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USCIS Announces Further Measures to Detect H-1B Visa Fraud and Abuse

April 6, 2017 Leave a comment
On April 3, 2017, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced multiple measures to further deter and detect H-1B visa fraud and abuse.  The press release states that the H-1B visa program should help U.S. companies recruit highly-skilled foreign nationals when there is a shortage of qualified workers in the country. Yet, too many American workers who are as qualified, willing, and deserving to work in these fields have been ignored or unfairly disadvantaged. Protecting American workers by combating fraud in our employment-based immigration programs is a priority for USCIS.

Beginning April 3, 2017, USCIS will take a more targeted approach when making site visits across the country to H-1B petitioners and the worksites of H-1B employees. USCIS will focus on:

  • Cases where USCIS cannot validate the employer’s basic business information through commercially available data;
  • H-1B-dependent employers (those who have a high ratio of H-1B workers as compared to U.S. workers, as defined by statute); and
  • Employers petitioning for H-1B workers who work off-site at another company or organization’s location.

The press release further states that targeted site visits will allow USCIS to focus resources where fraud and abuse of the H-1B program may be more likely to occur, and determine whether H-1B dependent employers are evading their obligation to make a good faith effort to recruit U.S. workers.  USCIS will continue random and unannounced visits nationwide. The press release states that these site visits are not meant to target nonimmigrant employees for any kind of criminal or administrative action but rather to identify employers who are abusing the system.

March 2017 Visa Bulletin – Employment-Based Visa Numbers – Eligibility to File Adjustment of Status Applications

February 17, 2017 Leave a comment
Employ-
ment
based
All Charge-
ability
Areas Except
Those Listed
CHINA-
mainland
born
EL SALVADOR
GUATEMALA
HONDURAS
INDIA MEXICO PHILIPPINES
1st C C C C C C
2nd C 15NOV12 C 15APR08 C C
3rd 01OCT16 01OCT13 01OCT16 22MAR05 01OCT16 15OCT11
Other Workers 01OCT16 01DEC05 01OCT16 22MAR05 01OCT16 15OCT11
4th C C 15JUL15 C 15JUL15 C
Certain Religious Workers C C 15JUL15 C 15JUL15 C
5th
Non-Regional
Center
(C5 and T5)
C 15APR14 C C C C
5th
Regional
Center
(I5 and R5)
C 15APR14 C C C C

USCIS received over 236,000 H-1B petitions in April 2016

April 20, 2016 Leave a comment

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on April 7, 2016, that it has received enough H-1B petitions to reach the statutory cap of 65,000 visas for fiscal year (FY) 2017. USCIS has also received more than the limit of 20,000 H-1B petitions filed under the advanced degree exemption, also known as the master’s cap.

USCIS received over 236,000 H-1B petitions during the filing period, which began April 1, including petitions filed for the advanced degree exemption. On April 9, USCIS used a computer-generated random selection process, or lottery, to select enough petitions to meet the 65,000 general-category cap and the 20,000 cap under the advanced degree exemption. USCIS will reject and return all unselected petitions with their filing fees, unless the petition is found to be a duplicate filing.

The agency conducted the selection process for the advanced degree exemption first. All unselected advanced degree petitions then became part of the random selection process for the 65,000 limit.

USCIS will begin premium processing for H-1B cap cases no later than May 16, 2016.

24-Month STEM OPT Rule

March 12, 2016 Leave a comment

Final rule pertaining to STEM OPT has been published in Federal Register.  As per the rule, beginning May 10, 2016, students will be able to apply for STEM OPT for a period of 24 months.  The 17-month STEM OPT rule will remain in effect until May 9, 2016.

Few Points:

-If a 12-month OPT is expiring before May 10, 2016, students will be eligible to apply for STEM extension requesting no more than 17 months.

-If a 12-month OPT is expiring on or after May 10, 2016, students will be eligible to apply for STEM extension requesting 24 months.

-If a student has 17-month STEM approval, he or she may apply for the remaining 7 months of additional STEM extension.  There are three specific requirements surrounding this:

1) Properly file a Form I-765 on or after May 10, 2016 and on or before August 8, 2016, and within 60 days of the date the DSO enters the recommendation for the 24- month OPT extension into the student’s SEVIS record, with  fees and documents, including a new Form I-20 endorsed on or after May 10, 2016, indicating that the DSO recommends the student for a 24-month OPT extension, a completed and signed Form I-983 Mentoring and Training Plan.
2) Have at least 150 calendar days remaining prior to the end of his or her 17-month OPT extension at the time the Form I-765, is properly filed.
3) Meet all the requirements for the 24-month OPT extension, except the requirement that the student must be in a valid period of standard 12-month post-completion OPT at the time of filing.

More information will be posted as the USCIS releases guidance, instructions, and/or FAQs.

H-1B & L-1 Fee Increase

December 22, 2015 Leave a comment

On December 18, 2015, President Obama signed into law the Omnibus Appropriations Bill for 2016. The U.S. Senate adopted the Omnibus Appropriations Act (the “Act”) by a vote of 65-33; the House did so by a 316-113.

H-1B & L-1 Fee Increase

The Act includes, among other things, the following changes to the currently expired H-1B/L-1 fees for companies with more than 50 employees and companies where 50% or more of the employees hold H-1B or L-1 status:

  • Additional L-1 fees for companies with more than 50 employees and where 50% or more of the total employees are in H or L status increase from $2,250 to $4,500;
  • Additional H-1B fees for companies with more than 50 employees and where 50% or more of the total employees are in H or L status increase from $2,000 to $4,000;
  • Fees must be paid on initial petitions as well as extension petitions;
  • Fees are authorized for ten years, running through September 30, 2025;
  • The funds generated by these fees will be split between the 9-11 programs and the Biometric Entry-Exit program;
  • The addl. fee goes into effect immediately.  In fact, the US Consulates in India are already charging it.

Fees Breakdown

While we await the final guidance from USCIS on the precise fees to be paid, the following appears to be the breakdown:

  • H-1B initial filing: $325* + $1500** + $4000*** + $500**** = $6325
  • H-1B first extension: $325 + $1500 + $4000 = $5825
  • H-1B second/subsequent extension: $325 + $4000 = $4325
  • L-1 initial filing: $325 + 4500 + 500 = $5325
  • L-1 first or subsequent extension: $325 + $4500 = $4825

*Form I-129 Fee

**ACWIA H-1B training Fee

*** 9-11 Response and Biometric Entry-Exit Fee

****Fraud Detection and Prevention Fee

Precise fee details will be posted on this blog once there is guidance from USCIS.

January 2016 Visa Bulletin – Employment-Based Visa Numbers – Eligibility to File Adjustment of Status Applications

December 22, 2015 Leave a comment
Employment-
Based
All Chargeability
Areas Except
Those Listed
CHINA-
mainland
born
INDIA MEXICO PHILIPPINES
1st C C C C C
2nd C 01JAN13 01JUL09 C C
3rd 01JAN16 01OCT13 01JUL05 01JAN16 01JAN10
Other Workers 01JAN16 01JAN07 01JUL05 01JAN16 01JAN10
4th C C C C C
Certain Religious
Workers
C C C C C
5th Non-Regional
Center (C5 and T5)
C 01MAY15 C C C
5th Regional Center
(I5 and R5)
C 01MAY15 C C C

December 2015 Visa Bulletin – Employment-Based Visa Numbers – Eligibility to File Adjustment of Status Applications

November 12, 2015 Leave a comment
Employment-
Based
All Chargeability
Areas Except
Those Listed
CHINA-
mainland
born
INDIA MEXICO PHILIPPINES
1st C C C C C
2nd C 01JAN13 01JUL09 C C
3rd 01SEP15 01OCT13 01JUL05 01SEP15 01JAN10
Other Workers 01SEP15 01JAN07 01JUL05 01SEP15 01JAN10
4th C C C C C
Certain Religious
Workers
C C C C C
5th Non-Regional
Center (C5 and T5)
C 01MAY15 C C C
5th Regional Center
(I5 and R5)
C 01MAY15 C C C
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