H-1B Cap (FY 2020) Data Entry Completed

USCIS has completed data entry for all H-1B cap-subject petitions that were randomly selected for fiscal year 2020. USCIS will begin returning all H-1B cap-subject petitions that were not selected. There is no set date when the process of returning unselected petitions will be completed however USCIS will issue an announcement once they are done notifying petitioners. In the meantime, in order to balance the workload of H-1B cap-subject petitions, some cases may be transferred between Vermont Service Center and California Service Center. If a case is transferred, notification will be sent to the Petitioner.

USCIS Clarifies Period of Authorized Stay for P-1S Essential Support Personnel of Individual Athletes

USCIS is updating the Adjudicator’s Field Manual (AFM) to clarify the period of authorized stay granted to essential support personnel (P-1S) is consistent with DHS regulations. Although individual athletes (P-1A) may be granted an initial period of up to 5 years of validity, essential support personnel can only be granted an initial period of time determined by USCIS to be necessary to complete the event not to exceed 1 year. The exception to the 1 year rule is the period for an extension of status petition if filed to continue or complete the same event or activity as essential support personnel (P-1S) of a P-1A individual athlete. In the event of a request for extension of status, a P-1S extension may be approved for a period of up to 5 years, for a total period not to exceed 10 years, so long as the request is to continue or complete the same event or activity for a beneficiary who is in the US in P-1S status at the time the petition for extension is filed. This exception is not available for extension of status requests filed for consulate notification.

Nepal and Honduras TPS Holders to Retain Status pending final disposition in Ramos v. Nielsen

DHS announced that it will not enforce or implement the decision to terminate TPS status for Nepal and Honduras pending the resolution of the Ramos v. Nielsen appeal or by other order of the court. As a result, DHS will extend the validity of TPS-related documentation, including employment authorization, for Nepalese TPS beneficiaries through March 24, 2020, and TPS designation for Honduras remains in effect through January 5, 2020. TPS designations for Nepal and Honduras must remain individually eligible for TPS status.

Status on L-1 Adjudications at Ports of Entry for Canadian Citizens

As previously reported, various ports of entries (POEs) throughout Canada have been refusing to adjudicate any L-1 Blanket or individual petitions considered an L-1 renewal or extension of status. This practice began in December 2018 and has been growing nationally across POEs. In April 2019, the American Immigration Lawyers Association’s (AILA) CBP Liaison Committee met with CBP Headquarters to discuss the ongoing issues at the border. CBP confirmed that commuter/intermittent L-1s did not fall within the definition of extension and could be processed as an initial or extended period of stay reasoning that these petitions are not subject to the regulatory time limitations. CBP will be clarifying this new policy with respect to commuter/intermittent L-1s to the field. However, no further progress has been made as to the adjudication of the extension of L-1 Blanket or individual petitions. We will continue to monitor the status of these adjudication at the Border and will provide updates as we receive them. In the meantime, anyone seeking to extend their L-1 at the Border must contact their immigration counsel prior to attempting to extend their status.

June 2019 Visa Bulletin Shows Significant Retrogression for EB-1 India

The Department of State’s Visa Bulletin for June 2019 shows significant retrogression for the EB-1 India preference category to January 1, 2015. The cutoff for EB-1 China remains at February 22, 2017, and the cutoff for all other countries advances to April 22, 2018.

The EB-2 category will remain current for all countries except India, which advanced to April 19, 2009, and China, advancing to August 1, 2016.

In the EB-3 preference category, most countries will remain current except for China, which will move to September 15, 2015, India which remains at July 1, 2009, and the Philippines moving to November 1, 2018.

USCIS announced that for June 2019 the Final Action Dates chart must be used for employment-based preference filings, and the Filing Action Dates chart for family-sponsored filings.

Texas Service Center to Begin Accepting Certain I-129 Petitions

USCIS announced that starting May 20, 2019 the Texas Service Center (TSC) would start accepting and processing certain H-1B cap-exempt petitions. This does not include H-1B petitions for cap-exempt entities, petitions that are cap-exempt based on a Conrad/IGA waiver, or petitions where the employer is located in Guam or the services will be performed in Guam.

TSC will share this workload with the California Service Center, Vermont Service Center and Nebraska Service Center as USCIS tries to improve processing times and efficiency. The types of cap-exempt petitions that can be filed at TSC are those where the Petitioner’s primary office is located in Florida or Georgia, and are requesting:

  • Change in previously approved employment
  • Change of Employer
  • Concurrent Employment
  • Amendments
  • Continuation of previously approved employment without change with the same employer
  • Change of status to H-1B
  • Notification to US Consulate, port of entry or pre-flight inspection)

For the updated Direct Filing Addresses for Form I-129 see: https://www.uscis.gov/i-129-addresses