DHS Suspends Trusted Traveler Programs for All New York State Residents
Acting Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Chad Wolf
announced that as of February 5, 2020 DHS would immediately suspend Trusted Traveler Programs (TTP) for all New York residents, including Global Entry, NEXUS, Sentri and FAST. The suspension applies to new enrollments as well as re-enrollments. CBP will cancel all pending TTP applications submitted by New York residents. It should be noted that this suspension currently does not include TSA PreCheck, and that all NY residents who are currently enrolled in TTP programs will retain their benefits until their memberships expire.
This suspension is in response to New York’s “Green Light Law,” which allows any New York resident to obtain driver licenses or learner permits, regardless of immigration status. The state of New York does not allow the state DMV to share criminal records with CBP or ICE.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo indicated on February 12, 2020 that he would meet with President Trump to attempt to reach an agreement, including granting limited access to DMV records of residents who use TTP programs.
We will release updates as they become available.
USCIS Previews H-1B Cap Registration System
Each H-1B cap sponsoring entity will need to create an account in the new USCIS H-1B cap registration system starting February 24, 2020. The FY 2021 H-1B cap registration period will open at noon ET on March 1, 2020 and will close at noon ET on March 20, 2020. All cap registrations must be received during this period. The USCIS system will not allow registrations to be drafted before the registration period opens on March 1. USCIS will conduct the FY 2021 H-1B cap selection lotteries and notify sponsoring employers of winning entries by March 31, 2020. See a link to our prior alert
Federal District Court Enjoins USCIS from Enforcing Unlawful Presence Rules for Students and Exchange Visitors
A federal district judge has issued a permanent injunction to prevent USCIS from implementing a policy that would have penalized students in F, J and M status for status violations starting on the day after the violation occurred. The agency must continue to follow its previous, longstanding guidance related to unlawful presence, under which F, J and M nonimmigrants are penalized only after USCIS or an immigration judge makes a specific finding of a status violation. The government is expected to appeal the court’s decision.
New Department of State Rule Focuses on Pregnant Applicants for B Visitor Visas
The Department of State has amended immigration regulations to clarify that traveling to the United States “for 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.” The rule only applies to nonimmigrants who are required to obtain a visitor visa; travelers from visa waiver countries are exempt. While the new regulation does not prohibit all travelers who are pregnant or may become pregnant from obtaining visitor visas, it does require that they convince the consular officer that their primary purpose for traveling is not to obtain U.S. citizenship for their child by giving birth in the United States. Once a traveler has received her visa, she should be treated at the border like any other B visa-holder. According to the Department of State, the rule is intended to address national security concerns and so-called citizenship loopholes, but is not intended to discourage visitors with legitimate, specialized medical needs that can only be met in the United States.
Visa Reciprocity Changes
In 2020, the US Department of State has implemented
significant changes to the visa reciprocity schedule. The most significant changes have been in a very steep increase in visa reciprocity fees and a reduction in visa validity dates for certain types of visas for certain countries including Australia, Netherlands, Spain, France and Chile.
Citizens of Australia:
E-1/E-2 visa reciprocity fee increased from $105.00 to
$3,574.00: visa validity period is 48 months
H-1B/H-4 reciprocity fee increased from $105.00 to $1,295.00; visa validity period is 60 months
L-1/L-2 reciprocity fee increased from $105.00 to $1,790.00; visa validity period is 48 months
Citizens of France:
E-1 and E-2 visa validity period is 25 months
L-1/L-2 visa validity period is 17 months
H-1B/H-4 visa reciprocity fee increased to $480.00; visa validity period is 60 months
Citizens of Netherlands:
E-1/E-2 visa reciprocity fee is now
$2,228.00; visa validity period is 36 months
L-1 Visa reciprocity fee is now $73.00; validity period is 60 months
F-1/F-2 visas validity period decreased from 60 to 50 months
Citizens of Spain:
E-1 visa reciprocity fee is now
$314; visa validity period is 60 months
E-2 visa reciprocity fee is now $234; visa validity period is 60 months
Citizens of Chile:
H-1B/H-4 reciprocity fee is now
$280; visa validity period is 12 months
L-1/L-2 reciprocity fee is now $280; visa validity period is 12 months
new version of the Form I-9 was released on Friday, January 31, 2020. The changes include revised and updated instructions. Employers who are using paper Form I-9s should discard any blank forms that have a version date (bottom, left-hand corner of the Form I-9) other than “10/21/2019.” Employers may continue using the prior version of the form until April 30, 2020. After that date, they can only use the new form with the 10/21/2019 version date. The version date is located in the lower left corner of the form.
March 2020 Visa Bulletin
The US Department of State released the March Visa Bulletin. USCIS has determined that it would accept adjustment of status applications based on the Dates for Filing for both family-sponsored and employment-based preference categories. However, as the F2A category is current, applicants in the F2A category should use the Final Action Dates chart. USCIS Adjustment of Status filing chart can be viewed
There was forward movement in the family-based preference categories for Final Action Dates except for F-4 Worldwide and China, which remains retrogressed by seven months to July 1, 2006. Family-based Dates for Filing moved forward for the most part, except for F-3 Mexico, which remains on July 15, 2000, and F-4 worldwide and F-4 China, which both remain on July 22, 2007.
As to the employment-based preference category, there was little movement in the Dates for Filing with two exceptions: For EB-5 (Non-Regional Center (C5 and T5)) and EB-5 (Regional Center (I5 and R5)), China advanced by seven months to December 15, 2015. For Final Action Dates, the new cut-off dates for issuance of an immigrant visa will be as follows:
EB-1: EB-1 Worldwide (as well as El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, Mexico, Philippines and Vietnam) advances to March 1, 2019; China advances to June 1, 2017; and India advances to March 1, 2015.
EB-2: China advances one month to August 15, 2015, while India advances three days to May 22, 2009. All other countries will remain current.
EB-3: China advances to Mach 22, 2016, and India advances seven days to January 15, 2009. The Philippines will retrogresses from June 1, 2018 to January 1, 2017. All other countries will retrogress significantly, going from current to January 1, 2017.
EB-5 (Non-Regional Center (C5 and T5)): China advances from December 1, 2014 to May 15, 2015, India advances by nearly two months to October 22, 2018, and Vietnam advances one month to January 15, 2017.
EB-5 (Regional Center (I5 and R5)): China advances to May 15, 2015, India advances to October 22, 2018 and Vietnam advances to January 15, 2017. For all other countries, availability remains current.
USCIS Revises Forms in Response to Public Charge Inadmissibility Final Rule
The Public Charge Inadmissibility Final Rule was issued in August 2019 and was to go into effect October 2019, when a preliminary injunction with national scope was granted that prevented the Department of Homeland Security from implementing the rule. On January 27, 2020, the Supreme Court
stayed the injunction allowing DHS to implement the rule, except in the state of Illinois. For practitioners, employers, and beneficiaries, the implementation of the Public Charge Inadmissibility Final Rule will dramatically affect the preparation and submission of petitions and applications. The Final Rule applies to the following forms and will be effective for all submissions postmarked on or after February 24, 2020.
Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker
Form I-129CW, Petition for a CNMI-Only Nonimmigrant Transitional Worker
Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status
Form I-485 Supplement A, Adjustment of Status Under Section 245(i)
Form I-485 Supplement J, Confirmation of Bona Fide Job Offer or Request for Job Portability Under INA Section 204(j)
Form I-864, Affidavit of Support Under Section 213A of the INA
Form I-864A, Contract Between Sponsor and Household Member
Form I-864EZ, Affidavit of Support Under Section 213A of the Act
Form I-912, Request for Fee Waiver
Form I-601, Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility
Form I-539, Application To Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status, and I-539A, Supplemental Information for Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status
The summarized changes will be provided for Forms I-129, I-485, and Form I-539 as follows:
Form I-129: For a petition that seeks a change of a beneficiary’s status or an extension of stay in the United States, the beneficiary must complete an addendum regarding the receipt of public benefits, if any. This form is still signed by the petitioner.
Form I-485: An extra section is added regarding the declaration of Self-Sufficiency. Note that Form I-944 is needed for most I-485 applications.
Form I-539: An extra section is added regarding the receipt of public benefits, if any.
In addition, three new forms have been published, including:
Form I-944, Declaration of Self Sufficiency
Form I-945, Public Charge Bond
Form I-356, Request for Cancellation of Public Charge Bond
The focus will be on new Form I-944, Declaration of Self-Sufficiency, which must be filed with every Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, except for certain classes of aliens.
U.S. Embassy and Consulates General in China Suspend Regular Visa Services
As of February 10, 2020, regular visa services at the U.S Embassy in Beijing and the U.S. Consulates General in Chengdu, Guangzhou, Shanghai and Shenyang are
suspended due to the ongoing novel coronavirus outbreak. The U.S. Embassy and Consulates have very limited staffing and may be unable to respond to requests regarding regular visa services. While some limited emergency appointments may be available, intending applicants should note that on Friday, January 31 st, a Presidential Proclamation was issued that suspended entry for individuals who have been in China less than 14 days prior to their arrival in the U.S.