Read about Congressional Democrats unveiled an immigration overhaul bill.
Skilled immigrants in Trump Administration and particularly in 2020 went thru lot of policy changes. Many were struck down in court and some issues went unnoticed like H4/EAD approval delays.
Some of the Highlights:
- Travel bans blocking of family based immigration.
- The Trump administration extended the April and June 2020 travel bans that bar green card applicants and certain visa holders from entering the U.S. till March 2021. Trump cited high unemployment rates to justify the visa and green card bans.
- Employment Based priority date movement especially EB3.
- In the October Visa bulletin for the first time in years, there was a significant forward movement for Indian applicants. USCIS allowed to use “Dates for Filing Chart” for Employment-Based Cases.
- USCIS continued to allow to use Dates for Filing Chart until December 2020.
- This allowed many green card applicants in queue eligible to apply for I485 Adjustment of status (AOS) and get benefited on the EAD / travel card, put on Advance Parolee status.
- Public Charge rule(Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds).
- Applicants to file Form I-944 along with adjustment of status application.
USCIS has provided updated guidance on the public charge. On or after March 9, 2021, applicants and petitioners should not provide information required solely by the Public Charge Final Rule. That means that applicants for adjustment of status should not provide the Form I-944.
- New H1B Registration Process used for H1B lottery.
- Employers as a first step will submit their H1B applicant’s basic information online using the H1B Registration Tool. USCIS would use that basic information to conduct H1B lottery and Upon picking up in the lottery, employers would need to submit the complete H1B petition with full fee and supporting documentation.
- DOL Republish H-1B Wage Hike.
- In October 2020, DOL Published rule making with immediate effect, increasing the wage level at all levels that impacted H1B extension, transfer, amendments but later courts struck down in December 2020.
- Later again DOL Republish H-1B Wage Hike which will be implemented in Biden Administration.
- Premium Processing Fee increased.
- The USCIS premium processing fee for H1B increased from $1,440 to $2,500 as per the passed Bill in Congress & USCIS implemented for H1B, I-140 applicants.
- H4 & H4 EAD approval delays.
- H4 EAD processing times are now anywhere from 5/6 to 10 months. It is now guaranteed that existing EADs will expire and H4s will lose jobs when they file extensions. Due to Biometrics Delays, many H4 EAD holders could not get their H4s extended in time.
- Advance Parole approval delays.
- S386 fairness for high skilled immigrants act passed in senate but killed in House.
- The HR1044 Bill cleared the House, also referred to as the “Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2019,” in the attempt of amending the Immigration and nationality act – eliminating the per-country numerical limit for those working in the United States on an L or an H1B visa.
- S386 the amended Bill from HR1044, The Fairness for High Skilled Immigrants Act passes the Senate on Dec 2, 2020.
- S386 should be passed in the House followed by the President Signature within the time period, however the clause on Chinese Military & Communist party association did not help the bill to be included in Omnibus Bill and eventually failed.
Grow our economy. This bill clears employment-based visa backlogs, recaptures unused visas, reduces lengthy wait times, and eliminates per-country visa caps. The bill makes it easier for graduates of U.S. universities with advanced STEM degrees to stay in the United States; improves access to green cards for workers in lower-wage sectors; and eliminates other unnecessary hurdles for employment-based green cards. The bill provides dependents of H-1B visa holders work authorization, and children are prevented from “aging out” of the system. The bill also creates a pilot program to stimulate regional economic development, gives DHS the authority to adjust green cards based on macroeconomic conditions, and incentivizes higher wages for non-immigrant, high-skilled visas to prevent unfair competition with American workers.
U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), who has spent decades fighting for immigrant rights and reforms to our nation’s broken immigration system, announced today he will lead the legislative effort in the United States Senate and introduce the Biden-Harris Administration’s bold immigration bill to build a fair, humane and functional immigration system.
Rep. Linda Sanchez to lead immigration bill effort in the House.
Possible Changes/Improvements in coming months:
- New DHS head it will be more of a service oriented. Currently USCIS delay receipt notices for EB2 to EB3 downgrades and the adjustment of status applicants. This may be improved.
- H4 EAD Premium Processing implementation.
- Another spillover from family based numbers to employment based because of the travel ban until Mar 2021, starting on October 1st 2021.
- Clean up H4/L2 biometrics backlogs.
- Visa appointments has been cancelled now or only limited appointments and expect Regular processing.
- Priority date movements will still continue to happen at the same pace regardless of the new administration.