Immigration Update

Sep 19, 2022 | Immigration Updates

In this edition, find the latest news on witnesses’ testimony before the Senate on the importance of immigrant workers to the U.S. health care system, DHS’ announcement on an extension for current Venezuelan temporary protected status beneficiaries, USCIS’ announcement that the H-2B cap has been reached for the first half of fiscal year 2023, and more.  

Witnesses Testify at Senate Hearing on Importance of Immigrant Workers to U.S. Health Care System

On September 14, 2022, several witnesses testified at a hearing held by the Senate Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, and Border Safety, “Flatlining Care: Why Immigrants Are Crucial to Bolstering Our Health Care.” Among them were Sarah K. Peterson, Principal Attorney, SPS Immigration PLLC, who testified about “smart immigration reform” to allow International Medical Graduates (IMGs,) international nurses, and other healthcare professionals to help address the United States’ “ongoing shortage of access to medical care, ensuring that all Americans are able to access basic, primary medical care regardless of where they live in the United States.”

Among other things, Ms. Peterson urged Congress to pass two pending bills: the Conrad State 30 and Physician Access Reauthorization Act, S. 1810 (H.R. 3541), and the Healthcare Workforce Resilience Act, S. 1024 (H.R. 2255). She said that passage of these bills would increase access to medical care and bring relief to underserved populations, and to J-1 physicians and international nurses. She noted, for example, that the Conrad bill would provide “cap gap” relief for J-1 trainees, similar to that provided to F-1 students working in Optional Practical Training status, whose work authorization expires before October 1 and whose employers have filed a cap-subject H-1B petition selected in the registration period. “Expanding this relief to physicians would provide employers with quicker access to necessary health care and allow these foreign national physicians to change status in the United States, without having to depart the United States, obtain a visa, and only be permitted to re-enter the U.S. months later. Cap gap work-authorization for U.S.-trained physicians would add a quarter of a year or more of badly needed physician coverage and is smart immigration reform,” she said.

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DHS Announces Extension and Re-Registration Process for Current Venezuela TPS Beneficiaries, Special Student Relief

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has taken several actions to provide relief for Venezuelans in the United States.

TPS extended. DHS has extended the designation of Venezuela for temporary protected status (TPS) for 18 months, effective September 10, 2022, through March 10, 2024. Existing TPS beneficiaries who wish to extend their status must re-register during the 60-day re-registration period that began on September 8, 2022, and runs through November 7, 2022.

DHS noted that re-registrants should re-register timely and not wait until their employment authorization documents expire because delaying could result in gaps in work authorization documentation.

Special student relief. DHS is suspending certain regulatory requirements for F-1 nonimmigrant students whose country of citizenship is Venezuela, regardless of country of birth (or individuals having no nationality who last habitually resided in Venezuela), and who are experiencing severe economic hardship as a direct result of the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela. Such students who were in lawful F-1 nonimmigrant student status on April 22, 2021, and are currently maintaining F-1 nonimmigrant student status may request work authorization, work an increased number of hours while school is in session, and reduce their courseloads while continuing to maintain status.

DHS said it will deem an F-1 nonimmigrant student who receives such employment authorization to be engaged in a “full course of study” for the duration of the employment authorization, if the nonimmigrant student satisfies the minimum courseload requirement described in the notice.

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USCIS Reaches H-2B Cap for First Half of FY 2023

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on September 14, 2022, that it has received enough petitions to reach the congressionally mandated cap on H-2B visas for temporary nonagricultural workers for the first half of fiscal year (FY) 2023. September 12, 2022, was the final receipt date for new cap-subject H-2B worker petitions requesting an employment start date before April 1, 2023. USCIS said it will reject new cap-subject H-2B petitions received after September 12, 2022, that request an employment start date before April 1, 2023.

USCIS continues to accept H-2B petitions that are exempt from the congressionally mandated cap. This includes petitions for:

  • Current H-2B workers in the United States who extend their stay, change employers, or change the terms and conditions of their employment;
  • Fish roe processors, fish roe technicians, and/or supervisors of fish roe processing; and
  • Workers performing labor or services in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and/or Guam from November 28, 2009, until December 31, 2029.

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Annual Diversity Visa 2024 Lottery Opens Early October 2022

Section 203(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) provides for a class of immigrants known as “diversity immigrants” from countries with historically low rates of immigration to the United States.  For Fiscal Year 2024, 55,000 Diversity Visas (DVs) will be available. The Department of State determines selectees through a randomized computer drawing. The Department of State distributes diversity visas among six geographic regions, and no single country may receive more than 7 percent of the available DVs in any one year. For DV-2024, natives of certain countries are not eligible to apply, because more than 50,000 natives of these countries immigrated to the United States in the previous five years.

Applicants must submit entries for the DV-2024 program electronically at dvprogram.state.gov beginning in early October and ending in early November. Do not wait until the last week of the registration period to enter, as heavy demand may result in website delays. No late entries or paper entries will be accepted. The law allows only one entry per person during each entry period. The Department of State uses sophisticated technology to detect multiple entries. Submission of more than one entry will render you ineligible for a DV.

Unless you were born in a country restricted from applying for the DV-2022 lottery, your WR attorney can assist in submitting an application for the Diversity Visa Program. In addition, attorney representation is crucial for DV lottery winners as 100,000 winners are selected for only 55,000 issued green cards made available on a first come, first serve basis. For more information, contact your WR attorney.

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