Starting May 26, 2015, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will temporarily suspend premium processing for all H-1B extension of stay petitions until July 27, 2015. During this time frame, petitioners will not be able to file Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service, for a Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, requesting an extension of the stay for an H-1B nonimmigrant. Premium processing remains available for all other Form I-129 H-1B petitions, including petitions subject to the H-1B cap that are requesting a change of nonimmigrant status or consular notification.
On April 9, 2015, the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a precedent decision which will significantly impact the immigration compliance practices of many companies. It basically held that if a company wants to employ an H-1B-sponsored employee at a location in a different Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), this would be a material change in the conditions stated in the I-129 petition.
It is common knowledge that USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) adjudications of L-1B petitions have become increasingly difficult during the last few years. The March 2015 report issued by the National Foundation for American Policy indicates a denial rate of 35% for FY 2014. The denial rate in 2006 was 6%. USCIS posted a “Memo for Feedback” on March 24, 2015 addressing many of the public’s concerns about the toughened L-1B adjudication process with recommendations for more reasonable standards regarding adjudications under the L-1 regulations to meet “common-sense” business needs. Once implemented, this should liberalize adjudications and result in many more L-1B approvals.
“Immigration Briefings,” a well-respected publication in the field of immigration law from Thomson Reuters, will soon be publishing an article written by our partner, Herbert Weiss, further distinguishing him as one of the truly recognized experts in this field. For many years Herb has been successfully preparing petitions and responding to complex Request for Evidences (RFE) in the areas of EB1, EB2, EB3 and for “O” visas. Noteworthy, among the petitions he has recently obtained approvals for are:
In January 2015, New York City introduced the country’s largest municipal identification program. These IDs will help undocumented immigrants to:
- Rent apartments;
- Fill prescriptions; and
- Provide IDs for police and government agents requesting identification, etc.
If you are thinking of sponsoring a foreign national for an H-1B visa, please contact our office as soon as possible. Although petitions for new H-1B employment that will commence on October 1, 2015 cannot be filed until the first week of April, 2015, the sooner we start the process the greater the likelihood we will be able to file the best petition we can prepare before the April deadline. As you may know, issues often arise during the preparation which sometimes take time to resolve, so beginning as early as possible is strongly recommended.
The Department of State has announced the availability of immigrant numbers during February in the Visa Bulletin for February 2015. The Department of State has announced the availability of immigrant numbers during January in the Visa Bulletin for January 2015. The Department of State has announced the availability of immigrant numbers during December.
Q. Are recent graduates eligible to immediately begin working with my firm? A. Once the graduate receives his Employment Authorization Document (EAD card) from the USCIS, he can commence employment. The required form I-765 to apply for the EAD card is usually filed by the student prior to graduation and does not require a sponsoring employer or an actual job offer. This document is necessary for the I-9 employment verification process.
The U.S. government will be accepting applications from October 1, 2014 until November 3, 2014 for the current green card lottery. If the applicant is selected, he would qualify for a green card without having to obtain a PERM labor certification filed by his employer or needing a petition approval based on a filing by a close relative. These latter procedures can be costly and sometimes take years to complete, unlike the lottery winner who must complete his case by September 30, 2015. If you are interested, please visit www.dvlottery.state.gov for details as to who can apply, the procedure and the registration form.
On September 25, 2014, USCIS published the first Form I-9 Webinar On-Demand. Now you can watch the free Form I-9 Webinar at any time. Choose the chapters of your choice, or watch the entire 22-minute video in one sitting. You will see how to complete Sections 1, 2 and 3, best practices and much more. It’s a great training tool for new Human Resources staff and even for those who want to keep abreast of this potentially confusing area.
For the first time in many years, some people who were actually chosen for the lottery were not able to complete their green card applications because their priority dates were relatively high and their turns were not reached. This reflects the increased interest in the DV lottery program. The government has announced that no refunds of application fees and costs (including costs for medical examinations) will be made.
Beginning with his campaign promises made in April 2008 and continuing throughout his presidency with his announcement earlier this month “delaying” his promised executive actions to correct our broken immigration system, President Obama has once again disappointed those of us who relied on his word. We fully understand his political motivation to not act before the upcoming November elections, but we are losing hope that he will, in fact, act on this controversial issue, which is very important to so many of us.
For a comprehensive list of fees for issuance of various visas that went into effect on September 12, 2014, please visit: http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/english/fees/fees-visa-services.html
In 2012, when the Department of State published regulations authorizing five-year visas for L visa holders regardless of the L petition validity period, it created a very confusing situation for employers, foreign nationals and many government officials at both ports of entry (CBP – Custom and Border Protection) and within the United States (USCIS – United States Citizenship and Immigration Services).
A number of recent events have further diminished any chance of positive immigration legislation being enacted this year. Majority Leader Eric Cantor was defeated by a tea party candidate primarily because of his “pro-immigration” outlook. People in Texas and California are protesting Central American children who fled their homeland, demanding they not be allowed to remain in the U.S.
Fingerprinting Rules Eased Most immigration applications require biometrics (fingerprinting) be taken at a time and location set by the government. This is not a problem for people residing in the U.S. But often, for various reasons, applicants (especially for re-entry permits and green card renewals) reside outside the U.S., and would have difficulty returning to the U.S. on a specific date or location set by the government. Some helpful accommodations were made by the government at a recent meeting between the International Operations Directorate of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the International Liaison Committee of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA):
No final decision has been made yet by the government regarding employment authorization for spouses of H-1B visa holders. Since the government’s current proposal would only benefit a relatively small number of H-4 spouses, the American Immigration Lawyers’ Association submitted an excellent comment to the proposed rule-making that recommends the employment authorization be extended to all H-4 spouses, regardless of whether they have filed for green cards.
Last week one of our partners, Tara Goldsmith, attended the Council for Global Immigration Symposium in Washington, DC. Our annual participation at this event provides us with some key insights into immigration related issues that companies doing business in the US continually face. It also provides the opportunity for us to meet with key personnel from the Department of Labor, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), Department of State, as well as congressional leaders who are very involved in trying to pass immigration reform.
As expected, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on April 7 that it received a sufficient number of H-1B petitions to reach the statutory cap of 65,000 visas for fiscal year 2015. USCIS also received more than the limit of 20,000 H-1B petitions filed under the advanced degree exemption.
H-1B CAP HAS BEEN REACHED On April 5, 2013, as expected by many, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it received a sufficient number of H-1B petitions to reach the statutory cap for fiscal year (FY) 2014. USCIS also received more than 20,000 H-1B petitions filed on behalf of persons exempt from the cap under the advanced degree exemption. USCIS will no longer accept H-1B petitions subject to the FY 2014 cap or the advanced degree exemption.
Beginning April 30, 2013 (this may be delayed), most foreign nationals who enter the U.S. will no longer be required to fill out and submit the paper version of Form I-94 when arriving in the U.S. and will not be issued an endorsed Form I-94 by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”). Instead, they will be able to print the new record of admission by visiting www.cbp.gov/I94, as necessary. This printed record will be necessary to prove to employers who must complete I-9’s to verify their employment eligibility and for government agencies such as the Department of Motor Vehicles, and the Social Security Administration when they seek certain licenses, benefits or registrations.
While watching the last presidential primary debates, I was amazed at how little agreement there was among the candidates on the various issues except for one thing – the importance of accommodating American businesses in their need to employ highly educated foreign nationals to make U.S. businesses more competitive in the world economy. At that time, many of the needed changes that were discussed were included within the proposed “Comprehensive Immigration Reform” (CIR).
Are you an employer interested in hiring and sponsoring foreign nationals in professional level positions? If so, you should contact Garganigo Goldsmith & Weiss as soon as possible to discuss the H-1B visa option. While these petitions cannot be filed until April 1, 2014, it is important to have all the forms and documents ready for filing the first week of April. This includes the Labor Condition Application approval which can take weeks to obtain for a company that has not filed H-1B petitions before. Filing early will increase the likelihood that you will receive one of the 65,000 H-1B visas issued.
In his State of the Union speech on January 28th, President Obama urged Congress to act on immigration reform. “If we are serious about economic growth, it is time to heed the call of business leaders, labor leaders, faith leaders, and law enforcement – and fix our broken immigration system,” Mr. Obama said. Mr. Obama concluded, “Independent economists say immigration reform will grow our economy and shrink our deficits by almost $1 trillion in the next two decades. And for good reason: when people come here to fulfill their dreams – to study, invent, and contribute to our culture – they make our country a more attractive place for businesses to locate and create jobs for everyone. So let’s get immigration reform done this year.”