October 2019 Visa Bulletin Released After Delay

The October 2019 Visa Bulletin has been released by the U.S. Department of State (DOS) after several days of delay. This is the first visa bulletin of fiscal year 2020. Furthermore, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that the filing chart (DF) chart may be used as a basis for filing the I-485 application, Application to Adjust Status.

This is very good news for EB-1 Worldwide, where the September 2019 cutoff is October 1, 2017, (with USCIS only honoring the Final Action Dates chart) and now in October 2019 the cutoff has moved to July 1, 2019, on the Dates for Filing chart. The Final Action Dates chart for EB-1 Worldwide advanced to April 22, 2018. EB-1 for India and China continue to move very slowly and it is expected that there will not be any movement for EB1 India until at least January 2020, and it is expected that this category to remain severely backlogged for years. EB1 for all other countries of chargeability may advance by up to three months each month for the near future.

EB2 India will continue to have limited movement for the foreseeable future while EB2 China will advance but will not see a full recovery in fiscal year (FY) 2020. EB3 has returned to “current” for all countries except for India, China, and the Philippines. It is expected that EB3 India and EB3 China will not advance till at least January 2020.

OFLC’s FLAG System is Operational and iCERT had been Deactivated for LCAs

On October 1, 2019, the Foreign Labor Application Gateway (FLAG) system became fully operational for the LCA programs and the iCert system was deactivated for LCAs covering H-1B, H-1B1 and E-3 visa classifications.

On June 4, 2019, The Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC) had announced the roll-out of the electronic filing of Prevailing Wage Requests in the Foreign Labor Application Gateway (FLAG) system. FLAG was developed to replace OFLC’s current iCERT system in an effort to improve customer service and modernize the administration of the foreign labor certification program.

OFLC will continue to process all LCAs submitted prior to October 1, 2019 through iCERT and the iCERT portal can be accessed to check on the status of applications.

H-2A Petitioners Must Include Temporary Labor Certification Final Determination with Form I-129

On October 1, 2019, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) implemented its new Foreign Labor Application Gateway (FLAG) system for the H-2A temporary agricultural worker program. Starting October 01, 2019, employers who file an H-2A application for a temporary labor certification in FLAG will only receive the certification electronically.

If an application for a temporary labor certification was processed in FLAG, a H-2A petitioner must include a printed copy of the electronic one-page final determination of the H-2A temporary labor certification approval with Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker [to US CIS. US CIS will consider a printed copy of the final determination as an original and valid temporary labor certification.

USCIS Announces New Locations for Onsite Overseas Military Naturalization Services

Due to the agency’s shifting international footprint and office closures overseas, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (US CIS) has announced that it will provide military naturalization services at four overseas military bases or “hubs.”

Service members and eligible family members who are stationed overseas will now complete their naturalization process at one of four “hubs” located at Camp Humphreys, South Korea; Commander Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan; U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart, Germany; and Naval Support Activity Naples, Italy. These hubs were selected based on their proximity to locations where USCIS international offices historically provided the most overseas military naturalization services.

USCIS officers will travel to each hub per quarter to provide naturalization services. Overseas regions will phase in to this hub approach over the next nine months. [https://www.uscis.gov/news/news-releases/uscis-announces-new-locations-onsite-overseas-military-naturalization-services]