Immigration and Firm News

On May 10, 2016 a new final DHS regulation will go into effect for foreign students with or desiring  STEM Optional Practical Training (OPT).  The new rule, issued March 11, 2016, includes a combination of new benefits as well as restrictions and clarifications for U.S. college graduates. In addition, ICE, the agency that monitors foreign students, has released a new STEM-OPT website hub. Unfortunately, the new rule stifles opportunities for entrepreneurial self-starters creating their own … [Read more...]

I am honored to be speaking about EB-2 National Interest Waiver (NIW) cases at the annual American Immigration Lawyers Association Northwest CLE.  This annual event put on by the Washington and Oregon AILA Chapters will be held at Seattle University on March 17 and 18.  Along with my colleagues, Amy Royalty and Ursula Owen, we will be discussing the crème de la creme employment based categories: EB-1-1 extraordinary ability workers, EB-1-1 outstanding researchers and professors, EB-1-3 … [Read more...]

On January 15, 2016, USCIS announced new final regulations (Enhancing Opportunities for H-1B1, CW-1 and E-3 Nonimmigrants and EB-1 Immigrants) that will streamline certain country-specific work visa status for citizens of Australia, Chile, Singapore and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI).  These nationals are entitled to a variation of the professional worker H-1B visas (although CNMI is based on place of work v. nationality.)  Australians can get E-3 specialty occupation … [Read more...]

The F-1 Foreign Student Visa Optional Practical Training (OPT) program affects thousands of foreign students in the USA every year. Recently, OPT has been the subject of litigation, proposed regulations and changing adjudication trends.  This blog post covers each of these topics below as well as what does it mean for the thousands of students, schools and employers out there whose status could possibly be terminated next month. OPT is authorized off-campus paid experiential work status for … [Read more...]

L-1 and H-1B visa petition fees are increasing for companies that employ 50 or more employees and have more than 50% of their US workforce in H-1B or L-1 nonimmigrant status.  On December 18, 2015, Congress passed and the President signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016.   The previous supplemental fees for this group of employers expired.  Therefore, this bill extends and raises the fees through September 30, 2025.  L-1 petition fees will increase from $2,250 to $6000 per covered … [Read more...]

On November 6, 2015, Seattle immigration lawyer, Bonnie Stern Wasser, will be speaking about Immigration Law at the Legal Assistance Training for Lawyers Assisting Military Personnel to be held at Seattle University over two days.  This is an annual program sponsored by the Washington State Bar Association Legal Assistance to Military Personnel Section put on in conjunction with the military JAG Corps.  This program is intended for those who support military personnel and veterans or who are … [Read more...]

I previously reported on the new Filing Date v. Final Action Date policy of the US State Department and USCIS concerning the quota, and the debacle resulting from the State Department rolling back some filing dates between September 9 and September 25, 2015 for the October 2015 Visa Bulletin.  On September 28, 2015 a lawsuit was filed against the State Department, Mehta v. DOS, in which the plaintiffs sought declaratory relief from the court.  Plaintiffs ask the court to order the State … [Read more...]

Immigration lawyers and their clients have been waiting years for USCIS to issue some clarity on the meaning of "extreme hardship" required in many waiver applications.  Waivers are additional applications required where a person is found to be inadmissible for a visa or green card, or removable from the US.  Waivers are like exceptions to grounds of inadmissibility or removability. Some grounds do not permit any waivers at all. The most common type of waiver application is one which requires … [Read more...]

In a prior blog post, I reported on the new State Department and USCIS policy permitting early filing of some adjustment of status and immigrant visa petitions in advance of the quota being current.  However, on September 25, 2015, the State Department revised its October 2015 Visa Bulletin. In particular, it rolled back both Final Adjudication and new Filing Date priority dates for certain applicants from India, China, the Philippines, and Mexico.  (See also the USCIS announcement about the … [Read more...]

On September 9, 2015, the US State Department (DOS) and US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a new joint policy regarding early filing of green card applications for people stuck in the quotas.  All business and family green card categories EXCEPT for "immediate relatives" (spouses and children under 21 and parents of U.S. citizens) are subject to annual category and per country limits.  When demand exceeds supply, there is a backlog or quota, and applications for green cards, … [Read more...]