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USCIS issues interim final rule revising definition of “Specialty Occupation.”

DHS issued an Interim Final Rule (IFR) regarding the H-1B visa program. The rule now restricts the program in several ways, including revising the definition of H-1B specialty occupation to include the requirement of a specific relationship between the required degree field and the duties of the offered position, and restores the requirement that employers provide contracts, work orders, itineraries or similar evidence to prove employer-employee relationship when sending H-1B workers to third party worksites. While this requirement was defeated in federal court, the rule restores the requirement. The IFR takes effect December 7, 2020.

DOS Issues Update on Court Order Regarding Presidential Proclamation 10052

DOS announced that, due to the injunction in National Association of Manufacturers v. DHS, any J-1, H-1B, H-2B, or L-1 applicant who is either sponsored (as an exchange visitor) by, petitioned by, or whose petitioner is a member of one of the plaintiffs in the suit is no longer subject to Presidential Proclamation 10052’s entry restrictions. Members are reminded that, while individuals may no longer be subject to the proclamation, they may still face difficulty in obtaining a visa appointment because many embassies and consular posts are not currently operating at full capacity.

The Trump administration has extended visa restrictions to nonimmigrant visas.

On June 22, President Trump signed an executive order enacting a temporary ban on many types of nonimmigrant visas. The ban prohibits the issuance of new visas to applicants of H-1B visas, H-2B visas for non agricultural seasonal workers, J-1 visas, and L-1 visas. There will be exemptions for food processing workers as well as some healthcare workers. The new restrictions took effect on June 24.

USCIS released a statement clarifying that immigrants with existing H-1B visas will not be affected by the recent ban.

On June 23, USCIS released a statement clarifying the impact of the newly released ban on new H-1B visas and other types of nonimmigrant visas. The restrictions do not affect those working in the U.S. on a valid H-1B or similar visa. Valid visa holders who are currently abroad will not be prevented from entering or reentering the U.S.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Finds USCIS Improperly Interpreted “Degree” to Require Specific Subspecialty for H-1B Visa

Earlier this month, a federal judge in North Carolina ruled that USCIS erred in denying an H-1B petition based on its finding that an engineering position did not qualify as a specialty occupation because it did not require a degree in a specific subspecialty.

USCIS will not use prepaid mailers for H-1B communications.

February 14, USCIS announced that it will not use pre-paid mailers to send out communication or final notices for FY 2021 cap-subject H-1B petitions. This includes communication to those requesting consideration under the advanced degree exemption. All mailing will be automated under a first-class mail process.

USCIS formally announced the implementation of its online H-1B registration process.

On January 9, USCIS announced that its electronic H-1B registration system has been implemented and will be used for fiscal year 2021 H-1B petitions. USCIS will open registration from March 1 through March 20, 2020. Online registration requires a $10 fee and is not a full application. Registrations will be randomly chosen no later than March 31, and once chosen, a petitioner will need to fill out their H-1B petition

USCIS to allow ONLINE registration for H-1B’s

USCIS announced online registration for the H-1B lottery. On December 6, USCIS announced that registration for the 2021 H-1B lottery will take place online. Employers who want to file cap-subject petitions must register online and pay the $10 registration fee. Employers will only need to give basic information on both the employer and requested worker. If selected by the lottery, the employer will then file a full petition. The initial registration period will be from March 1 through March 20, 2020.

Electronic Filing of LCA’s to begin

DOL’s Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC) announced that beginning September 16, 2019, stakeholders can prepare Labor Condition Applications (LCAs) for H‑1B, H‑1B1, and E‑3 visas in the FLAG System. The system will not permit submission of LCAs until 12:00 pm (ET) on October 1, 2019, and OFLC will accept submissions through iCERT until then. OFLC will post instructional videos on preparing LCAs using FLAG this Friday, September 13, 2019, and will host a webinar on the topic next Wednesday, September 18, 2019.

District Court Judge Grants Summary Judgment to the Plaintiffs and Denies Government’s Motion to Dismiss in H‑1B Denial Case

The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ordered USCIS to change the plaintiff’s status to H‑1B nonimmigrant after rejecting USCIS decision that Relx, Inc. d/b/a/ LexisNexis had not shown that the data analyst position was a specialty occupation.

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