EAD Expedite Guidance for Health Care Workers
Effective immediately, USCIS will be considering requests to expedite the processing of applications to renew Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) for health care workers. With no exact timeframe for how quickly the expedited request will be processed, USCIS states that they will process the applications faster than their standard time. All expedited requests should be made by calling the USCIS Contact Center. All requestors should be prepared to provide sufficient evidence of their current employment or profession as qualifying healthcare workers.
- A pending EAD renewal application filed on Form I-765; and
- An EAD that expires within 30 days or less or has already expired.
Department of State Announces Interview Waivers for Certain Nonimmigrant Visas
The Secretary of State and DHS have authorized consular officers to waive the in-person interview requirement, through the end of 2022, for certain temporary employment nonimmigrant visa applicants who have a petition approved by USCIS. This new authorization applies to temporary workers, who meet certain conditions, applying for H-1, H-3, H-4, L, O, P, and Q visas. Such conditions include applying for a visa in their country of nationality or residence.
Consular officers will now have the discretion to waive the visa interview requirement for:
Individual petition-based H-1, H-3, H-4, L, O, P, and Q applicants who:
- Were previously issued any type of visa
- Have never been refused a visa unless such refusal was overcome or waived
- Have no apparent ineligibility or potential ineligibility.
And First-time individual petition-based H-1, H-3, H-4, L, O, P, and Q applicants who:
- Are citizens or nationals of a country that participates in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), provided they have no apparent ineligibility or potential ineligibility
- Have previously traveled to the United States using an authorization obtained via the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA).
The Secretary also extended previously approved policies to waive the visa interview for certain F, M, and academic J visa applicants and certain H-2 (temporary agricultural and non-agricultural workers) applicants through the end of 2022. Applicants will be eligible for the waiver following the same rules and requirements for the Individual petition-based H-1, H-3, H-4, L, O, P, and Q applicants and First-time Individual petition-based applicants.
FY 2023 H-1B Cap Registration Opens March 1
USCIS announced in January that the initial registration period for FY-2023 H-1B cap will open at 12 PM EST on March 1 and continue until 12 PM EST March 18, 2022. Petitioners and representatives can utilize their myUSCIS online accounts to register beneficiaries electronically for the selection process and pay the associated $10 H-1B registration fee for each registration submitted.
USCIS stated that it is their intent to select registrations and send selection notifications via users’ myUSCIS accounts and to notify account holders by March 31. After the registration process is completed, the H-1B FY-2023 cap petition filing period will open on April 1, 2022.
Update on Current State of Travel Restrictions
Regardless of nationality or vaccination status, air travelers aged 2 and older are required to show documentation of a negative viral test result taken within one 1 of the flight’s departure to the United States before boarding. Travelers must show their negative results to the airline before they board their flight. That includes all travelers – U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents (LPRs), and foreign nationals.
Department of Homeland Security requires that all non-U.S. individuals seeking to enter the United States via land ports of entry and ferry terminals at the U.S.-Mexico and U.S.-Canada borders be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and provide related proof of vaccination. Although vaccination proof is required, COVID-19 testing is not required for entry at these locations. These requirements do not apply to U.S. citizens, Lawful Permanent Residents, or U.S. nationals.
Non-U.S. individuals traveling to the United States via land ports of entry or ferry terminals, whether for essential or non-essential reasons, must:
- Verbally attest to their COVID-19 vaccination status;
- Provide proof of a CDC-approved COVID-19 vaccination
- Present a valid passport, Trusted Traveler Program card, or Enhanced Tribal Card; and,
- Be prepared to present any other relevant documents requested by a U.S. CBP officer during a border inspection.
State Department Boosts Hiring to Address Visa Backlogs
According to the U.S. Department of State, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the current labor shortage in America, there have been long delays in visa processing. The State Department says it plans on hiring more than 500 new foreign and civil service officers to reduce the backlog and speed up visa processing times. Despite their efforts, these positions will not be filled until the second half of the fiscal year 2022 and into 2023. The extra hiring is insufficient to immediately reduce the visas backlog, severely impacting foreigners as they continue to wait months to schedule required in-person consular interviews to obtain a visa. Boundless Immigration, a tech company that helps immigrants apply for green cards and U.S. citizenship, states that it will take at least 56 months for the State Department to bring its green card interview scheduling rates back to pre-pandemic levels.
For more information please contact the experienced immigration attorneys at Monty & Ramirez LLP at 713-289-4546 or via email at email@example.com