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05/22/2019: Visa Bulletin Alert by Immigratoin Road

We've created another handy tool that can automatically alert you when a new visa bulletin is released. Currently it's by email only, and depending on user interest, we might add text message alert in the future. If you're interested please visit the post to learn more and sign up.

05/22/2019: Certain Nonimmigrants Can Now File Form I-539 Online

USCIS just announced that you may file Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status, online if you are applying as a single applicant (without co-applicants, or legal or accredited representation) to extend your stay and you hold status as a B-1, B-2, F-1, F-2, M-1 or M-2. Filing online lets you get your application into USCIS processing queue faster than mail delivery, and communicate with USCIS directly, without sending paper mail. - USCIS

05/22/2019: USCIS Accelerates Transition to Digital Immigration Processing

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) today announced a new strategy known as eProcessing to accelerate USCIS’ transition to a digital business model. eProcessing will be a complete digital experience, from applying for a benefit, to communicating with USCIS, through receiving a decision on a case. As a first step, certain visitors for business, visitors for pleasure, and vocational students can now apply online to extend their stay in the United States. Additional classifications are coming soon. - USCIS

05/20/2019: Trump’s Immigration Proposal Is a Step in the Right Direction

"But Trump’s proposal actually gets the framework right for a new approach to immigration policy. Rather than reduce the number of green cards the U.S. grants every year, Trump is now calling for rebalancing admissions to ensure that a higher proportion of new immigrants are poised to achieve labor-market success. Trump has been inching away from steep reductions in legal immigration for some time. If congressional Democrats took this proposal seriously, they could push the administration to follow through on the logic of this plan, adding provisions that would make it both more politically viable and more effective. And for congressional Republicans, the plan offers a chance to turn a divisive issue for their coalition into a unifying one." - The Atlantic

05/17/2019: USCIS Completes Data Entry of Fiscal Year 2020 H-1B Cap Subject Petitions

"USCIS has completed data entry for all fiscal year 2020 H-1B cap-subject petitions selected in our computer-generated random selection process, including those selected under the U.S. advanced degree exemption. As in previous years, we will now begin returning all H-1B cap-subject petitions that we did not select and will issue an announcement once we are done notifying petitioners. Due to the volume of filings, we cannot provide a definite time frame for returning unselected petitions. We ask petitioners to wait to inquire about the status of their cap-subject petitions until they receive a receipt notice or an unselected petition that we have returned.

Additionally, we may transfer some Form I-129 H-1B cap-subject petitions between the Vermont Service Center and the California Service Center to balance the workload and enhance efficiencies. If we transfer your case, you will receive notification in the mail. After receiving the notification, please send all future correspondence to the center processing your petition." - USCIS

05/16/2019: Trump Outlines 'Merit-Based' Immigration Plan

  • Secure the border: Finish the border wall;
  • Stem the flow of low-wage labor;
  • Attract and retain the best and brightest immigrants;
  • Prioritize nuclear families: Limit family members to children and spouses;
  • Import labor for critical industries;
  • Keep asylum system, but limit it.

05/15/2019: Trump’s new immigration plan emphasizes skills and education over family connections

President Donald Trump will unveil a sweeping new proposal Thursday designed to move the United States from a family based immigration system to what senior administration officials describe as an employment- and skill-based system.

The proposal includes two parts – a physical infrastructure component that would include border wall construction and be financed by new fees on trade collected at the border, and a revamped points system for those applying for U.S. citizenship. - CBS

05/15/2019: Graphically Tracking Visa Bulletins

Do you know we have a handy little tool that draws actual charts for visa bulletins? They're also interactive: You can point your mouse at any given month and see the cut-off date. You can zoom in and zoom out. And you can compare different categories side by side.

visa bulletin tracker

05/14/2019: DOS Visa Bulletin Predictions for Coming Months

In the June 2019 Visa Bulletin, the Department of State Visa Office commented on the following categories:

India EB1: Despite the final action date for this country having been held for the past three months, there continues to be an extremely high rate of demand for Employment First preference (E1) numbers, primarily for USCIS adjustment of status applicants. This situation has resulted in the retrogression of this final action date for the month of June in an effort to limit future number use. Such action will only be temporary with the E1 date for India returning to at least February 22, 2017 for October, the first month of fiscal year 2020.

India EB5: Continued heavy applicant demand is expected to result in the India Employment Fifth preference (E5) category approaching the per-country annual limit during July. This is likely to result in the imposition of a July final action date, and that date will be sometime in 2017. Then for August, India will become subject to the same final action date which applies to China-mainland born Employment Fifth preference applicants for the remainder of the fiscal year. Such action will only be temporary with the E5 date for India most likely advancing to the summer or fall of 2017 for October, the first month of fiscal year 2020.

Vietnam EB5: Continued heavy applicant demand is expected to result in the Vietnam Employment Fifth preference (E5) category reaching the per-country annual limit during July. Then for August, Vietnam will become subject to the same final action date which applies to China-mainland born Employment Fifth preference applicants for the remainder of the fiscal year. Such action will only be temporary with the Vietnam E5 date most likely advancing to the fall or early winter of 2016 for October, the first month of fiscal year 2020.

05/14/2019: June 2019 Visa Bulletin Released

The Department of State has released the Visa Bulletin for June 2019. The table below shows "Final Action (Approval)" cut-off dates and movement from the previous month, for all major employment-based categories. To see filing cut-off dates or family-sponsored categories please go to the Visa Bulletin page linked above. For our unique Visa Bulletin Graphical Tracker, cutoff date predictions and more information please refer to the Visa Bulletin Toolbox.

Chargeability Preference Cut-off Date (Y-M-D) Movement (Days)
China Second (EB2) 2016-08-01 78
India Second (EB2) 2009-04-19 3
ROW Third (EB3) C Current
China Third (EB3) 2015-09-15 24
India Third (EB3) 2009-07-01 0
Mexico Third (EB3) C Current
Philippines Third (EB3) 2018-11-01 153

05/13/2019: More than 50 arrested over immigration scam that offered fake marriages for $70,000

Investigators say the group charged foreigners $50,000 to $70,000 apiece to be set up with a fake wife or husband in the U.S., with an agreement to hand over more cash “for each immigration benefit they receive,” including “admission into the United States” and “full lawful permanent resident status.” Those U.S. citizens who signed up to participate in the fake marriages also would receive a cut of the payments from the foreigners. - Fox News

05/10/2019: USCIS' Significant Delay in Releasing I-485 Inventories

USCIS is really behind on releasing quarterly I-485 inventories. The last publication date was in July, 2018, nearly a year ago. To make matters worse, USCIS hasn't provided any reason or explanation for this significant delay. We've reached out to USCIS through Twitter and other social networks, but have yet to hear back. We'll let you know as soon as we receive any information.

05/10/2019: June 2019 Visa Bulletin

The Department of State used to publish new visa bulletins right around the 10th of each month, sometimes as early as the 8th. However, in the past year, DOS often waited until the 13th or even 14th. So for the June 2019 Visa Bulletin, it's likely we'll see it next Monday or Tuesday. So stay tuned.

05/09/2019: USCIS H-1B Employer Data Hub

The H-1B Employer Data Hub includes data from fiscal year 2009 through the first quarter of fiscal year 2019 on employers who have submitted petitions to employ H-1B nonimmigrant workers. Data can be queried by fiscal year, employer name, city, state, zip code, and NAICS code. The H-1B Employer Data Hub has data on the first decisions USCIS makes on petitions for initial and continuing employment. It identifies employers by the last four digits of their tax identification. You can download annual and query-specific data in .csv format.

05/08/2019: Appeals Court Rules Trump Administration Can Keep Sending Asylum-Seekers To Mexico

A federal appeals court has ruled that the Trump administration may continue requiring asylum-seekers to remain in Mexico as they await court proceedings in the United States. It might be seen as a victory for Trump, though a temporary one.

A three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a lower court's injunction on the administration's policy officially known as the Migration Protection Protocols. The policy, better known as "Remain in Mexico," was first announced in a December 2018 memo by former Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen. - NPR

05/06/2019: President Trump Names Mark Morgan, Former Border Patrol Chief, To Lead ICE

President Trump has named Mark Morgan, a former FBI agent and veteran of the Obama administration, as the new head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The president announced Morgan's selection in a tweet on Sunday, writing, "I am pleased to inform all of those that believe in a strong, fair and sound Immigration Policy that Mark Morgan will be joining the Trump administration as the head of our hard working men and women of ICE. Mark is a true believer and American Patriot." - NPR

05/03/2019: Report: Trump administration proposal would make it easier to deport immigrants who use public benefits

The Trump administration is considering reversing long-standing policy to make it easier to deport U.S. legal permanent residents who have used public benefits, part of an effort to restrict immigration by low-income people.

A Department of Justice draft regulation, seen by Reuters, dramatically expands the category of people who could be subject to deportation on the grounds that they use benefits. - Reuters

04/25/2019: Report: Trump immigration plan may increase visas for highly skilled workers

A merit-based immigration proposal being put together by White House senior adviser Jared Kushner could lead to an increase in U.S. visas for highly skilled workers, sources familiar with the effort said on Wednesday. Kushner is expected to present the comprehensive plan next week to President Donald Trump, who will decide whether to adopt it as his official position or send it back for changes, the sources said. - Mercury News

04/19/2019: USCIS Issues Policy Guidance Clarifying How Federal Controlled Substances Law Applies to Naturalization Determinations

"We issued policy guidance clarifying that naturalization applicants must comply w/federal controlled substance laws, including those pertaining to marijuana, to establish good moral character during the naturalization application process." - USCIS

04/13/2019: May 2019 Visa Bulletin Released

The Department of State has released the Visa Bulletin for May 2019. The table below shows "Final Action (Approval)" cut-off dates and movement from the previous month, for all major employment-based categories. To see filing cut-off dates or family-sponsored categories please go to the Visa Bulletin page linked above. For our unique Visa Bulletin Graphical Tracker, cutoff date predictions and more information please refer to the Visa Bulletin Toolbox.

Chargeability Preference Cut-off Date (Y-M-D) Movement (Days)
China Second (EB2) 2016-05-15 44
India Second (EB2) 2009-04-16 4
ROW Third (EB3) C Current
China Third (EB3) 2015-08-22 21
India Third (EB3) 2009-07-01 9
Mexico Third (EB3) C Current
Philippines Third (EB3) 2018-06-01 92

04/11/2019: USCIS Completes the H-1B Cap Random Selection Process for FY 2020

On April 10, USCIS used a computer-generated random selection process to select enough H-1B petitions to meet the congressionally-mandated regular cap and the U.S. advanced degree exemption for fiscal year (FY) 2020. After completing the random selection process for the regular cap, USCIS also determined that it has received a number of petitions projected as sufficient to meet the 20,000 H-1B visa U.S. advanced degree exemption, also known as the master’s cap.

USCIS received 201,011 H-1B petitions during the filing period, which began April 1, including petitions filed for the advanced degree exemption. USCIS announced on April 5 that it had received enough petitions to reach the congressionally mandated H-1B regular cap of 65,000.

In accordance with the new H-1B regulation, USCIS first conducted the selection process for H-1B cap-subject petitions submitted on behalf of all beneficiaries, including those that may have been eligible for the advanced degree exemption. USCIS then selected a number projected to reach the advanced degree exemption from the remaining eligible petitions. USCIS will reject and return all unselected petitions with their filing fees unless the petition is a prohibited multiple filing. - USCIS News Release

04/10/2019: USCIS Director Might be Dismissed Soon

According to various unconfirmed reports, USCIS Director Lee Francis Cissna may be on his way out. In his place, the White House is considering former FAIR executive director, Julie Kirchner, who is currently serving as the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman.

04/08/2019: South Bay pair gamed EB-5 visa program for millions in profit from wealthy investors, feds say

It was an extensive plan to take advantage of a controversial immigration program, and federal authorities say that by the time they intervened, the scheme had ensnared hundreds of wealthy overseas clients seeking green cards and netted a South Bay attorney and her ex-husband millions of dollars in illegal fees and commissions. - Mercury News

04/05/2019: Legal immigrants in marijuana-related jobs could be denied citizenship

"Although 10 states broadly allow its use and sale, federal law still bans marijuana and immigration authorities say they are bound to follow that prohibition when reviewing citizenship applications."

"Deborah Cannon, a spokeswoman for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, said the agency does not comment on individual cases. She defended denials based on involvement with marijuana, saying the agency must follow federal law that prevents its use or sale." - NBC

04/02/2019: I-94 Number Format Change Coming in May 2019

Beginning in May 2019, I-94 numbers will be alphanumeric. Currently, I-94 numbers are 11 digits long and only contain numbers. In order to minimize program impact resulting from the depletion of numeric-only I-94 numbers and to create a long-term solution for the creation of new numbers, CBP is switching to alphanumeric I-94s. I-94 numbers will remain at 11 characters but will follow the format of 9 digits, followed by a letter in the 10th position, and a digit in the 11th position. Unexpired I-94s issued in the current numeric-only format will continue to be valid until the Admit Until Date printed on the paper I-94 and/or the date displayed on the public I-94 website at https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/#/home.

04/01/2019: USCIS Launches H-1B Employer Data Hub

USCIS has launched an H-1B Employer Data Hub to provide information to the public on employers petitioning for H-1B workers. The data hub is part of our continued effort to increase transparency in employment-based visa programs by allowing the public to search for H-1B petitioners by fiscal year (back to FY 2009), NAICS code, employer name, city, state, or ZIP code. This will give the public the ability to calculate approval and denial rates and to review which employers are using the H-1B program. Data for individual fiscal years is available to download on the H-1B Employer Data Hub Files page.

03/27/2019: Immigration System At The 'Breaking Point,' Homeland Security Official Warns

On two days this week, federal agents apprehended more than 4,000 migrants crossing the border — the highest daily total recorded in 15 years, according to a senior official with Customs and Border Protection. "The breaking point has arrived," said CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan said Wednesday in El Paso, Texas. - NPR

03/19/2019: USCIS Announces FY 2020 H-1B Cap Season Start, Updates, and Changes

USCIS will begin accepting H-1B petitions subject to the FY 2020 cap on April 1, 2019, and will reject any FY 2020 cap-subject H-1B petitions filed before April 1. H-1B petitioners must follow all statutory and regulatory requirements as they prepare petitions to avoid delays in processing and possible requests for evidence. Form M-735, Optional Checklist for Form I-129 H-1B Filings (PDF, 262 KB), provides detailed information on how to complete and submit an FY 2020 H-1B petition.

In January, the Department of Homeland Security announced a final rule amending regulations governing cap-subject H-1B petitions, including those that may be eligible for the advanced degree exemption. The final rule reverses the order by which USCIS selects H-1B petitions under the H-1B regular cap and the advanced degree exemption, which will be in effect for the FY 2020 cap season. This simple change increases the chances that more of these visas will be granted to those with an advanced degree from a U.S. institution of higher education. - USCIS

03/14/2019: April 2019 Visa Bulletin Released

The Department of State has released the Visa Bulletin for April 2019. The table below shows "Final Action (Approval)" cut-off dates and movement from the previous month, for all major employment-based categories. To see filing cut-off dates or family-sponsored categories please go to the Visa Bulletin page linked above. For our unique Visa Bulletin Graphical Tracker, cutoff date predictions and more information please refer to the Visa Bulletin Toolbox.

Chargeability Preference Cut-off Date (Y-M-D) Movement (Days)
China Second (EB2) 2016-04-01 91
India Second (EB2) 2009-04-12 3
ROW Third (EB3) C Current
China Third (EB3) 2015-08-01 24
India Third (EB3) 2009-06-22 31
Mexico Third (EB3) C Current
Philippines Third (EB3) 2018-03-01 90

USCIS Filing Charts for April 2019:

  • EB: Use Final Action Dates.
  • FB: Use Filing Dates.

03/13/2019: H-1B Filing Tips and Understanding Requests for Evidence (RFEs)

Today we will be talking about five common topics on which we send RFEs and some of the evidence we typically receive in response. It is important to understand that the issuance of an RFE means the petition hasn’t been denied by an officer. An RFE is sent because the petition as submitted does not demonstrate eligibility. As such, an RFE is an additional opportunity for the petitioner to submit evidence to establish eligibility. - USCIS Meeting Transcript

03/11/2019: USCIS Resumes Premium Processing for All H-1B Petitions

USCIS will resume premium processing on Tuesday, March 12, for all H-1B petitions. If you received a request for evidence (RFE) for a pending petition, you should include the RFE response with the premium processing request.

When an H-1B petitioner properly requests the agency’s premium processing service, USCIS guarantees a 15-day processing time. If we do not take certain adjudicative action within the 15 calendar day processing time, USCIS refunds the petitioner’s premium processing service fee and continues with expedited processing of the petition.

03/05/2019: USCIS to Publish Revised Form I-539 and New Form I-539A on March 8

Very important for anyone who is planning to file I-539. According to USCIS: "We have revised Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status and will publish the revised form on our website on March 8, 2019. We will be removing the 12/23/16 version of Form I-539 from uscis.gov on March 8 but will be allowing for a two-week grace period, until close of business on March 21, for that version to be received by USCIS. Starting on March 22, we will only accept the revised Form I-539 with an edition date of 02/04/19. We will reject any Form I-539 with an edition date of 12/23/16, or earlier, that is received by USCIS after March 21."

03/05/2019: Fraud Alert: DHS Telephone Numbers Used in Scam to Obtain Personally Identifiable Information and Extort Money from Victims

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) is issuing this fraud alert to warn citizens of reports that DHS telephone numbers have been used recently as part of a telephone spoofing scam targeting individuals throughout the country. Spoofing is the deliberate falsifying of information transmitted to a caller ID display to disguise an identity. - DHS

02/15/2019: March 2019 Visa Bulletin Released

The Department of State has released the Visa Bulletin for March 2019. The table below shows "Final Action (Approval)" cut-off dates and movement from the previous month, for all major employment-based categories. To see filing cut-off dates or family-sponsored categories please go to the Visa Bulletin page linked above. For our unique Visa Bulletin Graphical Tracker, cutoff date predictions and more information please refer to the Visa Bulletin Toolbox.

Chargeability Preference Cut-off Date (Y-M-D) Movement (Days)
China Second (EB2) 2016-01-01 92
India Second (EB2) 2009-04-09 3
ROW Third (EB3) C Current
China Third (EB3) 2015-07-08 7
India Third (EB3) 2009-05-22 30
Mexico Third (EB3) C Current
Philippines Third (EB3) 2017-12-01 122

02/11/2019: USCIS to Publish Revised Form I-539 and New Form I-539A

"We have revised Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status and will publish the revised form on our website on March 11, 2019. Starting on March 11, 2019, we will only accept the revised Form I-539 with an edition date of 02/04/19. We will reject any Form I-539 with an edition date of 12/23/16 or earlier. We will also be publishing a new Form I-539A, Supplemental Information for Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status, on the Form I-539 webpage on March 11. Form I-539A replaces the Supplement A provided in previous versions of Form I-539. Form I-539A can only be submitted with Form I-539; it cannot be filed as a standalone form." - USCIS

02/07/2019: Bills introduced in House, Senate to ax per-country green card limits

Members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives on Thursday introduced matching bills that would throw out per-country limits on employment-based green cards. Current law caps the annual percentage of green card recipients from any one country at 7 percent. That restriction hits Indian citizens hardest, because of the high numbers of Indians in the U.S. who are eligible for green cards. Indian citizens on the H-1B visa and other visas can wait years or even decades for a green card. Chinese citizens also face long delays. - Mercury News

01/30/2019: DHS Announces Final Rule for a More Effective and Efficient H-1B Visa Program

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) posted today for public inspection, a final rule amending regulations governing H-1B cap-subject petitions, including those that may be eligible for the advanced degree exemption. The final rule reverses the order by which U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) selects H-1B petitions under the H-1B regular cap and the advanced degree exemption, and it introduces an electronic registration requirement for petitioners seeking to file H-1B cap-subject petitions. The rule will be published in the Federal Register on Jan. 31, and will go into effect on April 1, though the electronic registration requirement will be suspended for the fiscal year (FY) 2020 cap season. - Federal Register

01/25/2019: USCIS Resumes Premium Processing for FY-2019 H-1B Cap Petitions

USCIS will resume premium processing on Monday, Jan. 28, for all fiscal year (FY) 2019 H-1B cap petitions, including those eligible for the advanced degree exemption (the “master’s cap”). Petitioners who have received requests for evidence (RFEs) for pending FY 2019 cap petitions should include their RFE response with any request for premium processing they may submit. - USCIS

01/11/2019: February 2019 Visa Bulletin Released

The Department of State has released the Visa Bulletin for February 2019. The table below shows "Final Action (Approval)" cut-off dates and movement from the previous month, for all major employment-based categories. To see filing cut-off dates or family-sponsored categories please go to the Visa Bulletin page linked above. For our unique Visa Bulletin Graphical Tracker, cutoff date predictions and more information please refer to the Visa Bulletin Toolbox.

Chargeability Preference Cut-off Date (Y-M-D) Movement (Days)
China Second (EB2) 2015-10-01 61
India Second (EB2) 2009-04-06 5
ROW Third (EB3) C Current
China Third (EB3) 2015-07-01 23
India Third (EB3) 2009-04-22 52
Mexico Third (EB3) C Current
Philippines Third (EB3) 2017-08-01 40

See also: DOS Visa Bulletin Predictions in the February 2019 Visa Bulletin

01/08/2019: New USCIS Tool Calculates Fees, Helps Avoid Incorrect Payments

USCIS has launched a new Online Fee Calculator to assist members of the public in calculating the correct fee amount to include when filing their forms with USCIS at an agency lockbox facility. A list of forms processed at USCIS Lockbox facilities is available on the USCIS website.

USCIS developed the Online Fee Calculator to help reduce the number of applications rejected due to incorrect fee amounts. The Online Fee Calculator will determine the exact filing and biometric fees an individual needs to include with their forms and will always have the most up-to-date fee information.

01/03/2019: Civics Test Answer Updates

Are you preparing for the naturalization test? As you study for the U.S. history and government (civics) test, make sure that you know the most current answers to these questions.

Periodically, answers to the civics test change to reflect the results of federal and state elections and appointments or to clarify content and ensure consistency in terminology. The revised answers to the questions below are effective immediately. - USCIS

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