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Immigration Law Update

February 2021

H-1B 2021 Cap Registration Period Nears

In the month of March, USCIS will be opening up registration for the annual H-1B lottery.  Last year the registration period lasted from March 1-20, 2020.  A similar window is projected for this year.

While the exact details of this year’s procedures have yet to be published, this should happen imminently.

Only properly registered employers and beneficiaries can participate in the annual H-1B lottery.  At the present time there remains the possibility that the H-1B selection process will be wage-based as per a rule published in the final weeks of the Trump administration.  It is possible that this will be delayed or abrogated by the Biden administration, as has been the case with many other Trump era policies.

In the meantime, we encourage all employers to contact either Brad Ortman or Karen Moss if they are considering participating in the 2021 H-1B lottery.

Biden Administration Issues Flurry of Immigration Executive Orders, Including Reopening the DACA Program and Rescinding the “Muslim” Travel Ban.

The first couple of weeks of the Biden Presidency has been notable for its concerted effort to dismantle much of the Trump legacy on immigration policy.  As each day passes, new executive orders and policy changes are released, which generally speaking are returning the U.S. to the immigration policy that existed at the end of the Obama administration.

These changes run the gamut.  The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”) program has been reinstated.  First-time applications are being accepted once again, and requests for renewal of DACA status are also being entertained.  Additionally, the discriminatory travel bans that focused primarily on Arab and Muslim countries have been revoked.

Other very consequential changes are in the works with respect to immigration enforcement and the asylum system.

USCIS Experiencing Major Delays on Issuance of Certain Receipt Notices

Across the country, a flood of employment-based adjustment of status filings in late 2020 has led to extensive delays in the issuance of receipt notices.  In many cases, such notices are being delayed by 2-3 months.  The issue is a national problem, which we are actively monitoring.

COVID-related Visa Ban Extended until March 31, 2021

The visa ban originally enacted by presidential proclamation in the Trump administration was extended until March 31, 2021. Initially issued during the first several months of the COVID-19 pandemic, the ban affects immigrant visa applicants applying for permanent residence, as well as nonimmigrant visa applicants in the H-1B, H-2B, H-4 L-1, L-2, J-1, and J-2 visa categories.

There are several exceptions to this ban.  Some have resulted from litigation.  Others more generally require the applicants to demonstrate that they qualify for a National Interest Exception.  As of now, the Biden administration has left this visa ban in place.

TPS Extended for Various Nationalities

Temporary Protected Status (“TPS”), a temporary immigration status granted to eligible foreign nationals fleeing desperate situations in their home country, has been extended for eligible people from El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua, Sudan, Honduras, and Nepal through October 4, 2021.  The Trump administration had attempted to discontinue this program for these nationalities, but these efforts were successfully challenged in court.

Additionally, TPS was extended for 18-months for eligible nationals of Syria.  The Department of Homeland Security is to publish a notice with instructions for re-registration and employment authorization for Syrians.

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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 2021 by Nicola, Gudbranson & Cooper LLC