We have survived the winter and the busy H-1B season (we kid, we live in LA and love H-1Bs) and want to share some happy news that happened during that time! As we move into spring and look for renewal and rejuvenation, we are motivated by stories like the one from a client below. Even in this political climate, it is a nice reminder that our clients continue to find immigration success. We are as energized as ever to continue to work diligently with our clients to meet their goals and obtain lawful status, so that they may have a fresh start in the U.S.
I applied for a green card through marriage to my husband. We live on the East Coast and were recommended to seek out Navid Dayzad by a lawyer (here on the east coast) that was unable to fit us in. It was the best recommendation I have ever had from anyone for anything. I have been through the visa process 8 times and was prepared for the worst. Dayzad and his team made the process as painless as they could. It was a huge burden off of our shoulders to be able to ask questions and know that a team of lawyers would physically look through our application, and not just submit it. The cost was truly worth every penny. We never had to worry there would be something that went wrong with the application, and knowing that whenever we needed an answer to a question we would have a response ASAP. I cannot thank them enough.
The Trump administration has continuously sought ways to deter lawful immigration. It builds its invisible wall through rule changes and executive order. The latest proposed rule is to take away work authorization for the spouses of H-1B visa holders. Trump talks about encouraging legal immigration and embracing highly skilled immigrant workers, but this rule undercuts that idea.
H-1B workers are highly skilled professionals who most commonly specialize in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math. Their spouses are eligible for H-4 status. Since 2015, H-4 spouses have been eligible for work authorization while their H-1B spouse is in the process of becoming a lawful permanent resident. For many H-1B employees the permanent resident process can take years to complete. While these employees wait out the long, legal process, their H-4 spouses can help support their families financially and find a sense of independence and purpose through their own employment in the United States.
Taking away employment authorization for H-4 visa holders would inordinately impact women, because 90 percent of H-4 visa holders are women. Furthermore, telling valued H-1B employees that their spouses cannot work sends a message that they and their families are not truly welcome. It makes moving to the U.S. to work a less attractive option for these highly skilled workers.
Many of our clients are in the process of obtaining permanent residence. As these workers build their lives in the U.S., we understand that having two financial earners in the family can be necessary to their success. This proposed rule will do more harm than good. It punishes skilled foreign workers who are putting their talents to use in the U.S. economy.
As previously announced, USCIS will be offering premium processing in a two-phased approach during the Fiscal Year 2020 cap season. The hope is that by offering premium processing in two phases, the government can better manage the requests without fully suspending premium processing. As many of our clients know, the government has had to suspend all premium processing for H-1B petitions in the past due to high demand.
The first phase will offer Premium Processing for cap-subject H-1B petitions requesting a change of status. The government promises to make a decision within 15 days starting May 20, 2019. The second phase will include all other H-1B cap-subject petitions and will not begin until at least June 2019. Currently, premium processing for all other H-1B petitions that are exempt from the cap, such as an H-1B extension of stay, remains available. Hopefully, the government can avoid a total suspension of premium processing. USCIS is likely to make additional announcements regarding premium processing in the coming months. We will continue to track any updates to keep our clients informed.
The U.S. Department of State recently issued new data showing that the number of visas issued declined from 2017 to 2018. Temporary visas issued declined 7%. The number of immigrant visas for individuals seeking permanent residence also declined by 5%.
The main reason for the decline is likely the president’s “extreme vetting” process. This policy has increased scrutiny of all applications. The largest increase in visa denials was based on “public charge” grounds. This occurs when a consular officer denies an application because the officer believes the applicant lacks the financial resources to support him or herself in the United States. The fear is that the applicant may come to rely on the federal government for financial support. Though the legal standard has not changed, the interpretation that consular officers use has. Therefore, it is important to make sure you have the proper documentation of your finances before heading to a consulate appointment. Without the proper evidence, you may face serious delays or denials in the visa process.
Premium processing will be offered in two phases during this year’s H-1B cap season. The first phase will accept premium processing requests only for cap-subject H-1B petitions that request a change of status within the United States. Petitioners must request premium processing with the H-1B change of status application. Otherwise, they will need to wait until premium processing begins to submit the request. USCIS will begin premium processing for these petitions no later than May 20, 2019.
The second phase will include all other fiscal year 2020 cap-subject petitions, including those who request consular notification and will need to enter the U.S. to trigger H-1B status. It will not begin until at least June 2019. Petitioners must wait to submit their premium process request until the service becomes available again. Thus, those who are eager to know quickly whether their application has been accepted by the lottery and the decision on their application should request premium processing simultaneously with the H-1B petition, request a change of status within the U.S., and not travel internationally until the petition is adjudicated.