USCIS Provides Guidance on Employment Authorization Documents Based on Compelling Circumstances
We would like to bring to your attention the recent policy guidance provided by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) regarding the eligibility criteria for initial and renewal applications for employment authorization documents (EADs) in compelling circumstances, based on existing regulatory requirements at 8 CFR 204.5(p). To be eligible for an initial EAD based on compelling circumstances, applicants must meet the following requirements:
The principal applicant must be the principal beneficiary of an approved Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers, in the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd employment-based preference category. The principal applicant must be in valid E-3, H-1B, H-1B1, O-1, or L-1 nonimmigrant status or authorized grace period when filing the Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. The principal applicant must not have filed an adjustment of status application. An immigrant visa must not be available to the principal applicant based on their priority date, according to the relevant Final Action Date in the U.S. Department of State's Visa Bulletin at the time of filing Form I-765. The applicant and their dependents must provide biometrics as required. The applicant and their dependents must not have been convicted of a felony or two or more misdemeanors. USCIS must determine, at its discretion, that the principal applicant demonstrates compelling circumstances justifying the issuance of employment authorization. The policy guidance covers compelling circumstances for both principal applicants and their dependents, and it provides a non-exhaustive list of situations that could lead to a finding of compelling circumstances. These situations include serious illness and disability, employer dispute or retaliation, other substantial harm to the applicant, or significant disruption to the employer. The guidance also outlines the evidence that applicants could submit to demonstrate compelling circumstances. For example, a principal applicant with an approved immigrant visa petition in an oversubscribed visa category or chargeability area, who has resided in the United States for a significant amount of time, could provide evidence such as school or higher education enrollment records, mortgage records, or long-term lease records to support their claim. Compelling circumstances may include situations where, due to job loss, the family may be forced to sell their home at a loss, withdraw their children from school, and relocate to their home country. For more detailed information on these compelling circumstances EADs, we encourage you to review the full policy alert provided by USCIS, which can be found here. Additionally, we recommend referring to our resource on "Options for Nonimmigrant Workers Following Termination of Employment" for further evidence on maintaining a period of authorized stay in the United States.
USCIS Expands Premium Processing for Applicants Seeking to Change into F, M, or J Nonimmigrant Status
We are pleased to inform you that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced the expansion of premium processing for applicants filing Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status, and seeking a change of status to F-1, F-2, M-1, M-2, J-1, or J-2 nonimmigrant status. Online filing of Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service, will also be available for these applicants.
The expansion of premium processing will be implemented in phases, and it is important to note the specific dates for filing requests: Beginning June 13, USCIS will accept Form I-907 requests, filed via paper form or online, for applicants seeking a change of status to F-1, F-2, M-1, M-2, J-1, or J-2 status, who have a pending Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status. Beginning June 26, USCIS will accept Form I-907 requests, filed either via paper form or online, for applicants seeking a change of status to F-1, F-2, M-1, M-2, J-1, or J-2 status when filed together with Form I-539. Please note that premium processing service is currently available only for change of status requests. It is not available for individuals seeking an extension of stay in M-1 or M-2 status. To ensure a smooth processing experience, it is crucial to submit Form I-907 in the same manner as Form I-539. If you choose to mail a paper Form I-539, you must also mail a paper Form I-907. Similarly, if you submit Form I-539 online, you must also submit Form I-907 online. Applicants and their dependents must complete the biometrics process before premium processing can commence for these specific categories. Even if USCIS accepts an applicant's Form I-907 and accompanying fees, the time limit for premium processing will not begin until the applicant and all co-applicants included on the Form I-539 have submitted their biometrics. Please be aware that USCIS may reject an applicant's Form I-907 and/or Form I-539 if they are submitted together with another benefit request, including multiple Forms I-907 filed concurrently.
ICE Announces Online Change-of-Address Form
We would like to bring to your attention the recent announcement by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) regarding its fully operational online change-of-address form for noncitizens with pending immigration court cases.
In addition to the existing options of updating information by phone or in-person, noncitizens now have the convenient option of updating their information online. This online change-of-address form provides a streamlined process for noncitizens to update their contact information with ICE while their immigration court cases are pending. It offers a more accessible and efficient way to ensure that their information.
U.S. Consular Posts in India Transitioning to New Visa Appointment System
We would like to inform you about an upcoming change in the U.S. visa appointment system for India. On July 15, 2023, the official U.S. Department of State (DOS) Visa Appointment Service website for India will be transitioning to a new system for U.S. visa services. This change requires certain actions to be taken by U.S. visa applicants to ensure a smooth transition of appointment and payment information to the new system.
Actions Requested by the DOS for U.S. Visa Applicants
The DOS has provided the following instructions for visa applicants: Verify and Update Applicant Profile: Please ensure that all the data entered in your applicant profile is complete and accurate. If any corrections are necessary, kindly make them as soon as possible. Early Payment of Visa Application Fee: If you plan to pay a visa application fee in the near future, we recommend doing so before July 10, 2023. Please note that payment services will be temporarily unavailable from July 11-14, 2023, and will resume on July 15, 2023, to accommodate the system change. Associate Payment with Applicant's Profile: If you have already paid the visa fee but have not yet associated it with your profile, please log into your online profile and enter the payment receipt number as soon as possible. Unique Email Addresses for Dependent Visa Applicants: If you are a travel or group coordinator, or if you have added dependent visa applicants to your profile, please ensure that each individual applicant has a unique email address. If two or more applicants are currently using the same email address, please update the information so that each visa applicant has a unique email address.
Temporary Protected Status Designations for El Salvador, Honduras, Nepal, and Nicaragua Reinstated and Extended for 18 Months
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has made an important announcement regarding the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designations of El Salvador, Honduras, Nepal, and Nicaragua. The TPS designations for these countries have been reinstated and extended for a period of 18 months. This decision follows Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas' announcement on June 13, 2023, to rescind the terminations of these designations and extend them for 18 months. Secretary Mayorkas based this decision on consultations with interagency partners and a careful assessment of the ongoing conditions in El Salvador, Honduras, Nepal, and Nicaragua. The DHS continually monitors conditions worldwide to determine the need for new TPS designations.
Re-registration for Current TPS Beneficiaries
All beneficiaries currently under TPS for El Salvador, Honduras, Nepal, and Nicaragua must re-register to maintain their TPS status throughout the 18-month extension. The validity of TPS-related documentation for current beneficiaries has been previously extended until June 30, 2024, to ensure compliance with court orders pertaining to the litigation challenging the termination decisions. These new notices do not affect the extension of documentation. Please note that re-registration is only applicable to individuals who previously registered for and were granted TPS under the prior designations of El Salvador, Honduras, Nepal, and Nicaragua. Individuals who arrived in the United States after the respective continuous residence dates for these designations are not eligible for TPS. The continuous residence dates are as follows: El Salvador: February 13, 2001 Honduras: December 30, 1998 Nepal: June 24, 2015 Nicaragua: December 30, 1998 Should you have any questions or require further assistance regarding these updates, please do not hesitate to reach out to our firm. We are here to provide guidance and support throughout your visa application process and TPS re-registration.
We value your feedback, and if you have any comments or questions regarding these updates, please call us at (212) 571-6002 or email us at [email protected]. Thank you for your continued trust in our law firm. We remain dedicated to providing you with the most up-to-date information and legal support.
Keshab Raj Seadie, Esq.