USCIS To Destroy Undeliverable Green Cards and EADs After 60 Days: USCIS announced that it is now destroying permanent resident cards, employment authorization cards, and travel documents returned as undeliverable by the U.S. Postal Service after 60 business days if USCIS is not contacted with the correct address. Word to the wise: all foreign nationals should update their address with USCIS within 10 days of moving using Form AR-11.
H-1B Cap Reached in First Week of Filing: USCIS has received enough H-1B cap-subject visa petitions to exceed the statutory limit of 65,000 visas (+20,000 Master’s cap visas) and necessitate a visa lottery. The agency reported receiving 190,098 petitions this year, slightly fewer than last year’s lottery submissions. Those petitions not selected in the lottery will be returned with the filing fees. Premium processing for these cap-subject petitions was suspended.
DACA and Travel Ban Cases Wind Their Way Through Courts: The DACA program remains intact through two federal district court rulings. The Justice Department attempted to expedite the case to the Supreme Court but was unsuccessful, so it could take another entire year for the matter to be resolved through the judicial system. The case determining the legitimacy of the travel ban is set for oral argument on April 25, with the final decision slated for late June.
Chad Removed from Travel Ban List: In April, the President announced that Chad was off the list of countries with travel restrictions. The decision followed a period of review in which the Chadian government improved their identity-management and information sharing practices. Individuals from Chad who were once subject to the travel ban are now free to pursue their visa applications.
More Lives in Limbo: Trump Terminates DED Program for Liberians: In late March, the President announced that he would end deferred enforced departure (DED), a form of relief from deportation, for Liberians on March 31, 2019. The loss of DED designation for Liberia will affect 4,000 people who have been legally residing in the U.S. for over 25 years. The stated reason was that “conditions in Liberia have improved” and the country “has made significant progress in restoring stability and democratic governance.” Work authorization cards with an original expiration date of 3/31/2018 are automatically extended through 9/30/2018.
U.S. Consulate in St. Petersburg Closed: On March 31, DOS closed the U.S. Consulate in St. Petersburg. The action is a direct result of the escalating diplomatic tensions between Russia and the United States. The U.S. embassy in Moscow remains open, as do the consulates in Yekaterinburg (central Russia) and Vladivostok (eastern Russia).
DHS Extends Work Benefits to Syrian F-1 Students Experiencing Economic Hardship: In 2012, the DHS temporarily loosened the employment regulations attached to the F-1 visa for Syrian nationals who could show they were experiencing severe economic hardship as a direct result of the civil unrest in Syria. This benefit has been extended three times, and DHS has granted another extension until 9/30/2019. Under the loosened regulations, Syrian F-1 students are deemed to be engaged in a full course of study despite working over 20 hours per week and taking a reduced course load.
USCIS Announces Re-Registration Period Open for Syrians with TPS: USCIS announced that current beneficiaries of TPS under Syria’s designation who want to maintain their status through 9/30/2019, must register between 3/5/2018 and 5/4/2018. USCIS notes that work permits expiring 3/31/2018 are automatically extended through 9/27/2018.
Nicaragua Partner’s with ICE’s TD System: Representatives of the government of Nicaragua recently signed a memorandum of understanding with ICE to participate as a partner in the ICE/ERO electronic Travel Document (eTD) system. This system streamlines citizenship determinations and facilitates travel documents for foreign nationals detained by the U.S. by electronically providing biographic and biometric information. Partners to the eTD system are asked to confirm the citizenship of their nationals, provide a travel document in a timely fashion, and accept the physical return of their nationals.