Happy New Year

This month has been busy with a lot of immigration-related news. I hope that 2019 has been good to you so far.

USCIS remains open during the government shutdown.

I have received many questions about whether immigration is still working during the shutdown. The answer is yes, for the most part.  Offices remain open and interviews continue to be held. USCIS will continue to accept petitions and applications for benefit requests. The reason for this is that USCIS is not funded by taxes.  I emphasize this because it surprises most people who hear this. The funding for visa applications, relative and business petitions as well as naturalization petitions is wholly funded by user fees (filing fees)  so operations continue as usual and employees continue to be paid. The only exceptions to this are the following:

EB-5 Immigrant Regional Centers which are public or private economic units in the U.S. that promote economic growth

E-Verify, a free internet-based system that allows businesses to determine the eligibility of their employees to work in the U.S.

Conrad 30 Waiver Program under which doctors with J-I visas can apply for a waiver of the requirement to spend two years outside of the U.S. after completing the J-1 exchange program.

Non-minister religious workers petitions which allow non-minsters in religious vocations and occupations to obtain permanent resident status.

USCIS is separate from the Immigration Court which is closed except for emergency filings for people already in detention. TSA employees are being required to work without pay but there have been numerous reports of many TSA employees calling in sick which has been linked to longer lines at the airports.

It is H-1B season

U.S. Businesses that need to hire foreign professionals on a temporary basis can only do so during the first week of April but January or February is the time to get started on processing these visas.  The first step is to determine the “prevailing wage” for the position which must be included on an “LCA” (labor condition application) filed with the U.S. Department of Labor prior to filing the visa petition with USCIS.  A more detailed discussion of this visa and the steps that must be undertaken to obtain this visa can be found on my blog published in January of 2017. That blog can be found here. 

Blog Published

One of my blogs Blog was published in the winter issue of  Al-hikmat, International Muslim Magazine. This was the blog entitled “Crimes and Immigrants THE MYTH” which  was posted by me in September of last year and can be found here.


Linda M Kaplan
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