This newsletter has been prepared on behalf of clients and friends of the Law Offices of Robert Nadalin. It provides general information on recent changes in immigration and emigration related laws and should not be considered as a substitute for specific legal advice. For case specific advice, we recommend retaining legal counsel. To add or remove an e-mail address from our system, or for any other questions or comments regarding this newsletter, please e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org .
Planning Ahead for End of Year Holiday Travel
Now is the time to plan ahead to accommodate end-of-year holiday travel. International travel is always potentially a case complicating issue. Given the increased scrutiny applied to workers who plan to obtain a new visa stamp while outside of the U.S., proper planning in advance of holiday travel is critical to minimizing the time required to complete the process and any related interruption to continuing work activities in the U.S. Current processing times average 1-2 weeks, and the additional background and security checks called “administrative processing” can extend the processing time to 30 days or longer. To accommodate any unforeseen delay, it is recommended that the foreign worker coordinate with his or her work supervisor to have a back-up plan in place so that work in the U.S. can continue without meaningful interruption in the event the foreign worker’s return from abroad is delayed. Information regarding visa application procedures at specific U.S. consulates abroad can be found at: http://www.state.gov/
TN NAFTA/ USMCA Visa Update
The recently announced USMCA agreement will replace NAFTA after ratification by the legislatures in the 3 participant countries: U.S., Mexico, and Canada. Substantively very little has changed from the previous treaty, with the limited exception of car part content rules and rules allowing more U.S. cheese to be sent to Canada. The same visa categories permitted under NAFTA should continue to be available under the new USMCA. The USMCA has a “sunset clause” that would take effect in 16 years if the agreement is not actively renewed or renegotiated, but the participating countries are required to meet every 6 years to decide on whether to continue to renew the agreement, which may have the effect of pushing the 16 year deadline out indefinitely. Persons granted TN NAFTA status should be able to continue to lawfully work under that status through the time it expires. There is no additional action that persons already in lawful TN status need to take at this time.
The full text of the USMCA agreement can be found at: link. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative has also released a fact sheet summary at: link.
The EAD Auto-Extension Rule Is Limited to Only Certain Categories of EAD Work Cards
The EAD is an “employment authorization document” issued to foreign nationals to facilitate lawful employment in the U.S. Some persons are allowed to work lawfully “incident to status,” but others are required to first obtain the EAD work card before beginning employment. A list of the immigration categories that support the issuance of an EAD, along with instructions for the I-765 EAD application form, can be found at: https://www.uscis.gov/i-765 . It is important to read the application instructions carefully as each EAD category has its own specific requirements. The required filing fee amounts and application filing location may also vary depending on the supporting basis for the application. The website should also have the correct edition of the application form. The form editions expire over time and it is always important to check to confirm that the correct edition is being used because old versions of the application form may not be accepted.
As long as the underlying basis for eligibility continues, the foreign national can request EAD extensions by filing the I-765 EAD application form with USCIS. Case processing times can and do change radically within short periods of time. USCIS will accept an EAD extension application up to 6 months prior to the expiry of the current card. The regulation found at 8 CFR § 274a.13(d) provides for an automatic extension of the most recent EAD card upon the filing of the extension application form. This automatic extension cannot exceed 180 days and is only available for EAD applications that do not require the adjudication of an underlying petition or application before the EAD card can be issued. That means the extension does apply to EAD applicants with pending I-485 adjustment of status or asylum applications, but does not apply to applicants who derive the EAD through H-4, L-2, or F, J, or E-visa status. A full list of the automatic extension categories can be found at: link.
H-1B Premium Processing Suspension
USCIS premium processing provides an expedited processing option to obtain a response within 15 calendar days of filling. The normal non-premium track can take several months or longer to complete. USCIS recently announced that it is suspending premium processing for H-1B change of employer and H-1B cap matters through February 19, 2019. Premium processing still remains available to H-1B extension petitions filed with the Nebraska Service Center.
USCIS also increased the I-907 premium processing request fee from $1225 to $1410.
Contact Us Now for an Assessment of Your Needs - Call (619) 234-8875