USCIS Proposes Filing Fee Increases

On November 14, 2019, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a proposed regulation, which would substantially increase the filing fees for many types of immigration benefits. The agency’s notice of proposed rulemaking, which is published in the Federal Register, explains that the proposed regulation would increase costs for most petitioners and applicants...
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New Public Charge Rule Effective Soon

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued the final public charge rule last month, and it will go into effect this coming Tuesday, October 15, 2019. With this new change, individuals who are likely to rely on public benefits while in the U.S. could be denied either admission to the country or an adjustment of status to lawful permanent resident...
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Will H-4 Nonimmigrants Lose Employment Authorization?

In a letter to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) has informed the court that a proposed regulation to rescind the H-4 employment authorization is not likely to be published in the Federal Register...
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Fee Announced for H-1B Electronic Registration

USCIS announced yesterday the fee involved with the newly required electronic registration of H-1B cap petitioners. The fee is $10 for each electronic registration, and it is intended to recover the costs spent on the new H-1B registration system. The proposed fee for electronic registration is...
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Online Filing Options Through New FLAG System

The new Foreign Labor Application Gateway, “FLAG”, has been adding new filing capabilities in the past few months. Next on the to-do list is moving H-1B filing over to FLAG, along with filings for H-1B1 and E-3 programs. The shift is scheduled for later this year...
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I-539’s No Longer Eligible for “Courtesy” Premium Processing

On March 1, 2019, USCIS reported that I-539 applications filed concurrently with a qualifying I-129 petition will no longer be eligible for premium processing. USCIS announced the change was necessary to accommodate wait time on the biometrics appointments necessary for the Form I-539 adjudication...
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Understanding OPT Cap-Gap

The H-1B visa allows employers to temporarily employ a foreign national, who possesses at least a bachelor’s degree, in a specialty occupation. The H-1B employment period generally begins on October 1, the start of the federal government’s fiscal year.  There are special rules that act to automatically extend the US employment eligibility of qualified F-1 foreign student visa holders beyond the period initially authorized. The rule that relates to F-1 visa holders seeking to change to H-1B work visa status is referred to as “cap-gap.” This is because it is intended to fill the gap between the date the optional practical training (OPT) period would otherwise expire and the date that the new H-1B employment authorization starts. The 60-day grace period may not be enough to cover the “cap-gap” period until H-1B status begins. However, USCIS offers an OPT cap-gap extension if three conditions are met: An employer timely files a Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, with USCIS requesting a change of the student’s status to H-1B. (Exception: Petitions requesting consular processing which do not qualify);  The H-1B petition asks for an October 1 start date; and  The student’s status, including any applicable grace period, ends between April and September 30. Situations […]
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