Immigration Updates February 2020

Written by: Ashik Jahan, Esq.

USCIS H-1B Fiscal Year 2021 H-1B Cap Season Electronic Registration System Overview

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on December 6, 2019 that its new electronic process for petitioning employers seeking to file H-1B regular cap and/or master’s cap (advanced degree exemption) petitions for the fiscal year 2021 will officially begin on March 1, 2020.  The initial registration period will run from March 1 through March 20, 2020. During the initial registration period petitioning employers, or their authorized representatives, will complete the registration process by: (i) submitting basic information about their company; (ii) submitting basic information for each prospective H-1B worker; and (iii) paying the required $10.00 H-1B electronic registration fee.  After the initial electronic registration period closes, USCIS will conduct the initial selection process to meet the annual H-1B cap of 85,000. Petitioning employers whose electronic registration(s) were selected for processing should be notified of the same no later than March 31, 2020.  Employers will then be permitted to file full H-1B petitions for registrations that are selected in the lottery, during a filing period of at least 90 days.

“USCIS will post step-by-step instructions informing registrants how to complete the registration process on its website along with key dates and timelines as the initial registration period nears. USCIS will also conduct public engagements and other outreach activities to ensure registrants and interested parties are familiar with the new registration system. The agency may determine it is necessary to continue accepting registrations, or open an additional registration period, if it does not receive enough registrations and subsequent petitions projected to reach the numerical allocations.”

We will continue to monitor all developments on the H-1B registration process.  Should you have any questions about the new process, please feel free to contact our office directly to speak to a member of our immigration team.

See:  https://www.uscis.gov/news/news-releases/uscis-announces-implementation-h-1b-electronic-registration-process-fiscal-year-2021-cap-season

Supreme Court Allows Public-Charge Rule to Proceed and Could Make Many Immigrants Ineligible for Permanent Residency

The Supreme Court has allowed the continuation of a policy proposed by the Trump administration that alters the current “public charge rule.” The public charge rule allows government officials to deny permanent legal status, or green card, to immigrants they deem likely to need public assistance, such as Medicaid or food stamps. In the past only immigrants that needed substantial, long-term assistance qualified as a public charge, and statistics show that less than 1% of immigrants were ever disqualified to this rule. However, under the revised rule, immigrants that use any public benefits, even if not their main source of support, may put their chances at permanent residency in jeopardy.

See:  https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/27/us/supreme-court-trump-green-cards.html

New I-9 Form Becomes Mandatory as of May 1, 2020

USCIS has issued a new I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification Form.   The new form contains minor changes to the form and the instructions for the form.  For example, the instructions now provide clarification on who can act as an authorized representative on behalf of an employer as well as clarification on acceptable documents.  As of January 31, 2020, employers should begin using the Form I-9 posted on the below link (version 10/21/2019) for all I-9 verification.   However, employers may continue using the old form (version 07/17/2017) until April 30, 2020.  The version date is listed on lower left corner of the I-9 Form.   The I-9 Form is used to verify the identity and employment authorization of individuals hired for employment in the U.S.  This includes citizens and noncitizens.   Employers do not need to complete a new I-9 Form for current employees, who already have a properly completed Form I-9 on file, unless reverification applies.   Should you have any questions regarding the I-9 Form, please contact our office directly to speak to a member of our immigration team.   See: https://www.uscis.gov/i-9