In this edition, find the latest news on the USCIS’s announcement of a plan to implement a series of backlog relief actions, a DOL announcement regarding an additional 35,000 H-2B nonagricultural visas, 2023 H-1B cap season updates, and more!
USCIS Announces Backlog Relief Actions, Relief for Work Permit Holders
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on March 29, 2022, a series of efforts, including setting new agency-wide backlog reduction goals and working to improve timely access to employment authorization documents (EADs).
USCIS is establishing new internal goals to guide backlog reduction efforts and case processing. As part of these efforts, USCIS plans to increase capacity, expand staffing, and improve technology by the end of FY 2023. USCIS said it expects that once these measures are in place, “applicants and petitioners will receive decisions on their cases more quickly.”
Extending Work Authorization
USCIS said it continues to make progress toward a temporary final rule to increase the automatic extension period of employment authorization and documentation for certain renewal applicants. USCIS said this will build on progress made in recent months in streamlining many EAD processes, including extending validity periods for certain EADs and providing expedited work authorization renewals for healthcare and childcare workers. USCIS said the goal is to ensure that certain individuals will not lose their work authorization while their applications are pending.
- USCIS news release, Mar. 29, 2022, https://www.uscis.gov/newsroom/news-releases/uscis-announces-new-actions-to-reduce-backlogs-expand-premium-processing-and-provide-relief-to-work
DHS, DOL Announce Additional 35,000 H-2B Nonagricultural Visas for Second Half of FY 2022
On March 31, 2022, the Departments of Homeland Security (DHS) and Labor (DOL) announced a forthcoming joint temporary final rule to make available an additional 35,000 H-2B temporary nonagricultural worker visas for the second half of fiscal year (FY) 2022. The visas will be set aside for U.S. employers seeking to employ additional workers on or after April 1, 2022, through September 30, 2022.
The agencies said the supplemental H-2B visa allocation includes 23,500 visas available to returning workers who received an H-2B visa or were otherwise granted H-2B status during one of the last three fiscal years. The remaining 11,500 visas, which are exempt from the returning worker requirement, are reserved for nationals of Haiti, Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador.
The measure follows an announcement in January by DHS and DOL of the availability of 20,000 additional H-2B temporary nonagricultural worker visas for the first half of FY 2022.
- DHS news release, Mar. 31, 2022, https://www.uscis.gov/newsroom/all-news/dhs-and-dol-to-supplement-the-h-2b-cap-with-additional-visas-for-second-half-of-fiscal-year-2022
USCIS Announces FY 2023 H-1B Cap Season Updates
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released several updates related to the fiscal year (FY) 2023 H-1B cap season:
- USCIS has received enough electronic registrations during the initial registration period to reach the FY 2023 H-1B numerical allocations (H-1B cap), including the advanced degree exemption (master’s cap). Registrants accounts will now reflect one of the following statuses for each registration: submitted, selected, denied, or invalidated-failed payment.
- FY 2023 H-1B cap petitions may be filed with USCIS starting April 1, 2022, including those petitions eligible for the advanced degree exemption, if based on a valid, selected registration.
- USCIS FY 2023, H-1B Cap Season Updates, https://www.uscis.gov/newsroom/alerts/fy-2023-h-1b-cap-season-updates
- USCIS H-1B Electronic Registration Process page, https://www.uscis.gov/working-in-the-united-states/temporary-workers/h-1b-specialty-occupations-and-fashion-models/h-1b-electronic-registration-process
- USCIS H-1B Cap Season page, https://www.uscis.gov/working-in-the-united-states/temporary-workers/h-1b-specialty-occupations-and-fashion-models/h-1b-cap-season
USCIS Again Extends Flexibilities for Responding to Certain Agency Requests
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is once again extending certain flexibilities through July 25, 2022, to assist applicants, petitioners, and requestors. USCIS said this may be the final extension of the flexibilities. The agency will consider a response received within 60 calendar days after the due date set forth in the following requests or notices before taking any action, if the issuance date listed on the request or notice is between March 1, 2020, and July 25, 2022, inclusive:
In addition, USCIS will consider a Form I-290B, Notice of Appeal or Motion, or Form N-336, Request for a Hearing on a Decision in Naturalization Proceedings (Under Section 336 of the INA), if:
- USCIS alert, Mar. 30, 2022, https://www.uscis.gov/newsroom/alerts/uscis-extends-flexibility-for-responding-to-agency-requests-1
DHS Secretary Issues Statement on CDC’s ‘Title 42’ Public Health Order Termination
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas released a statement on April 1, 2022, in response to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) determination that effective May 23, 2022, it will terminate its Title 42 public health order requiring the expulsion of unauthorized single adults and family units arriving at land borders to protect against the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19.
According to reports, a migrant surge is possible once Title 42 is lifted, and misinformation is a possibility. “Title 42 remains in place until May 23 and, until then, DHS will continue to expel single adults and families encountered at the southwest border,” he warned. Once the Title 42 order is no longer in place, he said, DHS will process individuals encountered at the border “pursuant to Title 8, which is the standard procedure we use to place individuals in removal proceedings. Nonetheless, we know that smugglers will spread misinformation to take advantage of vulnerable migrants. Let me be clear: those unable to establish a legal basis to remain in the United States will be removed.”
Secretary Mayorkas said DHS is increasing its capacity to process new arrivals, evaluate asylum requests, and quickly remove those who do not qualify. DHS will increase personnel and resources as needed and has redeployed more than 600 law enforcement officers to the southwest border, he said. The CDC said, “With CDC’s assistance and guidance, DHS has and will implement additional COVID-19 mitigation procedures.” CDC said that the termination “will be implemented on May 23, 2022, to enable DHS time to implement appropriate COVID-19 mitigation protocols, such as scaling up a program to provide COVID-19 vaccinations to migrants and prepare for resumption of regular migration under Title 8.”
- “Statement by Secretary Mayorkas on CDC’s Title 42 Order Termination,” Apr. 1, 2022, https://www.dhs.gov/news/2022/04/01/statement-secretary-mayorkas-cdcs-title-42-order-termination
- “CDC Public Health Determination and Termination of Title 42 Order,” Media Statement, Apr. 1, 2022, https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2022/s0401-title-42.html
Biden Administration Announces Relief Measures for Ukrainians
On March 24, 2022, President Biden announced that the United States will accept up to 100,000 Ukrainians and other displaced people fleeing the Russian invasion in Ukraine, in addition to providing an additional $1 billion in humanitarian aid. “This is not something that Poland or Romania or Germany should carry on their own. This is an international responsibility,” he said.
U.S. officials acknowledged that many displaced Ukrainians will want to remain in Europe, closer to their homes and family members, but some may need to find refuge elsewhere. A Biden administration official told reporters traveling with President Biden on March 24, 2022, that admissions of Ukrainians into the United States will be accomplished through a combination of refugee admissions, parole, and immigrant and nonimmigrant visas, with a focus on Ukrainians with family members in the United States. The official said that the United States will prioritize vulnerable people, including those with medical needs, journalists, dissidents, and LGBTQI.
The new measures are in addition to temporary protected status (TPS), for which Ukraine has been designated for 18 months. Individuals eligible for TPS under the Ukraine designation must have continuously resided in the United States since March 1, 2022. Up to an estimated 75,000 Ukrainians in the United States could be eligible for TPS.
According to reports, the Biden administration still struggles with processing issues, including for tens of thousands of Afghans evacuated following the U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan, along with other immigration and refugee-related backlogs. Although about 75,000 Afghans have entered the United States via humanitarian parole, many others wait overseas in U.S.-run centers for their cases to be processed.
- “The U.S. Will Take In Up to 100,000 Ukrainian Refugees Fleeing the War,” National Public Radio, Mar. 24, 2022, https://www.npr.org/2022/03/24/1088506487/us-ukraine-refugees
- “United States Will Welcome Up to 100,000 Ukrainian Refugees,” New York Times, Mar. 24, 2022, https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/24/us/ukrainian-refugees-biden.html
- Remarks by President Biden, Mar. 24, 2022, https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/speeches-remarks/2022/03/24/remarks-by-president-biden-in-press-conference-7/
- USCIS news release (Ukrainian TPS), Mar. 3, 2022, https://www.uscis.gov/newsroom/news-releases/secretary-mayorkas-designates-ukraine-for-temporary-protected-status-for-18-months