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AAO issues Binding Precedent Decision on P-3 Visa Petition
May 16, 2012
The USCIS Administrative Appeals Office has issued a binding precedent decision addressing the term “culturally unique” and its significance in the adjudication of petitions for performing artists and entertainers under the P-3 visa classification. AAO has clarified that a “culturally unique” style of art or entertainment is not limited to traditional art forms, but may include artistic expression that is deemed to be a hybrid or fusion of more than one culture or region.
R-1 Religious Workers Can Recapture Time Spent Outside the U.S.
March 12, 2012
The USCIS has recently issued a Policy Memorandum outlining the procedure to be used for recapturing time spent outside the US by R-1 nonimmigrants when seeking an extension of their R nonimmigrant status. USCIS has indicated that it is extending the recapture policy under which nonimmigrant aliens and their dependents may recapture time spent outside of the US when calculating their maximum period of authorized stay, to the R-1 nonimmigrant classification; and as a matter of policy, it will count only the time spent physically in the US in valid R-1 status towards the 5-year maximum period of stay. When requesting an extension, the petitioner may request that full calendar days spent outside the US during the period of petition validity be recaptured and added back to the alien’s total maximum period of stay. However, the burden of proof rests with the petitioner to establish the alien’s eligibility for any recapture benefits.
New DOS Rule to allow L Visas to be issued for up to 5 years
February 15, 2012
DOS has passed a new rule that delinks visa and petition validity periods, and permits the issuance of L visas with validity periods based on the visa reciprocity schedule, which for certain countries, can be for a period up to 5 years. This change would benefit L-1 beneficiaries who are nationals of countries for which the reciprocity schedule prescribes visa validity for a longer period of time than the initial validity indicated in their approved L-1 petition, and who have extended their stay on L-1 status while in the United States. The change, however, affects only the validity period of the L-1 visa, and does not alter the period of time that an L-1 nonimmigrant can stay in the United States.
Report suggests dramatic increase in denials of H-1B and L-1 petitions by USCIS
February 14, 2012
A recent report of the National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP), a non-profit, public policy research organization based in Arlington, Virginia, suggests that there has been a dramatic increase in denials of L-1 and H-1B petitions by the USCIS over the past four years, and that in FY 2011, 63% of all L-1B petitions received an RFE and 27% were issued a denial by the USCIS. The report also suggests that much of the increase in denials involves Indian-born professionals and researchers, and that USCIS denied more L-1B petitions for new petitions for Indians in FY 2009 (1,640) than in the previous 9 fiscal years combined (1,341 denials between FY 2000 and FY 2008).
USCIS to allow bundled filings for L-1 petitions
November 07, 2011
USCIS has informed that if petitioners bundle multiple L-1B petitions related to the same project, where the location and the specialized knowledge duties of the beneficiaries are the same, USCIS will consider them together. It will also consider petitions for L-1A managers included with the bundle if such persons will be managing the L-1B beneficiaries who will be working on the project. However, each petition must be packaged separately with its own fees and supporting evidence. Petitioners can also submit more than one bundle of L-1 petitions if there is more than one specialized knowledge occupation related to a project.
Chennai Consulate to be the Sole Blanket L Visa Processing Center in India
November 02, 2011
The US Embassy in New Delhi has announced that starting December 1, 2011, the US Consulate General in Chennai will be the sole Blanket L category visa acceptance and processing center in India. Companies throughout India will be requested to send Blanket L applicants exclusively to Chennai for visa interviews. This change, however, does not affect the spouses and children of L1 visa holders. They and individual L1A and L1B visa applicants may still be processed at any US Consulate in India. Also, this centralization affects only the location for processing of L1 Blanket visas. It does not change the law or policy for visa processing.
ALJ approves Settlement Agreement in Prince George’s County H-1B Teachers case
October 12, 2011
The Office of the Administrative Law Judges (ALJ) has issued a Decision and Order approving a Settlement Agreement between the Administrator of the Wage and Hour Division, and Board of Education of Prince George’s County in the matter of violations related to teachers in H-1B nonimmigrant status. The violations listed were related to 1,044 H-1B workers employed by the St. George’s County Public Schools, most of which were most likely teachers. The terms of the approved settlement include payment of over $4.2 million in back wages, and an agreement to a two-year debarment period, and payment of a civil penalty in the amount of $100,000 conditioned on the two-year debarment.
DOL postpones the effective date for final rule concerning H-2B wage methodology
October 04, 2011
The Department of Labor has announced a 60-day postponement of the effective date for the final rule concerning the wage methodology for the Temporary Non-Agricultural Employment H-2B program, postponing the effective date from September 30, 2011 to November 30, 2011. The Wage Rule revises the methodology for calculating the prevailing wages to be paid to H–2B workers and U.S. workers recruited in connection with a temporary labor certification for use in petitioning the DHS to employ a nonimmigrant worker in the H–2B status. DOL has informed that in consideration of the two pending challenges to the Wage Rule and its new effective date, it is postponing the effective date of the rule from September 30, 2011, until November 30, 2011.
OFLC issues Q&As regarding delays in issuing PWD and H1B LCAs
September 16, 2011
On September 12, 2011, the Office of Foreign labor Certification (OFLC) issued Questions and Answers regarding the delays in issuing Prevailing Wage Determinations (PWD) and H-1B Labor Condition Applications (LCA). Reminding employers that they can obtain a prevailing wage on their own without the assistance of the NPWC, OFLC observed that DOL’s regulations provide the employer with alternative sources for obtaining a prevailing wage in support of an H-1B application. OFLC mentioned that as long as the employer provides a prevailing wage in support of its H-1B application, whether through obtaining a PWD from the NPWC or through the other listed sources, there should not be any consequences to the foreign worker on whose behalf the H-1B application was filed.
USCIS publishes Final Rule establishing Transitional Worker Classification for workers in CNMI
September 12, 2011
USCIS has recently published a final rule that establishes a Transitional Worker (CW) classification for workers in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). The CW classification allows employers in the CNMI to hire nonimmigrant workers who are otherwise ineligible to work. A limited number of CW visas are available each fiscal year and the numerical limitation for FY 2011 is 22,417 and for FY 2012 will be 22,416. The final rule also provides for the grant of derivative CW status to spouses and minor children of CW workers.

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