EIG Dispatch | November 25, 2015


  • Department of State Issues Worldwide Travel Alert
  • USCIS Issues Guidance on Requirements Related to AC21 Portability Purposes
  • New H-1B Art Exhibit Highlights H-1B Visas

Department of State Issues Worldwide Travel Alert

On November 23, 2015, the U.S. Department of State released a worldwide travel alert, warning citizens of travel risks due to potential terrorist threats in multiple regions. Some foreign governments have made official declarations regarding heightened threat conditions and local authorities continue to conduct raids and disrupt terror plots. Terrorist groups have targeted large sporting events, theaters, open markets, and aviation services. In the past year, there have been multiple attacks in France, Nigeria, Denmark, Turkey, and Mali, among other countries. The travel alert advises travelers to exercise particular caution during the holiday season, be aware of surroundings and avoid crowded locations in the U.S. or abroad. This travel alert is effective until February 24, 2016. EIG will continue to monitor the alert and provide updated information that may affect personal travel plans. For more information regarding potential terrorist threats for each region please see the State Department’s worldwide caution and travel alerts and warnings sites.

USCIS Issues Guidance on Requirements Related to AC21 Portability Purposes

The American Competitiveness in the Twenty-First Century Act of 2000, or “AC21”, states that applicants for adjustment of status to that of lawful permanent residents who are beneficiaries of valid Form I-140 petitions can change jobs or employers if: (1) the I-485 Application for Permanent Residence has been filed and remains unadjudicated for 180 days or more; and (2) the new job is in “the same or a similar occupational classification” as the job for which the petition was filed.

On November 20, 2015, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a draft policy memo proposing additional guidance on determining whether a new job is in “the same or a similar occupational classification” for AC-21 portability purposes.  In the draft memo, USCIS clarified that it will use the “totality of the circumstances” standard when comparing two occupations, including factors such as the SOC Code, managerial functions, and career progression.  Per the memo, positions that are not exactly the same may still be eligible to port under AC-21 if they “share essential qualities.” The memo also confirms that allowances will be made for geographic and wage differences in the two positions.

This memo is available for public notice and comment.  The comment period ends on January 4, 2016. The memo will take effect on March 21, 2016.

New Art Exhibit Highlights H-1B Visa Holders

With the 25th anniversary of the H-1B Visa upon us, the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center has created a new exhibit that highlights both the benefits granted to and challenges faced by high skilled immigrants as they come to this country. The exhibit was inspired by the Smithsonian’s prior “Beyond Bollywood” exhibit and it features the work of 17 Indian and Asian American artists.  The exhibit contains H-1B visa holders’ paintings as well as paintings created by H-4 visa holders, spouses of H-1B visa holders. The H-4 visa holders’ paintings highlight the difficulties faced by H-4 visa holders, particularly the long wait times for work authorization. The Smithsonian is allowing individuals to voice their experience as H-1B visa holders via the Twitter hashtag #myh1bstory in an effort to bring public awareness to the program. As much as the art work highlights the difficulties that H-1B visa workers face, EIG is hopeful that the powerful exhibit will lead to greater publicity to improve the H-1B program.  To see the exhibit, please click here .