November and December 2021 were very active months for US Immigration. GLF provided updates via Google, LinkedIn, Twitter, on numerous US Immigration matters including:

  1. DHS agrees to H-4 EAD extension based on timely filed I-765
  2. USCIS conducts Third Round of H-1B Lottery
  3. Covid-19 Vaccine and Test Requirements for travellers to the United States
  4. Temporary Waiver On “60-Day Rule” for Form I-693
  5. State Department’s January 2022 Visa Bulletin Summary.

We at GLPO post regular updates on our Google, LinkedIn and Twitter, 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 Google, LinkedIn, Twitter, handles for November and December 2021.  Below is the link to our Google posts.

AILA and its litigation partners had reached a settlement with Department of Homeland Security on EAD for H-4 and L-2 Spouses. Given the long delays in EAD processing, this settlement is huge victory for H-4 and L-2 spouses who had been fighting for correct statutory interpretation of the laws.

  • L-2 spouses will no longer have to apply for employment authorization prior to working in the United States – their L-2 work authorization is incident to their status.
  • L-2 Spouses can start working as soon as they enter the United States on their L-2 Status. Their I-94 will provide automatic work authorization.
  • H-4 spouses will qualify for automatic extension of their EAD for 180 days or until their H-4 I-94 validity. H-4 applicants will have to make a timely filing of their I-765 EAD renewal application and continue to have H-4 status beyond the expiration date of their current EAD.
  • Earlier only I-485 EADs were eligible for automatic 180-day EAD extension, now it has been extended to H-4 EADs provided their H-4 I-94 remains valid.
  • If the H-4 extension is pending (H-4 I-94 has expired), H-4 spouses will not qualify for automatic EAD extension.

On November 19, 2021, USCIS announced that it had conducted a third random lottery selection system from a previously submitted electronic registrations to reach its fiscal year (FY) 2022 H-1B allocations, including advanced degree exemptions. Filing period for these selected H-1B registrations started from November 22, 2021, until February 23, 2022.

USCIS had previously conducted two random selections so far this year. The first random selection was conducted in March 2021 and selected registrants for FY 2022 were allowed to file their petitions from April 1, 2021, through June 30, 2021. The second random selection process was initiated in July 2021 and selected registrants for FY 2022 were allowed to file their petitions from August 2, 2021, to November 3, 2021.

Individuals whose registrations were selected will have their my USCIS account updated to include a selection notice, indicating details about when and where to file. The petition must be filed at the appropriate service center and within the time indicated on the registration selection notice. These petitions must be filed on paper and are not eligible for online filing. Additionally, they must print a copy of their selection notice and include it with their cap-subject FY 2022 H-1B petition. This selection process only indicated that the individuals are eligible to file H-1B cap subject petitions and not that the petition will be approved.

Beginning December 6, 2021, all individuals traveling into the United States (via air travel), who are two years or older, must compulsorily get COVID tested irrespective of their vaccination status. The new rule was that travellers must have a negative COVID report from a test completed the day before travel.

From November 29, 2021, travellers from Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe were suspended from entry into United states due to the detection of Omicron variant of COVID-19. Eventually on December 28, 2021, President Biden revoked this Proclamation.

Earlier Biden had removed all the travel bans from November 8, 2021 and had imposed vaccination requirement provided travellers had a proof of vaccination along with negative COVID-19 test within three days of boarding a flight to the United States. The new rule was that travellers must have a negative COVID test from the day before travel.

Individuals who had recovered from COVID were allowed to travel with the documentation of their recovery, alongside a letter from a licensed healthcare provider or public health official stating that they are cleared for travel.

USCIS requires civil surgeons to sign the Form I-693 within 60 days of filing applications requiring the medical examination for I-485, Application for Adjustment of Status to Permanent Resident. USCIS had temporarily waived this requirement that the civil surgeon sign Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record within 60 days of filing an application.

The temporary waiver was effective from December 9, 2021, until September 30, 2022. It applies to all Form I-693 associated with applications for underlying immigration benefits that have not been adjudicated, regardless of when the application was submitted or when the Form I-693 was signed.

State Department has issued the January 2022 Visa Bulletin and here are the highlights:

  • USCIS has not advised whether it will accept adjustment of status applications for family– or employment-based petitions based on filing dates or final action dates, this information will be released within one week of the monthly visa bulletin.
  • Final action dates and dates for filing for family-sponsored preference categories for India had not changed
  • For EB-2 Category India’s Final Action dates have advanced by 2 months to July 8, 2012, and Filing dates had not changed
  • For EB-3 category India’s Final Action dates and filing dates had not changed.
  • The final action and filing dates for employment-based preference categories in India for “Certain Religious Workers” category is current
  • The DV-2022 annual limit was reduced to 54,850
  • Employment Fifth Preference I5 and R5 Regional Center Visa Categories (I5 and R5): Division O, Title 1, Section 104 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 extended the Immigrant Investor pilot program until June 30, 2021. No I5 or R5 visas may be issued overseas, or final action taken on adjustment of status cases after June 30, 2021. The final action dates for the I5 and R5 categories have been listed as “Unavailable” for January.

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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