Use of Electronic Devices at Field Offices Banned

USCIS has always disallowed those using their services from using computers, tablets and phones in their field offices. Apparently, they are concerned about the ability of these devices to take pictures and record audio and video (of course, they record everything but that is another story). However, as attorneys are officers of the Court, they have generally allowed attorneys to use their electronic devices to take notes and refer to client documents, especially as things are moving towards electronic files these days. However, the current administration felt that this was to much leeway, so as of last week, attorney’s are also no longer allowed to use such devices at field offices, and if they try to, USCIS may end the the interview and dismiss the attorney from the office.

It is important for clients to realize as well, that when USCIS means you cannot use such devices during the interview, what they ultimately mean is to turn off all electronic devices. It is equally important to realize that the list of devices is actually quite large. It includes: cell phones, computers, tablets, smart watches, fitness devices, personal GPS devices, bluetooth devices, mobile hotspots, music players, or other wearable electronics. If your cell phone rings during the interview, they could actually stop the interview at that point and re-schedule the interview. How draconian they will be in the enforcement of this policy has yet to be seen as the change is just occurring. We will certainly update you with any new information as soon as we get it.

Please remember, as always, this blog does not offer legal advice. If you need legal advice, consult with a lawyer instead of a blog. Thank you.

Want an appointment at a local office? Soon you may not be able to make one.

USCIS announced that it is phasing out InfoPass appointments at local offices (self-scheduled appointments) except on a limited basis. Basically they will allow appointments on an emergency basis and to deliver documents to the local office only. USCIS stated that their research showed that for the vast majority of people who make appointments at local offices, the questions they asked could be answered using the on-line resources at USCIS.com or calling the 1-800 number. In addition to the limited on-line appointments, if you call the 1-800 number and they determine that an appointment at the local office is needed, they will schedule it directly for you. There are certainly pluses and minuses to this new policy.

In the plus category, this should allow officers to spend more time interviewing people and adjudicating cases, thus bringing timelines for family and employment based green cards down.

In the minus category, it will make it much harder to find out exactly what is going on with a case once it is at the local office. Most local offices use to have special emails that immigration attorney’s could contact if there were issues. In addition, attorney’s (as well as immigrants themselves) could make appointments with the local office to find out what was happening with a case. Now, all that is available is calling the 1-800 number to try and find out what is going on. The only result of this is that it will be much harder to actually get the status of a case.

Currently the new policy is only in place in a limited number of states. However it should be rolled out nationwide by the new year. We will keep you updated as more information becomes available.

Please remember, as always, this blog does not offer legal advice. If you need legal advice, consult with a lawyer instead of a blog. Thank you.

Charlie Oppenheim Updates his Predications for Movement of Immigration Visa Numbers

Charlie Oppenheim updated his predictions on the movement of immigrant visa numbers for the foreseeable future. I will detail some of the highlights below, however, please do remember that these are just predictions from Mr. Oppenheim and they can change depending on what the actual demand in any given category actually materializes.

EB-1

 

While Charlie previously thought there would not be movement forward until next year, it now appears that next month (December) should see forward movement on the Worldwide numbers as well as for India and China. Charlie is still not sure how far forward they will move, so we will need to wait for next month to see what happens. He does caution, however, that Worldwide numbers will not become current in the foreseeable future, and this will probably be the norm for at least the first half of the fiscal year.

EB-2 + EB-3

 

Based upon current demand, China numbers will continue to move forward as they did for the November bulletin. On the other hand, EB-3 for China is seeing high demand right now. At the moment EB-2 China is only about 2 weeks ahead of EB-3 China. It is possible that the EB-2 date will pass the EB-3 date soon. However, Charlie is not sure if the current EB-3 demand is based upon downgraded EB-2s. If this is the case, then the forward movement of EB-2 dates could be affected by this phenomena.

For India, the EB-2 numbers and EB-3 numbers held steady in November, and it is projected that there will be little , if any, advancement in December for the EB-2 numbers. However the EB-3 usage is lighter, and there should be forward movement of a few weeks (or even months) in December.

 

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p dir=”auto”>If you have any questions, please call or email me. Please remember, as always, this blog does not offer legal advice. If you need legal advice, consult with a lawyer instead of a blog. Thank you.

USCIS Suspending Premium Processing for Cap Subject H-1B applications

images-1Yesterday, USCIS announced that they would be suspending premium processing for 2019 Cap-subject applications until September 10, 2018.  This means you can only file cap-subject applications via regular processing.  Those applications that are cap-exempt, including those filed by universities and those for extensions of H-1B status, can continue to use premium processing.  Below is a section of the press release from USCIS:

Starting April 2, 2018, USCIS will begin accepting H-1B petitions subject to the Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 cap. We will temporarily suspend premium processing for all FY 2019 cap-subject petitions, including petitions seeking an exemption for individuals with a U.S. master’s degree or higher. This suspension is expected to last until Sept. 10, 2018. During this time, we will continue to accept premium processing requests for H-1B petitions that are not subject to the FY 2019 cap. We will notify the public before resuming premium processing for cap-subject H-1B petitions or making any other premium processing updates.
During this temporary suspension, we will reject any Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service, filed with an FY 2019 cap-subject H-1B petition. If a petitioner submits one combined check for the fees for Form I-907 and Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, we will reject both forms. When we resume premium processing, petitioners may file a Form I-907 for FY 2019 cap-subject H-1B petitions that remain pending.

Please call our office with any questions you may have.  And, please remember, as always, this blog does not offer legal advice. If you need legal advice, consult with a lawyer instead of a blog. Thank you.

Updates: Signatures and Credit Card Acceptance at USCIS

3EB2E8ED-35F7-451D-B3AF-96539B02C187USCIS Now Accepting Credit Cards for Most Filings

USCIS has issued a new form G-1450 that will allow people to pay for form filing fees via credit card directly with USCIS.  This form is available for all applications filed at lockbox facilities.  It cannot be used for filings at local offices.  You should read all the information at the USCIS website here to make sure that you complete the form correctly according to what applications you are filing.

Please do call us with any questions about this new policy.

USCIS No Longer Accepting Power of Attorney for Signatures

USCIS has always required original signatures on all forms.  However, USCIS did accept the signature of someone other than the applicant if there was a duly authorized power of attorney.  This is the case no longer.  USCIS will no longer accept such arrangements.  Now the applicant must sign all forms being filed with USCIS.  Parents are still allowed to sign for minors, however.  USCIS also made clear that any deficiency in the signature (whether for an employer, employee, applicant, etc.) could also result in a rejection or denial of the application.

Please remember, as always, this blog does not offer legal advice. If you need legal advice, consult with a lawyer instead of a blog. Thank you.

H1B Recent Trends: The Wage Level 1 Conundrum

unknownIn the last year, USCIS has certainly increased its scrutiny on all cases, especially on H-1B cases.One tact that USICS has taken is to insist that, if an employer has used a Level 1 wage, then, without any further review of the position, USCIS can assume that it is an entry level position and is NOT a specialty occupation.  While to most people, this simply makes no sense, USCIS used this rationale (or lack there of) to deny many H-1B applications.  Finally, the Administrative Appeals Office, which overseas appeals of all H-1B denials, has ruled on one such case and overturned the denial.  The AAO stated;

Before we do so, a few more general observations are in order about the relevance of wage levels in the context o f H-1 B adjudications. A position’s wage level designation certainly is relevant, but is not a substitute for a determination of whether a proffered position meets the requirements of section 214(i)(l) of the Act. We assess each case on its merits. There is no inherent inconsistency between an entry-level position and a specialty occupation. For some occupations, the “basic understanding” that warrants a Level I wage may require years of study, duly recognized upon the attainment of a bachelor’s degree in a specific specialty. Most professionals start their careers in what are deemed entry-level positions. That doesn’t preclude us from identifying a specialty occupation. And likewise, at the other end of the spectrum, a Level IV wage would not necessarily reflect that an occupation qualifies as a specialty occupation if that higher-level position does not have an entry requirement of at least a bachelor’s degree in a specific specialty or its equivalent. Wage levels are relevant, and we will assess them to ensure the LCA “corresponds with” the H-1B petition. But wage is only one factor and does not by itself define or change the character of the occupation.

We are very hopeful that this means that USCIS will take a more holistic approach and review all relevant documents in all such cases instead of denying a majority of such cases without really reviewing the relevant documentation.   Despite the above, it is still very important to include sufficient evidence with the initial application showing the specialty nature of the occupation.  Such evidence can include other job postings for similar positions, letters from other employers, CVs of other employees in the same position, etc.   Please do note, that each case is different and the type and amount of evidence needed will vary by case.  Please call our office with any specific questions.

Please remember, as always, this blog does not offer legal advice. If you need legal advice, consult with a lawyer instead of a blog. Thank you.

Want to Make an Infopass Appointment? New Process is Coming Soon.

3EB2E8ED-35F7-451D-B3AF-96539B02C187According to the American Immigration Lawyer’s Association, USCIS is changing the process for making InfoPass Appointments.  According to their press release:

 

 

AILA has received reports that as part of a new pilot program, select USCIS field offices are anticipated to roll out a new scheduling process for InfoPass appointments that will eliminate self-scheduling of InfoPass appointments online. Under the new pilot program, the scheduling of InfoPass appointments for select USCIS local field offices will instead be coordinated by the USCIS National Customer Service Center. The stated purpose for this new program is to avoid InfoPass appointments being utilized for routine inquiries that can be resolved via the Customer Service Hotline. According to reports, USCIS plans to implement this new pilot program at five local USCIS field offices: Hartford, CT; El Paso, TX; Jacksonville, FL; Sacramento, CA; and San Francisco, CA.

Once the new pilot program is implemented, in order to schedule an InfoPass appointment at one of the above listed USCIS field offices, stakeholders will first need to contact the NCSC by phone (1-800-375-5283), speak to a Tier 1 officer, and request to schedule an InfoPass appointment. The call will then be escalated to a Tier 2 USCIS representative who will confirm that the issue is appropriate for an InfoPass appointment before scheduling the appointment.

USCIS has not yet publicly released information about this new pilot program on the USCIS website and the implementation date of the program at all five of the selected USCIS field offices is not yet confirmed. AILA will continue to monitor the rollout of this new initiative and has reached out to USCIS for additional information on its implementation.

As stated above, USCIS is trying to prevent routine inquiries that it feels can be handled by its customer service call center from going to the local offices.  Thankfully AILA will be monitoring the roll out of the program as it is very clear that USCIS could start to abuse this system by routinely denying appointments and requiring people to go through the customer service call center (which, in many cases, is less than adequate).

We will update you when more information is available.