Visa availability in the long backlogged employment-based second preference (EB-2) category for Indian nationals has advanced significantly in recent months. As of October 2014, for example, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is accepting and approving adjustment of status applications from Indian nationals with EB-2 priority dates of May 1, 2009 or earlier. Although still a long time to wait, the May 2009 date represents a significant, and welcomed, jump ahead from backlogs of 2004 just a few months earlier.
Unfortunately, due to the extraordinary high demand brought about by this rapid advancement, the State Department’s Visa Office announced that as of November 2014 it will stop allocating visa numbers to Indian adjustment of status applicants with EB-2 priority dates after February 15, 2005. Even worse, the Visa Office has recently confirmed that the “cut-off” priority date for EB-2 India is expected to remain stuck at February 2005 for some time.
If you have employees with EB-2 India priority dates between February 2005 and May 2009 whose adjustment of status applications were not adjudicated before this recent retrogression, their applications will remain pending with USCIS until the priority dates again advance. In the meantime, these applicants and their immediate family members will continue to be eligible to apply for extensions of employment and travel authorization while they await the forward movement of the EB-2 India priority date.
“Optimized” Processing for First-Time Canadian TN Applicants
Last month, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced an initiative aimed at improving processing for first-time Canadian TN (Trade NAFTA) and L (multinational manager or specialized knowledge professional) applicants seeking admission at a Canadian port of entry (POE). Although Canadian TN and L applicants may continue to apply at any POE, CBP has designated 14 POEs as “optimized” processing posts for first-time TN and L applications. Presumably, these posts will be amply staffed with officers with the knowledge and experience necessary to properly adjudicate initial TN and L applications. A full list of the POEs (which include Pearson Airport in Toronto, Trudeau (Dorval) Airport in Montreal, and the Peace Bridge in Buffalo, NY, is available at http://www.cbp.gov/travel/international-visitors/canada-mexico-travel/traveling-tn-or-l-1-visa-canada.
CBP Announces New Mobile Passport Control App to Expedite Entry for U.S. Citizens and Canadian Visitors
Recently, CBP announced the launch of an mobile app designed to expedite the U.S. entry process for U.S. citizens and Canadian visitors. The app, known as Mobile Passport Control (MPC), allows travelers to submit their passport information and customs declaration form via a smartphone or tablet upon landing and prior to CBP inspection. Applicants using MPC can then proceed directly to a designated MPC “express lane” at the airport for processing.
Although MPC is currently only available for use at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the program is expected to expand to several additional airports later this year. Additional information about the Mobile Passport Control pilot program can be found at http://www.cbp.gov/travel/us- citizens/mobilepassportcontrol.