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  Immigration Newsletter - April 15, 2014 issue
 

Copland and Brenner
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USCIS Reaches Fiscal Year 2015 Annual Cap Limit
 

08 Apr 2014: On April 7, 2014, USCIS announced that it had received enough H-1B submissions to reach the congressionally mandated statutory cap for fiscal year 2015. USCIS also received more than 20,000 H-1B petitions categorized as advanced degree exempt. The federal agency will accept all filings received by April 7, 2014; a computer-generated process will randomly select enough petitions to meet the caps of 65,000 general category submissions and 20,000 advanced degree exemption submissions.

USCIS will continue to accept and process H-1B petitions filed on behalf of current H-1B workers who have been counted against previous years’ caps. Petitions filed for the following will continue to be accepted and processed: extension requests for the amount of time a current H-1B worker may stay in the U.S.; requests to change the terms of employment for a current H-1B worker; requests for an H-1B worker to change employers; and requests to allow a current H-1B worker to work concurrently in a second H-1B position.

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USCIS to Change Approval Location for Form I-730 to International Offices
 

03 Apr 2014: USCIS comments that it is improving its processes for Form I-730, the Refugee/Aslyee Relative Petition. The agency will phase in changes in responsibility for approving these forms from USCIS Service Centers to USCIS international field offices. This change will not alter the requirements for the form itself. Additionally, it will not alter processing times nor place additional requirements on petitioners.

The first phase of this change began on April 1, 2014, and involved only cases for beneficiaries residing in China. In such instances, a USCIS international field office in China will conduct the interview and complete final case adjudication in the following cases:

1 – When the form was not adjudicated at a USCIS Service Center on or before March 31, 2014, and

2 – When the USCIS Service Center had not identified any issues requiring denial fo the form before the petition is transferred to China.

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USCIS Adds New Functions to e-Request Tool
 

30 Mar 2014: USCIS recently introduced new functions to its online customer service inquiry tool, e-Request. e-Request enables individuals to ask questions about cases pending for longer than posted processing times; instances in which an expected notice from USCIS was not received; a USCIS-issued card or notice with a typographical error; or a request for a disability accommodation at a USCIS office.

As of March 21, 2014, USCIS customers may also submit questions about USCIS-issued cards and documents that they have not yet received in the mail. Customers can additionally check processing times and their case status, and change their address online at uscis.gov/tools.

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USCIS to Accept H-1B Petitions Beginning April 1
 

27 Mar 2014: Beginning April 1, 2014, USCIS will begin accepting H-1B petitions that are subject to the fiscal year 2015 annual cap. These applications will be considered accepted, USCIS states, on the day that the federal agency receives a properly filed petition accompanied by the correct fee. The postmark date will not be used to define date of receipt.

A total of 65,000 cap-subject H-1B visas will be made available for FY2015. The first 20,000 petitions filed on behalf of individuals with a U.S. master’s degree or higher will be exempt from this annual cap. USCIS expects that it will receive more than enough petitions to reach this annual cap by April 7, 2014 and plans to utilize a random selection process to meet the numerical limit of 65,000.

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Department of State Waives Visa Application and Issuance Fees for Special Olympics Summer Games
 

21 Mar 2014: The Department of State Deputy Secretary has issued a waiver of application and visa issuance fees for participants in the 2014 Special Olympics Summer Games Invitational, scheduled to take place in Los Angeles, CA, from June 6 to 8, 2014, and the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games, scheduled to take place between July 25 and August 2, 2015. It is expected that 250 delegates will participate in the Invitational and 6,500 will participate in the Summer Games.

Members and delegates who may request this waiver include athletes and unified partners; coaches, trainers, referees and judges; supporting staff such as doctors, nurses and therapists; heads of delegations; doctors participating in the Healthy Athletes Program; Global Messengers; and police officers participating in the final leg of the Torch Run.

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USCIS to Reopen I-601A Waiver Cases to Review Prior Offenses
 

20 Mar 2014: USCIS has clarified questions related to how applications for provisional unlawful presence waiver (Form I-601A) are adjudicated. This waiver, known as the I-601A waiver, allows immediate relatives of U.S. citizens who are currently residing in the U.S. to apply for a provisional waiver while in the U.S., as long as they meet all eligibility requirements stated in the regulations. Legally, USCIS can deny an I-601A waiver request if it believes the applicant would be inadmissible based on any other ground of inadmissibility.

In a recent notice, USCIS stated that it would not find the “reason to believe” that a prior criminal office would make an applicant inadmissible if that offense was a “petty offense or youthful offender exception.” Such offenses, USICS states are not considered crimes involving moral turpitude.

On March 18, 2014, USCIS reopened cases (on its own motion) for all I-601A waiver requests that were denied before January 24, 2014, solely because of a prior criminal offense. USCIS will determine whether there is reason to believe the prior offense might make the applicant inadmissible or not and will respond to applicants accordingly.

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