USCIS to Publish Revised Form I-539 and New Form I-539A | USCIS

Revised Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status starting on March 11, 2019.

  • Every co-applicant included on the primary applicant’s Form I-539 must submit and sign a separate Form I-539A, which will be available on the Form I-539 webpage on March 11. Parents or guardians may sign on behalf of children under 14 or any co-applicant who is not mentally competent to sign.
  • Every applicant and co-applicant must pay an $85 biometric services fee, except certain A, G, and NATO nonimmigrants as noted in the new Form I-539 Instructions to be published on March 11.
  • Every applicant and co-applicant will receive a biometric services appointment notice, regardless of age, containing their individual receipt number. The biometric services appointments will be scheduled at the Application Support Center (ASC) closest to the primary applicant’s address. Co-applicants who wish to be scheduled at a different ASC location should file a separate Form I-539.

Source: USCIS to Publish Revised Form I-539 and New Form I-539A | USCIS

DHS Announces Final Rule for a More Effective and Efficient H-1B Visa Program | USCIS

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) – a final rule amending regulations governing H-1B cap-subject petitions…..

Effective April 1, USCIS will first select H-1B petitions (or registrations, once the registration requirement is implemented) submitted on behalf of all beneficiaries, including those that may be eligible for the advanced degree exemption. USCIS will then select from the remaining eligible petitions, a number projected to reach the advanced degree exemption. Changing the order in which USCIS counts these allocations will likely increase the number of petitions for beneficiaries with a master’s or higher degree from a U.S. institution of higher education to be selected under the H-1B numerical allocations. Specifically, the change will result in an estimated increase of up to 16% (or 5,340 workers) in the number of selected petitions for H-1B beneficiaries with a master’s degree or higher from a U.S. institution of higher education.

USCIS will begin accepting H-1B cap petitions for FY 2020 on April 1, 2019. The reverse selection order will apply to petitions filed for the FY 2020 H-1B cap season. Petitioners may file an H-1B petition no more than six months before the employment start date requested for the beneficiary. USCIS will provide H-1B cap filing instruction on in advance of the filing season.

Source: DHS Announces Final Rule for a More Effective and Efficient H-1B Visa Program | USCIS


There are always certain questions I hear being asked over and over again. Some of the ones that come to mind are:

  1. How quickly can we have this filed?
  2. How long is it going to take?
  3. Why is my case taking so long?

In this brief post, I will attempt to answer each of these questions.

  1. How quickly can we have this filed? Even though each case is important to me, there is a certain “first come, first served” rule. If someone has hired me to work on a case before someone else, it is only fair that I handle that case first. Sometimes I will make an exception if I am waiting for documentation on the first case or if the second case has an impending deadline. Otherwise, the second client should understand that there may be a wait. I am not talking a bureaucratic wait of weeks or months, but definitely a few days before I can review the case and get the process going. Now, that’s if I am controlling that part of the case. I have also had cases that take unusually long if I request a document and the client does not provide the document until several weeks later. My biggest pet peeve is when a client takes weeks to get back to me and then they expect an immediate response. I try to do everything as efficiently as I can, but if I have to wait for two months for something, I cannot just automatically pick up the case in a matter of seconds. I have to re-review the file and check if changes need to be made. Sometimes form editions change or fees are increased or things have to be updated on the forms to account for the delay that was beyond my control.
  2. How long is it going to take? Immigration (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services – known as USCIS) has estimated processing times, but they are a guidance, not a certainty. For example, even though I can expect to have a decision within 4 months because that is on average how long something would take in my experience, that does not mean that any particular case has to take 4 months. I have had the same case for different clients decided in 3 months versus 2 years. No particular reason given by USCIS for taking 2 years on that case.
  3. Why is my case taking so long? This last question ties in with question number 2. Sometimes processing times would indicate that a specific case should have already been decided. In which case, there is not much I can do other than submit a case inquiry to USCIS. The problem with this is that USCIS does not necessarily have to give me a clear response. Most of the time, they simply say that they are taking additional time to perform a background check, which is all fine and dandy, except that I have a nervous client that has been waiting for two years.

Hopefully my responses have provided some insight, even though I understand they do not necessarily give a clean-cut response. I would love to be able to say to my client that I will have their case filed on Friday and decided on Monday with no delays, but unfortunately that is not the nature of immigration law.

Call for Nominations for 2018 Immigrant Journey Awards

Immigrant Journey Awards

About-Page-Nominate-Now-Button-2013Shining a spotlight on immigrant achievements and contributions in North Texas, Scheef &  Stone, LLP and sponsors seek nominations for the 2018 Immigrant Journey Awards.  This awards program celebrate its 7th anniversary by continuing to honor immigrants in four categories:

Immigrant Entrepreneur Award

In recognition of an immigrant business owner who has founded a highly successful business in North Texas and who serves as a model and inspiration of success.
Immigrant Professional Excellence Award  In recognition of an immigrant who has demonstrated significant professional achievements in their field and whose advancements in their field have a positive impact their profession or community.
Immigrant Spirit Award In recognition of  an immigrant civic leader or elected official who has contributed substantially to the community or the region.
Immigrant Advocate Award

In recognition of an individual or organization making positive impact on the lives of immigrants, as an advocate.  Nominee may be an individual, an…

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The Value of Hiring a Lawyer

The general public seems to find the cost of legal services rather high. I always like to point out that it is the same with medical services.

To see a doctor, one may be charged in the neighborhood of $200 for a consult (without insurance). During this consult, one sees a number of people before actually seeing a doctor (sometimes a Physician Assistant or a Nurse Practitioner). Then, during this consult, the doctor examines you and may or may not prescribe something based on what he or she thinks may be wrong. If further tests are needed, you are asked to have these tests performed and return for a follow up. Honestly, sometimes you  may leave the consult just as confused and without an immediate solution as you were before going to the consult. I speak from personal experience, of course. Even though paying $200 for someone to tell me to drink plenty of fluids and rest may seem like a steep price, I am happy to pay it. There is value in peace of mind and seeing someone who has dedicated his or her life to the practice.

It is the same with lawyers. We are legal doctors (JD- Juris Doctor). Whether we can help or not, our time is valuable. We have dedicated years to our practice and simply because we may not always have an answer or the answer that the client is looking for, does not mean our time and effort is less valuable. We are not magicians and sometimes we need to research further into a case to see the potential solution. Simply because our work product may be  in the form of a memo, a letter, or even an email, does not mean that we did not spend time performing research on the issue.

Nowadays, there is a move towards using computer programs to do legal tasks. Prepare wills, fill out forms, etc. Arguably, less and less people may feel inclined to see an attorney. But, just like medical cases, you can feed your symptoms into a web browser, but that is not going to replace the logical mind of a human being, at least not yet.