  • The number of unique beneficiaries this year (approx. 442,000) was comparable to last year (approx. 446,000);
  • While the number of unique employers this year (approx. 52,700) was also comparable to last year (approx. 52,000), the number of eligible registrations decreased by a significant 38.6% for FY 2025 (470,342) compared to FY 2024 (758,994).

From this data, USCIS concluded that the new beneficiary-centric system that was applied to the FY2025 H-1B cap successfully deterred and prevented fraud; there were markedly fewer attempts to gain an unfair advantage compared to prior years.

Contact us with questions about H-1B status.

Immigration Medicals Completed by a Civil Surgeon on or After

Nov. 1, 2023, Do Not Expire

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual regarding the evidentiary value of the Report of Immigration Medical Examination and Vaccination Record (Form I-693). In general, noncitizens applying for immigration benefits who are required to demonstrate that they are admissible to the United States such as adjustment of status applicants, must submit a Form I-693 to show they are free from any conditions that would render them inadmissible under the health-related grounds. Since December 9, 2021, USCIS has considered a properly completed Form I-693 expired after two years from the date of the civil surgeon’s signature.

The new guidance provides that:

  • a properly completed Form I-693 signed by a civil surgeon on or after November 1, 2023, retains its evidentiary value and does not expire;
  • a properly completed Form I-693 signed by a civil surgeon before November 1, 2023, continues to expire two years after the date of the civil surgeon’s signature; and
  • USCIS officers have the discretion to request further evidence or a new or updated Form I-693, even if the original Form I-693 submitted is otherwise valid, if they have reason to believe the Form I-693 submitted does not accurately reflect the applicant’s medical condition.

We have attached a helpful flyer that explains Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record. Click here to view the flyer.

Contact us with questions about the validity of I-693 Medical Examinations.

USCIS Encourages DACA Recipients to Timely File Renewal Requests and Issues Additional Reminders

USCIS recently reiterated that Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) renewal requests should be filed between 120 and 150 days prior to their expiration date. Filing more than 150 days ahead of the expiration will NOT result in a faster decision. We have attached a helpful flyer that explains the current status of DACA. Click here to view it.

Contact us with questions about DACA, including work authorization.

USCIS Makes Important Changes to Naturalization Application

Starting April 1, 2024, noncitizens applying for naturalization using the new edition of Form N-400 (edition date 04/01/24) may request a Social Security Number (SSN) or replacement SSN card when submitting Form N-400. New citizens no longer need to visit a Social Security Administration (SSA) field office to apply for an SSN or replacement SSN card or to provide documentation evidencing their new U.S. citizenship status. However, the SSA may request additional information.

Additionally, USCIS has revised the N-400 Application for Naturalization to provide a third gender option, “X,” defined as “Another Gender Identity.” Currently, the N-400 is the only USCIS form that offers the X gender option. Applicants who have a pending N-400s using the edition in effect before April 1, 2024, may request to update their gender by adding the request to a response to a Request for Evidence (RFE) or by making a request at the N-400 interview. Applicants who have already received their naturalization certificate must wait until USCIS revises the Form N-565 Application for Replacement Naturalization/Citizenship document to add the X gender option.

Contact us with questions about naturalization applications.

Discrepancy Between Print and Online Versions of April 2024 Visa Bulletin Causes Confusion

On March 4, 2024, the Department of State (DOS) published the April 2024 Visa Bulletin. The PDF version listed the Final Action Date for EB-2 India as April 15, 2012. However, the web-based version of the Visa Bulletin listed the date as April 1, 2012. The DOS has since confirmed that the EB-2 Final Action Date for India should be listed as April 15, 2012, and updated the web-based version of the Visa Bulletin.

Contact us with questions about the Visa Bulletin.

USCIS Makes Significant Progress on Processing Times

USCIS issued a fact sheet showing that, for most of its highest-volume forms, median processing times have been significantly shorter thus far in fiscal year 2024 compared to the previous fiscal year. Improved processing times include:

  • Less than 30 days for employment authorization documents from asylum applicants and from certain parolees;
  • 5.2 months for naturalization, which is the lowest since 2016;
  • 3.6 months for employment authorization documents from adjustment applicants, which is the lowest since 2017;
  • 4.4 months for advance parole documents, which is the lowest since 2018; and
  • 2.7 months for Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker (nonpremium).

Contact us with questions on processing times.

USCIS to Launch E-Verify+ Pilot in Spring 2024

USCIS has announced that in spring 2024 it will launch a pilot of E-Verify+, an enhanced version of the E-Verify service.

E-Verify+ will streamline the Form I-9 and employment eligibility verification process and include the following new features:

  • Employees will be permitted to enter their personal information and documents;
  • The system will provide employment status notification directly to employers; and
  • Verification status will be carried over to new employment.

Contact us with questions about E-Verify.

Labor & Employment Attorney Spotlight:

Connell Foley Partner Lauren Iannaccone counsels employers of all sizes on litigation and regulatory compliance matters, with a special emphasis on issues involving medical and recreational cannabis laws. This includes advising on employer policies related to drug testing and legalized cannabis use.

Click here to watch Lauren explain how and when New Jersey employers may test employees for cannabis use in this brief video.

  • Abigail J. Walsh

    Abigail Walsh has over 20 years’ experience in a wide range of immigration matters. She represents multinational and domestic corporations, their employees and private individuals in business immigration matters before U.S ...

  • Victoria A. Donoghue

    Victoria Donoghue has an extensive background in immigration law, advising clients on the full range of issues related to employment-based immigrant and nonimmigrant visas. Her experience includes handling complex Requests for ...

USCIS Fee Hike Takes Effect April 1, 2024

U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) has moved forward with its plan to increase its fees, with new fees becoming effective on April 1, 2023. It has been eight years since the last fee increase, and USCIS has stated that a significant increase is necessary to more fully recover operating costs and better manage its workload.  The increases are in fact significant with some common forms, such as the I-129 for H-1 classifications, going up by 70% or more.

Contact us with questions about the new fees.

Much-Anticipated Stateside Visa Renewal Pilot Begins

The Department of State (DOS) Stateside Visa Renewal pilot program began on January 29, 2024 and will end on April 1, 2024. Participation is limited to principal H-1B applicants who, among other things:

Applications can be submitted through a dedicated website where applicants will be required to:

Applicants who are determined eligible will need to:

Contact us with questions about the pilot program.

DOS Update Shows Marked Improvement in Visa Processing Capacity in 2023

Published on January 2, 2024, the Department of State’s (DOS) Worldwide Visa Operations:    Update indicates that the DOS’ post-COVID capacity has been is recovering faster than projected. Notably, the DOS issued more nonimmigrant visas (NIVs) worldwide in 2023 than in any year since 2015. The DOS attributes its success to efficiencies made possible by interview waivers and other initiatives.

Contact us with questions about visa processing times.

USCIS Issued Guidance on Establishing Ability to Pay for Certain Employment-Based Immigrant Visa Petitions

Employers seeking to classify employees under the first-, second-, and third-preference employment-based immigrant visa classifications that require a job offer must demonstrate their continuing ability to pay the proffered wage to the beneficiary. This obligation extends from the priority date of the immigrant petition until the beneficiary obtains lawful permanent residence.   

The updated guidance provided by USCIS specifically addresses situations where the beneficiary of a Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers, moves or “ports” to a new employer while the Form I-140 is pending. In such cases, USCIS will evaluate the petitioner’s ability-to-pay requirements only by reviewing the facts from the priority date until the filing of the Form I-140 (not through to the approval of the I-485, or the date when lawful permanent residence was granted). 

Contact us with questions about demonstrating an employer’s ability to pay the wage in an employment-based immigrant visa petition.

USCIS to Launch Organizational Accounts and E-Filing Capabilities in February 2024

USCIS has announced that it is rolling out administrative (or organizational) accounts for H-1B processing this month. The organizational accounts will be for non-cap filings and the fiscal year 2025 H-1B cap season. The introduction of organizational accounts will allow multiple individuals within an organization, such as a company, and their legal representatives to collaborate on and prepare H-1B registrations and I-129/I-907 filings.

Contact us with questions about organizational accounts and/or H-1B filings.

USCIS Issues Guidance on Untimely Filed Extensions of Stay and Change of Status Requests

In January 2023, USCIS issued guidance addressing when the agency may excuse untimely filed extensions of stay and change of status requests. In general, USCIS does not approve such requests when a person fails to maintain their status or when the status expired before the filing date of the application or petition. If certain conditions are met, however, USCIS has the discretion to excuse a failure to file before the period of authorized status expired.

The new policy guidance expands USCIS’ discretion, permitting the agency to consider circumstances in which delays in filing were due to:

Contact us with question about USCIS potentially excusing late filings.


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