The USCIS has announced that premium processing will return in phases throughout June. Below is a chart to help you see when your petition will be eligible: JUNE 1st: -All I-140’s can be premium processing JUNE 8th: -H-1b transfers filed before June 8th can be upgraded -H-1b extensions filed before June 8th can be upgraded -H-1b cap exempt entities filed before June 8th can be upgraded -Non H-1b I-129 petitions (TN, L-1) filed before June 8th can be upgraded. E-3 still not eligible for premium processing JUNE 15: -h-1b’s that are cap exempt entities, regardless of original filing date, can be premium processed -H-1b’s for physicians under J-1 waiver JUNE 22nd: -All I-129’s can be premium processed (including cap cases, H-1b transfers that were filed after June 8th
Last week, the Department of State (DOS) released the June Visa Bulletin and several categories saw significant forward movement. The EB3 all others and Philippines both jumped forward 10 mos. as did India EB1. Other categories saw little to no forward movement. The USCIS announced that it would follow the Final Action Date chart for I-485 filings in June. If you are current in June, we encourage you to file your I-485 as the summer months typically see retrogression.
The Department of State has finally released the May Visa Bulletin and it has a few pleasant surprises. Most notably, EB1 for all other countries became current; all categories for PRC moved forward; and, India EB1 and EB3 each moved forward over 1 month. The EB3 Philippines category stayed retrogressed to Jan 1, 2017 which is most unfortunate since the majority of persons in this category are registered nurses which are badly needed in the US at this time. The USCIS has declared that for purposes of filing I-485 cases in May, we must use the Final Action Date chart.
Today, President Trump issued an Executive Order that would suspend the issuance of immigrant visas (green cards) for a period of 60 days. The EO only applies to persons obtaining an immigrant visa from abroad and contains exemptions for a number of categories including healthcare workers. The exemption for healthcare workers may apply only to those entering the US specifically to combat COVID-19 but, that is not clear. With the on-going closure of US Consulates abroad and with immigrant visa numbers exhausted (retrogressed) in many categories until Oct 1, 2020, this EO has very little, if any, effect on employment based immigration. The EO does contain a foreboding announcement that within 30 days, an additional EO may be issued to address non-immigrant visas. Given this Administration's open disdain for the H-1b and L-1 programs and the repeated efforts to circumvent the current regulations and statutes, this may be an opportunity for them to achieve their goal of reducing legal immigration, just in time for the election.
Many of our clients who are legally working in the US and paying taxes have inquired as to whether or not receipt of the 1 time payments under the CARES Act i.e. $1200 would be considered the receipt of public benefits and subject them to a finding of being a public charge ? The short answer is no. The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) has provided a more detailed opinion below: On March 27, 2020, President Trump signed into law the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, a $2 trillion dollar economic recovery package. The package offers relief to state and local governments, individuals, small and large businesses, and hospitals affected by the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. In particular, the CARES Act provides for the issuance of one-time payments, called recovery rebates, (or commonly known as “stimulus checks”) to help individuals recover from the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Eligible individuals with an adjusted gross income up to $75,000 can receive a one-time payment of $1,200. Married couples filing a joint tax return are eligible to receive a payment of $2,400, as long as their adjusted gross income is less than $150,000. Eligible individuals can also receive an additional $500 for each eligible child under the age of 17. The recovery rebates are structured as automatically advanced tax credits to be disbursed by the Treasury Department. The DHS final rule on inadmissibility on public charge grounds is clear that tax credits are not taken into account for the purpose of a public charge determination. DHS indicates in its final rule that only public benefits as defined in 8 CFR 212.21(b) will be considered in the public charge inadmissibility determination. 8 CFR 212.21(b) defines a public benefit to include means-tested programs like Medicaid and cash assistance for [...]
During this current healthcare crisis and severe nursing shortage it is worth noting that the Trump Administration has imposed significant hurdles on bringing international RN's into the U.S. These changes have no legal basis but, are simply part of the practice of the WH to limit legal immigration. Bloomberg did a nice summary. And, if you are looking for a recent study discussing the quality of international RN's check this out from NYU. And, more on this situation from Forbes.
Yesterday, the USCIS announced that it was extending the closure of its offices to in person interviews or appointments until May 3rd. If you had an I-485 interview scheduled, you will receive a new notice with a new date. Earlier this week, the USCIS also announced that for EAD renewals, they will use previously submitted fingerprints instead of requiring new fingerprints (sounds like they watched an episode of Law and Order and realized that fingerprints do not change). We applaud the accommodations the USCIS is making during this crisis.
The Department of State issued a directive last week to provide for emergency visa appointments for medical professionals. The original directive has been modified to include RN's with approved I-140's and current priority dates. They may bypass the NVC process and complete visa issuance at the U.S. Consulate. Contact your HLG attorney for assistance.
Effective today, the USCIS has suspended premium processing for I-129 and I-140 petitions. Cases previously filed as premium will continue to be adjudicated under the premium guidelines. Cases filed yesterday to be received today by the USCIS will have their premium filing fee returned.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the need for social distancing in the U.S., the USCIS has closed its offices to the public until at least April 1, 2020. For legal immigrants, the major impacts are the cancellation of I-485 interviews and I-539 biometric appointments for family members. Until the offices are reopened to the public, no rescheduling will be done. If you have an I-485 interview scheduled and were holding off on filing for a renewal of your EAD/AP in anticipation of an approval, I'd recommend you file the extension.