Immigration Update

Apr 18, 2022 | Immigration Updates

In this edition, find the latest news on the USCIS’s announcement of online filing for DACA renewal forms, the ‘Jumpstart Act’ to recapture unused visas introduced in House, updates related to the reauthorized EB-5 regional center program, and more! 

USCIS Announces Online Filing for DACA Renewal Forms

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on April 12, 2022, that individuals who previously received deferred action under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) may now file renewal requests on Form I-821D, Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, online. Such individuals must also file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, and the I-765 Worksheet, which is required as evidence in support of the DACA filing. A DACA requestor must first create a free USCIS online account to submit forms, pay fees, track status, and respond to Requests for Evidence.

USCIS said that During fiscal year (FY) 2021, USCIS received more than 8.8 million requests for immigration benefits and other requests, including 438,950 Form I-821D DACA requests. Since launching online filing in 2017, the overall number of forms filed online has increased significantly. In FY 2021, approximately 1,210,700 applications, petitions and requests were filed online, a 2.3% increase from the 1,184,000 filed in FY 2020.

USCIS noted that under a court order, the Department of Homeland Security continues to accept both initial and renewal DACA requests, although the agency is prohibited from granting initial DACA requests at this time.

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State Dept., USCIS Announce Actions Related to Reauthorized EB-5 Regional Center Program; Visa Bulletin Revised to Include New Categories

The Department of State (DOS) and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced several actions related to the newly reauthorized EB-5 regional center program. Below are highlights.

Department of State

DOS has resumed processing immigrant visas associated with the EB-5 regional center program based on approved USCIS Forms I-526 (Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur), including those filed on or before the expiration of the previous regional center program on June 30, 2021.

DOS explained that on March 15, 2022, President Biden signed a law, the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act of 2022, that made changes to the EB-5 program, reauthorized the EB-5 immigrant investor regional center program, and directed that certain “grandfathered” immigration benefits be processed.

Also, DOS’s Visa Bulletin for May 2022 includes revisions and new EB-5 visa preference categories. Among other things, the bulletin notes the creation of two new “pools” of visa numbers in the EB-5 category: one pool “reserved” for certain set-aside categories and a second “unreserved” pool.

The bulletin notes that the Employment-Based Fifth Preference Unreserved (C5, T5, and all others) category is Current for all countries. The Employment-Based Fifth Preference Unreserved (I5 and R5) categories are Current for all countries except China-mainland born, which is subject to a November 22, 2015 final action date. All set-aside categories are Current for all countries. DOS said it may become necessary to establish a China-mainland born final action date and application filing date for the C5 and T5 categories as early as June to keep number use within the maximum allowed under the fiscal year 2022 annual limits if sufficient demand materializes.

USCIS

Pursuant to the new law, USCIS announced that the reauthorized regional center program will be in effect through September 30, 2027. The agency said it is reviewing the new law and will provide additional guidance.

USCIS noted that the new law requires all entities seeking regional center designation to provide a proposal to comply with the new program requirements effective May 14, 2022. USCIS said it is not accepting Form I-924, Application For Regional Center Designation Under the Immigrant Investor Program, for this purpose.

USCIS has resumed processing regional center-based Forms I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur, filed on or before the sunset of the previous regional center program on June 30, 2021. USCIS said it will adjudicate all Form I-526 petitions filed before March 15, 2022, according to the applicable eligibility requirements at the time such petitions were filed (that is, the eligibility requirements in place before the enactment of the new law). USCIS will continue to process Form I-526 petitions under the “visa availability approach,” prioritizing those Form I-526 petitions for investors with an available visa or a visa that will be available soon.

USCIS said it will continue to reject all Form I-526 petition received on or after July 1, 2021, when it indicates that the petitioner’s investment is associated with a regional center.

The agency also said it will continue to adjudicate Forms I-829, Petition by Investor to Remove Conditions on Permanent Residence. The agency will adjudicate Form I-829 petitions associated with Form I-526 filed before March 15, 2022, under the applicable eligibility requirements in place before enactment of the new law.

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‘Jumpstart Act’ to Recapture Unused Visas Introduced in House

On April 4, 2022, Rep. Zoe Lofgren (CA-19) introduced H.R. 7374, the “Jumpstart our Legal Immigration System Act,” a bill that would recapture approximately 400,000 family- and employment-based visas, create an accelerated path to adjustment of status for those already in the United States, and provide additional funds to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to improve visa processing. Much of the bill was included in the House-passed version of the Build Back Better Act.

According to a statement from Rep. Lofgren, the legislation would:

  • Amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to prevent the future loss of unused employment-based visas by ensuring that they roll over to the family-based categories.
  • Recapture unused immigrant visas from 1992 through 2021, including approximately 222,000 unused family-sponsored visas and approximately 157,000 employment-based visas.
  • Allow an estimated 40,000 individuals who were selected for, but did not receive, diversity visas to reapply for such visas. These individuals were unable to finalize the process or enter the United States due to various executive orders or COVID-related office closures and restrictions.
  • Allow individuals who are in the United States and eligible for adjustment to legal permanent resident (LPR) status except for the lack of an available visa number to apply for adjustment upon paying a fee. “This will allow individuals to receive work authorization while they wait for a visa number to become available and will prevent dependent children from ‘aging out’ of eligibility for LPR status,” Rep. Lofgren’s statement noted.

Allow immigrants who are in the United States to receive an exemption from the immigrant visa numerical limits and adjust their status to permanent residence if their immigrant visa petition has been approved for two years and they pay a supplemental fee.

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OFLC Reminds Employers Filing Form ETA-9142B to Submit Their Initiated Cases Before April 28

The Department of Labor’s Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC) reminded employers that the Foreign Labor Application Gateway (FLAG) will be upgrading the H-2B form “fill and submit” module, which OFLC said is expected to reduce lag time in completing form fields, document uploads, and appendices. All other FLAG H-2B functionality will be available to filers in the upgraded fill and submit module.

H-2B submissions made after 6 p.m. ET on April 28, 2022, must be started and submitted in the new form module, OFLC said. Any initiated H-2B cases submitted prior to that date and time will be deleted and a new application using the upgraded module will need to be created.

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DHS Designates Cameroon for TPS for 18 Months

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced the designation of Cameroon for temporary protected status (TPS) for 18 months due to ongoing armed conflict in that country. Only individuals who are already residing in the United States as of April 14, 2022, will be eligible for TPS under this designation. According to estimates, approximately 40,000 Cameroonians in the United States may qualify. This is the first time that DHS has designated Cameroon for TPS.

Cameroon’s 18-month designation will take effect on the publication date of the forthcoming Federal Register notice, which will provide instructions for applying for TPS and an employment authorization document (EAD). TPS applicants must meet all eligibility requirements and undergo security and background checks.

DHS said that the designation is based on “both ongoing armed conflict and extraordinary and temporary conditions in Cameroon that prevent Cameroonian nationals, and those of no nationality who last habitually resided in Cameroon, from returning to Cameroon safely.” DHS cited conditions resulting from “extreme violence between government forces and armed separatists and a significant rise in attacks from Boko Haram, the combination of which has triggered a humanitarian crisis. Extreme violence and the widespread destruction of civilian infrastructure have led to economic instability, food insecurity, and several hundred thousand displaced Cameroonians without access to schools, hospitals, and other critical services.”

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