USCIS Resumes Premium Processing for H-1B Petitions
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on Tuesday, October 3rd that it will resume premium processing all types of H-1B petitions and for all H-1B visa extension of stay petitions. This change is effective immediately.
USCIS also resumed premium processing for H-1B petitions subject to the annual cap, which is set at 65,000 visas for 2018, and 20,000 for workers with a U.S. master’s degree or higher educational degree. Premium processing is also reinstated for petitions filed on behalf of physicians under the Conrad 30 waiver program, interested government agency waivers, and certain other H-1B petitions that are not subject to the cap.
The H-1B visa is a nonimmigrant visa that allows a U.S. company to hire foreign workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise. More than 40,000 companies submitted H-1B visa applications in 2016, predominantly in the IT and computer-related sectors.
However, Fortune magazine reported in early August that the number of H-1B visa petitions for Indian candidates in 2017 actually declined for the first time in 7 years. The number of computer-related petitions also decreased for the first time in 4 years – “indicating that
foreign interest in these sorts of American jobs may be declining under the Trump administration.”
What You Need to Know about the Presidential Proclamation “Enhancing Vetting Capabilities and Processes for Detecting Attempted Entry into the United States by Terrorists or Other Public-Safety Threats”
Since taking office on January 20th of this year, President Trump has signed several travel bans. The first, Executive Order 13769, “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States,” was signed on January 27, 2017 and took immediate effect. Though some people called this order the “Muslim ban” because six of the seven affected countries have majority Muslim populations, the order actually affects all nationals of those countries, regardless of their religion.
The Executive Order was quickly challenged in the federal courts, where it was “put on hold.” The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued what is known as a Temporary Restraining Order, which prevented the administration for enforcing some parts of the travel ban.
On March 6, 2017, Mr. Trump issued Executive Order 13780, which superseded the previous travel ban. This second version of the travel ban went into effect on March 16, dropping Iraq from the list of affected countries. It also did not apply to Legal Permanent Residents (so-called “green-card holders”), dual nationals, and people who have been granted asylum or refugee status. This second order also removed language that gave priority to religious minorities.
Travel Ban 2.0 was set to expire on Sunday, September 24, 2017. That same day, the White House announced a third version of the travel ban. This new Presidential proclamation, “Enhancing Vetting Capabilities and Processes for Detecting Attempted Entry into the United States by Terrorists or Other Public-Safety Threats,” places restrictions on eight countries and will take effect on October 18, 2018.
The Department of Homeland Security developed a set of immigration criteria and used that to evaluate the information-sharing practices, policies, and capabilities of foreign governments, as well as risks that may be posed by allowing nationals of the foreign country to enter the United States.
Who Is Affected
Travel ban 3.0 applies to eight countries — Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuala, and Yemen. This new travel ban replaces the majority of the second travel ban signed in March. The restrictions vary country by country, and unlike the previous temporary travel ban which was limited to 90 days, travel ban 3.0 is indefinite.
The new ban also gives consular officers the discretion to waive the new restrictions on a "case-by-case basis" if a foreign national demonstrates that denying entry into the US would cause "undue hardship" and he or she does not pose a threat to national security. This means the burden of proof is on you to show that you would suffer undue hardship if you are not allowed to enter the United States and that you do not pose a risk to the nation.
But There Are Always Exceptions!
These restrictions only apply to foreign nationals who are outside the United States and do not already have or qualify for a valid visa at this time.
If you have a validly issued Legal Permanent Resident card (“LPR card” or “green card”), valid visa, or other travel document, do not worry! Any of these documents which are currently valid will not be revoked. The new travel ban also does not apply to people seeking asylum or refugee status. However, entry of refugees is currently limited by the original travel ban issued in January, and new rules for refugees are expected to be announced within the next few weeks.
There are also several exceptions to the travel ban. The restrictions listed in the table above do not apply to:
So, in Short…
World One Law Group Will Keep You Updated on Any Further Developments!
Margaret Riley is an immigration attorney at World One Law Group in Bellevue, Washington. World One specializes in employment and business immigration, family-based immigration, naturalization, as well as asylum, DACA, VAWA, and U-Visa cases.