It’s been an important week in immigration law. For months, the media has reported on an estimated 500,000 Venezuelans who have fled their country and have arrived in the United States. Many have ended up in large cities and while many will no doubt eventually qualify for political asylum, the time it will take for all of these individuals to get work authorization based on an asylum claim will likely be 6 to 9 months or longer. In the meantime, communities have had to house and feed people because of an inability to work legally.
This week, the Biden Administration announced that it will redesignate Venezuela for Temporary Protected Status. That will offer 18 months or protection for this large population and unless conditions improve dramatically in the country, it is likely TPS will be extended well beyond that. This also means people recently arrived from the country are eligible to seek employment authorization. DHS did not announce how long work cards will take to process for TPS applicants, but the mechanism is in place to receive these EAD applications electronically which should mean considerably faster processing.
DHS made several additional announcements that are newsworthy as well. First, For people coming from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela under the CHNV parole program, USCIS is now promising a 30-day turnaround on EAD applications. Those who entered the US with the CBPOne app on their phones will also be eligible for EADs and 30 day processing.
Another welcome piece of news is that USCIS will increase the maximum validity period of initial and renewal EADs to five years for those admitted as refugees or granted asylum, recipients of withholding of removal, applicants for asylum status, applicants for cancellation of removal, and, importantly, all applications for adjustment of status. The latter category will be especially welcome to employment-based immigrants, particularly those from countries like China and India, where cutoff dates backlogged after filing to adjust.
The news was coupled with some announcements on enforcement. They include the following:
Legal Actions: The Department of Justice (DOJ) is actively prosecuting immigration-related offenses, including human smuggling and illegal reentry.
Military Support: 3200 additional military personnel are being deployed to assist DHS, allowing Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents to focus on their core responsibilities.
Expedited Family Removals: The Family Expedited Removal Management (FERM) program has been expanded nationwide to quickly remove families without a lawful basis to remain in the U.S.
Increased Holding Capacity: DHS has expanded its capacity to hold an additional 3,250 people, bringing the total CBP holding capacity to nearly 23,000.
International Collaboration: Since May 2023, over 253,000 individuals have been removed or returned to 152 countries, a significant increase compared to the same period in 2019.
We are hopeful many people will benefit from the changes and look forward to providing more information as we receive it.
As always, we welcome readers to contact our lawyers if they need a consultation to discuss an immigration matter. Please go to www.visalaw.com/consultation if you need an appointment.
Ask Visa Law
Written by Robby Rubin
What is going on with the October Visa Bulletin? What does it mean for the timing of my Green Card application?
Before getting into the details of the most recent visa bulletin, it is important to first understand how to read a visa bulletin and define some key terms. In fiscal year 2024 there will be 366,000 green cards available. 226,000 of those green cards will be reserved for family-based green cards and the remaining 140,000 will be reserved for employment-based green cards. In addition to the annual cap on green cards, there is also a “country cap,” which provides that no single country can account for than 7% of the green cards in any particular green card category in a given year. Currently, the only countries with enough green card applications to bump up against this quota are China, India, Mexico, and the Philippines.
In order to find out if you are eligible to file a green card application (Form I-485) you or your employer must first file either an employment-based immigrant petition (Form I-140, I-360, or I-526) or a family-based immigrant petition (Form I-130). The date that USCIS receives your properly filed immigrant petition, which can be found on your Form I-797, Notice of Receipt, is known as your priority date.
Next, to see if you are eligible to file for a green card compare your priority date to the corresponding cutoff date listed in the “Dates for Filing” chart under your category and country. If your priority date is earlier than the cutoff date listed in the “Dates for Filing” chart, you can submit your green card application. However, a green card will only be available to be issued to you, if your priority date is earlier than the date listed in your corresponding “Final Action Date” chart.
The charts below are from the United States Department of State website and illustrate the “Final Action Dates” and “Dates for Filing Applications” for both family-based and employment-based green card categories.
Final Action Dates for Family-Based Green Cards
Dates for Filing Family-Based Green Card Applications
Final Action Dates for Employment-Based Green Cards
Dates for Filing Employment-Based Green Card Applications
In this most recently released visa bulletin, the first for fiscal year 2024, USCIS announced that petitioners should use the Dates for Filing chart to determine when they can submit their application for a green card. When comparing the October visa bulletin Date for Filing chart to the previous bulleting Date for Filing chart, there were no changes forwards or backwards for the cutoff dates in any family-based preference categories, while there was some movement forwards in the employment-based categories. Most notably, the EB-1 category for rest of world became current, and for India went from January 2012 to July 2019.
In the News From ABIL
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has completed the second random selection process from previously submitted registrations for the fiscal year 2024 H-1B cap.
Under the terms of the settlement, Mr. Glass Group will pay $120,000 in civil penalties.
The topic for the Round 6 FAQs is “H-2A Labor Contractors.”
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced changes to how the agency issues receipts for L-1 nonimmigrant intracompany transferees (executives, managers, or specialized knowledge professionals) under a previously approved blanket L petition.
The Department of Homeland Security, through U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), has issued new guidance to assist stateless noncitizens in the United States who wish to obtain immigration benefits or have submitted other requests to USCIS.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will soon select, using a random process, additional registrations from previously submitted electronic registrations for the fiscal year 2024 H-1B cap.
U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan announced additional steps the United States is taking “to expand access to safe, orderly, legal migration pathways” following meetings in Mexico between the President of Mexico and a U.S. delegation.
The Department of State proposed a rule to allow private attorneys, interpreters, and other third parties to attend certain appointments at passport agencies and centers and at U.S. embassies and consulates abroad to assist the person requesting services.
The Department of Labor and the Interagency Task Force to Combat Child Labor Exploitation announced recent actions to hold companies accountable for violating federal child labor laws.
Among the updates is a checkbox employers enrolled in E-Verify can use to indicate that they remotely examined identity and employment authorization documents under an alternative procedure authorized by the Department of Homeland Security related to temporary COVID-19 flexibilities.
The new approach involves grouping petitions with filing dates on or before November 30, 2019, by new commercial enterprise within the queue of petitions where the project has been reviewed and there is a visa available or soon available.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has incorporated into its Policy Manual information on the categories of adjustment of status applicants to whom the public charge ground of inadmissibility applies.
The Department of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Department of State, has reduced from two years to one year the Electronic System for Travel Authorization validity period for travel by citizens and nationals of Brunei Darussalam under the Visa Waiver Program to the United States.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has amended the DHS STEM Designated Degree Program List by adding eight qualifying fields of study and a corresponding Department of Education Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) code for each.
The Department of State’s Visa Bulletin for August includes information on establishment of a Worldwide employment-based first preference (EB-1) final action date; retrogression in the employment-based first preference (EB-1) category for India; and retrogression in the employment-based third preference (EB-3) category for Rest of World countries, Mexico, and Philippines.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is expanding myProgress (formerly known as personalized processing times) to Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, and Form I-131, Application for Travel Document.
The Department of Labor’s Office of Foreign Labor Certification has published the Assignment Groups for 2,157 H-2B applications covering 40,947 worker positions with a work start date of October 1, 2023.
The Office of Foreign Labor Certification has issued a set of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) regarding the final rule, “Adverse Effect Wage Rate Methodology for the Temporary Employment of H-2A Nonimmigrants in Non-Range Occupations in the United States.”
The Department of State clarified the Final Action Date retrogression applicable to employment-based third preference (EB-3) visa applicants chargeable to India and explained the reason for prorating India EB-3 visas.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has launched a new self-service tool allowing rescheduling of most biometric services appointments before the date of the appointment. USCIS also clarified its guidance on policies and procedures related to “good cause” in this context.
While awaiting an immigrant visa, eligible individuals can request work authorization that can be maintained throughout the parole period. When the immigrant visa becomes available, the individual may apply to become a lawful permanent resident.
The Department of Homeland Security’s Carrier Liaison Program has incorporated changes related to the designation of Cuba as a State Sponsor of Terrorism, making individuals who have been present in Cuba on or after that date ineligible for travel under the Visa Waiver Program.
The Department of State’s Visa Bulletin for September includes Diversity Visa 2024 lottery results, availability of employment-based visas during September, and determination of the numerical limit on immigrants for fiscal year 2023.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services reminded employers that the new version of Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, is now available for use. Among other changes, the new version incorporates an alternative procedure for E-Verify employers to remotely examine employee documents.
The CBP One app is free and available to migrants in Central and Northern Mexico to schedule appointments to present themselves at a port of entry along the southwest border with the United States.
The Department of State released a fact sheet on new family reunification parole processes for individuals from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Colombia, and updated processes for individuals from Cuba and Haiti. Eligible individuals paroled into the United States under these processes can apply for work authorization.
The Havana office will assist with U.S. immigration benefits and services. Services at the Havana Field Office will be available only by appointment.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is extending and redesignating Ukraine for Temporary Protected Status. DHS also announced special student relief for Ukraine.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is extending and redesignating Sudan for Temporary Protected Status. DHS also announced special student relief for Sudan.
F-1 EADs May Take One to Two Weeks to Process After Adjudication, CIS Ombudsman Says The CIS Ombudsman is reminding stakeholders that premium processing times are separate from work permit production timelines.
The lawsuit alleges that SpaceX routinely discouraged asylees and refugees from applying and refused to hire or consider them because of their citizenship status.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has clarified how it will apply the extraordinary circumstances exception to the “sought to acquire” requirement under the Child Status Protection Act in light of a policy change updating when an immigrant visa becomes available for the purpose of calculating an applicant’s CSPA age.
The Department of Labor’s Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC) has issued Round 4 of its frequently asked questions (FAQs) related to the Labor Condition Application for the H-1B, H-1B1 and E-3 programs. Also, OFLC has rescinded in full all COVID-19 FAQs.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has issued policy guidance to confirm the evidentiary requirements for physicians seeking a national interest waiver of the job offer requirement based on work in an underserved area or at a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs facility.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced a new online form for individuals, attorneys, and accredited representatives to request an in-person appointment at their local field office without having to call the USCIS Contact Center.
The Department of Labor’s Office of Foreign Labor Certification has issued frequently asked questions for employers and their authorized attorneys or agents related to effects of the Hawaii wildfires, including extensions and methods of communication.
State Department Visa Bulletin
To view the September 2023 Visa Bulletin from the State Department: click here