January 2023 was a very active month for US Immigration. GLF provided updates via Google, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram on numerous US Immigration matters including:
- Proposed USCIS Fee Increases
- Negative Covid-19 Test Mandatory for Travelers from China
- Latest Updates from US Consulate in Hyderabad
- USCIS has Announced the Expansion of Premium Processing for EB-1 And EB-2 I-140 Petitions
- State Department’s Visa Bulletin Summary for February 2023
- Special Saturday Interviews to Reduce Visa Wait Times in India
- H-1b Cap (FY 2024) Registration Starts on March 01, 2023
We at GLPO post regular updates on our Google, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram handles. Additionally, we also periodically send out GLF Newsletters when the subject matter is extensive and relevant for a detailed analysis. Presented below is a consolidated summary of updates posted on GLF’s Google, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram handles for January 2023.
PROPOSED USCIS FEE INCREASES
On January 4, 2023, USCIS published a proposed rule to increase fees for most immigration benefit requests. The fee increases projects to boost their revenues by over $4.5 billion. USCIS receives roughly 96% of its funding from filing fees and hasn’t introduced new fees since 2016. USCIS hosted a public engagement session on the proposed fee rule on January 11, 2023, and will accept comments from public until March 6, 2023.
- USCIS/DHS proposed to increase the H-1B Electronic Registration Fee from $10 to $215 for each beneficiary – a 2,050% increase. It is very unlikely that this increase in fee will be implemented for this year H-1B Registration (FY 2024 Filings)
- H-1B Employers will pay 70% more for beneficiaries on H-1B petitions, 201% more for employees on L-1 petitions, 129% more for individuals on O-1 petitions and 121% for E and TN Petitions. H-1B petitions increase from $460 to $780, L-1 petitions rise from $460 to $1,385, O-1 petitions increase from $460 to $1,055, E and TN Petitions from $460 to 1,015
- Filing fees for I-130 immigrant visa Petition to increase 33% from $535 to $710 and I-140 immigrant visa petitions to increase by 2% from $700 to $715,
- Adjustment of status filing forms will increase by 130% from $1,225 to $2,820.
- I-539 Applications fee to increase by 68% from $370 to $620 and EAD applications to increase by 59% from $410 to $650 and
- N-400 applications fee to increase by 19% from $640 to $760.
NEGATIVE COVID-19 TEST MANDATORY FOR TRAVELERS FROM CHINA
From January 5, 2023, negative COVID-19 test was made mandatory for all travelers (two years and older) from the People’s Republic of China (PRC), Hong Kong, and Macau, boarding flights to the United States. The purpose of this requirement is to slow down the spreading of COVID-19 in the United States, given the recent rise of COVID-19 cases in China.
As per CDC, a test (such as a PCR or antigen self-test) administered either by an authorized telehealth service or licensed provider no more than two days before departure is to be submitted. Passengers who tested positive 10 days prior to the travel can present the documentation of recovery instead of a negative result.
The requirement was made applicable to:
- All air passengers regardless of nationality and vaccination status.
- All air passengers traveling from the PRC via third-country transit and passengers connecting through the United States onward to further destinations.
- Travelers stopping through transit hubs such as Incheon International Airport, Toronto Pearson International Airport, and Vancouver International Airport on their way to the United States will be required to provide a negative COVID-19 test if they have been in the PRC in the last 10 days, no more than two days before their departure to the United States
LATEST UPDATES FROM US CONSULATE IN HYDERABAD
US Consulate in Hyderabad moved from its old center Begumpet to new center at Lower Concourse, HITEC City Metro Station, Madhapur. Newly opened center is Asia’s largest US consulate with 54 visa processing windows compared to 14 processing windows at Begumpet center. From January 8, 2023, all document submission, passport collection and VAC appointments were conducted at new center at Madhapur whereas the Visa Interviews continued to be held at Begumpet. By July 2023, the whole operations are expected to move to new facility at Madhapur.
Apart from 54 processing windows, the new facility would have large waiting room with staffing increased from 150 desks to 255 desks to reduce waiting time for applicants. While the appointment wait times have dropped drastically for visitor’s visa and work visas, the F-1 students for January intake are struggling to get slots at US Consulate in Hyderabad.
The wait time for visitor visas has dropped from 994 to 261 calendar days whereas, at the New Delhi embassy, it dropped from 961 to 786 calendar days followed by Chennai and Kolkata consulates for visitor visas have also come down from 948 to 800 and 904 to 370 calendar days respectively.
UCSIS HAS ANNOUNCED THE EXPANSION OF PREMIUM PROCESSING FOR EB-1 AND EB-2 I-140 PETITIONS
USCIS has started carrying out the last stage of Premium Processing Form from January 30, 2023, for Forms I-140 applications filed under EB-1 and EB-2 Classifications. Additionally, candidates who want Premium Processing must submit Form I-907 (Request for Premium Processing Service) for all pending and current E13 multinational executive and manager applications and E21 NIW petitions.
From March 2023, Premium Processing will include F-1 category visas with pending Form I-765 which is application for Employment Authorization in U.S and Premium processing for F-1 student filling Form I-765 will be increased from April 2023.
USCIS will keep working to make Premium Processing available to Form I-539 (Application to extend/change non-immigrant position). Most likely, premium processing will be expanded for Student and Exchange Visitors with pending Form I-539 as well as filing original Form I-539. An announcement will be made and the legal requirement for the same will be followed provided it does not affect the processing time for applications that are not in premium or regular applications that is prolonged.
STATE DEPARTMENT’S VISA BULLETIN SUMMARY FOR FEBRUARY 2023
State Department had issued the February 2023 Visa Bulletin and here are the highlights:
- Adjustment of Status for Family Sponsored filing and Employment Based filing – Dates for Filing chart to be used.
- Final Action dates and Dates for Filing chart for family sponsored preference cases for India remain unchanged. For F-2A category the dates are current – as such, use Final Action Dates chart.
- Final action dates (February 01, 2022) and Dates of Filing for (June 01, 2022) for EB-1 Category have not changed.
- Final action dates (October 08, 2011) and Dates of filing (May 01, 2012) for EB-2 category have not changed.
- Final action dates (June 15, 2012) and Dates of filing (August 01, 2012) for EB-3 category have not changed.
- The DV-2022 annual limit was reduced to 54,850.
- The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023, enacted on December 29, 2022, extended the Employment Fourth Preference Certain Religious Workers (SR) category until September 30, 2023.
SPECIAL SATURDAY INTERVIEWS TO REDUCE VISA WAIT TIMES IN INDIA
The US Mission in India has launched a series of Special Saturday Visa interviews to accommodate applicants who have scheduled for In-person Visa Interviews. The Mission will continue to provide additional slots for appointments scheduled for select Saturdays across US Embassy in New Delhi and US Consulates in Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, and Hyderabad. These are some of the systemic efforts taken to reduce visa wait times for first time Visa applicants.
US Mission is also planning to enhance processing capacity by hiring temporary consular officers from Washington and other embassies between January and March 2023. Additionally, mission will also be increasing the permanent consular officers permanently assigned to each US Consulates in India. Eradicating staffing issues and processing visas to the pre-pandemic levels will be the focus area for US Mission in India.
In addition to releasing more than 250,000 additional B1/B2 appointments across the various US Consulates in India, the US Consulate in Mumbai has also extended its weekday operating hours to make space for additional appointments. For additional information regarding visa process, to schedule a visa appointment, please visit: https://www.ustraveldocs.com/in/en
H-1B CAP (FY2024) REGISTRATION STARTS ON MARCH 01, 2023
The New H-1B initial Registration for the FY2024 H-1B cap starts on March 1, 2023 (12 noon Eastern) and ends on March 17, 2023 (12 noon Eastern). Here are some important details and steps:
- H-1B Registrants and Representatives will be able to create new accounts beginning at 12 pm (ET) on February 21, 2023
- H-1B Registrants and Representatives will get to enter Beneficiary information and submit the Registration Fee ($10) from only from March 01, 2023
- Registrants must register online using a myUSCIS account and pay a $10 Registration Fee
- Registrants can submit registrations for multiple beneficiaries in a single online session.
- A myUSCIS account provides the Registrants the flexibility to prepare, edit, and store draft Registrations prior to final payment and submission.
- Once USCIS receives enough registrations by March 17, 2023, they will make random selections and send selection notifications via myUSCIS online accounts by March 31, 2023
- Only those selected in the H-1B registration process will be eligible for submitting a H-1B cap-subject petition to USCIS.
- Other unselected registrations will remain in ‘Submittal’ status until USCIS meets the H-1B cap for the given fiscal year.
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