August 2015

Delays in Production of EADs and Green Cards

Multiple AILA members have reported experiencing delays between the approval of a client's I-765 or I-485 and the client's receipt of the employment authorization document (EAD) or lawful permanent resident card. USCIS has confirmed that the card production facility in Corbin, Kentucky, is undergoing maintenance, and that all card production work was transferred to the facility in Lee's Summit, Missouri. As a result, there is a backlog of cases in Lee's Summit, and clients may not receive their cards until two to three weeks after approval of the underlying application. USCIS anticipates that the backlog will be resolved sometime next month.

July 2015

USCIS Final Guidance on When to File an Amended or New H-1B Petition after Matter of Simeio Solutions, LLC

On April 9, 2015, the precedent decision Matter of Simeio Solutions, LLC (Simeio) was issued. This decision represents the USCIS position that H-1B petitioners are required to file an amended or new petition before placing an H-1B employee at a new place of employment not covered by an existing, approved H-1B petition.

On May 21, 2015, USCIS issued draft guidance on this topic and solicited public comment regarding the implementation of Simeio. After reviewing and carefully considering the feedback submitted, USCIS is now issuing Policy Memorandum 602-0120, USCIS Final Guidance on When to File an Amended or New H-1B Petition After Matter of Simeio Solutions, LLC.

Policy Memorandum 602-0120 is effective immediately. Please note, while this final guidance responds to many of the comments received, some suggestions and inquiries were outside the scope of Simeio and, therefore, are not addressed in this document. USCIS will consider addressing those remaining questions, as necessary, in the near future. Please see here.

USCIS Returns Unselected Fiscal Year 2016 H-1B Cap-Subject Petitions

USCIS announced on July 14, 2015, that it completed processing the return of fiscal year 2016 H-1B cap-subject petitions that were not selected in our computer-generated random selection process.

USCIS previously announced on May 4, 2015, that it completed data entry of all selected cap-subject petitions.

If you submitted an H-1B cap-subject petition between April 1 and April 7, 2015 and have not received a receipt notice or a returned petition by July 20, 2015, you may contact USCIS

June 17, 2015 U.S. Department of State Visa Systems Issues

The Bureau of Consular Affairs continues to experience technical problems with our visa systems. This is a global issue, and we are working around the clock to fix it. More than 100 computer experts from both the private and public sectors across the United States are working on this problem 24/7. That said, we do not expect the system will be online before next week. The problems stem from a hardware failure in a State Department facility in the United States on June 9. That failure is preventing the Department from processing and transmitting biometric data checks at visa-issuing embassies and consulates. We cannot bypass the legal requirements to screen visa applicants before we issue visas for travel. Each visa decision is a national security decision, and we take our obligation to protect the United States seriously.

We regret the inconvenience to travelers and recognize that this is causing hardship to those waiting for visas, and in some cases, their family members or employers in the United States. We will continue to post regular updates on our website, travel.state.gov.

Q: What caused this outage? Was it a malicious action or hack? There is no evidence the problem is cyber-security related.

Q: How long before you restore full system functionality? Public and private sector experts are working around the clock to correct the visa problem, but we do not expect the system will be online before next week. Overseas and domestic passports are being issued.

Q: How many travelers are affected by this outage? Most posts were able to handle visa interviews and some visa printing as usual through the end of last week. This week, many posts have had to reschedule visa appointments. We handle an average 50,000 applications daily worldwide. Many applicants do not have immediate travel plans and will receive visas in time for planned trips. We are prioritizing urgent medical and other humanitarian cases as well as H2A agricultural workers.

Q: Once operational, how will cases be prioritized? We are already prioritizing urgent humanitarian cases and temporary agricultural workers. Once the systems are fully operational, we will work as quickly as possible to clear the backlog of pending visa cases. We apologize to travelers and recognize that this has caused hardship to some individuals waiting for visas.

Q: What about domestic passports? Domestic passport operations are functioning, with some intermittent processing delays. While some of these issues have affected same-day service at our passport agencies, we continue to issue passports to U.S. citizens with urgent overseas travel needs.

May 2015 - USCIS Guidance on When to File an Amended H-1B Petition

USCIS provided guidance on when to file an amended H-1B petition in response to the April 9, 2015, AAO precedent decision, Matter of Simeio Solutions, LLC, which held that employers must file amended H-1B petitions when a new Labor Condition Application for Nonimmigrant Workers (LCA) is required due to a change in the H-1B worker's worksite location. See here for further information.

USCIS Posts FAQs on Employment Authorization for Certain H-4 Dependent Spouses

USCIS FAQs on employment authorization for certain H-4 dependent spouses, including information on eligibility, the application process, how USCIS will adjudicate the Form I-765, processing times, and more. See here for further information.

USCIS Completes Data Entry of Fiscal Year 2016 H-1B Cap-Subject Petitions

USCIS announced May 4, 2015, that it has completed data entry of all fiscal year 2016 H-1B cap-subject petitions selected in our computer-generated random process. USCIS will now begin returning all H-1B cap-subject petitions that were not selected. Due to the high volume of filings, the time frame for returning these petitions is uncertain. USCIS asks petitioners to not inquire about the status of submitted cap-subject petitions until they receive a receipt notice or an unselected petition is returned. USCIS will issue an announcement once all the petitions have been returned.

USCIS Publishes Filing Guidance for Certain H-4 Dependent Spouses

USCIS has published information to help eligible H-4 dependent spouses who want to apply for employment authorization under the Employment Authorization for Certain H-4 Dependent Spouses final rule.

You can view the information on:

Please note that you may not apply for employment authorization under this rule until May 26, 2015. Until the H-4 rule takes effect on May 26, 2015, USCIS will not accept any Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization requesting employment authorization based on your H-4 status. If you submit a Form I-765 before May 26, 2015 USCIS will reject your application and return it and the filing fee to you. You would then need to re-submit the application on or after May 26, 2015.

USCIS Temporarily Suspends Premium Processing for Extension of Stay H-1B Petitions

Starting May 26, 2015, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will temporarily suspend premium processing for all H-1B Extension of Stay petitions until July 27, 2015. During this time frame, petitioners will not be able to file Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service, for a Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, requesting an extension of the stay for an H-1B nonimmigrant. USCIS will continue to premium process H-1B Extension of Stay petitions filed with Form I-907 premium requests prior to May 26, 2015.

USCIS will refund the premium processing fee if:

A petitioner filed H-1B petitions prior to May 26, 2015, using the premium processing service, and USCIS did not act on the case within the 15-calendar-day period.

Premium processing remains available for all other Form I-129 H-1B petitions, including petitions subject to the H-1B cap that are requesting a change of nonimmigrant status or consular notification.

This temporary suspension will allow USCIS to implement the the Employment Authorization for Certain H-4 Spouses final rule in a timely manner and adjudicate applications for employment authorization filed by H-4 nonimmigrants under the new regulations.

March 2015 - USCIS Posts Updated L-1B Adjudications Policy for Public Feedback

"U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director León Rodríguez today announced the release of an updated policy memorandum on the L-1B nonimmigrant visa classification for workers with specialized knowledge. The memorandum, which clarifies for USCIS officers how L-1B petitioners may demonstrate that an employee has specialized knowledge, will be posted on-line for a 45-day public feedback period. The memorandum will go into effect on August 31, 2015".

Learn more here.

USCIS Completes the H-1B Cap Random Selection Process for FY 2016

The records NARA identified as permanent records are the annual disclosure data files currently located on the FLC Data Center at announced on April 7, 2015that it has received enough H-1B petitions to reach the statutory cap of 65,000 visas for fiscal year (FY) 2016. USCIS has also received more than the limit of 20,000 H-1B petitions filed under the advanced degree exemption, also known as the masters cap..

USCIS received about nearly 233,000 H-1B petitions during the filing period, which began April 1, including petitions filed for the advanced degree exemption. On April 13, USCIS used a computer-generated random selection process, or lottery, to select enough petitions to meet the 65,000 general-category cap and the 20,000 cap under the advanced degree exemption. USCIS will reject and return all unselected petitions with their filing fees, unless the petition is found to be a duplicate filing..

The agency conducted the selection process for the advanced degree exemption first. All unselected advanced degree petitions then became part of the random selection process for the 65,000 limit..

As announced on March 12, 2015, USCIS will begin premium processing for H-1B cap cases no later than May 11, 2015..

USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions that are otherwise exempt from the cap. Petitions filed on behalf of current H-1B workers who have been counted previously against the cap will also not be counted towards the congressionally mandated FY 2016 H-1B cap. USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions filed to:

  • Extend the amount of time a current H-1B worker may remain in the United States
  • Change the terms of employment for current H-1B workers
  • Allow current H-1B workers to change employers
  • Allow current H-1B workers to work concurrently in a second H-1B position

U.S. businesses use the H-1B program to employ foreign workers in occupations that require highly specialized knowledge in fields such as science, engineering, and computer programming..

For more information, please see: http://www.uscis.gov/news/alerts/uscis-completes-h-1b-cap-random-selection-process-fy-2016.

February 24, 2015 - DHS Extends Eligibility for Employment Authorization to Certain H-4 Dependent Spouses of H-1B Nonimmigrants Seeking Employment-Based Lawful Permanent Residence

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director León Rodríguez announced today that, effective May 26, 2015, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is 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 amended the regulations to allow these H-4 dependent spouses to accept employment in the United States. .

Learn more here .

January 15, 2015 - Issuance of certified copies of Mexican birth certificates at Consulates of Mexico

Starting January 15th, 2015, the consulates of Mexico in the United States will issue copies of birth certificates registered in Mexico. To obtain their certified copies, Mexican nationals should visit the nearest consulate, present an official proof of identity, fill out an application and provide their Clave Única de Registro de Población (CURP) in case they have one. The cost of each certified copy will be $13.00 dollars. The issuance of certified copies does not carry any additional costs. Be aware of abuses and scams. Nobody can charge additional fees for this service. Those interested in obtaining a certified copy of their birth certificate can get more information in the free application for smartphones and mobile devices MiConsulmex or at the toll free number Centro de Información y Asistencia a Mexicanos (CIAM): 1-855-463-6395. Mexican consulates will continue offering protection and consular assistance to Mexicans regardless of their immigration status. .

Expedición de copias certificadas de actas de nacimiento mexicanas en consulados de México

A partir del 15 de enero de 2015, los Consulados de México en Estados Unidos podrán emitir copias certificadas de actas de nacimiento generadas en territorio nacional. Para obtener sus copias certificadas, los mexicanos deberán presentarse en una oficina consular, portar una identificación oficial que acredite que es el titular del acta de nacimiento, proporcionar su Clave Única de Registro de Población (si cuenta con ella), llenar una solicitud y cubrir el pago de derechos correspondientes ($13 dólares por acta). La expedición de actas no representa costos adicionales al del pago de derechos de $13 dólares. Evite ser víctima de abusos, ninguna persona puede cobrarle más por este servicio. Los interesados podrán obtener más información sobre este servicio en la aplicación gratuita para dispositivos móviles MiConsulmex, así como llamando al Centro de Información y Asistencia a Mexicanos (CIAM): 1-855-463-6395. Los consulados de México seguirán ofreciendo protección y asistencia consular a los mexicanos que la requieran, sin importar su condición migratoria. .

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