Time has come for one of the busiest times in the immigration world! The first day for filing the H-1B Visa for fiscal year 2012 is quickly approaching on April 1, 2011. Petitions subject to the FY 2012 cap must request a start date on or after October 1, 2011. USCIS will accept H-1B petitions until it establishes that it has received sufficient filings to meet the cap for the year. The standard cap is 65,000 and the master’s cap is 20,000. If USCIS receives enough cases to reach the 65,000 standard cap during the first five business days, it will use a lottery to select the cases that are awarded quota numbers. The cap does not apply to foreign nationals in the U.S. who are in lawful H1B status and who are seeking to extend their visa or change employers. As always, petitions are considered accepted on the date that the USCIS receives the petition, not the date that the petition is postmarked. Since the economy is still recovering it seems highly unlikely that the cap will be filled within the first week. However, to eliminate uncertainty and to ensure a successful filing, we recommend employers always file early.
In the wake of last month’s State of the Union address, the White House has released a brief outline of its immigration plan. President Obama laid out his vision to fix the nation’s broken immigration system while he also reiterated his deep commitment to address this issue. He strongly believes that the immigration system needs to be fixed to strengthen the global competitiveness and boost the country’s economy. The outline, and a companion post on the official White House blog, focuses largely on border security and worksite enforcement, but also touches on the need for skilled immigration to strengthen the United States’ economic competitiveness.
While President Obama’s efforts to fix the broken immigration system continue, USCIS has made considerable progress in its efforts, exemplified by one of its most important announcements last month. USCIS has announced that it is now issuing combined employment authorization and travel authorization on a single card for certain applicants filing an Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, Form I-485. This new card represents a significant improvement from the current practice of issuing paper Advance Parole documents.
Lastly, a survey commissioned by the government on E-Verify indicates that a small minority of employers have been using the web based government verification system to check the work eligibility of new hires. The report considers whether E-Verify should become mandatory, we will keep you posted on how the government responds to the findings and suggestions.
Other Developments in Immigration Law:
H and L Visa Appointments No Longer Available at the Mumbai Consulate
Scheduled appointments for L and H visas will be kept, but until the opening of the new consulate in Mumbai, H and L Visa Appointments should be made at other US consulates in India.
USCIS Answers Regarding Form I-129 and Increase in L-1 RFEs
During a recent teleconference USCIS stated that over 30% of the L-1 filings for FY11 were issued RFEs. USCIS also stated that Form I-129S does not require an attestation on export controls in regards to blanket L visa applications. Furthermore, on Form I-129, USCIS interprets the term “working off-site” to mean that the beneficiary will be working at a location other than the petitioning employer’s work site.
USCIS Transfers 36,000 Immediate Relative Petitions from California to Texas Service Center
USCIS transferred approximately 36,000 Immediate Relative petitions from their California Service Center to the Texas Service Center. USCIS anticipated that this redistribution of work would result in more timely adjudication of these petitions. On Feb. 7, 2011, USCIS implemented a rapid response plan to expedite the adjudication of these petitions.
Immigration Articles and Other Fun Stuff:
Check out our In Focus section for this month, B Visa Extension: 10 Things You Must Know Before You Apply talks about 10 key things every foreign national must keep in mind before applying for an extension of stay, for successful approval of their B visa extension application.
Every month we introduce a new and interesting question for our opinion poll. Last month’s poll results indicate that 70.00 % of the respondents favor GAO’s recommendation to the DHS and DOL to take steps to improve efficiency, flexibility and monitoring of the H-1B program. We appreciate that people take interest in the opinion question and cast their vote to give us their feedback. Keep it up! And continue to cast your vote to express Your Opinion.
We congratulate John Heiss for winning last month’s Immigration Quiz. Again, we received a significant number of responses from our readers, who talked about various solutions to support their position, but John Heiss gave the correct answer and won a free online consultation to discuss the concerned Immigration issues. So it’s time to get ready for this month’s quiz. If you know the correct answer your name might be featured in next month’s newsletter. All the Best!!!
See you next month with a lot more noise from the Immigration World!