Change in H-1B Visa Program

Effective April 1, USCIS will first select H-1B petitions submitted on behalf of all beneficiaries, including those that may be eligible for the advanced degree exemption. USCIS will then select from the remaining eligible petitions, a number projected to reach the advanced degree exemption. Changing the order in which USCIS counts these allocations will likely increase the number of petitions for beneficiaries with a master’s or higher degree from a U.S. institution of higher education to be selected under the H-1B numerical allocations. Specifically, the change will result in an estimated increase of up to 16% (or 5,340 workers) in the number of selected petitions for H-1B beneficiaries with a master’s degree or higher from a U.S. institution of higher education.

USCIS will conduct asylum interviews for recent applications first

USCIS has announced that starting Jan 29, 2018, the Asylum Division will give priority to most recently filed affirmative asylum applicants when scheduling asylum interviews. The USCIS states that the reason for that is to deter individuals from using asylum backlogs solely to obtain employment authorization by filing frivolous, fraudulent or otherwise non-meritorious asylum applications.

The USCIS will from now on schedule asylum interview in the following order:

  1. Applications that were scheduled for an interview, but the interview had to be rescheduled at the applicant’s request or the needs of USCIS;
  2. Applications pending 21 days or less since filing; and
  3. All other pending affirmative asylum applications will be scheduled for interviews starting with newer filings and working back towards older filings.