March 2019

FY 2020 H-1B (2019) Cap Season is Nearly Over

The H-1B Cap Season ends April 1-5, 2019. Last year more than 85,000 H-1B cap petitions were filed within the April 1st filing date. To find out more about the H-1B visa please visit our

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2020 H1B Cap Premium Processing

WASHINGTON — U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) today announced the start of the fiscal year (FY) 2020 H-1B cap season, start dates for premium processing of cap-subject H-1B petitions, and the launch of its new H-1B data hub, while reminding petitioners of its new H-1B cap selection process. These new efforts underscore the agency’s commitment to supporting President Trump’s Buy American and Hire American executive order designed to protect U.S. workers.

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DOL Issues FAB on H 1B LCA Electronic Posting Compliance

The DOL Field Assistance Bulletin reminds employers H 1B LCA posting using electronic means to all affected employees includes those who are employed by a third-party employer. If you're looking for resources or help to prepare for FY2020 H 1B cap season, contact Litwin & Smith. Call 888 344 0892 or email [email protected]

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2019 April Visa Bulletin Published

The April 2019 Visa Bulletin is published by the Dept of State. In addition to the final action dates and dates for filing applications, the bulletin also includes a note regarding final action date movements. Final Action Date movement in many Family-sponsored and Employment-based preference categories continues to be greater than might ordinarily be expected, and this is anticipated to continue for at least the next few months. This is a direct result of fewer applicants proceeding to final action on their cases at consular posts abroad and USCIS Offices. Once large numbers of applicants begin to have their cases brought to final action, final action date movements will necessarily slow, stop, or retrogress.

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H1B Crunch Time!

It is anticipated that the 2020 H1B Cap will be reached the first five (5) days of the filing period this year between April 1 to April 5, 2019. In addition there are reports of the Department of Labor taking additional time this year to recognize first time H1B employer Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN) before a Labor Condition Attestation (LCA) may be certified.

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USCIS resumes premium processing Tuesday, March 12, for all H-1B petitions.

If you received a request for evidence (RFE) for a pending petition, you may include the RFE response with a premium processing request.

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SEVP Alert Academic High School Recertification Denied

Academic High School (AHS) in Miami, FL denied recertification. SEVIS advises as of 2/28/19, AHS may not issue new Forms I-20. AHS students in active status must seek a change of status, enroll in another qualified program of study at a SEVP-certified school, or depart the United States by 3/29/19.

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DHS Secretary Nielsen Announced Extension of TPS Designation for South Sudan

DHS Secretary Nielsen announced a determination to extend the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation for South Sudan for 18 months, through November 2, 2020. Details to appear in a Federal Register notice that includes information on the re-registration process and EADs.

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USCIS Form I-539 and New Form I-539A Update

On March 8, 2019 USCIS published to its website revised Form I-539 and new Form I-539A and instructions for these forms.

USCIS will continue accepting Form I-539 with an edition date of 12/23/16 until 3/21/19, as long as it is received by USCIS by that date.

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Canadian L-1 Extension Petitions Denied at Ports of Entry

Litwin & Smith has received reports that Canadian ports of entry are refusing to process subsequent L-1 applications presented by Canadians pursuant to NAFTA without a USCIS I-797 L-1 Extension Approval.

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) permits Canadians to present themselves at ports of entry (POE) for admission in L-1 status without an I-797 Approval in advance. While there are sporadic reports of this issue throughout several POEs, the reports received thus far are predominantly centered on Calgary. The POEs that are refusing to process these applications are relying upon 8 CFR §214.2(l)(15)(i), which states that petition extensions should be made by filing an I-129 petition with USCIS.

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I-797 Welcome Notices for Green Card Application Approvals Not Issued by NBC

We continue to receive reports from other immigration attorney they or the client are either not receiving an original or copy of I-797 Welcome Notices for I-485 green card application approval.

In early September 2018, we began hearing reports that clients and attorney had not received original or duplicate I-797 approval notices associated with adjustment of status applications after field office interviews were completed and in some cases, after permanent resident cards had already been produced. NBC acknowledged that a system error resulted in notices not being mailed in specific cases and confirmed that the issue had been resolved and that the affected cases would have approval notices reprinted and issued by November 2018.

DACA Update: Bicameral Letter to DHS and USCIS on DACA Eligibility for Advance Parole

On 2/12/19, U.S. Senators and Representatives Feinstein, Harris, Lowenthal, Meng Lead Lawmakers in Oversight sent a Letter to Administration on DACA Recipients’ Ability to Travel Abroad. The implication for some DACA recipients is the DACA recipient may be eligible to adjust status to permanent resident after traveling outside the United States with advance parole.

In a Litwin & Smith consultation we explain how you may obtain advance parole, how you may adjust status to permanent resident, and how advance parole can help a DACA recipient who previously entered the US without inspection. Although this notice is focused on DACA the analysis also applies to TPS holders. Travel abroad and return to the US with parole into the US may permit DACA / TPS parolee to adjust status to lawful permanent residence. Contact us by emailing [email protected] or calling 888 344 0892. We look forward to assisting you.

USCIS Notice on Extension of TPS Documentation for Beneficiaries from Sudan, Nicaragua, Haiti, and El Salvador

USCIS notice in the Federal Register Published Continuation of Documentation announced the automatic extension of TPS documentation for beneficiaries under the TPS designations for Sudan, Nicaragua, Haiti, and El Salvador until 1/2/20. The order is in continued compliance with the preliminary injunction in Ramos v. Nielsen. (84 FR 7103, 3/1/19).

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I-539, Application To Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status

On March 1, 2019, USCIS held a Public Engagement Teleconference to provide information on the revised Form I-539 and new Form I-539A. During the engagement USCIS advised an official copy of the revised Form I-539 and new form I-539A will be published on the USCIS website on March 8, 2019 with a new effective date of March 21, 2019.

New rollout period: USCIS will continue accepting the prior Form I-539 with an edition date of 12/23/16 until March 21, 2019. Starting on March 22, 2019, USCIS will only accept the revised Form I-539 with an edition date of 02/04/19.

This information is currently posted on the I-539 page of the USCIS website.

CRS Published FAQs on H4 Work Authorization for H4 Spouses of H-1B Temporary Workers

The Trump Administration is proposes to rescind H4 work authorization regulation. Removing eligibility for work authorization for H-4 nonimmigrant spouses of H1B temporary workers. Congress expressed an interest in the background and impact of this proposed change, as well as legislative approaches to addressing work authorization for this group. This Congressional Research Service (CRS) report provides answers to frequently asked questions about work authorization for H-4 visa holders.

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USCIS Expands Fee Payment System to 16 Additional Offices

USCIS announced that on 2/25/19, USCIS expanded the fee payment system used in certain field offices to 16 additional offices. Notice lists the 16 offices to the three pilot offices of November 2018. The offices will no longer accept money orders or cashier’s checks.

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DHS Proposed H 4 EAD Rescission Regulation at OMB Pending Review

One DHS proposed regulation, entitled "Removing H-4 Dependent Spouses from the Class of Aliens Eligible for Employment Authorization" (commonly known as the "H-4 EAD Rescission Regulation") is featured in the Fall 2018 Unified Agenda of the Agency Rule List - Fall 2018 and is described as follows:

On February 25, 2015, DHS published a final rule extending eligibility for employment authorization to certain H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B nonimmigrants who are seeking employment-based lawful permanent resident (LPR) status. DHS is publishing this notice of proposed rulemaking to amend that 2015 final rule. DHS is proposing to remove from its regulations certain H-4 spouses of H-1B nonimmigrants as a class of aliens eligible for employment authorization.

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