Immigration Articles

New Rules Affecting Certain Employment Based Immigrant and Nonimmigrant Visa Programs – Part 3

Immigrant Visa Rules

1. Priority Dates and I-140 Revocation:

i. The final rule fills a hole in current regulations. Existing regulations establish that the priority date of an employment-based immigrant visa petition accompanied by a labor certification is established when the labor certification is accepted for processing by DOL. Those regulations, however, do not indicate when the priority date is established for an employment-based petition that is not accompanied by a labor certification. To provide further clarity, this final rule provides, generally, that the priority date of a Form I-140 petition that does not require a labor certification is the date such petition is properly filed with USCIS.

ii. Second, the final rule disallows retention of the priority date of an approved Form I-140 petition if the approval of the petition is revoked because of fraud, willful misrepresentation of a material fact, the invalidation or revocation of a labor certification, or material error.

iii. Third, the final rule amends existing automatic revocation regulations to prevent Form I-140 petitions that have been approved for 180 days or more from being automatically revoked based solely on the withdrawal of the petition by the petitioner or the termination of the petitioner’s business.

iv. The final rule also prevents automatic revocation of approved petitions that are withdrawn or where the business terminates 180 days after an associated adjustment of status application is filed.

v. These approved petitions will continue to be valid for priority date retention purposes; unless approval is revoked on other grounds specified earlier – for fraud, willful misrepresentation of a material fact.

vi. They also generally will remain valid for various other purposes under immigration laws including: (1) Job portability under INA section 204(j); (2) extensions of status for certain H-1B nonimmigrant workers under sections 104(c) and 106(a) and (b) of AC21; and (3) eligibility for employment authorization in compelling circumstances.

vii. In addition, the final rule clarifies that an approved Form I-140 petition that is subject to withdrawal or business termination cannot on its own serve as a bona fide employment offer related to the petition. To obtain an immigrant visa or adjust status, beneficiaries of these petitions must have either new Form I-140 petitions filed on their behalf, or, if eligible for job portability under section 204(j) of the INA, new offers of employment in the same or a similar occupational classification.

2. Continuing and Bona Fide Job Offer (Portability) and Supplement J Form:

i. The final rule codifies DHS policy and practice requiring that a foreign worker seeking to adjust his or her status to that of an LPR must have a valid offer of employment at the time the Form I-485 application is filed and adjudicated.

ii. In the final rule DHS reaffirms that a qualifying immigrant visa petition has to be approved before DHS examines a portability request and determines an individual’s eligibility or continued eligibility to adjust status based on the underlying visa petition. DHS also codifies current practice regarding the adjudication of portability requests when the Form I-140 petition is still pending at the time the application for adjustment of status has been pending for 180 days or more.

iii. USCIS may now require Applicants filing “porting requests” to file Form – Supplement J.

iv. Supplement J also will be used by applicants for adjustment of status to request job portability, and by USCIS to determine, among other things, whether a new offer of employment is in the same or a similar occupational classification as the job offer listed in the Form I-140 petition.

v. USCIS is not adding an extra fee for submission of this new supplement, but may consider implementing a fee in the future.

3. Compelling Circumstances Employment Authorization:

i. To obtain a temporary grant of compelling circumstances employment authorization, an individual must (1) be in the United States in E-3, H-1B, H-1B1, O-1, or L-1 nonimmigrant status, including in any applicable grace period, on the date the application for employment authorization is filed; (2) be the principal beneficiary of an approved Form I-140 petition; (3) establish that an immigrant visa is not authorized for issuance based on his or her priority date, preference category, and country of chargeability according to the Final Action Date in effect on the date the application is filed; and (4) demonstrate compelling circumstances that justify the exercise of USCIS discretion to issue an independent grant of employment authorization. The final rule limits the grant of employment authorization in compelling circumstances to a period of 1 year.

4. Employment Authorization:

i. This final rule changes several DHS regulations governing the processing of applications for employment authorization.

ii. First, to minimize the risk of any gaps in employment authorization, this final rule automatically extends the validity of Employment Authorization Documents (EADs or Forms I-766) in certain circumstances based on the timely filing of EAD renewal applications. Specifically, the rule automatically extends the employment authorization and validity of existing EADs issued to certain employment-eligible individuals for up to 180 days from the date of expiration, as long as:

1. A renewal application is filed based on the same employment authorization category as the previously issued EAD (or the renewal application is for an individual approved for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) whose EAD was issued under 8 CFR 274a.12(c)(19));
2. The renewal application is timely filed prior to the expiration of the EAD (or, in accordance with an applicable Federal Register notice regarding procedures for renewing TPS-related employment documentation) and remains pending; and
3. The individual’s eligibility for employment authorization continues beyond the expiration of the EAD and an independent adjudication of the underlying eligibility is not a prerequisite to the extension of employment authorization.

iii. Concurrently, DHS eliminates the regulatory provisions that require adjudication of the Application for Employment Authorization (Form I-765 or EAD application) within 90 days of filing and that authorize interim EADs in cases where such adjudications are not conducted within the 90-day timeframe.

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