As a result of the expanding COVID-19 virus, Hodkinson Law Group is taking extra measures to ensure the safety of all staff while we simultaneously strive to provide a high level of service to our clients. 

In an effort to maintain this balance we have altered our schedules to allow staff to work remotely.  Our response times may be slower than normal, as we may be working with limited staff and resources. Your understanding is greatly appreciated.

Thank you!

Initial H-1B Registration Period Runs Through Noon AT March 20, 2020

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a reminder that the initial registration period for the fiscal year (FY) 2021 H-1B cap-subject petitions opened at noon ET on March 1 and runs through noon ET on March 20, 2020. During this period, USCIS said, prospective petitioners and representatives can submit basic information to register.

Prospective H-1B cap-subject petitioners or their representatives must use a myUSCIS online account to: (1) register each beneficiary electronically for the selection process and (2) pay the associated $10 fee for each H-1B registration submitted on behalf of each beneficiary. Prospective petitioners or their representatives can submit registrations for multiple beneficiaries in a single online session. Through the account, they will be able to prepare, edit, and store draft registrations before final payment and submission of each registration, USCIS said.

If USCIS receives enough registrations by March 20, the agency will randomly select registrations and send notify users via their USCIS online accounts by March 31, 2020.

Read USCIS reminder

President Adds Iran to Entry Suspensions Related to Coronavirus

President Trump issued a proclamation, effective as of 5 p.m. March 2, 2020, suspending the entry of immigrants or nonimmigrants who were present within the Islamic Republic of Iran during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States. This is in addition to China restrictions ordered under a proclamation issued on January 31, 2020.

The suspensions do not apply to U.S. lawful permanent residents (LPRs), spouses of U.S. citizens or LPRs, parents or legal guardians of U.S. citizens or LPRs (provided the U.S. citizen or LPR is unmarried and under 21 years of age), or siblings of U.S. citizens or LPRs (provided both are unmarried and under 21 years of age), along with several other categories.

During recent remarks, President Trump was asked whether he had plans to expand the suspensions to other countries, such as Italy, that have reported coronavirus cases. He responded, "Well, we're looking at that right now and we're looking at a couple of countries – a few countries that have a little bit disproportionately high number. And we're going to make that decision very soon." In response to a question, Mr. Trump also said he was "very strongly" considering new travel restrictions along the southern border to contain the coronavirus. He later appeared to change his position, saying "this is not a border that seems to be much of a problem right now."

Read Presidential Proclamation

President's remarks

USCIS, DOS Implement Public Charge Rule After Supreme Court Decision Staying Preliminary Injunction

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) implemented the public charge rule nationwide on February 24, 2020, following a Supreme Court ruling issued February 21, 2020, staying a preliminary injunction in Illinois. USCIS will only apply the final rule to applications and petitions postmarked (or submitted electronically) on or after February 24, 2020. The Department of State (DOS) also implemented public charge requirements for overseas applications on the same date, including the new DS-5540, DOS Public Charge Questionnaire. DOS has indicated that it may apply the DS-5540 to applicants who have previously been found documentarily qualified for a visa before February 24.

The final rule, issued in August and originally scheduled to take effect in October, prescribes how the Department of Homeland Security will determine whether a person is inadmissible to the United States based on a "likelihood of becoming a public charge at any time in the future," USCIS noted. The final rule also addresses USCIS's "authority to issue public charge bonds in the context of applications for adjustment of status," and includes a requirement that those seeking an extension of stay or change of status "demonstrate that they have not received public benefits over the designated threshold since obtaining the nonimmigrant status they seek to extend or change."

Details:

and click here to read the related announcement on Pubic Charge.

Immediate Three-Year Backlog Imposed on EB-3 and EB "Other Workers" Visa Categories in March; China-Mainland Born EB-5 Category Advances Rapidly

The Department of State's Visa Bulletin for March 2020 announced several notable developments:

  • An immediate three-year backlog on EB-3 and EB "Other Workers" categories worldwide as of March, with implications for those with pending labor certifications and those whose status is expiring. The final action date listed is January 1, 2017, imposed immediately as of March for all future requests for visa numbers. "No forward movement of this date is expected in the foreseeable future," the bulletin notes.
  • A "very rapid" advancement of the final action date for the EB-5 category, China-mainland born. The bulletin notes that despite a large number of registered China fifth preference demand, there are not enough applicants actively pursuing final action on their cases to fully use the numbers expected to be available under the annual limit.
Read:

USCIS Suspends Use of Pre-Paid Mailers for FY 2021 H-1B Cap-Subject Petitions

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on February 14, 2020, that it will not use pre-paid mailers to send out any communications or final notices for fiscal year 2021 cap-subject H-1B petitions, including those requesting consideration under the advanced-degree exemption.

USCIS noted that the process of printing and mailing the cap-subject H-1B petition approval notices by first-class mail is fully automated. "Using pre-paid mailers requires a separate, more time-consuming manual process. The existing automated process is more time efficient for both petitioners and USCIS. Because of this, we will use first-class mail as we work to process all cap-subject petitions in a timely manner," the agency said.

Read USCIS announcement

Trump Administration Quietly Uses Technicalities to Delay New Visa Applications

According to a recent report, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has begun automatically returning asylum applications and visa applications for certain categories if any fields are not filled in, whether or not the applicant has any information to put in the field. The resulting delays in some cases can lead to documents expiring or people losing their eligibility for immigration benefits.

Applications reportedly have been returned at least in part because a person had no middle name and thus did not fill in the middle-name field; because a person did not fill in a field for "Apt. #" even though they lived in a house; because a person left a "prior spouses" field blank since they were never married; because a child left a dates of employment field blank after entering "none" for employment history; and because a person had only three siblings so left the fourth-sibling field blank.

In response to queries from a reporter, USCIS said applicants "must provide the specific information requested for all the questions asked." USCIS said that if there is no information to put in a field, the applicant should mark it "none," "not applicable," or "unknown." This note is included on page 5 of the instructions for the asylum application, for example. This requirement was first applicable to asylum applications and more recently was extended to U visa applications.

Details:

ICE Ramps Up Efforts to Police STEM OPT Program

According to reports from the field, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has increased audits of employers who hire STEM OPT (science, technology, engineering, and math optional practical training) students. The audits are being conducted to verify that students are being employed in a manner consistent with the minimum requirements of the STEM OPT program. Audits are occurring in the form of onsite inspections, often conducted on short notice.

Eligible F-1 nonimmigrant students with STEM degrees from Student and Exchange Visitor Program-certified and accredited U.S. colleges and universities may apply for a 24-month STEM OPT extension. Interested F-1 students must apply for and receive an employment authorization document from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). To employ a STEM OPT student, employers must agree to a training plan that describes how the employment will further the foreign national's skills in their academic discipline. The training plan must be completed on Form I-983, Training Plan for STEM OPT Students. Form I-983 includes a list of obligations to which, upon signing, an employer is bound to obey. Once completed, Form I-983 is submitted to the foreign national's university for approval. If approved, the foreign national may apply to USCIS for a work permit.

Details:

Trump Administration Attempts Crackdown on ‘Sanctuary' Policies

The Trump administration has launched several efforts in an attempt to crack down on "sanctuary" policies.

For example, the Trump administration is challenging the state of New Jersey and King County, Washington (the county that includes Seattle) with lawsuits against their sanctuary policies. Among other things, the Department of Justice objects to King County's policy of preventing U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) from using King County International Airport (Boeing Field) to fly out people being deported. In 2017, Seattle sued the Trump administration over its threat to withhold federal money from "sanctuary cities."

The Trump administration also plans to deploy 100 tactical U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers from February to May in 10 U.S. cities, to work with ICE. The cities include Atlanta; Boston; Chicago; Detroit; Los Angeles; Newark, New Jersey; New York City; Los Angeles; and San Francisco. According to a CBP spokesperson, the officers will "enhance integrity of the immigration system, protect public safety, and strengthen our national security." Among other things, CBP agents will support immigration-related arrests.

The latest efforts come on the heels of the Trump administration's suspension of New Yorkers' eligibility to enroll in "trusted traveler" programs like Global Entry, over which the New York attorney general has filed suit.

Details:

USCIS Releases Revised Forms and Updates Policy Manual on Public Charge Inadmissibility Final Rule

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has published revised forms related to the final rule on the public charge ground of inadmissibility, which the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, including USCIS, implemented on February 24, 2020. Beginning on that date, applicants and petitioners must use new editions of the forms listed in a USCIS announcement.

In addition, except in Illinois, applicants for adjustment of status subject to the public charge ground of inadmissibility and the final rule must submit Form I-944, Declaration of Self-Sufficiency.

Certain classes of aliens (such as refugees, asylees, petitioners under the federal Violence Against Women Act, and certain T and U visa applicants) are exempt from the public charge ground of inadmissibility and therefore are not subject to the final rule.

Details:

USCIS Releases Statement in Response to Coronavirus Epidemic

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently released a statement summarizing its response to the worldwide spread of COVID-19, popularly known as the "coronavirus." Concerns about the virus have led to massive efforts to contain it, including quarantines and lockdowns.

Among other things, USCIS said it is temporarily closing its offices in Beijing and Guangzhou. "We will reschedule all affected appointments and will send new appointment notices to applicants," the agency said. Interested persons can check USCIS's Beijing and Guangzhou webpages for status updates (see links below).

Details:

News article on official name for virus

Government Agency Links

Follow these links to access current processing times of the USCIS Service Centers and the Department of Labor, or the Department of State's latest Visa Bulletin with the most recent cut-off dates for visa numbers:

Attorneys at Hodkinson Law Group

Kehrela Hodkinson

Principal/Immigration Lawyer - California State Bar, 1980

Since 1994, Mrs. Hodkinson has exclusively practiced U.S. immigration law in London. She represents a broad range of corporate and individual clients in connection with temporary (non-immigrant) visas and both employment and family-based permanent (immigrant) visa petitions.

She also provides advice relating to complex issues of waivers on grounds of inadmissibility, maintenance, and abandonment of permanent resident status, and renunciation (expatriation) of U.S. citizenship.

Publications

Kehrela Hodkinson's
Publications

Kehrela Hodkinson quoted in Danish newspaper, Jyllands-Posten, regarding potential issues of inadmissibility resulting from arrest of professional golfer, Thobjorn Olesen.

August 6th, 2019

Discussion Leader on Panel entitled Consular Processing: What Things go Wrong”, American Immigration Lawyers Association, Orlando, FL

June 1st, 2019

Renunciation of US Citizenship – Why Would a Client “Give It All Up”.

April 15th, 2019

Invited to serve on the Editorial Board of the AILA Law Journal which will cover current and pragmatic topics related to the rapidly changing immigration law landscape and will be produced biannually, commencing 2019.

December 1st, 2018

Discussion Leader for an American Lawyers Association teleconference on the topic of visa processing in London.

December 1st, 2018

Kehrela Hodkinson, US immigration lawyer and founder of Hodkinson Law Group, told The Independent any presidential order over birthright citizenship would face “many constitutional challenges”, including requests for an injunction against implementation, much like what happened with Mr Trump’s initial travel ban on a number of Muslim-majority countries.

October 30th, 2018

Interviewed by The Independent, a UK newspaper, regarding the immigrant visa category by which Melania Trump’s parents obtained their permanent resident status.

February 22nd, 2018

A chapter The Waivers Book, 2nd Edition, published by American Immigration Lawyers Association

December 1st, 2016
Memberships and affiliations

Kehrela Hodkinson's
Memberships and affiliations

ABIL (Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers)

Founding member of ABIL, which is comprised of 19 of the top U.S. business immigration law firms, has over 140 attorneys devoted to business immigration in 21 major U.S. cities, plus Cologne, Hong Kong, London, Monterrey, Mumbai, Shanghai, Tokyo, Toronto, and Vancouver. Founding member and first Chair of Rome District Chapter of American Immigration Lawyers Association.


Multiple leadership roles in the American Immigration Lawyers Association

  • 2011-2012 B-1 in lieu of H-1 Task Force
  • 2011-2012 Department of State Liaison Committee
  • 2011-2012 Military Assistance Program Task Force
  • 2011-2012 Rome District Chapter Pro Bono Committee Chair
  • 2010-2011 Department of State Liaison Committee
  • 2010-2011 Distance Learning Committee
  • 2010-2011 Rome District Chapter Pro Bono Committee Chair
  • 2009-2010 Midyear Conference Committee
  • 2009-2010 Department of State Liaison Committee
  • 2008-2009 Chair Rome District Chapter
  • 2007-2008 Interim Chair Rome District Chapter

American Bar Association


International Bar Association


American Women Lawyers in London


Society of English and American Lawyers


Nominated by peers to the International Who’s Who of Business Immigration Lawyers

Sharon L. Noble

Of Counsel

Sharon Noble has exclusively practiced U.S. immigration law since 1996, concentrating on business-related immigration matters with an emphasis on both non-immigrant visa petitions for corporate employees, individual investors and entrepreneurs as well as employment based immigrant petitions, extraordinary ability petitions and outstanding researcher petitions. Ms. Noble worked with Ms. Hodkinson in London for seven years before returning to the United States in 2003. She is now Of Counsel to Hodkinson Law Group, working remotely from California. Prior to 1996, Ms. Noble practiced corporate real estate and health care law in Los Angeles. With Ms. Noble’s prior corporate experience, she possesses a strong business background and exceptional writing skills, both of which have proven invaluable to her immigration practice.

Publications

Sharon L. Noble's
Publications

A chapter The Waivers Book, 2nd Edition, published by American Immigration Lawyers Association

December 1st, 2016

Tasha N. Cripe

Of Counsel

Tasha Cripe continues to assist our clients in the preparation and filing of non-immigrant and immigrant visa petitions and applications of waivers of grounds of inadmissibility. She is a member of the Illinois State Bar and is actively involved in The American Immigration Lawyers Association Military Assistance Program.

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Hodkinson Law Group
3 More London Riverside
London
United Kingdom