Update: USCIS Reverses It’s Prohibition On STEM OPT Offsite Placement

USCIS has reversed its recent policy prohibiting the placement of STEM OPT F-1s at third-party worksites. In April 2018, USCIS made an unannounced policy change to the STEM OPT webpage, prohibiting all instances of STEM OPT employment at third-party sites. On August 17, 2018, USCIS announced that STEM OPT participants may once again be placed at third-party sites so long as all training obligations are met, including maintaining a bona-fide employer-employee relationship with the employer. The determination of an employer-employee relationship will be determined on a case-by-case basis ensuring that the employer that signs the Training Plan, administers the training, and employs the F-1 student is the same entity. USCIS has updated its policy on the USCIS STEM OPT webpage.

Visa Bulletin For September 2018

As a reminder, the September Visa Bulletin released by the US Department of State introduced a cut-off date for EB-2 and EB-3 Worldwide employment-based categories. For purposes of adjustment of status, USCIS determined that the Final Action dates chart must be used for September. As of September 1, 2018, the EB-2 and EB-3 Worldwide categories will retrogress to 01JAN13 and 01NOV16, respectively. The dates are expected to return to Current for October 2018. USCIS will only accept adjustment of status applications for the EB-2 and EB-3 Worldwide categories through August 31, 2018 pursuant to the August Visa Bulletin.

As to the EB-1 Worldwide retrogression, according to the DOS, despite a one-month advancement in September and expectation that EB-1 worldwide would return to current on October 1, 2018 as in prior years, heavy demand will preclude the category from returning to current in October. It is likely that the EB-1 categories will have limited, if any, forward movement before December. For further date retrogressions please see the September Visa Bulletin.

Limiting The Discretion Of Immigration Judges: Matter of L-A-B-R-, et al

On August 16, 2018, the Attorney General (AG) of the United States issued a precedent-setting decision, Matter of L-A-B-R-, et al, 27 I&N Dec. 405 (A.G. 2018), limiting the discretion of immigration judges to grant continuances. Earlier this year, AG Jeff Sessions referred Matter of L-A-B-R-, et al to himself for review in an effort to discourage motions for continuance. The AG found that an immigration judge (IJ) may only grant a continuance of removal proceedings “for good cause shown” and outlined the good-cause standard.

Continuances have been a useful tool for IJs to control and prioritize their case dockets. Continuances allow IJs to grant certain Respondents who are eligible for relief an opportunity to postpone their hearings to await a decision on a pending application from other government agencies, such as USDOL or USCIS. These pending applications for collateral relief would form the basis for permanent residence approval. With increasing delays in processing times at USCIS, continuances have been necessary to provide Respondents a fair judicial process.