U.S. House to Vote on Phasing Out Per-Country Caps
According to reports, Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) said the House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on the Equal Access to Green cards for Legal Employment (EAGLE) Act of 2022 (H.R. 3648), a bill that would phase out per-country limits on employment-based green cards and raise annual limits on family-based green cards.
The bill appears to have substantial bipartisan support, although its prospects in the current session of Congress are uncertain as the lame-duck period draws to a close. Similar legislation passed the Senate unanimously in 2020 through a fast-tracked process but could not be reconciled with the House version.
In addition to eliminating per-country limits, the bill would also:
- Establish nine-year transition rules for employment-based visas such as (1) reserving a percentage of EB-2 (workers with advanced degrees or exceptional ability) and EB-3 (skilled and other workers) visas for individuals not from the two countries with the largest number of recipients of such visas, and (2) allot a number of visas for professional nurses and physical therapists.
- Impose additional requirements on an employer seeking an H-1B visa, such as prohibiting (1) an employer from advertising that a position is only open to H-1B applicants or that H-1B applicants are preferred, and (2) certain employers from having more than half of their employees as nonimmigrant visa workers.
- Require the Department of Labor (DOL) to create a publicly available website where an employer seeking an H-1B visa must post certain information about the open position.
- Expand DOL's authority to review and investigate H-1B applications for fraud or misrepresentation.
- Allow certain people to obtain lawful permanent resident status if they (1) are in the United States as a nonimmigrant, (2) have an approved immigrant visa petition, and (3) have waited at least two years for a visa.
SOURCES: ABIL Immigration Insider, December 4, 2022 and https://about.bgov.com/news/immigration-bill-aimed-at-workforce-needs-poised-for-house-vote/##
November 2022 Monthly Review
December 2022 Visa Bulletin: Updates
The Department of State's (DOS) Visa Bulletin for December 2022 includes a variety of updates:
- The estimated employment-based annual limit will be 197,000 for fiscal year (FY) 2023.
- Establishment of final action dates and application filing dates for China and India will most likely be necessary in the coming months.
- DOS has deemed it necessary to establish a worldwide employment second preference final action and application filing dates effective in December. Except for China and India, all countries are subject to a final action date of 01NOV22 and an application filing date of 01DEC22.
- Fewer additional numbers will be available to India in the employment second preference category than originally estimated when the October and November final action and application filing dates were established. Therefore, further corrective action has been necessary to ensure that the limited supply of visa numbers is allocated by priority date.
- High demand in the employment fourth preference category has necessitated the establishment of a worldwide final action date and application filing date for December. Except for El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico, all countries are subject to a final action date of 22JUN22 and an application filing date of 22JUL22.
- Higher than expected demand in the employment fourth preference category for El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras may necessitate corrective action.
The Certain Religious Workers (SR) category is set to expire as of December 16, 2022. No SR visas may be issued overseas, or final action taken on adjustment of status cases, after midnight December 15, 2022. Visas issued prior to that date will be valid only until December 15, 2022, and all individuals seeking admission in the non-minister special immigrant category must be admitted into the United States no later than midnight December 15, 2022. If legislative action extends this category, the December dates will be applied for the entire month. If there is no legislative action extending this category, the category will become "Unavailable" effective December 16, 2022.
SOURCES: ABIL Immigration Insider, November 20, 2022, and https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/legal/visa-law0/visa-bulletin/2023/visa-bulletin-for-december-2022.html
USCIS Releases Tips on Avoiding Paper Filing-Related Delays
On November 16, 2022, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released tips to avoid paper filing-related scanning delays. USCIS said it scans and uploads many documents into electronic database systems as it moves toward an increasing electronic environment.
Examples of practices to avoid include attaching documents together with staples, paper clips or other methods; folding documents; using insertable tab dividers; submitting multiple copies unless required; and sending original documents unless required, among other tips.
SOURCES: ABIL Immigration Insider, November 20, 2022, and https://www.uscis.gov/newsroom/alerts/recommendations-for-paper-filings-to-avoid-scanning-delays
E-Verify Reminds Employers to Terminate Former Employees' Accounts
E-Verify recently reminded employers and program administrators that an E-Verify user's access "must be promptly terminated upon separation from your organization." A good practice, E-Verify said, is to review and update existing users whenever staffing changes occur and also on a regular basis.
User accounts should be deleted whenever a user is separated from the organization or the user's role no longer requires access. Failure to promptly terminate user access upon separation is a violation of the memorandum of understanding, E-Verify noted.
E-Verify also notified program administrators that their accounts are associated with their employers: "If you are hired by a new employer, you will need to create a new account. You are prohibited from using your old employer's account to create cases for a new employer."
SOURCE: ABIL Immigration Insider, November 14, 2022: https://www.e-verify.gov/about-e-verify/whats-new/reminder-terminating-user-accounts-for-e-verify-employers-and-program
E-Verify Operations Have Resumed and Preferred Dates Released for Employees to Resolve Nonconfirmations
E-Verify has reminded employers that operations have resumed and released preferred dates for employees to visit the Social Security Administration (SSA) to resolve their Tentative Nonconfirmations (TNCs) (mismatches of Social Security numbers). E-Verify said that the timeframes are recommended, not required, but that all employees must visit SSA to resolve their TNCs by September 29, 2023, or their cases will automatically get Final Nonconfirmations.
The SSA provided the following information:
SOURCES: ABIL Immigration Insider, November 6, 2022, and https://www.e-verify.gov/social-security-administration-resumes-e-verify-operations
CBP Discontinuing Passport Entry Stamps and Transition to Online I-94 Records
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has automated the I-94 process for most nonimmigrants arriving by air and sea. According to reports, this means that in many cases, foreign nationals no longer receive an entry stamp in their passports at ports of entry documenting their arrival.
Employers should advise their foreign national employees to check the accuracy of their I-94 Arrival/Departure Records on the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) website soon after they enter the United States, as errors are common. The site requires the name, date of birth, and passport number. The I-94, not the passport, visa, or prior approval notice, documents a nonimmigrant's status, approved length of stay in the United States, and departure information.
In case of an I-94 error, there is an online CBP system for requesting corrections, but some practitioners report months-long delays and agency inaction. They recommend contacting the appropriate CBP office directly or sending a Deferred Inspections email instead to get I-94 records corrected.
Earlier this year, CBP also announced that it is issuing electronic I-94s at land ports of entry. For land arrivals, CBP is no longer issuing paper I-94s to nonimmigrants upon arrival except in limited circumstances and upon nonimmigrant request if feasible. Nonimmigrants can access Form I-94s online at the CBP website or via mobile application.
SOURCES: ABIL Immigration Insider, November 6, 2022, and https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2022-03-18/pdf/2022-05758.pdf
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