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Monthly U.S. immigration law news roundup: U.S. embassies and consulates move to cut visa wait time for Indians

Welcome to the Garfinkel Immigration news roundup, where every month we will summarize and provide links to the latest stories impacting U.S. immigration.

Below is the January 2023 edition of the Garfinkel Immigration news roundup:

DHS agrees to another settlement which should benefit dependents of H-1B and L-1 visa holders

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has settled another lawsuit which should positively impact the spouses of H-1B and L-1 visa holders.

DHS agreed late last week in a settlement resulting from the case Edakunni v. Mayorkas to once again process and adjudicate the Form I-539 Application to Extend/Change Status and Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization Document (EAD) at the same time as the principal’s Form I-129 Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker for H-4 (spouses of H-1B) and L-2 (spouses of L-1), as long as all three petitions were filed concurrently.

The settlement and resultant process went into effect on Jan. 25, 2023.

Read the full story here.

What immigration policies to expect from the 118th U.S. Congress

The 118th U.S. Congress was officially sworn in on Jan. 7.

Democrats remain in control of the Senate – and the White House – while Republicans regained the majority in the House of Representatives during the November midterm elections, resulting in a divided government.

Garfinkel Immigration Law Firm’s latest white paper, written by Associate Attorney Brian Daza, analyzes the potential immigration policies and bills that could be taken under consideration during the 118th U.S. Congress.

Read the full white paper here.

U.S. proposes hiking fees for work-related immigration applications to fund asylum program

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services introduced a proposed rule earlier this month that could significantly raise fees for employment-based visas.

The proposed rule is subject to at least a 60-day public comment period and will not go into effect until a final rule is published.

“Under the proposed rule, applications from employers seeking to sponsor immigrants for permanent U.S. residency or temporary work visas would need to be filed with an additional $600 fee to fund the USCIS asylum program, which is responsible for screening migrants who ask for humanitarian refuge along the southern border, as well as other populations seeking U.S. asylum, such as Afghan evacuees,” according to a story published by CBS News.

The story added: “USCIS, which has historically relied on application fees, not congressional funds, to administer the nation’s sprawling legal immigration system, said the changes are necessary to ensure the agency’s finances and operations would remain stable for the foreseeable future.”

Read the full CBS News story here.

U.S. embassy moves to cut visa wait time for Indians

United States Embassies and Consulates in India have taken steps to reduce appointment wait times, according to an article published by the BBC in late January.

“For Indians applying for work visas, the wait time currently ranges from 60-280 days while the wait time for visitors is approximately 1.5 years,” the BBC article read.

The new measures include adding visa interview appointments on Saturdays at certain embassies and consulates as well as extending weekday operating hours.

“The mission said the U.S. State Department would soon increase the number of consular officers permanently assigned to offices in India,” the BBC story added. “By March, it will also incorporate dozens of temporary consular officers from Washington and other embassies to increase its processing capacity.”

Find out more via the BBC here.

DHS allowing noncitizens to report labor violations without jeopardizing immigration status

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has introduced a new protocol which will allow noncitizen workers to report violations of labor rights without fear of “immigration-related retaliation from the exploitive employers.”

“Unscrupulous employers who prey on the vulnerability of noncitizen workers harm all workers and disadvantage businesses who play by the rules,” Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement. “We will hold these predatory actors accountable by encouraging all workers to assert their rights, report violations they have suffered or observed, and cooperate in labor standards investigations.

“Through these efforts, and with our labor agency partners, we will effectively protect the American labor market, the conditions of the American worksite, and the dignity of the workers who power our economy.”

DHS said it put the measure in place because “workers are often afraid to report violations of law by exploitative employers or to cooperate in employment and labor standards investigations because they fear removal or other immigration-related retaliation by an abusive employer.”

Learn more here via ABC News.

U.S. launches pilot program to allow private sponsorship of refugees from around the world

President Joe Biden introduced a plan earlier this month that would allow private American citizens and permanent residents to sponsor the resettlement of refugees in the United States.

“Under the program, modeled after a long-standing system in Canada, groups of at least five U.S.-based individuals could have the opportunity to sponsor refugees if they raise $2,275 per refugee, pass background checks and submit a plan about how they will assist the newcomers,” according to a story written by CBS News.

The story continued: “Approved private sponsors will play the role of traditional resettlement agencies for at least 90 days after a refugee’s arrival, helping the newcomers access housing and other basic necessities, such as food, medical services, education and public benefits for which they qualify.”

The State Department is hoping “to recruit 10,000 private sponsors to resettle at least 5,000 refugees during the first year” of the program, according to CBS News.

Read the full story here.

As always, please do not hesitate to contact Garfinkel Immigration Law Firm at 704-442-8000 or via email with any questions.

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