United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has confirmed the return of all H-1B cap-subject petitions filed in April 2019 that were not selected for processing under the annual lottery. The rejected petitions have been returned to petitioners or their immigration legal counsel with the filing fees. Any petitioners that have not received either receipt notices for their H-1B petitions filed under the cap or the rejected petitions with filing fees, should follow up with the USCIS. Also, while the new H-1B filing season is not until April 1, 2020, it is not too early to start planning cap-subject petition submissions and discussing related filing strategies with your immigration attorneys.

USCIS has recently published its final rule pertaining to the public charge inadmissibility law. The final rule amends DHS regulations by specifying how the government will determine a given foreign national’s inadmissibility to the U.S. based on the likelihood of becoming a public charge at any time post-admission. The rule firms up USCIS’s authority to permit a foreign national applying for admission to provide a public charge bond as part of his/her adjustment of status application proceedings. Additionally, the new rule makes nonimmigrants (e.g., temporary workers), who received certain public benefits, ineligible for extension of stay or change of immigration status in the U.S. While the laws pertaining to the public charge as a ground of inadmissibility have been in existence for decades, their enforcement had been limited, primarily, to requirements of affidavits of support for some categories of intended immigrants. Under the new rule, the definition of “public charge” has been expanded to mean a person who received one or more designated public benefits for more than 12 months, in the aggregate, within any 36 month period and now includes items such as cash benefits for income maintenance, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), most forms of Medicaid, and certain housing programs. The new rule does not apply to humanitarian programs for refugees, asylees, Special Immigrant Juveniles, certain victims of trafficking (T visa holders), victims of certain criminal activity (U visa individuals), victims of domestic violence petitioning under Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and a few others. Importantly, foreign nationals residing in the U.S. in nonimmigrant status, as applicants for permanent immigration, or Green Card holders, should seek immigration counsel before submitting applications for government-sponsored benefits unless they clearly qualify under one of the humanitarian-based programs specifically excluded from the new rule.