Although the travel ban order has been halted by the courts, the new administration has signaled “increased scrutiny” on visa issuance to the US consulates. Its effects are being reflected in the processing of visas at US consulates.
Data released by the government shows that the United States issued about 40 percent fewer temporary visas in March of 2017 to citizens of the seven Muslim-majority nations affected by the bans – Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen – than it did on average in March of 2016.
Consulates are erring on the side of not approving a visa if there is missing information or discrepancies in the filing or if the applicant is not well prepared for the interview. Because of the uncertainty, there also appears to be fewer applicants for US visas at these consulates.
The executive order also eliminated the ability of some individuals to apply for their visas at a US consulate without an in-person interview.
Previously, some individuals – due to their age or the fact that they were repeat applicants for the same visa – could mail in their passports to the US consulate or use a “drop-box” system when applying for a visa. This time-saving interview waiver program (IWP) has been suspended. This suspension is increasing the workload at the consulates and the wait times for visa appointments.
On a positive note, the data also shows that the total of US non-immigrant visas issued worldwide was up by about 5 percent in March compared to the 2016 monthly average.
But visa issuance is not a guarantee of US admission. At the US ports of entry on arrival, our clients are telling us that they are being subject to more questioning. Particularly, those travelers entering as a business visitor (B-1/B-2) or under the Visa Waiver Program (ESTA) on a frequent basis.
To facilitate your travel, plan to be thorough, prepared, and proactive in this process.
Summer is always a busy season for travelers. If you’re traveling on a visa, you may already know to expect more delays and give yourself plenty of time.
This year, though, is likely to be even worse than normal due to the recent executive orders. Already, we are seeing more background checks, more delays in getting through the airport, and more complaints about consulates.
With this in mind, here a few tips to make the process go as smoothly as possible when traveling on a visa. Continue reading
If a foreign national is reporting difficulty getting an EAD in the mail, consider these two common issues.
There must be someone present to receive the EAD. When no one is home, the post office returns the EAD to USCIS. If you are expecting an EAD, make arrangements with your post office to ensure delivery.
If a foreign national moves, you must notify USCIS promptly. Otherwise, the EAD might not be delivered at all. It is not enough to register the address change with the post office. You must do so directly with USCIS.
Here are our top five tips for H-1B filing:
- Your H-1B petition must be ready to be filed by April 3rd, 2017. It’s crucial to start preparing now. Don’t delay!
- Your position must relate to your educational credentials. The H-1B requires at least a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent. That education must be related to the job you will perform in the United States.
If an employer conducts an internal audit, sometimes mistakes are uncovered. What are the next steps you should take? Here is what you need to know:
If a Form I-9 was never completed or is missing, the current version of the Form I-9 should be completed as soon as possible. Continue reading
The 2017 H-1B petition filing season is here! To maximize your chance of success, you need to prepare now. Starting April 3, USCIS will accept H-1B visa petition filings – subject to the annual cap – for the next fiscal year, which begins October 1, 2017.
To maximize the chance that your petition will be accepted in this year’s anticipated lottery, we strongly recommend that H-1B visa petitions subject to the cap be ready to be filed in March.
If you have trouble getting a license for your H-1B, a new rule should provide some relief.
… particularly for employers filing an H-1B for the first time.
Due to the limited number of new H-1B visas and their high demand, USCIS typically only accepts new H-1B filings for five business days starting April 1st.
These H-1B case filings must include a certified Labor Condition Applications (LCA). Continue reading