H1Bs renewals will now be reviewed from the bottom up: additional delays and more denials?
H-1B visas are approved for an initial 3-year period, but can be extended for an additional 3 years. USCIS used to ‘defer’ to the initial approval when examining a renewal application: if the employer and job circumstances of the applicant had not changed, no significant review would be performed and the application granted. This policy is cancelled. USCIS will now treat all renewal applications as a brand new application, and will review supporting evidence accordingly.
The consequences of such a move can be significant:
- Delays: each year, there are more H1B renewal applications than initial applications, so USCIS workload as it relates to H1Bs could increase 38% based on our analysis;
- Denials: Immigration Planner is trying to determine the impact of this change on denial rates.
USCIS indicated for the second consecutive months that applicants whose priority date is earlier than the filing date of the visa bulletin can file their request to adjust status. Applicants can file between 3.5 and 11 months earlier than usual, get work authorization quicker, travel again, and reduce risks of overstays. See the details…
U.S. refugee program resumes
The U.S. refugee resettlement program, ‘paused’ for 4 months as part of the ‘travel ban’, will resume with what U.S. agencies have described as ‘enhanced vetting capabilities’. A new- lower- cap of 45,000 refugees between now and the end of September 2018 will be in place. 11 countries will be subjected to an additional 3-month ‘threat-assessment’ review. The 11 countries are said to be: Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Mali, North Korea, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
(Some elements drawn from reporting by Ted Hesson of Politico)
Lawsuit over fast-tracked citizenship in the U.S. military
The Military Accessions to the National Interest (MAVNI) has allowed U.S. military recruits with certain medical and language skills who agreed to eight years of military service to apply for citizenship when they begin training. The Department of Defense (DoD) is trying to end this program, but a federal judge ordered the DoD not to block the fast-tracked citizenship it promised.
(Quoting extensively from the reporting of Spencer Hsu of the Washington Post)
Tensions with Turkey and Indonesia
In separate and unrelated incidents:
- The suspension of the issuance of visas to each other’s citizens is still in place between the United States and Turkey. Quoting from Carlotta Gall of the New York Times: ‘Alarmed at the arrest of two of its locally employed consular staff and the detention of the wife and daughter of a third employee, American officials are demanding assurances that its staff members will not be arrested for carrying out United States business. (…) Until then, things remain frozen’
- Although invited by the chairman of the body which provides military advice to the President of the United States, Indonesian general Gatot Nurmantyo was prevented from boarding the U.S.-bound flight he had originally booked. Although the U.S. embassy in Jakarta claimed an ‘administrative error’, the incident triggered an outrage among Indonesian lawmakers.
(Based on reporting of the news desk of The Jakarta Post)
Immigration Planner has revised its analysis on denial rates and has updated this post as a result.