U.S. PASSPORT RENEWAL SUBJECT TO INCREASING DELAYS
Earlier this year, routine U.S. passport renewals were taking roughly between 6-9 weeks, with expedited renewal petitions taking roughly half of that time, between 3-5 weeks. However, as of recent, the processing time has increased to 8-11 weeks for routine renewals and roughly 6 weeks for expedited requests. Many countries require travelers to have passports valid for at least 3 months, and often times 6 months, if the intended length of stay is significant. Procedures are still in place to allow for rushed passport issuance in the event of an emergency.
USCIS REMOVES BIOMETRICS REQUIREMENT FOR FORM I-526E PETITIONERS
Beginning March 15, the biometrics submission requirement and $85 fee requirement for petitioners filing Form I-526E, Immigrant Petition by Regional Center Investor has been removed. Since the form's release in 2022, USCIS has received about 980 Form I-526E petitions filed with the biometrics fee and has said that they will refund these fees in the coming weeks and that petitioners do not need to contact USCIS to request a refund. The new changes are reflected in the revised edition of Form I-526E, with an edition date of 03/15/23. For now, petitioners can submit either the old Form I-526E or the newly revised edition. Starting May 15, USCIS will only accept the new edition of this form.
USCIS ISSUES GUIDANCE ON ANALYZING EMPLOYER'S ABILITY TO PAY WAGES
USCIS issued policy guidance on how they analyze an employer's ability to pay the proffered wage for certain first, second, and third preference employment-based immigrant visa petitions. Per USCIS protocol, employers seeking to classify prospective or current employees under the first, second, and third preference employment-based immigrant visa classifications that require a job offer must demonstrate their continuing ability to pay the proffered wage to the beneficiary as of the priority date of the immigrant petition. Required supporting evidence that can demonstrate this are annual reports, federal tax return, or audited financial statements.
The updated guidance also details various types of additional evidence employers may submit and explains how USCIS evaluates evidence relevant to the employer's financial strength significance of its business activities. A more in-depth analysis of the new policy guidance can be found online through the USCIS website.
STUDY FINDS THAT INCREASED VISA HURDLES MAY LEAD TO US COMPANIES RELOCATING FOREIGN NATIONAL EMPLOYEES
In a recent survey, 98% of US employers reported that they expect to use more offshore and nearshore talent in the coming years due to the restrictive immigration laws. This shift stems from the ever-increasing challenges employers are facing in securing employment-based visas for their employees. The survey found that 80% of employers had lost a foreign worker within the last year because their H-1B or other employment- based visa petition was not approved. To combat this, US-based employers are considering transferring employees overseas or to a neighboring country. The top three countries that companies are considering transferring their employees are Canada, Mexico, and the United Kingdom.