In our continuing series of reports, Charles (“Charlie”) Oppenheim, Chief of the Visa Control and Reporting Division, U.S. Department of State, shares his most recent analysis of current trends and future projections for the various immigrant preference categories with AILA (the American Immigration Lawyers’ Association).

Below are highlights from the most recent “check-in with Charlie” (January 13, 2017), reflecting his analysis of current trends and future projections for the various immigrant preference categories.

This month, Charlie offers his analysis of current trends and future projections for the various immigrant preference categories for the beginning of the next fiscal year (October 2016) and beyond.                                                                                                   

Check-in with DOS’s Charlie Oppenheim: January 13, 2017

QUESTION: What can we expect in terms of movement of FB-2 Final Action Dates?

ANSWER: All of the family-based categories will continue to move at a rate that is consistent with the current pace. I do not expect any dramatic forward movement or slowing down in the coming months. FB-2A should continue to move an average of three weeks each month.

The only family-based categories which may change in terms of the rate of forward movement are the Philippines categories. There is very low demand for FB-2B and F-4 Philippines. Cut-off dates for the other Philippines FB categories have advanced at a faster pace initially, but if demand for FB-2B and F-4 starts to increase, movement in the other categories may start to slow.

F-4 China will reach the F-4 Worldwide date in March.

F-4 India will continue to move but is not expected to reach the F-4 Worldwide date until summer. If there are unused numbers from the other preference categories that fall down to F-4 India, the cut-off date may advance more quickly.

Movements in the family-based Final Action Dates may start to slow in the second half of the fiscal year. Updated projections will appear in the next Visa Bulletin.

QUESTION: Can we expect to see any movement in the “filing” dates during the fiscal year, or is movement generally confined to the beginning of the fiscal year?

ANSWER: I monitor these dates throughout the fiscal year and there may be some updates in the coming months. Changes in the filing dates tend to be more dramatic at the beginning of the fiscal year, but changes are sometimes required in the second half of the year based on demand patterns and future needs.

GENERAL OBSERVATIONS. Number usage to date is higher than last year across the board.

EB-4 EL SALVADOR, GUATEMALA, HONDURAS AND MEXICO. Since our last column, Charlie has received information that potential demand for EB-4 El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico prior to the current Final Action Date could be significant. For example, there are more than 1,500 pre-adjudicated applications for EB-4 El Salvador alone. Because there is already enough pre-adjudicated demand beyond the current date to reach the annual targets, the Final Action Date will continue to hold. If the date were to advance now and there was a subsequent flood of demand with earlier priority dates, this could cause the date to retrogress.

EB-1. Demand in this category remains strong and a cut-off date for EB-1 India and EB-1 China will need to be imposed later this fiscal year. Charlie will hold off doing so for as long as possible, but is confident that it will happen. When it does, members should not expect the date to retrogress quite as far back as last fiscal year when the date rolled back to 2010. Charlie continues to expect that the imposition of a Final Action cut-off date in these categories will be relatively short-lived and that EB-1 China and India will return to “Current” in October when the FY 2018 numbers become available.

EB-2. Tremendous demand resulting from EB-3 upgrades means EB-2 India will not advance in February and will likely hold at the current Final Action cut-off date of April 15, 2008 in March. If demand for EB-2 Worldwide remains strong, it is unlikely that EB-2 India will be able to benefit from any unused numbers and may be restricted to its 2,800 per country limit. If the trend in demand continues, EB-2 India is unlikely to recover to last year’s date. Members should not expect any significant movement in this category until at least July or August. Charlie continues to monitor this very closely. If the current surge in demand is not sustained, and Worldwide demand, or India demand with early priority dates subsides, more forward movement than what is currently projected may be possible.

Unlike EB-2 India, EB-2 China did advance somewhat to November 15, 2012 since demand in this category is not currently exceeding the monthly target.

EB-3. EB-3 Worldwide demand has subsided. The decrease in demand that allowed Charlie to advance the Final Action cut-off date earlier this fiscal year continues, and allowed him to advance the date again to October 1, 2016. While this trend may continue, due to current USCIS processing times, additional forward movements after March are unlikely to impact number usage in this category this fiscal year.

EB-3 China downgrades have not yet materialized at the level which had been experienced in past years. Nevertheless, Charlie is not advancing the Final Action date in this category significantly in an effort to avoid retrogression if demand from downgrades materializes in the coming months as expected.

Members should expect consistent forward movement in the EB-3 Philippines Final Action Date. Charlie expects this category to recover significantly but does not expect it to reach the Worldwide date.

EB-5. The EB-5 China categories should continue to advance at the rate of 1 to 2 weeks at a time.

You may access the February 2017 Visa Bulletin here and the January 2017 Visa Bulletin here.

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Alka Bahal is a Partner and the Co-Chair of the Corporate Immigration Practice of Fox Rothschild LLP. Alka is situated in Fox Rothschild’s Roseland, New Jersey office though she practices throughout the United States and at Consulates worldwide. You can reach Alka at (973) 994-7800, or abahal@foxrothschild.com.

The Canada Border Services Agency (“CBSA”) issued a message on May 10, 2016 to all Legal Permanent Residents (“LPRs”) of the U.S. traveling to Canada by air.  CBSA advised that changes to entry requirements are now in effect. Below are the highlights:

  • Electronic Travel Authorization (“eTA”) is a new Canadian entry requirement for visa-exempt foreign nationals traveling to Canada by air.  As a U.S. permanent resident, you are expected to have an eTA when flying to or transiting through Canada, effective on March 15, 2016.  You do not need an eTA when you enter by land or sea.
  • Visa-exempt foreign nationals who fly to or transit through Canada are expected to have secured eTA first.  Exceptions to this requirement include U.S. citizens and travelers with a valid Canadian visa (see full list of exemptions).  U.S. Legal Permanent Residents must have an eTA before boarding a flight to Canada as of March 15, 2016.
  • Until September 29, 2016, travelers who do not have an eTA can board their flight, as long as they have a valid travel document, such as a passport and meet other requirements.  The Border Services officers can admit travelers without an eTA into the country, but they will remind travelers of the new requirement.
  • LPRs traveling to Canada can apply for an eTA, which costs $7 Canadian. The application process takes a few minutes and is linked to your passport and valid for five years or until the passport expires, whichever comes first. This means that you can travel to Canada repeatedly within this period without having to reapply for an eTA. You will need to travel with the same passport you used to apply for your eTA.
  • For LPRs enrolled into the NEXUS program, the passport used to apply for the eTA will need to be the same passport used when the LPR enrolled into the NEXUS program.  Otherwise, the LPR cannot continue to use the accelerated service through the NEXUS self-serve kiosks.  If you were issued a new passport since you joined NEXUS or used another document to apply, you must visit a NEXUS Enrolment Centre and have the passport that is linked to the eTA also linked to your NEXUS membership

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Alka Bahal is a Partner and the Co-Chair of the Corporate Immigration Practice of Fox Rothschild LLP. Alka is situated in Fox Rothschild’s Roseland, New Jersey office though she practices throughout the United States and at Consulates worldwide. You can reach Alka at (973) 994-7800, or abahal@foxrothschild.com.

In our continuing series of reports, Charles (“Charlie”) Oppenheim, Chief of the Visa Control and Reporting Division, U.S. Department of State, shares his most recent analysis of current trends and future projections for the various immigrant preference categories with AILA (the American Immigration Lawyers’ Association).

Below are highlights from the most recent “check-in with Charlie” (May 9, 2016), reflecting his analysis of current trends and future projections for the various immigrant preference categories.

This month, Charlie examines the final action date movements in the June 2016 Visa Bulletin and his analysis of current trends and future projections for the various immigrant preference categories.

Family-Based Projections. In May, the final action dates for China and FB-4 India remained consistent with the FB-4 Worldwide final action date of July 22, 2003. As noted in the May Visa Bulletin and in previous editions of this column, it was anticipated that FB-4 India might retrogress as early as June and FB-4 China might retrogress by late summer.

As expected, FB-4 India will retrogress in June as a result of the high level of demand in this preference category. In addition, because FB-4 India number usage is so close to the annual limit, there is “no hope” that the current cut-off date of January 1, 2001 will advance for the remainder of the fiscal year. Similarly, due to extremely high demand, the final action date for FB-4 China will retrogress in June to January 1, 2003. However, unlike FB-4 India, there is still a possibility that the cut-off date for FB-4 China will advance before October.

Continue to Watch EB-4 and Certain Religious Workers (SR) Preference Categories. It is expected that the final action date of January 1, 2010 that was imposed in May for EB-4 and certain religious workers from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras will remain the same for the remainder of this fiscal year. This is necessary to ensure that numbers remain available for applicants from countries which have not yet reached their per-country limit for this category.

Last month we reported that it would be “extremely likely” that EB-4 India and EB-4 Mexico would also become oversubscribed during the summer. At this time, it appears that it will definitely happen, and that it is only a matter of when the retrogression will occur. When it does occur, a January 1, 2010 cut-off date will be applied.

The establishment of a cut-off date for EB-4 India and EB-4 Mexico is impacted by a lack of unused numbers that would otherwise fall down to these categories. Demand for EB-4 Mexico is driven by high levels of demand in Special Immigrant Juvenile (SIJS) filings. By contrast, demand for EB-4 India is driven by a number of factors, including demand for religious worker visas.

China EB-2 and EB-3. As reported in the May Visa Bulletin, the final action date for EB-2 China is September 1, 2012 and for EB-3 China, August 15, 2013. In previous months, we reported that EB-3 China would likely retrogress in June and that number usage would also stop at that time. In June, the final action date for both EB-2 and EB-3 China will retrogress to January 1, 2010. It is expected that this cut-off date will remain in place, thereby ending the downgrade phenomenon, at least through the end of this fiscal year.

EB-2 Worldwide and EB-2 India Demand. As a result of extremely high EB-2 demand, it has been determined that there will no longer be any “otherwise” unused numbers available for use in excess of the normal EB-2 per-country limit. While this has occurred in the past, it has not previously happened this early in the fiscal year. The EB-2 India final action date for May is November 8, 2008. As the combined EB-2 Worldwide and EB-2 India demand is expected to remain high, a retrogression of the EB-2 India final action date to October 1, 2004 was required for June. As noted in the June Visa Bulletin, Charlie predicts that the final action date may nevertheless advance slowly for the remainder of the fiscal year, consistent with the pace of EB-3 India advancement.

EB-2 India demand is partly attributable to EB-3 India upgrades. Visibility into EB upgrade and downgrade requests only happens at the time the I-485 is adjudicated and a visa number is requested. If visibility into demand for employment based visas was possible earlier in the process, retrogressions would not happen so abruptly.

EB-1 Demand and Impact to Other Categories. Demand for EB-1 Worldwide remains very high. As we cautioned last month, should the demand continue at this pace or increase, it is possible that some type of corrective action may be required before the end of the fiscal year.

You may access the June 2016 Visa Bulletin here and the May 2016 Visa Bulletin here.

https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/law-and-policy/bulletin/2016/visa-bulletin-for-june-2016.html

https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/law-and-policy/bulletin/2016/visa-bulletin-for-may-2016.html

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Alka Bahal is a Partner and the Co-Chair of the Corporate Immigration Practice of Fox Rothschild LLP. Alka is situated in Fox Rothschild’s Roseland, New Jersey office though she practices throughout the United States and at Consulates worldwide. You can reach Alka at (973) 994-7800, or abahal@foxrothschild.com.

Congress in 2015 tried to tackle new EB-5 reform legislation, but instead chose to extend the program without any changes until September 30, 2016. This was a result of an impasse on issues relating to increase in the capital threshold amount and the change in the metrics used to determine what is a (“TEA”) targeted employment area. The contentious debate on these issues provided both developers and regional centers one more year of status quo in the program.

What will happen this year is anyone’s guess. What we do know is that Congress is holding hearings on EB-5 reform. These hearings provide the opportunity for individuals in the EB-5 industry to voice their opinion as to the future of the program.

On Wednesday April 13th 2016, the Senate Judiciary Committee held its second hearing of 2016 on the EB-5 Program titled, The Distortion of EB-5 Targeted Employment Areas: Time to End the Abuse.  The Senate Judiciary Committee heard from several witnesses including the Executive Director of IIUSA, Peter Joseph.  IIUSA is the national non-profit trade association representing EB-5 developers, regional centers and other professionals that are in the EB-5 space. Peter Joseph in his testimony pointed to several critical issues that the Committee should consider in the long term reauthorization of the EB-5 legislation. Those issues include:

  • Increase visa capacity to enhance economic impact of EB-5 and address the backlog of

investors currently waiting for visas to be available.

  • Staff commercially viable processing system at USCIS that addresses existing backlogs

and prioritizes predictability and length of processing times for EB-5 related petitions and

applications.

  • Avoid retroactive application of new law and reform to protect the existing EB-5

investors and their families and the billions of dollars in financial commitments and

contractual obligations.

  • Ensure all EB-5 investors with petitions currently filed, or at a later stage in the EB-5

process, are guaranteed adjudication (not approval) and eligibility for immigration

benefits throughout the entire EB-5 process (I-526 petition, EB-5 visa issuance, and I-829 petition)

regardless of future reforms, lapses, or expiration of the program.

  • Continue to allow economic impact models including indirect/induced job creation to

count for EB-5 purposes (using the same econometric models that are generally accepted

as economic policymaking tools by government, academia, and business).

  • Improve program integrity, including through enhanced oversight and reporting

requirements of Regional Centers that are not unduly burdensome, such as site visits

funded by user fees.

  • Clarify geographic (including targeted employment areas (TEAs)), structural, and

industry project characteristics that enable consistent adjudication of EB-5 petitions and

applications.

The issues that Peter Joseph mentioned in his testimony on Capitol Hill clearly mirror the position that most in the EB-5 industry have taken on EB-5 reform. The program has been largely a success with a substantial amount of foreign capital being invested in job creating projects in the United States. Everyone in the EB-5 space would like to see an extension of the EB-5 legislation for at least a five (5) year period.

Since 2008, the Program’s annual contribution to foreign direct investment inbound into the U.S. grew over 1,200% to total almost $5 billion in fiscal year 2015 alone. This investment capital is creating tens of thousands of jobs for U.S. workers in diverse communities by funding projects in a wide variety of industry sectors across the country.

Will Congress take any action this year to reform the current EB-5 legislation? I believe not.

This is a Presidential election year. It is very likely that Congress will defer on making any substantive changes to the EB-5 program until 2017. Immigration reform legislation has never passed both houses of Congress in an election year.

The economic benefits of the EB-5 program are not in dispute. The major issue that Congress needs to address is improving the compliance portion of the legislation. This will provide transparency to the program. Something that is much needed.

 

Since September 30, 2015 Congress has considered several immigration bills that would have completely overhauled the EB-5 program. All of us in the space, especially attorneys, had prepared ourselves for the inevitable change of the current EB-5 regulations. We all knew that the minimum capital threshold requirement would increase to $800,000. In addition, the targeted employment area (“TEA”) definition would change, thereby eliminating important metropolitan areas such as New York City from consideration. All of this was occurring against the backdrop of Congress trying to pass the appropriations bill so that our government would not run out of money.

Congress has been wanting to revamp the EB-5 program for a significant period of time. All of the recently introduced EB-5 bills contained measures to increase compliance and make the program safer for foreign investors that were seeking a “Green Card”.  Developers and attorneys lobbied for reform that would not be onerous and would provide a certain amount of compliance. Most of us did not want the new legislation to be the “death knell” of the EB-5 program.

Well, we all got our wish. Congress voted to renew the EB-5 program in its present state until September 30, 2016.  What will happen between now and the expiration of the legislation is anyone’s guess.  But I think the writing is on the wall. Congress seeks to reform the EB-5 program on two fronts. The first is the minimum investment capital threshold requirement. It is a foregone conclusion that prior to September 30, 2016 Congress will pass EB-5 legislation that increases the minimum investment in a targeted employment area (“TEA”) to $800,000. The second is on the compliance front. Congress will include provisions in the new bill that require “on-site audits” of projects and regional centers.  In addition, Congress will require all principals that have equity in a regional center to submit to a Federal background check. This will ensure that the players in the EB-5 space are not unscrupulous characters.

All in all, the changes would be welcome by most in the industry. The impact that the higher investment amount would have in China and other markets is something that is yet to be seen. All of us though are breathing a sigh of relief for the EB-5 extension.

 

The procedures regarding immigrant visa availability have changed for the benefit of intending US permanent resident (i.e., greencard) applicants. These changes are reflected in the October 2015 Visa Bulletin which may be viewed at http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/english/law-and-policy/bulletin/2016/visa-bulletin-for-october-2015.html.

The US Department of State’s (DOS’s) monthly Visa Bulletin will now include two charts per visa preference category for Family-based and Employment-based applicants as follows:

Dates for Filing Applications (Sections 4.B. and 5.B of Visa Bulletin)

In Sections 4.B. (Family-Sponsored Preference Cases) and 5.B. (Employment-Based Preference Cases), “Application Final Action Dates” are listed.  The information in this part of the Visa Bulletin “reflects dates for filing visa applications within a timeframe justifying immediate action in the application process”.

Consular Processing/National Visa Center

If an immigrant visa applicant has a priority date that is earlier than the cut-off date listed in Section 4.B. or 5.B., the Visa Bulletin indicates that the US Department of State National Visa Center (NVC) will notify the applicant with detailed instructions to assemble and submit documents to the NVC.  The NVC accepts documents needed to process a greencard application abroad at a consular post of the US Department of State.

Adjustment of Status

The October 2015 Visa Bulletin also states that USCIS may use the “Dates for Filing Applications” chart (in lieu of the “Application Final Action Dates” chart in paragraphs 4.A. and 5.A.) to determine when an application for adjustment of status may be filed.  Adjustment applicants are directed to visit www.uscis.gov/visabulletininfo for more information.  This statement in the October 2015 Visa Bulletin is consistent with USCIS’s announcement today that each month it will “monitor the visa numbers and post the relevant DOS Visa Bulletin chart” on its website under “When to File”.  An intending greencard applicant can then use this information to determine when to file an adjustment application (Form I-485 Application for Adjustment of Status).  The “Dates for Filing Applications” chart may be used only when USCIS determines that additional immigrant visa numbers are available.  Otherwise, per USCIS guidance, the “Application Final Action Dates” chart must be used by intending Adjustment of Status applicants.  www.uscis.gov/visabulletininfo.

Implications

The dates in the “Dates for Filing Applications” sections of the Visa Bulletin are significantly further ahead of those listed in the September 2015 Visa Bulletin.  For example, in September 2015, the EB-2 India cut-off date was January 1, 2006.  http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/english/law-and-policy/bulletin/2015/visa-bulletin-for-september-2015.html  In the October 2015 Visa Bulletin, “Dates for Filing Applications” chart, the cut-off date for EB-2 India is July 1, 2011.  The implications are clear.  Under the revised process, considerably more people should be eligible to file their visa applications at earlier dates than under the prior system.

As an aside, a “C” in the Dates for Filing Applications chart indicates that the category is “current”, i.e., that applications may be filed “regardless of the applicant’s priority date”.

Application Final Action Dates (Sections 4.A. and 5.A of Visa Bulletin)

In Sections 4.A. (Family-Sponsored Preference Cases) and 5.A. (Employment-Based Preference Cases), “Application Final Action Dates” are listed when the class is oversubscribed.  This may be specific to preference categories for a particular country or could affect all countries.

If a category is oversubscribed it means that “not all demand” for visas could be satisfied for that country/category.  These dates are now noted as the “dates when visas may finally be issued” as determined based on available data.

A “C” in the Application Final Action Dates chart indicates that the category is “current”, i.e., that visa numbers are authorized to be issued to all qualified applicants for that country/category.  In other words, there enough visas available to meet the overall demand.

A “U” in the Application Final Action Dates chart means that visa numbers are not authorized to be issued during that month for that country/category.

Keep in mind that visa numbers are only authorized for issuance to applicants whose priority date is earlier than the cut-off date listed in the Visa Bulletin.

* * * * *

The new processes, implemented as a result of President Obama’s November 2014 immigration executive action and the subsequent July 2015 report captioned “Modernizing and Streamlining Our Legal Immigration System for the 21st Century”, are expected to enable the Department of State to more accurately predict the visa demand and cut-off date information which it publishes in its monthly Visa Bulletin.  It is anticipated that these revisions will facilitate use of all available visa numbers per fiscal year and reduce monthly fluctuations in the “final action dates”.

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Ms. Wadhwani is a partner in the Immigration Practice Group at Fox Rothschild LLP.  She may be reached at cwadhwani@foxrothschild.com.

The Department of State has released the Visa Bulletin for September 2015. There was forward movement in most employment-based and family-based visa categories, however, EB-2 China and India experienced severe retrogression (to 1/1/06). This represents a retrogression of nearly 8 years for China EB2 and almost 3 years for India EB2. Also included is information on the worldwide numerical limits for FY2015.

___________________________

Alka Bahal is a Partner and the Co-Chair of the Corporate Immigration Practice of Fox Rothschild LLP.  Alka is situated in Fox Rothschild’s Roseland, New Jersey office though she practices throughout the United States and at Consulates worldwide. You can reach Alka at (973) 994-7800, or abahal@foxrothschild.com.

In our continuing series of reports, Charles (“Charlie”) Oppenheim, Chief of the Visa Control and Reporting Division, U.S. Department of State, shares his most recent analysis of current trends and future projections for the various immigrant preference categories with AILA (the American Immigration Lawyers’ Association).

Below are highlights from the most recent “check-in with Charlie” (July 14, 2015), reflecting his analysis of current trends and future projections for the various immigrant preference categories.

HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE AUGUST VISA BULLETIN

EB-3 Update and Significant Retrogression in EB-3 China. In August, EB-3 China will retrogress seven years to June 1, 2004. It initially appeared that there would be unused family-sponsored numbers available in this category, allowing for advances in the cut-off date earlier in the year. But, demand in family-sponsored China has changed drastically, making the availability of additional numbers very unlikely. Another reason for the retrogression is that the advancement of the cut-off date for EB-3 China earlier in the fiscal year generated significant demand within the allowable annual limit. The good news is that this category will likely recover at the start of the new fiscal year, moving back to a 2010 or possibly 2011 cut-off date in October. EB-3 Other Workers will also retrogress two years to January 1, 2004. EB-3 China, EB-3 India and EB-3 Philippines all have the potential to move forward a few months in September, depending on demand for EB-3 Worldwide through early August. Charlie predicts EB-3 Worldwide and EB-3 Mexico will continue to advance in September but may hold steady starting in October for a month or two to see if significant demand from the recent advancement of the cut-off date materializes.

EB-2 India and China. EB-2 India remained unchanged this month as predicted. There is sufficient demand in this category based on the current cut-off date and this date is likely to hold until at least October. Movement would only be possible if there were a significant decline in EB-1 and EB-2 demand from all other countries prior to the determination of the September cut-off dates. This situation is being monitored very closely. EB-2 China moved forward by 2 1/2 months to December 15, 2003. Based on current demand, this date is likely to either move slightly or remain the same for September.

F-2A Worldwide. This category is moving very rapidly and is likely to continue to move rapidly due to a severe lack of demand. This will continue until demand materializes.

MEMBER QUESTIONS

QUESTION 1: What percentage of EB immigrant visa numbers are used by the U.S. Department of State at U.S. consulates versus USCIS?

ANSWER: Approximately 85-87 percent of the EB number usage comes from USCIS filings, with the remaining 13-15 percent consular filings. How that percentage breaks down within specific categories varies. Typically 50 percent of all EB-3 China cases are processed at the consulates while 90 percent of all family-based cases are processed at consulates.

QUESTION 2: Between the two service centers of USCIS – again for EB immigrant visa numbers – what percentage of approvals come from Texas versus Nebraska? I note that right now Nebraska seems to be adjudicating cases that were filed several months later than ones in Texas, meaning that presumably a lot more EB numbers are being used in Nebraska than Texas.

ANSWER: The percentage of visa usage between the two service centers is roughly the same. For this fiscal year through July 13, Texas requested only 1,500 more immigrant visa numbers than Nebraska.

QUESTION 3: I just read June’s check-in and listened to the audio from the AC on the Visa Bulletin with Charlie on the panel. On the panel, he said that he has good information from the posts/DOS on visa applications but not from USCIS, where 85 percent of the employment-based applications are filed for adjustment. Is it possible to get better information from USCIS so the dates for employment categories could become less volatile?

ANSWER: Charlie meets monthly with the CIS Ombudsman and the agencies are in discussion regarding USCIS providing additional data to the Visa Office. No further details are available at this time, other than to say that these meetings continue to provide positive results in the exchange of data. Charlie favors as much data transparency as possible since it enables the Visa Office to better predict immigrant visa demand within each category, enabling the State Department to more effectively manage the cut-off dates. The State Department uses a “qualifying date” system which provides the information required to minimize/prevent erratic movement in the family-sponsored cut-off dates. The National Visa Center uses this system to send out “Agent of Choice” letters requesting that applicants assemble/submit certain required information, based on expected cut-off date movement during a specific period of time. The end result allows for a much more accurate comparison of targeted number use versus the total number of applicants who could be scheduled for final processing, during the determination of the monthly cut-off dates.

___________________________

Alka Bahal is a Partner and the Co-Chair of the Corporate Immigration Practice of Fox Rothschild LLP.  Alka is situated in Fox Rothschild’s Roseland, New Jersey office though she practices throughout the United States and at Consulates worldwide. You can reach Alka at (973) 994-7800, or abahal@foxrothschild.com.

 

H-1B petitioners and beneficiaries alike should soon have “closure” regarding the FY 2016 H-1B cap season.

A cap-subject H-1B petitioner (and beneficiary) may have held a glimmer of hope if it hadn’t yet received its returned H-1B petition, but the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS or the Immigration Service) announced today (July 14, 2015) that it has now completed processing the return of unselected fiscal year 2016 H-1B cap-subject petitions. 

USCIS has indicated that an FY 2016 H-1B cap-subject petitioner that has not received either an I-797 receipt notice nor the returned unadjudicated H-1B petition by Monday, July 20, 2015, may contact the Immigration Service for information.

H-1B beneficiaries with approved FY 2016 cap-subject petitions who were granted H-1B status or who are admitted to the US in H-1B classification may begin working in H-1B status no sooner than October 1, 2015. 

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Ms. Wadhwani is a partner in the Immigration Practice of Fox Rothschild LLP.  She may be reached at cwadhwani@foxrothschild.com.

 

Good news.  The Immigration Service (USCIS) announced that starting today, July 13, 2015, it will again accept premium processing requests (Form I-907 Requests for Premium Processing Service) for H-1B extension of stay petitions.

This is ahead of schedule because USCIS had estimated that H-1B extension of stay premium processing would be temporarily suspended until July 27, 2015, due to the need to devote resources to the processing of applications for H-4 work authorization (EADs for certain H-4 Dependent Spouses).

Beginning today, a newly filed H-1B extension of stay petition may again include a premium processing request, and a pending H-1B extension of stay petition may be “upgraded” with the filing of an appropriate I-907 Request for Premium Processing Service.

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Ms. Wadhwani is a partner in the Immigration Practice Group at Fox Rothschild LLP and may be reached at cwadhwani@foxrothschild.com.