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April Visa Bulletin Shows Worldwide EB-4 Backlog of 5+ Years, EB-2 Retrogression

According to the Department of State’s (DOS) Visa Bulletin for April 2023, the EB-4 category, which includes special immigrant religious workers, now has a worldwide backlog of 5+ years. Also, the EB-2 final action dates for Rest of World, India, Mexico, and the Philippines have retrogressed several months to keep number use within the FY 2023 annual limit.

EB-4 Backlog

Previously, DOS was applying the per-country limit to the EB-4 subcategory, which made the “North Central American” (NCA) countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras oversubscribed, but preserved religious worker current priority dates for all other chargeability areas. DOS has now announced that it interprets the limit to apply to the family/employment-based system as a whole and not within each category, meaning that because the NCA countries are not oversubscribed in the total family/employment system, DOS cannot set a cutoff for them just in the EB-4 category.

DOS is no longer including a separate column covering applicants chargeable to El Salvador, Guatemala, or Honduras in the charts titled, “Final Action Dates for Employment-Based Preference Cases” and “Dates for Filing of Employment-Based Visa Applications,” for applicants who are seeking an immigrant visa in the EB-4 category. Final action and filing dates for applicants from these three countries are now provided in the column headed “All Chargeability Areas Except Those Listed.”

EB-2 Retrogression

The Rest of World, Mexico, and Philippines EB-2 final action dates retrogressed to 01JUL22, and the India EB-2 final action date retrogressed to 01JAN11. “This situation will be continually monitored, and any necessary adjustments will be made accordingly,” the bulletin states.


USCIS Ends Certain COVID-19 Flexibilities

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that certain flexibilities first introduced in March 2020 to address the COVID-19 pandemic ended on March 23, 2023. USCIS previously notified the public that barring any changes presented by the pandemic, the extension of these flexibilities announced on January 24, 2023, would be the last.

USCIS said it “retains discretion to provide certain flexibilities on a case-by-case basis upon request, for applicants or petitioners affected by an emergency or unforeseen circumstance, such as natural catastrophes (hurricanes, wildfires, severe weather, etc.), national emergencies (public health emergencies), or severe illness (including COVID).”

USCIS also noted that flexibilities regarding reproduced signatures first announced on March 20, 2020, became policy as announced on July 25, 2022.


CBP Issues Reminder About New EADs

U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Carrier Liaison Program recently issued a reminder that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) began producing redesigned employment authorization documents (EADs) on January 30, 2023. CBP said that the redesigned work permit cards will be issued concurrently with existing card stock until it is depleted.

All previously issued cards remain valid until their printed expiration dates, CBP said.


Many Travelers No Longer Receive Admission Stamps in Passports

According to reports, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) expanded a pilot program to eliminate entry stamps (the ink stamp, not the visa stamp) upon admission to the United States, which began in December 2021. Records of admission are now documented online at CBP’s I-94 website.

Ports of entry participating in the pilot program to eliminate entry stamps include:

  • Atlanta (Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL))
  • Boston-Logan International Airport (BOS)
  • Calgary International Airport (YYC)
  • Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD)
  • Dallas/Ft. Worth International Airport (DFW)
  • Dublin Airport (DUB)
  • Houston (George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH))
  • Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
  • Montréal Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (YUL)
  • New York (John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK))
  • Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR)
  • San Francisco International Airport (SFO)
  • Seattle-Tacoma International Airport-SeaTac (SEA)
  • Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ)
  • Washington-Dulles International Airport (IAD)
  • Land ports of entry at Buffalo, Detroit, El Paso, Laredo, San Diego, Seattle, and Tucson

The admission stamp may be used during secondary processing, when appropriate, and in limited circumstances in primary processing, such as when processing immigrant visas or upon the specific request of a traveler, CBP said. Travelers experiencing difficulties in retrieving their I-94 form as proof of admission through the CBP website or mobile application can contact their local CBP port of entry for assistance.

Travelers must still obtain visas, unless exempt.


June 23 is Deadline for Employers to Download Old E-Verify Case Info

On June 24, 2023, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will dispose of E‑Verify records that are more than 10 years old (those last updated on or before December 31, 2012). E‑Verify employers have until June 23, 2023, to download case information from the Historic Records Report if they want to retain information about these E-Verify cases.

Employers who have not already done so must record the E‑Verify case verification number on the corresponding Form I‑9, Employment Eligibility Verification, or attach a copy of the case details page to the Form I‑9. Employers should retain the Historic Records Report with the Forms I‑9, USCIS said.


USCIS Issues Policy Alert on Evidence for Employers’ Ability to Pay Proffered Wage

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a policy alert on March 15, 2023, on employers’ ability to pay the proffered wage to prospective beneficiaries of certain I-140 immigrant petitions. This is important in many employment-related green card petitions. USCIS said it is updating its guidance to discuss in more detail various types of evidence and explain how it reviews all evidence relevant to the employer’s financial strength and the significance of its business activities. Among other things, the new guidance explains that an employer must submit one of three forms of initial required evidence, but may also include other types of relevant evidence.

USCIS explained that employers must submit annual reports, federal tax returns, or audited financial statements for each available year from the case’s priority date. If the employer has 100 or more workers, it may instead include a financial officer statement attesting to the petitioner’s ability to pay the proffered wage. An employer may also submit additional evidence, the agency said, such as profit and loss statements, bank account records, or personnel records. USCIS noted that many employers satisfy the ability to pay requirement by also submitting payroll records demonstrating that, during the relevant time period, they have been paying the employee at least the proffered wage indicated on the Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers (Form I-140).


LPRs May Receive Temporary Evidence of Status by Mail, USCIS Says

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on March 16, 2023, that certain lawful permanent residents (LPRs) may receive temporary evidence of their status by mail rather than physically visiting a field office to receive an Alien Documentation, Identification and Telecommunication (ADIT) stamp (also known as an I-551 stamp).

USCIS said LPRs are entitled to evidence of their status and may require temporary evidence in the form of an ADIT stamp if:

  • They do not have their green card; or
  • Their Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card (green card), Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence, or Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, is still pending adjudication, and their green card and extension notice have expired.

This alternate Form I-94 with an ADIT stamp is an acceptable List A receipt for Form I-9 and E-Verify purposes, USCIS said. Some lawful permanent residents will still need to appear in person at a USCIS field office to receive temporary evidence of their status, including those who have urgent needs, do not have a useable photo in USCIS systems, or whose address or identity cannot be confirmed.

When an LPR calls the USCIS Contact Center (800-375-5283 or 800-767-1833 [TDD for the hearing impaired]) to request temporary evidence of status, an immigration services officer will verify their identity, physical mailing address, and whether that address can receive UPS or FedEx express mail. The officer will then either create an in-person appointment if needed or submit a request to the field office to initiate the creation of the temporary evidence. If an in-person appointment is not needed, a USCIS field office will review the request for temporary evidence and mail the applicant a Form I-94 with an ADIT stamp, a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) seal, and a printed photo of the LPR obtained from USCIS systems.


Biometrics Requirement Removed for Regional Center Investor Petitioners

As of March 15, 2023, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has removed the biometrics submission requirement and related $85 fee for petitioners filing Form I-526E, Immigrant Petition by Regional Center Investor. USCIS said it may still request the submission of biometrics from a Form I-526E petitioner as necessary. The agency said it will refund biometrics fees paid by about 980 petitioners since the form’s release in 2022. Petitioners do not need to contact USCIS to request a refund.

Effective May 15, 2023, USCIS will accept only the 03/15/23 edition of Form I-526E. Until then, petitioners can submit either the new edition or the previous edition of Form I-526E (dated 06/01/22). The previous edition still contains instructions about the biometrics submission requirement that are no longer accurate.


DHS Announces Extension for Certain Paroled Ukrainians

The Department of Homeland Security DHS) will consider, on a case-by-case basis, a one-year extension of parolee status for the estimated 25,000 Ukrainian nationals and immediate family members who were paroled into the United States at a land border before the Uniting for Ukraine program began.

Specifically, individuals paroled into the United States at a port of entry between February 24, 2022, and April 25, 2022, will be considered for the one-year extension. DHS said it is considering these individuals, on a case-by-case basis, for the one-year extension to align with the two-year parole period provided under Uniting for Ukraine. DHS estimates that it will take approximately four weeks to consider and vet all the individuals in the group. The agency will review cases based on the date of parole.


USCIS Releases New Guidance, Resources for International Entrepreneurs

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has issued comprehensive guidance on parole for international entrepreneurs, and new entrepreneur resources.


USCIS explained that the International Entrepreneur Rule, published in January 2017, provided a framework for the Department of Homeland Security to use its parole authority to grant a period of authorized stay, on a case-by-case basis, to noncitizen entrepreneurs who possess a substantial ownership interest in a start-up entity and who can demonstrate that their stay in the United States would provide a significant public benefit through that start-up entity’s potential for rapid business growth and job creation.

USCIS said that after fully implementing the rule in 2021, it has received a growing number of applications and “continues to adjudicate them as expeditiously as possible.” The agency has now published guidance in the Policy Manual that includes information about:

  • The criteria for consideration for the applicant, the start-up entity, and the qualified investment or government award or grant;
  • Evidence and documentation;
  • The discretionary nature of the entrepreneur parole adjudication;
  • Conditions on parole and bases for termination;
  • The criteria for consideration for an additional parole period; and
  • Options available to the entrepreneur’s family to join the entrepreneur as parolees and, if eligible, to obtain employment authorization.

USCIS noted that although an individual who is paroled into the United States has not been admitted into the United States for purposes of immigration law, parolees may enter and remain in the United States and may be authorized to work.

New Resources

USCIS announced on March 9, 2023, that it has published additional online resources to provide an overview of some of the temporary and permanent pathways for noncitizen entrepreneurs to work in the United States. Included are “some of the most important immigration-related considerations for entrepreneurs contemplating starting or managing a business in the United States,” USCIS said.

The new pages include:


USCIS Announces Premium Processing, New Online Filing Procedures for Certain F-1 Students Seeking OPT or STEM OPT Extensions

On March 6, 2023, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced the expansion of premium processing for certain F-1 students seeking Optional Practical Training (OPT) and F-1 students seeking science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) OPT extensions who have a pending Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, and wish to request a premium processing upgrade.

Online filing of Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service, is now also available to
F-1 students in these categories. USCIS continues to accept the latest paper version of this form by mail. Premium processing expansion for certain F-1 students will occur in phases, and students requesting premium processing should not file before these dates:

  • Beginning March 6, USCIS now accepts Form I-907 requests, filed either via paper form or online, for certain F-1 students who already have a pending Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, if they are filing under one of the following categories:
    • (c)(3)(A)—Pre-Completion OPT
    • (c)(3)(B)—Post-Completion OPT
    • (c)(3)(C)—24-Month Extension of OPT for STEM students
  • Beginning April 3, USCIS will accept Form I-907 requests, filed either via paper form or online, for F-1 students in the above categories when filed together with Form I-765.


USCIS Issues Guidance on Mobile and Remote Biometrics Collection

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued policy guidance on March 7, 2023, to address mobile biometrics collection and the biometrics collection of benefit requestors in remote locations.

USCIS said the guidance is intended for benefit requestors who may be unable to attend appointments at USCIS Application Support Centers (ASC) due to health or other issues, or because their physical location requires multiple modes of transportation or substantial travel times to reach an ASC, where USCIS generally collects biometrics. The policy provides for circumstances under which USCIS may conduct mobile biometrics collection for benefit requestors who reside in remote locations in relation to ASCs, and provides an alternative method to fingerprint collection, to include fingerprint cards and coordination with other agencies, for certain benefit requestors who live in locations so remote that USCIS mobile biometric services would not be practical, the agency said.


Klasko News


Have you heard? Klasko Immigration Law Partners now has a new website! Explore the new website here.


Myriam Jaidi published Senior Counsel Myriam Jaidi’s article on the improved backlog movements on the consular processing of immigrant visas.


Elise A. Fialkowski
On March 16th, Partner Elise Fialkowski spoke at the 20th Washington International Education Conference in Washington, D.C.

H. Ronald Klasko | Karuna C. Simbeck
Ron Klasko and Karuna Simbeck spoke with Patrick Findaro, of Visa Franchise, about the requirements and benefits of the L-1 visa for international entrepreneurs looking to migrate to the U.S.

William A. Stock
On March 24th, Partner Bill Stock spoke at the 3rd annual Villanova CARES Symposium to discuss sanctuary policies.


Hopes And Hitches In Consular Processing Of Immigrant Visas
In this article, Myriam Jaidi explains how government agencies are improving the backlog process for immigrant visas.

FIRM FEATURE now has a new aesthetic! Experience our new website here. See picture below for a sneak peek!

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This newsletter was prepared with the assistance of ABIL, the Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers, of which Klasko Immigration Law Partners is an active member.

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