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Immigration Insider | January 2023

January 18, 2023

Extension of Non-Immigrant Visa Interviews Waiver

The U.S. Department of State announced that it will extend the authority of consular officers to waive in-person interviews for some non-immigrant visa categories through December 31, 2023. The determination to waive the interview is made on a case-by-case basis, for both new and renewing applicants. The visa categories eligible for interview waiver are: H-1B, H-2, H-3, F, L-1 (non-blanket), M, O, P and Q, and their dependents. DOS estimates that approximately one-half of the nearly 7 million visas issued during Fiscal Year 2022 were adjudicated without an interview. This program was implemented to address increasing consular backlogs caused by worldwide closures due to COVID-19.

Negative COVID-19 Test Required from Air Passengers from China

On December 28, 2022, the CDC implemented a requirement for a negative COVID-19 test or documentation of recovery for air passengers boarding flights to the United States originating from the People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong and Macau. This initiative is aimed to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the United States during the recent surge of cases in China.

Green Cards Automatically Extended When Naturalization Application Filed

Effective Dec. 12, 2022, USCIS will automatically extend the validity of Permanent Resident Cards (Green Cards) for two years for naturalization applicants. This change will eliminate the need for a naturalization applicant to file a second petition to renew his/her green card.  The 24-month extension will be noted on the naturalization application receipt and can be presented with the expired Green Card as evidence of continued status as well as identity and employment authorization for I-9 purposes.

Fiscal 2024 H-1B Lottery Filings

As a reminder, the H-1B registration period for the FY 2024 lottery will be open in March (USCIS has not yet announced the dates.) If you have employees who need to be entered in this year’s H-1B lottery, please contact our office as soon as possible.

Under this H-1B lottery process, an employer must submit the electronic pre-registration and pay a $10 fee in order to sponsor an employee for H-1B status. The electronic pre-registration requires submission of basic information, such as the name, address, and FEIN of the employer and the beneficiary’s biographic details and education. Should USCIS receive more electronic pre-registrations than there are H-1Bs available, a lottery is conducted. If selected in the lottery, employers are given a window of time during which the complete H-1B filing must be submitted. If USCIS does not receive sufficient H-1B petitions to meet the cap, a second lottery is conducted, with a second filing window. This is repeated until USCIS has the required number of petitions.