News from the Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers Vol. 15, No. 6B • June 09, 2019
1. Premium Processing Begins for Remaining H-1B Cap-Subject (Lottery) Petitions -On June 10, 2019, USCIS will begin premium processing for all remaining FY 2020 H-1B lottery petitions.
2. OFLC’s New Online ‘FLAG’ Portal to Replace iCERT -The Foreign Labor Application Gateway (FLAG) will serve as the new application filing and case management portal for all foreign labor certification programs.
3. USCIS Invites Public Comments on Extension of Form I-9 -USCIS has invited public comments on its proposed extension of the employment eligibility verification form before it expires on August 31, 2019
4. Cap Reached for Additional H-2B Visas for FY 2019 -USCIS has received enough petitions to reach the additional maximum 30,000 visas made available for returning workers under the
H-2B cap for FY 2019.
5. New Publications and Items of Interest -New Publications and Items of Interest
6. ABIL Member / Firm News -ABIL Member / Firm News
7. Government Agency Links -Government Agency Links
1. Premium Processing Begins for Remaining H-1B Cap-Subject (Lottery) Petitions
On June 10, 2019, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin premium processing for all remaining fiscal year (FY) 2020 H-1B lottery petitions. Starting on that date, employers may file a request for premium processing conversion with the USCIS service center that is processing their petition.
USCIS noted that it is offering premium processing in a two-phased approach during this year’s cap season “to best manage premium processing requests without fully suspending it.
- The first phase, which started on May 20, 2019, included H-1B lottery petitions requesting a change of status, and the second phase includes all other H-1B lottery petitions. Premium processing for H-1B petitions that are exempt from the cap, such as extension-of-stay requests, remains available.
Also starting on June 10 and continuing through the end of June 24, USCIS will use regular mail rather than pre-paid mailers to send out final notices for premium processing for H-1B lottery petitions not requesting a change of status. USCIS said it will resume using pre-paid mailers for final notices when provided by petitioners “when operationally feasible.”
Details: Latest USCIS notice; USCIS previous announcement
2. OFLC’s New Online ‘FLAG’ Portal to Replace iCERT
The Department of Labor’s Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC) has announced a new cloud-based online portal, the Foreign Labor Application Gateway (FLAG). The newly modernized portal is intended to “help U.S. employers find qualified workers while ensuring protections for U.S. and foreign workers.”
The new portal is replacing OFLC’s current iCERT system. It will serve as the new application filing and case management portal for all foreign labor certification programs. OFLC said the enhancements include personalized user accounts, form preparation, automated case alerts, and improved access to OFLC decisions.
FLAG will be used for filing prevailing wage requests (Form ETA-9141) for PERM applications (i.e., the first stage of the employment-based green card process) starting June 10, 2019; and for submitting H-2B applications starting July 3, 2019.
Details: OFLC FLAG System/notice
3. USCIS Invites Public Comments on Extension of Form I-9
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has invited public comments on its proposed extension of the Form I-9 (Employment Eligibility Verification) before it expires on August 31, 2019.
According to a USCIS announcement, the 30-day comment period will be open until July 5, 2019. There was a previous required public comment period of 60 days.
Details: USCIS announcement; previous USCIS notice
4. Cap Reached for Additional H-2B Visas for FY 2019
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it has received enough petitions to reach the additional maximum 30,000 visas made available under the H-2B numerical limit (cap) for fiscal year (FY) 2019. The H-2B visa program permits employers to hire foreign workers to come to the United States to perform temporary nonagricultural services or labor on a one-time, seasonal, peakload, or intermittent basis.
USCIS began accepting H-2B petitions on May 8, 2019, under a temporary final rule increasing the cap by up to 30,000 additional H-2B visas for returning workers through the end of FY 2019. The agency said it will reject and return any cap-subject petitions received after June 5, together with any accompanying filing fees. USCIS will continue 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 petitioning to extend their stay and, if applicable, change the terms of their employment or change employers;
- 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.
Details: USCIS announcement; previous USCIS announcement of temporary final rule
5. New Publications and Items of Interest
Technical assistance materials and webinars on new H-2B labor certification form, process. The Department of Labor’s Office of Foreign Labor Certification has announced instructional videos on how to create and manage an online FLAG System account and prepare the Form ETA-9142B (H-2B Application for Temporary Employment Certification) and corresponding appendices. OFLC also will host webinars on June 13, 2019, to provide technical assistance to employers and authorized attorneys or agents on the changes to the H-2B application forms. Information and videos are also expected to be posted shortly on the new prevailing wage form and process. For more information, see https://www.foreignlaborcert.doleta.gov/news.cfm, https://flag.dol.gov/, https://flag.dol.gov/announcements
Immigrant and Employee Rights webinars. The Department of Justice’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section is offering free webinars to the public in April. The webinars are for workers, employers, and advocates. More information or to register
Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers:
- ABIL is available on Twitter: @ABILImmigration.
- Recent ABIL member blogs are at http://www.abilblog.com/.
Organizations seeking non-lawyer and lawyer volunteers. Cornell Law School has compiled a list of organizations seeking non-lawyer and lawyer volunteers to help migrants in U.S. detention and deportation proceedings. The list, which is updated on an ongoing basis
Nation of immigrants. Podcasts on U.S. immigration history and what it means to be an immigrant in America:
- Statutes of Liberty: (new episodes: A Prescription for Success: EB-1 for Physicians; The Best, Brightest, and Backlogged, discusses the backlog, who it affects, how to read the Visa Bulletin, and strategies for EB-1 visas)
- Code Switch Podcast: What Does It Mean To Be A ‘Nation of Immigrants‘?
- Hidden Brain: The Huddled Masses and the Myth of America
- American Pendulum I
Advisories and tips:
- Community Advisory: Social Media, Criminalization, and Immigration has been published by the National Lawyers Guild’s National Immigration Project. This advisory summarizes ways in which immigration agents may use social media against those in removal proceedings or involved in criminal cases. The advisory is here.
- How to safeguard your data from searches at the border is the topic of several recent articles and blogs. See, for example, NYTimes and ACLU.
- Listings and links to cases challenging executive orders, and related available pleadings, are available at lawfareblog.com.
6. ABIL Member / Firm News
Cyrus Mehta has published several new blog entries: “Fallout from Trump’s Muslim Ban: Requiring Use of Social Media on Visa Applications,” and “Making the Case for Expanding a Foreign National’s Interest in an I-140 Petition.”
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7. Government Agency Links
Follow these links to access current processing times of the USCIS Service Centers and the Department of Labor, and the Department of State’s latest Visa Bulletin with the most recent cut-off dates for visa numbers:
USCIS Service Center processing times online
Department of State Visa Bulletin
Visa application wait times for any post