USCIS has made changes to help immigrants

USCIS is the part of the government that handles legal immigration to the United States. Due to a number of reasons, the US immigration mechanism had become clogged over the years and there was a need for reforms and restructuring.

In this backdrop, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service has made seven important changes to how it handles immigrant cases in the past few months. Here’s a quick summary of the recent changes

 

1 – Extending the time that authorised work can be done

USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) announced that most people who renew their Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) on time (including family, employment, specialty, TPS, asylum, and diversity applicants) will get an automatic extension. This will increase the amount of time they can work from 180 days to 540 days. The longer time periods will help noncitizens whose EAD renewal applications are still pending keep their jobs and keep U.S. businesses running smoothly.

 

2 – Work Permits for H, E, and L Visa Holders’ Spouses

The USCIS put out new rules for H, E, and L spouses who want to get work permits. Now, E and L dependent spouses can work as part of their status, and this will be written on their I-94 forms when they come to the United States. This means they won’t have to apply for EADs any more. Also, some H-4, E, or L dependent spouses can now get an automatic extension of their current work permits and EADs, as long as they filed the right paperwork to renew them before they expired and have an I-94 form showing their current status that hasn’t expired. Also, their EADs will be automatically extended until the earliest of: the end date on Form I-94 showing valid status, the approval or denial of the EAD renewal application, or (see improvement 1) 540 days from the date the last EAD expired.

3: Faster processing for EB-1 and EB-2 applicants

The USCIS is putting in place premium processing for people whose EB-1 and EB-2 petitions are still being processed.

The growth will happen in stages:

From June 1, 2022, they will accept Form I-907 requests for E13 multinational executive and manager petitions received on or before January 1, 2021.

From July 1, 2022, they will accept Form I-907 requests for E21 NIW petitions received by or before June 1, 2021, and E13 multinational executive and manager petitions received by or before March 1, 2021.

As the expansion of premium processing is being done in stages, the USCIS will keep working toward making Form I-140 employment petitions, Form I-539 change of status forms, and Form I-765 EAD forms available for premium processing in fiscal year 2022.

In the meantime, USCIS has promised to follow a congressional rule that says the expansion of premium processing can’t make it take longer to process regular requests for immigration benefits.

 

4 – Extensions of TPS and Awards

The USCIS has made the following announcements about extensions of Temporary Protected Status (TPS):

• On April 15, 2022, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas made a new 18-month TPS designation for Cameroon.

• On March 16, 2022, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas announced that Afghanistan would be given TPS for 18 months, from May 20, 2022, to November 20, 2023.

• On March 3, 2022, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas announced that Ukraine would get TPS for 18 months, from April 19, 2022, to October 19, 2023.

• On March 2, 2022, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas said that South Sudan’s TPS would be extended and renamed for 18 months, from May 3, 2022, until November 3, 2023.

• On March 2, 2022, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas announced that Sudan would get TPS for 18 months, from April 19, 2022, to October 19, 2023.

 

5 – J-1 Visa Extensions

The USCIS has announced that J-1 college and university students in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields can get extensions for up to 36 months. This includes recent graduates who want to start academic training within 30 days of finishing their STEM-related studies.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said that 22 new fields of study have been added to the STEM Optional Practical Training (OPT) programme. This is to help non-immigrant students contribute more to the U.S. economy and innovation and to make the most of what they know.

 

6 – O-1 Visa Guidance

The USCIS has put out more information about how to apply for an O-1 work visa. People with extraordinary skills in the sciences, education, business, sports, arts, or making movies or TV shows can get an O-1 nonimmigrant work visa. The applicants must show that they have “extraordinary ability by sustained national or international acclaim, or a record of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture and television industry, and they must be coming temporarily to the United States to continue working in the area of extraordinary ability.”

The new update gives examples of evidence that may meet the O-1A evidentiary criteria and talks about things to think about when evaluating such evidence, with a focus on the fact that STEM fields are very technical and that the evidence submitted is often very complicated.

The update also says that if a petitioner can show that a certain criterion doesn’t easily apply to their job, they can submit evidence that is similar in importance to that criterion to show sustained acclaim and recognition. It also gives examples of similar evidence that can be used to support petitions for people who work in STEM fields.

The update also says that when deciding if a person with “extraordinary ability” is coming to work in their “area of extraordinary ability,” officers will look at whether the potential job requires the same skills, knowledge, or expertise as the person’s well-known job(s).

 

7 – Goals for USCIS Processing

The USCIS has set goals for how long it will take to finish its work on applications that are sent to it. The goals are listed in the table below:

These welcome improvements should significantly impact the flow of immigrant cases through the U.S. immigration system and improve efficiency.

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