Immigration News Briefs – February 2022

FY 2023 H-1B Cap Initial Registration Period Opens on March 1

USCIS announced that the initial registration period for the fiscal year 2023 H-1B cap will open at noon Eastern on March 1 and run through noon Eastern on March 18. During this period, prospective petitioners and representatives will be able to complete and submit their registrations using its online H-1B registration system. USCIS will assign a confirmation number to each registration submitted for the FY 2023 H-1B cap. Prospective H-1B cap-subject petitioners or their representatives are required to use a myUSCIS online account to register each beneficiary electronically for the selection process and pay the associated $10 H1B registration fee for each registration submitted on behalf of each beneficiary. 

Prospective petitioners submitting their own registrations (U.S. employers and U.S. agents, collectively known as “registrants”) will use a “registrant” account. Registrants will be able to create new accounts beginning at noon Eastern on Feb. 21. Representatives may add clients to their accounts at any time, but both representatives and registrants must wait until March 1 to enter beneficiary information and submit the registration with the $10 fee. Prospective petitioners or their representatives will be able to submit registrations for multiple beneficiaries in a single online session. Through the account, they will be able to prepare, edit, and store drafts of registrations prior to final payment and submission of each registration. 

If enough registrations are received by March 18, USCIS will randomly select registrations and send selection notifications via users’ myUSCIS online accounts. USCIS intends to notify account holders by March 31. An H-1B cap-subject petition, including a petition for a beneficiary who is eligible for the advanced degree exemption, may only be filed by a petitioner whose registration for the beneficiary named in the H-1B petition was selected in the H-1B registration process.

USCIS Updates Guidelines on Validity Periods on EADS for Certain Applicants

USCIS, in February, published updated policy guidance to change the maximum validity period that may be granted for Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) issued to certain applicants, as well as to provide general guidance on adjudicating Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization.

Starting February 7, 2022, USCIS will generally grant new and renewed EADs that are valid for two years to applicants in the following categories:

  • Admitted as a refugee (a)(3);
  • Granted asylum (a)(5);
  • Granted withholding of deportation or removal (a)(10); and
  • VAWA self-petitioner (c)(31).

Additionally, USCIS will generally grant new and renewed EADs up to the end of the parole or deferred action period to applicants in the following categories:

  • Paroled into the United States for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit (c)(11); and
  • Granted deferred action (non-DACA) (c)(14).

Increasing the maximum validity period that may be provided on EADs for these categories will help ease processing backlogs by reducing the frequency and number of times these applicants must renew their EADs and will help prevent gaps in employment authorization and documentation.

This policy update is effective immediately. Therefore, new and renewed EADs issued for impacted categories on or after Feb. 7, 2022, will reflect the updated validity periods. EADs issued before Feb. 7, 2022, are not affected. USCIS will continue to issue replacement EADs with the same validity date as the original EAD.

Biden Administration Acts to Attract STEM Talent

The Biden Administration announced numerous executive actions to attract and retain STEM talent in the US.  These actions include J1 extension and Research in STEM fields, 22 new fields of study added to the STEM list, for students and OPT candidates and updated eligibility for O-1 visas.

In addition, USCIS also has updated guidance related to the use of the national interest waiver (NIW) program by entrepreneurs and by persons with advanced degrees in STEM fields.  The full text can be accessed at the White House site:

https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2022/01/21/fact-sheet-biden-harris-administration-actions-to-attract-stem-talent-and-strengthen-our-economy-and-competitiveness/

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