Delays expected due to blizzard

UNITED STATES (Jan. 25, 2016) – Delays expected due to blizzard

Following a record-breaking winter storm, many U.S. government agencies, foreign embassies, consulates and other offices remain closed in the Washington, D.C. area, and services have been impacted in states from New York to North Carolina.

All applicants should anticipate delays in immigration, visa and other services, as the aftermath of the storm is also disrupting mail delivery and transportation. FedEx and UPS are both reporting significant delays in package and mail services.

In addition, as the area digs out of the snow in the coming days, government and consular offices that reopen may be operating with reduced staff due to road conditions and transportation affecting personnel who commute to those offices.

Winter Storm Jonas began Friday and dumped more than two feet of snow on the East Coast over the weekend with some areas reporting more than 40 inches. Federal and local government offices in the D.C. area remained closed Monday as did public schools in several states. Local transportation is also running on restricted schedules. Airlines canceled approximately 12,000 flights since Friday.

- Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP

Courtesy of

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UNITED STATES/GLOBAL (Jan. 6, 2016) – The year ahead: Immigration trends to look for in 2016

Immigration was a hot topic this year, grabbing headlines on issues ranging from the renewed focus on H-1B visas in the U.S to the Mediterranean refugee crisis reverberating in Europe.

As we begin the new year, BAL has compiled a review of changes in the past year and a preview of some of the major immigration trends to expect in the U.S. and key countries around the world in 2016.


The fate of two key provisions of President Obama’s immigration executive actions is in the hands of the Supreme Court. The actions, which would defer deportation for 5 million undocumented immigrants, remain on hold after an appeals court upheld an injunction blocking them this year. If the Court takes the case, it could issue a ruling by June.

On the business immigration side, several significant initiatives will be implemented in the coming months. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has published proposed regulations intended to provide greater flexibility and job portability for H-1B workers and other foreign employees in the U.S. on nonimmigrant visas or seeking employer-sponsored green cards. Comments on the proposed rule will be accepted until Feb. 29, and the regulations will be implemented thereafter.

The Department of Homeland Security will also be finalizing and implementing a STEM-OPT regulation that both expands Optional Practical Training (OPT) opportunities for foreign students with degrees in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields and imposes significant new obligations on employers. The revised regulation is the result of an ongoing lawsuit over the OPT program. A court gave DHS until Feb. 12 to issue a new regulation without disturbing the existing STEM-OPT regulation in the meantime. The agency’s request for a 90-day extension of that deadline is pending. Meanwhile, opponents continue to challenge the OPT program in a federal appeals court.

During the first half of 2015, USCIS issued a regulation allowing H-4 spouses of certain H-1B workers to obtain employment authorization in the U.S. The agency also released policy guidance regarding the implementation of the Administrative Appeals Office decision Matter of Simeio Solutions, and the adjudication of L-1B petitions for employees with specialized knowledge.

Congress wrapped up the year passing a federal budget containing two immigration provisions that will have an impact in the coming year. One provision will double H-1B and L-1B visa petition fees for certain employers who are heavily reliant on H-1B and L-1B workers. The second provision contains new rules and passport requirements for foreign visitors traveling to the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program.

A spate of bills to restrict H-1B and L-1B visas was introduced at year’s end. The bills propose to lower the H-1B cap by 15,000, set a $110,000 salary floor for H-1B workers and place new limits on H-1B and L-1B employers. While these measures may not gain traction, they are indicative of a mood toward tightening the rules for employers hiring foreign high-skilled workers.

As the 2016 presidential election approaches, immigration will likely remain at the forefront of campaign politics.

- Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP

Courtesy of

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