February 2020 Newsletter
1. Continuation of EB-1 Worldwide Backlog, Mainland China No Movement; EB-2 Rest of the World (ROW) Continues to be “Current”, Mainland China Moved Forward 2 Weeks
The U.S. Department of State’s (DOS) most recently released Visa Bulletin for February 2020 shows a continuation of worldwide backlog for EB-1, and cutoff dates for issuance of an EB-1 immigrant visa for Mainland China born applicants remains the same as last month to May 22, 2017.
On the other hand, the Visa Bulletin for February 2020 shows that EB-2 for Rest of the World (ROW) is “current”, and cutoff dates for issuance of an EB-2 immigrant visa for Mainland China born applicants have moved forward 2 weeks to July 15, 2015.
Apart from F2A Spouses and Minor Children of Green Card Holders, USCIS will accept Mainland China born adjustment of status applications for all other family-based cases and employment-based cases based on the “Dates for Filing” charts.
The February 2020 Visa Bulletin can be found here.
2. H-1B Work Visa: FY 2021 H-1B Changes in Process and Important Dates
What is H-1B
H-1B specialty occupation work visas have long been an essential avenue for employers to hire foreign workers temporarily to work in jobs that require highly specialized knowledge and at least a baccalaureate degree.
U.S. Congress sets the annual cap for H-1B visas, where the number of H-1B visas issued have been capped at 65,000 a year, plus an additional 20,000 visas for foreigners with a graduate degree from a U.S. academic institution.
The offered position qualifies as a specialty occupation;
The employee has obtained at least a baccalaureate education in the specific specialty occupation; and
The wages paid to the employee is above the prevailing wage.
Timeline Comparison – Changes to the H-1B Process
ALG attorneys have extensive experience working on H-1B cases. Reach out to us to learn more about the H-1B visa and in preparation for FY 2021!
3. Published Final Rule to Bring Changes to Issuance of B Nonimmigrant Visas for Temporary Visitors for Pleasure
According to the final rule published in the Federal Register on January 24, 2020, the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs (CA) is amending its regulation governing the issuance of visas in the B nonimmigrant classification for temporary visitors for pleasure, effective January 24, 2020. Major changes include:
Definition of “Pleasure”: “Pleasure” is defined as legitimate activities of a recreational character, including tourism, amusement, visit with friends or relatives, rest, medical treatment, and activities of a fraternal, social or services nature. This rule adds the provision that “pleasure” does not include travel for the primary purpose of obtaining U.S. citizenship for a child by giving birth in the U.S.
Medical Treatment: B visa applicants seeking medical treatment in the U.S. shall be denied a B visa if they are unable to establish that:He/she has a legitimate reason for traveling to the U.S. for medical treatment;A medical practitioner or facility in the United States has agreed to provide treatment;There is a projected duration and cost of treatment and any incidental expenses; andHe/she has the means and intent to pay for the medical treatment and all incidental expenses, including transportation and living expenses.
This rule establishes that travel to the United States with the primary purpose of obtaining U.S. citizenship for a child by giving birth in the United States is an impermissible basis for the issuance of a B nonimmigrant visa, where the consular officer is required to deny the applicant her nonimmigrant B visa.
This rule does not change DHS regulations regarding the admissibility of aliens, including Visa Waiver Program travelers, or otherwise modify the current standards enforced by officials of the DHS.
4. USCIS Announces Public Charge Rule Implementation Following Supreme Court Stay of Nationwide Injunctions
On January 30, 2020, USCIS announced that it will implement the public charge ground of inadmissibility on February 24, 2020, except in the State of Illinois where the rule remains enjoined by a federal court as of January 30, 2020. The public charge inadmissibility rule is to ensure that those seeking to come to or remain in the U.S. do not depend on public resources to meet their needs, and to ensure that U.S. immigrants are equipped to be self-sufficient and can live in the U.S., independent of government assistance.
The final rule that was issued in August 2019, and originally scheduled to be effective in October 2019, was fourfold, where it: 1) redefined certain terms critical to the public charge determination such as “public charge” and “public benefit”; 2) explained the factors that DHS will consider in the totality of the circumstances when making a public charge inadmissibility determination; 3) addressed USCIS' authority to issue public charge bonds in applications for adjustment of status; and 4) required aliens seeking an extension of stay or change of nonimmigrant status demonstrate that they have not received public benefits over the designated threshold since obtaining the nonimmigrant status.
Under the final rule, USCIS will look at the factors required under the law by Congress, like an alien’s age, health, income, education and skills, among others, in order to determine whether the alien is likely at any time to become a public charge.
Except for in the State of Illinois, USCIS will only apply this Final Rule to applications and petitions postmarked (or submitted electronically) on or after February 24, 2020.
USCIS’ alert can be found here.