What is the change? The Bureau of Immigration has approved new procedures aimed at expediting the process for foreign nationals converting to 9(g) Commercial Visas.

What does the change mean? In certain circumstances, a 9(g) visa application will be sent directly to the agency’s legal division for review and a hearing will no longer be required.

  • Implementation timeframe: The BI adopted the new procedures Nov. 26.
  • Visas/permits affected: 9(g) Commercial Visas.
  • Who is affected: Foreign nationals converting to 9(g) visas.
  • Impact on processing times: The procedures are intended to expedite conversions and reduce the workloads of hearing officers.
  • Business impact: The change in the application review process should have a positive business impact if it indeed speeds up the conversion process and allows foreign nationals to begin work on 9(g) visas sooner.
  • Next steps: 9(g) conversion applications will be forwarded to the appropriate channels within the BI to be approved “without delay.”

Background: The new procedures apply to applicants who want to convert to a 9(g) visa where the Department of Labor has granted a one-year Alien Employment Permit or where the employment contract is good for only one year. In those cases, the 9(g) conversion application will be forwarded to the BI’s legal division for review by the legal staff, then the chief of the division, and finally by the office of the executive director. If the conversion application is approved by the BI, the executive director must issue the visa. Even if a hearing is no longer necessary, the foreign employee will still need to make a biometrics appointment, typically within a week of submitting the 9(g) visa application.

BAL Analysis: Qualified 9(g) applications that are sent directly to the legal division first may experience faster processing times. However, it will likely take several weeks to determine how much time is saved in the overall process.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group and our network provider located in the Philippines. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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