Thursday, January 29, 2015

USCIS Director Says H-4 EAD Rule is Near Completion

From, 01/22/2015

In a conference call with stakeholders, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Leon Rodriguez said that his agency is completing work on a regulation that allows certain H-4 nonimmigrants to apply for employment authorization, with implementation “close at hand.” Director Rodriguez offered no concrete details or timelines, but he reassured stakeholders that no policy issues remain unresolved. Rather, the agency is finalizing administrative matters concerning issuance of employment authorization documents (EADs) to eligible H-4 nonimmigrants. The regulation was originally slated for publication in December 2014. 

As originally proposed, the rule would allow an H-4 nonimmigrant to apply for employment authorization if his or her H-1B spouse (1) is the beneficiary of an approved Form I-140 immigrant worker petition; or (2) is the beneficiary of a labor certification application or an I-140 petition that was filed on his or her behalf 365 days or more in the past and is seeking or has obtained an extension of H-1B status beyond the sixth year on the basis of the pending permanent residence case. 

What’s Next for the H-4 EAD Rule 
USCIS must submit a final version of the regulation to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review and clearance. After OMB gives its approval, the rule will be published in the Federal Register and an implementation date announced. USCIS is expected to begin accepting H-4 EAD applications soon after the rule is published. 

Details of the final rule -- including information about EAD eligibility and application requirements -- are confidential and will not be released until the rule is slated for publication. 

What This Means for Employers and Foreign Nationals 
Once the rule is implemented, eligible H-4 nonimmigrants will need to file a Form I-765 application for employment authorization, along with documentation of their H-1B spouse's permanent residence case. USCIS is expected to announce specific application procedures and requirements when the regulation is finally released. 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

February 2015 Visa Bulletin

According to the State Department’s February Visa Bulletin, EB-2 India will advance by more than six months, to September 1, 2005, and EB-2 China will move ahead by six weeks, to March 15, 2010. 

The EB-3 subcategory for professionals and skilled workers will advance by six months for China, to September 1, 2011, and by seven months for most countries, to January 1, 2014. EB-3 India will advance by one week, to December 22, 2003. 

The EB-3 other worker subcategory for China will advance by three weeks, to August 15, 2005, and most other countries by seven months, to January 1, 2014. EB-3 India will advance by one week, to December 22, 2003. 

February 2015 Visa Bulletin

Employment-Based Immigrant Visa Availability in the Coming Months 
The State Department projects that EB-3 will continue to advance significantly for China and most other countries over the next two months. This is expected to spur significant demand, which could lead to a retrogression of cut-off dates within the next six months, particularly for China. EB-3 India is expected to advance slowly, by up to two weeks per month. 

EB-2 India is expected to advance by four to six months per month and EB-2 China by three to six weeks per month in the near term. 

EB-5 is expected to remain current for most countries, but increased demand for China is expected to result in the imposition of a cut-off date no later than this summer. 

Friday, January 16, 2015

USCIS Customer Service Tools Outage

From USCIS, 01/15/2015

USCIS will conduct system maintenance from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Eastern) on Saturday, Jan. 17.

During this time, our online tools will be unavailable, including:

  • Check My Case Status
  • e-Request
  • Change of Address Online
  • Check Processing Times
  • Civil Surgeon Locator
  • FOIA Status Check
  • Forms by Mail
  • Office Locator

Monday, January 5, 2015

EAD Extensions for Syrians in F-1 Status

From The Federal Register, 01/05/2015

Extension of Employment Authorization for Syrian F-1 Nonimmigrant Students Experiencing Severe Economic Hardship as a Direct Result of Civil Unrest in Syria Since March 2011

F-1 nonimmigrant students whose country of citizenship is Syria who were lawfully present in the United States on April 3, 2012, and are experiencing severe economic hardship because of the civil unrest may apply for employment authorization under the guidelines described in 77 FR 20038. This notice extends the time period during which such F-1 students may seek employment authorization due to the civil unrest. It does not impose any new or additional policies or procedures beyond those listed in the original notice. All interested F-1 students should follow the instructions listed in the original notice.

This notice is effective January 5, 2015 and will remain in effect until September 30, 2016.