H-1B Cap Lottery Timelines Released by USCIS
The H-1B Cap Season is quickly approaching and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) has recently announced important dates for the upcoming visa lottery. The initial registration period for fiscal year (“FY”) 2024 will run from 11:00 am CST on March 1, 2023, through 11:00 am CST on March 17, 2023, and petitioners and/or their representatives must utilize the electronic registration process to submit beneficiary registrations. FY 2024 marks the fourth year that the H-1B electronic registration process has been implemented to streamline the H-1B lottery system and each case must be prepared, edited and submitted (for a $10 fee per beneficiary) through “myUSCIS.”
Once the registration deadline closes on March 17th, if there are more registrations than there are available visas (i.e., 65,000 regular H-1Bs and an additional 20,000 allocated to foreign nationals with U.S. graduate degrees), USCIS will use electronic randomization to select registrations. Account holders will be notified by March 31st if their registration was selected in the FY 2024 H-1B lottery. Consult your immigration counsel now to plan upcoming H-1B petition submissions and related timelines.
USCIS Resumes Adjudications of Dependent H and L Applications filed with Principal’s H-1B or L-1 Petitions
Following lengthy application processing delays due to “decoupling” of adjudications, USCIS has resumed its historical practice of adjudicating applications for dependent spouses and children of L-1 and H-1B visas when filed together with principal L-1 and H-1B applications.
As of January 25, 2023, USCIS began processing H-4, L-2, and H-4/L-2 Employment Authorization Document (“EAD”) applications concurrently when properly filed together with principal L-1 and H-1B petitions. This process applies to both regular and premium processing cases and is expected to be in effect for at least two (2) years. These changes seek to prevent lengthy delays and ensure that H-4 and L-2 dependent spouses who rely on their EADs will continue to have uninterrupted work authorization.
Final Phase of Premium Processing Expansion Implemented
As of January 30, 2023, USCIS began accepting premium processing requests for all pending and new E-13 multinational executive and manager petitions and EB-21 members of professions with advanced degrees or exceptional ability seeking a National Interest Waiver (“NIW”). This expansion marks the final phase for Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers under the EB-1 and EB-2 categories and USCIS now anticipates to expand premium processing to certain F-1 students. The premium processing expansion program is part of USCIS’s efforts to increase efficiency within the legal immigration system and the phased approach will work towards the expansion of Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status. Continue to monitor Immigration Insights for updates as to the next phase of relief for I-539 and I-765 applications, as noted in USCIS’s announcement regarding new actions to reduce backlogs.
USCIS Deadline Extensions
USCIS has extended coronavirus (“COVID-19”) related flexibilities through March 23, 2023, for certain receipts and notices issued between March 1, 2020, and March 23, 2023, inclusive. This is anticipated to be the final extension, barring any unforeseen circumstances resulting from the pandemic. The extension for government responses applies to Requests for Evidence (“RFEs”), Notices of Intent to Deny, Revoke, Rescind, and Terminate proceedings and certain Motions to Reopen an N-400 and USCIS will consider responses received within sixty (60) days of the indicated due date to be timely filed. USCIS has also extended consideration of certain appeals, motions and requests for a hearing if the required forms are filed within 90 calendar days from the date of the decision, and if the decision date was made by USCIS between November 1, 2021, and March 23, 2023. Please discuss whether the flexibilities above apply to your specific case with your immigration legal counsel.
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