Archives: H-1B

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H-1B, H-4, Fees on Latest Regulatory Agenda from DHS

According to the Department of Homeland Security’s Spring 2019 Regulatory Agenda, changes to business immigration are on the way, particularly with regard to H-1B visas. It is unclear, however, when these rules will actually come to fruition. Strengthening the H-1B Nonimmigrant Visa Classification Program DHS wants to redefine what constitutes a “specialty occupation” and an appropriate … Continue Reading

Lawsuits Against USCIS Seek Suspected New Policies for Handling H-1B Petitions

Volume “impact litigation” in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia may lead to details of the basis of alleged, unannounced, new USCIS policies regarding the H-1B visa program. Attorneys are alleging that USCIS is using new policies to adjudicate H-1B petitions, without properly completing the required notice-and-comment procedures for administrative rule changes … Continue Reading

What Processing Delays in Immigration Cases Mean

Long USCIS processing delays are now the norm for all types of immigration cases. Indeed, the delays have reached crisis levels. Processing times increased by 46% over the past two fiscal years and 91% since FY 2014. In fact, even though applications declined by 17% in FY 2018, processing times continued to rise. In some … Continue Reading

Trump Administration Targets Visa Overstays

President Donald Trump issued a Memorandum on April 22, 2019 aimed at reducing visa overstays – people who stay in the U.S. beyond the time authorized by their visas.  Assertions set forth in the Memorandum include: For FY 2018, the Administration believes that there were 415,000 individuals in the U.S. who had overstayed on nonimmigrant … Continue Reading

New Legislation Offered to Extend and Expand Conrad 30 Waiver Program

Since at least 2013, there have been efforts to make the Conrad 30 J-1 visa waiver program for physicians permanent. But that has not happened and it continues to be necessary to reauthorize the program every year. This year, Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Susan Collins (R-ME), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Angus King (I-ME) and Charles Grassley … Continue Reading

USCIS: Rise in H-1B Petitions for Master’s Degree Holders Selected in FY 2020 Lottery

USCIS has announced on Twitter that there was an 11% increase from FY 2019 in H-1B advanced degree petitions selected in the FY 2020 lottery. This year, USCIS reversed the lottery selection process. Master’s cap petitions were first entered into the regular lottery and then those left over were entered into a master’s-cap-only lottery. USCIS … Continue Reading

USCIS to Begin Premium Processing for H-1B Petitions on May 20

On May 20, 2019, USCIS will begin premium processing for cap-subject H-1B cases that were filed concurrently with Form I-907 premium processing requests. Under the Premium Processing Service, USCIS guarantees 15-calendar-day processing. That means the first premium processing adjudications should start coming out by the end of May or beginning of June. This is the … Continue Reading

File H-1B Petition; Watch for Requests for Evidence

The FY 2020 H-1B cap cases have been filed and 85,000 will be selected for adjudication. “Winning the lottery” is no longer considered the biggest hurdle, however. Back in FY 2005, about 95% of all selected cases were approved and only about 22.3% received Requests for Evidence (RFEs). Recent USCIS statistics show that by FY … Continue Reading

USCIS Clarifies Premium Processing for This Year’s H-1B Cap Cases Limited to Change of Status

As the start of the H-1B cap season approaches, USCIS has clarified that not all of this year’s cap cases can be premium processed. Despite its notice on March 12, USCIS has announced that only cap-subject H-1B petitions requesting a change of status may request premium processing concurrently with the H-1B filing. But the agency … Continue Reading

USCIS Resumes H-1B Premium Processing

Without warning, USCIS announced that as of March 12, 2019, it is resuming premium processing for all H-1B petitions. This means that for an additional fee of $1,410, USCIS will guarantee a 15-calendar day processing time. By the close of the 15th day, USCIS will issue an approval, a denial, or a Request for Evidence … Continue Reading

DHS Moves to Rescind H-4 EAD Rule for Spouses of H-1B Workers

DHS has made the first move to rescind the H-4 EAD Rule: sending the proposed rule to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review. The H-4 EAD Rule provides work authorization for spouses of certain H-1B workers who are in the green card process. OMB review is the first step before publication in … Continue Reading

Premium Processing Resumes for H-1B Petitions Filed Prior to December 21, 2018

USCIS announced on Friday, February 15,, 2019, that it will resume premium processing on Tuesday, February 19, 2019 for H-1B petitions filed prior to December 21, 2018.  This follows up on the USCIS announcement at the end of January that it would resume premium processing for cap-subject petitions that were filed on or about April … Continue Reading

Bill to Eliminate Per-Country Caps on Green Cards Re-Introduced

Prior to the government shutdown, it seemed that the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act might pass as an amendment to the spending package with strong bipartisan support. But that was not to be. Now members of the U.S. House and Senate, led by Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA), have again introduced … Continue Reading

U.S. Government’s Fake Universities Net F-1 Foreign Students, Recruiters

For some time now, the U.S. has been on the lookout for students who enroll in graduate programs solely for the purpose of obtaining additional CPT (Curricular Practical Training), particularly when they do not “win” the H-1B  lottery. Indeed, USCIS has issued Requests for Evidence (RFEs) regarding H petitions when it suspects that a student … Continue Reading

Tech Companies Expand to Canada

Canada has been having success in attracting more high-tech companies and employees from the United States. This trend began in 2008, when such companies in the U.S. could not obtain the number of H-1B visas they needed due to the limited number available. Microsoft opened a development office in Vancouver at that time. Since then, … Continue Reading

2019 H-1B Cap Season: New Cap Lottery Selection Rule Favors Beneficiaries with U.S. Master’s Degrees

While employers and immigration attorneys are preparing for the H-1B Cap Season, DHS has posted its Final Rule for a More Effective and Efficient H-1B Visa Program. The new rule will be published in the Federal Register on January 31, 2019. As expected, the new rule provides for an electronic pre-registration requirement and reverses the order … Continue Reading

H-1B Premium Process Resumes

Just as the end of the month-long government shutdown was announced, USCIS had its own announcement: it will resume premium processing on Monday, January 28, 2019, for all FY 2019 H-1B Cap petitions, including those eligible for the advanced degree exemption (the “master’s cap”). Form I-907 requests for premium processing will be accepted for pending … Continue Reading

Does Presidential Tweet Portend Positive Developments in H-1B Visa Program?

President Donald Trump surprised the immigration community recently with an encouraging tweet about H-1B visa holders: H-1B holders in the United States can rest assured that changes are soon coming which will bring both simplicity and certainty to your stay, including a potential path to citizenship.  We want to encourage talented and highly skilled people … Continue Reading

Time to Prepare for the 2019 H-1B Cap Season

Although the number of petitions filed has decreased slightly over the past couple of years, the H-1B cap has been reached every year for the last six years. Due to the high demand, businesses must be ready to file their H-1B petitions on April 1, 2019. Thus, it is time to start strategizing and preparing … Continue Reading

USCIS Ends Humanitarian Parole Program for Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI)

USCIS announced that, effective immediately, it is terminating yet another humanitarian parole program. This one is for individuals living in the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). This move will affect, among others: Immediate relatives of U.S. citizens; Certain “stateless” individuals; Immediate relatives of CNMI permanent residents; and Certain in-home foreign worker caregivers of CNMI … Continue Reading

Amendments to H-1B Visa Regulations Proposed

The Department of Homeland Security has published a much-anticipated notice of proposed rulemaking affecting the H-1B visa process. Public comments must be submitted by January 2, 2019. DHS proposes: Adding a free electronic pre-registration process; and Changing the random selection process in a way that would likely benefit holders of U.S. master’s degrees. The pre-registration … Continue Reading

U.S. May Eliminate Per-Country Caps on Employment Visas

A potentially significant bill eliminating the per-country caps on employment-based visas may become law. H.R. 392, Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act, first introduced in 2017, had 300 co-sponsors. It is now championed by outgoing Representative Kevin Yoder (R-Kan.) as an amendment to the spending package that Congress likely will pass this year. The bill means … Continue Reading

F-1 Student Visa, Optional Practical Training Risks Continue

Although there have been discussions for some time that the Trump Administration would change the rules regarding Optional Practical Training (OPT), OPT did not show up in the most recent “regulatory agenda.” Nevertheless, the Administration has been putting limits on F-1 students in other ways. Those changes, at least in part, are responsible for a … Continue Reading
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