By: Jake Campbell and Weijia (Victoria) Ma

Seyfarth Synopsis: The below summarizes recent legal updates that impact U.S. immigration:

1. FY2024 H-1B Cap Registration

On March 27, 2023, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that initial registration was complete and that all prospective petitioners with selected registrations selected in the lottery were notified.  Petitioners must file H-1B cap-subject petitions for selected registrations before June 30, 2023.

2. USCIS Issued Guidance on Mobile Biometrics Collection Services

On March 7, 2023, USCIS issued policy guidance to address mobile biometrics collection and biometrics collection in remote locations.  If individuals are unable to attend their biometrics in person due to health or other issues, or because they reside in remote locations, USCIS now has the discretion to offer mobile biometrics services.  USCIS may also coordinate with local law enforcement agencies or other Department of Homeland Security (DHS) agencies to collect biometrics if mobile biometrics collection services are unavailable.  Applicants must follow the instructions on the biometric notice to request mobile biometrics.

3. Premium Processing for OPT and STEM OPT Students

As of April 3, 2023, USCIS will accept premium processing requests for all OPT and STEM OPT I-765 applications, including both new or pending OPT EAD applications.  USCIS will process OPT EAD applications within a 30-day period for a premium fee of $1,500.

4. USCIS Field Offices  – Delivering Forms I-94 with ADIT (Temporary I 551) Stamps by Mail to Prove Temporary Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) Status

On March 16, 2023, USCIS announced that LPRs may receive Forms I-94 with ADIT (temporary I-551) stamps by mail as temporary evidence of Lawful Permanent Resident status without attending an in-person appointment at a USCIS field office.  According to USCIS, this alternate Form I-94 with an ADIT stamp is an acceptable List A receipt for Form I-9 and E-Verify purposes.

LPRs may request temporary evidence of their status in the form of an ADIT stamp if:

  • They do not have their Green Card; or
  • Their Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card (Green Card), Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence, or Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, is still pending adjudication and their Green Card and extension notice have expired.

To obtain an Form I-94 with an ADIT stamp, LPRs must contact USCIS by calling at 1-800-375-5283 or 1-800-767-1833 (TDD for the hearing impaired).  Immigration services officer will verify the LPR’s information, including their identity and physical mailing address.  The officer will then either create an in-person appointment if needed or submit a request to a USCIS field office.  Upon receipt of the request, if an in-person appointment is not needed, the USCIS field office will then review the request and mail the applicant a Form I-94 with ADIT stamp, DHS seal and a printed photo of the LPR in USCIS’s systems.

5. DHS Extended and Redesignated Somalia for Temporary Protected Status for 18 Months

On March 13, 2023, DHS announced an eighteen-month extension of the designation of Somalian nationals for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) until September 17, 2024.  To benefit from this extension, existing TPS recipients must re-register during the 60-day re-registration period from March 13, 2023 to May 12, 2023.  Eligible applicants who are applying for TPS for the first time can register during the period from March 13, 2023 to September 17, 2024.

6. Extension for Certain Ukrainians Paroled into the U.S.

DHS announced that it is considering, on a case-by-case basis, granting a one-year extension of parole and employment authorization to certain Ukrainian nationals and immediate family members who were paroled into the U.S. at a port of entry between February 24, 2022 and April 25, 2022, prior to the Uniting for Ukraine process became available. According to DHS, it will review cases based on the date of parole, and the review process can take approximately four weeks to consider and vet all the individuals in the group. 

7. COVID-Related Flexibilities

USCIS confirmed on March 23, 2023 that the COVID-related flexibility to file certain notices and requests ended on March 24, 2023.  For the notices or requests issued after March 23, 2023, USCIS must receive the response by the deadline listed in the notice or request to be considered timely filed.  If the notice or request was issued on or before March, 23, 2023, then the 60-day flexibility will apply to file the response after the deadline listed on the notice.  These notices include, but are not limited to, Requests for Evidence (RFEs), Notices in of Intent to Deny (NOIDs), Notices of Intent to Revoke (NOIRs,), and others.

For 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), USCIS will consider if:

  • The form was filed up to 90 calendar days from the issuance of a decision they made; and
  • They made that decision between November 01, 2021 and March 23, 2023.

8. USCIS Removed 60-Day Rule for Civil Surgeon Signatures on Form I-693

After a temporary waiver for applications filed December 9, 2021 to March 30, 2023, on March 31, 2023, USCIS issued guidance that permanently removed the requirement to file Form I-693 within 60 days of the civil surgeon signing the form.  Effective immediately, the new policy applies to all Form I-693s, including ones that are currently pending with USCIS.

9. U.S. Department of State (DOS) Announced Visa Fees Increase for Certain Visa Categories

On March 28, 2023, DOS published a final rule regarding increases to certain visa application  processing fees and the Border Crossing Card (BCC) for Mexican citizens age 15 and over.  The fee increases take effect on May 30, 2023. The changes include the following:

  • The application processing fee for non-petition based nonimmigrant visa applications (except E category) will be raised from $160 to $185 (15.6% increase).
  • The application processing fee for H, L, O, P, Q, and R categories will be raised from $190 to $205 (7.9% increase).
  • The processing fee for the BCCs for Mexican citizens age 15 and over will be raised from $160 to $185 (15.6 % increase).
  • The fee for E category visa applications will be raised from $205 to $315 (53.7% increase).

Seyfarth will offer more details and insights once more information is available.  Please contact the authors or your Seyfarth attorney if you have any questions.