Business Immigration in a Minute by Honigman LLP

  • On February 24, 2021, President Biden issued a proclamation immediately revoking the Trump administration’s suspension of immigrant visas. The suspension was initially implemented in April 2020 to purportedly combat the risk that new immigrants posed to the U.S. labor market during the COVID-19 economic downturn and was set to expire on March 31, 2021. The Biden administration confirmed that the immigrant visa ban did not advance the interests of the United States. The suspension of nonimmigrant visas, affecting certain H-1B, H-2B, L-1, and J-1 visa categories, remains in effect as of this writing and is set to expire on March 31, 2021. 

  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) has extended border restrictions permitting only essential travel across the U.S.-Canada and U.S.-Mexico land borders through March 21, 2021. Essential travel includes travel by U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, and foreign nationals traveling to work in the United States, among other purposes. These restrictions do not affect air travel. For more information on the restrictions, please review the full CBP update. 

  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) announced that as of February 24, 2021, premium processing service is now available for Australian E-3 nonimmigrant petitions filed with USCIS. Premium processing service is available for various nonimmigrant and immigrant petitions for a fee of $2,500 and allows a petitioner to receive adjudication of a petition within 15 days. The E-3 classification applies to nationals of Australia who seek to enter the United States to perform services in a specialty occupation. 

  • The U.S. Department of State released its Visa Bulletin for March 2021. In addition to final action dates and dates for filing for employment-based cases, it contains notes on the diversity visa category and information on reporting changes of address for cases being processed overseas. For March 2021, employment-based applicants must use the final action dates chart for adjustment of status applications. 

  • USCIS announced that it is reverting to the 2008 version of the naturalization civics test on March 1, 2021. Applicants who filed their naturalization application on or after December 1, 2020, and before March 1, 2021, will have the option of taking either the 2008 version or the 2020 version of the civics test. Applicants filing on or after March 1, 2021 must take the 2008 civics test. The 2020 civics test will be phased out for all initial test takers on April 19, 2021.

  • This past week, USCIS released statistics on the H-1B petition approval rates for FY2020 (10/01/2019 to 9/30/2020). In FY2020, USCIS received 466,625 H-1B petitions and approved 91.4% of these cases. USCIS issued 134,165 Requests for Evidence (“RFEs”) and approved 73.4% of cases that received an RFE. For the full chart of approval statistics for FY2020 H-1B petitions, please review the USCIS announcement.

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