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USCIS Transfers Jurisdiction over Refugee and Asylee Relative Petitions
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has begun the transfer of responsibility for processing Form I-730 (Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition) from agency service centers to international field offices.
The first phase of transition covered cases with beneficiaries in China that had not been adjudicated by March 31. Following the transfer, interviews will be conducted and cases will adjudicated by the international field office.
The agency will notify petitioners and any representative of record once a case is transferred overseas and identify the international field office that will adjudicate the petition. Documentation could take up to two months to reach an international field office.
Joint Agency Letter Discusses Employment Authorization for Asylees and Refugees
The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) in the Department of Health and Human Services, in combination with the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC) in the U.S. Department of Justice, has issued a letter addressing employment eligibility requirements for populations served by the Refugee Resettlement Program. For example:
The letter, ORR State Letter #14-02, supersedes the 2001 ORR State Letter, #01-30, and is reprinted at Appendix A.
On April 7 USCIS announced that in the period between April 1 and April 7, it had received sufficient H-1B petitions to reach the statutory cap of 65,000 visas for fiscal year 2015. It also received more than the limit of 20,000 H-1B petitions filed under the advanced-degree exemption. About 172,500 H-1B petitions were received during the filing period, including petitions for the advanced-degree exemption. On April 10, 2014, USCIS completed the computer-generated random selection process, or lottery, selecting enough petitions to meet the 65,000 general-category cap and 20,000 cap under the advanced-degree exemption. For cap-subject petitions not randomly selected, USCIS will reject and return the petition with filing fees, unless it is found to be a duplicate filing. The agency conducted the selection process for the advanced-degree exemption first. All advanced degree petitions not selected then became part of the random selection process for the 65,000 limit.
USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions that are otherwise exempt from the cap. Petitions filed on behalf of current H-1B workers who have been counted previously against the cap will not be counted towards the congressionally mandated FY 2015 H-1B cap. USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions filed to:
USCIS will start premium processing of cap-subject H-1B petitions, including petitions seeking an exemption for individuals with a U.S. master’s degree or higher, no later than April 28. Petitioners may also upgrade a pending H-1B cap petition to premium processing once USCIS issues a receipt notice.
Maryland Bill Closes Gap for SIJS
On April 8, 2014, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley signed a bill intended to close a gap for noncitizen children who are precluded from obtaining Special Immigrant Juvenile Status because of their age.
Under H.B. 315, Maryland courts may exercise jurisdiction in guardianship and custody proceedings until a child reaches 21 years, consistent with the definition of a “child” under the INA.
Previously, Maryland courts could not exercise jurisdiction in such proceedings for children who had turned 18, and could not issue the required factual findings needed for USCIS to grant a petition for SIJS.
President Issues Travel Ban Against Persons Stoking Violence in South Sudan
On April 7, 2014, President Obama issued Executive Order 13664, Blocking Property of Certain Persons with Respect to South Sudan, banning the entry of individuals who have threatened the peace or undermined the stability of South Sudan, which has been plagued by civil war since December.
The executive order was based in part on the authority provided in Immigration and Nationality Act §212(f), which enables the President to suspend the entry of any class of noncitizens whose entry “would be detrimental to the interests of the United States.”
The executive order, published at 79 Fed. Reg. 19283, is reprinted at Appendix B.
Treasury Department Lifts Restrictions on Iranian Students
On March 19, 2014, the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Asset Control issued a general license lifting restrictions on Iranian students that had resulted from the imposition of sanctions. Going forward, U.S. universities can enter student-exchange agreements with Iranian academic institutions, provide scholarships to Iranian students, and allow Iranian students to participate in online courses and take entrance and professional certification exams. The notice is reprinted at Appendix C.
International Districts Renamed
Effective April 10, 2014, all USCIS offices will begin using new district names in all references to the international districts. The new names are: Asia/Pacific (APAC) District, formerly the Bangkok District; Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) District, formerly the Rome District; and Latin America, Canada and the Caribbean (LACC) District, formerly the Mexico City District. This change has been implemented to ensure that the district names more descriptively convey the jurisdictions the districts cover. The APAC, EMEA, and LACC district offices will remain in their current locations of Bangkok, Rome, and Mexico City, respectively.
[This is an excerpt from the May 1, 2014, issue of Bender's Immigration Bulletin.]
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