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EIG Dispatch | July 10, 2015

July 10, 2015

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) Available in Canada August 1
  • USCIS Issues its Annual Report to Congress
  • Potential Change in Filing Fees for H-1B and L-1 Dependent Employers
  • New Home for USCIS Compas

Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) Available in Canada August 1

Starting August 1, 2015 Canada will roll out their Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) program.  The eTA is a new requirement for visa-exempt visitors travelling to Canada by plane.  The full implementation of the program will begin on March 15, 2016, when travelers will be required to apply for eTA prior to boarding their flight to Canada.

International visitors to Canada from countries who are exempt from obtaining a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) will be required to apply for an eTA prior to travel.  Although not required of American citizens, the eTA will be required for U.S. permanent residents.  The authorization will be linked to the traveler’s passport and will be valid until either the passport expires or 5 years from issuance. The application is available online for a minimal fee.


USCIS Issues its 2015 Annual Report to Congress

The USCIS Ombudsman issued its Annual Report to Congress last week.  As highlighted in the Annual Report, the USCIS Ombudsman continues to be concerned about the adjudication standards for H-1B and L-1 visas.  The Annual Report addresses several areas for USCIS to improve upon, including USCIS misreading the standards in the Department of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH) for H-1B visas, the increasing rates of RFEs for L-1Bs visas, and concerns over the high costs and delays at the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO).  You may read the full report here.


Potential Change in Filing Fees for H-1B and L-1 Dependent Employers

H-1B and L-1 filing fees may soon be changing for certain H-1B and L-1 dependent employers.  Public Law 111-230, which applies to employers with at least 50 employees, at least 50% of which are in H-1B or L-1 status, presently requires an additional $2,000 for H-1B Petitions and $2,250 for L-1 Petitions if the Beneficiary is a new hire.  Currently, Public Law 111-230 is set to remain in effect through September 30, 2015.  Although it remains a possibility that the additional fees will be increased, we are currently awaiting guidance from USCIS.  If the fee lapses, changes in the Form I-129 may be possible to accommodate the different fee structure.  EIG is continuing to monitor developments on this front.


New Home for USCIS Compas

On July 9, USCIS launched their Spanish blog, USCIS Compas. The Spanish version of the USCIS blog was previously available within the USCIS English blog, but has now found its own home (here).  The blog is designed to provide general USCIS updates, as well as stories and news exclusives to the Hispanic Community.  USCIS has additional online and social media resources available to the Spanish-speaking community via Facebook (/uscis.es), Twitter (@uscis_ES),   and YouTube (/uscis).  Be sure to follow, tweet, and friend USCIS!