H-2B Additional Cap Reached
On June 6, 2018, USCIS accounced that the number of H-2B visa applications received re-exceeded the one-time supplemental 15,000 FY 2018 H-2B cap. The filing period commenced on May 31, 2018 and within the first five days of filing the cap was reached. USCIS had previously issued a temporary final rule increasing the numerical cap by 15,000 additional visas. Despite this increase, the H-2B visas were oversubscribed. As a result, the USCIS conducted a computer-generated lottery on June 7, 2018 to randomly select the H-2B applications filed between May 31, 2018 and June 6, 2018 to meet the increased cap. Unselected petitions will be rejected and returned with the filing fees. Premium processing service for the selected petitions began on June 11, 2018.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions Dangerously Narrows Criteria For Asylum Affecting Victims of Domestic Violence
On June 11, 2018, the Attorney General (AG) issued a precedent decision in Matter of A-B- announcing that in his view domestic violence victims and other victims of crimes perpetrated by private, non-government actors do not generally qualify for asylum. The AG referred Matter of A-B- to himself on March 7, 2018 to review whether victims of private criminal activity constitutes a particular social group for purposes of asylum and withholding of removal. In Matter of A-B-, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) had granted asylum to a woman from El Salvador who had been sexually, emotionally and physically abused by her husband, and the El Salvadoran government had been unwilling or unable to protect her making her a member of a particular social group. The AG’s decision to reverse the court undermines due process and creates a slippery slope for asylum law. The decision will negatively affect asylum seekers who have been victims of domestic violence, specifically due to domestic abuse and gang violence, as well as other forms of persecution by non-government actors including violence targeting LGBTQ individuals. In response to the AG’s decision, retired immigration judges and former members of the BIA issued a statement characterizing the decision as “an affront to the rule of law.”
Last TPS Re-registration Period For Honduras Now Open
The re-registration period for TPS beneficiaries under the Honduras’ designation commenced on June 5, 2018 and will close on August 6, 2018. This will be the last renewal of TPS designation. The DHS announced on May 4, 2018 that it would terminate TPS for Honduras on January 5, 2020. All TPS beneficiaries seeking to extend their TPS status through January 5, 2020 should file immediately. DHS will automatically extend the validity of all EADs issued under the TPS designation of Honduras for 180 days through January 1, 2019. Important dates and deadlines are available here.
New Online FOIA System
USCIS announced the launch of the new Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Immigration Records SysTem (FIRST), which will eventually allow users to submit, manage, track, and receive FOIA requests entirely online. USCIS only accepted FOIA requests by mail, fax, and email, and requestors typically received their documents on a compact disc by mail. FIRST will be implemented in phases. It will first be made available to requestors with a pending immigration court date. The goal is to reduce the FOIA backlog and improve response times by providing digital delivery.