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.
U.S. BUSINESS IMMIGRATION UPDATES
Biometrics Fee Exemption for I-539 Applicants
As of October 1, 2023, USCIS announced that the agency was suspending the biometrics fee requirement for applications to extend/change nonimmigrant status via form I-539. The Service noted in its announcement that “The biometric services fee exemption will apply to all applicants filing on or after Oct.1, including those applicants filing Form I-539 requesting an extension of stay in or change of status to H-4, L-2, or E nonimmigrant for whom USCIS had previously suspended the biometrics requirement through Sept. 30, 2023.”
5 Year Validity Periods for Employment Authorization Documents
Near the end of September 2023, USCIS updated its policy guidance regarding the maximum validity periods for certain EADs, including those “issued to refugees and asylees, noncitizens paroled as refugees, noncitizens granted withholding of removal, noncitizens with pending applications for asylum or withholding of removal, noncitizens with pending applications for adjustment of status under INA 245, and noncitizens seeking suspension of deportation or cancellation of removal.” USCIS has also began to issue advance parole travel documents for those with a pending adjustment of status application for up to a five-year period. We welcome this commonsense update from USCIS and will continue to monitor our clients’ status documents to track consistency with this policy update.
ICYMI: Possibility of Government Shutdown Continues
As we previously reported, Congress nearly triggered a government shutdown at the beginning of October. However, instead, Congress passed a temporary stopgap measure, which extended funding for the government until the middle of November. Many news agencies now report that the threat of a government shutdown is highly likely after the ouster of then-Speaker Kevin McCarthy.
As a reminder, government shutdowns can halt work in many agencies, lead to general delays, and a lack of responsiveness as many government employees will be asked not to appear for work if the shutdown occurs. Typically, there are contingency plans in place for essential services, and many agencies have reserve funding, however, the impact is generally far reaching.
From an immigration perspective, during the previous shutdowns (four total that have lasted more than one day), USCIS has continued to operate because it is a fee-generating agency that does not wholly rely on government funding; however, it has operated at reduced staffing numbers which has caused delays, particularly in adjudications. The Department of State is similar, relying partially on revenue from visa application and related fees, but has suspended nonemergency services during shutdowns previously.
The Department of Labor has faced the greatest impact during shutdowns, including a halt on LCA services, and services related to the labor certification process (prevailing wage determinations, PERMs, etc.). Clearly, this can be incredibly disruptive to many processes that we support, which may cause overall delays in agencies that are already facing historic backlogs.
Given the potential for a high-level impact on immigration, we will continue to monitor Congress’ negotiations and hope that the appropriations bills are passed to ensure the government continues running. If the shutdown occurs, we will inform our clients of our expectations and advice.
Diversity Visa Lottery Registration Opened
On October 4, 2023, the Department of State opened up registration for the Diversity Visa lottery, which closes November 7, 2023. Results of the lottery are anticipated May 2024. As explained by the DOS, “This program allows people from countries with low U.S. immigration rates, who meet eligibility requirements, to register for a chance to apply for a U.S. immigrant visa. https://dvprogram.state.gov, is the ONLY way to enter. Read the program instructions HERE. This year’s Diversity Visa program open season is called “DV2025” because the individuals selected this season must apply for and receive their immigrant visa by September 30, 2025.”
If you are interested in learning more, please contact your BIL attorney for an assessment.
November Visa Bulletin
The November 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 “Dates for Filing” chart. Generally, the visa bulletin remained substantially similar to the October visa bulletin, with movement in the EB-2 Worldwide Final Action Date advancing merely 8 days from the October bulletin to the visa bulletin in November.
CANADIAN BUSINESS IMMIGRATION UPDATES
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 last four weeks, Canada issued 12, 205 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 9,925 Express Entry candidates; the cut-off score for each round of invitation was 531, 504 and 504 respectively.
- IRCC held one targeted draw for individuals proficient in French, inviting 500 Express Entry candidates; the cut-off score was 472.
- IRCC held its first targeted draws for individuals in certain agriculture and agri-food occupations, inviting 600 Express Entry candidates; the cut-off score was 354.
- IRCC also held its first targeted draws for individuals in certain transportation occupations, inviting 1,000 Express Entry candidates; the cut-off score was 435.
If you have any questions about Express Entry, Permanent Residency, or any Canadian immigration programs, please contact us to schedule a consultation.
NEW LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES
Best Practices in US Business Immigration Law
One could call this a Hack-a-thon for US Business immigration services where Managing Partner, David Zaritzky Brown, along with Managing Attorney, Caterina Saggio, will walk through some of the tricks we have developed or tools we have used to both ensure success and deliver results for our clients. David and Caterina will highlight 10 things that all companies hiring foreign workers will benefit from as our firm best practice.
In addition to walking through specific scenarios and examples, David and Caterina will stay on after the presentation to “talk shop” and answer any questions.
This webinar will walk through all of the most important topical information and provide time for questions. As this topic relates to hiring related paperwork it is intended for HR partners and managers involved in the hiring process.
H-1B Cap and Change of Employer Primer
Hosted by David Zaritzky Brown, Managing Partner, this session is geared towards a better understanding of what is H-1B status. David will spend time explaining how an H-1B change of employer works for employers seeking to hire someone in H-1 status, while also discussing the H-1B cap process so employers can prepare for the Cap registration coming in March 2024. For those employers who wish to plan ahead for the upcoming Cap lottery this will ensure all HR have a good understanding of what to expect and when.
Whether a Change of Employer filing, or New Cap Registration H-1B, David will answer all questions.
Think Canada – Contingency Planning for H-1B Cap Season
As the FY 2025 cap season nears, uncertainty looms over the heads of thousands of specialty workers while many businesses contemplate the very real risk that they will lose talented workers who are not selected. H-1B contingency planning is critical to successfully managing your foreign national workforce. Often an initial review involves considering what options exist for individuals to remain in the U.S., however, for companies implementing contingency plans for foreign nationals in the US, Canada offers a plethora of untapped and innovative immigration programs that will allow companies to relocate their employees quickly and easily to Canada while minimizing disruptions to the workforce and client deliverables.
Moderated by Managing Partner, David Zaritzky Brown, this program will highlight useful Canadian options supported by the Canadian practice, led by Clinton J. Green, Managing Attorney and Canadian Practice Lead, and his team.
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.
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 **