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On Friday, March 3, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced a suspension of premium processing for all H-1B temporary worker petitions not filed prior to April 3.  All such cases must actually be RECEIVED at USCIS by Friday, March 31.


The impacts are as follows:

  • ALL H-1B cases filed after April 3 will be subject to regular processing by USCIS. Backlogs for regular processing cases are currently 8-10 months or more. Further, there is no guarantee that USCIS will honor all premium processing requests submitted between now and April 3.
     
  • Medical Residents and Fellows who are participating in the match (announced on March 17) and who require H-1B sponsorship will have less than two weeks for an employer to file an H-1B petition under premium processing in an attempt to ensure they can start on 7/1/17. Departments must thus be ready to act immediately on March 17 and submit such H-1B requests to OIS with all required documentation to have any chance of filing such petitions before the premium processing suspension takes effect. NOTE: Most individuals in this group are sponsored under the J-1 ECFMG program and will not be impacted by the H-1B premium processing suspension.
     
  • Any individuals inside the U.S. in another nonimmigrant status (such as F-1 with Optional Practical Training) who require a change of status to H-1B are unable to work after their current immigration status/work authorization expires and until the H-1B petition is approved by USCIS. The premium processing suspension will make it far more difficult to predict and manage these employment gap periods. Ability to travel abroad and return to the U.S. while a case is pending will also be impacted.
     
  • New hires abroad will have longer periods that they must wait abroad until the H-1B petition is approved in order to secure the H-1B visa stamp to enter the U.S.
     
  • Many faculty and others in H-1B status who travel extensively will be forced to cancel planned international travel after their current H-1B petition approval expires and while requests for H-1B extensions or amendments are pending USCIS approval. While there is a "240-day" rule that allows for continued employment with the same employer for up to 240 days after the current H-1B expires as long as a timely-filed extension is pending, that has become a problem due to backlogs, so please do not count on this cushion being adequate.  To mitigate this, incorporate routines to request H-1B extensions up to six months before the current H-1B petition expiration date, the earliest extension requests may commence.
     
  • Individuals already in H-1B status somewhere in the U.S. who are sponsored by JHU will, in most cases, be able to begin employment at JHU under H-1B portability rules once USCIS has received a timely-filed JHU H-1B petition. Ability to travel abroad may be impacted, however.
     
  • Departments will obviously need to explore contingencies for individuals who are forced to wait for regular processing of their H-1B petitions. Teaching loads, course offerings, rotations, and research projects are just some staffing needs that will likely be impacted.

OIS will file all eligible, currently pending departmental H-1B requests that have been submitted to OIS with all required documentation (including the USCIS premium processing fee) with USCIS before April 3.  This requires that all such cases be RECEIVED at USCIS by Friday, March 31.

OIS will make every effort to submit to USCIS any new department requests submitted with all required documentation to OIS between now and that deadline. However, we can make no guarantees for successfully filing any such petitions with USCIS before Friday, March 31 due to the preliminary processing steps required both within OIS and with the Department of Labor (DOL) that must occur prior to filing petitions with USCIS. Note that higher demand on DOL services as a result of the premium processing suspension, along with the impending April 3 earliest filing date for FY18 cap-subject H-1B cases, could negatively impact the usual timing at DOL of these preliminary processing steps.

OIS will continue to process H-1B requests for regular processing at USCIS during the suspension period.  For such future requests, OIS will explore alternative immigration options on a case-by-case basis.

OIS will monitor all pending petitions as closely as possible but cannot make reliable estimates for adjudications under regular processing.  In consultation with sponsoring departments, OIS will submit premium processing requests for cases pending at USCIS as soon as the premium processing suspension is lifted.

JHU’s Office of International Services (OIS) will be holding information sessions this week on the various Executive Orders promulgated last week by President Donald Trump.   They will be held as follows:

Campus

Date and Time

Location

East Baltimore

Wednesday, Feb. 1

11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Wood Basic Science Building, West Lecture Hall 

Homewood

Wednesday, Feb. 1

5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Mason Hall Auditorium

Washington, DC

Thursday, Feb. 2

2:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Nitze Building, Room 517

Harbor East

Friday, Feb. 3

11:45 a.m. to 1:15 p.m.

Room 203/204

Peabody

Friday, Feb. 3

6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Conservatory Building, Room 206C

 

If you have not already done so, we encourage you to read the statement by President Daniels and Provost Kumar on these recent events.  http://hub.jhu.edu/2017/01/29/refugee-ban-trump-executive-order-hopkins/

 

Please consider joining us at one of our Information Sessions.

*IMPORTANT* Updates on Office of International Services Schedules for Office Hours and Advising

Please be aware that all JHU offices, including OIS, will be closed on Friday December 23; Monday, December 26; Friday, December 30; and Monday, January 2 in observance of the holidays.  All locations will also be closed the afternoon of Friday, January 6.   OIS will also have the following adjustments for various locations as noted below.

OIS @ Medical Institutions:   There will be no walk-in advising hours at this location between Monday, December 19 through Monday, January 2.   Advisors will be available during office hours (8:30 am to 4:30 pm) for travel signatures only December 19-22 and December 27-29.  Walk-in advising at this location will resume normal hours beginning Tuesday, January 3.

OIS @ Homewood:  This location will be adjusting its office schedule to be closed between 12:00 and 1:00 pm on JHU workdays between December 27 and January 6. 

OIS @ DC:  Due to construction on the Bernstein Offit Building, this location will be moving temporarily to the Nitze Building, 1740 Massachusetts Ave. Olivia Kilbride, OIS advisor, will be in the SAIS Student Services Suite on 3rd floor and Noppadon Moapichai, Director of DC Operations will be in Room 403.   Advisors will be available during the office hours (9.00 am to 5.00 pm) for travel signatures only December 19-22. There will be no advising hours between December 27-29. Walk-in advising at this location will resume normal hours beginning Tuesday, January 3.

OIS @ Harbor East:  OIS has moved. We can now be found on the 5th floor, at the opposite end of the hallway from the Student Commons area. We also have new office hours – Tuesday and Thursday afternoons between 1:00 and 4:00 pm. Our advising location is in a locked area, so please see the receptionist at the entry area and indicate that you are there to see someone at OIS.   Due to the winter break, there will be no advising at Carey between December 27 and January 20.

OIS @ Peabody:   Due to the winter break, there will be no advising at Peabody between December 19 and January 12. We will resume our regular Friday advising schedule on Friday, January 13.

On October 24 U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced a final rule that will increase the fees for most immigration applications and petitions.  The new fees go into effect on December 23.  

Some of the fees to be increased include:

  • I-129 Petition for a Nonimmigrant worker increasing from $325 to $460
  • I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status increasing from $290 to $370
  • I-765 Application for Employment Authorization increasing from $380 to $410

 For the full announcement, see the USCIS website.  

Foreign nationals who need to apply for an H or L visa in India currently face visa appointment wait times of 75 to more than 115 days at the U.S. consulates in Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai and New Delhi.  The appointment backlog is likely to delay U.S. employment start dates and reentry to the United States, unless applicants are able to secure a visa appointment at another consulate.  Backlogs are likely to increase as the October 1 start date for FY 2017 H-1B cap employment nears.

Demand for U.S. visas has increased over the last several months, but there has been no increase in consular staff at the U.S. mission to India, leading to the current backlog. 

Source: Fragomen Worldwide