Federal agencies announced several important changes to immigration programs in the last two weeks of 2023, including the details of a new domestic visa renewal program, the extension of interview waiver authorities and premium processing fee hikes. For those who missed any of the announcements, here’s a roundup of key developments:

  • Domestic visa renewal: The State Department will allow a limited number of H-1B holders to renew their visas in the United States under a new pilot program, the details of which were published Dec. 21, 2023. The pilot will begin Jan. 29 and will be open to 20,000 H-1B visa holders whose previous visas were approved in certain time frames by U.S. visa processing posts in Canada and India. Read BAL’s full news alert here.
  • Interview waiver authorities: On Dec. 21, 2023, the State Department announced that it would extend interview waiver authorities for certain nonimmigrant visa applicants. Under the updated policy, which took effect Jan. 1, consular officers will have the authority to waive interviews for (1) first-time H-2 visa applicants and (2) other nonimmigrant visa applicants who were previously issued a nonimmigrant visa in any classification (other than a B visa) and are applying within 48 months of their most recent nonimmigrant visa’s expiration date. Applicants renewing a nonimmigrant visa in the same classification within 48 months of the prior visa’s expiration date continue to be eligible for an interview waiver as well. Read BAL’s full news alert here.
  • Premium processing fees: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will increase premium processing fees on Feb. 26. Under a regulation published Dec. 28, 2023, premium processing fees will increase by about 12% to account for inflation. Read BAL’s full news alert here.
  • Schedule A input: On Dec. 20, 2023, the Department of Labor asked for public input on whether to revise its list of Schedule A job classifications that do not require permanent labor certification. Read BAL’s news alert here.
  • F and M student nonimmigrant classifications: USCIS issued policy guidance Dec. 20, 2023, regarding the F and M student nonimmigrant classifications, including the agency’s role in adjudicating applications for employment authorization, change of status, extension of stay and reinstatement of status for these students and their dependents in the United States. Find USCIS’ updated policy guidance here. Read BAL’s news alert here.

Additional Information: The Biden administration’s top regulatory priorities on employment-based immigration in 2024 include H-1B and H-2 modernization, fee hikes and changes to the green card process, according to the Department of Homeland Security’s regulatory agenda published in December. BAL will continue following these and other immigration developments and will provide updates as information becomes available.

This alert has been provided by the BAL U.S. Practice Group.

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