Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Update

  • The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has resumed processing H-2B temporary worker petitions.  Processing had been temporarily suspended in March as a result of a court order pertaining to the Department of Labor’s wage methodology used in making certain H-2B prevailing wage determinations.  Premium processing fee refunds for those cases filed in March are being reviewed and should be issued within the next few weeks.  The H-2B visa is used by employers for temporary or seasonal non-agricultural workers and is limited by the government to a maximum of 33,000 for each half of the government’s fiscal year, for a total of 66,000 per year.  
  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) advises that traffic volume between the U.S. and Canada may increase at the land border crossings due to the upcoming Victoria Day (May 20) and Memorial Day (May 27) holiday weekends.  Travelers should be sure to have proper documents for reentry into the U.S. and be prepared for possible delays.

Department of state (DOS) update

  • For the second straight month, the cut-off date for the Employment-Based 3rd preference (EB-3) immigrant visa category for professionals and skilled/unskilled workers will advance significantly for foreign nationals from most countries (except for India and the Philippines) on the U.S. Department of State’s monthly “Visa Bulletin.”  In the May Visa Bulletin, the EB-3 cut-off date advances 5 months for most countries from a July 1, 2007 to a December 1, 2007 cut-off date.  During the month of June, the EB-3 cut-off date will advance 9 more months for most countries, to September 1, 2008 cut-off date.  This is done to ensure that all EB-3 immigrant visa numbers are exhausted before the end of each federal government fiscal year (i.e., September 30th).  However, whenever this happens, a dramatic increase in demand for EB-3 immigrant visa numbers usually follows, which results in slow progression of the cut-off date or even unavailability of immigrant visa numbers for a period of time.  The significant movement of the EB3 cut-off date during the months of May and June should benefit a large number of foreign nationals who have been waiting for several years to file or receive approval of their Form I-485 Applications to Adjust Status to Permanent Resident in the United States or receive their Immigrant Visas at a U.S. Embassy/Consulate abroad.  Companies that previously sponsored foreign nationals for permanent residence should review their records to see if any of the employees are eligible to file for Adjustment of Status and obtain the “Green Card.”  Discuss this with your immigration counsel.
  • As of May 8, 2013, the Immigrant Visa Unit of the U.S. Embassy in Manila, Philippines no longer accepts walk-in applicants who have not already scheduled a visa appointment.  Appointments must be scheduled in advance via the Embassy’s Call Center or online.  In addition, immigrant visa services at the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli have been temporarily suspended and, in the interim, applicants should contact the U.S. Consulate in Casablanca, Morocco for assistance.  Visa applicants should ensure that they confirm current application requirements and processing timelines in advance of submitting an application at any U.S. Embassy or Consulate as procedures vary from location to location and are subject to change at little or no advance notice.