Friday, April 3, 2020

USCIS RECEIVES 275,000 H-1B CAP REGISTRATIONS


USCIS announced that it has received “nearly” 275,000 H-1B cap registration during the March 1-20 filing period, including petitions filed for the advanced degree exemption.  This is considerably more than the 190,000 H-1B petitions received during the April 2018 (Fiscal Year 2019) filing period and 201,000 during the April 2019 (FY 2020) filing period.

USCIS is in the process of notifying H-1B cap lottery winners.  Based on the Congressional H-1B cap of 85,000 H-1B cap winners, Petitioners should expect about 31% of their H-1B cap filings to be H-1B cap winners because Congress only allows the USCIS to approve H-1B cap petitions.  H-1B winners have 90 days to submit their full H-1B cap petition to the USCIS. 

MU Law’s numbers track the USCIS macro-number.  So far, we have received notice that about 30% of our total registrations are H-1B cap winners.  MU Law is in the process of contacting H-1B winners. 

Unlike in past years, the USCIS will continue to update the H-1B cap winners list.  Therefore, additional winners may be added throughout the spring and summer.  USCIS is not expected to contact any H-1B lottery losers until all 85,000 approval notices are issued or the end of the 2021 fiscal year.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

UPDATED: IMMIGRATION CLOSURES AND UPDATES AS A RESULT OF COVID-19

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there are a variety of closures and suspensions of immigration services.  Below is a summary of all closures and suspensions at this time.  This list is subject to change as new updates become available. 

US Citizenship and Immigration Service:

Immigration Filings: USCIS will continue to perform duties that do not involve contact with the public.  Petitions will continue to be accepted for filing and adjudicated by the USCIS.  Effective March 20, 2020 the USCIS has announced the immediate and temporary suspension of premium processing on all I-129s (L-1s, H-1Bs, TNs) and I-140s.

For all cases where an RFE (Request for Evidence) or NOID (Notice of Intent to Deny) was issued between March 1, 2020 and May 1, 2020, the USCIS will allow an automatic 60 day extension to the due date. 

Interviews and In-Person Appointments: The USCIS has suspended all in-person services until at least May 3, 2020.  This cancellation includes interviews for green card cases and biometrics appointments. USCIS will send notices to all applicants and petitioners with scheduled appointments impacted by this closure and all appointments will be automatically rescheduled when services resume.  The USCIS has also announced that it will re-use biometric information already on file in order to process applications for Employment Authorization Documents (EADs). 

Electronic Signatures: Due to the National Emergency, USCIS will accept scanned, faxed, or photocopied, original signatures.  For forms that require an original “wet” signature, including the I-129, I-140, and I-485, USCIS will accept electronically reproduced original signatures for the duration of the National Emergency.

Department of State:

US Embassies: Effective March 20, 2020 the Department of States has also suspended interviews in an effort to slow the spread of Covid-19.  As resources allow, embassies and consulates will continue to provide emergency services. Appointments and interviews will resume as soon as possible.  If you are a medical professional, please see our previous blog post about interviews for medical professionals. 

Travel Restrictions: 

Out of the US: On March 19, 2020, the Department of State has issued a Level 4 warning, advising all US Citizens to avoid all international travel.  US Citizens who do not live in the United States should arrange for immediate return to the US or prepare to remain abroad for an indefinite period of time.  Many countries are experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks and are implementing travel restrictions, quarantines, and closed borders.

Into the US: Travel bans have been issued restricting travel to the US for individuals who have traveled to: Austria, Belgium, Mainland China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland, United Kingdom, within in the last 14 days.

The following individuals are exempt from the travel ban:
  • US Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents;
  • Spouses of US Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents;
  • Parents or legal guardians of US Citizens of Lawful Permanent Residents, provided that the child is unmarried and under the age of 21;
  • Siblings of US Citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents, provided both are unmarried and under the age of 21;
  • Children who are under the legal custody of US Citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents; and
  • Other certain foreign government and health officials. 

 On April 11, 2020 officials will reassess COVID-19 travel bans.

Stay Safe and Healthy and Please Remember to Wash Your Hands Regularly

Friday, March 27, 2020

HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONALS WITH AN APPROVED IMMIGRATION PETITION SHOULD CONTACT THEIR NEAREST US EMBASSY OR CONSULATE


The US Department of State has issued a statement that all medical professionals, particularly those working to combat Covid-19, should contact their nearest US Embassy to request a visa appointment.  If you are a medical professional and have an approved I-129, I-140 or other immigration petition, you should contact the US Embassy or Consulate nearest to you to schedule a visa appointment as soon as possible.  Even if the Embassy is currently closed to routine interviews, an interview may be granted for a medical professional. 

The medical professional with an approved I-140 must have a current priority date.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

UPDATED: IMMIGRATION CLOSURES AND UPDATES AS A RESULT OF COVID-19

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there are a variety of closures and suspensions of immigration services.  Below is a summary of all closures and suspensions at this time.  This list is subject to change as new updates become available. 

US Citizenship and Immigration Service:
Immigration Filings: USCIS will continue to perform duties that do not involve contact with the public.  Petitions will continue to be accepted for filing and adjudicated by the USCIS.  Effective March 20, 2020 the USCIS has announced the immediate and temporary suspension of premium processing on all I-129s (L-1s, H-1Bs, TNs) and I-140s.

Interviews and In-Person Appointments: As of March 18, 2020 the USCIS has suspended all in-person services until at least April 1, 2020.  This cancellation includes interviews for green card cases and biometrics appointments. USCIS will send notices to all applicants and petitioners with scheduled appointments impacted by this closure and all appointments will be automatically rescheduled when services resume.

Electronic Signatures: Due to the National Emergency, USCIS will accept scanned, faxed, or photocopied, original signatures.  For forms that require an original “wet” signature, including the I-129, I-140, and I-485, USCIS will accept electronically reproduced original signatures for the duration of the National Emergency. 

Department of State:
US Embassies: Effective March 20, 2020 the Department of States has also suspended interviews in an effort to slow the spread of Covid-19.  As resources allow, embassies and consulates will continue to provide emergency services. Appointments and interviews will resume as soon as possible. 

Travel Restrictions: 
Out of the US: On March 19, 2020, the Department of State has issued a Level 4 warning, advising all US Citizens to avoid all international travel.  US Citizens who do not live in the United States should arrange for immediate return to the US or prepare to remain abroad for an indefinite period of time.  Many countries are experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks and are implementing travel restrictions, quarantines, and closed borders.

Into the US: Travel bans have been issued restricting travel to the US for individuals who have traveled to: Austria, Belgium, Mainland China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland, United Kingdom, within in the last 14 days.

The following individuals are exempt from the travel ban:
  • US Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents;
  • Spouses of US Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents;
  • Parents or legal guardians of US Citizens of Lawful Permanent Residents, provided that the child is unmarried and under the age of 21;
  • Siblings of US Citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents, provided both are unmarried and under the age of 21;
  • Children who are under the legal custody of US Citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents; and
  • Other certain foreign government and health officials. 

On April 11, 2020 officials will reassess COVID-19 travel bans.

Stay Safe and Healthy and Please Remember to Wash Your Hands Regularly.

Monday, March 23, 2020

UPDATE ON MU’s RESPONSE TO THE COVID-19 CRISES


As you may have heard, the State of Ohio has issued a Stay At Home Order.  This Order compels all non-essential businesses to close through April 6, 2020.  Under the Order, “Legal Services” is an essential business and therefore allowed to operate.  Accordingly, MU will remain open although we have increased our work from home program for all employees.

The health and safety of our staff is of primary importance.  We believe that by increasing our employee’s ability to work from home, we can continue to timely file all petitions and be as responsive as ever to client’s needs and concerns.  We hope that all MU clients and friends continue to stay safe during this extraordinary time.

Friday, March 20, 2020

USCIS SUSPENDS PREMIUM PROCESSING FOR I-140 AND I-129 PETITIONS


From the USCIS Press Release:

“U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services today announced the immediate and temporary suspension of premium processing service for all Form I-129 and I-140 petitions until further notice due to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Effective today, March 20, 2020, USCIS will not accept any new requests for premium processing. USCIS will process any petition with a previously accepted Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service, in accordance with the premium processing service criteria. However, we will not be able to send notices using pre-paid envelopes. We will only send batch-printed notices. Petitioners who have already filed a Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, or Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers, using the premium processing service and who receive no agency action on their case within the 15-calendar-day period will receive a refund, consistent with 8 CFR 103.7(e). We will notify the public with a confirmed date for resuming premium processing.

USCIS will reject the I-907 and return the $1,440 filing fee for all petitions requesting premium processing that were mailed before March 20 but not yet accepted.

This temporary suspension includes petitions filed for the following categories:

I-129: E-1, E-2, H-1B, H-2B, H-3, L-1A, L-1B, LZ, O-1, O-2, P-1, P-1S, P-2, P-2S, P-3, P-3S, Q-1, R-1, TN-1 and TN-2.
I-140: EB-1, EB-2 and EB-3.

This includes new premium processing requests for all H-1B petitions, including H-1B cap-subject petitions for fiscal year 2021, petitions from previous fiscal years, and all H-1B petitions that are exempt from the cap. USCIS previously announced the temporary suspension of premium processing for FY 2021 cap-subject petitions and tentative dates for resumption of premium processing service. This announcement expands upon and supersedes the previous announcement.”

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

IMMIGRATION CLOSURES AND UPDATES AS A RESULT OF COVID-19


Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there are a variety of closures and suspensions of immigration services.  Below is a summary of all closures and suspensions at this time.  This list is subject to change as new updates become available. 

US Citizenship and Immigration Service: As of March 18, 2020 the USCIS has suspended all in-person services until at least April 1, 2020.  This cancellation includes interviews for green card cases and biometrics appointments. USCIS will send notices to all applicants and petitioners with scheduled appointments impacted by this closure and all appointments will be automatically rescheduled when services resume.

USCIS will continue to perform duties that do not involve contact with the public.  Petitions will continue to be accepted for filing and adjudicated by the USCIS.

Emergency appointments and services will be provided by the USCIS in limited situations. 

Department of State: Most US Embassies have also suspended interviews in an effort to slow the spread of Covid-19.  You can find country specific information from the US Department of State about Covid-19 here.

Travel Restrictions:  Travel bans have been issued restricting travel to the US for individuals who have traveled to: Austria, Belgium, Mainland China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland, United Kingdom, within in the last 14 days.

The following individuals are exempt from the travel ban:

  • US Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents;
  • Spouses of US Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents;
  • Parents or legal guardians of US Citizens of Lawful Permanent Residents, provided that the child is unmarried and under the age of 21;
  • Siblings of US Citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents, provided both are unmarried and under the age of 21;
  • Children who are under the legal custody of US Citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents; and
  • Other certain foreign government and health officials. 

On April 11, 2020 officials will reassess COVID-19 travel bans.

Stay Safe and Healthy and Please Remember to Wash Your Hands Regularly.

USCIS TEMPORARILY SUSPENDS PREMIUM PROCESSING FOR FY2021 CAP-SUBJECT PETITIONS

The USCIS will temporarily suspend H-1B Cap petitioner’s ability to use the premium processing service.  On or before May 27, 2020, USCIS will resume processing for cap-subject H-1B petitions who hold F-1 student nonimmigrant status.  This will allow F-1 students first priority at the premium processing service. 

USCIS will allow all other cap-subject H-1B petitions to use the premium processing service no later than June 29, 2020. 

Monday, March 16, 2020

MUSILLO UNKENHOLT’S RESPONSE TO THE CORONAVIRUS


Musillo Unkenholt LLC continues to monitor the Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation closely and how it may impact our teams, clients, and operations.  The health and safety of our staff is of primary importance.  Here in Ohio, the governor has taken the extraordinary step of not only closing all schools, but also closing all restaurants and bars.  The experts are telling us that the one thing that we can all do to fight the spread of this disease is to reduce social contact.

Similar to many of the unprecedented changes taking place here in Ohio and across the globe, MU is enacting a new work policy aimed at reducing social contact. 

Starting Tuesday March 17, we are asking all employees to mainly work from home.  Employees will come to the office in 2-hour daily shifts in order to photocopy, scan, print, and file immigration petitions.  By reducing our employees contact with each other by two-thirds, MU is doing our part to emphasize social distancing.

Employees will still be working regular hours and so while some inefficiencies are inevitable, rest assured that all petitions will be timely filed, with priority given to urgencies and legal deadlines.  We hope that all MU clients and friends stay safe during this unprecedented time.

Friday, March 13, 2020

IF YOU FEEL ILL, RESCHEDULE YOUR APPOINTMENT WITH USCIS

The USCIS has indicate that there will be no penalty for rescheduling appointments due to illness because of the COVID-19 outbreak. 

If you become ill for any reason, even if you were not exposed to COVID-19, USCIS advises that you do not attend your appointment at a USCIS office. You should follow the instructions on your USCIS appointment notice to reschedule an appointment with the USCIS. 

You should reschedule your USCIS appointment if you:
  • Were in any country designated as a "level 3" by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) within 14 days of your appointment;
  • Believe that you may have been exposed to COVID-19 (even if you were not in a level 3 country);
  • Are experiencing flu-like symptoms (such as a runny nose, headache, cough, sore throat or fever). 
USCIS wants to ensure the safety of foreign nationals and USCIS employees.  There is no penalty if you reschedule your appointment at this time.

Friday, March 6, 2020

MASSIVE CHANGES TO IMMIGRANTS CEAC STATUS FROM ADMINISTRATIVE PROCESSING TO REFUSED


The DOS’ CEAC webpage underwent a massive terminology change.  As of March 5, 2020, all CEAC status that had said “Administrative Processing,” now says “Refused.”  According to an update on the DOS’ CEAC website indicates that this is a termination change that is not an actual change to anyone’s visa applications’ status.

From their webpage: “There has been no change in such applicants’ actual cases. This is an administrative change to more accurately communicate case status to applicants.”

Here is the full statement:

Visas: CEAC Case Status Change

Last Updated: March 5, 2020

On March 3, 2020, the Department of State made an update to the Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC) website, our online portal for visa applicants. A visa applicant whose case previously displayed as being in “Administrative Processing” on his or her case status page now displays as being “refused.”

There has been no change in such applicants’ actual cases. This is an administrative change to more accurately communicate case status to applicants.

Visa applicants whose case status on CEAC had previously displayed as “Administrative Processing” had been refused under section 221(g) of the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

Although some refusals under INA section 221(g) can be overturned, the change in the CEAC correctly reflects that the applicant’s visa application has been refused.  That status may change if the applicant can demonstrate to a consular officer he or she is eligible for a visa or if information comes to the attention of the consular officer from other sources that resolve any outstanding issues relating to the applicant’s eligibility for the visa.

The applicant should refer to the instructions the consular officer gave at the end of the visa interview and to travel.state.gov/visas for more information about his or her case.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

DOS: NO EB-3 PROGRESSION UNTIL AT LEAST UNTIL MAY OR JUNE


The Department of State’s Visa Bulletin guru, Charlie Oppenheim, hosts monthly meetings with the American Immigration Lawyers Association.  Mr. Oppenheim is the Department of State’s Chief of the Control and Reporting Division. He is the officer who is responsible for producing the Visa Bulletin each month.

Charlie offered a number of interesting observations about the March Visa Bulletin, which resulted in a retrogression for EB-3.

-Because of the potential for USCIS to move resources to EB-1 and EB-2 and the unpredictability in processing times that will be caused by such a resource allocation, Charlie does not expect any forward movement to the EB-3.  The absolute earliest would be the May 2020 or June 2020 Visa Bulletin, but EB-3 could remain at January 2017 until the end of the fiscal year.  Charlie did assure readers that

-While it is expected that the implementation of the public charge rules may slow USCIS processing times, any potential slowdown at USCIS has not been factored into the March Visa Bulletin.

-DOS was not surprised that the retrogression happened in March, in spite of the January and February progression of dates in some EB-3 categories.  DOS wanted to wait until it was certain that the increase in demand was not showing any signs of decline.

Friday, February 21, 2020

STRATEGIES FOR DEALING WITH THE EB-3 RETROGRESSION


The March 2020 retrogression of EB-3 has significant consequences for those who are in the immigrant visa process.  It is expected that between March 1 and September 30 of this year, immigrant visas/green cards will only be issued to immigrants who have a 2016 priority date or earlier.  When the first bulletin of the next fiscal year is released in late September, we expect the Rest of World EB-3 to return to current and the Philippines EB-3 to have a roughly 18-24-month retrogression.  

Below are strategies for EB-3 immigrant applicants in various stages of the immigrant visa process:

Immigrants who will be adjusting status
USCIS has indicated that the dates for filing chart can be used in March. This means that the I-485 can only be filed if the immigrant has a priority date earlier than January 1, 2019.  This applies to both Filipino and Rest of World immigrant applicants. 

Immigrants currently at NVC phase with fee bill
If the applicant has already received fee bills, then the case can continue to be processed until the documentarily qualified notification is received from NVC.  An embassy interview will not be scheduled until the immigrant’s priority date is current under the final action chart which for March is January 1, 2017.  This applies to both Filipino and Rest of World immigrants.

Immigrants with approved I-140 but no fee bill
Immigrants should only receive the fee bill if the priority date is earlier than the date for filing of January 1, 2019, only we often see the NVC issue fee bills to those who have priority dates later than the dates of filing chart.  Those immigrants with 2019 and 2020 priority dates will receive a letter from NVC explaining that the case cannot move forward and a fee bill issued until the priority date is current under the date for filing chart.  Rest of World immigrants will continue to receive fee bills and be able to proceed through the NVC process but will not be able to receive an embassy interview until current under the final action chart.

Immigrants with embassy interviews scheduled for March
We expect these interviews will be rescheduled by the Embassy or Consulate until the priority date is current under the final action chart.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

WHAT DOES THE PHILIPPINE AND WORLDWIDE RETROGRESSION MEAN FOR EB-3 VISAS?


The March 2020 retrogression of the EB-3 category means that the US government has "overshot" their usage of visas in Fiscal Year 2020 (Oct 2019 - Sept 2020).  In order to remedy this, the government retrogresses the visas, which serves as a pause on the issuance of new visas.  The Philippine EB-3 date retrogressed because of increasing demand for Worldwide immigrant visas.  The Worldwide cut-off date can never be less favorable than any other country’s date.

This happens every few years.  Visa approvals will slow or stop starting in March, until the end of the fiscal year in September.  In October 2020, new allotment 140,000 visas are released into the system.  There is a chance that more visas are released into the system before the end of the Fiscal Year because, from time to time, the government's pause has its intended effect and more visas can be released before year-end.

If you are in any part of the visa process and you do not have your visa issued before March 1, 2020, your case will be held in abeyance at the Embassy or NVC, unless you have a priority date earlier than January 1, 2017 (Worldwide and Philippines). 

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

MARCH 2020 VISA BULLETIN: RETROGRESSION FOR EB3

The Department of State has just issued the March 2020 Visa Bulletin. This is the sixth Visa Bulletin of Fiscal Year 2020. This blog post analyzes this month's Visa Bulletin.

March 2020 Visa Bulletin

Table A: Final Action Dates -- Applications with these dates may be approved for their Green Card (Permanent Residency card) or Immigrant Visa appointment.

Employment-
based
All Other
CHINA
INDIA
PHILIPPINES
1st
01MAR19
01JUN17
01MAR15
01MAR19
2nd
C
15AUG15
22MAY09
C
3rd
01JAN17
22MAR16
15JAN09
01JAN17

MU Law Analysis

All Other: The All Other EB-1 had a four-month progression and the EB-2 category remained current.  Both should stay in their current ranges for the foreseeable future.  The EB-3 is retrogressed back to Jan 2017.  This retrogression occurred in all categories, except for China and India, where the retrogression is worse.  No forward movement is expected in EB3 for the rest of the fiscal year.  Demand in All Other EB-3 Adjustment of Status cases is responsible for the retrogression.

China: All Chinese EBs improved slightly.  Chinese EB-3 will not progress beyond the January 2017 retrogression date in all other EB-3 categories.

India:  There was virtually no progress for India.  We continue to expect very little progress in either category in future months.

Philippines:  The Philippine EB-3 number continues to confound.   We were encouraged by the three-month progression in EB-3 in February, only to be surprised by the retrogression back to January 2017.  Adding to the complexity is that virtually no Philippine EB-3s have been issued at Manila since the beginning of the year

Thursday, February 13, 2020

H-1B CAP 2020: NEWS AND NOTES


The H-1B cap filing date will be here before you know it.  New H-1Bs are subject to the H-1B cap lottery and must be filed between March 1-20, 2020.  The USCIS will notify us of H-1B cap lottery winners by March 31, 2020.  If you are preparing to file an H-1B cap petition for 2020, please send MU the items on our checklist no later than March 10.

A variety of types of case are subject to H-1B cap:
-International students working on an EAD card under an OPT or CPT program 
 after having attended a U.S. school;
-International employees working on a TN may need an H-1B filed for them in
 order for them to pursue a permanent residency (green card) case;
-Prospective international employees in another visa status e.g. H-4, L-2, J-1, 
 F-1; H-1B workers with a cap exempt organization; and
-Prospective international employees currently living abroad.

These types of case are not subject to H-1B cap:
-H-1B amendments/extensions/transfers
-When the employee has been in H-1B status for less than 6 years
-Trade Visas (H-1B1, E-3, TN-1) Chile, Singapore, Australia, Canada, Mexico
-Institution of higher education (or its affiliated or related nonprofit entities), a 
 nonprofit research organization, or a government research organization.

Please contact us if you have any questions or are looking for representation in filing H-1B cap petitions.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

TRAVEL BAN 4.0

On January 31, 2020, the President issued a Presidential Proclamation expanding the existing travel ban to include the following countries: Burma (Myanmar), Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Nigeria, Sudan, and Tanzania. 

The new travel ban goes into effect February 21, 2020 at midnight.  Individuals from countries on the new travel ban who have received their visas before February 21, 2020 can still enter the US. However, we recommend that individuals from the newly banned countries enter before the travel ban goes into effect on February 21, 2020.

The government will be reviewing the banned countries on October 1, 2020, and annually thereafter. If the banned countries comply with the US on information sharing, the country may be removed from the banned list. 

The full travel ban now includes the following thirteen countries and different types of visas are banned for each country:

Eritrea
Suspends the entry of immigrants, except as Special Immigrants who have provided assistance to the U.S. government.
Kyrgyzstan
Suspends the entry of immigrants, except Special Immigrants who have provided assistance to the U.S. government.
Iran
Suspends the entry of immigrants and all nonimmigrants, except F (student), M (vocational student) and J (exchange visitor) visas, though they are subject to enhanced screening.
Libya
Suspends the entry of immigrants and temporary visitors on business or tourist visas (B-1/B-2).
Myanmar
Suspends the entry of immigrants, except Special Immigrants who have provided assistance to the U.S. government.
Nigeria
Suspends the entry of immigrants, except Special Immigrants who have provided assistance to the U.S. government.
North Korea
Suspends the entry of all immigrants and nonimmigrants.
Somalia
Suspends the entry of immigrants and requires enhanced screening of all nonimmigrants.
Sudan
Suspends the entry of Diversity Visa immigrants
Syria
Suspends the entry of all immigrants and nonimmigrants.
Tanzania
Suspends the entry of Diversity Visa immigrants
Venezuela
Suspends the entry of certain government officials and their family members on business or tourist visas (B-1/B-2).
Yemen
Suspends the entry of immigrants and temporary visitors on business or tourist visas (B-1/B-2).


Citizens of the banned countries who are already present in the United States can file for extensions of status, changes of status, or for green cards (adjustment of status). 

If you are a citizen of one of the banned countries, please reach out to your MU attorney for further guidance. 

Monday, February 3, 2020

US DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY IMPLEMENTS NEW “PUBLIC CHARGE” RULE

On August 14, 2019 the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced a new “public charge” rule.  The rule was set to into effect on October 15, 2019, but was stopped by a nationwide injunction.  On January 27, 2020 the US Supreme Court lifted the nationwide injunction.  Note that an injunction still remains in effect in Illinois.  On February 24, 2020 the new public charge rule will go into effect.

Under a longstanding law and policy, if immigration authorities determine someone is “likely to become a public charge” the US can deny the applicant’s green card or other visa to the US.  A public charge is someone who is dependent on the government, through benefits programs.  The Trump Administration’s new rule changes the standard by the DHS determines whether a foreign national is likely to become a public charge.

Under the previous policy, DHS examined whether an intending immigrant was primarily dependent on public benefits.  Under the new rule, immigration officers will examine whether immigrants are likely at any time to become a public charge, using a multi-factor test. 

Public benefits under the new rule include:
1)   Any federal, state, or local cash assistance, including:
a.    Social Security Income (SSI)
b.    Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
c.    Government programs for income maintenance often called “general assistance”
2)   Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) also known as food stamps
3)   Section 8 Housing Assistance
4)   Medicaid, with certain exceptions
5)   Public Housing under Section 9

The immigration officer will take into account a broad range of factors and consider all of the following when making a determination if the foreign national visa applicant is likely to become a pubic charge:
a.  Receipt of a public benefit for more than 12 months in the aggregate within a 36 month period
b.    Age
c.    Health
d.    Family status
e.    Education and skills
f.    Assets, resources, and financial status 

This rule will apply to all applicants for any type of visa, though it is expected that the immigration officers will look most closely at those applying for a green card.  Employment-based visa applicants should be treated favorably because, by virtue of their employer-sponsor, they have guaranteed employment and income in the United States.  However, policy experts forecast that this rule will likely be applied inconsistently and cause fewer legal immigrants to enter the United States. 

Monday, January 27, 2020

VISA REFUSALS AT THE US EMBASSY IN MANILA

Musillo Unkenholt is aware that the US Embassy in Manila has refused to approve almost any immigrant visa for the last 3 weeks.  The problem is, apparently, that the Embassy is mistakenly interpreting clauses in employment contracts between nurses and their US employers, perhaps based on some bad information that was sent to the Embassy. 

The problem seems to be localized in Manila.  Philippine nationals processing for immigrant visas at other embassies around the world are being issued their immigrant visas.  Likewise, other embassies are also issuing immigrant visas to non-Philippine nationals. 

We are working with clients, trade associations, and nurses to solve this problem.  It may take a little while to solve the problem but it is a fairly straightforward problem that will be solved, hopefully in the next few weeks.