Posted On: September 18, 2012

2014 Diversity Immigrant Visa Program (DV-2014)

The Department of State (DOS) has published information on the 2014 Diversity Immigrant Visa Program on their website: http://travel.state.gov/pdf/DV_2014_Instructions.pdf. There will be 50,000 diversity visas available for FY2014 and a "green card lottery" is conducted to select winners from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States. Natives of the following countries are NOT eligible to apply: Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China (mainland-born), Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, South Korea, United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, and Vietnam. Persons born in Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR, and Taiwan are eligible. Changes in eligibility this year include natives of Guatemala who are now eligible.

DV lottery winners must also qualify based on education (high school education or its equivalent) or two years of work experience within the past five years in an occupation that requires at least two years of training or experience.

Entries for the DV-2014 DV program must be submitted electronically between noon, Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) (GMT-4), Tuesday, October 2, 2012, and noon, Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) (GMT-4), Saturday, November 3, 2012. Applicants may access the electronic DV Entry Form (E-DV) at www.dvlottery.state.gov during the registration period. Paper entries will not be accepted. DOS strongly encourages applicants not to wait until the last week of the registration period to enter as heavy demand may result in website delays. No entries will be accepted after noon, EDT, on November 3, 2012. For the full set of DV-2014 instructions, see the above-mentioned DOS website.


Posted On: September 13, 2012

October 2012 Department of State Visa Bulletin

The new visa bulletin is out at this link: http://travel.state.gov/visa/bulletin/bulletin_5770.html. Employment-based categories are as follows: EB-1 remains current for all countries; EB-2 is at January 1, 2012 for all countries, except for India (July 1, 2004) and China (July 15, 2007); EB-3 is at Oct. 22, 2006 for all countries, except for India (Oct. 15, 2002), China (Feb. 8, 2006), and Philippines (Aug. 1, 2006); EB-3 other workers is at Oct. 22, 2006 for all countries, except India (Oct. 15, 2002), China (June 22, 2003), and Philippines (Aug. 1, 2006); EB-4 is current, religious workers is unavailable, EB-5 targeted employment areas and regional centers is current, and EB-5 Pilot Programs is unavailable. Family based petitions are backlogged, with the most recent date at June 1, 2010 for F2A (spouses and children under 21 of lawful permanent residents) and the longest queue for F4 Philippines (brothers and sisters of U.S. Citizens) of February 8, 1989.


Posted On: September 10, 2012

U.S. Embassy In India Implements New Visa Processing System

The U.S. Embassy in India announced it is implementing a new visa processing system throughout India. Effective September 26, 2012, the new system features improved standardized procedures and simplified fee payment and appointment scheduling through a new website at www.ustraveldocs.com/in. This new website, available in English and Hindi, will allow visa applicants to fill out application forms, find out what documents are required, pay visa application fees, schedule an appointment for biometrics collection, and schedule an interview at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Specifically, the new visa processing system includes the following:

• U.S. visa applicants will be able to pay application fees via Electronic Fund Transfer(EFT) or with their mobile phones. They can also pay in cash at more than 1,800 Axis bank branches.
• Applicants will be able to schedule their appointments online or by phone. The new system will also allow companies and travel agents to purchase multiple fee receipts for group travel, and it accommodates the scheduling of group and emergency appointments.
• Applicants will be able to have their questions answered via telephone, email, or online chat. Call center agents in Noida and Hyderabad will answer questions in Hindi, English, Punjabi, Gujarati, Tamil, and Telugu. Call centers will be open 8:00 am to 8:00 pm Monday through Friday, and 9:00 am to 6:00 pm on Sunday. The numbers are (91-120) 660-2222 or (91-22) 6720-9400 in India or 1-310-616-5424 in the United States. Applicants can email in English or Hindi at supportindia@ustraveldocs.com, or they can chat with the consulate directly from its website (www.ustraveldocs.com/in) during call center hours.
• Applicants will have to make two appointments. Prior to their visa interviews, applicants will have to visit an Offsite Facilitation Center (OFC) to submit their fingerprints and a photo. In March, the U.S. Mission in India introduced the Interview Waiver Program (IWP) that allows applicants who meet certain criteria to be considered for waivers of personal interviews. Under the IWP and the new processing system, an increasing number of applicants will be able to complete all visa requirements without having to visit a U.S. Embassy or Consulate at all.

For information about the visa application process, please visit http://www.ustraveldocs.com. To receive regular updates, follow the U.S. Embassy on Facebook at www.facebook.com/India.usembassy.

Posted On: September 10, 2012

Update on Visa Bulletin Priority Dates and Demand

American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and Department of State (DOS) recently held a meeting that included a discussion regarding visa demand in the employment and family preference categories and predictions for FY2012 and FY2013. The following are the notes, in pertinent part, from that meeting:

• Employment Based (EB)-1 visa usage is extremely high with August 2012 at a near record high. The EB-1 visa category could close in September if usage remains this high (close the 40,000). It would then go current in October.
• EB-2 India priority date will probably go to 2006 when the Visa Bulletin is published next month (not 2007 as previously predicted). This is due in part to the retrogression in 2012, as well as the high level of EB-1 usage. India is expected to stay in 2006 for some time.
• EB-2 China priority date will be further ahead than India.
• EB-2 worldwide may go current in October, or it may go to early 2012 and then current in the November Visa Bulletin. A “correction” in EB-2 worldwide towards the latter part of FY2013 could happen (in other words, potentially visa retrogression for EB-2 worldwide and no longer current).
• EB-3 worldwide should remain as posted for the rest of September. Steady progress is expected in FY2013, unless heavy EB-1 and EB-2 usage in FY2013, which would slow the speed of EB-3 worldwide.
• Family Based (FB) 2A cases: Usage is dropping. FB-2A usage is slower than it should be so the priority dates are expected to move forward at the same pace as FY2012. However, if demand continues to be low, this group may move forward more significantly in the spring of 2013.

Posted On: September 4, 2012

USCIS Makes Processing of H-1B Cap Cases By October 1st Top Priority

USCIS has been experiencing substantial delays in the adjudication of H-1B cap petitions. Concern that delays will adversely affect employers who are relying on the ability to employ these prospective H-1B workers beginning October 1, 2012 has prompted USCIS to make the processing of these cases by October 1st a top priority. USCIS states that it is doing its best to process these cases as soon as possible and will add additional resources as available.