The US Department of State (DOS) has announced that all consulates are now back online and scheduling visa interviews. The consulates worked though last weekend and have almost cleared the backlog of applications, issuing 410,000 nonimmigrant visa applications in the past 9 days.
The Department states that it is still having problems with some online visa application, and I noticed that their website still has this notice on the J-1 waiver page:
For more details on the current status from DOS, and FAQs, see http://travel.state.gov/content/travel/english/news/technological-systems-issue.html
On June 24, 2015, the US Department of Homeland Security announced that Nepal had been designated for Temporary Protected Status (TPS). The TPS lasts for 18 months and is based on the conditions resulting from the devastating earthquake that struck Nepal on April 25, 2015. As a result, eligible nationals of Nepal residing in the United States may apply for TPS with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The Federal Register notice published today provides details and procedures for applying for TPS.
The TPS designation for Nepal is effective from June 24, 2015 until December 24, 2016. The designation means that, during the designated period, eligible nationals of Nepal (and people without nationality who last habitually resided in Nepal) will not be removed from the United States and may receive an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). The 180-day TPS registration period begins June 24, 2015 and runs through December 21, 2015.
To be eligible for TPS, applicants must demonstrate that they satisfy all eligibility criteria, including that they have been both “continuously physically present” and “continuously residing” in the United States since June 24, 2015. Applicants also undergo thorough security checks. Individuals with certain criminal records or who pose a threat to national security are not eligible for TPS. The eligibility requirements are fully described on the TPS web page at www.uscis.gov/tps.
Applicants may request that USCIS waive any or all TPS-related fees based on inability to pay by filing Form I-912, Request for Fee Waiver, or by submitting a written request. Fee-waiver requests must be accompanied by supporting documentation. USCIS will reject any TPS application that does not include the required filing fee or a properly documented fee-waiver request. All USCIS forms are free. Applicants can download these forms from the USCIS website at www.uscis.gov/forms or request them by calling USCIS toll-free at 1-800-870-3676.
Photo by https://www.flickr.com/photos/dhilung/
The US Department of State has issued an update and FAQ regarding the technology problems that are causing delays in issuing of visas and passports. The update notes that the problems have caused delays in printing visas and may mean rescheduling some visa interviews. The problem is not limited to any specific country.
Visa applicants who urgently need to travel for humanitarian reasons are getting help. If you have such a need, please contact your nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. In addition, visas related to pending adoptions in China are also getting priority treatment.
For more information, including the FAQs, please see the DOS website here.
According to an article in today's Law360, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) director has stated that the recent court decision regarding changes in a H-1B worker's worksite might not apply to past location changes, which would be a huge relief to many H-1B employers.
The article reports that USCIS Director Leon Rodriguez said the agency is thinking of stipulating that Matter of Simeio Solutions LLC will only apply prospectively, according to the Society for Human Resource Management and attorneys who were in attendance at the meeting. A representative for USCIS apparently declined to comment.
The Simeio decision from the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) stated that employers must file an amended H-1B petition and an updated Labor Condition Application (LCA) if a H-1B worker moves to a different location from the location named in the original petition and LCA. Following the decision, USCIS issued guidance saying that
(a) There was no need for an amended petition if the new location was in the same Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA).
(b) Employers must file a new H-1B decision by August 19, 2015, to cover new locations, including changes that occurred before Simeio. For some employers, including consulting companies that move employees frequently, this could mean hundreds of new petitions.
According to the Law360 article,
"USCIS may have...realized that by requiring Simeio to apply retroactively, it may have been bumping up against some recent court rulings, such as the Seventh Circuit's holding in Velasquez-Garcia v. Holder last year, [Cyrus] Mehta said. In that decision, the appeals court held that retroactively applying a new filing rule created by the Board of Immigration Appeals had resulted in a "manifest injustice" in the petitioner's case."
Before the Simeio decision, immigration lawyers relied on USCIS guidance that stated that a new petition was not needed if the employer had received a certified LCA for the new location before the move.
Stay tuned for more updates as USCIS figures out its position...
Elaine Martin has been practising US and global immigration law since 1997. She is an immigrant herself (from Ireland), so has a special understanding of the legal and emotional challenges involved in relocating to a new country.