Presidential Proclamation on Health Insurance for New Immigrants

On Friday, October 4, 2019, President Trump issued a Presidential Proclamation entitled Presidential Proclamation on the Suspension of Entry of Immigrants Who Will Financially Burden the United States Healthcare System, which imposes a health care insurance requirement on new immigrants. Specifically, it requires applicants for immigrant visas to show the ability to purchase unsubsidized commercial health insurance within 30 days of U.S. entry.

Social Security Administration Resumes Sending No-Match Letters to U.S. Employers

In March of 2019 the Social Security Administration (SSA) resumed sending “no-match” letters (formally known as Employer Correction Request Notices) to U.S. employers whose 2018 W-2 wage reports contained non-matching combinations of names and Social Security Numbers (SSNs). According to SHRM, about 575,000 such letters have been issued to employers so far this year. 

By way of background, a no-match letter is simply a notification from SSA to an employer that a certain number of wage reports prepared by an employer contained name and SSN combinations that do not match SSA records.  No-matches can arise from benign reasons, such as typos or hyphenated names.

USCIS Proposes Fee for H-1B Cap Registrations

As discussed in prior posts, on January 30, 2019, USCIS announced a final rule regarding changes to the annual H-1B cap lottery system, requiring an electronic registration process for each cap-subject petition.  While the electronic registration requirement was suspended for the most recent lottery in April 2019, USCIS is taking steps to implement it going forward.  On September 3, 2019, USCIS announced that it was seeking to collect a $10 fee for each electronic registration submitted to USCIS.

DHS Publishes Final Rule Expanding Public Charge Ground of Inadmissibility

Update: This regulation is the subject of litigation. As of Friday October 11, 2019, there is a nationwide injunction against the enforcement of this rule by DHS. The Department of State (“DOS”) version of the rule, however, went into effect on October 15, 2019, but as of October 15, 2019, the DOS has not yet implemented that rule.

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Effective October 15, 2019, unless halted by litigation, the standard by which a foreign national is determined to be “likely at any time to become a public charge” (and consequently inadmissible to the U.S.) will drastically change.

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