CBP Enhances the Online I-94 Application and Payment Process for Land Arrivals

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced in August 2016 that it has made changes to its I-94 website, https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/national-media-release/cbp-makes-online-i-94-application-payment-available-travelers, which allows travelers to apply and pay for their I-94 Arrival/Departure Record online before seeking U.S. admission at a land port of entry. An I-94 form is required for all travelers except U.S. Citizens, returning residents, aliens with immigrant visas, and most Canadian citizens visiting the U.S. Form I-94 provides travelers with evidence that they were lawfully admitted to the U.S. Air and sea travelers will continue to be issued I-94 records during the admission process at the port of entry.

The enhanced process is intended to expedite entry to the U.S. by allowing travelers to utilize a secure website where they can provide their personal and travel information up to 7 days prior to entry, as well as pay the $6 fee utilizing a credit or debit card, check debit, or even PayPal. Once the application and payment is submitted online, a provisional I-94 will be issued which must be printed out. Read More

USCIS Increases Filing Fees as of 12/23/2016

USCIS announced that, effective December 23, 2016, it will increase its filing fees by a weighted average of approximately 21% for most applications and petitions. Some notable filing fee increases include: I-129 Petition for Non-Immigrant Worker (i.e., H-1B, L-1, H-2B) from $325 to $460; I-140 Immigrant Worker Petition from $580 to $700; and I-485 Application to Adjust of Status to Permanent Resident from $985 to $1140 (plus unchanged biometric fee of $85).

Please note that this is the first time in 6 years that USCIS has increased their fees. USCIS attributes these new fees to increased internal processing costs. We recommend that Employers and individuals should submit filings prior to the new fee effective date, if feasible.

Please see attached links for more details:

Effective May 10, 2016, new USCIS F-1 OPT STEM/Everify regulations go into effect

Effective May 10, 2016, new USCIS F-1 OPT STEM/Everify regulations go into effect. The good news is that students may now be eligible for 24 additional months of F-1 OPT STEM work authorization beyond their initial 12 month F-1 OPT period (36 months in total). The bad news is that both the student and employer must actively report changes to employment and submit and maintain a detailed training and supervision regimen.

Here is a brief summary of some of the key provisions: Read More

H-1B CAP Petitions for Fiscal Year (FY) 2017

On April 1, 2016 employers may file to capture a FY’2017 (effective October 1, 2016) H-1B visa CAP number with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS).  Please note that there are  85,000 H-1B CAP numbers available annually. In addition, please be aware that 20,000 of the 85,000 H-1B CAP numbers are reserved for U.S. Master’s degree holders. In FY’2016, the H-1B CAP annual numbers were exhausted during the first week of filing. To be safe, we strongly recommend employers file for receipt on April 1, 2016, as there will likely be a high demand for H-1B CAP visas again this year. Read More