At Half-Way Mark: What Is New and What Is To Be Expected With US Immigration in 2019

At the end of June, we are at the half way mark into the year FY 2020 and the number of changes to US immigration have already crossed a milestone by this time. We have collated the most significant ones and bring out a list from rules so far as well as the ones anticipated for the remaining part of the year.

USCIS Backlogs

  • By the end of FY 2017 there were more than 2.3 million net cases stuck in backlog
  • USCIS Processing time have gone up by 46% in the last two years
  • There has been a 91% increase in delays since 2014
  • The overall processing timelines reflect a 94% slower pace now than since 2014
  • EAD renewals now taking 6-8 months as compared to six weeks in the past which is posing a big problem since people are being out of status in the meantime.

H1B – Non-Immigrant Work Visa

  • Redefine ‘Specialty Occupation’ & ‘Employer-employee relationship’: Come August, USCIS plans to relate ‘Specialty Occupation’ with higher degrees, higher salaries and alluding to a higher pedestal for the jobs under the specialty banner. Employer-employee relationship to emphasis more control of the worker by the employee should he be working at any other location than the primary petitioning employer’s, i.e. third-party sites. Substantiating evidence in the form of contracts and letters from end-clients will be now expected.
  • Annual Lottery System: FY2020, people with an advanced degree from the US will be given two chances to figure in the lottery system giving them a 16% higher chance of getting selected. Also, starting FY 2021 employers will have to first register, get a code of approval and then submit a H1-B petition within the next 60 days for the lottery.
  • Premium Processing: Was rolled out in two phases in order to counter the delays happened in the past. First applicants with extension were given a chance and then all cap-subject petitions were accepted under premium processing.


  • USCIS and State Department fees: In August, USCIS is expected to change the filing fee and consular structure for quite a few petitions. This, for all purposes, means a hike for most petitioners and categories.
  • H1-B Pre-registration: The new rule to pre-register as a company seeking H1-B petitions will have to accomplish this rep-registration with a fee. Whether it is refundable or not is yet to be ascertained.

Form I-539A

  • All petitioners requesting an extension of a non-immigrant visa will have to petition independently of the primary beneficiary. This applies to minor as well.
  • There will be $85 biometric fees for each petition
  • Premium Processing will not applicable to Form I-539

Green Card

Starting in September 2019, a new proposal is anticipated to eliminate the concurrent filing of adjustment-of-status applications with employment-based visa petitions. If the proposal musters a pass, workers eligible to file for adjustment of status would have to wait for their green card petitions to be approved before filing for adjustment of status.
This would also delay the right to apply for an Employment Authorization Document indefinitely.

Social Media

With 15 million foreign nationals in the US at a given point of time, the Department of Homeland Security is upping its security measures by extending their background check to inspecting all your social media handles as well as addresses you may stayed at for the past five years along with telephone numbers owned. This is especially true for DS-160 petitioners.

USCIS’ Known-Employer-pilot-program

If there are employers that frequently hire foreign workers, this new program will simplify the application process by pre-approving and therefore, saving time and paperwork and ensure consistency with adjudication.

New Immigration Plan

Yet to be placed on the Congress floor for vote, President trump’s new immigration plan aims to drastically lower family-based immigration and direct the rest towards a point-based system wherein it is expected to increase the skill-based immigration by 57%