Principal Claire Pratt is named the firm's Managing Attorney

JSP is pleased to announce that the principals of the firm have named Claire Pratt as its Managing Attorney, effective July 1, 2019.  Claire has been with the firm since 2008, became a principal of the firm in 2016, and recently completed her tenure as Chair to the American Immigration Lawyers Association’s Northern California Chapter.  Principal Phyllis Jewell, the firm’s Founder and Managing Attorney since 1996, remains an active member of the firm’s leadership team and will continue to focus on counseling clients and mentoring the firm’s other lawyers.  This leadership transition is a key step in the firm’s overall long-term planning and we look forward to serving our clients and community for generations to come.  Congratulations to Claire and Phyllis!  

© Jewell Stewart & Pratt PC 2019

I-539 applications for dependents no longer eligible for “courtesy” Premium Processing Service

As discussed in a prior post, USCIS began in March 2019 to require a new version of the Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status, and introduced a biometrics fee and appointment requirement for each applicant.  The Form I-539 has never been eligible for the government’s 15-day Premium Processing Service (PPS), but a particular subset of I-539 applicants — the dependents of principal nonimmigrants (e.g., the H-4 spouse of an H-1B worker) — have, until recently, benefited from “courtesy” PPS of the I-539 if it was filed with the principal’s own PPS’d application or petition.  

USCIS to schedule interviews outside of applicants’ geographic areas

In a stated attempt to reduce processing times on applications, USCIS announced on June 17, 2019, that it would be adjusting workloads for its field offices and that, as a result, some applicants may be scheduled for interviews outside of their geographic area.  Generally, interviews for naturalization and permanent residency are scheduled based on the USCIS field office closest to an applicant’s residence.  This change will particularly affect San Francisco Bay Area residents residing in the San Francisco Field Office jurisdiction, who may now be scheduled for interviews in Sacramento or San Jose.

Forms DS-160 and DS-260 now require disclosure of social media accounts

On May 30, 2019, the U.S. Department of State added required questions about social media accounts or identifiers to the online nonimmigrant and immigrant visa application forms, the DS-160 and DS-260.  This means that anyone applying for a U.S. nonimmigrant visa (a temporary visa) or a U.S. immigrant visa (permanent residence, a green card) must disclose all social media accounts used in the last five years. Social media presumably will be reviewed by U.S. Consular personnel in the course of visa adjudications.

Jewell Stewart & Pratt lawyers selected for inclusion in Super Lawyers®

Jewell Stewart & Pratt (JSP) is pleased to announce that four of its lawyers have been selected for inclusion in Northern California Super Lawyers® in 2019. Super Lawyers is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas, including immigration, who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The selection process includes independent research, peer nominations and peer evaluations.

USCIS resumes Premium Processing Service for cap-subject H-1B petitions, takes next step in H-1B registration rules

USCIS resumed Premium Processing Service for all cap-subject H-1B petitions on June 10, 2019. The USCIS news alert is posted here and also mentions a temporary suspension of the use of pre-paid mailers for sending approval notices. Instead, final notices will be sent via regular U.S. mail.

Separately, the Department of Homeland Security published its proposed regulatory agenda which included a proposal to charge a fee for H-1B registrations filed under the electronic registration rule expected to to take effect for the upcoming “cap” season in Spring 2020. Further implementation details have not yet been released.

© Jewell Stewart & Pratt PC 2019

H-1B cap update – USCIS reports 201,011 petitions received

Today USCIS announced that it received 201,011 H-1B petitions in the filing period that began on April 1. On April 10 USCIS used a computer-generated random selection process (commonly known as a “lottery”) to select a sufficient number of petitions needed to meet the cap. USCIS says that it conducted the selection process for all beneficiaries first, as described in its January 30, 2019 regulation, and then selected a number projected to reach the advanced degree exemption from the remaining eligible petitions. Any petitions not randomly selected will be rejected and returned with the filing fees.

© Jewell Stewart & Pratt PC 2019

H-1B "regular" cap reached for FY 2020

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on April 5 that it has received a sufficient number of H-1B petitions to reach the statutory H-1B visa “regular cap” for fiscal year (FY) 2020. USCIS will next determine whether it has received a sufficient number of petitions to meet the 20,000 H-1B visa U.S. advanced degree exemption, known as “the master’s cap.”

USCIS is expected to use a computer-generated random selection process (commonly known as the “lottery”) for all FY 2020 cap-subject petitions received through April 5, 2019. This year, the agency will conduct the selection process for “regular cap” first, and the “master’s cap” second, as discussed in our prior blog posts. The exact day of the random selection process has not yet been announced.

© Jewell Stewart & Pratt PC 2019

USCIS resumes Premium Processing Service for all H-1B petitions, clarifies PPS for cap-subject petitions

Updated March 19, 2019:

On March 11, 2019, USCIS announced that it would resume Premium Processing Service for all H-1B petitions, effective on March 12, 2019. The USCIS news alert is posted here. Two days later, USCIS clarified via AILA liaison that H cap petitions were not covered by the March 11 announcement.

JSP Principals Phyllis Jewell, Wendy Stewart, and Claire Pratt Recognized by Who’s Who Legal

Jewell Stewart & Pratt is happy to announce that firm principals Phyllis Jewell, Wendy Stewart, and Claire Pratt were selected by Who’s Who Legal (“WWL”) in Corporate Immigration for 2019. Nominees are selected based upon a comprehensive, independent survey of both general counsel and private practice lawyers worldwide. 

Only specialists who have met stringent independent research criteria are listed. The publication features leading corporate immigration attorneys who come highly regarded for their experience in assisting corporate entities navigate the increasingly complex regulatory environments in jurisdictions around the world through sophisticated immigration planning and counseling advice.

The firm’s WWL profile may be found here; and Claire Pratt’s biography may be found here.  Kudos to Phyllis, Wendy, and Claire!

© Jewell Stewart & Pratt PC 2019