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Immigration Law Update

September 2020

USCIS to Significantly Raise Fees for Many Immigration Benefits

On October 2, USCIS plans to implement a new fee schedule. The new fee schedule will substantially increase fees for immigration and naturalization processes in some categories while reducing them in others.

Overall fees are being raised by a “weighted average” of 20%. Among the most notable increases are the fees for naturalization applications, which rise more than 80%. Fees for H-1B, L-1, and O visa petitions are also due to increase. On the other hand, fees for biometrics and Form I-140 Petitions are set to decrease. The new fee schedule is being challenged in court, but we are proceeding as if it will be implemented on the scheduled date.

State Department Defines “National Interest Exceptions” to Circumvent the COVID Travel Bans

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, President Trump has set forth numerous travel bans for various reasons. Some of these extend for the remainder of 2020. In light of these rather draconian measures, the U.S. Department of State has implemented procedures for those subjected to these bans to apply for “National Interest Exceptions” to obtain a visa and eventual admission to the United States.

These National Interest Exceptions articulate various criteria that visa applicants for H-1B, H-2B, L, and J visas are required to meet to have their visa applications considered. If you or your employees have a need to travel to the United States in the upcoming months, feel free to contact Brad Ortman or Karen Moss to see if you can qualify for a National Interest Exception.

DACA Applications to be Accepted Only Under Limited Circumstances

Following the recent Supreme Court decision determining that the Trump Administration improperly terminated the DACA program, which protects roughly 700,000 DREAMers from deportation, USCIS has articulated limited procedures under which it will accept DACA applications. The operative word is “limited,” as the resumption of the DACA program does not allow for new initial requests for DACA benefits. Additionally, advance parole travel authorization is limited under most circumstances.

This signifies to us that the DACA issue will not be resolved in a more definitive manner until after the upcoming presidential election.

Executive Order Increases Scrutiny of Contractors Employing H-1B Workers

President Trump signed an executive order in early August instructing the U.S. Department of Labor and the Department of Homeland Security to take action to protect U.S. workers from “any adverse effects on wages and working conditions caused by the employment of H-1B visa holders at job sites.”  We can reasonably expect this Order to result in greater scrutiny of the employment practices of Federal Contractors with H-1B employees and more generally of offshore employees performing work on Federal contracts that used to be performed in the United States.

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If you have questions or would like to learn more about the items discussed above or other immigration topics, 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 2020 by Nicola, Gudbranson & Cooper LLC