On June 24, 2015, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson announced his decision to designate Nepal for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) due to the devastating magnitude 7.8 earthquake that struck Nepal on April 25, 2015, and the subsequent aftershocks. This designation will allow nationals of Nepal (and people without nationality who last habitually resided in Nepal) who are currently residing in the U.S. to apply for temporary protection.
The Department of State (DOS) has informed the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) that DOS will need to approve any potential I-193 waiver applicant before he or she can apply at a U.S. port of entry. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is accepting I-193 Applications for Waiver of Passport and/or Visa for urgent travel to the U.S. for travelers affected by the DOS technical difficulties preventing visa issuance. Applicants will now be required to contact the embassy or consulate where they would have applied for the visa, or where the application is pending in cases where the interview has already taken place, and explain why they need to urgently travel without the visa. If the embassy or consulate agrees that the reason for travel is sufficiently urgent and the applicant is eligible (no criminal issues, immigration issues, etc.), the post will issue a travel letter, which then must be presented to CBP with the I-193 application.
The U.S. Department of State (DOS) Bureau of Consular Affairs is reporting that they are again experiencing technical problems with the Consular Consolidated Database (CCD). This is the same database that crashed last summer causing the U.S. passport and visa system to go down worldwide. The Department of State has said, however, that the current problems with the CCD are not the same as those previously experienced.
On May 26, 2015, USCIS began accepting applications for employment authorization from H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B nonimmigrants who have already begun the employment-based permanent residence process. The eligibility requirements for H-4 employment authorization were previously outlined in our February 24, 2015, blog post DHS Extends Eligibility for Employment Authorization to Certain H-4 Dependent Spouses.