H-1B Cap Lottery Registration Update – FY 2024
On March 27, 2023, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it received enough electronic registrations during the initial registration period to reach the fiscal year (FY) 2024 H-1B cap. USCIS randomly selected from the registrations properly submitted to reach the cap and notified all prospective petitions with elected registrations that they are eligible to file an H-1B cap-subject petition for the beneficiary named in the applicable selected registration. Registrants’ online accounts will now show one of the following statuses for each registration: Submitted, Selected, Denied, or Invalidated-Failed Payment. Those deemed “Selected” were selected to file an H-1B cap petition, and those deemed “Submitted” are still eligible for selection in any subsequent selections for the fiscal year.
For petitioners with selected registrations, USCIS started accepting FY 2024 H-1B cap-subject petitions on April 1, and the filing window will be open for at least 90 days—the exact timeframe is specified on the selection notice. The H-1B cap-subject petition must indicate a start date of October 1 or later, and the filing must be for the beneficiary named in the selected registration notice. USCIS has advised that there may be delays in the issuance of receipt notices for these filings due to the high volume. Its March 27 Update specifies what petitioners should and should not do while waiting on receipts.
Finally, USCIS has not announced whether it will conduct any additional rounds of random selections. For the FY 2023 H-1B cap season, USCIS did not conduct any additional selections, but for the FY 2022 H-1B cap season, USCIS conducted two additional selections: the first occurred in July 2021 and the second in November 2021.
USCIS Extends Premium Processing to Certain F-1 Students Seeking OPT or STEM OPT Extensions
USCIS has extended the availability of premium processing to certain F-1 students seeking Optional Practical Training (OPT) or seeking Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) OPT extensions. On April 3, 2023, USCIS started accepting Form I-907 requests filed either via paper form or online for F-1 students who have a pending Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, or for F-1 students when filed together with the Form I-765.
USCIS Ends Certain COVID-Related Flexibilities in March 2023
On March 23, 2023, USCIS ended certain COVID-related flexibilities for responding to agency requests, such as Requests for Evidence and Notice of Intent to Deny. Applicants, petitioners, and requestors must respond to any notices or requests from USCIS dated after March 23 by the deadlines listed in the following notices or requests:
- Requests for Evidence
- Continuations to Request Evidence (N-14)
- Notices of Intent to Deny
- Notices of Intent to Revoke
- Notices of Intent to Rescind
- Notices of Intent to Terminate regional centers
- Motions to Reopen an N-400 Pursuant to 8 CFR 335.5, Receipt of Derogatory Information After Grant
USCIS continues its 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-19).
This announcement does not affect the Form I-9 flexibilities in place through July 31, 2023, and that exempt certain employees from the physical inspection requirements associated with completing Form I-9. However, employers may wish to consider beginning the in-person verification of identity and employment eligibility documentation for such exempt employees in the event the flexibilities are not extended beyond July 31, 2023.
USCIS Removes 60-Day Rule for Civil Surgeon Signatures on Form I-693
On March 31, 2023, USCIS removed the 60-day requirement for civil surgeons’ signatures on Form I-693, Report of Immigration Medical Examination and Vaccination Record. Prior to December 2021, USCIS required civil surgeons to sign Form I-693 no more than 60 days before an individual applies for an underlying immigration benefit, including Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. The policy update is welcomed by applicants, petitioners, and other stakeholders who hope it allows USCIS to adjudicate cases more efficiently and reduce unnecessary delays and use of resources due to Requests for Evidence.
This marks another instance of USCIS making permanent some of its temporary policies in place during COVID-19. Previously, on July 25, 2022, USCIS adopted the temporary flexibilities related to accepting reproduced original signatures.
USCIS Begins Mailing Temporary Evidence of Lawful Permanent Resident Status
USCIS may mail temporary evidence of lawful permanent resident status to certain lawful permanent residents in lieu of having them visit a local USCIS field office to receive an I-551 Alien Documentation, Identification and Telecommunication (ADIT) stamp in their passport.
This will generally be helpful to lawful permanent residents that do not have their green cards or need temporary evidence of their status after a Form I-90 or Form I-751 extension notice has expired.
USCIS is permitting this new issuance method to make the process easier on applicants while increasing USCIS field office resources. USCIS may still require in-person appointments to receive temporary ADIT stamps when the request is urgent, applicants do not have a usable photo in USCIS systems, or applicants’ address or identity cannot be verified.
May 2023 Visa Bulletin Update
The U.S. Department of State released the May 2023 Visa Bulletin, and USCIS announced that it will follow the “Final Action Dates” listed in next month’s Visa Bulletin.
Notably, the cutoff date for the EB-2 “All Chargeability Areas Except Those Listed” will be pushed back from July 1, 2022 to February 15, 2022. Also, the EB-3 category for both Mexico and “All Chargeability Areas Except Those Listed” will go from being current last month to being subject to a June 1, 2022 cutoff.
There are no changes from last month within the EB-1 category, though the May 2023 Visa Bulletin contains a warning that the EB-1 dates for China and India are likely to be retrogressed from February 1, 2022 in the near future.
For more information, please contact the authors of this article of attorney with Frost Brown Todd’s Immigration practice.