January 12, 2024 - Weekly Immigration News Update

Posted by Keshab R. Seadie | Jan 12, 2024 | 0 Comments

Dear Clients and Colleagues,

We hope this newsletter finds you well. In this week's edition, we bring you important updates and information from the legal world, including USCIS' initiatives to streamline H-1B filing process, premium fee adjustments, new policy guidance for "Ability to Pay" in employment-based immigrant visas and find out how you can qualify for an Extraordinary Visa. 

USCIS to Launch Organizational Accounts and Online Filing for H-1B Registrations

A Major Step Towards Streamlining H-1B Cap Season Processes

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced significant enhancements to the H-1B cap season, heralding a new era of efficiency and collaboration for organizations and their legal representatives. This initiative is a part of USCIS's ongoing efforts to improve customer experience and streamline application processes.

Key Innovations:

1. Organizational Accounts for H-1B Registrations:

  • Launch Timeline: February 2024 for non-cap filings and FY 2025 H-1B cap season.

  • Functionality: These accounts will enable multiple individuals within an organization,   including legal representatives, to collaborate on H-1B registrations, Form I-129 (Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker), and Form I-907 (Request for Premium Processing Service)

2. Online Filing of I-129 H-1B Petitions and I-907 Premium Processing:

  • Introduction: Following the launch of organizational accounts.

  • Impact: Streamlining the Form I-129 H-1B petition process, reducing duplicate registrations and common errors.

  • USCIS Director's Statement: “This is a big step forward in making the entire H-1B lifecycle fully electronic,” said USCIS Director Ur M. Jaddou.

3. Transition to USCIS Lockbox:

  • The paper filing location for Forms I-129 and I-907 will move from service centers to the USCIS lockbox, standardizing processes and reducing costs.

Educational Engagements:

  • Scheduled Sessions: National engagements on organizational accounts on Jan. 23 and 24, along with several smaller sessions.

  • Objective: To guide and prepare organizations and legal representatives for the FY 2025 H-1B electronic registration process.

  • Participation: USCIS encourages attendance to these sessions for anyone involved in the H-1B process.

  • Invitations and Updates: Will be sent later this month, and additional details will be available on the H-1B Electronic Registration Process page.

Our Firm's Support:

Our law firm is dedicated to assisting clients in navigating these new processes. We believe these changes will significantly benefit those involved in the H-1B visa application process, offering a more streamlined, efficient, and collaborative approach.

For personalized guidance and assistance, please contact us at [email protected] or call at 212-571-6002

USCIS Policy Guidance Update: “Ability to Pay” Requirement

USCIS has issued new policy guidance concerning the “Ability to Pay” requirement for employment-based immigrant visa classifications. This guidance is particularly relevant when adjustment of status applicants change employers.

Key Points:

  • Applies to certain first, second, and third preference employment-based immigrant visa classifications.

  • Employers must demonstrate the ability to pay the proffered wage from the priority date of the immigrant petition until the beneficiary obtains lawful permanent residence.

  • In cases where the beneficiary “ports” to a new employer while the Form I-140 is pending, USCIS will assess the petitioner's ability to pay only until the filing of the Form I-140.

  • This guidance is effective immediately and applies to petitions filed on or after the publication date.

USCIS Announces Premium Processing Fee Adjustment

USCIS has announced an inflation adjustment to the premium processing fees for various forms, effective from Feb. 26, 2024.

Adjusted Fees:

  • Form I-129 (Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker) fee increases from $1,500 to $1,685 (H-2B or R-1) and from $2,500 to $2,805 (other classifications).

  • Form I-140 (Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker) fee increases from $2,500 to $2,805.

  • Form I-539 (Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status) fee increases from $1,750 to $1,965.

  • Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization) fee increases from $1,500 to $1,685.

Note: Incorrect fee submissions postmarked on or after Feb. 26, 2024, will result in rejection.

Extraordinary Ability Green Card

At our law firm, we pride ourselves on a rich history of successfully guiding hundreds of exceptional individuals, particularly in fields such as information technologies, science, mathematics, engineering, and business/management, through the intricate process of obtaining their Green Cards via the EB-1A and NIW pathways.

Our team's proven expertise in these specific areas is not just a testament to our dedication but a cornerstone of the tailored, insightful support we provide. By choosing us, you're not just selecting legal assistance; you're embracing a partner who understands the nuances and demands of these sectors and who can effectively navigate the complexities of immigration law to turn your aspirations of living and working in the United States into a reality. Whether you're an individual of extraordinary ability seeking an EB-1A or a professional pursuing the national interest waiver, our firm stands ready to leverage our extensive experience to help you and your family successfully self-petition for your Green Card. Let us be the catalyst in your journey towards achieving your American dream.

To qualify for a Green Card without a U.S. employer, one option is the EB-1A category for persons of extraordinary ability. This category allows individuals to self-petition, meaning they do not need an employer to sponsor them. Your law firm's experience with EB-1A and NIW (National Interest Waiver) applicants in fields like information technology, science, math, engineering, and business/management could be highly beneficial for potential applicants.

The EB-1A category is designed for those who can demonstrate extraordinary ability in their field of expertise. To qualify, applicants must meet at least 3 out of the following 10 criteria:

  1. Evidence of receipt of lesser nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in the field of endeavor.

  2. Evidence of membership in associations in the field which demand outstanding achievement of their members.

  3. Evidence of published material about the applicant in professional or major trade publications or other major media.

  4. Evidence that the applicant has been asked to judge the work of others, either individually or on a panel.

  5. Evidence of original scientific, scholarly, artistic, athletic, or business-related contributions of major significance to the field.

  6. Evidence of authorship of scholarly articles in the field, in professional or major trade publications or other major media.

  7. Evidence of the display of the applicant's work at artistic exhibitions or showcases.

  8. Evidence of performance of a leading or critical role in distinguished organizations.

  9. Evidence that the applicant commands a high salary or other significantly high remuneration in relation to others in the field.

  10. Evidence of commercial successes in the performing arts.

Meeting these criteria shows that the applicant is at the top of their field, which is a requirement for the EB-1A Green Card.

Exceptional Ability Green Card

The “Exceptional Ability Green Card” and the “National Interest Waiver (NIW) Green Card” are two distinct paths for obtaining permanent residency in the United States, typically falling under the EB-2 visa category. Here's an overview of each:

Exceptional Ability Green Card

  1. Definition: This category is for individuals who have exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business. “Exceptional ability” is defined as a degree of expertise significantly above that ordinarily encountered in the respective fields.

  2. Criteria: To qualify, applicants must meet at least three of the following criteria:

    • An official academic record showing that you have a degree, diploma, certificate, or similar award from a college, university, school, or other institution of learning relating to your area of exceptional ability.

    • Letters documenting at least 10 years of full-time experience in your occupation.

    • A license to practice your profession or certification for your profession or occupation.

    • Evidence that you have commanded a salary or other remuneration for services that demonstrates your exceptional ability.

    • Membership in professional associations.

    • Recognition for your achievements and significant contributions to your industry or field by your peers, government entities, professional or business organizations.

    • Other comparable evidence of eligibility is also acceptable.

  1. Application Process: Typically requires a job offer and labor certification, but this can be waived if it is in the national interest.

National Interest Waiver (NIW) Green Card

  1. Definition: The NIW is a waiver of the job offer requirement when it is in the interest of the United States. It is also under the EB-2 category but doesn't require the labor certification or a specific job offer (meaning you can self-petition).

  2. Criteria: To be eligible for a national interest waiver, applicants must meet three criteria:

    • Their proposed endeavor has both substantial merit and national importance.

    • They are well-positioned to advance the proposed endeavor.

    • On balance, it would be beneficial to the United States to waive the requirements of a job offer and thus of a labor certification.

  1. Application Process:

    • File Form I-140, Petition for Alien Worker, along with evidence supporting the NIW criteria.

    • Provide a statement or petition letter explaining how your work is in the national interest.

    • Include evidence like publications, awards, letters from experts in the field, etc.

Both pathways are designed for highly skilled individuals, but they cater to slightly different applicant profiles. The Exceptional Ability Green Card focuses on individual talent and achievement in a specific field, while the NIW is more about the impact of one's work on the national interest of the United States.

Next week's discussion on the EB-5, often referred to as the “million dollar green card,” will explore another pathway that involves investment in the U.S. economy. This is a distinct route, primarily for those who can make a substantial financial investment in a U.S. business.

Warm Regards, 

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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