Nepalis Encouraged to Apply for TPS

USCIS encourages eligible nationals of Nepal and those without nationality who last habitually resided in Nepal to apply soon for Temporary Protected Status for Nepal. The deadline for registration is December 21, 2015.

USCIS has accepted applications for TPS for Nepalis since June 24, 2015, when Nepal was designated for TPS by Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson. This designation was made because of a devastating magnitude 7.8 earthquake that struck Nepal in April 2015.

Eligible nationals of Nepal (and people without nationality who last habitually resided in Nepal) will not be removed from the United States and may receive an employment authorization document (EAD) through December 24, 2016.

USCIS Suspends Final Adjudication of Employment-based I-485 Applications for Remainder of FY2015

As of September 24, 2015, USCIS has suspended final adjudication of employment-based Form I-485 applications (the Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status form) because the Department of State has reported that the statutory cap has been reached for employment-based preference categories for fiscal year 2015. This suspension will apply to all employment-based adjustment applications which are pending with USCIS through September 30, 2015.

USCIS states that it will continue to accept adjustment of status applications filed when the foreign national’s priority date is earler than the cut-off date published in the September Visa Bulletin for the person’s preference category and country of birth/chargeability.

Final adjudication of employment-based adjustment applications will resume again starting October 1, 2015, when visa numbers are again available.

USCIS Updates Processing Times for Immigrant Investor Program Office

USCIS has published a chart that updates processing times for a series of forms processed by the Immigrant Investor Program Office. These updated times give petitioners additional information regarding expected time to process Forms I-526, the Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur; Form I-829, the Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions; and Form I-924, the Application for Regional Center Under the Immigrant Investor Pilot Program.

Processing timeframes are as follows:

Form I-526, the Immigrant Petition By Alien Entrepreneur
For use by an entrepreneur who wishes to immigrate to the United States
Processing time: 13.4 Month(s)

Form I-829, the Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions
Removal of lawful permanent resident conditions (immigrant investors)
Processing time: 14.7 Month(s)

Form I-924, the Application For Regional Center Under the Immigrant Investor Pilot Program
Application For Regional Center Under the Immigrant Investor Pilot Program
Processing time: 12.4 Month(s)

Department of Labor Announcement Regarding PERM Technical Glitch

On September 1, 2015, the Department of Labor (DOL) implemented software updates to the Permanent Labor Certification Case Management System. However, there was an unexpected glitch during this update that impacted some applications, resulting in the prohibition of certain information that was entered onto ETA Form 9089. DOL is currently working to correct this issue.

Until these revisions are operational, employers who are unable to complete and file an ETA Form 9089 online should mail in their application to the Atlanta National Processing Center at the following address:

U.S. Department of Labor
Employment and Training Administration
Office of Foreign Labor Certification
Atlanta National Processing Center
Harris Tower, Suite 410
233 Peachtree Street
Atlanta, Georgia 30303

Employers who attempted to submit an online application between September 1 and September 11 are authorized to provide documentation establishing that information in their ETA Form 9089 was impacted. If you choose to provide documentation with your ETA Form 9089, please include a cover page containing the words “September 2015, CMS Technical Issue” in the center of the page in large letters. Such documentation must be submitted by September 30, 2015, to the following address:

U.S. Department of Labor
Employment and Training Administration
Office of Foreign Labor Certification
Attn: CMS Technical Issue Team
Atlanta National Processing Center
Harris Tower, Suite 410
233 Peachtree Street
Atlanta, Georgia 30303

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Launches New VWP Website

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has just launched its redesigned website for the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) which visitors can use to apply for an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) prior to traveling to the United States. This new website will make the process of applying for an ESTA easier.

“We recognized the need to improve upon the ESTA application process and with feedback from our stakeholders and travelers, we are proud to launch this easier-to-use site,” said R. Gil Kerlikowske, CBP Commissioner. “CBP remains committed to promoting travel and tourism to the U.S. by improving the international arrivals experience and this website, along with Trusted Traveler Programs and Automated Passport Control are important steps to enhancing travelers’ arrival experience.”

Along with improved functionality and navigation capabilities, the new website includes the following features:

  • Access to FAQs during the application process
  • New mobile-friendly design
  • The ability to access translated versions of the page
  • Shift of the group feature to the beginning of the application process to make it easier for families and groups to submit their applications at once

USCIS Revising Procedures for Determining Visa Availability

USCIS, with the Department of State, is revising procedures for determining visa availability for applicants waiting to file either an employment-based or family-sponsored preference adjustment of status. This revised process, USCIS states, will better align with procedures DOS users for foreign nationals seeking to become U.S. permanent residents by applying for immigrant visas at U.S. consulates and embassies abroad.

According to USCIS, the revised process will enhance DOS’s ability to better predict overall immigrant visa demand and determine cut-off dates for visa issuances published in the Visa Bulletin.

Changes to occur include the posting of two charts per visa preference category in the Visa Bulletin: Application Final Action Dates (the dates when visas may finally be issued); and Dates for Filing Applications (the earliest dates when applicants may be able to apply).

USCIS Extends Temporary Relief for Those Affected by Typhoon Soudelor

Typhoon Soudelor caused extensive damage in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands on August 2. USCIS wishes to remind affected individuals that certain U.S. immigration benefits or relief may be available to them. Because a natural disaster can direly affect a person’s ability to maintain lawful immigration status or get other immigration benefits, USCIS had previously adopted temporary relief measures to help individuals affected by the typhoon through September 2, 2015. USCIS is not extending those temporary relief measures an additional 60 days through November 2, 2015.

Eligible individuals may request or apply for temporary relief measures, which include a change or extension of nonimmigrant status, extension or re-parole of a person previously granted parole by USCIS, expedited adjudication of employment authorization applications and assistance to lawful permanent residents stranded overseas without immigration or travel documents.

Department of Homeland Security Designates Yemen for TPS

The Department of Homeland Security has announced that it is designating Yemen for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 18 months due to ongoing armed conflict in Yemen. The Middle East country is currently experiencing widespread conflict and, as a result, a severe humanitarian emergency. Requiring Yemeni nationals who are currently in the U.S. to return to Yemen would pose a major threat to their personal safety.

TPS designation for Yemen is effective September 3, 2015, and will be in effect until March 3, 2017. During this period of time, eligible nationals of Yemen who are approved for TPS will not be removed from the U.S. and may receive an Employment Authorization Document. This 180-day TPS registration period starts on September 3 and will remain in effect until March 1, 2016.