July 2015 Visa Bulletin Brings Changes in Some Visa Categories and No Change in Others
The Department of State’s July 2015 Visa Bulletin brought modest changes in some visas categories, and no change in others. Notably, the EB-3 category (professionals and skilled workers) will become unavailable for Filipino nationals.
Additionally, Indian nationals seeking classification under the EB-2 preference category (professionals with an advanced degree and exceptional ability) will see no change from the month of June. Those seeking classification under the EB-3 and other workers categories will see a small advance from January 22, 2004 to February 1, 2004. Chinese nationals under EB-2, advanced four months to October 1, 2013, while EB-3 and other workers remained the same.
On the family side, F-1 (Family-sponsored preference 1, unmarried sons and daughters of U.S.-citizens) moved forward one month for Chinese and Indian nationals, along with non-listed nationalities, to October 1, 2007. F-1 remains unchanged for Mexican nationals at November 15, 1994, while F-1 for Filipino nationals moved forward two weeks, to March 15, 2000.
Additionally, F-2A (spouse and children of permanent residents) moved forward five weeks for Chinese, Indian, and Filipino nationals, along with non-listed nationalities, to November 8, 2013. F-2A moved forward five weeks for Mexican nationals, to September 15, 2013.
For more details, see the Department of State’s website: July Visa Bulletin
Update on Department of State Visa Processing Problems
Recently, the U.S. Department of State (DOS) announced that it has been experiencing technical problems since June 9, 2015 that were disrupting the timely issuance of visas. The problem resulted in visa delays and rescheduled interviews.
On June 23, 2015, DOS reported that it has rebuilt and tested an internal system, and that 9 posts, representing more than two-thirds of its normal capacity, are now online and issuing visas. As a result, DOS issued 45,000 visas the day prior, including 15,000 in Beijing. DOS reports that it expects full functionality to return soon, hopefully this week.
For more information, see the Department of State’s website: DOS Updates
USCIS Begins Granting Employment Authorization for Certain H-4 Spouses
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has begun accepting applications to extend employment authorization to certain H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B nonimmigrants.
Eligible individuals include H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B nonimmigrants who:
· Are the principal beneficiaries of an approved Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker (permanent residence petition by an employer for an employee); or
· Have been granted H-1B status beyond the normal six-year limit because they are seeking lawful permanent residence in the United States.
According to Director Leon Rodriguez, “Allowing the spouses of these visa holders to legally work in the United States makes perfect sense. It helps U.S. businesses keep their highly skilled workers by increasing the chances these workers will choose to stay in this country during the transition from temporary workers to permanent residents. It also provides more economic stability and better quality of life for the affected families.”
Under the rule, eligible H-4 dependent spouses must file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, with supporting evidence and the required $380 fee in order to obtain employment authorization and receive a Form I-766, Employment Authorization Document (EAD). Once USCIS approves the Form I-765 and the H-4 dependent spouse receives an EAD, he or she may begin working in the United States.
For more information see the uscis.gov website: USCIS H4 Employment
Although this new employment authorization for certain H-4 dependents is being challenged in a lawsuit, the court declined to temporarily halt the new DHS rule, which became effective on May 26, 2015.
Expanding and Extending TPS
TPS Extension for Somalia
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), has extended Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for eligible nationals of Somalia (and eligible individuals without nationality who last habitually resided in Somalia) for an additional 18 months, effective Sept. 18, 2015, through March 17, 2017.
Current TPS Somalia beneficiaries seeking to extend their TPS must re-register during the 60-day
re-registration period that runs from June 1, 2015, through July 31, 2015. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) encourages beneficiaries to re-register as soon as possible once the 60-day re-registration period begins. USCIS is now accepting applications.
The 18-month extension also allows TPS re-registrants to apply for a new Employment Authorization Document (EAD). Eligible TPS Somalia beneficiaries who
re-register during the 60-day period and request a new EAD will receive one with an expiration date of March, 17, 2017.
Additional information on TPS for Somalia-including guidance on eligibility, the application process and where to file-is available online at uscis.gov/tps. Certain individuals who are not current TPS beneficiaries may be able to apply late for TPS under the Somalia designation. Information on Late Initial Filing is also available at uscis.gov/tps. Further details about this extension of TPS for Somalia, including the application requirements and procedures, appear in a Federal Register notice published today.
Applicants seeking information about the status of their individual cases can check My Case Status Online, or call the USCIS National Customer Service Center at
1-800-375-5283 (TTY 1-800-767-1833).
For more information see the uscis.gov website: USCIS Somalia
Initial TPS Registration for Syria
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has set a deadline of Monday, July 6, 2015, for initial registration for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for eligible nationals of Syria. ByJuly 6, 2015, eligible nationals of Syria (and people without nationality who last habitually resided in Syria) who do not currently hold Temporary Protected Status (TPS) must register for TPS, if they seek to acquire TPS. The redesignation of Syria for TPS runs from Jan. 5, 2015, through Sept. 30, 2016.
The TPS applicant must demonstrate all eligibility criteria, including that the applicant has been “continuously residing” in the United States since Jan. 5, 2015, and “continuously physically present in” the United States since April 1, 2015. The applicant must also undergo thorough security checks. Individuals with certain criminal records or who pose a threat to national security are not eligible for TPS.
More information about the designation of Syria for TPS-including guidance on eligibility, the application process and where to file-is available at uscis.gov/tps, the Syria TPS page and in the Federal Register notice.
For more information see the uscis.gov website: USCIS Syria
DHS Announces TPS Designation for Nepal
On June 24, 2015, DHS announced that it is designating Nepal for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 18 months based on the conditions resulting from the devastating magnitude 7.8 earthquake that struck near Katmandu on April 25, and the subsequent aftershocks. As a result, eligible nationals of Nepal residing in the United States may apply for TPS with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The Federal Register notice published today provides details and procedures for applying for TPS.
The TPS designation for Nepal is effective June 24, 2015, and will be in effect through December 24, 2016. The designation means that, during the designated period, eligible nationals of Nepal (and people without nationality who last habitually resided in Nepal) will not be removed from the United States and may receive an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). The 180-day TPS registration period begins June 24, 2015 and runs through December 21, 2015. Eligible applicants must register by the December 21, 2015 deadline.
To be eligible for TPS, applicants must demonstrate that they satisfy all eligibility criteria, including that they have been both “continuously physically present” and “continuously residing” in the United States since June 24, 2015. Applicants also undergo thorough security checks. Individuals with certain criminal records or who pose a threat to national security are not eligible for TPS. The eligibility requirements are fully described in the Federal Register notices and on the TPS Web page at www.uscis.gov/tps.
For more information see the uscis.gov website: USCIS Nepal
TPS Registration Period for Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone Extended
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is extending the initial registration deadline for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) from May 20, 2015, to August 18, 2015, for eligible nationals of Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone (and people without nationality who last habitually resided in one of those three countries). Further details about the extension of the initial registration period appear in a Federal Register notice published today.
DHS has strongly encouraged eligible TPS applicants from these three countries to apply as soon as possible because applications will only be accepted through August 18, 2015.
DHS began accepting TPS applications on Nov. 21, 2014, from applicants of these three countries when DHS announced the 18-month TPS designations for Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone, from Nov. 21, 2014, through May 21, 2016. For applicants who submitted an application for one of these three countries and DHS previously returned the application based on the May 20, 2015 deadline, those individuals may now resubmit your complete application by August 18, 2015.
TPS applicants must demonstrate that they meet all eligibility criteria, including that they have been “continuously residing” in the United States since Nov. 20, 2014, and “continuously physically present” in the United States since Nov. 21, 2014. They must also undergo thorough security checks. Individuals with certain criminal records or who pose a threat to national security are not eligible for TPS.
Additionally, Liberian nationals may apply for TPS even if they are currently covered under the two-year extension of Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) based on President Obama’s Sept. 26, 2014 memorandum. For DED-covered Liberian nationals who have an EAD or have applied for an EAD, such individuals need not apply for another EAD related to this TPS designation. However, if such an applicant is granted TPS, he or she may request a TPS-related EAD at a later date as long as the TPS designation for Liberia remains in effect.
Additional information about TPS for Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone – including guidance on eligibility, the application process and where to file – is available at USCIS TPS
For more information on this announcement see the uscis.gov website: USCIS TPS
This Web alert is also available in French.