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Immigration News - March and April of 2019

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

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