February was a very active month for US Immigration. GLF provided updates via Google, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, on numerous US Immigration matters including:
1) President Joe Biden Lifts Ban Imposed by Trump on Green Card Applicants
2) USCIS expands Premium Processing service to E-3 petitioners
3) US Supreme Court heard Challenge Against Trump’s Public Charge Rule
4) USCIS revised Educational requirements for Naturalization Civics Test
5) Initial Registration of H-1B Cases (FY 2022) starts from March 9, 2021
6) H-1B selections based on higher wages put on hold for FY2022 petitions
7) USCIS extends deadline for RFE response by another 60 days
8) DOL to delay implementation of Final Rule on Prevailing Wages
We at GLF post regular updates on our Google, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram handles. Additionally, we also periodically send out GLF Newsletters when the subject matter is extensive and relevant for a detailed analysis. Presented below is a consolidated summary of all updates posted on GLF’s various social media handles for February 2021.
PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN LIFTS BAN IMPOSED BY TRUMP ON GREEN CARD APPLICANTS
President Biden has lifted the ban imposed by former President Trump on entry of immigrants (“green card”) to US. The ban was imposed on April 22, 2020 by Donald Trump through Proclamation 10014 (Suspension of Entry of Immigrants who present a Risk to the United States Labor Market During the Economic Recovery Following the 2019 Novel Coronavirus outbreak), stating that it was needed to protect US workers amid high unemployment due to Coronavirus pandemic.
In lifting this ban, President Biden argues that shutting the door on legal immigrants does not advance the interests of the United States, to the contrary it will harm the United States, including prevention of certain family members of United States citizens and Green Card holders from joining the families here. It also harms industries in the United States that utilize talents around the world.
Trump’s ban had ground to a halt, issuance of immigrant visas at Consulates abroad and the blocked visas added to the growing backlogs in various visa categories. President Biden’s move lifting the ban is a huge relief for those who are seeking Green Cards and US Citizens/Green Card holders who are separated from their families.
USCIS EXPANDS PREMIUM PROCESSING SERVICE TO E-3 PETITIONERS
USCIS has expanded its premium processing service, starting February 24, 2021 to petitioners applying for a change or extension of status to E-3. E-3 classification applies only to the Australian Nationals who exclusively comes to United states to perform services in a specialty occupation.
An Australian national outside United States may apply for an E3 Nonimmigrant visa directly through Department of State or in instance of the individual being in US, by filing form I-129 with USCIS. To be eligible for E-3 Classification the following conditions must be satisfied:
1) The applicant must be a national of Australia.
2) Should have a legitimate offer of employment in the United States.
3) Possess the necessary academic or other qualifying credentials and
4) Must fill a position that qualifies a specialty occupation.
US SUPREME COURT TO HEAR CHALLENGE AGAINST TRUMP’S PUBLIC CHARGE RULE
US Supreme Court has decided to take up a Case challenging Trump Administration’s Public Charge Rule, which limited the access to “Green Cards” for those deemed likely to accept public assistance.
The case stems from an August 2019 rule that was criticized to be a wealth-test for immigrants and blocked those who may qualify for food stamps or other safety nets. Trump Administration justified this rule by saying that it was in the best interests of the United States to ensure immigrants be self-sufficient.
This particular case which was brought up by numerous State’s Attorneys Generals and advocacy groups and had been caught up in litigation for several years. The Biden administration has already ordered a review of the public charge rule by the Department of Homeland Security in an early February Executive Order and has expressed their willingness to support other cases challenging Trump-era immigration policies.
USCIS REVISED EDUCATIONAL REQUIREMENTS FOR NATURALIZATION CIVICS TEST
As per the Memorandum issued on February 22, 2021, USCIS has decided to restore the administration of the 2008 civic test in lieu of the existing 2020 version. The change came into effect from March 1, 2021.
Some of the highlights of the revision were:
1) Applicants who have filed for Naturalization before December 1, 2020, or who will file on or after March 1, 2021 and whose initial examination (interview) is scheduled to occur on or after April 19, 2021 will take the 2008 version of the test.
2) Applicants who have filed on or after December 1, 2020, and before March 1, 2021, will be given the option to choose between the 2020 and 2008 version: and
3) USCIS will only ask civics test questions until the applicant passes or fails either the 2008 civics test or the 2020 civics test.
In 2020 Version, to sufficiently demonstrate knowledge of civics, the applicant must correctly answer 12 out of the 20 mandatory questions. But for the 2008 version one must only get 6 out of 10 questions correct and the test will end once the applicant answers 6 questions correctly.
INITIAL REGISTRATION OF H-1B CASES (FY 2022) STARTS FROM MARCH 9TH, 2021
USCIS has announced the commencement of initial registration period of H-1B cap petitions for Fiscal Year 2022. Registration begins on March 9, 2021 at 12:00 noon (ET) and extends till 12:00 noon (ET), March 25, 2021. Prospective petitioners as well as their representatives can make use of this period to fill out petitioner as well as beneficiary information and submit their registration.
Upon the submission of each registration, a confirmation number will be assigned to track registrations. This confirmation number can be used only to track registrations and it cannot be used to track the case status in Case Status Online. Electronic registrations can be done via “my USCIS online account” on the payment of the associated $10 H‐1B registration fee on behalf of each beneficiary.
Prospective petitioners or their representatives will be able to submit registrations for multiple beneficiaries in a single online session. They will also be able to prepare, edit, and store draft registrations prior to final payment and submission of each registration. If USCIS receives sufficient registrations by March 25, the selection of beneficiaries will be done through lottery and the selection notifications will be sent to the account holders through their “my USCIS online accounts” by March 31.
H-1B SELECTIONS BASED ON HIGHER WAGES PUT ON HOLD FOR FY2022 PETITIONS
The H-1B Final Rule creating a wage-based selection process has been put on hold until the end of this year. The Rule was set to go into effect on March 9, 2021, but was pushed back to March 21, 2021 and now it has been announced that the Rule will not go into effect until December 31, 2021.
With the H-1B online Registration Period expected to be opening in March, DHS has announced that USCIS lacks the time to roll out the new process of wage-based selections.
USCIS will begin FY2022 Registration with the current regulations (random selection process). We at GLF are anticipating higher number of H-1B registrations this year given the pent-up demand and in anticipation of a more favorable adjudicatory climate under the new Administration.
USCIS EXTENDS DEADLINE FOR RFE RESPONSE BY ANOTHER 60 DAYS
Due to COVID-19, USCIS is further extending the deadline on RFEs that are issued between March 1, 2020 and March 31, 2021, both dates inclusive. Now you get another 60 days to respond (beyond the due date listed on the RFE) for RFEs issued between March 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021. Other than RFEs, the extension of deadline applies to the below requests as well:
1) Continuations to Request Evidence (N-14);
2) Notices of Intent to Deny;
3) Notices of Intent to Revoke;
4) Notices of Intent to Rescind;
5) Notices of Intent to Terminate regional investment centers;
6) Motions to Reopen an N-400 Pursuant to 8 CFR 335.5, Receipt of Derogatory Information After Grant; and
7) Filing date requirements for Form I-290B, Notice of Appeal or Motion; and
8) Filing date requirements for Form N-336, Request for a Hearing on a Decision in Naturalization Proceedings (Under Section 336 of the INA).
Please note that the response to the USCIS should be submitted within 60 days from the due date as mentioned in the request or notice.
DOL TO DELAY IMPLEMENTATION OF FINAL RULE ON PREVAILING WAGES
The Prevailing Wage Rule (82 FR 3608) published on January 14, 2021 had an effective date of March 15, 2021. DOL intends to delay this Rule until May 14, 2021. The Rule delaying the effective date will be published in the Federal Register on February 01, 2021.
DOL has determined that the extension of 60 days will provide agency officials the opportunity to review any questions of fact, law, or policy that the rule may raise. Comments on the proposed extended effective date will be accepted for 15 days from February 1, 2021.
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