February 24, 2020

It has not been a quiet week in Lake Wobegone – and it’s only Monday.

Domestically and abroad, as of today, both USCIS and the State Department have implemented their radical new definition of who is inadmissible based on likelihood of becoming a Public Charge. All applications postmarked after today must contain the new editions of forms, with extensive disclosures about personal finances and credit history, as well as supporting evidence that meets the new totality of the circumstances test. Meanwhile, plenty of applications already filed have been and are being rejected, due to the Service’s formalistic and wasteful new obsession with requiring “None” or “N/A” in every hitherto-blank box. Going forward, all Form I-129 nonimmigrant visa petitions by US employers will require disclosures about the prospective employee’s finances and any past receipt of benefits, including Medicaid coverage of emergencies and any school-based services for children with special needs. Even after petition approval, when a temporary foreign worker is interviewed for a visa at a US Embassy or Consulate, officers will have discretion to require the applicant to submit a Form DS-5540 Public Charge Questionnaire, which is now required of all immigrant visa applicants, if the officer is not satisfied from other available information that the applicant will be self-sufficient during their intended stay. The impact will be burdensome and discriminatory, which is the intent of the rule.  

Also, today saw the nominal opening of the account-creation period for US employers who wish to sponsor any foreign workers for H-1B professional visas this year, so that they – or an attorney on their behalf – may participate in the electronic pre-registration lottery. However, since the process opened to H-1B registrants this morning, it turns out that only allows a company contact to use their work-based email address to perform the initial steps of account creation – login email, password creation, choice of 2-step verification method, and selection of 5 security questions and answers. As of now, the company contact cannot enter even the company name and DBA. As a bonus, attorneys who tried to log into their existing accounts this afternoon were met with a blank screen. Of course, everything will work perfectly when the registration period opens next week.