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EIG Dispatch | May 5, 2017

May 5, 2017

HIGHLIGHTS

  • USCIS Completes Data Entry for FY2018 H-1B Cap Petitions
  • Spending Bill Funds Federal Government Through September
  • Canadians L-1 Adjudication Limited to Canada
  • Visa Free Travel to Europe Continues for US Citizens
  • Canada Increases Age Limit for Dependents Back to 22
  • India Expands Aadhaar Program to Foreign Residents

USCIS Completes Data Entry for FY2018 H-1B Cap Petitions

On May 3, 2017, USCIS announced that it completed the data entry for all H-1B cap petitions for fiscal year 2018 selected in the lottery selection process. As reported earlier, on April 17, USCIS used a computer-generated random selection process to select enough petitions to meet the congressionally mandated 65,000 H-1B visa cap and the 20,000 U.S. advanced degree exemption out of a total of 199,000 petitions filed.

USCIS will now start returning all the H-1B cap-subject petitions that were not selected in the lottery process. EIG expects this process to take some time with petitions being returned over the course of the next 2-3 months. USCIS will issue a similar announcement once all the unselected petitions have been returned.

As we may continue to receive cap selection notifications during this time, EIG reminds its clients that Receipt Notices and returned petitions constitute the only definite forms of confirmation regarding the outcome of the lottery process for each petition.

USCIS also announced that, due to the large number of filings, it will transfer some H-1B cap subject petitions from its Vermont Service Center to the California Service Center to balance workloads.


Spending Bill Funds Federal Government Through September

On Thursday, May 4, 2017, Congress approved a $1.1 trillion spending bill to fund the federal government through the end of September 2017. President Trump is expected to sign the bill today.

The bill does not contain funding for the construction of a boarder wall with Mexico. However, as expected, some of the funds are directed toward boarder protection, including replacement of approximately 40 miles of existing barriers, maintenance of technology and roads, and human resources infrastructure.

By reaching an agreement, the federal government has avoided many of the delays to U.S. immigration processes that it experienced during the 2013 shutdown. As we reported at the time, the 2013 shutdown did not directly cease USCIS operations, but the shutdown delayed the issuance of Labor Condition Applications (LCAs), Prevailing Wage Determinations (PWDs), and PERM Labor Certification Applications (PERM) from the Department of Labor (DOL).

The next spending bill is expected sometime in the fall.


Canadian L-1 Adjudication Limited to Canada

The Department of State (DOS) recently revised a section of the Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM) relating to the L-1 visa category. Effective immediately, Canadians seeking initial L-1 classification and subsequent extensions will no longer be able to apply for L-1 status upon arrival at a U.S. international airport. Instead, Canadian citizens may only seek initial L-1 classification at a Class A port of entry located on the U.S.-Canadian border, or at a U.S. pre-clearance station in Canada.

The practical implications of this change is that Canadian citizens who previously could have traveled directly to the U.S. from a country other than Canada and applied for initial L-1 classification at a major U.S. airport (such as San Francisco International Airport), will now have to travel to Canada first.


Visa Free Travel to Europe Continues for US Citizens

On May 2nd, the European Commission (“Commission”) confirmed that visa free travel to Europe for U.S. citizens will continue without interruption.

With this confirmation, the Commission rejected the European Parliament’s March 2nd request to suspend the visa free program. In the press release announcing this decision, the Commission indicated it is confident the U.S. will meet its obligations under reciprocity agreements to allow citizens of Bulgaria, Poland, Croatia, Cyprus, and Romania visa-free entry to the United States, and pointed to progress in building relationships with strategic partners within the new administration.


Canada Increases Age Limit for Dependents Back to 22

Effective this October, Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will raise the maximum age of dependent children to 22. As of October 24th, unmarried children, who have not yet reached their 22nd birthday, will be able to accompany their parents to Canada. This applies to families applying for both non-immigrant status and permanent residency.

In addition, under the new rule, sons and daughters who are 22 or older but are unable to support themselves due to a physical or medical condition, can also qualify as dependents for immigration purposes.

The change reflects a return to the pre-August 2014 rule. Currently, only children under 19 years of age may be included as dependents in their parents’ applications.

In explaining the reasons for this rule change, the IRCC pointed to the fact that children tend to remain dependent on their parents throughout their post-secondary education.


India Expands Aadhaar Program to Foreign Residents

Effective July 1, 2017, foreign nationals residing in India for more than 182 days in the previous 12 months will be required to obtain an Aadhaar ID Card to file their income tax return (ITR) or to apply for a new Permanent Account Number (PAN). Previously, only the PAN card was required for filing the income tax return. As a reminder, proof of income tax return filing is required for approval of visa renewal applications, so foreign nationals residing in India are advised to submit their Aadhaar ID Card enrollment applications as soon as possible. Aadhaar is a unique 12-digit identification number issued by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) to every individual who resides in the country.

To enroll in Aadhaar, individuals must visit an Enrollment Center, where they can submit the enrollment application form and where their biometric information will be collected. Applicants must submit proof of identity and address documents. Acceptable proof of identity documents include passport, driving license, and PAN card; proof of address documents include utility bills for the three most recent months. Enrollment to Aadhaar is free. Additional information on how to enroll is available through the Unique Identity Authority of India at https://uidai.gov.in/.