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Monthly U.S. immigration law news roundup: H-1B visa updates — Biden administration proposes changes to program, stateside renewal rule under review

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 October 2023 edition of the Garfinkel Immigration news roundup:

The National Interest Waiver (NIW) process: Garfinkel Immigration Partner William R. Hummel explains benefits for STEM degree holders and more

The Biden administration introduced new guidance in early 2022 that clarified and provided further information about NIW eligibility for advanced science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) degree holders. The new guidance was published in Volume 6, Part F, Chapter 5 of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Policy Manual and significantly affects qualified foreign nationals.

We spoke with Garfinkel Immigration Law Firm Partner William R. Hummel this week about the updated guidance and its impacts on STEM graduates. He explained the benefits of the NIW, eligibility criteria, the associated three-prong test and more in the interview below.

Hummel will be discussing the National Interest Waiver and its advantages for STEM degree holders in more detail during Garfinkel Immigration Law Firm’s next webinar on Nov. 2 from noon – 1 p.m. Learn more about the webinar and register here.

Read the full Q&A with Hummel here.

The Form I-9: What to know about the new edition, the virtual inspection process, and more

Written by Nam Douglass, Esq., Senior Associate Attorney, N.C. Board Certified Immigration Law Specialist.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released a new version of the Form I-9 in August 2023.

The update represents one of the most significant changes to the I-9 process since the form was first introduced more than 35 years ago.

The new edition of the Form I-9 is more condensed and creates a permanent process for eligible employers to virtually (rather than physically) inspect the acceptable identity and employment authorization documents.

Garfinkel Immigration Law Firm explores and analyzes the updated Form I-9 in its latest white paper. Read the full paper here.

STEM OPT safe after Supreme Court immigration action

This story, written by Forbes Senior Contributor Stuart Anderson, discusses recent developments with the STEM OPT program.

“The U.S. Supreme Court gave universities, employers and international students a victory by declining to review a long-litigated case on practical training and work authorization,” the story read. “A group argued DHS could not expand Optional Practical Training (OPT) from 12 to 36 months in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. However, several court decisions found that the Department of Homeland Security possessed the authority to expand STEM OPT to 36 months.”

The story continued: “Educators consider OPT and STEM OPT essential because practical training benefits students’ education and encourages them to enroll in U.S. universities. The additional 24 months in STEM OPT also allows employers a better opportunity to secure an H-1B petition for students.”

Read the full story from Forbes here.

H-1B visa lottery oversight would tighten under DHS proposal

Earlier this month, the Biden administration released a proposal aimed at reforming the H-1B program entitled “Modernizing H-1B Requirements, Providing Flexibility in the F-1 Program, and Program Improvements Affecting Other Nonimmigrant Workers.”

This story, published by Bloomberg Law in mid-October, details and examines parts of the new proposal.

“A Department of Homeland Security proposal aims to clamp down on abuse of the annual H-1B visa lottery by selecting registrations based on unique beneficiary, regardless of how many registrations are submitted on their behalf,” the story read. “The proposed regulations (RIN: 1615-AC70) released Friday also address guidelines for voluntary work-site visits as part of compliance reviews and requirements to file new visa petitions when employment details have changed.”

The story continued: “The proposal also offers more flexibility for entrepreneurs aiming to launch start-ups while on H-1B visas. And it aims to address ‘cap-gap’ issues that arise when student visa holders’ work authorization ends before the start date of their employment on an H-1B.”

Read the full story from Bloomberg Law here.

Biden to host first-of-its-kind Americas summit to address immigration struggles

President Joe Biden is set to meet with leaders of countries in the Americas in early November to discuss immigration issues in the region, CBS News reported earlier this month.

The countries who have been invited to attend include Barbados, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Mexico, Panama, Peru and Uruguay, according to CBS News.

“A senior administration official said in a statement that the summit would provide an opportunity to deepen economic integration among western hemisphere countries,” the CBS News story read. “The official said the aim of the summit is to ‘drive more inclusive and sustainable economic growth and tackle the underlying economic drivers of irregular migration in our hemisphere.’”

The CBS News story continued: “During the summit, leaders are expected to establish three discrete tracks, in finance, trade and foreign affairs, for countries to quickly begin to set specific goals and the processes to start executing them, the official also said.”

Read the full CBS News story here.

Stateside H-1B Visa Renewal Pilot Rule Under White House Review

The Biden administration is also evaluating a rule that would “resume renewal of H-1B nonimmigrant visas in the U.S. for certain noncitizens,” according to a report from Bloomberg Law.

The rule was sent to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs for review in mid-October, according to the report.

The State Department told Bloomberg Law in February it planned to launch a pilot program offering a domestic visa renewal option to H-1B specialty occupation workers,” the story read. “Those visa holders are currently required to travel abroad to renew those visas. That’s led recently to long delays returning to the U.S. for many who face pandemic-fueled bottlenecks at certain consular offices.”

The story continued: “Domestic visa renewals were discontinued nearly 20 years ago because the State Department said it was unable to meet post-9/11 requirements for collecting biometric data like fingerprints for applicants.”

Read the full story from Bloomberg Law 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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