Immigration News – March 2024

News RoomApril 29, 20240

Immigration News – March 2024

At Brown Immigration Law, we strive to be your company’s partner in growth and innovation, on a global scale. We continue our commitment to demystifying the complex immigration laws of the United States and Canada to provide efficient and effective immigration and global mobility support. Please find this month’s business immigration news below.

We encourage you to sign up for our H-1B Cap Contingency Planning webinar on April 4th at 10:00 AM PDT to understand Canada as a potential backup option if you are not selected in the H-1B lottery.


USCIS Begins Issuance of H-1B Lottery Selections

Yesterday, March 27, 2024, USCIS started issuing selection notices for this year’s H-1B lottery. We will notify clients once we have received a selection notice, but not of non-selection until USCIS has officially announced the conclusion of this draw. Though there has been no official notification from USCIS, we have noticed a small number of selections starting to be updated. We expect more thorough results and the vast majority of selections to come towards the end of this week and over the weekend, along with a formal announcement from USCIS, with the draw concluding Monday, April 1, 2024.

As a reminder, registrations not selected in the lottery will remain on reserve for the applicable fiscal year. If USCIS does not receive and approve enough H-1B petitions to fulfill the statutory quota from the initial lottery, it will run subsequent lotteries and select additional registrants from those on reserve to meet the annual cap.

The likelihood of selection and number of draws changes from year to year, making it very difficult to predict how the process will play out this year. The table below provides data from the past four years for reference. Thus, if you are not selected in this initial draw, we remain hopeful that your selection may come from a future pull.

YearTiming and Number of DrawsTiming
2020 (FY 2021)2March, August
2021 (FY 2022)3March, August, November
2022 (FY 2023)1March
2023 (FY 2024)2March, July

As we await further updates, we encourage you to sign up for our H-1B Cap Contingency Planning webinar on April 4th at 10:00 AM PDT to understand Canada as a potential backup options if you are not selected in the lottery.

To save your inboxes, we will issue further breaking news alerts and announcements about this year’s H-1B Cap via our LinkedIn page, so please follow us there for additional updates!

DOS Stateside Visa Renewal Pilot Will Remain Open Until April 1 (or Until Slots Are Filled)

There may still be time to take advantage of the DOS Stateside Visa Renewal Pilot Program! If you are the holder of an H-1B visa issued by either a US consulate in India between February 1, 2021, and September 30, 2021, or a US consulate in Canada between January 1, 2020 and April 1, 2023, you are still eligible to renew your visa by mail through the Department of State’s (“DOS”) Stateside Visa Renewal Pilot until all applications spots are filled or April 1, 2024, whichever comes first.

For background, as we previously reported, the DOS announced in January that beginning January 9, 2024, a select number of qualified H-1B workers have been eligible to domestically renew their H-1B visa (the travel sticker inserted into one’s passport) by mail without having to renew their visas at a US consular post abroad. In total, the DOS is making available a maximum of 20,000 application slots during this limited pilot program of approximately 2,000 slots per week for applicants whose most recent H-1B visa was issued by US Mission Canada and 2,000 slots per week for applicants whose H-1B visa was issued by US Mission India between the respective dates listed above. Those who qualify for this program must fill out a DS-160 application. When filling out the DS-160, eligible applicants may select “U.S. – DOMESTIC” when selecting a location where they will be applying for their visa. The applications will be processed on a first-in, first-out basis, with the DOS estimating a processing time of 6-8 weeks from the date the documents are received.

More information regarding the Stateside Visa Renewal Pilot, including the qualifications for the program, is available here. If you have any questions regarding the program or are unsure whether you qualify, please contact our office and we will be more than happy to assist you through the renewal process.

ICYMI: Fee Increase Effective April 1, 2024

As we reported previously, USCIS released a final rule for fee increases, effective April 1, 2024, and we are working to file as many cases as possible before the fee increase goes into effect. We reported on an initial list of the fees available, and we now provide an update on the finalized list of fees. There are notable updates below and we provide the following overall changes as well:

  • Starting April 1, the timeline for premium processing will change from calendar days to business days.
  • USCIS will release new editions of form I-129 and I-140, required for all filings received on/after April 1 (no grace period applicable).
  • There are no changes to the ACWIA (aka Education and Training fee) or Fraud Fee amounts; these fees still apply for certain H-1B and L-1 filings, as noted below.
  • Notable Updates:
    • Asylum Program Fee: All petitioners (except non-profits) will be required to pay this fee for I-129 and I-140 petitions.
    • Updated fees for EAD/AP applications (with the same applying to renewals). Note that applicants who file I-485 before April 1, 2024 may continue to renew their EAD/AP at no cost while the AOS remains pending.
    • Reduced filing fees for small companies and nonprofits.
      • A small company is defined as companies with 25 of fewer full-time employees in the United States, including affiliates and subsidiaries.
    • Slightly reduced fees for online filing; however, please note: it remains advantageous to file by paper, as the online platform provided by USCIS for digital filing has yet to introduce any APIs or other features to ensure a seamless process. We have also been made aware of the platform experiencing many issues and bugs, such as not being able to retrieve previously submitting filings.

Please see the table of relevant fee changes below:

A full schedule of the fees may be found at the Federal Register update, HERE.

We will continue to monitor for any updates to the fee schedule as they become available.

Biden’s State of the Union: Proposed Updates to U.S. Immigration Policy – The Emergency National Security Supplemental Appropriations Act

During Biden’s State of the Union Address, the President focused on immigration, in part, declaring that some come to the United States “to chase dreams that are impossible anywhere but here in America.” At BIL, we seek to support our clients in growth and innovation, our approach is to make the complex, simple – we handle the details so our clients may realize their dreams. We welcome these inspiring words from President Biden, while at the same time recognizing that some of the proposed approaches may have a negative impact on asylum seekers at the border and recognize the President’s use of the term “illegal” is improper and does not advance the conversation (the President later apologized for using this term.).

In the speech delivered on March 7, 2024, President Biden called on Congress to pass a bill which includes significant overhauls to the United States immigration system.  Some noteworthy updates in the business immigration context include:  

  • Providing automatic work authorizations to fiancés, fiancées, or spouses of US citizens who are admitted awaiting approval of an immigrant visa and their children, as well as to spouses or children of H-1B visa holders;
  • Authorizing the approval of an additional 250,000 green cards for the next 5 years, including 32,000 additional family based green cards per year and 18,000 additional employment-based green cards per year (amounting to a 7 percent increase and 13 percent increase respectively); and
  • Clarifying that the age or marital status of dependent children of an H-1B visa holder is to be determined on the date of the initial petition for classification for the purpose of their order of consideration, thereby providing protections against removal for children who “age out” of status due to green card backlogs and providing work authorization for individuals who are determined to be children under this definition.

While other parts of the proposal are not as positive – such as making the process for seeking asylum more difficult at the Southern border – the proposal does include some positive aspects as noted above. As with any immigration overhaul, it remains to be seen whether any changes will be implemented. We will continue to monitor and report on any changes that are made into law.

Next Generation E-Verify+ Launch Expected in Spring 2024

E-Verify is a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) program administered by U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) in partnership with Social Security Administration (SSA). On February 21, 2024, E-Verify announced the upcoming launch of E-Verify+, its highly anticipated next generation service, as a pilot this spring. Feedback will be sought as a part of the pilot process.

In the current E-Verify process, enrolled employers confirm the eligibility of their employees to work in the U.S. by electronically matching information entered from the employee’s Form I-9 against records available to SSA and DHS. The next generation E-Verify+ service is aiming to streamline this process by providing employers with added efficiency and employees with more control over their personal information. As per the limited official information in circulation as of this update, E-Verify+ will allow a newly hired employee to set up a secure electronic account and automatically send their information and documentation to their E-Verify participating employer.

We will continue to monitor developments and will provide updates as soon as more information becomes available.

April Visa Bulletin

The April Visa Bulletin has been released. For employment-based adjustment of status applicants, USCIS has confirmed that it will continue to accept applications current under the “Final Action Dates” chart.

The April 2024 Visa Bulletin shows movement in a couple of categories. Referring to the Final Action Chart, EB-1 China moves to September 1, 2022, and EB-1 India moves to March 1, 2021 (a fine-month jump). EB-2 China and India moves to February 1, 2020, and April 15, 2012, respectively. EB-2 all other countries (including Mexico and Philippines) moves to January 15, 2023. EB-3 China remain unchanged at September 1, 2020, and EB-3 India moves to August 15, 2012. EB-3 all other countries moves to November 22, 2022.


Updated Deadline for PGWP Application for Students in Certain College Programs

Effective May 15, 2024, graduates of college programs with public-private curriculum licensing agreements will no longer be eligible for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP). This is a significant adjustment from the previously announced date of September 1, 2024.

It’s crucial for international students enrolled in these programs to take note of this amendment. Graduates who complete their studies after May 15, 2024, will no longer qualify for the PGWP.

Canada to Cut Temporary Residents by 20% Over Three Years

On March 21, 2024, the Government of Canada announced its intention to establish a target for temporary resident arrivals for the first time. The objective is to reduce the number of temporary residents by approximately 20% over the next three years, aiming to achieve a more balanced temporary resident population in Canada.

Currently, there are over 2.5 million temporary residents residing in Canada, constituting 6.2% of the population. To reach an optimal volume of temporary residents that Canada can effectively welcome, the government aims to decrease this figure to 5%, approximately 2 million individuals.

The Government intends to implement the following changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program for Labour Market Impact Assessments:

  • Workforce Composition: The percentage of foreign workers in a company’s workforce will decrease from 30% to 20%, with exemptions for the healthcare and construction sectors.
  • LMIA Validity: The LMIA validity period will be reduced from 12 months to 6 months.
  • Consideration of Asylum Seekers: Employers must prioritize asylum seekers with valid work permits before hiring under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.

Given the Government’s plan to reduce the number of temporary residents in Canada over the next three years, we expect to see further developments, including similar to changes to other work permit programs.

If you have questions about how these changes can affect your business, please contact your Brown Immigration Law Attorney for more information.

Changes to Work Authorization for Spouses of Full-time Students

As of March 19, 2024, the Minister has designated certain types of work performed by these spouses and partners as necessary under paragraph section 205(c)(ii) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations. As of March 19, 2024 only the following spouses and common-law partners of full-time students are eligible for open spousal work permits:

  1. Spouses and common-law partners of full-time students in graduate programs (master’s and doctorate) in a university or polytechnic institution.
  2. Spouses and common-law partners of full-time students in professional degree programs in a university, such as medicine, dentistry, or law.
  3. Spouses and common-law partners holding a valid open work permit under the C42 category, extending their work permit as spouses of full-time students in a post-graduation work permit (PGWP) eligible program of study at a designated learning institution.

Applications received on or before March 18, 2024, will not be affected by this change and will be processed following existing procedures.

Express Entry – Monthly Summary

Express Entry is the primary system for managing immigration in Canada. Individuals (Express Entry candidates) become eligible based on three federal immigration programs: the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP); Canadian Experience Class (CEC); and Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSWP). Once they are eligible and their Express Entry profile is created, individuals are entered into a pool of candidates.

In addition to being eligible for Express Entry, candidates must be competitive to receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for permanent residence. Express Entry candidates are assigned Comprehensive Ranking Score (CRS) points based on criteria such as their age, education, work experience etc.

Generally, the Government periodically reviews the pool of Express Entry candidates and invites the highest-ranking individuals to apply.

Over the past four weeks, Canada issued 11, 275 Invitations to Apply (ITA) for permanent residence (PR) under Express Entry. Please see below for a high-level summary:

  • IRCC held three general draws inviting 6, 300 Express Entry candidates; the cut-off scores were 534, 525, and 524 respectively.
  • IRCC held one targeted draw for individuals in certain Transportation occupations, inviting 975 Express Entry candidates; the cut-off score was 430.
  • IRCC held two targeted draw for individuals with French language proficiency, inviting 4,000 Express Entry candidates; the cut-off score was 365.

If you have any questions about Express Entry, Permanent Residency, or any Canadian immigration programs, please contact your Brown Immigration Law attorney to schedule a consultation.


Coming to America – a Quick Visa Primer – What to Expect

This webinar covers in more detail the issues that affect foreign born employees going through the Cap registration process. During this discussion David will walk H-1B Cap registering employees through the process. He will also drill down into spring/summer travel and timing issues related to Cap filing, contingency planning and likelihood of success in the lottery. To make this process more relatable, David will walk through a variety of common scenarios we encounter every year to help individuals with more complex issues to better understand their processing options. In addition to the planned topic, David will spend time answering specific questions from individuals who are both concerned about what happens if selected and what happens if not selected in the Cap registration lottery.

Canadian Contingency Cap Planning

As a follow-up to the recent H-1B Cap lottery and our March 22nd discussion concerning contingency planning for those not selected in the lottery, this webinar will focus on the Canadian option. Whether a U.S. and Canadian company or just a U.S. company, Managing Attorney, Clinton Green, will highlight how clients can leverage immigration options in Canada to provide continuity for those U.S. workers who run out of steam because of an unsuccessful H-1B cap season. As a progressive skilled worker destination that shares time zones with the U.S., Canada has become a natural option for displaced U.S. workers who are stymied by the artificial H-1B Cap.

In this webinar, you will learn about the different immigration options for hiring workers in Canada and key recruitment strategies for starting or scaling operations in Canada quickly. We will also highlight how Brown Immigration Law helps businesses to support Canadian permanent residence within two years of entry, or the alternative of finding a way back to the U.S. after a short stint in Canada.

*This webinar is offering SHRM Professional Development Credit.

Coming to Canada – Strategies for Canadian Status

In this webinar, Managing Attorney, Clinton Green, and Managing Partner, David Zaritzky Brown, will discuss the recent changes and trends in Canadian immigration and how they combine to make it easier for companies to hire and retain global talent. They will also highlight how companies can leverage Canada’s immigration programs to implement regional talent hubs in Canada to support their global business needs.

This webinar will be useful for HR/Management looking for a refresher on Canadian business immigration options. It will also be helpful to those starting up Canadian operations, increasing their Canadian operations, or those who might be contemplating solutions for managing risk to their immigration programs in the U.S. Clinton and David will facilitate a Q&A session at the end of the webinar to provide answers to interested attendees.

Once registered, you will receive an email with a link to use to join the video chat on the day of the event. Please note: This link should not be shared with others; it is unique to you. If you ever misplace the invitation link, simply visit the webinar schedule on our website.

If you have colleagues who may benefit from our talks, you are welcome to invite them to join by sharing our webinar schedule where they can subscribe for further information.

Don’t miss these opportunities to increase your knowledge on important immigration issues!

Thank you and we look forward to having you at the event.

Best Regards,

The Team at Brown Immigration Law

** This newsletter/memo is provided for informational and discussion purposes only. It does not act as a substitute for direct legal contact on an individual basis **

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