LawQuest US Immigration Alert | DOL Delays Wage Rule Implementation & USCIS Suspends Biometric Requirement

DOL Delays Wage Rule Implementation & USCIS Suspends Biometrics Requirement

Wage Rule Delayed

The Department of Labor (DOL) announced this week that it will further delay the Prevailing Wage Rule that proposes an increase in the prevailing wages for the H-1B, H-1B1, E-3 and the PERM programs. The rule was set to apply on May 4, 2021 but DOL has now pushed the implementation of the rule by 18 months, or until November 14, 2022. The start of the transition period for adjustments to prevailing wage levels will also be delayed until January 1, 2023 from July 1, 2021, and the transition period will extend from 18 months to three years.  The delay will allow the agency additional time to analyze the legal and policy related issues and compute and validate prevailing wage data for specific occupations and geographic areas.

Employers will continue to be subject to DOL’s current prevailing wage rules for the next year and a half, until the proposed Prevailing Wage Rule takes effect.

Biometrics Requirement Suspended

The USCIS has announced that it will temporarily suspend the in-person biometrics requirement, starting May 17, 2021, for H-4, L-2, and E derivative applicants seeking extensions of stay and change of status in the U.S. The policy will continue to apply for two years, until May 17, 2023, unless revoked or extended.

This suspension applies only to the above categories of Form I-539 applications that are either pending as of May 17, 2021 and have not yet received a biometric services appointment notice; OR new applications postmarked or submitted electronically on or after May 17, 2021.  Effective May 17, 2021, Form I-539 applicants meeting the criteria above will no longer be required to submit the $85 biometric services fee during the suspension period.  The USCIS will allow a short grace period during which it will not reject Form I-539 filed with combined checks including the biometric fee but will reject I-539 applications postmarked May 27, 2021, or later (while the suspension is in effect), if applicants submit a combined check covering both the I-539 filing fee of $370 and the $85 biometrics services fee.

However, the USCIS will retain discretion on a case-by-case basis to requests for biometrics and any applicant may be scheduled for an appointment to submit biometrics.

Additionally, applicants, petitioners, requestors, and beneficiaries may now call the USCIS Contact Center (800-375-5283) to reschedule their biometric services appointments scheduled at a USCIS Application Support Center. Previously, applicants had to submit requests in writing to reschedule biometrics appointments.

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