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March 2023

State Department Plans Pilot Program for Domestic Visa Renewal

Later this year the U.S. State Department will launch a pilot program offer H and L visa holders the option to renew their visas without leaving the United States. This practice was in place years ago, but it was discontinued in 2004. There appears to be strong demand for domestic visa renewals to resume, especially in the aftermath of the massive delays people experienced obtaining appointments at U.S. Consulates abroad to renew visas during the pandemic.

The stateside renewal option will initially be made available to H and L visa holders. It could eventually expand to encompass other visa types as well. These benefits would also extend to first-time applicants seeking appointments at U.S. consular offices.

Ideally, this program will decrease visa appointment wait times and streamline the visa renewal processes for foreign nationals currently residing in the United States. Given the anticipated demand, this is an ambitious initiative that requires the establishment of a new consular division in Washington, DC.

New Design Implemented for Green Cards and Employment Authorization Documents

USCIS recently announced that it will begin issuing newly redesigned Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) and Lawful Permanent Residence Cards (Green Cards) with enhanced security features. The changes include: improved detailed artwork, tactile printing that is better integrated with the artwork, enhanced optically variable ink, highly secure holographic images on the front and back of the cards, a layer-reveal feature with a partial window on the back photo box, and data fields displayed in different places than on previous versions.
This redesign does not impact the validity of current Green Cards and EADs. The USCIS Office of Intake and Document Production issues redesigns every three to five years. USCIS began issuing these new Green Cards and EADs on January 30, 2023, but they will also continue to use previous cardstock until it is depleted.

H-1B Lottery Registration is in Progress

H-1B lottery season is upon us. New registrant account creation started on February 21. From March 1 –17 prospective employers can formally submit registrations for all prospective employees. USCIS will then conduct the lottery for those registered and announce the winners near the end of the month.
There is still time to enter. If you have any prospective employees that you would like to sponsor, please contact Brad Ortman or Karen Moss, and we can steer you through the process.

Biden Administration Seeks to Transform and Limit Asylum Process in Response to Migration Trends on Southern Border

The Biden administration last week published a proposed rule to restrict access to asylum by presuming that those who arrive at the southern border seeking asylum are ineligible. The new rule is to take effect on May 11, which is the date that Title 42, an emergency health rule from the Trump era expires. The proposed rule is to last for two years, and it does allow for certain exceptions:

  1. People who have successfully scheduled an appointment to seek asylum through the CBP One App;
  2. People who applied for asylum from another country while en route to the U.S.;
  3. Unaccompanied minors.

These changes are controversial, as it is anticipated that it will severely restrict access to asylum in the United States and violate U.S. asylum law, which requires meaningful access to asylum be made available even to people who arrive by irregular means.

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If you have questions or would like to learn more about these or other immigration topics, please contact Karen Moss, Brad Ortman, or Anne Grove 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 2023 by Nicola, Gudbranson & Cooper LLC