U.S. Immigration Updates + August 2023 Monthly Review

August 28, 2023 Update

USCIS Updates Policy Guidance on CSPA ‘Sought to Acquire’ Requirement

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on August 24, 2023, that it is updating the USCIS Policy Manual to clarify how it will apply the extraordinary circumstances exception to the “sought to acquire” requirement under the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA) in light of a February 14, 2023, policy change updating when an immigrant visa becomes available for the purpose of calculating an applicant’s CSPA age.

USCIS explained that the CSPA protects certain beneficiaries from losing their eligibility for immigrant visas and adjustment of status because they age during the immigration process and no longer qualify as a child for immigration purposes. To benefit from the CSPA, noncitizens must seek to acquire lawful permanent resident status within 1 year of when an immigrant visa becomes available, USCIS noted. The update:

  • Explains that USCIS considers the February 14 policy change to be an extraordinary circumstance that may excuse an applicant’s failure to meet the “sought to acquire” requirement;
  • Clarifies that the agency may excuse an applicant’s failure to meet the requirement if they did not apply to adjust status because they could not calculate their CSPA age under the prior policy or their CSPA age would have been calculated as over 21, but they are now eligible for CSPA age-out protection under the new policy; and
  • Clarifies that the agency considers applicants to have met the requirement if their application to adjust their status was pending on February 14 and they applied to adjust status within one year of a visa becoming available based on the Final Action Dates chart under the policy guidance that was in effect when they applied.

USCIS explained that under the policy guidance in effect before February 14, 2023, some noncitizens may not have applied to adjust status because a visa was not available to calculate their CSPA age under the prior policy or their CSPA age would have been calculated to be over 21 years old. If these noncitizens apply to adjust their status under the new policy issued on February 14, USCIS said, they may not be able to meet the one-year “sought to acquire” requirement. “However, noncitizens who do not meet this requirement may still benefit from the CSPA if they can establish that their failure to meet the requirement was the result of extraordinary circumstances,” USCIS noted.

USCIS said it welcomes feedback on this guidance and will consider any comments received in future updates. Comments can be submitted via the Policy Manual Feedback page.

SOURCE:  USCIS alert, August 24, 2023


Office of Foreign Labor Certification Rescinds COVID-19 FAQs

As of August 24, 2023, OFLC has rescinded in full all COVID-19 FAQs, which includes Round 1 (published March 20, 2020); Round 2 (published April 1, 2020); Round 3 (published April 9, 2020); and Round 4 (published June 3, 2020). The processing centers have resumed normal operations. All other FAQs not related to COVID-19 remain in full effect, OFLC said.

SOURCE: OFLC Rescinds All FAQs Regarding COVID-19, August 24, 2023


 USCIS Confirms Evidentiary Requirements for Physician National Interest Waivers

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has issued policy guidance, effective August 16, 2023, to confirm the evidentiary requirements for physicians seeking a national interest waiver of the job offer requirement based on work in an underserved area or at a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs facility.

The updated guidance confirms that for physician national interest waiver petitions, the required contracts and public health letters must be dated within six months immediately before the petition filing date only for work that the physician has not yet started. The six-month requirement does not apply to work that the physician has already started or has completed before the petition filing date, USCIS said.

SOURCE: USCIS Policy Alert, Aug. 16, 2023.


USCIS Launches New Online Appointment Request Form

On August 21, 2023, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced a new online form for individuals, attorneys, and accredited representatives to request an in-person appointment at their local field office without having to call the USCIS Contact Center.

The online appointment request form allows individuals or legal representatives to request an in-person appointment at a field office, for ADIT stamps, Emergency Advance Parole, Immigration Judge Grants, and more, USCIS said. The USCIS Contact Center will review submitted forms and the availability of in-person appointments at a specific field office. The agency said that individuals “may request a specific date and time for an in-person appointment, but USCIS cannot guarantee that the requested appointment date will be scheduled. USCIS will confirm and schedule the individual for an available in-person appointment date and time.”

SOURCE: USCIS alert, August 21, 2023.


August 2023 Monthly Review

Department of State Releases September 2023 Visa Bulletin

The Department of State’s (DOS) Visa Bulletin for September includes Diversity Visa 2024 (DV-2024) lottery results, availability of employment-based visas during September, and determination of the numerical limit on immigrants for fiscal year (FY) 2023.

Diversity Visa Lottery Results

The bulletin notes that the Kentucky Consular Center in Williamsburg, Kentucky, has registered and notified the selectees who are eligible to participate in the DV-2024 program. Entrants registered for the DV-2024 program were selected at random from 22,185,619 qualified entries. The selectee numbers for each country are listed in the bulletin.

During the visa interview, principal applicants must provide proof of a high school education or its equivalent, or two years of work experience in an occupation that requires at least two years of training or experience within the past five years. “Those selected will need to act on their immigrant visa applications quickly,” the bulletin advises. Approximately 143,000 prospective applicants (selectees and their spouses and children) have been registered. Once the total 55,000 visa numbers have been used, the program for fiscal year 2024 will end. Selectees who do not receive visas or status by September 30, 2024, will derive no further benefit from their DV-2024 registration, the bulletin says.

DOS said that the dates for the DV-2025 program registration period will be widely publicized in the coming months.

Availability of Employment-Based Visas

The bulletin explains that employment-based number use by both U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and DOS has been steady during this fiscal year. As a result, most employment-based preference category limits and/or the overall employment-based preference limit for FY 2023 are expected to be reached during September. If the annual limit is reached, the preference category will immediately become unavailable.

Determination of Numerical Limit on Immigrants

DOS has determined that the employment preference numerical limit for FY 2023 is 197,091. For FY 2023, the per-country limit is 29,616. The dependent area annual limit is 2%, or 8,462.

SOURCE: Department of State: Visa Bulletin for September 2023


USCIS Reminds Employers About New I-9 Alternative Procedure

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) reminded employers that the new version of Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, is now available for use. The new version incorporates an alternative procedure for E-Verify employers to remotely examine employee documents. Other changes include shortening the form to one page and reducing the instructions to eight pages.

Employers can use the form immediately, USCIS said. The Form I-9 dated “10/19/2019” may continue to be used through October 31, 2023. The version date can be found at the lower left corner of the form. Beginning November 1, 2023, only the new Form I-9 dated “08/01/23” may be used.



Second Random Selection for FY 2024 H-1B Cap Is Complete

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has completed the second random selection process from previously submitted registrations for the fiscal year (FY) 2024 H-1B cap.

In March 2023, USCIS conducted an initial random selection. The initial filing period for those with selected registrations for FY 2024 was April 1, 2023, through June 30, 2023. Only petitioners with selected registrations for FY 2024 are eligible to file H-1B cap-subject petitions.

USCIS noted that the period for filing the H-1B cap-subject petition will be at least 90 days and will be indicated on the registration selection notice. Online filing is not available for H-1B petitions, so petitioners filing H-1B petitions must do so by paper, USCIS said. Petitioners must include a printed copy of the applicable registration selection notice with the FY 2024 H-1B cap-subject petition.

SOURCES:  USCIS alert (July 31, 2023). https://www.uscis.gov/newsroom/alerts/second-random-selection-from-previously-submitted-registrations-complete-for-fy-2024-h-1b-cap; USCIS alert (July 27, 2023). https://www.uscis.gov/newsroom/alerts/uscis-will-conduct-second-random-selection-from-previously-submitted-fy-2024-h-1b-cap-registrations


USCIS Changes Receipt Process for L-1 Nonimmigrant Intracompany Transferees Under Previously Approved Blanket L Petition

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced changes to how the agency issues receipts for L-1 nonimmigrant intracompany transferees (executives, managers, or specialized knowledge professionals) under a previously approved blanket L petition.

USCIS said that when filing Form I-129S, Nonimmigrant Petition Based on Blanket L Petition, together with Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, the petitioner will now receive two notices: the receipt notice and the approval notice (if approved). Petitioners will no longer receive a stamped and signed Form I-129S in conjunction with the Form I-129 approval. Instead, the petitioner will receive a separate approval notice for the Form I-129S, which serves as the endorsement.

SOURCE:  USCIS alert (August 3, 2023). https://www.uscis.gov/newsroom/alerts/uscis-updates-receipts-process-for-form-i-129s



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