U.S. Immigration Updates – Week of February 5, 2024

 

U.S. Senate Releases Bipartisan Bill with Provisions for Families of H-1B Visa Holders and for Green Cards

On February 4, 2024, the U.S. Senate released the bipartisan border bill that features some provisions concerning green cards and families of H-1B visa holders. If enacted into law, the bill will:

Create protections for children who age out of H-1B status.

  • The bill clarifies that the age or marital status determination for a dependent child of an H-1B visa holder is to be made using the individual’s age and marital status on the date of the initial petition for classification for the purpose of their order of consideration.
  • The bill ensures that the children of H-1B workers will not lose their legal status when they reach the age of 21.
  • To be eligible, individuals must have maintained their status as a dependent child for at least 8 years prior to reaching 21 years of age and sought to acquire lawful permanent residence status within a 2-year period of an immigrant visa becoming available to them.
  • The bill provides work authorization for an individual who is determined to be a child pursuant to the changes in this section.

Improve Work Authorization Access to Some Nonimmigrants

  • The bill provides automatic work authorizations to:
    • 1) a fiancé, fiancée, or spouse of a United States citizen who has been admitted to await the approval of an immigrant visa;
    • 2) a child of a fiancé, fiancée, or spouse of a United States citizen who has been admitted to await the approval of an immigrant visa; and
    • 3) the alien spouse or child of an H-1B visa holder.

Increase Number of Green Cards

  • The bill authorizes an additional 250,000 immigrant visas for the next five fiscal years, which would be divided between the family-based (32,000/fiscal year) and employment-based 18,000/fiscal year) visa categories.
  • The bill provides relief to some individuals who have been stuck waiting many years for legal status. These additional visa numbers are subject to the per country limitation and are available until used.

As of this writing, it is uncertain whether the bill will be introduced into the US House of Representatives or if these provisions will be modified before any possible passage.

SOURCE: Stuart Anderson, Forbes, February 5, 2024: Senate Bill Adds Immigrant Visas And H-1B Family Protections (forbes.com)

 

DHS and USCIS Announce H-1B Registration Final Rule and FY 2025 H-1B Cap Registration Period

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) posted a final rule amending its regulations relating to the H-1B registration selection process which includes the following provisions:

  • A beneficiary-centric selection process for H-1B registrations, where USCIS will select by unique beneficiary rather than by registration.
  • Start date flexibility for certain H-1B cap-subject petitions, permitting filing with requested start dates that are after October 1 of the relevant fiscal year.
  • Integrity measures that codify USCIS’ ability to deny or revoke H-1B petitions where the underlying registration contained a false attestation or was otherwise invalid, and adding a provision that USCIS may deny or revoke the approval of an H-1B petition if it determines that the fee associated with the registration is declined, not reconciled, disputed, or otherwise invalid after submission.

US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has also announced the following:

  • The initial registration period for the FY 2025 H-1B cap will open at noon Eastern time on March 6, 2024, and run through noon Eastern on March 22, 2024.
  • This year, the registration fee will remain $10.00 for all registration submitted before April 1, 2024.
  • Registrants will be required to provide valid passport information or valid travel document information.
  • The passport or travel document provided must be the one the beneficiary, if or when abroad, intends to use to enter the United States if issued an H-1B visa.
  • Each beneficiary must only be registered under one passport or travel document.
  • If enough unique beneficiaries are registered by March 22, 2024, as projected to reach the H-1B numerical allocations, USCIS will randomly select from among those unique beneficiaries and send selection notifications via users’ USCIS online accounts.
  • If enough unique beneficiaries are not registered, all of the properly registered beneficiaries will be selected.
  • USCIS intends to notify account holders and upload selection notifications to their accounts by March 31, 2024.

 

USCIS Announces New Fees Effective April 1, 2024

On January 30, 2024, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published a final rule to increase USCIS filing fees for certain petitions and applications filed with USCIS for immigration benefits. The new filing fees will help USCIS fund its operations to process these petitions and applications. Here are some highlights:

  • The new USCIS filing fees will take effect on April 1, 2024.
  • The new fee will apply to all registrations submitted on or after April 1, 2024. Registrations submitted before April 1, 2024 will not be affected by the fee increase.
  • The new USCIS filing fee schedule may be found at https://www.uscis.gov/frequently-asked-questions-on-the-uscis-fee-rule under the tab, “New Fee Schedule Table.”
  • USCIS has increased the H-1B registration fee from $10.00 per registration to $215.00 per registration. However, the $215.00 registration fee will NOT affect the upcoming H-1B registration period held in March 2024. The H-1B registration fee will remain $10.00 for this year.
  • Employers that file a Form I-129 petition or Form I-140 petition must now pay, in addition to the new filing fee(s) for these forms, an Asylum Program Fee of $600.00 per petition.

With the new filing fees, USCIS is introducing revised form editions. These new form editions will take effect on April 1, 2024. Please note that USCIS will accept prior editions of most forms during a grace period from April 1, 2024, through June 3, 2024, provided the forms are submitted to USCIS with the correct filing fee(s). NOTE:  There will be no grace period for Form I-129 or Form I-140.

 

USCIS To Launch Organizational Accounts and Online Filing on February 28, 2024

On February 28, 2024, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will launch:

  • New organizational accounts in the USCIS online account that will allow multiple people within an organization and their legal representatives to collaborate and prepare H-1B registrations, H-1B petitions, and any associated Form I-907; and
  • Online filing of Form I-129 and associated Form I-907 for non-cap H-1B petitions on February 28, 2024.

Additionally,

  • On April 1, 2024, USCIS will begin accepting online filing for H-1B cap petitions and associated Forms I-907 for petitioners whose registrations have been selected.
  • Petitioners will continue to have the option of filing a paper Form I-129 H-1B petition and any associated Form I-907
  • During the initial launch of organizational accounts, users will not be able to link paper-filed Forms I-129 and I-907 to their online accounts.
  • An increased filing fee for Form I-907, will be effective February 26, 2024.
  • If USCIS receives a Form I-907 postmarked on or after February 26, 2024, with the incorrect filing fee, the Service will reject the Form I-907 and return the filing fee.

The content of this article is intended only to provide a general guide to the subject matter. It should not be construed as legal advice. Please contact FGI at info@employmentimmigration.com or 248.643.4900 for guidance if you have specific questions.

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