ADHS Conrad 30 J-1 Waiver Program to Open October 1st

ADHS Conrad 30 J-1 Waiver Program to Open October 1st

The Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) Automated J-1 Visa Waiver Application System will begin accepting J-1 waiver applications for Fiscal Year 2023 on October 1, 2022. The application window will remain open through November 30, 2022. Please contact our office as soon as possible if you are planning to hire a J-1 physician who requires a waiver for employment in 2023.

The ADHS employer portal must be accessed by employers to register their employment sites for the J-1 Visa Waiver Program. If you have not already done so, please create an account or access your existing account to add all employment sites where you will place your 2023 J-1 waiver employee/s. To access the ADHS portal, please click here. ADHS’s instructions for registering your company’s employment sites are attached for your convenience. (If you are not hiring any J-1 candidates this year, you are not required to register your sites).

Please note that for any application we are retained to prepare after November 15th and before the November 30th filing deadline, an additional rush processing fee will apply.

Please do not hesitate to contact our office if you have any questions.

USCIS Announces Temporary Final Rule to Extend Work Authorization Period

USCIS Announces Temporary Final Rule to Extend Work Authorization Period

This message is meant only for those clients who have applied for the renewal of an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) in certain categories. If that does not apply to you, you may ignore this message.

Due to historically lengthy processing times, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that certain Employment Authorization Document (EAD) renewal applicants will now receive an automatic 360-day extension, in addition to the previous 180-day extension, to their work authorization. This will allow for a total of up to 540 days of continued work authorization while the EAD extension application remains pending. The change was formalized through a Temporary Final Rule, which will remain in place until October 27, 2023.

If an applicant currently has a pending EAD renewal application and the 180-day automatic extension period has expired, the applicant will be eligible to begin or resume employment on May 4, 2022 and continue employment for 540 days from the expiration date of the applicant’s current EAD.  If the applicant’s EAD renewal is currently pending and the applicant is still within the 180-day automatic employment extension period, he or she will now have an additional 360-day extension, for a total of up to 540 days past the expiration of the current EAD. Anyone in an eligible category who files an EAD renewal application before Oct. 27, 2023, will also receive an automatic extension of up to 540 days if the EAD expires before the renewal application is processed.

The EAD categories eligible for the automatic total 540 day extension to work authorization are (as indicated in Form I-765 at the time of the EAD renewal application):

(a)(3) Refugee
(a)(5) Asylee
(a)(7) N-8 or N-9
(a)(8) Citizen of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, or Palau
(a)(10) Withholding of Deportation or Removal Granted
(a)(12) Temporary Protected Status (TPS) Granted
(a)(17) Spouse of principal E nonimmigrant with an unexpired I-94 showing E nonimmigrant status1
(a)(18) Spouse of principal L-1 Nonimmigrant with an unexpired I-94 showing L-2 nonimmigrant status2
(c)(8) Asylum Application Pending
(c)(9) Pending Adjustment of Status under Section 245 of the Act
(c)(10) Suspension of Deportation Applicants (filed before April 1, 1997)
Cancellation of Removal Applicants
Special Rule Cancellation of Removal Applicants Under NACARA
(c)(16) Creation of Record (Adjustment Based on Continuous Residence Since January 1, 1972)
(c)(19) Pending  initial application for TPS where USCIS determines applicant  is  prima facie eligible for TPS and can receive an EAD as a “temporary treatment benefit”. 
(c)(20) Section 210 Legalization (pending I-700)
(c)(22) Section 245A Legalization (pending I-687)
(c)(24) LIFE Legalization
(c)(26) Spouses of certain H-1B principal nonimmigrants with an unexpired I-94 showing H-4 nonimmigrant status
(c)(31)VAWA Self-Petitioners

Please contact our office if you have any questions about an EAD extension.

USCIS Completes FY 2023 H-1B CAP Lottery Selection Process

USCIS Completes FY 2023 H-1B CAP Lottery Selection Process

This message is meant only for those clients who have an H-1B CAP registration for FY 2023. If that does not apply to you, you may ignore this message.

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that the annual limit for Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 H-1B cap employment has been met and the lottery selection process has been completed.  USCIS will issue a notification to all H-1B cap selections of their status, including regular and advanced-degree applicants.  To check the status of a registration online, the company’s authorized signatory will need to access their account on my.USCIS.gov to learn which registrants were selected.  For registrations filed by our office, we will notify all selected and non-selected applicants within the coming days.  Registration statuses may include:

  • Selected: The beneficiary was selected in the FY 2023 lottery. The employer may file a FY 2023 H-1B cap petition for the beneficiary beginning April 1, 2022.
  • Submitted: The applicant was not selected in the lottery but will remain in consideration for selection until the end of the fiscal year.  The employer may not file an FY 2023 cap petition for the beneficiary unless notified otherwise by USCIS.
  • Denied: Because a duplicate registration was submitted by the employer for the same beneficiary, they are not eligible for the lottery.  If a registration was denied as a duplicate, all of the employer’s registrations for that specific beneficiary are invalid.
  • Invalidated – Failed Payment: The registration payment method failed, so the beneficiary is not eligible for the lottery.

So far, H-1B cap selection notices indicate a filing period for petitions from April 1 to June 30, 2022.  Accordingly, employers may submit petitions for beneficiaries selected in the lottery starting April 1, 2022.  The petition filing period will end no earlier than 90 days thereafter.

If a registration was not selected in this lottery, it will be held in the system and remain in consideration for selection in the event that USCIS does not receive by June 30 a sufficient number of H-1B cap petitions to meet the annual limit of 85,000.  As it has done in the past, USCIS may conduct additional lottery selections later in the year.

Please contact our office if you have any questions about the H-1B cap registration or selection process.

Transferring the Underlying Basis* of an I-485 application to a Different Employment-Based Immigrant Category

Transferring the Underlying Basis* of an I-485 application to a Different Employment-Based Immigrant Category

This message is meant only for those clients who are considering transferring the underlying basis of their Adjustment of Status Application from one category or petition to a different category or petition. If that does not apply to you, you may ignore this message.

On January 21, 2022, USCIS released new guidance on requests to transfer the underlying basis of an I-485 Adjustment of Status (“adjustment”) to a different employment-based immigrant category based on another Form I-140. The guidance states that USCIS may, in its discretion grant a transfer of underlying basis if the following criteria are met:

  • You have continuously maintained eligibility for adjustment of status;
  • Your adjustment of status application based on the original Form I-140 is still pending;
  • You are eligible for the new immigrant category; and
  • You have a visa immediately available in the new immigrant category.

Requests to transfer the underlying basis must be made in writing to a new USCIS contact address in California. Only one petition may form the basis of an adjustment application at any given time. The applicant must clearly designate in writing which petition serves as the new basis of the adjustment application. A Form I-485, Supplement J should also be included if applicable. USCIS will not provide a written response to transfer of underlying basis requests, but it will issue a receipt notice for a Supplement J.

Once an applicant makes a request to transfer a pending adjustment application from one basis to another and if the transfer request is granted, the original petition no longer supports the adjustment application.

So long as the adjustment application is still pending, USCIS may allow the applicant to transfer a pending application to a different/new I-140 petition or basis. The new I-140 petition may either be approved or still pending.  However, once a final decision has been made on an adjustment application, a transfer cannot be granted.

If you have a pending adjustment of status application based in the third employment-based preference category but also have a pending or approved petition and an available visa in the employment-based second preference category, you are strongly encouraged to request that USCIS transfer the underlying basis of your pending application to the EB-2 petition. Please contact our office if you would like us to review your case, or if you would like assistance with the transfer request.

* (Please note that the “transfer of underlying basis” and “interfiling” refer to the same process.)

H-1B Cap Lottery Season is Underway

H-1B Cap Lottery Season is Underway

This message is meant only for those clients who are considering filing an H-1B petition in this year’s H-1B Cap Lottery. If that does not apply to you, you may ignore this message.

It’s that time of year again – H-1B Cap Lottery Season!

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on Friday, January 28, 2022, that the initial registration period for the fiscal year 2023 H-1B cap will open on March 1, 2022 and will run through March 18, 2022. This year’s lottery will follow an electronic registration process. Only those registrations submitted during the registration period will be entered into the cap-subject lottery. Those registrants who are selected will then have the opportunity to submit an H-1B petition for adjudication. This year’s lottery will continue to be a random selection and USCIS will notify selected registrants by March 31, 2022.

Our firm will charge for H-1B cap cases in two phases. During Phase 1, we will review the employee candidate’s credentials as well as the offered position, to ensure that they will both meet the minimum qualifications for the H-1B category. We will provide a legal memo to the employer, outlining our review, the likely DOL job code and required wage level. We will complete that review prior to registering the candidate for the lottery. Our firm will be responsible for the registration process itself. Our fixed fee for the work in Phase 1 will be $1000, and is inclusive of the USCIS $10 registration fee.

If a registration is selected in the lottery, then during Phase 2, we will prepare the H-1B petition to file with USCIS during the 90-day eligibility window. Our fixed fee for the work to prepare and file the H-1B petition will be $2500. If the petition receives a “request for evidence” (RFE) from USCIS, we will charge an additional fixed fee to prepare the response. The RFE response fixed fee will be set based on the complexity of the request. Finally, please note that registrants who require Cap Gap work authorization to cover the period from the date their OPT EAD expires until H-1B work starts on October 1, 2022 will require an extra $500 “rush” fee to cover the accelerated preparation of the file.

If you have any employees that you would like to sponsor in the H-1B Cap Lottery, please let us know as soon as possible, and no later than March 4, 2022.

USCIS Issues Guidance on Expedited EADs for Healthcare Workers

USCIS Issues Guidance on Expedited EADs for Healthcare Workers

This email applies to healthcare workers with a pending or upcoming EAD renewal application. If this does not apply to you, you may disregard this email.

As of December 28, 2021, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will expedite certain Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) to any healthcare worker who has a pending Employment Authorization Document (EAD) renewal application (Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization) and whose EAD is expiring within 30 days or has already expired.

This DHS advisory memorandum (“Healthcare / Public Health” section, pages 7-9) defines who is a “healthcare worker.” USCIS may require evidence of the profession or current employment as a healthcare worker in order to expedite the pending EAD extension. “Expedited processing” means that USCIS will process the application faster, but there is no guaranteed timeline.

The expedited processing request is made by calling the USCIS Contact Center at 800-375-5283 (TTY 800-767-1833). USCIS will then send a request for supporting evidence via e-mail with a deadline for response.

Please contact our office if you would like us to review your case, or if you would like assistance with the expedite request.

Good News! USCIS will change H-4, L-2 and E-2 EAD policies

Good News! USCIS will change H-4, L-2 and E-2 EAD policies

This message relates to changes in the adjudication of the H-4, L-2 and E-2 work permits.  If the information does not apply to your situation, you may disregard it.

As a result of a settlement agreement in a federal lawsuit, Shergill, et al. v. Mayorkas, and, after considering public comments received in response to the Identifying Barriers Across USCIS Benefits and Services; Request for Public Input, USCIS has agreed to change its employment authorization policies with respect to some H-4, L-2 and E-2 dependent spouse employment authorization document (“EAD”) applications.

Under the Shergill settlement, eligible H-4 nonimmigrant spouses who file a timely standalone H-4 EAD renewal application will benefit from an auto-extension that terminates on the earliest of their current I-94 date, the approval or denial of their EAD renewal, or 180 days.

Likewise, L-2 and E-2 nonimmigrant spouses will no longer need to apply and wait for EAD approval to begin employment in the United States. Eligible L-2 and E-2 nonimmigrants will be able to work incident to their nonimmigrant status, without the need for an EAD. The status of L-2 and E-2 nonimmigrants is to be established by a valid I-94 specifying that the L-2 or E-2 nonimmigrant is the spouse of an L-1 or E-2 principle nonimmigrant. Under the terms of the settlement, USCIS has 120 days from the effective date of the settlement (November 10, 2021) to coordinate with CBP to start issuing I-94 records to indicate that the bearer is an L-2 or E-2 spouse. L-2 and E-2 spouses who hold an I-94 that does not have a spouse annotation may need to maintain a valid EAD in order to work until they receive an I-94 with a spouse annotation.

The settlement agreement also provides auto-extension policies, similar to H-4 spouses above, for L-2s and E-2s who timely file EAD renewal applications and continue to have status beyond their current EAD expiration. The auto-extension duration is the same as for the H-4 version.

On November 11, 2021 USCIS announced that the agency has updated its Policy Manual in order to implement these changes. The updated policy states that:

“… the following combination of documents evidence the automatic extension of the previous EAD, and are acceptable to present to employers for Form I-9 purposes: Form I-94 indicating the unexpired nonimmigrant status (H-4, E, or L), Form I-797C for a timely-filed EAD renewal application (Form I-765) stating “Class requested” as “(a)(17),” “(a)(18),” or “(c)(26),” and the facially expired EAD issued under the same category (that is, indicating Category A17, A18, or C26).”

Please do not hesitate to contact our office if you have any questions about how these changes affect your personal situation.  

United States to Rescind Travel Bans for Nonimmigrant International Air Travel from November 8th

United States to Rescind Travel Bans for Nonimmigrant International Air Travel from November 8th

This message relates to the lifting of COVID-19 regional travel restrictions to the U.S.  If the information does not apply to your situation, you may disregard it.

President Biden’s proclamation issued on October 25, 2021, rescinds the current regional travel bans and mandates a COVID-19 vaccination requirement on nonimmigrants traveling by air from any country to the United States effective 12:01 am EST on November 8, 2021.

Under the new air travel policy, adult foreign nationals seeking entry to the United States with a nonimmigrant visa or visa waiver will need to provide proof of full vaccination before boarding a flight to the United States.  All fully vaccinated air travelers, including U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents, will be required to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within three days of boarding a flight to the United States. Any unvaccinated travelers must show proof of a negative test within one day of departure.  The new requirements will not apply to land border travel.

Only the following vaccines are acceptable at this time: Janssen/J&J, Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Covishield, BIBP/Sinopharm, and Sinovac. 

Some exceptions from the new air travel vaccination requirement include children under 18, most nationals of countries with less than a 10% total vaccination rate, and U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents.

U.S. to Lift COVID-19 Travel Restrictions in Early November 2021

U.S. to Lift COVID-19 Travel Restrictions in Early November 2021

This message relates to the lifting of COVID-19 travel restrictions to the U.S.  If the information does not apply to your situation, you may disregard it.

On September 20, 2021, the White House announced its plans to ease travel restrictions on international travelers coming into the United States beginning in early November 2021. The current geographic COVID-19 related travel bans implemented for individuals from China, Iran, the Schengen Area, U.K., Ireland, Brazil, South Africa, and India will be rescinded. In place of these bans, all international travelers will be required to prove that they have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, as well as provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test within three days of boarding a flight to the United States. The CDC will provide information regarding which vaccines and what proof of vaccination will be accepted. Fully vaccinated international travelers will not be required to quarantine.

Limited exceptions to the vaccination requirement will be available to: children; COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial participants; and humanitarian exceptions for people traveling for an important reason and who lack access to vaccination in a timely manner. Individuals who are exempted from the vaccine requirement may be required to become vaccinated upon arrival.

The administration will also be making additional recommendations to stop the spread of COVID-19, including: 1) continuing the mask mandate on flights through January 18, 2022; 2) expanding pre-departure and post-arrival testing requirements; and 3) implanting a contact tracing order for airlines.

This policy means that the U.S. will no longer be implementing the current 212(f) travel policies for individual countries as of early November, which required an approved National Interest Exception for countries subject to COVID-19 related travel bans.

U.S. will suspend entry for certain individuals who have been physically present in India

This alert applies only to individuals currently in India, or who are considering travel to India. If this does not describe your situation, you may disregard the message.

U.S. will suspend entry for certain individuals who have been

physically present in India

On April 30, 2021, President Biden issued a Proclamation suspending entry to the United States of certain nonimmigrants physically present in India. An earlier White House press release stated, “On the advice of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Administration will restrict travel from India starting immediately.” The policy will take effect at 12:01 a.m. EDT on Tuesday, May 4, 2021.

In the Proclamation, U.S. governmental agencies are ordered to take measures to prevent entry to the U.S. of individuals who have been physically present in India during the prior 14 days, unless an exemption or exception applies.

The following groups are exempted from the restrictions:

  • U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents to the U.S.,
  • Spouses of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents,
  • Parents or legal guardians of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents if the citizen or permanent resident is unmarried and under the age of 21,
  • Siblings of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents as long as both individuals are unmarried and under the age of 21,
  • Children, foster children, or wards of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident,
  • Certain diplomatic visa holders,
  • Members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their spouses and children,
  • Individuals traveling at the invitation of the U.S. Government for a purpose related to containment or mitigation of the virus.

The policy will prevent issuance of a nonimmigrant visa to individuals present in India during the 14 days before their visa application, unless the applicant demonstrates that he or she meets the criteria for a “National Interest Exception.”

If you are currently in India and have a valid U.S. visa or travel document, it is advisable to return to the U.S. before Tuesday, May 4th. Elective travel to India should be avoided if possible. If travel to India cannot be avoided, then please be advised that this Proclamation will remain in place until rescinded by President Biden, and return travel from India to the U.S. will be significantly delayed. Another option would be to depart India, quarantine for 14 days in a non-restricted country, and then apply for a visa or travel to the U.S. with a valid visa or other valid travel document. We will continue to provide updated information as soon as it is available.