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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

EB-5 and Its European Counterpart Subject to Expected Changes, Oversight

In June 2018, Congress held a hearing on “Citizenship for Sale: Oversight of the EB-5 Investor Visa Program.”  The current EB-5 program allows wealthy individuals to apply for and obtain green cards by investing anywhere from $500,000 to $1,000,000 in U.S. enterprises.  Like any other green card holders, after five years, the beneficiaries can apply … Continue Reading

Slow Immigration Processing Times Draw Criticism and Questions

Immigration case processing times have dramatically increased in the last few years, impacting U.S. businesses and immigrant families, often causing gaps in work authorization and even loss of employment. In a January 2019 Policy Brief, AILA (American Immigration Lawyers Association) opined, on the basis of USCIS data, that the Agency’s processing delays had reached “crisis … 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

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

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

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

What a Government Shutdown Means for Immigration Services

Although the ongoing government shutdown is rooted in an immigration matter – the “wall” – its effect on other immigration processes is somewhat limited. Fee-funded activities are not affected, which means that USCIS offices will remain open, interviews and appointments will continue as scheduled, and most petitions and applications will continue to be accepted and … Continue Reading

USCIS Releases Policy Memo on L-1 Visa Work Requirement

USCIS has released a policy memorandum clarifying the “one continuous year out of three years” L-1 requirement refers to the time before the individual’s filing. Eligibility for L-1 status requires the following: The U.S. company has a parent, subsidiary, affiliate, or branch abroad (“qualifying organization”) The U.S. company is or will be doing business in … 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

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

Department of Homeland Security Fall 2018 Agenda Portends Big Changes for H-1B Visa, Other Programs

The Department of Homeland Security’s latest Regulatory Agenda promises some big changes, especially for the H-1B visa program. Many of these changes have been proposed before, but have not yet made it to the rulemaking stage. Among what to expect are the following: USCIS is planning to release a notice of proposed rulemaking to create a … Continue Reading

Increased Unannounced Site Visits from USCIS Fraud Detection Arm

Historically, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division has been the primary auditor of companies using H-2B visa to hire temporary, seasonal workers. But amid debates over the cap on H-2B visas and an expressed need for more H-2B workers  the USCIS’ Fraud Detection and National Security unit (FDNS) is getting into the … Continue Reading

USCIS Explains New Policy on Discretionary Application Denials

Beginning September 11, 2018, USCIS immigration officers will have more discretion to issue petition and application denials without first issuing Requests for Evidence (RFEs) or Notices of Intent to Deny (NOIDs). On September 6, 2018, the Ombudsman’s Office provided further details on the new policy change. The following was noted: The new policy takes effect … Continue Reading

USCIS Raises Premium Processing Fee: Effective October 1, 2018

On October 1, 2018 the premium processing fee for all Forms I-129 (Non-Immigrant Worker) and Forms I-140 (Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker) will be raised from $1,225 to $1,410.  USCIS announced this almost 15% increase on August 31, 2018. According to USCIS, this is the first adjustment in premium processing fees since 2010.  The agency … Continue Reading

New Foreign-Student Work Restriction Has Outsourcing and Staffing Firm Suing

The Trump Administration is continuing its assault on outsourcing and staffing firms. The latest Administration focus is on the STEM OPT program. In April 2018, without notice, USCIS made certain changes to its website. It declared, among other things, that a STEM OPT employer “may not assign, or otherwise delegate, its training responsibilities to a … Continue Reading
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