USCIS Unveils New Technology Approach to Enable Expansion of Online Filing

To assist in transitioning to a digital business model, USCIS has announced a strategy known as eProcessing. This process allows for digitally filing of a benefit, communicating with USCIS online, as well as being notified of a decision on a case. Initially, this new process allows certain visitors for business and pleasure and vocational students to apply online to extend their stay in the U.S. Applicant eligibility requirements currently available for eProcessing can be found online at uscis.gov/i539online. Agency technology has been integrated to improve decision timeliness, increase transparency during the application process, and accelerate the availability of online filing of benefits. USCIS is seeking to modernize processes toward the goal of creating a paperless solution. eProcessing will create official digital immigration records to allow faster access to applicant data and provide a more responsive experience. Additional immigration classifications will be available for eProcessing and announced in the future. If you are interested in immigrating to the United States, be sure to contact our office to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys today!
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The ‘Buy American and Hire American’ Executive Order Two Years Later

On April 18, 2017, President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order titled “Buy American and Hire American.” The President insisted that the Executive Order would favor American workers more so than the policies already in place. He also intended, among other things, for the “Buy American and Hire American” Executive Order to address his concerns with the H-1B visa program. The President thought that the H-1B lottery system should be modified so that H-1B visas would only go to the most skilled and highest-paid applicants. He also insisted that the H-1B system should not be allowed to replace American workers with foreign workers. The new Executive Order was meant to address these flaws in the H-1B program. Technically, the executive order did not create any laws or modify any that already existed. Instead, the Order set in place a policy for the maximization of the production, and sale of goods, products and materials produced in the United States. With an eye toward fulfilling the mandate of the “Buy American and Hire American” Executive Order, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has applied new rules, directives and adjustments to safeguard the jobs of American workers and to avert abuses of […]
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The Modernization of the InfoPass System

In 2004, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) implemented InfoPass, a free online service providing applicants with the option to schedule an appointment with a USCIS immigration officer through the USCIS website. Since then, InfoPass has been modified, updated and refreshed many times. More recently, USCIS developed a pilot program to replace InfoPass entirely.  The pilot program, titled the Information Services Modernization Program, was introduced for testing in the Spring of 2018. USCIS was pleased with the results of the program and it became implemented nationwide in November of 2018. The Information Services Modernization Program will ultimately replace the traditional InfoPass system entirely by September of 2019. Based on surveys and other data, USCIS determined that most people who made in-person information service appointments through InfoPass could have received the same information by calling the USCIS Contact Center or checking the USCIS website. The new system is intended to streamline information services by centralizing case status inquiries and information resources in the USCIS Contact Center. There, applicants can receive immediate assistance through online messaging and live phone-based support. By ending InfoPass and redirecting applicants to the Contact Center, USCIS hopes to focus more support on those applicants facing emergency […]
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USCIS Announces Fiscal Year 2020 H-1B Cap Season Start Date, Updates, and Changes

This afternoon, USCIS announced the start of the fiscal year (FY) 2020 H-1B cap season, start dates for premium processing of cap-subject H-1B petitions, and the launch of its new H-1B data hub. USCIS is also reminding petitioners of its new H-1B cap selection process. These new efforts are all part of President Trump’s Buy American and Hire American executive order designed to protect U.S. workers. Start of FY 2020 Cap Season USCIS will begin accepting H-1B petitions subject to the FY 2020 cap on April 1, 2019 and will reject any FY 2020 cap-subject H-1B petitions filed before this date. Petitioners are reminded to follow all statutory and regulatory requirements as they prepare petitions to avoid delays in processing and possible requests for evidence. Premium Processing for FY 2020 Cap-Subject Petitions During the FY 2020 cap season, USCIS will offer premium processing in a two-phased approach. This way, USCIS can best manage the premium processing requests without fully suspending it as has been the case in previous years. The first phase will include FY 2020 cap-subject H-1B petitions requesting a change of status and the second phase will include all other FY 2020 cap-subject petitions. Beginning April 1, FY […]
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Breaking News: USCIS to Expand Interviews for All Employment-based Adjustment of Status Applicants

USCIS announced yesterday that beginning on October 1, 2017, they will begin expanding in-person interviews for applicants moving from an employment-based nonimmigrant status to Lawful Permanent Resident status through the filing of an Adjustment of Status (Form I-485) application. This change comes as part of President Trump’s Executive Order 13780, “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.” It is part of USCIS’s comprehensive strategy to further improve the detection and prevention of fraud and further enhance the integrity of the U.S. immigration system. Previously, employment-based adjustment of status applicants did not require an in-person interview with USCIS officers in order for their application for permanent residency to be adjudicated. However, USCIS did have the ability to call an applicant in for an interview if they felt the need arose. USCIS notes that conducting in-person interviews will now provide USCIS officers with the opportunity to verify the information provided in an individual’s application, to discover new information that may be relevant to the adjudication process, and to determine the credibility of the individual seeking permanent resident status in the United States. This change will likely result in over 100,000 additional in-person interviews conducted each year, which we […]
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USCIS Announces Further Measures to Detect H-1B Visa Fraud and Abuse

On Monday, April 3, USCIS released a memo announcing multiple measures to further deter and detect H-1B visa fraud and abuse. Protecting American workers by combating fraud in the employment-based immigration programs is a top priority of USCIS. The memo states, “The H-1B Visa Program should help U.S. companies recruit highly-skilled foreign nationals when there is a shortage of qualified workers in the country. Yet, too many American workers who are qualified, willing and deserving to work in these fields have been ignored or unfairly disadvantaged.” USCIS is now taking a more targeted approach when making site visits across the country to H-1B petitioners and worksites of H-1B employees. USCIS will focus on cases where USCIS cannot validate the employer’s basic business information through available data, H-1B dependent employers (those who have a high ratio of H-1B workers as compared to U.S. workers, as defined by statute), and employers petitioning for H-1B workers who work off-site at another company or organization’s location. Targeted site visits will allow USCIS to focus where fraud and abuse of the H-1B program may be more likely to occur and determine whether H-1B dependent employers are evading their obligation to make good faith efforts to […]
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What to Expect During a USCIS Site Visit

One of the ways that USCIS ensures employers are H-1B compliant is through site visits. A site visit occurs when an immigration officer visits the worksite of selected H-1B foreign nationals. These site visits are generally chosen at random and are unannounced, meaning that H-1B employers and employees should be prepared for such potential visits and should have an idea of what to expect. Here are some of the key components to a site visit that you should be aware of: Employer May Request Identification from Site Inspector Site inspectors should have proper identification and USCIS credentials and should show these to the employer. Employers should always ask for identification of any persons claiming to be acting on behalf of the government. The site inspector will want to speak with the H-1B petitioner (the individual who sign the H-1B petition). If he or she is not available, the site inspector will seek out an appropriate alternative individual who has authority within the company. Employers should discuss the possibility of such visits with their human resources team or other appropriate personnel. If an employer wishes to have an attorney present, the inspector should be informed and additional time should be requested, […]
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