May 12, 2014

Employment authorization to be extended to H-4 spouses of certain H-1B workers

On May 6, 2014, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced a proposed rule to amend existing regulations to allow H-4 dependent spouses of certain H-1B workers to request employment authorization. Under current regulations, DHS does not extend employment authorization to H-1B dependents.

The new rule provides for requests for employment authorization from H-4 spouses of H-1B workers who:

• Have an approved Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker; or
• Have been granted an extension of their authorized period of stay beyond the six-year limit and are in line for a green card.

DHS explains that the rule is aimed at attracting and retaining highly skilled immigrants. It is estimated that it could benefit almost 100,000 H-4 visa holders this year and approximately 30,000 annually in the coming years.

For more information about this proposed rule, please see the DHS website.

April 10, 2014

H-1B Cap Met in a Quick 5 Days

This year’s H-1B cap was reached in a mere 5 days, a rate rapid enough to aggravate members of the Silicon Valley tech industry. The speed at which the cap was met indicates the great need for skilled foreign workers, especially software engineers and the like in Silicon Valley. Tech companies well as companies in numerous other industries readily use H-1B visas and are frustrated that the number given out is capped at 85,000 (including the 20,000 reserved for applicants with a U.S. Master’s degree). USCIS has stated that it received a total of 172,500 H-1B petitions this year.

Industry representatives have for years pushed Congress to increase the quota. A bill already passed by the Senate, though waiting on a vote from the House of Representatives, would increase the number of visas to somewhere between 115,000 and 180,000 per year. However, immigration reform has been met with strong resistance by lawmakers, especially in the Republican-controlled House.

Critics of raising the quota believe an increase would undermine the U.S. workforce. They argue that work visas such as the H-1B allow U.S. employers to hire foreign workers and pay them less than what they would pay U.S. workers. Additionally, the tech industry has been further criticized for its support of “stand-alone” legislation, which would increase the H-1B quota without addressing other issues embedded in immigration reform.

Nonetheless, representatives from tech leaders such as Yahoo!, Cisco Systems, NetApp, and Hewlett-Packard recently met with 65 members of Congress to discuss the H-1B cap. Tech industry officials state that if Congress does not address the H-1B issue this year, they fear the United States will be confronted with the debilitating reality of losing out on highly skilled professional foreign workers that are vital to economic progress, innovation, and job creation. Still, many remain hopeful and are gearing up for this summer, which will likely see increased efforts to raise the quota.

For more information, please see San Jose Mercury News article “H-1B visa cap reached after just five days as valley executives lobby to expand the program” and USCIS’s press release “USCIS Reaches FY 2015 H-1B Cap."

February 26, 2014

DOL Can Investigate All H-1B Employees Based on a Single Aggrieved Party Complaint

On January 29, 2014, the Administrative Review Board (the “Board”) decided Administrator, Wage and Hour Div. v. Greater Missouri Medical Pro-Care Providers, Inc., in which it addressed two issues related to the scope of an H-1B investigation by the DOL Wage and Hour Administrator (ARB Case No. 12-015, ALJ Case No. 2008-LCA-26 (2014)). The Board upheld the ALJ’s finding that the Administrator has authority on the basis of a single aggrieved party complaint to investigate potential INA violations of H-1B workers of the same employer who have not filed an H-1B complaint. However, Board reversed the ALJ’s finding that the INA allows the Administrator to investigate H-1B violations that occurred more than twelve months prior to the filing of the compliant that serves as the basis of the investigation.

Investigation of employees not party to the complaint

The Board held that the Administrator can conduct an investigation of all H-1B employees based on a single aggrieved party complaint against the employer. Alena Gay Arat, an H-1B employee of Greater Missouri Medical Pro-Care Providers filed a single aggrieved party complaint alleging that Greater Missouri had (1) failed to pay her the wages required under her LCA, (2) illegally made deductions from her wages, and (3) required her to pay an illegal penalty for ceasing employment prior to the previously agreed upon date.

The Administrator notified Greater Missouri that it was initiating an investigation and would need to review “all public access documentation required by the Federal Regulations, Part 655.760,” including the LCAs for all H-1B employees (Greater Missouri, ARB No. 12-015 at 7). After its investigation, the Administrator found that Greater Missouri had committed numerous violations, not only related to Arat’s complaint but also to over forty other H-1B employees and included additional violations such as (1) failing to maintain documentation as required by the regulations and (2) liability for ongoing violations.

After a hearing before the ALJ, at which the ALJ confirmed the Administrator’s authority to investigate all H-1B employees, Greater Missouri requested a hearing before the Board, arguing that “there is no statutory or regulatory authority for this matter to extend beyond the specific aggrieved complaint here,” and that “the Administrator and ALJ only had the authority to address the specific matters raised by Arat in her complaint” (Greater Missouri, ARB No. 12-015 at 6) (citing D. & O. at 94).

The Board rejected Greater Missouri’s argument and agreed with the ALJ. It based its ruling on the fact that the INA provides LCA investigations to be conducted in a number of ways including (1) receipt of an aggrieved party complaint, (2) receipt of credible information from a source likely to have information under 8 U.S.C.A. § 1182(n)(2)(G)(ii),(iv), (3) reasonable cause, and (4) random investigation of a willful violator of 8 U.S.C.A. § 1182(n)(2)(F).

The Board’s holding effectively states that the receipt of a single aggrieved party complaint equates to “reasonable cause,” allowing for a full-scope H-1B investigation. It stated that the “statutory provisions nowhere restrict the scope of H-1B investigations to allegations contained in a single aggrieved-party complaint. Nor do the Secretary’s implementing regulations dictate the scope of an investigation by the Wage and Hour Division determines that reasonable cause exists to initiate such an investigation” (Greater Missouri, ARB No. 12-015 at 8).

Twelve month statute of limitations on violations

The Board however reversed the ALJ’s holding that the Administrator can investigate alleged INA violations that occurred more than twelve months prior to the filing of the complaint on which the investigation is based. In Greater Missouri, the Administrator investigated H-1B matters well over a year before Arat filed her complaint.

The Board found that the INA strictly limits investigations to a twelve month time frame and therefore LCA violations that occurred more than one year before the complaint was filed are not actionable. It states that “[n]o investigation or hearing shall be conducted on a complaint concerning such a failure or misrepresentation unless the complaint was filed not later than 12 months after the date of the failure or misrepresentation, respectively” (id. at 15 (see8 U.S.C.A. § 1182(n)(2)(A)). The Board also noted that it has upheld the 12-month time frame in case law precedent.

Takeaway points

Greater Missouri indicates that employers should review their H-1B policies and ensure compliance with regulations. It is a harsh reminder to employers that even a single individual complaint could spur an all-encompassing H-1B investigation. However, this case also serves as a reminder to the Administrator that violations are subjected to a twelve-month statute of limitations.

February 10, 2014

What To Do If Your I-94 Reads "Not Found"

If you tried to retrieve your I-94 from the cbp.gov online system at:

https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/request.html

and you receive a response that your I-94 is "Not Found," please review the following checklist to help you check for mistakes and try to enter the information again:

1. Did you enter your first and last name the same way it appears on your Passport? (Do not use dashes or titles.)
2. Did you enter the correct number as your Passport number? (The number is on the upper right hand side of your Passport.)
3. Did you enter your country of citizenship? (The country that issued the Passport, not where you currently live.)
4. Under Class of Admission, did you enter the Visa classification that appears on your U.S. Visa OR if you are traveling under the Visa Waiver program (VWP) enter WT/WB?
5. If you entered your first and middle name and it's not found, try one name or the other. Also try entering your first and middle name in the first name box.
6. Try entering either your most recent date of entry or your original date of entry into the United States.
If you still cannot find your I-94, please contact your nearest Customs and Border Protection Deferred Inspection Site – CBP.gov -- and a CBP Officer will assist you. When you open the link to the Deferred Inspection Site, you will find an alphabetical list of locations within the United States.

Please Note: Asylees and refugees should have received a handwritten or stamped I-94 upon entering the United States and will not be able to retrieve I-94 information online.

-- USCIS website

April 5, 2013

USCIS Reaches FY 2014 H-1B Cap

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today that it has received a sufficient number of H-1B petitions to reach the statutory cap for fiscal year (FY) 2014. USCIS has also received more than 20,000 H-1B petitions filed on behalf of persons exempt from the cap under the advanced degree exemption. After today, USCIS will not accept H-1B petitions subject to the FY 2014 cap or the advanced degree exemption.

USCIS will use a computer-generated random selection process (commonly known as the “lottery”) for all FY 2014 cap-subject petitions received through April 5, 2013. The agency will conduct the selection process for advanced degree exemption petitions first. All advanced degree petitions not selected will be part of the random selection process for the 65,000 limit. Due to the high number of petitions received, USCIS is not yet able to announce the exact day of the random selection process. Also, USCIS is currently not providing the total number of petitions received, as we continue to accept filings today. USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions that are otherwise exempt from the cap. USCIS will provide more detailed information about the H-1B cap next week.

January 31, 2013

Immigration Innovation Act of 2013

Immigration Innovation Act of 2013

A bi-partisan bill has been introduced the Senate titled the “Immigration Innovation Act of 2013.” The new bill would increase the annual H-1B cap to 115,000 H-1B visas and make available more green cards for the highly skilled and highly educated. Here is a summary of the proposals.

Employment-Based Nonimmigrant H-1B Visas

The new bill would increase the H-1B cap from 65,000 to 115,000. It would also “uncap” the existing U.S. advanced degree exemption (currently limited to 20,000 per year). It would also authorize employment for dependent spouses of H-1B visa holders as does the current law for L and E dependents.

It would also establish an H-1B escalator, so that the cap can adjust — up or down — to the demands of the economy (includes a 300,000 ceiling on the ability of the escalator to move)

• If the cap is hit in the first 45 days when petitions may be filed, an additional 20,000 H-1B visas will be made available immediately.
• If the cap is hit in the first 60 days when petitions may be filed, an additional 15,000 H-1B visas will be made available immediately.
• If the cap is hit in the first 90 days when petitions may be filed, an additional 10,000 H-1B visas will be made available immediately.
• If the cap is hit during the 185-day period ending on the 275th day on which petitions may be filed, an additional 5,000 H-1B will be made available immediately.

Green Cards

Enable the recapture of green card numbers that were approved by Congress in previous years but were not used. And, provide for the roll-over of unused employment-based immigrant visa numbers to the following fiscal year so future visas are not lost due to bureaucratic delays.

Exempt certain categories of persons from the employment-based green card cap:

• Dependents of employment-based immigrant visa recipients
• U.S. STEM advance degree holders
• Persons with extraordinary ability
• Outstanding professors and researchers

Eliminate annual per-country limits for employment based visa petitioners and adjust per-country caps for family-based immigrant visas.

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.

June 12, 2012

FY2013 H-1B CAP Reached June 11, 2012

On June 11, 2012, USCIS announced that it has received a sufficient number of H-1B petitions to reach the FY2013 H-1B cap. On June 7, 2012, USCIS also received enough H-1B petitions to meet the additional 20,000 cap for individuals with U.S. Master's degrees. Any FY2013 cap petitions received after June 11, 2012 will therefore be rejected and returned with the filing fee.

USCIS will continue to accept H-1B petitions that are cap-exempt, including beneficiaries employed at institutions of higher education or related or affiliated nonprofit entities, nonprofit research organizations or governmental research organizations. Additionally, USCIS will continue to accept H-1B cases that are not subject to the numerical cap, including the following petitions:


• H-1B extension of status.;
• H-1B change of employer;
• H-1B amendments; and
• H-1B concurrent employment.

June 4, 2012

FY2013 H-1B Cap Close to Being Reached!

As of June 1, 2012, USCIS has received approximately 55,600 H-1B petitions towards the 65,000 cap and approximately 18,700 petitions towards the 20,000 cap for applicants with U.S. advanced degrees. Based on the current rate of H-1B cap filings, it is anticipated that the FY2013 cap may be reached any day now. We advise that H-1B cap cases be submitted immediately in order to secure an H-1B number.

For assistance in filing an H-1B petition, please contact our office.

May 30, 2012

FY2012 H-1B Cap Update

As of May 25, 2012, USCIS has received approximately 48,400 H-1B petitions towards the 65,000 cap and approximately 17,500 petitions towards the 20,000 cap for applicants with U.S. advanced degrees. Based on the current rate of H-1B cap filings, it is anticipated that the FY2013 cap may be reached by early June. We advise that H-1B cap cases be submitted as soon as possible in order to secure an H-1B number.

For assistance in filing an H-1B petition, please contact our office.

May 23, 2012

FY2013 H-1B Cap Update

As of May 18, 2012, USCIS has received approximately 42,000 H-1B petitions towards the 65,000 cap and approximately 16,000 petitions towards the 20,000 cap for applicants with U.S. advanced degrees. Based on the current rate of H-1B cap filings, it is anticipated that the FY2013 cap may be reached by early June. We advise that H-1B cap cases be submitted as soon as possible in order to secure an H-1B number.

For assistance in filing an H-1B petition, please contact our office.

May 14, 2012

FY2013 H-1B Update

As of May 11, 2012, USCIS has received approximately 36,700 H-1B petitions towards the 65,000 cap and approximately 14,800 petitions towards the 20,000 cap for applicants with U.S. advanced degrees.

For assistance in filing an H-1B petition, please contact our office.

May 8, 2012

FY2013 H-1B Update

As of May 4, 2012, USCIS has received approximately 32,500 H-1B petitions towards the 65,000 cap and approximately 13,700 petitions towards the 20,000 cap for applicants with U.S. advanced degrees.

For assistance in filing an H-1B petition, please contact our office.

April 30, 2012

FY2013 H-1B Update

As of April 30, 2012, USCIS has received approximately 29,200 H-1B petitions towards the 65,000 cap and approximately 12,300 petitions towards the 20,000 cap for applicants with U.S. advanced degrees.

For assistance in filing an H-1B petition, please contact our office.

April 24, 2012

FY2013 H-1B Cap Update

As of April 20, 2012, USCIS has received nearly 25,000 H-1B petitions towards the 65,000 cap and approximately 10,900 petitions towards the 20,000 cap for applicants with U.S. advanced degrees.

For assistance in filing an H-1B petition, please contact our office.

April 17, 2012

H-1B Cap Count as of April 13, 2012

As of April 13, 2012, USCIS has received approximately 20,600 H-1B petitions towards the 65,000 cap and approximately 9,700 petitions towards the 20,000 cap for applicants with U.S. advanced degrees.

For assistance in filing an H-1B petition, please contact our office.

April 9, 2012

Update on FY2013 H-1B Cap

As of April 9, 2012, USCIS has received approximately 17,400 H-1B petitions towards the 65,000 cap and approximately 8,200 petitions towards the 20,000 cap for applicants with U.S. advanced degrees. USCIS has indicated that it will continue to provide regular updates on the FY2013 H-1B cap and will announce a "final receipt date" once it has determined that it has received a sufficient number of cases to meet the cap. It will then randomly select the number of H-1B petitions received on that final date for receipt of a FY2013 H-1B number. Any petitions that are not successful in the lottery system or received after the final receipt date will be returned with refunded filing fees.

Meanwhile, USCIS will continue to accept H-1B cases that are not subject to the numerical cap, including the following petitions:

• H-1B extension of status.;
• H-1B change of employer;
• H-1B amendments; and
• H-1B concurrent employment.

For assistance in filing an H-1B petition, please contact our office.

April 5, 2012

USCIS Receives Large Volume of FY2013 H-1B Cap Cases

USCIS began accepting H-1B petitions subject to the FY2013 cap on April 1, 2012. The H-1B category has an annual cap of 65,000 new visas with an additional 20,000 for individuals with U.S. Master's degrees. As of April 4, 2012, 22,323 cap-subject H-1B petitions have been received by USCIS. USCIS has indicated that about 25% of these cases are for U.S. advanced degrees and that the number of petitions received thus far is nearly twice the number of petitions received by USCIS during this same time last year. The H-1B cap was not reached last year until November 22, 2011, but based on the large volume of petitions received within these first few days of the H-1B season, it is likely the H-1B cap may be reached much sooner than last year if filings continue at this current pace. Once USCIS determines that it has received a sufficient number of cases, it will determine a final receipt date and conduct a random lottery based on that date. Any petitions that are not successful in the lottery system will be returned and the filing fees will not be cashed.

For assistance in filing a timely FY 2013 H-1B petition, please contact our office.

April 1, 2012

USCIS Accepts FY2013 H-1B Petitions

Starting today, USCIS began accepting H-1B petitions subject to the FY2013 cap with employment start dates beginning October 1, 2012. Cases will be considered accepted on the date that it is received by USCIS, not the postmarked date. The H-1B category is subject to an annual cap of 65,000 new visas with an additional 20,000 for individuals with U.S. Master's degrees. Once USCIS determines that it has received a sufficient number of cases, it will determine a final receipt date and conduct a random lottery based on that date. Any petitions that are not successful in the lottery system will be returned and the filing fees will not be cashed.

New H-1B petitions that are cap-exempt include beneficiaries employed at institutions of higher education or related or affiliated nonprofit entities, nonprofit research organizations or governmental research organizations. Additionally, beneficiaries working only in Guam or the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands are exempt from the cap until December 31, 2014. Meanwhile, USCIS will continue to accept H-1B cases that are not subject to the numerical cap, including the following petitions:

• H-1B extension of status.;
• H-1B change of employer;
• H-1B amendments; and
• H-1B concurrent employment.

For assistance in filing a timely FY 2013 H-1B petition, please contact our office.

March 16, 2012

Get Ready to File New H-1B Petitions by March 30, 2012!

On March 30, 2012, employers can start filing new H-1B petitions for FY2013. The new fiscal year for USCIS does not begin until October 1, 2012, but employers can submit H-1B petitions requesting an October 1st employment start date since they are allowed to file an H-1B petition six months in advance. The H-1B category is subject to an annual cap of 65,000 new visas with an additional 20,000 for individuals with U.S. Master's degrees. New H-1B cases subject to the cap typically include applicants seeking initial H-1B entry, F-1 students seeking a change of status upon the expiration of their optional practical training (OPT), H-1B holders who previously worked for cap-exempt organizations, or individuals in other visa classifications such as L-1Bs, TNs, or H-4s who are seeking a change of status to H-1B. In the past, the demand for H-1B visas have been so great that the H-1B cap for the new fiscal year was met on the first available filing date. Although this has not been the case for the last 3 years, we still encourage employers to file new H-1B petitions on March 30, 2012 or soon after to ensure that their employees are granted an H-1B number under the FY2013 cap. For assistance in filing a timely FY 2013 H-1B petition, please contact our office.

November 23, 2011

FY2012 H-1B Cap Reached

On November 23, 2011, the USCIS announced that it has received enough H-1B petitions to reach the 65,000 cap for FY2012. November 22, 2011 is the final date for receipt of new H-1B petitions requesting an employment start date in FY2012. Therefore, any petitions received after November 22, 2011 will be rejected. USCIS will continue to accept H-1B cases that are not subject to the FY2012 cap, including the following petitions:

• H-1B extension of status.;
• H-1B change of employer;
• H-1B amendments; and
• H-1B concurrent employment.

On April 1, 2012, USCIS will begin accepting new H-1B petitions for FY2013 as it releases a new set of H-1B numbers, including 65,000 newly available numbers and an additional 20,000 for applicants with U.S. Master’s degrees or higher. Petitions filed under the new FY2013 H-1B cap will have an October 1, 2012 start date. For more information on obtaining a FY2013 H-1B number, please contact our office.

November 20, 2011

File Now - H-1B Cap Close to Being Reached.

This is another reminder that FY2012 H-1B numbers are moving very quickly and the cap of 65,000 will likely be reached by the end of the month. As of Nov. 14, 2011, USCIS has received approximately 56,300 Bachelor’s degree petitions towards the 65,000 regular H-1B cap. Meanwhile, the cap of 20,000 U.S. Master’s degree petitions has already been met. As such, H-1B Master’s degree petitions will now also be counted against the regular H-1B cap. We therefore anticipate the remaining numbers to go quickly.

As such, employers are strongly urged to file H-1B petitions on behalf of prospective candidates as soon as possible. Such individuals may include those currently on student visas who are employed temporarily under optional practical training, individuals living abroad, or individuals seeking to change their current status (TN, L-1, H-4, etc). If employers fail to file petitions on behalf of such individuals before the FY2012 cap is reached, they risk not being able to employ the individual until new H-1B numbers are released on October 1, 2012. Therefore, please contact our office for assistance in filing a timely H-1B petition before the current H-1B numbers are gone.

November 16, 2011

FY2012 H-1B Update

As of Nov. 14, 2011, USCIS has received approximately 56,300 Bachelor’s degree petitions towards the 65,000 regular H-1B cap. Meanwhile, the cap of 20,000 U.S. Master’s degree petitions has already been reached, and USCIS will continue to accept H-1B petitions for FY2012 until the cap of 65,000 is met.

This is a reminder that employers should file H-1B petitions on behalf of prospective candidates as soon as possible as the remaining H-1B numbers will likely be filled by the end of the month. Please contact our office for assistance.

November 7, 2011

FY2012 H-1B Cap Update

As of Nov. 2, 2011, USCIS has received approximately 50,800 Bachelor’s degree petitions towards the 65,000 regular H-1B cap. Meanwhile, the cap of 20,000 U.S. Master’s degree petitions has already been reached, and USCIS will continue to accept H-1B petitions for FY2012 until the cap of 65,000 is met.

The remaining H-1B numbers will likely be filled within the next few months. We therefore strongly advise that employers file H-1B petitions on behalf of prospective candidates as soon as possible. Please contact our office for assistance.

November 1, 2011

FY2012 H-1B Cap Close to Being Reached

As of October 28, 2011, USCIS has received approximately 49,200 Bachelor’s degree petitions towards the 65,000 regular H-1B cap. Meanwhile, the cap of 20,000 U.S. Master’s degree petitions has already been met. As such, H-1B Master’s degree petitions from here on out will be counted against the regular H-1B cap. USCIS will continue to accept H-1B petitions for FY2012 until the cap of 65,000 is met.

With only 15,800 H-1B slots left, we anticipate the cap being reached within the next few months. As such, employers are strongly urged to file H-1B petitions on behalf of prospective candidates as soon as possible. Such individuals may include those currently on student visas who are employed temporarily under optional practical training, individuals living abroad, or individuals seeking to change their current status (TN, L-1, H-4, etc). If employers fail to file petitions on behalf of such individuals before the FY2012 cap is reached, they risk not being able to employ the individual until new H-1B numbers are released on October 1, 2012. Therefore, please contact our office for assistance in filing a timely H-1B petition before the current H-1B numbers are gone.

October 25, 2011

FY2012 H-1B Cap Update

As of October 21, 2011, the USCIS has received approximately 46,200 Bachelor's degree petitions and 20,000 U.S. Master's degree petitions. While the quota of 20,000 U.S. Master's degree petitions has been met, USCIS will continue to accept H-1B petitions for FY2012 until the quota of 65,000 Bachelor's degree petitions is met.

October 19, 2011

FY2012 H-1B Cap Update

As of October 14, 2011, the USCIS has received approximately 43,300 Bachelor's degree petitions and 19,600 U.S. Master's degree petitions. The USCIS will continue to accept H-1B petitions for FY2012 until the quota of 65,000 Bachelor's degree petitions and 20,000 U.S. Master's degree petitions is met.

October 12, 2011

FY2012 H-1B Cap Update

As of October 7, 2011, the USCIS has received approximately 41,000 Bachelor's degree petitions and 19,100 U.S. Master's degree petitions. The USCIS will continue to accept H-1B petitions for FY2012 until the quota of 65,000 Bachelor's degree petitions and 20,000 U.S. Master's degree petitions is met.

October 11, 2011

FY2012 H-1B Cap Update

As of September 23, 2011, the USCIS has received approximately 36,300 Bachelor's degree petitions and 17,700 U.S. Master's degree petitions. The USCIS will continue to accept H-1B petitions for FY2012 until the quota of 65,000 Bachelor's degree petitions and 20,000 U.S. Master's degree petitions is met.

August 31, 2011

FY2012 H-1B Cap Update

As of August 26, 2011, the USCIS has received approximately 29,000 Bachelor's degree petitions and 15,800 U.S. Master's degree petitions. The USCIS will continue to accept H-1B petitions for FY2012 until the quota of 65,000 Bachelor's degree petitions and 20,000 U.S. Master's degree petitions is met.

August 5, 2011

FY2012 H-1B Cap Update

As of July 29, 2011, the USCIS has received approximately 22,700 Bachelor's degree petitions and 13,800 U.S. Master's degree petitions. The USCIS will continue to accept H-1B petitions for FY2012 until the quota of 65,000 Bachelor's degree petitions and 20,000 U.S. Master's degree petitions is met.

July 26, 2011

FY2012 H-1B Cap Update

As of July 22, 2011, the USCIS has received approximately 21,600 Bachelor's degree petitions and 13,300 U.S. Master's degree petitions. The USCIS will continue to accept H-1B petitions for FY2012 until the quota of 65,000 Bachelor's degree petitions and 20,000 U.S. Master's degree petitions is met.

July 20, 2011

FY2012 H-1B Cap Update

As of July 15, 2011, the USCIS has received approximately 20,500 Bachelor's degree petitions and 12,800 U.S. Master's degree petitions. The USCIS will continue to accept H-1B petitions for FY2012 until the quota of 65,000 Bachelor's degree petitions and 20,000 U.S. Master's degree petitions is met.

July 14, 2011

FY2012 H-1B Cap Update

The USCIS has issued an updated cap count for its last count on July 1, 2011.

As of July 1, 2011, the USCIS has received approximately 19,000 Bachelor's degree petitions and 12,200 U.S. Master's degree petitions. The USCIS will continue to accept H-1B petitions for FY2012 until the quota of 65,000 Bachelor's degree petitions and 20,000 U.S. Master's degree petitions is met.

July 6, 2011

FY2012 H-1B Cap Update

As of July 1, 2011, the USCIS has received approximately 18,400 Bachelor's degree petitions and 11,900 U.S. Master's degree petitions. The USCIS will continue to accept H-1B petitions for FY2012 until the quota of 65,000 Bachelor's degree petitions and 20,000 U.S. Master's degree petitions is met.

June 8, 2011

FY2012 H-1B Cap Update

As of June 1, 2011, the USCIS has received approximately 13,600 Bachelor's degree petitions and 9,300 U.S. Master's degree petitions. The USCIS will continue to accept H-1B petitions for FY2012 until the quota of 65,000 Bachelor’s degree petitions and 20,000 U.S. Master’s degree petitions is met.

May 31, 2011

FY2012 H-1B Cap Update

As of May 26, 2011, the USCIS has received approximately 13,100 Bachelor's degree petitions and 9,000 U.S. Master's degree petitions. The USCIS will continue to accept H-1B petitions for FY2012 until the quota of 65,000 Bachelor’s degree petitions and 20,000 U.S. Master’s degree petitions is met.

May 23, 2011

FY2012 H-1B Cap Update

As of May 20, 2011, the USCIS has received approximately 12,300 Bachelor's degree petitions and 8,500 U.S. Master's degree petitions. The USCIS will continue to accept H-1B petitions for FY2012 until the quota of 65,000 Bachelor’s degree petitions and 20,000 U.S. Master’s degree petitions is met.

May 19, 2011

FY2012 H-1B Cap Update

As of May 13, 2011, the USCIS has received approximately 11,200 Bachelor's degree petitions and 7,900 U.S. Master's degree petitions. The USCIS will continue to accept H-1B petitions for FY2012 until the quota of 65,000 Bachelor’s degree petitions and 20,000 U.S. Master’s degree petitions is met.

April 21, 2011

FY2012 H-1B Cap Update

As of April 15, 2011, the USCIS has received approximately 7,100 Bachelor's degree petitions and 5,100 U.S. Master's degree petitions. The USCIS will continue to accept H-1B petitions for FY2012 until the quota of 65,000 Bachelor’s degree petitions and 20,000 U.S. Master’s degree petitions is met.

April 11, 2011

Update on FY2012 H-1B Cap Count

On April 1, 2011, the USCIS started accepting H-1B applications for FY2012, the next government fiscal year which starts on October 1, 2011. The current law provides an annual H-1B cap of 65,000 per fiscal year, with an additional 20,000 reserved for H-1B applicants with U.S. master’s degrees or higher. The H-1B cap for FY 2011 was met in January 2011.

As of April 7, 2011, USCIS has received approximately 5,900 H-1B petitions toward the 65,000 cap and approximately 4,500 petitions toward the 20,000 advanced degree cap. The USCIS will continue to accept FY2012 H-1B cap cases until the quota is met.

March 22, 2011

Filing of FY 2012 H-1B Cases Begins 4/1/2011

On April 1, 2011, USCIS will begin accepting FY 2012 H-1B cap petitions with employment start dates beginning October 1, 2011. Cases will be considered accepted on the date that it is received by USCIS, not the postmarked date. Meanwhile, USCIS will continue to accept H-1B cases that are not subject to the numerical cap, including the following petitions:

• H-1B extension of status.;
• H-1B change of employer;
• H-1B amendments; and
• H-1B concurrent employment.

For assistance in filing a timely FY 2012 H-1B petition by April 1, 2011, please contact our office

March 7, 2011

Proposed Rule Requiring Registration for H-1B Cap Petitions

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is proposing a rule that will require employers who are filing petitions on behalf of individuals subject to the H-1B cap to first file electronic registrations with USCIS during a designated registration period. H-1B petitions are subject to a numerical cap of 65,000 per fiscal year and an additional 20,000 H-1B petitions are set aside for individuals who have earned a U.S. masters’ degree or higher. Based on the electronic registration information, USCIS will be able to determine whether the H-1B cap will be reached by the first day that H-1B petitions are accepted for filing for a particular fiscal year. If the cap is not reached, USCIS would then notify the registered employers of their eligibility to file an H-1B petition and will continue to accept and select registrations until the H-1B cap is reached. If USCIS determines that the H-1B cap will be reached by the first day that H-1B petitions may be accepted for filing for a particular fiscal year, it will close the registration before the said date and randomly choose registered petitioners to meet the allotted cap. Remaining registrations may be placed on a waitlist should the H-1B applicants that were originally selected be denied. Those who are not waitlisted will be notified of their inability to file an H-1B petition for that particular fiscal year. Under this proposed rule, USCIS hopes this registration and selection process will save the prospective employer from investing the time and resources in filing an H-1B without knowing whether the cap has been reached. Additionally, it hopes this new process will reduce the administrative strain on service centers handling H-1B cases.

DHS seeks comments to the proposed registration rule. Written comments may be submitted on or before May 2, 2011 via e-mail at rfs.regs@dhs.gov and include DHS Docket No. USCIS-2008-0014 in the subject line of the message.

January 27, 2011

FY 2011 H-1B Cap Reached

On January 27, 2011, the USCIS announced that it has received enough H-1B petitions to reach the 65,000 cap for FY2011. January 26, 2011 is the final date for receipt of new H-1B petitions requesting an employment start date in FY2011. Therefore, any petitions received after January 26, 2011 will be rejected. Those petitions received on January 26, 2011 will be subject to a computer-generated lottery system that will randomly select the remaining petitions to meet the cap. Petitions not selected will be rejected and returned along with the filing fee.

USCIS will continue to accept H-1B cases that are not subject to the FY2011 cap, including the following petitions:

• H-1B extension of status.;
• H-1B change of employer;
• H-1B amendments; and
• H-1B concurrent employment.

On April 1, 2011, the USCIS will begin accepting new H-1B petitions for FY2012 as it releases a new set of H-1B numbers, including 65,000 newly available numbers and an additional 20,000 for applicants with U.S. Master’s degrees or higher. Petitions filed under the new FY2012 H-1B cap will have an October 1, 2011 start date. For more information on obtaining a FY2012 H-1B number, please contact our office.

January 19, 2011

Hurry - FY 2011 H-1B Cap Nearly Reached!

As of January 14, 2011, the USCIS has received approximately 60,700 Bachelor's degree petitions and the allotted 20,000 H-1Bs for U.S. Master's degree petitions has been met. The quota of 65,000 Bachelor’s degree petitions will soon be reached so it is imperative that you file your H-1B petition immediately before the H-1B numbers are reached for FY2011.

Please note that on April 1, 2011, the USCIS will start accepting H-1B applications for FY2012, the next government fiscal year which starts on October 1, 2011. As noted above, the current law allows only 65,000 new H-1B “numbers” per fiscal year, with an additional 20,000 reserved for H-1B applicants who have Master’s or PhD degrees from US institutions. If you have employees whose current work authorization will expire prior to October 1, 2011, or candidates who need H-1B sponsorship for an H-1B “number,” please contact our office so we can assist you in getting the process started.

January 7, 2011

FY 2011 H-1B Cap Close To Being Reached

As of December 31, 2010, the USCIS has received approximately 57,300 Bachelor's degree petitions and 20,000 U.S. Master's degree petitions. While the 20,000 H-1Bs allotted for U.S. Master’s degree petitions has been reached, the USCIS will continue to accept H-1B petitions for FY2011 until the quota of 65,000 Bachelor’s degree petitions is met. As such, the quota will soon be reached as there are only 7,700 H-1B petitions still available for approval. Please contact our office for immediate assistance in filing your H-1B petition before the H-1B numbers are reached for FY2011.

December 10, 2010

H-1B Employer Faces Heavy Penalties for Failure to Comply With H-1B Provisions

A computer consulting company in Newark, New Jersey has been ordered to pay $638,449 in back wages and interest to 67 workers and civil penalties of $126,778 for failure to comply with H-1B provisions. As a computer consulting business, the company sponsored H-1B employees to work as programmer analysts at various client sites in the U.S., but failed to provide notice of the filing of labor condition applications (LCAs) at each worksite where the H-1B worker would be employed and took action against H-1B workers for early cessation of employment. Pursuant to H-1B regulations, a LCA providing notice of the job opening and the prevailing wage offered must be posted at the place of employment. Investigations conducted by the Department of Labor found that the most common violations involved an employer’s failure to post notice of the LCA at every worksite where an H-1B worker may be employed and failure to properly compensate the H-1B worker for nonproductive periods resulting from lack of assigned work, lack of a permit or preparing for a licensing exam. In this instance, as a result of its violation, the computer consulting company is not only subject to paying back wages and civil penalties, it is also excluded from participation in the H-1B program for one year.

December 2, 2010

FY2011 H-1B Cap Update

As of November 26, 2010, the USCIS has received approximately 50,400 Bachelor's degree petitions and 18,400 U.S. Master's degree petitions. The USCIS will continue to accept H-1B petitions for FY2011 until the quota of 65,000 Bachelor’s degree petitions and 20,000 U.S. Master’s degree petitions is met. Please contact our office for assistance in filing your H-1B petition as we anticipate the quota will soon be reached.

November 23, 2010

FY2011 H-1B Cap Update

As of November 19, 2010, the USCIS has received approximately 48,977 Bachelor's degree petitions and 17,836 U.S. Master's degree petitions. The USCIS will continue to accept H-1B petitions for FY2011 until the quota of 65,000 Bachelor’s degree petitions and 20,000 U.S. Master’s degree petitions is met.

November 15, 2010

FY2011 H-1B Cap Update

As of November 5, 2010, the USCIS has received approximately 46,800 Bachelor's degree petitions and 17,200 U.S. Master's degree petitions. The USCIS will continue to accept H-1B petitions for FY2011 until the quota of 65,000 Bachelor’s degree petitions and 20,000 U.S. Master’s degree petitions is met.

October 21, 2010

FY2011 H-1B Cap Update

As of October 15, 2010, the USCIS has received approximately 42,800 Bachelor's degree petitions and 15,700 U.S. Master's degree petitions. The USCIS will continue to accept H-1B petitions for FY2011 until the quota of 65,000 Bachelor’s degree petitions and 20,000 U.S. Master’s degree petitions is met.

October 11, 2010

FY2011 H-1B Cap Update

As of October 1, 2010, the USCIS has received approximately 40,600 Bachelor's degree petitions and 14,900 U.S. Master's degree petitions. The USCIS will continue to accept H-1B petitions for FY2011 until the quota of 65,000 Bachelor’s degree petitions and 20,000 U.S. Master’s degree petitions is met.

October 3, 2010

Priority Processing for H-1B Cap Petitions

USCIS has indicated that it will prioritize the adjudication of H-1B petitions that are subject to the H-1B cap and attempt to reduce the processing time to 60 days. It also seeks to make efforts in prioritizing the adjudication of H-1B change of status cases for F-1 students who no longer have valid work authorization after September 30. As of September 24, 2010, approximately 39,600 H-1B cap petitions were received and 14,400 for aliens with advanced degrees.

September 16, 2010

H-1B Visa Holders from China Now Receive 12 month Visa

Effective July 9, 2010, the Department of State revised its visa reciprocity schedule for China to allow for a 12 month, multiple entry visa for H visa applicants. This will allow H-1B visa holders from China to have multiple entries into the U.S. for a 12 month period. For more information, see reciprocity schedule for China at http://travel.state.gov/visa/fees/fees_4881.html?cid=3537.

September 3, 2010

FY2011 H-1B Cap Update

As of August 27, 2010, the USCIS has received approximately 34,900 Bachelor's degree petitions and 13,000 U.S. Master's degree petitions. The USCIS will continue to accept H-1B petitions for FY2011 with an October 1, 2010 start date until the quota of 65,000 Bachelor’s degree petitions and 20,000 U.S. Master’s degree petitions is met.

August 20, 2010

Additional Fee for H-1B and L-1 Petitions

On Aug. 13, 2010, President Obama signed into law Public Law 111-230, which requires the submission of an additional $2000 for certain H-1B petitions and $2250 for certain L-1 petitions. Those who are subject to the additional fees include petitioners who employ 50 or more U.S. employees and more than 50 percent of its U.S. employees are in H-1B or L status (including L-1A, L-1B and L-2). For example, ABC company has 60 employees and has 35 employees in H-1B and L-1 status. ABC Company would be required to pay the additional fee for all new H-1B and L-1 petition filings. Extension of status petitions are not subject to the additional fee. The new fees are effective immediately, applying to all petitions submitted on or after Aug. 14, 2010 through Sept. 20, 2014.

August 19, 2010

FY2011 H-1B Cap Update

As of August 13, 2010, the USCIS has received approximately 29,700 Bachelor's degree petitions and 12,300 U.S. Master's degree petitions. The USCIS will continue to accept H-1B petitions for FY2011 with an October 1, 2010 start date until the quota of 65,000 Bachelor’s degree petitions and 20,000 U.S. Master’s degree petitions is met.

July 29, 2010

FY2011 H-1B Cap Update

As of July 23 2010, the USCIS has received approximately 26,000 Bachelor's degree petitions and 11,300 U.S. Master's degree petitions. The USCIS will continue to accept H-1B petitions for FY2011 with an October 1, 2010 start date until the quota of 65,000 Bachelor’s degree petitions and 20,000 U.S. Master’s degree petitions is met.

July 1, 2010

FY2011 H-1B Cap Update

As of June 25 2010, the USCIS has received approximately 23,500 Bachelor's degree petitions and 10,000 U.S. Master's degree petitions. The USCIS will continue to accept H-1B petitions for FY2011 with an October 1, 2010 start date until the quota of 65,000 Bachelor’s degree petitions and 20,000 U.S. Master’s degree petitions is met.

June 23, 2010

USCIS Issues Annual Report on H-1B Workers

On April 15, 2010, the Department of Homeland Security issued the USCIS “Annual Report on Characteristics of Specialty Occupation Workers (H-1B) for Fiscal Year 2009.” The summary reports on information including the countries of origin, occupations, education levels, and compensation paid to those who had approved H-1B petitions in FY 2009. The report includes the following facts: approximately 48 percent of all H-1B approved workers were born in India; 41 percent were for workers in computer-related occupations; and 41 percent were for workers with a bachelor’s degree and 40 percent had a master’s degree. To view the annual report, see http://www.uscis.gov/USCIS/Resources/Reports%20and%20Studies/H-1B/h1b-fy-09-characteristics.pdf.

June 16, 2010

FY2011 H-1B Cap Update

As of June 11, 2010, the USCIS has received approximately 22,200 Bachelor's degree petitions and 9,400 U.S. Master's degree petitions. The USCIS will continue to accept H-1B petitions for FY2011 with an October 1, 2010 start date until the quota of 65,000 Bachelor’s degree petitions and 20,000 U.S. Master’s degree petitions is met.

May 27, 2010

FY2011 H-1B Cap Update

As of May 21, 2010, the USCIS has received approximately 19,600 Bachelor's degree petitions and 8,200 U.S. Master's degree petitions. The USCIS will continue to accept H-1B petitions for FY2011 with an October 1, 2010 start date until the quota of 65,000 Bachelor’s degree petitions and 20,000 U.S. Master’s degree petitions is met.

May 18, 2010

FY2011 H-1B Cap Update

As of May 14, 2010, the USCIS has received approximately 19,000 Bachelor's degree petitions and 8,100 U.S. Master's degree petitions. The USCIS will continue to accept H-1B petitions for FY2011 with an October 1, 2010 start date until the quota of 65,000 Bachelor’s degree petitions and 20,000 U.S. Master’s degree petitions is met.

May 11, 2010

FY2011 H-1B Numbers Still Available

The FY2011 period to file H-1B petitions began on April 1, 2010 with an annual quota of 65,000 for holders of Bachelor's degrees or the equivalent and 20,000 for holders of U.S. Master's or higher degrees. As of May 11, 2010, the USCIS has received approximately 18,000 Bachelor's degree petitions and 7,600 Master's degree petitions. The USCIS will therefore continue to accept H-1B petitions until the quota is met so please contact our office if you'd like our assistance with your H-1B petition.

April 9, 2010

USCIS Continues To Accept FY2011 H-1B Petitions!

The USCIS announced today that it will continue to accept FY2011 H-1B petitions. The H-1B category has annual quotas of 65,000 for holders of Bachelor's degrees or the equivalent and 20,000 for holders of U.S. Master's or higher degrees. The FY2011 period to file these petitions opened April 1, 2010. As of today, the USCIS has received 13,500 Bachelor's degree petitions and 5,600 Master's degree petitions. This means there are many slots left! Please contact our office if you'd like our assistance with your H-1B petition.

February 26, 2010

EAWA Guidance for Employers

The Employ American Workers Act (EAWA) was enacted to make sure that employers receiving Federal Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) funding are not displacing U.S. workers. Among the employers receiving (or that have received) TARP funding are primarily financial institutions, mortgage brokerage firms, and investment firms. The USCIS has issued guidance for these employers with respect to filing H-1B petitions. Under EAWA, any employer receiving TARP funding is considered H-1B dependent, which is a label that subjects the employer to recruitment requirements and attestations regarding displacement. In its guidance, the USCIS instructs these employers regarding how to answer certain questions on the H-1B forms. Specifically, the USCIS states that Question A.1.d. should be “No” if repayment has occurred and documentation of repayment shall be supplied to the USCIS at the time of filing the petition. Please note that EAWA applies only to new-hire H-1B petitions and not to those for change of status or extension of status. If you have any questions regarding EAWA, TARP funding or H-1B petitions, please don't hesitate to contact our office.

February 24, 2010

H-1B Cap Around the Corner! Get Started Now!

The H-1B cap filing period for fiscal year 2011 opens April 1, 2010, which is nearly 30 days away. If you'd like our assistance in preparing your H-1B petition, we advise that you get started now. There are built-in processes that take up time, so it is better not to wait. For example, the Labor Condition Application (LCA), which is submitted to the Department of Labor (DOL) and included in the H-1B petition, is taking a minimum of 7 days to be certified by the DOL. This must occur in order for the H-1B petition to be filed. With nearly 30 days left, this process alone will take at least 1 week. That leaves 3 weeks for the rest of the process to occur by April 1, 2010. We will be filing all H-1B cap petitions on March 31, 2010 for an April 1, 2010 arrival at the USCIS to ensure our clients have the best shot at getting an H-1B number. As you may know, there are 65,000 slots allocated for H-1B's each year, with an additional 20,000 slots for holders of U.S. Master's or higher degrees. It is a first-come, first-serve system and April 1 is the first day to try for a number. Please contact us as soon as possible if you need our assistance.

February 24, 2010

Unused FY2010 H-1B1 Numbers to Roll Over to FY2011 Filing Period

USCIS has indicated that unused H-1B1 numbers from FY2010, which pertain to Singaporean and Chileans, will roll over to the FY2011 cap. Each year, 6,800 H-1B slots are reserved for individuals from Singapore and Chile. In FY2010, only 129 of those numbers were used. This means that nearly 6600 additional cases of this nature will be accepted for the FY2011 filing period. Please note that although the FY2010 regular cap has closed, the USCIS has indicated that it will continue to accept H-1B1 petitions for nationals of Singapore and Chile since so few numbers have been used. If you need our assistance with this type of petition, please don't hesitate to contact our office.

February 22, 2010

ICE Updates List of Approved Schools for Student and Exchange Visitor Visas

On 02/16/2010, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) updated its list of approved schools for student visas (F-1) and exchange visitor visas (J-1). If you are searching for a particular school, note that the list is alphabetical and provides the following information: institution name, campus name, city/state and date approved. The list can be found at: http://www.ice.gov/doclib/sevis/pdf/ApprovedSchools.pdf.

January 22, 2010

Form DS-160 Now Required at U.S. Consulates in India

Effective January 19, 2010, all applicants for nonimmigrant visas at U.S. Consulates in India must use the Department of State's new web-based Form DS-160. This form replaces the DS-156, DS-157 and DS-158, which are no longer accepted in India. More information about this change can be found at: http://www.usembassy.gov/.

January 15, 2010

It's H-1B Season!

The FY2011 H-1B cap filing period will open 04/01/2010 (for a 10/01/2010 start date). Employers that sponsor foreign nationals for H-1B temporary worker status must show that the proffered position is a "specialty occupation," which means that it requires a minimum of a Bachelor's degree (or equivalent experience) for entry. The foreign national must also hold the relevant Bachelor's degree or higher to serve in the position.

As you may know, there is a limited number of H-1B slots each year (known as the H-1B quota). Currently, there are 65,000 slots afforded to foreign nationals with a Bachelor's degree or higher and 20,000 afforded to U.S. Master's degree holders. In prior years, as early as 2008, the quota was reached within days of April 1. Last year, the quota remained open until December 21, 2009 due to the poor economy and lack of H-1B filings. There is no telling what will occur this year as the results are often unpredictable. Accordingly, we plan to file all H-1B petitions on March 31, 2010 for an April 1, 2010 arrival at the immigration service. This leaves under 3 months to prepare these petitions. Please contact our office as soon as possible if you'd like to file an H-1B petition under this year's cap. We'd be pleased to assist you with this process.

January 13, 2010

USCIS Speaks on H-1B Employer/Employee Relationship

Today the USCIS issued guidance on the employer/employee relationship for purposes of H-1B specialty occupations. Whether a sufficient employer/employee relationship exists depends on the employer's right to control the means and manner in which the work is performed. The USCIS is supposed to review a variety of factors (i.e. a totality of the evidence presented in the H-1B petition) to determine whether a valid employer/employee relationship exists. Among the factors include: the petitioner's right to control the beneficiary; the supervision provided; the petitioner's control of daily work and work product; and the petitioner's right to hire, pay and fire the H-1B worker.

January 12, 2010

USCIS Publishes 2008 Annual H-1B Report

The USCIS has compiled and published the 2008 statistics for the H-1B category. The highlights include: (1) 5% decrease in the number of H-1B petitions filed in comparison to 2007; (2) 2% decrease in the number of H-1B petitions approved in comparison to 2007; (3) 54% of H-1B petitions approved for 2008 were for workers born in India; (4) 2/3rds of the petitions were for workers between 25 and 34 years old; (5) 43% of workers had Bachelor's degree, 41% had Master's, 11% had a doctorate, and 5% had a professional degree; (6) 50% of H-1B petitions approved were for computer-related occupations; and (7) the median annual salary was $60,000.

December 23, 2009

H-1B CAP CLOSED

On December 21, 2009, the USCIS announced the closing of the H-1B cap for this fiscal year. USCIS will reject cap-subject petitions for fiscal year 2010 received after December 21, 2009 USCIS will apply a computer-generated random selection process to all petitions received on December 21, 2009. The next date to file an H-1B cap petition is April 1, 2010 for an October 1, 2010 start date (fiscal year 2011). Please contact our office if you'd like to begin the process for fiscal year 2011.

December 8, 2009

BEWARE - USCIS Increases Number of Inspections!

The USCIS has announced that it will conduct 25,000 new site visits of H and L employers/petitioners during the fiscal year that started on 10/01/2009. This marks a 5-fold increase in the number of site visits conducted during the last fiscal year. This increase is in response to a 2008 study concluding that 20% of H-1B applications involved fraud or other violations. In order to be prepared for a USCIS site visit, we suggest reviewing all the files of foreign workers to make sure they contain the necessary documentation. We also think it prudent to ensure that each worker is performing the duties as described at the location listed in the petition and that the proper (prevailing) wage is being paid. It is also a good idea to have policies and procedures in place beforehand for responding to these USCIS visits so that all employees know what to do and what to expect when the USCIS comes knocking.

December 8, 2009

H-1B Cap Almost Closed!

On December 4, 2009, the USCIS announced that 61,100 of 65,000 regular cap petitions have been received. In addition, approximately 20,000 U.S. Master's or higher petitions (i.e. advanced degree petitions) have been received. Any advanced degree petitions received from here on out will count toward the regular cap of 65,000. The USCIS is still accepting petitions at this time, but it is advised that any H-1B petitions be filed as soon as possible as the USCIS could announce that the cap is closed at any time.

December 3, 2009

Employer Site Visits - 3 Types

At a recent Department of Homeland Security (DHS) function, the DHS explained the three types of site visits currently being conducted:

1. Risk Assessment

This is a joint program between the USCIS and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and applies to any type of benefit program, including family and employment-based immigration. Applications and petitions are chosen randomly, typically following approval, and visits are conducted to identify potential fraud.

2. Targeted

These visits occur when fraud is suspected. During the visit, many questions may be asked. Advance notice, including notice to any immigration attorneys, is supposed to occur before the visit.

3. Administrative

These are specific to H-1Bs and religious worker petitions. They are generally conducted by USCIS contractors who may or may not be well versed in immigration law. For H-1B visits, specific questions are asked involving the employer, wage, and duties. Employers are chosen at random and typically only receive one visit per site. Religious worker visits are performed in accordance with the religious worker regulations.

December 1, 2009

H-1Bs Going Fast!

On November 27, 2009, the USCIS announced that 58,900 of 65,000 regular cap petitions have been received. In addition, approximately 20,000 U.S. Master's or higher petitions (i.e. advanced degree petitions) have been received. Any advanced degree petitions received from here on out will count toward the regular cap of 65,000. The USCIS is still accepting petitions at this time, but it is advised that any H-1B petitions be filed as soon as possible as the USCIS could announce that the cap is closed at any time.

November 12, 2009

H-1B Cap Count Updated

On October 30, 2009, the USCIS announced that 53,800 of 65,000 regular cap petitions have been received. In addition, approximately 20,000 U.S. Master's or higher petitions (i.e. advanced degree petitions) have been received. Any advanced degree petitions received from here on out will count toward the regular cap of 65,000. The USCIS is still accepting petitions at this time, but it is advised that any H-1B petitions be filed as soon as possible as the USCIS could announce that the cap is closed at any time.

October 1, 2009

H-1B Cap Update

The H-1B category is a temporary status available to specialty workers who hold a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree or equivalent experience and who will be working in positions that require the same. The H-1B category is capped at 65,000 petitions per year worldwide plus 20,000 additional petitions for those who earned a Masters degree or higher from a U.S. educational institution. The latest H-1B cap count came out September 25, 2009 and reports that 46,700 regular cap petitions and 20,000 Master’s cap petitions have been filed with the USCIS. The agency will continue to receive both types of cap petitions until all cap numbers have been used.

August 21, 2009

USCIS Visit to H-1B Employer is Warning for All

Employers pay a $500 anti-fraud fee as part of each H-1B petition. This fee has been used recently by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to hire contractors to perform site visits to petitioning entities to check the status of workers. One such visit has been recounted to practitioners in the field as a warning of what’s to come.

An investigator phoned the H-1B employer and asked for the company’s attorney who was not available. The lawyer called the investigator back who told him that he is a federally certified private investigator doing background checks on government employees for the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Fraud Detection Program. He stated that these types of visits are usually undergone without warning.

The crux of this investigation revolved around the investigator’s concerns about the attorney signing an H-1B petition for the employer (note: this is actually untrue – the attorney signed as the attorney only). Two items were of interest to the investigator. First, whether the company was a operating business and second, whether the employee/beneficiary was a legitimate worker. He was investigating for two kinds of fraud: a worker who lies on a petition, claiming to work for an employer that he doesn’t work for and/or an employer lying on a petition. He wanted to meet with HR to confirm the employee’s information and also wanted photos of the entity to prove it exists. The investigator mentioned that 28 cities will be targeted with investigations and that this employer was randomly selected. If anything is uncovered in the investigation, the information will be turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or DHS.

August 20, 2009

H-1B Cap Update

The H-1B category is a temporary status available to specialty workers who hold a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree or equivalent experience and who will be working in positions that require the same. The H-1B category is capped at 65,000 petitions per year worldwide plus 20,000 additional petitions for those who earned a Masters degree or higher from a U.S. educational institution. The latest H-1B cap count came out August 14, 2009 and reports that 45,000 regular cap petitions and 20,000 Master’s cap petitions have been filed with the USCIS. The agency will continue to receive both types of cap petitions until all cap numbers have been used.

June 30, 2009

USCIS Continues Tally of Filings of H1-B Petitions for Fiscal Year 2010

As of June 26, 2009, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has updated its tally for H1-B petition filings for the fiscal year beginning October 1st, 2009. To date, the agency has collected over 44,800 H-1B cap petitions. The US Congress has capped the number of potential filings at 65,000 per year. Thus far, the USCIS has collected at least 20,000 alien petitions from individuals with advanced degrees towards the 20,000 advanced degree cap. Although this particular cap has been reached, the agency plans to continue taking petitions because, statistically, a significant percentage of those 20,000 applications will be invalidated or otherwise disallowed or can be counted against the general 65,000 pool of petitions.

With 20.200 slots left, we encourage H1-B applicants to contact our office to ensure the H-1B petition is filed while the numbers are still available.