Category Archives: General

FY2022 Green Card Lottery Registration Period Opens October 7, 2020

The U.S. State Department will begin accepting online registrations for the 2022 Diversity Visa (DV) lottery aka green card lottery starting October 7, 2020 at noon EDT.  Those who wish to enter the lottery have until Tuesday, November 10, 2020 at noon EST to file online.

For FY 2022, the DV lottery program will make up to 55,000 green card numbers available through random selection and the results will be announced in May 2021. Those selected in the lottery can submit their green card applications starting on October 1, 2021.

To register for the DV Lottery, you must meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • Be born or have a spouse (and in some circumstances, a parent) born in a country with low rates of US immigration. The following countries are excluded from the FY2022 lottery, so if you are born in one of these countries, you are not eligible to participate in the lottery:
    • Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China (including Hong Kong SAR), Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, South Korea, United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, and Vietnam.
  • Must have a high school education (or equivalent) or at least two years of qualifying work experience.
  • Must submit an online form and a digital photo through the official DV lottery website. DV lottery applicants may include a spouse (same-sex or opposite-sex) and children in their entry. Only one entry is permitted per person.

It is critical to carefully follow the State Department’s official lottery instructions , or you may be disqualified.  Also, very important to only use the official DV lottery website is located on the State Department website and to remember that the State Department does not charge a fee for lottery registrations. To learn more about DV lottery fraud, visit the websites of the State Department and the Federal Trade Commission.

If lottery assistance is needed, seek competent advice or reach out to us.  Good luck to all the DV lottery entrants!

 

Proposed Student Visa Rules end Duration of Status, Require Extension Applications


On September 25, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the DHS agency with jurisdiction over F-1 foreign student visa holders, published new proposed regulations that would end the long time U.S. practice of issuing “Duration of Status”  to F-1 students. Instead, F-1 visa holders would be limited to 2 or 4 year visa terms depending upon their country of origin, and be required to reapply for F-1 Status through USCIS to obtain extensions, or to leave the United States and apply for an extension .  The proposed regulations were immediately criticized by the higher education community. The rules were called ill-conceived, misguided, unnecessary, and a burden to an industry that has already seen a steady decline in international student admissions. Read the full blog post here.

USCIS gets flexible on I-9 Process, but Employers must stay Vigilant

The I-9 process continues to be the bane of HR existence. Recent accommodations for remote work environments,  closed driver’s license agencies, and USCIS delays in printing work permits and green cards are definitely appreciated and helpful, but they also make the process more confusing.  Employers are beginning to worry about how they will catch up on viewing all of the original documents they saw remotely during the pandemic, in the USCIS-designated 3-day time frame once their companies return to the office. Meanwhile, I-9 audits and worksite enforcement actions are continuing apace. While following all of the new guidance, employers must also be sure to stick to the basics. Continue reading USCIS gets flexible on I-9 Process, but Employers must stay Vigilant

PERM Gets Rough in an Uncertain Job Market

Employers who may be trying to proceed with PERM applications for foreign national workers are in an uphill battle. With layoffs, furloughs and unemployment at all time highs, the Department of Labor is on high alert for unsuspecting PERM employers who are trying to do the right thing under difficult circumstances.

Employers who have H-1B or other workers with limited time on their nonimmigrant status, don’t have the luxury of waiting until the job market improves to begin PERM applications for their employees. For H-1B or L-1B workers in their final year or two of nonimmigrant visa eligibility, PERM is a necessity or they will have to return to their home countries. Continue reading PERM Gets Rough in an Uncertain Job Market

U.S. Consulates Slowly Beginning to Resume Visa Services

U.S. Consulates around the world are gradually resuming routine nonimmigrant and immigrant visa services, after their suspension in mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  The Department of State has confirmed that each Consulate will begin visa services on its own timeline, in light of the particular conditions of that country. Applicants should check the specific U.S. consulate website for most up-to-date information, available through the following website http://usembassy.gov. This means that applicants may soon be able to schedule or reschedule their visa appointments. It is also possible that the Consulate may automatically reschedule the applicant’s prior appointment.  Importantly, Consulates continue to accept requests for emergency visa appointments through their scheduling service at https://ais.usvisa-info.com/.  If you have specific questions, talk to your immigration lawyer, as the situation is fluid and subject to change.

 

 

F-1 Student Ban from 100% Remote Education Rescinded

On July 14, 2020, the Trump Administration rescinded SEVP guidance issued last week,  which forbid F-1 students from attending universities that were planning to be 100% remote during the fall 2020 semester.  With the rescission, schools may now revert to following  the SEVP March 9 Broadcast Message: Coronavirus Disease 2019 and the March 13  COVID-19: Guidance for SEVP Stakeholders . Read more about this important development in our education law blog, UpdateED.

 

 

 

ICE Bars F-1 Students from 100% Remote Programs for Fall Semester

On July 6, 2020 the  Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) provided long awaited guidance for the fall 2020 semester. In an unexpected about face from guidance issued in March 2020 at the height of the COVID-19 response effort by higher education,  SEVP has determined that foreign students on F-1 visas cannot attend universities that will be 100% remote during the fall 2020 semester. Continue reading ICE Bars F-1 Students from 100% Remote Programs for Fall Semester

Immigrants Seeking Benefits in the U.S. Should Act Quickly Given the Immigration Agency’s Fiscal Crisis and Possible Furloughs

On June 25, 2020, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services  (USCIS) announced its plans to furlough over 13,000 of its staff, which will impact its current  operations and mission.  The USCIS Deputy Director for Policy Statement explained that if Congress does not provide the much needed funding, the furlough will being on August 3, 2020 and will last through the end of Fiscal Year 2020.  The agency explained that this is due to the “ effects of the coronavirus pandemic”, that it has “a crippling budget shortfall that requires assistance from Congress.”

If the Congress does not provide additional funding to the agency over the course of the next month and USCIS furloughs its staff,  the processing of pending cases will be significantly delayed.  Moreover, USCIS may stop accepting new applications or may put them on hold until October 1, 2020.  If your work permit or status document expires soon,  you should work with you immigration counsel to see if your application/ petition can be submitted in the next month, before the expected furlough on August 3, 2020.  The timely filing of an application for immigration benefit within the U.S, will allow you, in certain circumstances to remain in the U.S, legally and continue working, while the case is being adjudicated.  Employers should work with their counsel to prioritize the cases for their employees who might be most adversely affected by these additional challenges.  In these unprecedented times, it is critical to not only get information from credible sources, but also seek advice from immigration attorneys who can help you assess your specific immigration situation.

Supreme Court Ruling Upholds DACA Program

On June 18, 2020, a narrowly divided Supreme Court of the United States held that the Court can review the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and that the Trump administration’s decision to terminate the program was arbitrary and capricious under the Administrative Procedure Act. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote the 5-4 decision in Department of Homeland Security v. Regents of University of California. DACA grants undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children permission to live and work lawfully.

To read the full text of this Duane Morris Alert, please visit the firm website.

Universities Weigh Impact of Latest Travel Ban on Certain Chinese Graduate Students and Post Docs

The White House has issued a new travel ban blocking Chinese nationals associated with entities that are part of China’s “military-civil fusion” strategy from obtaining graduate level Student (F) or Exchange Visitor (J) visas. The ban went into effect on June 1 and has no end date.  The ban specifically references those visa applicants who are currently outside the United States, but does not exclude the possibility that the estimated 3000 Chinese nationals, already studying in the U.S. who meet the criteria of the executive order, could have their existing visas revoked.  Read Valentine’s full post on the Duane Morris Education Law Blog, UpdateED.