Posts Tagged ‘nonimmigrant visas’

New Rules Tweak Certain Nonimmigrant (E-3, H1-B1, CW-1) and Immigrant (Professor/Researcher) Visa Classifications

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2016

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has published new rules, effective February 16, 2016, that tweak the eligibility requirements or the work authorization process for four visa classifications.  Below is a summary of what has changed:

Outstanding professors and researchers are eligible for priority worker immigrant visa classification if they can demonstrate international recognition in their academic field, three years of experience in teaching or research, and an offer of employment at an institution of higher learning or research facility. USCIS regulations provide six categories of acceptable evidence to demonstrate international recognition; however, those categories are limiting and do not specifically allow for other kinds of evidence that could equally establish eligibility.  The new rule provides for greater flexibility by adding a catch-all category of acceptable evidence — “comparable evidence to establish . . . eligibility — that would permit other significant accomplishments and achievements, such as important patents and peer-reviewed funding grants, for consideration. This additional language aligns with comparable evidence that can be presented in the extraordinary ability category.

E-3, H-1B1, and CW-1 are nonimmigrant work visa categories that have been treated as the other nonimmigrant work-visas classifications with respect to work authorization “incident to status,” even though the regulations did not specifically provide for such. Visa holders in other nonimmigrant work-visa classifications are permitted to work for 240 days during the pendency of a timely filed extension application, but these nonimmigrants were not expressly permitted to do so even though in practice they were. The new rule remedies these anomalies and makes the categories consistent.

What are these visas? Available only to nationals from Australia, the E-3 visa is similar to the H-1B professional specialty worker visa. The H-1B1 visa is a result of free trade agreements with Chile and Singapore and is also similar to the H-1B. The CW-1 visa allows certain workers in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), a small group of islands within the Mariana archipelago that has been under U.S. control since the end of World War II, to work there.  The CNMI has its own immigration laws but is slowly transitioning to U.S. federal immigration compliance.


Expect Delays for Receipt Notices for Popular Nonimmigrant Visa Petitions Filed With USCIS

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

On May 23, USCIS announced that due to the high number of recently filed I-129 petitions – in other words, H-1B petitions – USCIS anticipates a delay in issuing receipt notices.  While petitioners normally can expect to receive a case receipt notice within 30 days of delivery confirmation, USCIS advises that it may be 45-60 days before such receipt notices are received.  USCIS did not advise to what extent premium processed cases would be impacted, but it is presumed that those cases are unaffected given that the immigration agency is required to adjudicate a premium processing case (or return the additional fee) within 15 calendar days.

What this portends for actual petition adjudications remains to be seen but is likely to result in delays as well.  Petitioners may want to consult with their immigration attorney whether converting cases to premium processing is advisable, especially where their foreign national employees need to travel abroad.

“I Forgot to Turn in My I-94 Form! What Do I Do?”

Friday, October 8th, 2010

Occasionally, a nonimmigrant visa holder forgets to relinquish his or her I-94 (Arrival/Departure Record) when departing the United States. In such instances, it is possible that the individual’s departure was not recorded properly, and CBP may conclude that he or she remained in the U.S. beyond the authorized stay. If this happens, the next time the person attempts to enter the U.S. the visa may be subject to cancellation or the person may be returned immediately to his or her foreign point of origin. What’s the person do to?

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) provides the following advice: If the departure was by a commercial airline or cruise ship, the departure from the U.S. can be independently verified, and no further action is necessary. (Nevertheless, holding on to and presenting, if necessary, the outbound boarding pass can help expedite reentry in the U.S.) If, however, the departure was by land, private vessel, or private plane, the individual should take steps to correct the record. CBP further cautions that under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), visitors who remain beyond their permitted stay in the U.S. cannot reenter the U.S. in the future without obtaining a visa from a U.S. consulate. (VWP travelers who enter Canada or Mexico by land for an onward flight should, in particular, register their timely departure if their green I-94W was not taken when they exited the U.S, which often is the case.)

For those who fail to turn in their I-94 Departure Record, send the I-94 along with any documentation that proves the departure from U.S. to: DHS-CBP SBU, 1084 South Laurel Road, London, KY 40744. Do not mail to a U.S. Consulate or Embassy. CBP will consider a variety of information that proves departure from the U.S., including original boarding passes, entry stamps to another country, subsequent paystubs from abroad, bank deposit records showing transactions abroad, school records from abroad, credit card receipts showing purchases made abroad, etc. The Kentucky office above does not answer correspondence, so such individuals are advised to keep copies of documentation submitted to correct their record.

Immigration Fee Increases: New Fees Now in Effect for Nonimmigrant Visas; USCIS Proposal to Increases Fees Under Consideration

Friday, July 2nd, 2010

Effective June 4, nonimmigrant visa and border crossing card application processing fees are now $140 for most non-petition-based nonimmigrant visas (machine-readable visas or MRVs) and $14 for Border Crossing Cards (BCCs). The Department of State also established a new, higher fee for certain categories of petition-based nonimmigrant visas and treaty trader and investor visas (all of which are also MRVs):  H, L, O, P, Q, and R nonimmigrant visa fees are now $150; E visas, $390; and K visas, $350.

In early June, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced its plans to increase fees that will amount to an average increase of about 10% across the board, citing lower than projected fee revenues for 2010-2011. USCIS issued its formal proposal on June 11 with a 45-day period during which the public can comment.

While most of the proposed fee increases for individual petitions and application are not shocking in and of themselves, when combined with the 66% fee increase that was implemented just three years ago, the fee increase constitutes a hefty hit for a variety of immigration service users. Here are some examples of the proposed fees:  an I-130 petition for an alien relative will increase from $355 to $420; an I-140 petition for an immigrant worker will increase from $475 to $580, and an I-485 application to adjust status will increase to $1,070 (with biometrics). A significant increase is proposed for premium processing, currently $1,000; it will cost, if adopted, $1,225. Fees for administrative appeals will increase $45, from $585 to $630.

When announcing the proposals, USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas stated that USCIS is closely reviewing the adjudicatory process to improve consistency and quality, but immigration practitioners and their clients are not holding their breath.  In recent years, the quality of USCIS decision-making and the agency’s ability to correct even minor errors or address fundamental, systemic problems are at an all time low.  As one colleague remarked, “USCIS is going to have to dig deep, confront some difficult structural issues, and implement some massive, culture-changing fixes if the agency wants its products and services to be worthy of their new price tag.”  We can’t agree more.