Hello and welcome to the May 2012 Immigration Newsletter!
We are barely two months into the Fiscal Year 2013 H-1B filing season and well over half of the H-1B cap numbers have already been used. USCIS has reported that as of May 18, 2012, it has received approximately 42,000 (out of 65,000) H-1B cap-subject petitions and 16,000 (out of 20,000) cap-subject petitions for foreign nationals with advanced degrees – meaning, only about 23,000 and 4,000 numbers are left for the H-1B regular cap and master’s cap, respectively. Last year, the H-1B regular cap numbers did not reach 41,000 until October 7, 2011 – almost 6 months from the start of the FY 2012 filing season!
Based on current calculations and the prediction that there will be a surge in H-1B filings as the cap is about to be reached, we will very likely be reporting that the cap has closed in our next newsletter in June! With this in mind, employers intending to employ foreign workers are well advised to contact us IMMEDIATELY. Make sure to contact VisaPro to discuss all options as soon as a position is offered.
In other news, in a welcome development, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has announced an expansion of the list of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) designated-degree programs that qualify eligible graduates on student visas for an optional practical training (OPT) extension [OPT STEM extension]. The expanded list of designated STEM degree programs includes fields such as Pharmaceutical Sciences; Health/Medical Physics; Architectural and Building Sciences/Technology; Educational Evaluation and Research; Air Science/Airpower Studies; Archeology; and many other fields. This welcome decision of DHS is expected to benefit international students and U.S. employers alike.
In the Employment Based Green Card front, as announced earlier, the DOS June Visa Bulletin indicated that the EB-2 priority dates for India and China are currently unavailable and it will remain so for the remainder of FY-2012. EB-2 visa numbers for nationals of China and India will not be available again until October 1, 2012, under the FY-2013 annual numerical limitations. In what could be even more bad news for EB-2 beneficiaries from India and China, DOS has communicated that while it is impossible to accurately estimate how long it may take to return to the May 1, 2010 cut-off date which had been reported in April 2012, current indications are that it will not occur before spring 2013. Meanwhile, the EB-2 numbers for other countries remained current, along with EB-1, EB-4, and EB-5 numbers for all countries.
Following the preliminary injunction ordered by the U.S. District Court for Northern District of Florida against the implementation of the H-2B Final Rule 2012, the Department of Labor (DOL) announced that for the time-being, employers should file their H-2B labor certification applications under the 2008 regulations. Further, DOL has also informed stakeholders that in light of the preliminary injunction, employers filing H-2B applications under the 2008 Final Rule must do so using the extended ETA Form 9142 and Appendix B.1, reflecting the October 31, 2012 expiration date (ETA Form 9142, Appendices A.2 and B.1 and associated instructions which were previously set to expire on April 30, 2012, have been extended and the new expiration date for these forms is October 31, 2012). We will continue to keep our readers informed on further developments related to the H-2B Final Rule 2012.
Applicants for the Diversity Visa (Visa Lottery) under DV 2013 program should now be able to check the status of their entries through the Entrant Status Check on the E-DV website. The Department of State (DOS) has advised the public, however, of a notable increase and reporting of fraudulent emails and letters sent to DV program applicants. The DOS DOES NOT SEND EMAILS TO ENTRANTS REGARDING THEIR STATUS OF THE DV LOTTERY. DOS has advised applicants that the Entrant Status Check is the only means by which DV selectees will be notified of their selection, and it will provide successful selectees instructions on how to proceed with their application. Entrants will need to use the information from their confirmation pages saved at the time of entry. Further, as more DV 2013 entrants may be selected on October 1, 2012, applicants have been advised to keep their confirmation. For more information, DV applicants should click here.
Other Developments in Immigration Law:
AAO issues Binding Precedent Decision on P-3 Visa Petition
The USCIS Administrative Appeals Office has issued a rare 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.
DOL announcement on new H2B Regulations 2012
DOL announced that on April 26, 2012, the new H2B Regulations 2012 were preliminarily enjoined by the U.S. District Court for Northern District of Florida, Pensacola Division, and have not been implemented. Therefore, for the present time, employers should continue to file their H-2B labor certification applications under the previous 2008 regulations.
Immigration Articles and Other Fun Stuff:
Our ‘Featured Video’ for this month titled ‘H1B Employee: Dealing with Multiple Job Locations’, explores situations where an employer sends an H1B worker to a new worksite not listed on the Labor Condition Application (LCA) and explains how to determine when a new LCA is required and if an amended H1B petition may be required. Please check out and subscribe to our YouTube channel to take advantage of another great service provided to you by VisaPro.
Also check out our In Focus article for this month titled ‘The ‘Intern Visas’: Options for Employing Foreign Students and Recent Graduates’, which provides a snapshot of the various intern visa options that may be available to US employers and companies, who are considering employing foreign national interns.
Every month we introduce a new and interesting question for our opinion poll. Last month’s poll results indicate that a majority of respondents (57.14%) think that DOL’s new H-2B Regulations 2012 are more business-friendly than the previous H-2B regulation. We must admit that we are a bit surprised with the response received for this poll question. However, we do 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 Ahmed Shah for winning last month’s Immigration Quiz. Ahmed gave the best answer and won a free online consultation to discuss the concerned Immigration issues. 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!