Happy New Year! As we begin 2023, we would like to share the following recent U.S. immigration-related updates:
Nonimmigrant Visa Interview Waivers Extended Until December 31, 2023
On December 23, 2022, the U.S. Department of State announced the extension of discretion provided to consular officers to waive the visa interview requirement for several groups, including certain temporary workers who have an individual petition approved by USCIS (especially H-1B, L, O, P, and Q visa applicants) who meet certain conditions, including applicants renewing their visas. In addition, applicants renewing visas in the same classification within 48 months of their prior visa’s expiration are also eligible for an interview waiver. Consular officers may require interviews on a case-by-case basis, depending on local country conditions. Please note that L-1 blanket visa applicants may not benefit from the visa interview waiver.
COVID-19 Tests for Travelers from China
Due to the rapid spread of COVID-19 in China, the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will require as of January 5, 2023 that air passengers who are at least 2 years old and who travel directly from Mainland China, Hong Kong, or Macau to the U.S. provide their airline with proof of a negative COVID-19 test. The COVID-19 testing requirement will apply to all travelers, including U.S. citizens, U.S. permanent residents, and individuals who have been vaccinated against COVID-19.
USCIS Proposed Fee Increase
On January 4, 2023, USCIS announced its proposal to substantially increase filing fees for nonimmigrant and immigrant petitions. The fee increases may take effect in May or June 2023, when the final rule is expected to be issued. Government fees for Nonimmigrant Worker Petitions, especially for H-1B and L nonimmigrant visas, are expected to increase by an average of 80%.
H-1B Visa Cap Reminder
We remind our readers that the next H-1B visa registration period is expected to occur during the first two weeks of March 2023. We urge employers to start assessing their current and prospective employees’ needs ahead of the March 2023 H-1B Cap registration period. The H-1B visa is limited to 85,000 visa petition submissions per cap season and employment start dates for employment occur on October 1 of each government fiscal year. H-1B visa petition submissions to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) may be filed up to 180 days in advance of the commencement of employment. Traditionally, April 1 is the first day of the year that H-1B filings are accepted by USCIS.