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February 2024


USCIS Releases Additional Details About Organizational Accounts

During a public engagement session, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) unveiled additional details about its launch of organizational accounts in February 2024, in time for non-cap filings and the fiscal year 2025 H-1B cap season. USCIS noted:

  • A company can designate representatives who will have the authority to review, sign on behalf of the company, and pay (if necessary) the filing fees associated with submissions. Those designated individuals will be deemed as the “Administrators” for the company and will need to either create their own USCIS accounts or leverage their existing ones if they have served as company representatives for H-1B cap registration purposes.
  • For companies, Administrators will have a wide range of account management capabilities, from creating working Groups, inviting other Administrators, Legal Representative Teams, or regular working Group Members to collaborate on projects within the created corporate Group. Administrators are also the only account holders authorized to review, sign, and submit filings on behalf of the organization.

The Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers (ABIL) recommends that companies contact their ABIL attorney for advice and help with the new platform.


USCIS May Excuse Untimely Filed Extension of Stay and Change of Status Requests Under ‘Extraordinary Circumstances’

On January 24, 2024, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) updated its policy guidance to provide that USCIS, “in our discretion and under certain conditions, may excuse a nonimmigrant’s failure to timely file an extension of stay or change of status request if the delay was due to extraordinary circumstances beyond the control of the applicant or petitioner.”

USCIS said that extraordinary circumstances may include, for example, work slowdowns or stoppages involving a strike, lockout, or other labor dispute, or the inability to obtain a certified labor condition application or temporary labor certification due to a lapse in government funding supporting those certifications.


DHS Extends and Redesignates Syria for TPS, Announces Student Relief

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is extending and redesignating Syria for Temporary Protected Status (TPS).

DHS also announced Special Student Relief for F-1 nonimmigrant students from Syria. DHS said this will enable eligible students to request employment authorization, work an increased number of hours while school is in session, and reduce their course loads while continuing to maintain F-1 status through the TPS designation period.

Below are highlights of the extension and redesignation.

Extension. TPS will be extended for Syria for 18 months, beginning on April 1, 2024, and ending on September 30, 2025. DHS said this extension allows existing TPS beneficiaries to retain TPS through September 30, 2025, if they otherwise continue to meet the eligibility requirements for TPS. Existing TPS beneficiaries who wish to extend their status through September 30, 2025, must re-register during the 60-day re-registration period, which will begin on the date the notice is published in the Federal Register (expected to be January 29, 2024), and run for 60 days.

Redesignation. DHS is also redesignating Syria for TPS. The agency explained that the redesignation allows additional Syrian nationals (and individuals having no nationality who last habitually resided in Syria) who have been continuously residing in the United States since January 25, 2024, to apply for TPS for the first time during the initial registration period, which will begin on the date the notice is published in the Federal Register (expected to be January 29, 2024), and will remain in effect through September 30, 2025. In addition to demonstrating continuous residence in the United States since January 25, 2024, and meeting other eligibility criteria, initial applicants for TPS under this designation must demonstrate that they have been continuously physically present in the United States since April 1, 2024.

DHS said, “It is important for re-registrants to timely re-register during the re-registration period and not to wait until their Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) expire, as delaying reregistration could result in gaps in their employment authorization documentation.”


USCIS Announces New Process for Paying for Certain Benefit Requests by Mail or Remotely

On January 26, 2024, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced a new process for most applicants, petitioners, requestors, and their attorneys and accredited representatives to pay for certain benefit request forms by mail or remotely instead of in person at a field office. Under the new process, applicants may mail either a check or Form G-1450, Authorization for Credit Card Transactions, to the field office with their benefit request.

In addition, USCIS said, attorneys and accredited representatives now can process payments for EOIR-29, Notice of Appeal to the Board of Immigration Appeals from a Decision of a DHS Officer, through a link in the email they receive or via text from the USCIS Contact Center. Once such a payment has been processed, attorneys and accredited representatives must mail their client’s EOIR-29; their EOIR-27, Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Representative Before the Board of Immigration Appeals; and their receipt to the field office.

An exception to the new process is emergency advance parole (EAP) requests, USCIS said. Applicants submitting Form I-131, Application for Travel Document, with an EAP request must still make an appointment with the USCIS Contact Center, apply in person with their package (completed form and supporting documentation), and pay the application fee (if applicable) by credit card with Form G-1450 or check at the field office.


DOS Provides Guidance, FAQs on Domestic Renewal of H-1B Visas for Certain Applicants

The Department of State (DOS) has released guidance and frequently asked questions on its new pilot program to resume domestic visa renewals for qualified H-1B nonimmigrant visa applicants who meet certain requirements. The pilot program will accept applications from January 29, 2024, through April 1, 2024, or when all 20,000 application slots are filled, whichever comes first.

DOS said it will make available a maximum of 20,000 application slots during this pilot program. Approximately 2,000 per week will be for applicants whose most recent H-1B visa was issued by U.S. Mission Canada with an issuance date of January 1, 2020, through April 1, 2023, and approximately 2,000 per week will be for applicants whose most recent H-1B visa was issued by U.S. Mission India with an issuance date of February 1, 2021, through September 30, 2021.

Participation in the pilot program is voluntary. DOS said that individuals who do not meet the requirements for participation in the pilot program, or those who choose not to participate in the pilot program, may continue to apply for visa renewal at a U.S. embassy or consulate overseas.


U.S., Mexican Officials Meet in Washington, DC, to Continue Migration Talks

Top officials from the United States and Mexico met in Washington, DC, on January 19, 2024, to continue their discussion and cooperation on efforts to reduce the flow of migrants heading to the United States from Mexico, which has fallen since the start of 2024, due in part to Mexico’s resumption of enforcement efforts that had been paused. According to reports, the discussion included a variety of topics, and no major announcements resulted.

After a visit by U.S. officials to Mexico in late December, the two countries issued a joint communique reaffirming their mutual commitment to “orderly, humane and regular migration.” Topics discussed included addressing the root causes of migration; initiatives for Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans, and Venezuelans; enhanced efforts to disrupt human smuggling and trafficking; and promoting legal migration pathways. Also discussed were bilateral trade and the benefit of regularizing the situation of long-term undocumented Hispanic migrants and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients. The new meeting in January was a continuation of those discussions.


USCIS Data Show Increase in O-1A and NIW EB-2 Approvals for STEM Activities

According to a newly released report, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) data show a sizable overall increase in O-1A petition approvals for individuals engaged in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) activities and in National Interest Waiver (NIW) EB-2 petition approvals for individuals engaged in STEM activities, compared to fiscal year 2021, before USCIS issued new policy guidance in January 2022. USCIS noted:

  • From FY 2021 to FY 2022, total receipts of Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers, with and without waivers (combined) increased by 20 percent, from 70,600 to 84,470. Receipts continued to increase by another 10 percent from FY 2022 to FY 2023. Approvals increased by 60 percent from 57,810 in FY 2021 to 92,280 in FY 2022, but decreased about 12 percent from 92,280 in FY 2022 to 81,380 in FY 2023. The approval rate remained at 90 percent or above throughout FY 2018-FY 2023. Total EB-2 receipts in STEM job categories decreased by almost 13 percent, from 61,790 in FY 2022 to 53,960 in FY 2023. Receipts in non-STEM job categories increased by 28 percent during that time.
  • An increasing number of EB-2 petitioners are requesting NIWs, USCIS said. The number of petitions with NIW requests almost doubled, from 21,990 in FY 2022 to 39,810 in FY 2023; the number of petitions without NIW requests dropped from 62,490 to 53,200.
  • From FY 2021 to FY 2022, total receipts of Form I-129 for O-1A petitioners increased 29 percent, from 7,710 to 9,970. They continued to increase slightly from 9,970 in FY 2022 to 10,010 in FY 2023 (see Figure 4). Approvals followed a similar trend by increasing by 25 percent from FY 2021 to FY 2022, from 7,320 to 9,120. They continued to increase slightly from 9,120 in FY 2022 to 9,490 in FY 2023. The approval rate remained stable at 90 percent or above throughout FY 2018-FY 2023.
  • From FY 2021 to FY 2022, total approvals of STEM-related O-1A Form I-129 petitions increased 29 percent, from 3,550 to 4,570. From FY 2022 to FY 2023, approvals remained almost the same, from 4,570 to 4,560. Approvals of non-STEM-related petitions followed a similar trend increasing 21 percent, from 3,410 in FY 2021 to 4,140 in FY 2022. Approvals increased slightly from 4,140 in FY 2022 to 4,380 in FY 2023.

The January 2022 policy guidance clarified how certain professionals in STEM fields can demonstrate eligibility for (a) the NIW in employment-based immigrant status (EB-2), along with the significance of letters from governmental and quasi-governmental entities, and (b) nonimmigrant status for individuals of extraordinary ability (O-1A).


CBP Updates Website, Provides Trusted Traveler Processing Times

In an effort to reduce unscheduled visits to Trusted Traveler Program (TTP) Enrollment Centers, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has expanded the TTP-related topics on its public website portal to include the ability to select the option “update documents in my account.”

CBP also noted that processing times vary by applicant, but on average applicants can expect these timeframes:

  • Global Entry: 4-6 months
  • NEXUS: 12-14 months
  • SENTRI: 10-12 months
  • FAST: 1-2 weeks

CBP said applicants should check the Trusted Traveler Program website periodically for updates or the status of their applications. Additionally, CBP noted that those who submit renewal applications before their membership expires can continue to use the benefits after the membership expiration date.

Effective January 15, 2024, as part of annual inflation adjustments, the Department of Labor (DOL) is increasing D-1, H-1B, H-2A, and H-2B civil monetary penalties it assesses or enforces for employer violations.

To compute the 2024 annual adjustment, DOL multiplied the most recent penalty amount for each applicable penalty by the multiplier, 1.03241, and rounded to the nearest dollar.


  • DOL final rule, 89 Fed. Reg. 1810 (Jan. 11, 2024).

DOS Issues ‘Bright Forecast’ for Worldwide Visa Operations

On January 2, 2024, the Department of State (DOS) announced a “bright forecast” for worldwide visa operations. DOS said its visa processing capacity “has recovered faster than projected. We issued more nonimmigrant visas (NIVs) worldwide in 2023 than in any year since 2015.”

DOS said it remains focused on “reducing wait times for visitor visa applicants who require an in-person interview, particularly in countries where demand remains at unprecedented levels.” Its goal is for more than 90 percent of its overseas posts to have visitor visa interview wait times under 90 days in 2024.

DOS noted that its 230 U.S. embassies and consulates issued more than 10.4 million visas globally in fiscal year 2023. The agency attributed its progress in part to improved efficiency through interview waivers in several key visa categories, including for many students and temporary workers. Additionally, DOS said, applicants renewing nonimmigrant visas in the same classification within 48 months of the prior visa’s expiration date can apply without an in-person interview in their countries of nationality or residence. “This continues to be one of our best tools to reduce interview appointment wait times while continuing to make rigorous national security decisions in every case,” DOS said.

In 2023, DOS said, it (1) prioritized student and academic exchange visitor visa interviews to facilitate study at U.S. universities and colleges; (2) processed seasonal agricultural and nonagricultural worker visas, issuing a “record-breaking 442,000 visas to H-2A and H-2B temporary workers in 2023, with nearly 90 percent going to qualified workers from Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras”; (3) issued a “record-breaking 365,000 nonimmigrant visas to airline and shipping crewmembers”; and (4) issued 590,000 nonimmigrant and immigrant visas, “the most ever,” to high-skilled workers and executives in a range of sectors, including emerging technology and health care. “Among those, we issued nearly double the number of EB-3 [green cards] in FY 2023 than in FY 2019, the last full year before the pandemic.” DOS also issued all the available diversity green card lottery visas during the DV-2023 program year.

Details: DOS Worldwide Visa Operations: Update (Jan. 2, 2024).

Klasko News


2024 H-1B Cap Season Klasko Webinar Series
If you haven’t watched the recent 2024 H-1B Cap: The Latest Changes webinar, you can now view the webinar recording here.
There’s still time to register for the upcoming Immigration for Startups: H-1B Lottery/Latest Updates & Visa Alternatives! Register here.


Candace Hill published senior attorney Candace Hill’s article on the Stateside Visa Renewal Pilot.


Michele Madera | Maria Mihaylova | Sarah Holler
On January 29th, Michele Madera, Maria Mihaylova, and Sarah Holler discussed insights into the 2024 H-1B cap season and  the latest developments in this Klasko webinar titled 2024 H-1B Cap: The Latest Changes. Watch the webinar recording here


Elise Fialkowski | Andrew Zeltner | Ryan Patterson
On February 8th, Elise Fialkowski, Drew Zeltner, and Ryan Patterson will cover how startup companies can utilize the H-1B visa program, how to prepare for the upcoming lottery, and H-1B alternatives. Register here.


DHS Releases New USCIS Filing Fees & H-1B Modernization Guidance
In this client alert, Dallis Terc informs you of new guidance issued by DHS that will impact the upcoming H-1B Cap registration period, H-1B non-Cap filings, and other visa petitions.

USCIS to Launch Organizational Accounts Mid-February
In this client alert, Maria Mihaylova covers additional details unveiled by USCIS about the next step in their journey to modernizing their digital capabilities and filing processes.

USCIS Fact Sheet Shows Improved Adjudicatory Trends for STEM O-1As and EB-2 NIWs
In this client alert, Allie Dempsey covers USCIS issuance of policy guidance clarifying how it evaluates O-1A extraordinary ability and EB-2 National Interest Waiver I-140 petitions for STEM fields.

New Year, New Program: Stateside Visa Renewal Pilot
In this article, Candace Hill covers the State Department’s recent announcement of a pilot program to resume domestic visa renewal for certain international professionals holding H-1B visas.


In January, Klasko had its annual winter event. For this event, we were treated to a murder mystery lunch! See pictures below of the event!

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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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