Update: August 2019 Visa Bulletin

The Department of State released the August 2019 Visa Bulletin. The EB-1 Final Action dates (with the exception of India that remained on 01Jan2015) had across the board retrogression to July 1, 2016, resulting in a retrogression of several months to over one year, including EB-1 Worldwide. EB-2, EB-3, and Other Workers for Worldwide, Mexico, Philippines and Vietnam all retrogressed, as did India (EB-3 and Other Workers). Meanwhile China EB-2 and EB-3 and India EB-2 had slight advancement. Any eligible individuals in these affected categories should file their Adjustment of Status applications before the end of July (to the extent possible). USCIS has determined that it will accept Filing Action dates for Family-Sponsored Adjustment of Status Applications for all categories except F2A, and will accept Final Action dates for Employment-Based Adjustment of Status Applications.

The Department of State has stated that for October, the beginning of the fiscal year, it would make every effort to return these final action dates to those which applied in July 2019.

The Visa Bulletin also posts the DV-2020 lottery results.

House Passes Bill to Eliminate Employment-Based Per-Country Limits and Increase Family-Based Visa Numbers

The House of Representatives passed the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act (H.R. 1044) on July 10, 2019, which would eliminate the per-country limits on all employment-based green cards and equalize the waiting times for foreign nationals from all countries. This would significantly improve the wait times for Indian and Chinese nationals, but would greatly delay the process for foreign nationals from other countries. The Bill also seeks to increase the family-based per-country quota from 7% to 15%.

The companion Senate Bill (S. 386) has been introduced with additional provisions that include increasing the DOL’s oversight and enforcement authority over the H-1B category and increase H-1B employer obligations.

DHS and DOJ Issue Joint Third-Country Asylum Rule

DHS and DOJ announced that on July 16, 2019 it would publish a joint Interim Final Rule in the Federal Register revising immigration regulations to add a new bar further restricting eligibility for asylum for individuals who enter or attempt to enter the U.S. across the southern border without having first applied for protection from persecution or torture while in a third country. DHS Acting Secretary Kevin K. McAleenan issued a statement explaining that this interim rule will reduce migration to the US from the southern Mexico border. This basis for asylum ineligibility applies only prospectively to aliens who enter or arrive in the US on or after the effective date of the joint rule, July 16, 2109.

The new bar will apply unless one of following three very limited exceptions can be established:

  • The alien demonstrates that he or she applied for protection from persecution or torture in at least one of the countries through which the alien transited en route to the United States, and the alien received a final judgment denying the alien protection in such country;
  • The alien demonstrates that he or she satisfies the definition of “victim of a severe form of trafficking in persons” provided in 8 C.F.R. § 214.11; or
  • The only country(ies) through which the alien transited en route to the US were, at the time of transit, not parties to the 1951 UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, the 1967 Protocol, or the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

Nonprofits File Lawsuit Seeking Hearings for Children and Family in Advance of Trump Administration Raids

Several nonprofit organizations filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York seeking to require the government to hold hearings before immigration judges prior to physically removing any currently unrepresented family or child who was ordered removed in absentia on or after May 1, 2014, in order to determine whether their removal order should be rescinded. The complaint alleges, among many other points, that the in absentia orders the Trump Administration is seeking to enforce were not properly entered because the government’s system for providing notice was defective, including, the government mailing notices to the incorrect address, sending them without date or time of hearings, setting hearing dates for weekends when hearings were not being held, or sending them too late. The Plaintiffs claim that this was in violation of the Due Process Clause and the refugee protection laws. Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project, et al. v. Barr, 7/11/19