May 2013 Newsletter
In This Issue
CBP Rolling Out Automation of I-94 Arrival/Departure Records
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced that it has automated the Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record. The I-94 provides international visitors evidence that they have been lawfully admitted to the United States, which is necessary to verify registration, immigration status, and employment authorization. Affected visitors will no longer need to fill out a paper form when arriving in the U.S. by air or sea. CBP will now generate records of admission using traveller information already transmitted electronically.
The change was implemented at air and sea ports on April 30 at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport, Orlando International Airport, Las Vegas Airport, Chicago O'Hare, Miami International Airport, and Houston Bush Intercontinental Airport. It will be rolled out across the country through May 21.
Travellers wanting a hard copy or other evidence of admission may access that information online at http://www.cbp.gov/I94 if they did not receive a hard copy attached to their passport. From there, individuals can print a copy of the I-94 based on electronically submitted data, including the I-94 number from the form, to provide as necessary to benefit providers or as evidence of lawful admission.
The announcement is available here.
SSA Adds Admission Stamp in Unexpired Foreign Passport to List of Primary Evidence of Identity, Updates Policy on New Types of Non-immigrant Evidence
The Social Security Administration has updated its Program Operations Manual System (POMS), effective April 30, 2013, adding "admission stamp in unexpired foreign passport" to its list of acceptable primary evidence of identity. The updated SSA information, "List of Documents in Priority of Acceptability for Use as Evidence of Identity," says that this is considered a separate document from an unexpired passport.
The updated SSA information in POMS refers to "Policy for Number of Documents Required for an SSN Card," which explains:
SSA also updated the 10-day hold procedure for verifying evidence of status for an SSN using the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) program through the enumeration system (SSNAP). SSA said it is making these changes as a result of Department of Homeland Security (DHS) automation of the I-94 Arrival/Departure record and recent DHS information regarding the real-time verification of alien evidence. SSA has eliminated the 10-day hold policy for all DHS evidence except DHS Forms N-550/N-570 (Certificate of Naturalization) and N-560/N-561 (Certificate of Citizenship).
The updated information on admission stamps is included in RM 10210 TN 16 (effective date: 4/30/2013), and is available here. The referenced document, RM 10210.020, is available here. The new policy documents, also effective April 30, 2013, are available here and also here. The 10-day hold update is available here.
H-1B Cap Reached
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on April 5, 2013, that it had received a sufficient number of H-1B petitions to reach the statutory cap for fiscal year (FY) 2014. This was the first time since 2008 that the cap was reached within the first week of the filing period. USCIS also received more than 20,000 H-1B petitions filed on behalf of persons exempt from the cap under the advanced degree exemption. The agency is not accepting any more H-1B petitions subject to the FY 2014 cap or the advanced degree exemption.
On April 7, USCIS conducted a computer-generated random selection process ("lottery") for FY 2014 cap-subject petitions received through April 5, 2013. USCIS also conducted a lottery the same day for the advanced-degree petitions. According to USCIS, data entry for H-1B cap-subject cases filed via premium processing should have been completed by April 15, 2013. Adjudication of the premium processing cases was expected to be completed within the required 15 days.
In the meantime, USCIS has cautioned stakeholders that it may not issue receipt notices for non-premium processing H-1B cases until May. Cases that are not selected for the lottery, or rejected, may not receive rejection notices until June. Petitioners may convert any non-premium processing case to a premium process case, but a request to convert the case can only be made after its receipt notice is issued.
Employers can file H-1B petitions no earlier than six months in advance of the anticipated start date, so April 1, 2013, signalled the start of what has become an annual race to get petitions filed as early as possible to ensure acceptance before the cap of 85,000 visas is reached. The 85,000 cap includes the basic cap of 65,000, plus an additional 20,000 H-1B visas available to foreign nationals who have earned an advanced degree (masterís or higher) from a U.S. university.
The H-1B cap for fiscal year 2013 was reached in June 2012. The pace of hiring this year meant that heavy demand for new H-1B workers resulted in the new cap being reached in the first few days in April. As in past years, some foreign nationals are not subject to the H-1B cap, including individuals who already have been counted toward the cap in a previous year and have not been outside the United States subsequently for one year or more. Also, certain employers, such as universities, government-funded research organizations, and some non-profit entities are exempt from the H-1B cap. All other employers should be aware of the H-1B cap.
USCIS' announcement is available here. A related announcement on premium processing for H-1B cap-subject petitions is available here.
CBP To Launch New Arrival/Departure Record Process for Foreign Visitors
Foreign visitors arriving in the U.S. via air or sea who need to prove their legal-visitor status (e.g., to employers, schools/universities, or government agencies) can now access their U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) arrival/departure record information online.
Under the new process, CBP is no longer requiring international nonimmigrant visitors to fill out a paper Form I-94 Arrival/Departure Record upon arrival to the U.S. by air or sea. The agency will gather travelers' arrival/departure information automatically from their electronic travel records. CBP said it expects this automation to streamline the entry process for travelers, facilitate security, and reduce federal costs. CBP anticipates that the automated process will save the agency an estimated $15.5 million per year.
Because advance information is only transmitted for air and sea travelers, CBP will still issue a paper I-94 at land border ports of entry.
CBP will phase in the I-94 automation at air and sea ports of entry into May. Foreign visitors will continue to receive the paper I-94 until the automated process arrives at their port of entry. Following automation, if travelers need the information from their I-94 admission record to verify immigration status or employment authorization, the record number and other admission information will be available here.
With the new CBP process, a CBP officer will stamp the travel document of each arriving nonimmigrant traveler. The admission stamp will show the date of admission, class of admission, and the date until which the traveler is admitted. Travelers will also receive upon arrival a flier alerting them to go to CBP.gov/I94 for their admission record information.
Travelers will not need to do anything differently upon exiting the U.S. Those previously issued a paper I-94 will surrender it to the commercial carrier or to CBP upon departure. If a traveler did not receive a paper I-94, CBP will record the departure electronically via manifest information provided by the carrier or by CBP.
Implementation began on April 30 at five pilot ports of entry and will continue to the remaining ports of entry over a total of four weeks. For more information and for answers to frequently asked questions, a fact sheet/FAQ is available here.
State Dept. Introduces Visa Status Check Online
The Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs has launched "Visa Status Check" online. Users can check their U.S. visa application status at the Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC) on the site by entering the type and case number. The service is available here. The CEAC is available here.
New Form I-9 Required
All US based employers must complete the Form I-9 to verify employment eligibility for all individuals employed in the U.S. The new version of the Form I-9 is to be used.
You can download this form from the USCIS website here.
Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions concerning the new form. The government has indicated that ensuring employer compliance has become one of their top priorities.
Travelling Abroad with a Minor
Travelling Abroad With a Minor Because of increasing instances of child abduction in custody cases, and a growing number of children who are the victims of trafficking or pornography, an immigration officer, airline, or travel company may ask you to provide some form of letter of consent if your child is travelling internationally with only one parent or with another adult, such as a grandparent, aunt, uncle, etc.
For a sample authorization letter, please click here.
New Publications and Items of Interest
Quarter 2 FY 2013 selected statistics from the Office of Foreign Labor Certification.
The federal Department of Labor's Office of Foreign Labor Certification has posted updated program fact sheets containing the Quarter 2 FY 2013 selected statistics for the permanent labor certification, prevailing wage determination, H-1B temporary visa, H-2A temporary agricultural visa, and H-2B temporary non-agricultural visa programs. The fact sheets are available here under the "Selected Statistics by Program" tab.
Follow these links to access current processing times of the USCIS Service Centers and the Department of Labor, or the Department of State's latest Visa Bulletin with the most recent cut-off dates for visa numbers:
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