USCIS Issues Policy Guidance on Deference to Previous Decisions
USCIS is issuing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual instructing officers to give deference to prior determinations when adjudicating extension requests involving the same parties and facts unless there was a material error, material change, or new material facts.
National Interest Exceptions for Certain Travelers from China, Iran, Brazil, South Africa, Schengen Area, United Kingdom, and Ireland
On April 26, 2021, the Secretary of State made a national interest determination regarding categories of travelers eligible for exceptions under Presidential Proclamations (PPs) 9984, 9992, and 10143 related to the spread of COVID-19. As a result of this determination, together with national interest determinations already in place, travelers subject to these proclamations, due to their presence in China, Iran, Brazil, South Africa, the Schengen area, the United Kingdom, and Ireland, who are seeking to provide vital support for critical infrastructure; journalists; students and certain academics covered by exchange visitor programs, may now qualify for a National Interest Exception (NIE).
DHS Seeks Public Input to Identify Barriers that Limit or Prevent Access to Immigration Benefits and Services
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is seeking comment from the public on how U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) can reduce barriers that prevent both U.S. and foreign citizens from obtaining access to the full assortment of legally available immigration services and benefits.
Phony Immigration Attorney Who Filed Hundreds of Fraudulent Asylum Applications Sentenced to More Than 20 Years in Federal Prison
Senior U.S. District Judge Virginia M. Hernandez Covington today sentenced Elvis Harold Reyes (56, Brandon, Florida) to 20 years and 9 months in federal prison for mail fraud and aggravated identity theft in connection with a scheme where he posed as an immigration attorney and filed hundreds of fraudulent asylum applications. The Court deferred consideration of victim restitution to a later date.
F-1 Students Seeking Optional Practical Training Can Now File Form I-765 Online
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services today announced that F-1 students seeking optional practical training (OPT) can now file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, online if they are filing under one of these categories:
- (c)(3)(A) – Pre-Completion OPT;
- (c)(3)(B) – Post-Completion OPT; and
- (c)(3)(C) – 24-Month Extension of OPT for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) students.
Updates to National Interest Exceptions for Regional COVID Proclamations
The Secretary has determined that the travel of immigrants, fiancé(e) visa holders, certain exchange visitors, and pilots and aircrew traveling to the United States for training or aircraft pickup, delivery, or maintenance is in the national interest for purposes of approving exceptions under the geographic COVID Presidential Proclamations (9984, 9992, and 10143). These proclamations restrict the entry of individuals physically present, within the 14-day period prior to their attempted entry into the United States, in the People’s Republic of China, Islamic Republic of Iran, Schengen Area, United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, Federative Republic of Brazil, or Republic of South Africa. This article provides further details regarding this determination.
Update on Presidential Proclamation 10052
Presidential Proclamation 10052, which temporarily suspended the entry of certain H-1B, H-2B, J (for certain categories within the Exchange Visitor Program), and L nonimmigrants, expired on March 31, 2021.
Visa applicants who have not yet been interviewed or scheduled for an interview will have their applications prioritized and processed in accordance with existing phased resumption of visa services guidance. Visa applicants who were previously refused visas due to the restrictions of Presidential Proclamation 10052 may reapply by submitting a new application including a new fee.
USCIS Confirms Elimination of “Blank Space” Criteria
USCIS today confirmed that for all forms it has reverted to the form rejection criteria it applied before October 2019 regarding blank responses.
FY 2022 H-1B Cap Season Updates
H-1B Initial Electronic Registration Selection Process Completed: USCIS has received enough electronic registrations during the initial registration period to reach the fiscal year (FY) 2022 H-1B numerical allocations (H-1B cap) including the advanced degree exemption (master’s cap). We randomly selected from among the registrations properly submitted to reach the cap. We have notified all prospective petitioners with selected registrations that they are eligible to file an H-1B cap-subject petition for the beneficiary named in the applicable selected registration.
Update on Public Charge
On July 29, 2020, the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York enjoined the Department of State from “enforcing, applying, implementing, or treating as effective” the Department’s October 2019 interim final rule and accompanying Foreign Affairs Manual guidance related to the public charge ground of visa ineligibility. The Department has updated its guidance to consular officers on how to proceed while the October 2019 interim final rule and January 2018 Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM) guidance are enjoined. Under this guidance, when consular officers adjudicate applications, they will apply the public charge standard that had been in effect prior to these changes.
USCIS Extends Flexibility for Responding to Agency Requests
In response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is extending the flexibilities it announced on March 30, 2020, to assist applicants, petitioners, and requestors who are responding to certain RFEs, NOIDs, NOIRs, and decisions. This flexibility applies to the listed documents if the issuance date listed on the request, notice, or decision is between March 1, 2020, and June 30, 2021, inclusive.
USCIS May Reopen H-1B Petitions Denied Under Three Rescinded Policy Memos
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services today announced it may reopen and/or reconsider adverse decisions on Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, made based on three rescinded policy memos. USCIS will generally use its discretion to accept a motion to reopen filed more than 30 days after the decision, if filed before the end of the validity period requested on the petition or labor condition application, whichever is earlier, and the decision was based on one or more policies in the rescinded H-1B memoranda below.
Update on USCIS Visitor Policy
In light of some states and municipalities relaxing mask mandates and other COVID-19 restrictions, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services reminds the public that we will continue to enforce our visitor policy in all USCIS facilities. This includes a requirement that all visitors 2 years of age or older wear a face covering while in USCIS facilities.
DHS Secretary Statement on the 2019 Public Charge Rule
Today, DHS Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas announced that the government will no longer defend the 2019 public charge rule as doing so is neither in the public interest nor an efficient use of limited government resources.
USCIS Extends Flexibilities to Certain Applicants Filing Form I-765 for OPT
USCIS today announced flexibilities for certain foreign students affected by delayed receipt notices for Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. These flexibilities apply only to applications received on or after Oct. 1, 2020, through May 1, 2021, inclusive.