DHP Client Alert – Public Charge Rule in Effect Starting Monday

To our valued clients and partners:

The U.S. Department of State (DOS) has released the visa bulletin for March 2020. This bulletin has Table B showing that those individuals with filing/priority dates BEFORE December 15, 2015, and have been inside of the U.S. since December 30, 2019, are now allowed to prepare and submit the required documents to the National Visa Center.

David Hirson & Partners, LLP (DHP) knows that our valued clients and their family members are excited for this next step in the immigration process. DHP is ready to help our clients and partners to prepare for this important immigration step. It is important to understand that the U.S. government has instituted new rules this month which greatly affect the entire process of coming to the U.S. Now, all foreign nationals will have to show that s/he will not be considered a “public charge.”

DHP has prepared an initial questionnaire to determine whether or not you may be considered a public charge by the U.S. government. After receiving your completed questionnaire (no later than March 10, 2020) DHP’s attorneys and staff will work closely with you to prepare the necessary documentation to submit to the government.

Please note the following important deadlines that must be met so we can help prepare a strong filing for you and your family:

  • You must be physically in the U.S. since before December 30, 2019.
  • You must notify DHP in writing that you would like for us to proceed with filing under Table B AND submit a completed initial public charge questionnaire by March 10, 2020.
  • DHP will notify individuals who may be considered a public charge by March 16, 2020.
  • DHP requires all final documents by March 23, 2020 in order to file under Table B by March 30, 2020.

Our experienced team is prepared to help you navigate the new immigration rules.

Learn more about the public charge rule, below.

Major updates in immigration this January 2020

U.S. Immigration News – Week Ending January 31, 2020

This week has seen many changes made to U.S. immigration rules and processes. David Hirson & Partners, LLP (DHP) is committed to keeping all of our clients and partners informed of important U.S. immigration issues. If you have any questions about these changes, the expert attorneys and staff at DHP are ready to help you and your family with all of your corporate and family immigration plans.

Prohibition on “Birth Tourism”

On January 24, 2020 the U.S. Department of State issued a final rule (effective immediately) that now explicitly excludes travel to the U.S. under a B visa for the purpose of “birth tourism.” “Birth tourism” is the act of coming into the country in order to give birth to a child. Giving birth to a child in the U.S. allows the child to become a U.S. citizen through birth. When being interviewed for a B visa to come into the U.S., it is now up to any pregnant applicant to prove that she is not intending to come to the U.S. to give birth.

The B-1/B-2 visa is a widely used visa that allows people to temporarily enter the U.S. for business, pleasure, or both. People will still be able to come into the U.S. on a B visa for medical purposes, but the applicant will have to prove that a medical practitioner or facility in the U.S. has agreed to provide treatment and that the applicant has the means to pay for all treatment, living, and incidental costs associated with coming into the U.S. for a legitimate medical reason.

It is still unclear what will happen to those individuals who already have a B visa in their passports but still need to apply for admission into the U.S.

USCIS Adjusts Process for Managing EB-5 Visa Petition Inventory

On January 29, 2020, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it will no longer process Form I-526 petitions on a first-in, first-out basis. USCIS will now process Form I-526 petitions based upon visa availability, depending on the applicant’s country of birth and whether or not that country has (or will soon have) visas available. The reason for this change is an effort to make USCIS more efficient and allow USCIS operations to be more consistent. This change now makes Form I-526 processing consistent with that of Form I-130 processing. USCIS will implement this change in process on March 31, 2020.

Implementation of the Public Charge Inadmissibility Rule

This is an update to the Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds Final Rule that was stopped from being implemented in October 2019. On January 30, 2020, USCIS announced that it will now implement the Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds Final Rule beginning on February 24, 2020. (There is an exception for the State of Illinois.) New guidance, instructions, and forms required under the final rule are scheduled to be released the first week of February 2020. When this final rule starts being enforced in February 2020, it will not be retroactively applied to applicants who applied after the original implementation date in 2019. USCIS will only consider receipt of public benefits from February 24, 2020 forward. Applications submitted with a postmark date of February 23, 2020 or before will be adjudicated based upon the current standards. All applications with a postmark date of February 24, 2020 or later will be adjudicated based upon the final rule.

USCIS Updates Process for Accepting Form I-130 Petitions for Relatives Abroad

On January 31, 2020, USCIS announced that beginning February 1, 2020, Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, will only be processed within the U.S. by USCIS or internationally by the U.S. Department of State (DOS) for certain circumstances. Only eligible active-duty U.S. service members assigned overseas and certain non-military petitioners who meet specific criteria for consular processing will be allowed to file Form I-130 with the DOS overseas. DOS will process Form I-130 overseas only if the petition: a) involves instances of prolonged or severe civil strife or natural disaster or b) for U.S. service members assigned to military bases abroad.

New Travel/Visa Restrictions for Six Countries

On January 31, 2020, President Trump signed a proclamation that places new visa restrictions on 6 countries for not meeting the U.S. standards for identity management, information sharing, national, security, and public safety assessment criteria related to foreigners entering the U.S. This proclamation is based upon the standards and policies set forth in Executive Order 13780 in 2017 that is meant to establish stronger security standards for allowing people into the U.S.

The 6 countries facing new visa restrictions starting on February 21, 2020 are:

  • Burma (Myanmar)
  • Eritrea
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Nigeria
  • Sudan
  • Tanzania

It is important to note that President Trump did not impose a blanket ban on these 6 countries, but a tailored ban:

  • Burma, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, and Nigeria: suspension of entry for immigrants, except Special Immigrants whose eligibility is based on having provided assistance to the U.S. Government.
  • Sudan and Tanzania: suspension of entry for Diversity Immigrants.

The U.S. government is hopeful that these 6 countries will work to improve their security and information sharing standards such that they will no longer face visa restrictions. As part of Executive Order 13780, every 180 days, the U.S. government systematically reviews all countries to see how they meet the established criteria.

This new proclamation applies to intending immigrants from these 6 nations who have not yet received an immigrant visa. Those immigrants who already received a valid U.S. visa will still be able to enter the U.S. while legal permanent residents may continue to reside in the U.S. Everyone must continue to meet all terms and conditions of their U.S. visa.

Travel Ban on Foreign Nationals and Quarantine for U.S. Citizens Who Have Been in China

On January 31, 2020, the U.S. government announced a travel ban on foreign nationals who have been in China within their last 14 days from coming into the U.S. (This travel ban does not apply to immediate family members of U.S. citizens.) Additionally, any U.S. citizen who has been in China’s Hubei Province within their last 14 days will be placed in mandatory quarantine for up to 14 days after entering the U.S. Any U.S. citizen who has been anywhere else in China within their last 14 days will be screened at U.S. ports of entry and have up to 14 days of self-monitoring.

These temporary measures will go into effect starting Sunday, February 2, 2020 at 5 p.m. Eastern Time.

Furthermore, the U.S. Department of State advises that no one travel to China at this time.

If you or any of your family and friends are affected by any of these new U.S. immigration and travel rules, we urge you to work with a licensed immigration attorney to plan how and when to best come to the U.S. Contact our team of attorneys today for advice.

Telephone: +1-949-383-5358       Email: info@hirson.com       Website: www.hirson.com

Record high H-1B denials could cause hole in workplace

Over 20% of H-1B Visas Denied in 2019

In the fiscal year (FY) 2019, 116,031 new or initial H-1B petitions were submitted to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Of those petitions, 27,707 were denied – meaning just under one-quarter of all H-1B applications were denied in 2019. 

When compared to levels in 2015, the rates of denials have risen exponentially.

Comparing 2019 H-1B Denial Rates to 2015

Fiscal year 2015 is often used for comparison because it is one of the lowest denial rates in the past five years, and marks the last year before President Trump was sworn into office.

In FY 2015, the denial rate was only 6% in the first quarter. By comparison, the denial rate in the first quarter of FY 2019 was 32%. According to some experts, these numbers make it “clear to attorneys [that] USCIS has acted without proper legal authority in restricting H-1B visas.”

Part of the change is attributed to President Trump’s 2017 executive order, which has been dubbed the “Buy American and Hire American” order. The executive order encouraged and required agencies to look for ways to create higher wages, employment rates, and economic growth within the United States, without looking to other countries to employ workers or create products. In FY 2017, the denial rates rose from 10% to 13%, and in FY 2018, they increased again to 24%.

For example, U.S. immigration practitioners have seen H-1B petitions that would have normally been approved in past years are now denied under USCIS’ current practice of using narrower interpretations of what constitutes a “specialty occupation.”

The Impact of High Denial Rates

With denial rates at record high levels, various industries, including technology sectors, have felt a serious impact on their employment and operations. In India, for example, the four largest software service exporters have seen roughly half of all of their work visas denied in the past year. These companies, including Tata Consultancy Services, Infosys, HCL Technologies, and Wipro will have to look elsewhere for avenues to secure visas for their workers.

Traditionally, Indian nationals made up for roughly 70 percent of all H-1B visas issued. Additionally, Indian nationals also account for almost 93 percent of all Employment Authorization Documents issued to H-4 visas, as spouses of H-1B beneficiaries. It is unclear whether those numbers have changed since their last reported date in 2017, but they could very well be significantly altered in the near future.

The National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP) noted: “If the goal of the Trump administration is to make it much more difficult for well-educated foreign nationals to work in America in technical fields, then USCIS is accomplishing that goal.” 

However, the impact of this new policy could create serious holes in the American workforce. NFAP stated: “Whether the actions of USCIS are serving the best interests of the United States is a question that will remain open for debate.”

Get Help From an H-1B Visa Lawyer

Because of increased scrutiny, it is even more important that employers follow the application process very closely. David Hirson & Partners, LLP, can help with that process, increasing your company’s chance of getting an H-1B petition approved. 

Contact our team today for more information or to schedule an appointment to discuss your options. 

Tel: +1-949-383-5358                Web: www.Hirson.com               Email: info@hirson.com

This blog post is general information and is not legal advice.

David Hirson & Partners, LLP – Providing U.S. Immigration Education Around the World

Istanbul, Turkey & Tel Aviv, Israel

David Hirson & Partners, LLP (DHP) and Visa Franchise co-hosted two immigration seminars in Istanbul, Turkey and Tel Aviv, Israel this month. Attendees were able to learn and ask questions about U.S. immigration options including, E-2 visa, EB-1C visa, and L-1 visa options. Attorney David Hirson, Managing Partner at DHP, provided key insights into how individuals and families from Israel and Turkey could successfully immigrate to the U.S.

Attorney David Hirson addressing an audience in Istanbul, Turkey (January 2020)

Of particular interest to attendees at both events was information on combining U.S. immigration plans with business opportunities, specifically franchise business opportunities in the U.S.

Attorney David Hirson presenting in Tel Aviv, Israel on converting an L-1A visa to an EB-1C visa (January 2020)

Audience in Tel Aviv, Israel learning about combining U.S. franchise business opportunities to U.S. immigration plans (January 2020)

For more information about how you and your family can combine your U.S. immigration dreams with owning and operating a franchise business of your choice, contact the experienced immigration attorneys at David Hirson & Partners, LLP today.

Tel: +1-949-383-5358                            Web: www.Hirson.com                                          Email: info@hirson.com

February 2020 Visa Bulletin Released

The U.S. Department of State has just released the February 2020 visa bulletin, and there have been a few updates to note since last month’s bulletin:

Family-Based Table A: Final Action Dates for Family-Sponsored Cases

Family-
Sponsored 
All Chargeability 
Areas Except
Those Listed
CHINA-mainland 
born
INDIA MEXICO PHILIPPINES 
F1 22AUG13 22AUG13 22AUG13 22AUG97 01APR09
F2A C C C C C
F2B 22AUG14 22AUG14 22AUG14 15SEP98 01MAY09
F3 22NOV07 22NOV07 22NOV07 22MAR96 01MAY99
F4 01JUL06 01JUL06 22NOV04 15JAN98 01JUL99

Most of the categories moved forward a few weeks to a month, with a noticeable expectation of F4 which retrogressed about a half-year for China and all other categories. F2A remains current.

Family-Based Table B: Priority Dates for Family-Sponsored Cases

Family-
Sponsored 
All Chargeability 
Areas Except
Those Listed
CHINA-
mainland 
born
INDIA MEXICO PHILIPPINES 
F1 22MAR14 22MAR14 22MAR14 15NOV99 01OCT09
F2A 01DEC19 01DEC19 01DEC19 01DEC19 01DEC19
F2B 22APR15 22APR15 22APR15 15MAY99 01NOV09
F3 22JUL08 22JUL08 22JUL08 15JUL00 01NOV99
F4 22JUL07 22JUL07 22JUL05 01JAN99 01JAN00

We see only modest gains of about a week for Table B filings.

Employment-Based Table A: Final Action Dates for Employment-Based Cases

Employment-
based
All Chargeability 
Areas Except
Those Listed
CHINA-
mainland
born
EL SALVADOR
GUATEMALA
HONDURAS
INDIA MEXICO PHILIPPINES VIETNAM
1st 01DEC18 22MAY17 01DEC18 01JAN 15 01DEC 18 01DEC18 01DEC 18
2nd C 15JUL15 C 19MAY09 C C C
3rd C 01JAN16 C 08JAN 09 C 01JUN18 C
Other Workers C 01MAY08 C 08JAN 09 C 01JUN18 C
4th C C 01JUL16 C 01SEP17 C C
Certain Religious Workers C C 01JUL16 C 01SEP17 C C
5th Non-Regional Center
(C5 and T5)
C 01DEC14 C 01SEP 18 C C 15DEC 16
5th Regional Center
(I5 and R5)
C 01DEC14 C 01SEP 18 C C 15DEC 16

China and India did not move for EB-1, but most other countries moved about 2 months. EB-3 for China moved 1 month and EB-5 for China moved about a week. India jumped from May 2018 to September 2018. Visas are also unlocked for EB-5 for RC visas.

Employment-Based Table B: Priority Dates for Employment-Based Visas

Employment-
based
All Chargeability
Areas Except
Those Listed
CHINA-
mainland 
born
EL SALVADOR
GUATEMALA
HONDURAS
INDIA MEXICO  PHILIPPINES 
1st C 01OCT17 C 15MAR17 C C
2nd C 01AUG16 C 01JUL09  C C
3rd 01JAN19 01MAR17 01JAN19 01FEB10 01JAN19 01JAN19
Other Workers 01JAN19 01AUG08 01JAN19 01FEB10 01JAN19 01JAN19
4th C C 15AUG16 C C C
Certain Religious Workers C C 15AUG16 C C C
5th Non-Regional Center
(C5 and T5)
C 15MAY15 C C C C
5th Regional Center
(I5 and R5)
C 15MAY15 C C C C

There has been no change for this month’s Employment-Based Table B. We still do not know whether or not this Table B can continue to be used for Employment-Based visa applications yet.

US Bans Iranian Nationals E-1 and E-2 Visas

USCIS Ends E-1 and E-2 Visas for Iranians

The U.S. offers E visas (E-1 or E-2 visas) to qualifying individuals from countries that have treaties of commerce and navigation with the United States. Many countries maintain such treaties with the U.S. for many years. An E visa typically allows individuals from treaty countries to travel to the U.S. for investment and international trade purposes.

Occasionally, there are instances when the decision is made to end a treaty of commerce and navigation. This is what happened on October 3, 2018, when the 1955 Treaty of Amity, Economic Relations, and Consular Rights between the U.S. and Iran was terminated. Since there are no other qualifying treaties between the U.S. and Iran, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) is now in the process of ending all E visa operations for individuals applying from Iran.

All Iranians currently in the U.S. on E visas are allowed to remain in the U.S. until their current E visa expires or they obtain another visa that allows them to stay in the U.S.

All Iranians who currently have a pending E visa extension or a pending change of status to an E-1 or E-2 visa will receive a Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID) that explains their current E visa immigration issue. Any currently pending E visa application filed after October 3, 2018 will be denied.

Given the current climate between the U.S. and Iran, it is necessary and wise for individuals and families to seek immigration assistance from qualified and experienced immigration attorneys. If you are looking for a way to lawfully stay in or immigrate to the U.S., contact the experienced immigration attorneys at David Hirson & Partners, LLP today. Our team of licensed immigration attorneys will help you create a plan to reach your immigration goals.

Tel: +1-949-383-5358 Web: www.Hirson.com Email:info@hirson.com

Recent policy update from USCIS in January 2020

USCIS Updates and News – January 16, 2020

USCIS Policy Manual Update

USCIS has recently issued new policy guidance regarding eligibility requirements, filing, and adjudication of requests to replace Permanent Resident Cards (PRC) using Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card.

Highlights of this new policy include:

  • Eligibility requirements for replacing a PRC are reaffirmed in this new policy guidance.
  • Clarifies that I-551 stamps issued for temporary proof of lawful permanent resident (LPR) status may only be placed on an Arrival/Departure Record (Form I-94) (with photo) or in a valid/unexpired passport.
  • Provides guidance for LPRs seeking commuter status and for those in commuter status seeking to take up residence in the United States.

The public has until January 30, 2020 to provide comments through the standard comment process.

USCIS Final Fiscal Year 2019 Statistics Available

USCIS has released its various fiscal year (FY) 2019 statistics online. These statistics provide data regarding USCIS’ operations during the last fiscal year, including data on naturalizations, green cards, employment authorizations, protected populations, and many more.

Highlights from USCIS’ FY 2019 data include:

  • 834,000 new citizens were naturalized during FY 2019, representing the largest number of naturalizations over the past 11 years.
  • 577,000 individuals were granted lawful permanent residence in the U.S. in FY 2019.
  • The number of pending green card applications were reduced by 14% and naturalization applications were reduced by 12%.
  • 2,200,000 employment authorization applications were reviewed.
  • More than 500,000 non-immigrant worker petitions were approved.
  • 40,000,000 cases were processed through E-Verify.
  • 25,000 individuals were granted immigration relief. This included individuals who are victims of trafficking, crime, and Violence Against Women Act recipients.
Preparing for the upcoming FY2021 H-1B Cap Season

Preparing for the Upcoming FY2021 H-1B Cap Season

As of April 1, 2020, the yearly slots available for the H-1B employment visa for specialty occupations will become available. These visas are exclusively for “specialty occupations,” and the available allotment is expected to be much lower than demand, as has been the trend for many years.

Because of the high demand for H-1B visas, employers are encouraged to identify employees or prospective employees who may need an H-1B visa now, to get started on the application process. 

Having everything ready will help get your application submitted as soon as an H-1B applicant is selected from this year’s new H-1B registration-lottery system and the application submission window opens to submit required paperwork.

Who Qualifies for an H-1B Visa?

When assessing company needs, employers may consider the following types of employees as good candidates for H-1B visas as long as the potential new employee is qualified to work in a specialty occupation:

1. F-1 visa students with degrees that are required to work in a specialty occupation

2. L-1 employees experiencing long green card delays

3. Former J-1 trainees who you would like to retain on a more permanent basis

Keep in mind that H-1B visas are specifically for “graduate-level” workers (meaning a U.S. bachelor’s degree or higher or the foreign equivalent) in specialty occupations. These occupations require expertise that is not necessary for other types of jobs. 

(Note: Certain foreign workers who are working with the U.S. Department of Defense may qualify to apply for H-1B2 visas while individuals who are international fashion models of prominence may apply for H-1B3 visas.)

Typical H-1B fields include:

  • Technology
  • Finance
  • Accounting
  • Science 
  • Medicine
  • Engineering 
  • Architecture

Starting the process now will put you in a good position to apply when the flood gates open at the end of March.  

H-1B Caps in FY2021: What to Expect

Keep in mind that anyone who does not get a slot in the current lottery will have to wait to apply for available spaces next year. 

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has implemented its new registration system this year, which will affect H-1B visas obtained in FY2021. 

Under this new system, there is no need to submit a full application before the lottery. Instead, employers will only need to submit a simple online registration for each employee.

This year’s initial registration period will be from March 1 through March 20, 2020.

Once the submissions reach 85,000, the USCIS will conduct a computer-generated lottery to select registrants. If an employee is selected, the employer must submit a complete H-1B application within the next 90 days.

Preparing for FY2021 H-1B Registration

The new H-1B registration system requires employers to electronically register in order to be able to submit a registration for the H-1B visa in FY2021. 

The employer must also pay the new $10 registration fee for each H-1B beneficiary employee that is registered. The registration period is set to open March 1, and employers should create a game plan with a licensed immigration attorney so that everything will be ready at the appropriate time.

Get Help with an H-1B Visa Application

To learn more about what you should do to get electronically registered and prepare for H-1B registration this March, give our team a call now to schedule a consultation. 

David Hirson & Partners, LLP, can walk you through all of the steps you need to get ready for submitting your H1-B registration today. 

Tel: +1-949-383-5358                Web: www.Hirson.com               Email: info@hirson.com

This blog post is general information and is not legal advice.

TEA Designation changes for EB-5 program

New Rules for Targeted Employment Area (TEA) Designations in the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program