H-1B Premium Processing
Effective October 3, 2017, USCIS restored premium processing for all H-1B petitions. Under premium processing, USCIS will issue a decision or request additional evidence within 15 days of filing a premium processing request. Pending cases can be upgraded to premium processing, and new cases can be filed under premium processing. This benefit was suspended on April 3, 2017 to allow USCIS to address a severe backlog of unadjudicated cases. USCIS charges a filing fee of $1225 for premium processing, in addition to any other required fees.
Combined EAD/SSN Application Form Released
USCIS Form I-765 has been amended to include an optional application for a U.S. Social Security Number (SSN). Approval of Form I-765 results in issuance of an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), benefiting many categories of non-immigrant.
Submission of the Social Security-related questions on updated Form I-765 is optional. Selecting this option authorizes USCIS to disclose information supplied on the form (including the applicant’s parents’ names) to the Social Security Administration. USCIS anticipates that applicants who receive their approved EADs from USCIS will receive their Social Security card within the following two weeks. This process is designed to save SSN applicants the step of visiting their local Social Security office in person. The new edition of Form I-765 is marked “07/17/2017 N,” and use of the new form becomes mandatory as of December 4, 2017.
DHS to Collect Social Media Data
A new rule published in the Federal Register on September 17, 2017 gives the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) the authority to include "social media handles and aliases associated identifiable information and search results" in the agency’s immigrant files (“A files”).
Taking effect on October 18, 2017 DHS will collect, store, and analyze online activity by foreign nationals, U.S. permanent residents, and naturalized U.S. citizens. The new rule could also affect native-born U.S. citizens who communicate with foreign nationals on social media by making their conversations the subject of government surveillance. Commentators have expressed concern that the information would be used for ideological vetting by the U.S. government, which will review and assess the political and personal views of people abroad and in the U.S.