April 2007

From the Editor's Desk

Hello and welcome to the April 2007 Immigration Newsletter!

April Fools!!! Last year April Fools Day joke took a serious turn when a reputed website issued a press release that the USCIS reached the H-1B cap for FY 2007 on the first day of filing. The prank turned out to be true this year, and we at VisaPro had envisaged this scenario well in advance.

USCIS announced on April 2nd and April 3rd that it had received enough H-1B petitions to meet the congressionally mandated cap for fiscal year 2008 (FY 2008). Additionally, on May 04, 2007, USCIS announced that it had received enough H-1B petitions requesting exemptions from the FY 2008 H-1B cap for foreign workers who have earned a master’s degree or higher from a U.S. institution of higher education to meet the congressionally mandated exemption limit of 20,000. What is the H-1B and H-2B Cap, and how does it affect you? you ask. See our In Focus article this month. It provides complete information about the annual cap count for certain nonimmigrant visas for the FY 2008. It also has some brief notes on various bills that have been introduced in Congress to reform U.S. visa programs for highly skilled foreign workers and/or provide temporary relief from the H-1B cap.

Both government and industry experts were surprised to see the H-1B visa usage grew this big. However, it should not come as that much of a surprise given that the cap has been reached earlier and earlier each year. Because the cap was reached on the first day, and USCIS received more than twice the number of petitions for the number of visas available, they had to once again conduct a computer-generated random selection of cap-subject petitions to determine which cases they would accept for processing. The IT industry has been pushing hard to increase the number of visas available, with Bill Gates being their knight in shining armor, making several appearances before the U.S. Congress. We will keep you abreast of the developments on this front in our future issues of Immigration Monitor.

It is always a great feeling helping clients through their difficult and, very often, tiring immigration process. We share one such Success Story Avoiding the H-1B trap about developing alternative options (L-1, L Blanket, H-3 and B-1 visas) for personnel coming to the US, without relying on the H-1B visas.

This month we are also focusing on the R-1 religious worker program. As long as 8 years ago the Government Accountability Office reported that there is fraud in the religious worker program. In more recent times USCIS has noted there is a growing misuse of the category because of the opportunity for fraud in the program. On April 25, 2007, USCIS published proposed Revisions for Religious Worker Visa Classifications in the Federal Register. We have summarized the proposal for you in our April Industry Perspective.

USCIS has also made some policy changes which allow petitioners more time to bring foreign workers with extraordinary abilities to the United States. It has clarified that petitioners can now file O and P nonimmigrant petitions up to one year before a scheduled event under normal processing procedures, making planning and scheduling much easier. So if you want to know more about O and  P visa options contact us. To check your eligibility for O and P visas click here.

Adding further to our endeavors in bringing one-stop global immigration service to all our readers, this month VisaPro has added immigration services to two more European countries. I invite our readers to visit our new Italy and France websites for information and queries related to immigration needs for these countries.

Once again last month’s poll question generated mixed reactions from our readers. The opinion was fairly equally divided. About half of those taking part in the poll believe the new USCIS regulations for US citizens filing an I-130 for an alien relative while outside the US would cause distress, hence having an adverse effect. The balance of you felt the new regulations would not have an adverse affect those US citizens outside the US when filing an I-130. This month we have another interesting question for you in our Your Opinion section. Dont miss the chance to make your opinion heard.

Congratulations to Janet Hopkins for winning last months Immigration Quiz and earning a FREE online consultation! A significant number of participants seemed to be confused about what would happen if a person is late in filing a petition to Remove Conditions while in the U.S. Check out the correct answer and see how close you were. We have another interesting quiz for you this month so put your thinking caps on and get out the research books. Give it a try; your name might be featured in the next Immigration Monitor newsletter as the winner. All the Best!

See you next month with a lot more noise from the Immigration World! Till then CIAO!!

Latest Immigration News

USCIS reaches H-1B Exemption CAP for FY 2008

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today that it has received enough H-1B petitions requesting exemptions from the FY 2008 H-1B cap for “foreign workers who have earned a master’s degree or higher from a U.S. institution of higher education” to meet the congressionally mandated exemption limit of 20,000. USCIS has determined that the “final receipt date” for these exempt H-1B petitions is April 30, 2007. USCIS will be rejecting petitions requesting a FY 2008 cap exemption for “workers with a master’s or higher degree earned from a U.S. institution of higher education” that are received on or after May 1, 2007 unless the petition is otherwise eligible for a separate cap exemption.

USCIS Proposes Revisions for Religious Worker Visa Classifications

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) propose to amend existing regulations pertaining to special immigrant and nonimmigrant religious worker visa classifications. The proposed rule focuses on how the integrity of the religious worker program by eliminating opportunities for fraud in the program while, at the same time, streamlining the process for lawful petitioners.

USCIS introduces the Citizen's Almanac

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) have released The Citizen’s Almanac, a publication particularly developed for new citizens. The Citizen’s Almanac is a collection of America’s most esteemed symbols of freedom and right. The Almanac links our newest citizens with the rich civic history we all share as Americans. To enhance the naturalization process for the more than 700,000 new citizens the United States welcomes each year, The Citizen’s Almanac will be distributed by USCIS at all naturalization ceremonies starting this month.

April's Featured Articles

What is the H-1B and H-2B Cap, and how does it affect you?

U.S. businesses utilize the H-1B program to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require a body of theoretical knowledge and/or technical expertise in specialized fields, such as scientists, engineers, or computer programmers. Congress has limited the number of new individuals that can enter the US in the H-1B category to 65,000 per year.

Embark on a religious journey to U.S. through R-1 visa

It may soon become harder to get an R visa as a religious worker. Over the past few years the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the US Consulates overseas, and the USCIS has determined that the R visa category is susceptible to fraud. The first report on the potential for fraud in the program was issued by the GAO in March 1999, over 8 years ago. USCIS, through the Fraud Detection and National Security (FDNS) Office, continued to review the program to look for weaknesses. In fact FDNS has found that as many as one-third of the cases filed under the R visa category are fraudulent.

Questions and Answers


Can it be possible to transfer the H1B, I left the petitioner, joined the new company in India. I never traveled on H-1B and currently working in India.


Yes, H-1B transfer is possible if you have the approval notice from your previous employer; your new employer has to file the petition for H-1B transfer with USCIS. You are not required to come under the Cap and you can start working as soon as your H-1B gets transferred.


My husband has an L1-A visa and I am on a J1 visa. My visa expires in June 2007. What is the benefit of changing my visa from J-1 to L-2? I am traveling to my home country in May 2007 and will be back at the end of May. My current visa expires in June 2007. Is it possible to obtain an L-2 visa after I come back in May 2007? What will happen if my husband changes his employment and will no longer have an L1-A?


If your J-1 is subject to the 2 year foreign residence requirement, you must either satisfy the requirement or obtain a waiver of the requirement before you can either obtain an L visa or change your status to L, a L-2 can obtain employment authorization that is not restricted to a particular employer or job. If you are otherwise qualified and not restricted as discussed above, you may be able to obtain an L-2 after you return to the US on your J visa in May. Your L-2 is dependent on your husband being in L-1 status. Your L-2 will no longer be valid if your husband is no longer an L-1.

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