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Immigration Updates

H-1B Random Lottery Selection is Done

It has just been announced that USCIS has received enough electronic registrations during the initial registration period to reach the FY 2023 H-1B cap. The agency randomly selected from among the properly submitted registrations and has 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 selected registration.

USCIS has not provided details on the total number of registrations received or the regular/advanced quota breakdowns.

All prospective petitioners selected have been notified. If your registration was not picked, it will remain as an eligible registration to be randomly chosen if visas become available for another selection. Last year, USCIS made a few selections, so there is still hope to be chosen later in the year. If you were not selected, call us to schedule a time to discuss your options.

For more information, please visit the USCIS website.


Immigration Application Backlogs

There are a few new measures to reduce a growing multimillion-case backlog of immigration applications:

1. Premium Processing Expanding

In approximately 60 days, USCIS will expand premium processing for Forms I-539 (application to change/extend status), I-765 (application for employment authorization), and I-140 (immigrant petition for alien work).

Premium processing allows certain applicants to pay $2,500 in extra fees to have their cases reviewed on an expedited basis. Currently, the service is limited to specific applications, including H-1B petitions and some employment-based green card requests.

The rule will expand premium processing to additional employment-based green card applications, work permit petitions, and temporary immigration status extension requests, allowing applicants to pay $2,500 to adjudicate their cases within 45 days.

Premium processing will expand gradually, starting with work-based green card petitions for multinational executives or managers and professionals with advanced degrees or "exceptional ability" who are requesting a waiver that allows them to immigrate to the U.S. without having a job offer, which is typically required.

2. Improved Processing Times

Currently, most work permit holders who apply for renewals are eligible for an automatic 180-day extension if their authorization to work lapses. However, many applicants wait for their work permit renewals longer than that, often beyond ten months, USCIS figures show.

The agency will instruct caseworkers to try to adjudicate requests for temporary work programs, such as H-1B and H-2A visas for agricultural workers, within two months. Requests for work permits, travel documents, and temporary status extensions or changes should be reviewed within three months.

According to the new processing guidelines, USCIS officers should adjudicate other applications, including U.S. citizenship, DACA renewals, and green card requests for applicants sponsored by U.S. family members or employers, within six months.

3. Automatic Work Permit for spouses of E and L visa holders

USCIS has indicated that certain E-1, E-2, E-3, and L-2 nonimmigrant dependent spouses will be granted employment authorization incident to status.

As of January 30, 2022, USCIS and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) began issuing Forms I-94 with the following new Class of Admission (COA) codes for certain E and L spouses: E-1S, E-2S, E-3S, and L-2S. An unexpired Form I-94 reflecting one of these new codes IS ACCEPTABLE as evidence of employment authorization for spouses.

For E and L spouses with Forms I-94 issued by USCIS before January 30, 2022 (with notations E-1, E-2, E-3, E-3D, E-3R, or L-2), USCIS will mail a notice regarding the new Class of Admission codes that, together with an unexpired Form I-94 reflecting E-1, E-2, E-3 E-3D, E-3R, or L-2 nonimmigrant status, may serve as evidence of employment authorization under List C of Form I-9. USCIS intends to begin mailing notices on or about April 1, 2022.

If you have any questions about these new procedures, please contact our office to schedule a call.

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