Retention of EB-1, EB-2, and EB-3 Immigrant Workers and Program Improvements Affecting Highly-Skilled Nonimmigrant Workers
January 17, 2017
This rule, published in the Federal Register on November 18, 2016, went into effect January 17, 2017. It codifies some longstanding Department of Homeland Security (DHS) policies and practices related to the American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act of 1998 (ACWIA) and the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-first Century Act of 2000 (AC21). This rule discusses Employment Authorization Documents (EADs), H-1B and other nonimmigrant matters and Lawful Permanent Residency matters. You can read more here.
USCIS fee increases
October 25, 2016
USCIS published a notice in the Federal Register that it will be increasing fees effective December 23, 2016. The full text of the notice is available here. Applications received by USCIS on or after December 23, 2016, will need to include the new fee.
The new fees will be:
- I-129 Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker base fee: $460 (up from $325)
- I-765 Application for Employment Authorization: $410 (up from $380)
- I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker: $700 (up from $580)
- I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status base fee: $1,140 (up from $985). With biometrics fee of $85, the total fee will be $1,225.
- I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status: $370 (up from $290)
- There is no change for the I-901 Application for Premium Processing: $1,225.
For all the changes, visit the USCIS fee page.
Diversity Green Card Lottery
October 4, 2016
The U.S. State Department has published the instructions for this year's Diversity Green Card Lottery. This program makes available 50,000 permanent resident visas annually. Persons who meet strict eligibility requirements and who are natives of countries with low rates of immigration to the United States are randomly selected. If you are eligible and interested, you may submit an online entry between noon, October 4, 2016 and noon, November 7, 2016 for a chance to apply for permanent residency in the United States. Information, eligibility requirements and instructions are available here. Please note there is no cost.
STEM OPT Changes for F-1 Students
April 7, 2016
In March 2016, DHS published amended F-1 nonimmigrant student regulations on Optional Practical Training (OPT) for certain students with STEM degrees from U.S. institutions of higher education. The amended regulation, which provides for an extension of the OPT period by 24 months (a STEM OPT extension), will go into effect on May 10, 2016.
Interested F-1 students must apply for and receive an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
For more information, visit the Study in the States STEM OPT Hub.
USCIS Processing Delays
January 5, 2016
U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) is experiencing lengthy delays in approving H-1B temporary worker petitions. New H-1B petitions, filed under regular processing, are taking about six months. H-1B extensions are taking about seven months. Applications can be filed under or converted to premium processing, but at a cost of $1225. If possible, apply 6-7 months before your H-1B is needed.
USCIS processing times can be found here.
Changes to the DS-2019 Form
January 5, 2016
The Student & Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) has updated the look of the DS-2019 Form used for J-1 scholars, students and student interns. The new form no longer has a bar code. The newer forms may look like something is missing, but they are official forms.
Diversity Green Card Lottery
October 2, 2015
The U.S. State Department has published the instructions for this year''s Diversity Green Card Lottery. This program makes available 50,000 permanent resident visas annually. Persons who meet strict eligibility requirements and who are natives of countries with low rates of immigration to the United States are randomly selected.
If you are eligible and interested, you may submit an online entry between noon, October 1, 2015 and noon, November 3, 2015 for a chance to apply for permanent residency in the United States. Information, eligibility requirements and instructions are available here.
There is no charge to submit an entry, and the State Department is encouraging applicants to submit entries early in the month. If interested, please review the instructions carefully to determine if you are eligible and the procedures for applying.
Update regarding State Department October Visa Bulletin
September 28, 2015
The State Department has now revised the October Visa Bulletin and adjusted the dates for filing for some of the employment-based categories.
For the revised October Visa Bulletin, please click here.
USCIS Announcement regarding Adjustment of Status to Permanent Residency
September 10, 2015
U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services recently announced revised procedures for determining visa availability for applicants waiting to file for adjustment of status to Permanent Residency.
This may affect you if you are in the process of applying for employment-based or family-based Permanent Residency in the United States and are unable to adjust your status to Permanent Resident due to the visa backlog.
This will primarily affect those from China and India who have an I-140 immigrant petition approved in the employment-based 2nd preference category or those from China, India or the Philippines who have an I-140 immigrant petition approved in the employment-based 3rd preference category. This may also affect those of you who have an approved family-based I-130 immigrant petition without an immediately available visa number.
View the Announcement and the State Department Visa Bulletin for details.
Please note that we in the Office of Global Services are not immigration attorneys and can only provide general information to you about the adjustment of status process which does not constitute legal advice. We encourage you to consult a qualified immigration attorney with questions related to any adjustment of status application.
Work Permission for Certain H-4 Dependents
June 5, 2015
Effective May 26, 2015, certain H-4 dependent spouses can apply for work authorization from U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services via Form I-765. H-4 spouses are eligible to apply if the H-1B temporary worker:
Is the beneficiary of an approved I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker; or
Has been granted an extension of H-1B status beyond 6 years under sections 106(a) and (b) of AC21.
This may be helpful to those who are faced with a visa backlog and who are waiting for a priority date to become current to file the last part of their permanent residency application, the I-485 adjustment of status application.