26 Oct 2020
On October 21, 2020, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced that the agency had arrested 15 students in F-1 status with approved optional practical training (OPT), who allegedly committed fraud by reporting employment with “companies that don’t exist.” Read more.
08 Oct 2020
Thursday, October 8, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) published an interim final rule, entitled “Strengthening Wage Protections for the Temporary and Permanent Employment of Certain Aliens in the United States,” that changes how prevailing wages are calculated. This applies to foreign national workers in H1B, H1B1, and E-3 status. It also applies to prevailing wage determinations issued by the DOL for PERM labor certifications. The rule goes into effect immediately, however, we expect several organizations to challenge the rule, so federal courts likely will intervene and block the rule from being enforced, at least temporarily. Read more.
06 Oct 2020
It has been reported that on October 6, 2020, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that it will issue two rules by the end of the day that will make significant changes to the H1B specialty occupation program. More specifically, it is expected that the DHS will raise the minimum salary levels for the foreign workers and will further narrow the definition of “specialty occupation.” Both rules are said to be posted as final rules to take effect on Thursday, October 8, 2020, and will go into effect in 60 days. The new rules are expected to affect eligibility of about one-third of H1B workers and are likely to be challenged in courts.
10 Sep 2020
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has sent a proposed regulation to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) that, if implemented, would potentially make significant changes to the H1B program. The text of the rule has not yet been released but based on the limited information provided – combined with the Trump Administration’s animus toward legal immigration and immigrants – there is cause to be concerned. Read more.
09 Sep 2020
The U.S. Department of State (DOS) announced today that, in light of a federal court order issued on September 4, 2020, consulates may resume processing fiscal year 2020 diversity visa (DV) cases to the degree that “local health conditions and post resources allow.” However, consulates will only be able to process these cases until September 30, 2020, which is the end of the current fiscal year. Once the new fiscal year begins on October 1st, no more DV cases may be processed for the previous fiscal year.
03 Sep 2020
The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) has issued a new broadcast message advising designated school officials (DSOs) that it will soon begin issuing notices to F-1 students participating in optional practical training (OPT) if the student does not mention information on the employer in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). Per the message, if a student has been on OPT for at least 90 days and has not reported employer information, SEVP will mail a notice to the student, and provide the student the opportunity to update the student’s SEVIS record with this information. Failure to timely update the record will result in the student’s SEVIS record being terminated. Read more.
28 Aug 2020
U.S. consular sections across India have resumed accepting drop box applications to renew F, M, J, H, and L visas from qualifying applicants. In addition to the standard drop box requirements, H and L visa applicants must qualify for one of the exceptions to the June 22, 2020 executive order. More details on the drop box option are available here.
17 Aug 2020
On July 29, 2020, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) confirmed that, following an injunction issued by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, it would not apply the October 2, 2019 public charge rule “…for any period during which there is a declared national health emergency in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.” The U.S. Department of State (DOS) released a similar statement. Following this announcement, however, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit limited the injunction to only those applicants who live in Connecticut, New York, and Vermont. Read more.
12 Aug 2020
Today, the U.S. Department of State (DOS) updated the exceptions to the nonimmigrant workers who are prohibited from being admitted to the United States based on President Trump’s June 22, 2020, executive order. For example, the DOS now provides an exception for H1B, L1A, and L1B workers who are “…seeking to resume ongoing employment in the United States in the same position with the same employer and visa classification.” A brief summary of some of the other more noteworthy exemptions is listed below, for the benefit of our readers. Read more.
03 Aug 2020
Today, President Trump signed an executive order that directs federal agencies to use U.S. workers, not foreign nationals, to fill federal government contractor positions. The order also directs the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to finalize guidance that prevents employers from moving H1B workers to worksites that displace American workers.
31 Jul 2020
On July 31, 2020, USCIS posted a clarification to the July 29, 2020 ruling by the New York U.S. District Court blocking the Trump Administration’s public charge rule during the COVID-19 pandemic. The USCIS has now confirmed that it will not apply the public benefit condition to both immigrant and nonimmigrant applications and petitions and revert to the 1999 public charge guidance for the duration of the validity of the Court’s decision.
30 Jul 2020
On July 29, 2020, U.S. District Judge George Daniels issued an decision temporarily blocking the public charge rule during the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more.
30 Jul 2020
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program has been the source of extensive debate since its creation in 2012. The program allows undocumented foreign nationals who were brought to the United States as children to defer their removal from this country every two years. In September 2017, President Trump rescinded the DACA program. However, in June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the Trump Administration’s rescission violated the Administrative Procedures Act (APA). Notably, the Court’s decision did not prohibit President Trump from attempting another rescission, within the bounds of the law. Read more.
29 Jul 2020
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) “policy manual” was recently updated to consolidate guidance related to applying discretion in USCIS adjudications. As noted in the corresponding policy alert, “[f]or many immigration benefits, such as certain applications for lawful permanent residence and employment authorization documents, the benefit requestor has the burden of demonstrating eligibility for the benefit sought, including that a favorable exercise of discretion is warranted.” The policy manual update includes a non-exhaustive list of discretionary factors that the USCIS officer should consider on a case-by-case basis, and explains how they generally should be weighed. Read more.
28 Jul 2020
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced this afternoon that it will reject all initial DACA and advance parole applications either already pending or future initial requests, and shorten new renewals to one-year validity period, instead of the two-year period. DHS issued a Memorandum further explaining its policy with regard to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Read more.
27 Jul 2020
Most months, Charles Oppenheim, the U.S. Department of State (DOS) Chief of the Visa Control and Reporting Division, provides visa bulletin explanations and predictions. Following the release of the August 2020 Visa Bulletin, Mr. Oppenheim provided a few minor updates. Read more.
22 Jul 2020
The dean of Harvard University has advised its students that the legal settlement Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) reached with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) regarding online courses does not apply to first-year students entering in F-1 status. This means that new students will not be eligible to enter in F-1 status unless at least some courses meet in-person. However, students who are returning to the U.S. or continuing in F-1 status will be permitted to attend all online courses under the temporary accommodations implemented by ICE during the COVID-19 pandemic.
20 Jul 2020
As previously reported, on July 14, 2020, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) reinstated the March 2020 policy, allowing F-1 and M-1 students to temporarily take all courses online during the COVID-19 pandemic. Following this announcement, however, numerous designated school officials (DSOs) have reported hearing from prospective students whose F-1 visas have been denied by consular officers for failing to submit I-20s verifying that at least some classes will be held in-person.
It is unclear whether the consulates were not made aware of the reinstatement of the March 2020 policy, or if they are somehow interpreting the rule to still require in-person classes for at least some visa applicants. MurthyDotCom will continue to monitor this story and post an update as additional information becomes available.
16 Jul 2020
Today, the U.S. Department of State (DOS) announced a short list of exceptions to President Trump’s April 22 and June 22, 2020 executive orders that prevent admission of certain foreign nationals. Read more.
15 Jul 2020
A large group of H1B and H-4 visa applicants have filed the first lawsuit against the Trump Administration’s June 22, 2020, proclamation that prohibits the admission of certain nonimmigrants. Importantly, the lawsuit not only requests the court to rule on each individual’s visa application, but also asks the court to declare the proclamation’s ban on H1B and H-4 visas unlawful. This lawsuit appears to only challenge the ban on H1B and H-4 visas, and not the other nonimmigrant categories included in the proclamation. The plaintiffs allege that, in issuing this proclamation, the President overstepped his authority. The plaintiffs further allege that the justification for the proclamation does not align with the extent of the ban, which has the effect of barring H-4 dependents, even those who are not eligible for work authorization.
14 Jul 2020
This afternoon, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) reached an agreement with Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to reinstate the March 2020 policy, allowing F-1 and M-1 students to temporarily take all courses online during the COVID-19 pandemic. Harvard and MIT were suing ICE to block the end of this rule. As explained by the federal judge hearing the case, “Both the policy directive and the frequently asked questions would not be enforced anyplace.”
13 Jul 2020
Last week, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) sent out notices to more than two-thirds of its employees that they may be furloughed, effective August 3, 2020. The USCIS is seeking $1.2 billion in emergency funding from Congress; if this is not granted, the furloughs will likely proceed, and most of the services provided by the USCIS will inevitably come to a virtual halt. Read more.
09 Jul 2020
On July 6, 2020, U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which oversees the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), released new guidelines preventing F-1 students from remaining in the United States while taking a full online course load. Though the guidelines have the greatest impact on international students and their families, U.S. universities and businesses are also suffering the side effects. Read more.
09 Jul 2020
Last weekend, many celebrated July 4th to mark America’s independence from Great Britain, centuries ago. Yet we see marches seeking justice for those of color across the U.S. Many of the participants in these marches belong to all races. Their core belief is that, when there is injustice anywhere, it serves justice nowhere. Read more.
The following FAQs address the President’s Proclamation of June 22, 2020.
If you have an approved H1B extension and are currently in the U.S., can you travel to India, get a visa stamp (when consulates reopen) and reenter?
Answer: By its terms, the proclamation only applies to people who are NOT in the United States on the date that it went into effect (i.e., June 24, 2020). Therefore, one who was here on that date, should be able to travel and receive a visa “stamp.” However, there are still uncertainties as to how this order will be enforced. Further, one likely would need to wait until the consulates reopen. (06 Jun 2020)
Now that Trump has signed an executive order to suspend approval of green cards for those outside of the U.S., can we still apply for I-130 for parents who are in India?
Answer: The Executive Order only prohibits the issuance of visas at consulates. It does not prevent the adjudication of I-130 petitions, and these should progress normally, as far as we know. (01 Jul 2020)
Prior to issuance of the executive order, I scheduled an appointment to get my H1B visa stamp at a consulate in September. Can I still proceed to the appointment?
Answer: If one was outside of the U.S. as of June 24th and does not presently have a valid H1B visa or travel document (e.g., advance parole), then the executive order likely prevents one in this situation from being issued an H1B visa. (01 Jul 2020)
I’m currently working on H1B visa and the extension got approved recently. My wife went for a short visit to India but couldn’t get her H-4 visa stamped in time before executive order. She has a B-2 visa in her passport. Is it possible for her to visit the U.S. using her B-2?
Answer: The executive order does not prevent a person from requesting admission in B-2 status. One in this situation would have to be able to convince the CBP officer at the U.S. port of entry that they are truly a “visitor,” with intention of staying beyond the 6-month admission. (01 Jul 2020) Read more.
30 Jun 2020
Last night, President Trump amended his June 22, 2020 executive order in a small, but significant manner that clarifies and potentially increases the classes of nonimmigrants who are subject to the order. The original version of the executive order stated that, if a foreign national had any type of nonimmigrant visa as of the effective date (i.e., June 24, 2020), that person was not subject to the order. This has been amended with a clarification that having a valid visa on the effective date of the order only exempts the person if the nonimmigrant visa is “… of any of the classifications specified in [the executive order] and pursuant to which the alien is seeking entry…” Read more.
25 Jun 2020
On June 22, 2020, President Trump signed a proclamation restricting the admission of foreign nationals in various nonimmigrant categories, including H1B, L-1 and H2B. This executive order has since been criticized by Silicon Valley executives, U.S. professors, and a slew of other individuals and organizations who recognize the importance of foreign nationals, especially during the sudden global recession in which we find ourselves. Prior to its implementation, the suspension even stirred discord within the President’s affiliated party. In May, nine Republican senators wrote a letter to the President explaining the importance of nonimmigrant visa programs, in response to a letter from four Republican senators arguing the opposite. Read more.
23 Jun 2020 (updated for clarification)
In last night’s session of the MurthyChat, a senior attorney from the Murthy Law Firm was on hand to clarify the President’s executive order, which was signed late in the day. Read more.
22 Jun 2020
President Trump is expected to sign an executive order today that will apparently restrict the issuance of new visas in various nonimmigrant categories, including H1B, L-1, and H2B, for the rest of the calendar year. According to the White House, this is being done to protect U.S. workers, following the massive job losses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more.
22 Jun 2020
On Saturday, President Trump told Fox News that he is “going to be announcing something tomorrow or the next day on visas.” No details have been provided, but National Public Radio (NPR) reported restrictions are being considered for the H1B and L-1 visa categories. Read more.
18 Jun 2020
Per the settlement agreement between the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and IT Serve Alliance, the USCIS has now officially rescinded the 2018 Contract and Itinerary Memorandum and the 2010 Determining Employer-Employee Relationship memo. Per the rescission notice, the USCIS shall no longer apply either memo to H1B petitions, including for pending cases, motions, or appeals. The Murthy Law Firm will post a more detailed analysis of this rescission in the near future.
18 Jun 2020
This morning, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the Trump Administration’s attempt to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) was “arbitrary and capricious,” and therefore invalid under the Administrative Procedures Act (APA). DACA is a program that was created by the Obama Administration that provides certain protections and benefits to undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as minors. President Trump has been unsuccessfully trying to end the DACA program since 2017.
10 Jun 2020
The United States has long been a destination for foreign nationals seeking to improve their quality of life. Drawn by competitive salaries and corporations boasting revenues in the billions, these aspiring immigrants seek out American employment options in droves. After building rapport with their employers, many initiate the green card process, in the hope of one day establishing permanent roots in this country. Read more.
09 Jun 2020
We have heard several rumors recently that the President will issue a proclamation as early as June 15th (or June 11th, according to other online sources) that would temporarily prevent foreign nationals from entering the U.S. in H1B, L-1, H2B, or J-1 status. According to the unconfirmed reports, this would only impact foreign nationals who are not currently in the United States, and some categories of foreign nationals (e.g., healthcare workers) would be exempt from the executive order. The rumors also indicate that the President will unveil several anti-immigrant regulations in July, targeting the H1B, H-4 EAD, and OPT programs.
Again, at this point, these are merely rumors. We have no other specific details. As soon as any concrete information is provided, we will post the details on MurthyDotCom. Read more.
29 May 2020
This afternoon, President Trump signed an executive order that will temporarily bar admission of certain F-1 students and J-1 researchers from China. Effective June 1, 2020, any citizen of China involved with China’s “military-civil fusion strategy” will not be admitted in F-1 or J-1 status. The order defines military-civil fusion strategy as “… actions by or at the behest of the PRC to acquire and divert foreign technologies, specifically critical and emerging technologies, to incorporate into and advance [China’s] military capabilities.”
The executive order includes a number of exceptions to this rule. Notably, this order does not apply to F-1 students from China who are pursuing undergraduate studies.
28 May 2020
Forbes reported today that the Trump Administration is expected to issue an executive order “soon” that would impact certain high-skilled nonimmigrant workers. The presumption is that, if such an order were to be issued, it would focus on foreign nationals requesting admission, as opposed to those applying for an extension or change of status from within the United States. Read more.
24 Apr 2020
The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) has created a shareable flyer to help stakeholders understand the implication of President Trump’s proclamation suspending the entry of certain immigrants into the United States. The Murthy Law Firm is sharing this flyer with our readers to help ensure the public remains informed. Find it here.
22 Apr 2020
This evening, President Trump signed an executive order to halt the issuance of immigrant visas for 60 days. On Monday night, the President tweeted that he would “temporarily suspend immigration into the United States.” In reality, his executive order merely halts the issuance of immigrant visas at U.S. consulates; given that nearly all consulates are already closed, this executive order appears to be more of a political statement than actual policy. The executive order does not impact foreign nationals filing applications for adjustment of status in the United States (form I-485). Read more.
22 Apr 2020
This morning, President Trump indicated that, later today, he would sign an executive order to suspend the issuance of green cards for 60 days. However, a spokesperson for the White House now says release of the proposed executive order may be delayed because it is undergoing legal review. Read more.
22 Apr 2020
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has extended the deadline for the public to submit comments on proposed revisions to the affidavit of support that is required for most family-based immigrant petitions (form I-864), and the corresponding forms I-864A and I-864EZ. The public now has until May 11, 2020, to comment on the proposal, which would obligate sponsors to list bank account information and require that the form be notarized. Read more.
21 Apr 2020
Moments ago, President Trump provided some additional details on his plans to “temporarily suspend immigration into the United States.” The President will sign an executive order that will suspend the issuance of green cards for 60 days. It appears nonimmigrants will not be impacted by the executive order. MurthyDotCom will post more information once the text of the executive order is released.
12 Mar 2020
On March 11, 2020, President Trump announced a 30-day ban on all travel from the 26 European countries encompassing the Schengen Area, beginning Friday, March 13th. Certain individuals are exempt from the 30-day ban, including U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, and their direct family members. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has instructed these individuals to self-quarantine for a 14-day period. Read more.
11 Mar 2020
The Trump Administration has banned residents of the state of New York from applying for or renewing enrollment in any trusted traveler program, such as Global Entry. These programs are designed to allow pre-approved and low-risk travelers expedited clearance and entry into the United States. Read more.
24 Feb 2020
The U.S. Supreme Court has lifted the injunction in Illinois that had prevented the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) from implementing the new public charge rule on residents of that state. The Supreme Court had previously lifted several nationwide injunctions against the rule. Accordingly, the DHS announced that the public charge rule will go into effect today, February 24, 2020, across the entire country.
10 Feb 2020
On December 20, 2019, President Trump signed into law a $738 billion defense appropriation bill and buried near the end of the bill is the Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness (LRIF) provision. While it initially received little public attention, its unlikely passage was no doubt celebrated by the 4,000 or so Liberians living in the United States who suddenly have been provided with a means of becoming lawful permanent residents (LPRs), or what is commonly referred to as “green card holders.” Read more.
07 Feb 2020
President Trump has issued a proclamation that bars entry to the United States of most foreign nationals who were physically present in China, not including the special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau, within the 14 days immediately prior to arrival in the United States. This travel restriction is designed to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. Read more.
06 Feb 2020
Today, a federal district court judge issued a nationwide permanent injunction against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) from enforcing the August 9, 2018, policy memorandum by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that sought to greatly expand the situations in which nonimmigrants in F, J, or M status may begin accruing unlawful presence. The judge also granted summary judgement in favor of the plaintiffs – a group of colleges and universities. Summary judgement is a process by which a court can rule in favor of one party in a case without requiring a full trial. Read more.
31 Jan 2020
Earlier today, President Trump officially announced that six additional countries are being added to the travel ban list. Under this updated travel ban, nationals of Burma (Myanmar), Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Nigeria, Sudan, and Tanzania will not be eligible for immigrant visas, beginning February 22, 2020. Nationals of these countries will still be eligible for nonimmigrant visas, however.
31 Jan 2020
On February 24, 2020, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which includes the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), will begin implementing the public charge rule that was published in the Federal Register in August 2019. This announcement comes following the U.S. Supreme Court decision on January 27, 2020, that lifted the injunctions against the implementation of this rule, which had previously been imposed by several federal courts. Read more.
27 Jan 2020
Today, the U.S. Supreme Court lifted a nationwide injunction that had prevented the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) from enforcing the public charge rule issued in August 2019. A separate injunction against the rule that applies only in the state of Illinois remains in effect.
It remains to be seen how, or when, the USCIS may begin to implement the public charge rule.
24 Jan 2020
Today, the U.S. Department of State (DOS) published a final rule in the Federal Register that aims to prevent women from being issued B-1/B-2 visas for purposes of “birth tourism” – that is, traveling to the United States for the primary purpose of obtaining U.S. citizenship for a child. The rule also creates a number of barriers for B-1/B-2 applicants seeking medical care in the United States. Read more.
21 Jan 2020
Earlier today, President Trump confirmed reports that he will soon expand the list of countries covered by the travel ban he implemented in September 2017. Few details have been provided, but reports indicate that he is considering imposing certain travel restrictions on foreign nationals from Belarus, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar (also known as Burma), Nigeria, Sudan, and Tanzania. The current travel ban applies to citizens of Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Yemen, North Korea, and some government officials from Venezuela. Read more.