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Immigration Law Update

June 2019

Dramatic Slowdown in USCIS Processing Draws Scrutiny from Congresss

Immigration backlogs have hit record-breaking highs, while the volume of filings has decreased substantially.  This phenomenon and the hardship it causes to applicants for benefits has drawn scrutiny from Congress.  More than 80 Democratic members of Congress have asked the Government Accountability Office to conduct an investigation into why there is an estimated 2.3 million cases backlogged.

This backlog has worsened despite increased staffing at USCIS.  According to the American Immigration Lawyers Association, this level of delay has not been seen since the immediate aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks when the Bush administration introduced new security measures.

The Royal Baby is a U.S. Citizen. Seriously?

Yes, indeed. Baby Archie, child of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, not only enjoys the same name as one of the most famous American TV characters of all-time. He also shares the same citizenship thanks to his U.S. citizen mother, Meghan Markle, and Section 301(g) of the Immigration & Nationality Act.

That provision of the law confers U.S. citizenship on children born abroad if one of the parents is a U.S. citizen who was physically present in the U.S. for at least five years, of which at least two occurred after the parent turned fourteen.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) Sending No-Match Letters

Has your business received a “No-Match Letter” (also known as Employer Correction Request Notices (EDCOR)) from the Social Security Administration?  These letters, which purportedly are an effort by the SSA to advise employers of incorrect name and Social Security combinations, can be a precursor to an immigration enforcement action.  The SSA indicated that the agency has stepped up its practice of sending such notices recently.

The reasons for a “No-Match” may include typographical errors, unreported name changes, as well as inaccurate or incomplete employer records.  They also include the relatively common practice of an undocumented immigrant using another individual’s Social Security number as a way to obtain employment in the United States.

If your business has received such a communication from the SSA and you need guidance on how to respond, please do not hesitate to contact Brad Ortman or Karen Moss via email or telephone at 216-621-7227.

Processing of H-1B Cap Petitions Starts

On May 17, 2019, USCIS completed data entry for all fiscal year 2020 H-1B cap-subject petitions selected in its computer-generated selection process including those selected under the Advance Degree exemption. The Service is in the process of returning all the H-1B cap-subject petitions not selected.

USCIS started processing H-1B petitions subject to the annual quota as of May 20. Those filed via premium processing are receiving top priority with decisions coming within 15 days of that date.  Petitions filed via the standard process typically take months to adjudicate. Those who would like to file to upgrade a petition from standard to premium processing can do so at this time.

UCSIS Continues Slow and Steady Move to the Digital Age by Introducing Online Filing of Certain Form I-539 Applications

As part of its eProcessing strategy, USCSIS now permits certain students and visitors for business and pleasure to file the Form I-539 online to extend their stay in the United States. In introducing this, the agency explained that its goal is to create a completely digital experience for immigrants including applying for a benefit, communicating with USCIS, and receiving decisions. Additional online forms are expected in the near future.

Stay tuned for updates on available online services.

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If you have questions or would like to learn more about the items discussed above, please contact Karen Moss or Brad Ortman of the Immigration Law Group at Nicola, Gudbranson & Cooper via email or at (216) 621-7227.

Bradley L. Ortman and Karen Gabriel Moss
Nicola, Gudbranson & Cooper LLC

This Immigration Law Update contains general information that should not be considered legal advice or legal opinion concerning individual situations. Legal counsel should be consulted for specific advice.

Copyright 2019 by Nicola, Gudbranson & Cooper LLC