May 2023 was a very active month for US Immigration. GLF provided updates via Google, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram on numerous US Immigration matters including:

  • USCIS releases H-1B Registration Numbers for FY-2024
  • COVID Vaccination are no longer required for International Air Travelers
  • Latest updates from DoS – Kentucky Consular Center
  • Tips for F-1 Students seeking OPT
  • NVC Payment Issues Reported
  • Termination of Temporary Travel Restrictions
  • State Department’s June 2023 Visa Bulletin Summary
  • USCIS sticks to “2008 Version” of the Civics Test for Naturalization

We at GLPO post regular updates on our Google, LinkedIn, Twitter 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 updates posted on GLF’s various Social Media handles for May 2023.

There was a significant increase in the number of registrations submitted during the FY 2024 H-1B cap registrations compared to last year. USCIS received a total of 758,994 eligible registrations for FY2024, and of those, 110,791 applications were selected (in contrast to 474,421 eligible registrations and 127,600 selections in FY2023).

The eligible registrations count does not include the deletions made by the prospective employer before the close of the registration period, and failed payments. Eligible registrations includes duplicate registrations larger than the previous years. It is believed that registrants have tried to gain unfair advantage by working together to submit multiple registrations on behalf of the same beneficiary.

The USCIS has required each prospective petitioner to sign an attestation at the time each registration is submitted to combat fraud and multiple registrations, during the registration process. If USCIS finds that this attestation was not true and correct, USCIS will find the registration to not be properly submitted and the prospective petitioner would not be eligible to file a petition.

The COVID-19 vaccination mandate for international travelers, Federal workers, and Federal contractors are longer required. DHS ended the vaccination requirement for Head Start educators, CMS-certified healthcare facilities, and certain noncitizens at the land border.

The COVID-19 vaccination requirement was put forward in 2021 by the Biden-Harris Administration to promote the health and safety of individuals and the efficiency of workplaces, protecting vital sectors of the economy and vulnerable populations. Since January 2021, COVID-19 deaths have declined by 95%, and hospitalizations are down to nearly 91%, thereby making these requirements no longer necessary.

Kentucky Consular Centre (KCC) not equipped to receive or answer inquiries except Diversity visa related queries. For visa issuance-related issues, ideally all inquiries are to be sent to National Visa Center (NVC).

  • KCC uploads the approved I-129s into PIMS which is not necessarily the same as the date of approval.
  • KCC remind applicants not to schedule an interview appointment until an approval notice is issued so that it can be uploaded into PIMS.
  • Consular Posts will now be able to adjudicate visas based on PIMS entries within 2-3 days of KCC’s receipt unless there was missing FEIN discrepancies in the files.
  • Delay in the Visa issuance may occur when consular posts wants to review the complete petition documents and adjudication may remain pending until KCC receives the whole file along with I-129 from USCIS.
  • If a 221(g) refusal gets issued due to PIMS delays, applicants will no way be able to update or locate PIMS record. So they are advised to wait for Consulates to mail KCC and move the papers.
  • KCC can pre-screen any type of case and none are exempt from pre-screening by KCC. They have their own internal criteria for initiating a pre-screening, or a post can also initiate a request.
  • Consular officer may prepare consular returns at post without prior consultation with KCC. In many cases, after Visa interviews KCC may perform research or a post-screening, and then return the case to USCIS to revoke.

Following are some tips to avoid processing delays for F-1 students seeking OPT:

  • Check USCIS Website for Updates: Failure to follow the most current guidance may result in the form being rejected.
  • Sign and Endorse Form I-20: Form I-20 to be signed, dated, and endorsed by Designated School Official (DSO) by dating the School Attestation and Student Attestation sections on the Form.
  • Apply Online: Submitting Form I-765 online is faster and electronic receipt number gets issued immediately. Notices, Updation of mailing and physical address through their USCIS online account is easier.
  • Timely Submission: For OPT, I-765 Form must be submitted within 30 days of I-20 issuance and for STEM OPT extension within 60 days of issuance of I-20.
  • Upload Form I-20: Form I-20 can be uploaded online along with Form I-765. In case of technical difficulties, they can upload the Form I-20 as unsolicited evidence in their USCIS online account before USCIS begins adjudicating their application. Failure to include a signed and properly endorsed Form I-20 may result in the denial of Form I-765.
  • Update Mailing Address with USPS. To update address with USPS, F-1 students must visit official USPS Change-of-Address page by updating address with name promptly. This will ensure that USCIS mails their EAD to the correct address. USPS will not deliver their EAD if the name is not listed on the mailbox.

The National Visa Center (NVC) is reportedly experiencing payment problems. After the payment of fees, applicants are receiving notifications from NVC on failed payments with the statement that the “Payments were not accepted by the Receiving bank.”

Applicants are advised to report such issues on NVC’s Public Inquiry Form. The report must include case numbers, emails, screenshots, and proof of payments drawn from a bank account. More the issue gets raised through the Public Inquiry Form, there is likelihood of the issues getting addressed promptly by NVC.

Travel restrictions at Land ports of entry and ferry service between the United States and Canada and Mexico Borders has been eased. The DHS and CBP have announced the termination of temporary travel restrictions for certain non-citizens entering the United States at land ports of entry and ferry terminals along the U.S.-Canada and US-Mexico border. This decision signifies a step towards resuming normal travel operations. The restrictions, which were initially implemented in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, will cease to have effect on May 12, 2023.

The termination of temporary travel restrictions at land ports of entry and ferry terminals between US and Canada and between US and Mexico signifies a significant step towards restoring normal travel operations. This move will undoubtedly contribute to the gradual restoration of normalcy and the resumption of travel and trade activities between US and Canada and US and Mexico.

State Department has issued the June 2023 Visa Bulletin and here are the highlights:

  • Adjustment of Status for Family Sponsored filing must use the Dates for Filing chart and Employment Based filing must use the Final Action Dates chart.
  • Final action dates and Filing dates chart for family sponsored preference cases for India have not changed. F-2A is current – meaning Final Action applies.
  • Final actions dates (September 08, 2020) and Dates for Filing (Current) for F2A have not changed.
  • Final action dates (February 01, 2022) and Dates for Filing for (June 01, 2022) for EB-1 Category have not changed.
  • Final action dates (January 01, 2011) and the Dates for filing (May 01, 2012) for EB-2 have not changed.
  • Final action dates (June 15, 2012) and Dates for filing (August 01, 2012) for EB-3 category have not changed.
  • Final action dates (September 01, 2018) and Dates for filing (October 01, 2018) for Certain Religious Workers have not changed.
  • The DV-2023 annual limit was reduced to 54,850.

USCIS has updated its policy guidance to confirm that it will only administer the “2008 version of Civics Test” and NOT the “2020 Revised Naturalization Civics Test.” This has been done to reduce confusion and provide direction to Naturalization applicants to prepare only for the appropriate version of the test. This updated policy guidance is effective immediately and supersedes any related prior guidance.  

Here are some of the Policy Highlights:

  • Eliminates administration of the 2020 Civics Test
  • Affirms that USCIS administers 10 questions from the general bank of 100 civics test questions, requiring applicants to get only 6 questions correct for passing the test
  • Affirms that applicants qualifying for “Special Consideration” (65 years or older and holding lawful permanent residence for at least 20 years) are to be questioned by USCIS from a list of 20 specially designated civics questions during administration of their Civics Test.

At GLF, we will continue to follow further developments in the above discussed and other matters, while we provide updates through our Newsletter as and when they become available. GLF receives numerous emails and phone calls every day seeking comments on various proposed bills and media reports that are often inaccurate. It is our job to separate fact from fiction and advice clients on important and relevant updates. The best way to receive accurate information is through GLF Newsletters.

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