April 05, 2024 - Weekly Immigration News Update

Posted by Keshab R. Seadie | Apr 05, 2024 | 0 Comments

Dear Clients and Colleagues,

We hope this newsletter finds you well. In this edition, we bring you important updates on various immigration matters. Please take a moment to review the following key highlights:

FY 2025 H-1B CAP Initial Registration Selection Process Completed

On April 1, 2024, USCIS announced the completion of the initial registration selection process for the H-1B fiscal year (FY) 2025 numerical allocations, including those under the advanced degree exemption. USCIS has notified all prospective petitioners whose registrations were selected, and they are now eligible to file an H-1B CAP-subject petition for the beneficiaries.

It's essential for registrants to review their online accounts for the updated status of each registration. The statuses include:

  • Submitted: The registration is still in the running for selection if any subsequent rounds occur within the fiscal year.
  • Selected: Eligible to file an H-1B CAP petition.
  • Not Selected: Not eligible for filing based on this registration.
  • Denied - duplicate registration and Invalidated - failed payment: Registrations that are not valid due to duplicate entries or payment issues.
  • Deleted: The registration has been removed from eligibility. 

New Guidance on Form I-693 Validity Period

USCIS has updated the validity period for Form I-693, stating that any form signed by a civil surgeon on or after November 1, 2023, does not expire and can be used indefinitely. This update aims to streamline the application process and remove unnecessary barriers for applicants. 

USCIS Increases Automatic Extension for EADs

In a move to improve access to work permits, USCIS announced a temporary final rule (TFR) increasing the automatic extension period for certain EADs from 180 days to up to 540 days. This extension is designed to prevent gaps in employment authorization for noncitizens while their EAD renewal applications are pending. This change is part of USCIS's broader efforts to streamline processes and reduce EAD processing times. 

Filing Location Change for Certain Employment-Based Forms

Starting April 1, 2024, USCIS has changed the filing location for concurrently filed Forms I-907, I-140, I-485, and related forms from USCIS service centers to a USCIS lockbox. This change is part of USCIS's ongoing efforts to increase efficiency and centralize the digitization of forms for electronic adjudication. The new filing addresses for these forms are detailed in the USCIS announcement, segregated by the beneficiary's work location.

 Exploring Alternatives for Those Not Selected in the H-1B Lottery

As we navigate through the complexities of U.S. immigration law, the H-1B visa lottery stands out for its high demand and limited supply. Each fiscal year, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) allocates approximately 85,000 H-1B visas, divided between 65,000 for applicants with bachelor's degrees and 20,000 for those with master's degrees or higher from U.S. institutions. Given the overwhelming number of applicants, not everyone can secure an H-1B visa through the lottery. However, there are several viable alternatives for those not selected, ranging from educational adjustments to exploring CAP-exempt employment opportunities and other nonimmigrant visa options.

Transferring to Another F-1 Program of Study

One of the immediate options for F-1 students who were not selected in the H-1B lottery is to transfer to another program of study. This could potentially extend their stay in the U.S. and allow them to apply for Curricular Practical Training (CPT), granting them the ability to work in their field of study. However, students should exercise caution with “day one” CPT programs, as excessive reliance on this option without genuine academic progression might be viewed skeptically by USCIS, potentially affecting future immigration benefits.

CAP-Exempt Employment Opportunities

Another path is seeking employment with H-1B CAP-exempt organizations. These include higher education institutions, nonprofit research organizations, and governmental research bodies. Transitioning to a CAP-exempt employer not only bypasses the lottery requirement but also provides a smoother pathway to H-1B status for individuals interested in academic or research positions.

Special Visa Categories for Certain Nationalities

The U.S. maintains special treaty agreements with countries like Chile, Singapore, Australia, Canada, and Mexico, offering unique visa categories such as the H-1B1, E-3, and TN visas. These alternatives cater to specific nationalities and come with their own set of requirements and benefits, offering a tailored solution to the generic H-1B route.

  • H-1B1 Visa: Available to citizens of Chile and Singapore, this visa category is similar to the H-1B but with a separate quota and the requirement of non-immigrant intent.
  • E-3 Visa: Exclusive to Australian nationals, offering a similar opportunity to work in a specialty occupation within the U.S.
  • TN Visa: Under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Canadian and Mexican citizens can engage in professional business activities in the U.S. through the TN visa category.

Exploring Other Nonimmigrant Visas

For individuals with a global footprint, the L-1 visa for intracompany transfers, O-1 visa for individuals with extraordinary abilities, or J-1 visa for exchange visitors might provide an alternative means of working in the U.S. Each of these visas caters to specific groups and offers distinct advantages based on an individual's work history, achievements, and future aspirations.

Exploring Remote Work Strategies and the Path to Reentry in the U.S. via L-1 Visa Options

In the era of digital nomadism, working remotely for a U.S. employer from one's home country emerges as a practical solution for those unable to secure a visa. This option circumvents the limitations of U.S. immigration policy, although it requires careful consideration of tax implications and the nature of the work, which may demand physical presence in the U.S. 

Indeed, the L-1A and L-1B visas offer additional pathways for individuals looking to work in the United States, particularly for those who have been employed by a multinational company outside the U.S. These visa categories allow companies to transfer employees from their foreign operations to their U.S. offices, providing a strategic alternative for individuals not selected in the H-1B lottery.

L-1A Visa for Managers and Executives

The L-1A visa is designed for managers and executives who have been working for a multinational company abroad for at least one continuous year within the three years preceding the application. Eligible individuals must be coming to the U.S. to work in a managerial or executive capacity for the same employer or a subsidiary or affiliate. L-1A status can be initially granted for up to three years with the possibility of extending it in two-year increments, up to a maximum of seven years.

L-1B Visa for Specialized Knowledge Employees

The L-1B visa caters to employees with specialized knowledge of the company's products, services, research, equipment, techniques, management, or other interests and its application in international markets. Like the L-1A, applicants must have been employed outside the U.S. with the company for at least one continuous year within the preceding three years. The L-1B visa can be initially granted for up to three years with an opportunity to extend it for an additional two years, reaching a maximum of five years.

Advantages of L-1 Visas

  • Bypassing the H-1B Lottery: One of the main advantages of the L-1 visa categories is that they are not subject to the annual CAP like the H-1B visa, thereby bypassing the lottery process.
  • Dual Intent: Although primarily a non-immigrant visa, the L-1, especially the L-1A, is recognized for its dual intent, allowing the holder to apply for a green card without affecting their L-1 status.
  • Family Members: Spouses and unmarried children under 21 of L-1 visa holders can accompany them to the U.S. under the L-2 visa. Notably, L-2 spouses may apply for work authorization, offering families greater flexibility during their stay in the U.S.
  • Global Experience Recognition: The L-1 visa recognizes and values the global experience of the employees, facilitating the transfer of valuable international knowledge and practices to the U.S. company.

We hope you find this information valuable. If you have any questions or require legal assistance related to any of these updates, please don't hesitate to contact us. We are here to help.


Keshab Raj Seadie, Esq.
Law Offices of Keshab Raj Seadie, P.C.

Disclaimer: This newsletter is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Always consult an attorney for personalized advice.

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