USCIS to Publish Revised Form I-539 and New Form I-539A for Co-Applicants

by Joseph McKeown


US Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) announced a revised Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status, which will be published on their website on March 11, 2019. USCIS will only accept the revised Form I-539 with an edition date of 02/04/19 effective March 11, 2019, and USCIS will reject any Form I-539 with an edition date of 12/23/16 or earlier. On March 11, the agency will also publish a new Form I-539A, Supplemental Information for Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status, a form that will replace the Supplement A provided in previous versions of Form I-539. Form I-539A is not a standalone form and should only be submitted along with Form I-539.

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USCIS Resumes Premium Processing for H-1B Petitions Filed on or before December 21, 2018

by Joseph McKeown


US Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that effective Tuesday, February 19, 2019, the agency will resume premium processing for all H-1B petitions filed on or before December 21, 2018. For applicants who received a transfer notice for their pending H-1B petition and plan to request premium processing, they must submit the premium processing request to the service center now handling the petition and include a copy of the transfer notice with the premium processing request. Additionally, for those who have received a Request for Evidence (RFE) for a pending petition, they should also include the RFE response with the premium processing request. For petitions that have been transferred, if applicants send their premium processing request to the wrong center, USCIS will forward it to the correct location; however, the fifteen day premium processing clock will not start until the premium processing request has been received at the correct center. USCIS has published a table to help applicants determine where to send their premium processing request if USCIS transferred their petition.  

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CNBC: “The $4.8 trillion immigration issue that is being overlooked by Washington.”

by Joseph McKeown


Immigrant-owned businesses employ more than 19 million people and generate $4.8 trillion in revenue, according to the National Immigration Forum, figures that demonstrate the tremendous positive impact immigrants have on the US economy. Immigrants are important business creators, in addition to holding positions in the service, construction, and farming industries as well as in Silicon Valley. "This phenomenon is across all ethnicities and education levels," Dr. Kerr, a professor of entrepreneurship who has been tracking the topic for over ten years, says. "There are many reasons immigrants start more businesses. Among them: They tend to be more daring and less risk averse, considering they were brave enough to migrate here and tolerate change. Many come to the U.S. specifically to start a business. Others face discrimination in the job market and opt to become business owners."

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The New York Times: “Trump Declares National Emergency to Build Border Wall”

by Joseph McKeown


President Trump declared a national emergency at the border this morning to access billions of dollars to build a border wall that Congress refused to give him, claiming that the nation faces an “invasion of drugs and criminals coming into our country.” The emergency declaration, issued after the spending package passed by Congress included none of his requested $5.7 billion for 234 miles of steel wall but instead only provided $1.375 billion for about fifty-five miles of fencing, will enable President Trump to divert $3.6 billion budgeted for military construction projects to the border wall. Those funds, along with the presidential budgetary discretion to draw $2.5 billion from counternarcotics programs and $600 million from a Treasury Department asset forfeiture fund and the $1.375 billion authorized for fencing, would total about $8 billion in all for construction of new barriers and repairs or replacement of existing barriers on the US/Mexico border.

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Time to Get Ready for the H-1B (FY 2020) Cap Season and Start Preparing Those H-1B Petitions

by Protima Daryanani


Now that we are well into the new year, and US Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) has issued clarification about the new H-1B electronic registration (more on that below), it’s time to dive into H-1B cap season. In less than two months—on April 1, 2019—we will be able to file new H-1B petitions for people who have never had H-1Bs, commonly referred to as “cap cases.” (Non-cap H-1B petitions, including extensions of existing H-1Bs and change-of-employer H-1B petitions, can be filed throughout the year.) Unfortunately, as in previous years, we will likely only have a window of a few days before the cap is filled and we are left pining away for more H-1Bs for another year.

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Bloomberg Law: “Businesses Challenging Visa Denials Seeing Early Successes”

by Joseph McKeown


Around mid-2017, many immigration attorneys noticed a shift in treatment of H-1B visa petitions, the only visa type specifically named in President Trump’s “Buy American and Hire American” executive order. Requests for Evidence (RFEs) and denials by US Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) dramatically increased by the end of fiscal year 2017, according to an analysis of USCIS data. Last year, some immigration attorneys adopted a new strategy: suing the government over visa petition decisions and RFEs. Now, it looks like those efforts may be paying off for some employers. According to immigration attorney H. Ronald Klasko, the majority of complaints he filed in the last year to a year and a half have resulted in decisions in favor of the employer. Klasko argues that litigation is now a necessary part of the practice of immigration law, especially in regard to H-1Bs. 

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Mom-and-Pops of the L.E.S.

by Joseph McKeown


“Mom-and-Pops of the L.E.S.” is a mixed media installation that celebrates small, family owned shops in the Lower East Side, most of which have shuttered. The wood frame structure, by architectural and interior photographers Karla and James Murray, features four nearly life-size and incredibly realistic photographs of a bodega, coffee shop/luncheonette, vintage store, and newsstand. In creating the piece, they wanted to recognize the “unique and irreplaceable contribution made to New York by small, often family-owned businesses” and celebrate places that “helped bring the community together through people’s daily interactions.” The installation is on view in Seward Park in the Lower East Side through July 2019.