Alarming Change of Policy for Treatment of Certain Status Violations for F, J, and M Visa Holders

On May 10, 2018, USCIS announced a draft policy memorandum titled “Accrual of Unlawful Presence and F, J, and M Nonimmigrants.” F, J, and M nonimmigrant visas are for international students, scholars, and participants in international educational/cultural exchange programs (including interns and trainees).  The draft policy is slated to become final and effective on August 9, 2018.

In the draft policy, USCIS announced a dramatic change to the treatment of “status violations” by individuals in the U.S. on F, J, and M visas. A status violation is any failure to meet a term or condition of the visa, including unknowing and unintentional technical violations (e.g., lowering one’s course load below a certain number of credit hours, engaging in casual work, accruing too many days of non-work after school completion, etc.).

Statement on Family Separation

Dear Clients, Friends, and Community –

Like many of you, we are shocked at the administration’s treatment of asylum seekers and in particular the separation of families at the border. Seeking asylum is not a crime. There is no law preventing families from staying together, or requiring incarceration of families and children. We call on the administration to end this atrocious practice, and on Congress to hold the administration accountable.

We are following legal developments and taking action via our firm’s involvement in the American Immigration Lawyers Association, and are available to make suggestions as needed regarding donations and advocacy actions. As a start, call 202-224-3121 and enter your zip code to be connected with your representatives, and reach out to local churches in your community and urge them to take action.

In solidarity,
Jewell Stewart & Pratt PC


© Jewell Stewart & Pratt PC 2018

USCIS, Having Granted No Applications Under International Entrepreneur Rule, Proposes Elimination of Program

On May 29, 2018, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published a notice in the Federal Register  proposing elimination of the International Entrepreneur Rule (IER).  Public comments on the proposed elimination are due by June 28, 2018.  USCIS expects that, after the comments are considered and a final rule is published, the final rule would take effect 30 days after publication.

JSP Principal Claire Pratt Elected Chapter Chair of AILA’s Northern California Chapter

On May 8, 2018, JSP Principal Claire Pratt was elected Chapter Chair of the American Immigration Lawyers Association’s Northern California Chapter (“AILA NorCal”) at the Chapter’s Annual Meeting. AILA is an association of immigration lawyers established to promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice, and enhance the professional development of its members. Member attorneys represent tens of thousands of families, U.S. businesses, foreign students, researchers, entertainers, entrepreneurs and asylum seekers.

AILA NorCal encompasses the majority of Northern California counties, has nearly 1,000 members, and is one of the largest and most active AILA Chapters. As an elected board member for the past three years, and now as Chapter Chair, Claire is responsible for coordinating educational programming and conferences, liaison relationships to government agencies, advocacy and lobbying efforts, media involvement, pro bono opportunities, member engagement, and coordination with the national organization. Congratulations to Claire!      

© Jewell Stewart & Pratt PC 2018

JSP congratulates its most recent Certified Specialist!

Jewell Stewart & Pratt is pleased to announce that attorney Chris Beckerson has been accorded the status of a “Certified Specialist, Immigration & Nationality Law” by the California State Bar Board of Legal Specialization. This is a rare distinction that only 38 immigration lawyers in San Francisco have achieved (including JSP's three principals, Phyllis Jewell, Wendy Stewart, and Claire Pratt). The legal specialization process is wholly voluntary. It is also arduous, requiring a written exam, professional references, and case experience that includes the full range of immigration matters, from deportation/removal proceedings to naturalization. Very hearty congratulations to Chris!

© Jewell Stewart & Pratt PC 2018

H-1B cap update – USCIS reports 190,098 petitions received

Today USCIS announced that it received 190,098 H-1B petitions in the filing period that began on April 2. On April 11 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 advanced degree exemption petitions first; all advanced degree petitions not selected were then made part of the random selection process for the 65,000 limit. Any petitions not randomly selected will be rejected and returned with the filing fees.

© Jewell Stewart & Pratt PC 2018

H-1B cap reached for FY 2019, lottery triggered

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today that it has received a sufficient number of H-1B petitions to reach the statutory cap for fiscal year (FY) 2019. USCIS has also received more than 20,000 H-1B petitions filed on behalf of persons exempt from the cap under the U.S. advanced degree exemption. USCIS will not accept H-1B petitions subject to the FY 2019 cap or the advanced degree exemption after today.

JSP Principal Wendy H. Stewart Recognized by Who’s Who Legal

Jewell Stewart & Pratt is happy to announce that firm principal Wendy H. Stewart was selected by Who’s Who Legal in Corporate Immigration for 2018. 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. According to Who’s Who, this year’s research 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 counselling advice. 

Wendy is a Certified Specialist in Immigration & Nationality Law by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization, and she leads the firm’s employment-based permanent residency practice group. Congratulations to Wendy! 

© Jewell Stewart & Pratt PC 2018

USCIS Suspends Premium Processing Service for H-1B cap-subject petitions

On March 20, 2018, USCIS announced that starting April 2, 2018, it will temporarily suspend premium processing for all H-1B cap-subject petitions. This suspension may last until at least September 10, 2018. The temporary suspension applies only to FY19 cap-subject H-1B petitions (i.e., petitions submitted in the annual lottery). Non-cap-subject H filings, such as for extensions and change-of-employers, will be able to use premium processing. While premium processing is suspended, petitioners may submit a request to expedite an H-1B cap-subject petition if they meet certain criteria. USCIS indicated that it needs the suspension to focus on reducing backlogs and processing times.

© Jewell Stewart & Pratt PC 2018

Update on work authorization for certain H-4 dependents

The Trump administration was due to propose new regulations by the end of February 2018, eliminating the ability of certain H-4 dependents to work.  Although it has not yet issued proposed regulations, there is now a potential timeline for that to occur.  In ongoing litigation over the regulation allowing H-4 employment, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ordered the case to be held in abeyance following a motion from the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) requesting time to issue a proposed “rescission” regulation in February 2018.  Although DHS did not issue such a regulation in February, the Circuit Court order, issued February 21, 2018, gives the DHS 90 days, or until May 22, 2018, to provide an update on rulemaking.