If you’re waiting for your employment card or greencard to be issued, your wait may be slightly longer than usual by a few weeks. 

AILA (the American Immigration Lawyers Association) provided notice that there have been reports of delayed issuance of employment cards (EADs) and of US Permanent Residence cards.  The delay is not in the adjudication period, but rather in the amount of time between the date of an approval and the date when USCIS issues the EAD or greencard to the beneficiary. 

The delay is said to result from maintenance measures at one of the card-production facilities, which in turn necessitated the temporary transfer of card production processes to a different facility.  The timings are expected to return to normal sometime in the second half of September.

__________________

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

______________________

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.

_________________

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

 

The US Department of State (State Department or DOS) computer systems are not expected to be online again before next week after experiencing “technological systems issues” (a hardware failure) on June 9th. This information came from the State Department yesterday, June 17th, in an update following their initial announcement regarding the problem last Friday, June 12, 2015.

This has caused DOS’s Bureau of Consular Affairs to experience issues affecting overseas passport and visa systems.  This systems issue is without restriction to particular countries, documents or visa types.  Indeed, the effect seems to reach everyone from the nonimmigrant visa applicant, to the US citizen in need of a passport abroad.

Assistance from the State Department is available to nonimmigrant visa applicants who need to travel for urgent humanitarian reasons and DOS has indicated that it is always able to issue an emergency passport to a US citizen who is overseas and has an urgent need to travel.

Yet, one should be prepared that visa appointments and issuance of some visas will be delayed.  A June 15th update from the State Department said that some visa applicants will “be contacted directly to reschedule their appointments”.

Affected parties will want to seek the guidance of immigration counsel to assess potential impacts on employment start dates and such questions as whether in-country processing is available and should be used for a change or extension of nonimmigrant status instead of processing abroad, among other possible issues.

DOS stated that the “failure is preventing the Department from processing and transmitting biometric data checks at visa-issuing embassies and consulates.”  This affects the Department’s ability to meet its legal  requirements to screen  visa applicants before issuing visas for travel.  The State Department offered its apologies to those affected and indicated that it has more than 100 private and public sector computer experts working “around the clock” to resolve the problems as quickly as possible while of course keeping in mind its responsibility to screen visa applicants as part of its critical border security responsibilities.

DOS stated that it will continue to provide regular updates on their website, travel.state.gov.

_____________________

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

 

Receipt or return.  The US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) has indicated that it will now begin returning FY 2016 H-1B cap-subject petitions that were not chosen in the FY 2016 H-1B Lottery (computer-generated random selection process). 

Receipts for H-1B petitions selected for processing have been issued over the past week or so.   In this context a receipt, or I-797 Notice of Action which acknowledges the Immigration Service’s receipt of a petition, indicates that the petition was selected in the FY 2016 H-1B Lottery. 

It’s not clear whether additional receipt notices will still be issued, but hope seems to be diminishing.  Of course, not all cases that were lucky enough to be selected in the lottery will necessarily be approved, so arguably it is still possible that a few more cases may be receipted for processing.

Due to the very high number of filings, a time-frame for the return of the petitions was not provided.  Presumably, petitioners will soon receive returned H-1B petitions that were not selected in the lottery, or perhaps receipt notices (maybe a few more will be issued?!).  The wait may soon be over. 

USCIS requests patience (i.e., restraint from calling to check the status) as they focus their resources on the enormous number of H-1B petitions that reached them.

The Immigration Service indicated that it will make an announcement when all unselected petitions have been returned.

________________

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

 

Last year at about this time, I published a blog post captioned, “FY 2015 H-1B Cap:  What are the Odds?” (https://immigrationview.foxrothschild.com/h-1b-temporary-workers/fy-2015-h-1b-cap-what-are-the-odds/).  According to my very basic calculations, I estimated that the odds of receiving one of the limited FY 2015 H-1B numbers was about 43% under the regular cap, with slightly better chances for those with a Master’s or higher degree.  Overall, if you didn’t deducted the 20,000 advanced degree petitions from the total, chances were about 50/50.

For FY 2016, the odds are worse.  This of course is due to an increased demand on the part of US employers.  Indeed, the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) announced that it received “nearly 233,000 H-1B petitions” toward the FY 2016 cap.  That is 60,500 more than last year, and more than enough to fill an entire year’s regular (non-advanced degree) cap if you deduct the numbers set aside for Chile and Singapore.

Simple math shows that the overall odds of receiving a number in the FY 2016 H-1B cap are about 34%.  If you deduct the 20,000 advanced degree “winners” from the total 233,000 petitions, and re-calculate, the odds decrease to 27% for the remaining petitions which include both the unselected advanced degree petitions and the regular cap petitions.

USCIS completed its computer-generated random selection process (i.e., lottery) on April 13th.  The I-797 receipt notices are beginning to arrive.  Petitioning employers and potential H-1B workers anxiously await news of their fate.  That may sound dramatic, but the reality is that of the approximately 233,000 H-1B cap-subject petitions filed for FY 2016, about 154,800 petitions will be rejected and returned.  This is dramatic for the H-1B petitioning employers and prospective employees who are not winners in the lottery even though they presumably filed meritorious petitions.

_____________

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

The H-1B cap for Fiscal Year 2016 (FY 2016) has been reached.  The US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) made the announcement today.  (http://www.uscis.gov/news/news-releases/uscis-reaches-fy-2016-h-1b-cap)

  • After initial intake, at a date which is to be determined, USCIS will first “randomly select petitions for the advanced degree exemption” of 20,000.
  • Advanced-degree exemption petitions not selected within the 20,000 limit will be added to the selection process for the 65,000 general H-1B petition limit for the fiscal year.
  • USCIS will “reject and return filing fees for all unselected cap-subject petitions that are not duplicate filings”.

Of course, cap-exempt H-1B petitions may continue to be filed as usual.

______________________

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

 

 

The US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) recently provided information to confirm that it will accept cap-subject H-1B petitions for Fiscal Year 2016 (FY 2016) during the first 5 business days of April, that is Wednesday, April 1st through Tuesday, April 7th, 2015.

With the first week of April being a “split week” and April 1st landing on a Wednesday, this of course means that there is a weekend in between, and a little more time. Is this a guarantee that you can still file an H-1B petition that will be received by USCIS before the deadline?  No.

There are many things that must be done before an H-1B petition is ready to be filed.  For example, generally, the US Department of Labor (DOL) takes 7 working days to process an ETA 9035 Labor Condition Application (LCA).  The LCA is an essential part of an H-1B petition.  Conceivably (but not necessarily advisably), one could still file an LCA and have it returned in time to meet the H-1B cap deadline.  You should be aware, however, that we have heard of situations where DOL has taken more than 7 working days to process some LCAs at this time.  Clearly, one shouldn’t push the limit by filing an LCA at the last minute if it can be avoided.  This is the last minute.

Nevertheless, if you have a late hire or perhaps decide to move forward with H-1B sponsorship for an existing employee such as one working with an F-1 Optional Practical Training Employment Authorization Document (OPT EAD), there is still a little time (precious little) and you should of course know that the risk of not meeting the FY 2016 H-1B cap deadline increases with every day that passes.

This is just about the last call…

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

You’ve likely been flooded with information regarding H-1B season from multiple sources.  Yesterday, the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) issued its own information(http://www.uscis.gov/news/uscis-will-accept-h-1b-petitions-fiscal-year-2016-beginning-april-1-2015) regarding Fiscal Year 2016 (FY 2016) H-1B petitions.

Here is a summary:

  • USCIS will accept cap-subject FY 2016 H-1B petitions beginning April 1, 2015.
  • The FY 2016 H-1B cap remains at 65,000. The first 20,000 cap-subject H-1B petitions for those with a US master or higher degree do not count toward the 65,000 cap.
  • USCIS anticipates receiving more than 65,000 cap-subject H-1B petitions during the first 5 business days of April 2015. If this happens, USCIS will again use a lottery to randomly select sufficient petitions to meet the cap.
  • USCIS will issue a notice to the public when the FY 2016 H-1B cap has been met.
  • Unselected cap-subject petitions and petitions received after the cap has closed will be rejected.
  • Cases will be deemed accepted on the date when USCIS “takes possession of a properly filed petition with the correct fee.”
  • Petitioners are reminded to follow regulatory requirements, which should help with avoiding delays and requests for evidence (RFEs).
  • Due to the anticipated high volume of FY 2016 cap-subject H-1B petitions and to allow time to prioritize data entry, the 15-day premium processing clock will not begin on receipt of a petition. Instead, USCIS states that for FY 2016 cap-subject H-1B petitions, premium processing will begin no later than May 11, 2015.
  • USCIS will provide” H-1B Cap Season email updates” for which you can subscribe on the H-1B 2016 Cap Season Web Page, which can be found at http://www.uscis.gov/working-united-states/temporary-workers/h-1b-specialty-occupations-and-fashion-models/h-1b-fiscal-year-fy-2016-cap-season.

Happy H-1B season.

_____________________

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

With no relief in sight for an increase in the limited number of H-1B spots that will be available in Fiscal Year 2016 (FY 2016) nor likely implementation of other possible measures to improve the immigration system by April 1, 2015, are you ready for H-1B Cap Season?  If you are a cap-subject employer, it’s not too early to think about your hiring needs if you are considering petitioning for H-1B status for a foreign hire.

You may recall that in FY 2015, employers filed approximately double the number of cap-subject H-1B petitions as there were numbers available.  (See prior post on this topic at https://immigrationview.foxrothschild.com/h-1b-temporary-workers/fy-2015-h-1b-cap-what-are-the-odds/.) That left many employers in a difficult situation with regard to their staffing needs.  Roughly half of the H-1B petitioning employers didn’t receive H-1B approvals for their employees (e.g., F-1 OPT workers) or prospective employees.

If the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) holds an H-1B cap “lottery” again in April 2015—which will likely be the case–making your hiring decisions early won’t increase your chances of “winning” the FY 2016 H-1B lottery, but it could make your life a little less stressful.  Having a plan in place should allow you a comfortable amount of time to contact us with the details of your case for assessment, gather and provide us with the necessary documents and information, etc.

Sometimes it may not be possible to make a hiring decision this far in advance.  And, while most cases can be prepared quickly, it’s best to allow for the unexpected such as finding out that the worker doesn’t have a document and must obtain it from abroad, or perhaps a glitch with the electronic filing system used to process Labor Condition Applications (LCAs), which are needed as part of the H-1B petition packages.  While LCAs are generally processed without incident within 7 days from the date of filing, it’s best not to wait until the last minute…just in case.

For more tips on how to prepare for H-1B Cap Season, please see my prior ImmigrationView post on this topic at https://immigrationview.foxrothschild.com/h-1b-temporary-workers/its-beginning-to-look-a-lot-likeh-1b-cap-season/.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

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