This March immigration news update includes details regarding the class action filed against the DHS for processing delays, USCIS extensions for responding to agency requests, International Student Enrollment numbers, Passport Security Surcharge proposals, USCIS guidance on internally recognizes athletes, and an update on H-1B registrants.
Also, we’re moving our newsletter! We’ll soon be providing updates as part of the WR Immigration family. You’ll be able to find weekly immigration news updates here.
USCIS Has Begun Notifying Successful H-1B Registrants
Beginning this past weekend, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has started notifying successful H-1B registrants in the 2022 H-1B lottery. While there is no official press release confirming that the H1B registration selection process is complete, it is clear that it has begun. The lottery results are to be fully posted by March 31, when we expect a USCIS press release announcing that the H-1B lottery has been completed and stating the total number of H1B registrations that were submitted for the year. In the meantime, you can follow up on your case by checking MyUSCIS.
Class Action Filed Against DHS for L-2 and H-4 Processing Delays
On March 22, 2021, the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and others filed a class action lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), challenging processing delays on extensions of status and employment authorization documents (EADs) for H-4 and L-2 nonimmigrant spouses.
AILA President Jennifer Minear said, “DHS can and must revoke the unnecessary biometrics requirements for H-4 and L-2 nonimmigrants, provide automatic work authorization while DHS processes EAD renewal requests, and allow EAD applicants to file their renewal applications sooner than 180 days prior to EAD expiration to prevent gaps in work authorization.’
Details: AILA press release, https://www.aila.org/advo-media/press-releases/2021/lawsuit-l2-h4-processing-delays
USCIS Extends Flexibilities for Responding to Agency Requests
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has extended flexibilities in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. USCIS will consider a response to certain requests and notices received within 60 calendar days after the response due date set in the request or notice before taking any action. Additionally, the agency will consider a Form N-336 or Form I-290B received up to 60 calendar days from the date of the decision before taking any action. This flexibility applies to the documents if the issuance date listed on the request, notice, or decision is between March 1, 2020, and June 30, 2021, inclusive. Affected documents include requests for evidence; continuations to request evidence (N-14); notices of intent to deny, revoke, rescind, or terminate regional centers; and motions to reopen an N-400 pursuant to 8 CFR 335.5.
SEVP Reports 2020 Drop in International Student Enrollment
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) reported a drop of 72 percent in new international student enrollment in U.S. schools in 2020 as compared to calendar year 2019. Decreases were attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic and Trump-era immigration policies. The annual report, which presents data from the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System, also noted that international students chose business administration as a major most often in 2020, followed by second-language learning and computer science.
Details: SEVIS by the Numbers, Mar. 22, 2021, https://www.ice.gov/doclib/sevis/pdf/sevisBTN2020.pdf
State Dept. Proposes Increase in Passport Security Surcharge
The Department of State issued a proposed rule on March 26, 2021, to raise the passport security surcharge from $60 to $80.
Details: Schedule of Fees for Consular Services—Passport Security Surcharge, Proposed Rule, Dept. of State, https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2021-03-26/pdf/2021-06263.pdf
USCIS Issues Guidance on P-1A Internationally Recognized Athletes
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued updated policy guidance on internationally recognized athletes (P-1A nonimmigrants). The update in the USCIS Policy Manual provides more detailed guidance on the required prospective level of performance and provides USCIS’s interpretation of, and examples related to, the undefined regulatory phrase, “major United States sports league or team” as it relates to internationally recognized P-1A athletes.The guidance clarifies that “major United States sports league” is interpreted as “one that has a distinguished reputation commensurate with an internationally recognized level of performance, and “major United States sports team” means “a team that participates in such a league.”
Details: USCIS Policy Alert, PA-2021-04, Mar. 26, 2021, https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/document/policy-manual-updates/20210326-Athletes.pdf
Courtesy of WR Immigration.