Breaking News 09.20.2017

Premium Processing Returns for Cap-Subject H-1B Petitions

Yesterday, USCIS announced that it has reinstated premium processing for initial H-1B visa petitions subject to the 2018 Fiscal Year quota or "cap". All such petitions have been pending since early April. The announcement comes just in time to avoid a lapse in work authorization for former F students going from Optional Practical Training to H, whose "cap-gap" work permission will expire at midnight September 30.

Premium processing theoretically provides a 15-day turnaround between filing the request and receiving a decision from USCIS. That said, following the election of President Trump, the "Buy American, Hire American" Executive Order has resulted in thousands of Requests for Evidence (RFE) questioning whether the position qualifies the employee for H status, and/or whether the Labor Condition Application correctly describes the position offered. An RFE stops the 15-day clock until USCIS receives the response.

USCIS previously resumed premium processing for H-1B petitions filed on behalf of physicians under the Conrad 30 waiver program, as well as interested government agency waivers, and for most H-1B petitions, not subject to the cap, such as those for colleges and universities, affiliated nonprofits, nonprofit research and nonprofit government entities.

Unfortunately, premium processing remains temporarily suspended for all other H-1B petitions not subject to the cap, such as extensions of stay and changes of employer.

Diversity Visa Registration Opens October 3rd!

Today, the Department of State announced that it will begin accepting applications for the Diversity Visa ("DV") Green Card Lottery for Fiscal Year 2019 beginning at noon EST on October 3, 2017 and ending at noon EST on November 7, 2017.

The DV lottery program provides a path to permanent residence for up to 50,000 immigrants per year from countries with historically low rates of immigration to the United States. In order to qualify for the DV lottery, the applicant must register during the designated period and meet the following requirements:

1. Birth in an Eligible Country. Persons born in the following countries are excluded from participating in the Green Card lottery program this year (unless the applicant's spouse is born outside these countries):

  • Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China (mainland-born*), Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, South Korea, United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, and Vietnam.
  • Persons born in Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR, and Taiwan are eligible for the DV program.

2. Meet the Education/Work Experience Requirement.

  • Possess at least a high school diploma or its equivalent; OR
  • Two years of work experience within the past five years in a skilled occupation.

3. Are 18 years of age or older.

If you believe you may be eligible to apply for the diversity visa lottery, you may do so at travel.state.gov. It is important to apply ONLY at this site, since many fraudulent sites exist, and others charge fees, making false claims. No site can increase your chance of winning, as all winners are chosen at random, and it does not cost anything to enter.

Remember that if you are married, both you and your spouse can file applications, as long as each of you meets the requirements set out above.

TPS Terminated for Sudan, Extended for South Sudan

Yesterday, DHS announced that it is terminating TPS for Sudan, but temporarily extending benefits for Sudanese beneficiaries for 12 months to allow for an orderly transition before the designation terminates on Nov. 2, 2018. Although TPS benefits will no longer be in effect starting Nov. 2, 2018, TPS beneficiaries may continue to hold any other immigration status that they have maintained or acquired while registered for TPS, or may, in many cases, change status to another immigration status, if qualified.

South Sudan's ongoing armed conflict prompted DHS to extend TPS for South Sudan for 18 months, through May 2, 2019. Those who re-register and request a new employment authorization document (EAD) may receive an automatic extension of their expiring EAD for up to 180 days from the date their current EAD expires.

Partner Dan Kowalski quoted in Austin American-Statesman on Termination of DACA

President Trump's announcement that he will end the popular Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program has caused much confusion and speculation on what comes next for Dreamers. Ware| Immigration's own Dan Kowalski shared his take with the Austin (TX) American-Statesman. The full article is available here.

Ware|Immigration On the Web

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