May 7, 2012

H-1B Quota Update - What Are the Numbers Now?

2012 bingo.jpgA new H-1B quota update was released today from USCIS. The H-1B cap numbers as of May 4, 2012 are as follows:

  • Bachelor's degree cap: approximately 32,500 have been received
  • Advanced degree cap: approximately 13,700 have been received
  • Usage is steady, but there is still time to have an H-1B petition prepared and filed. Consult with the business immigration attorneys at Law Offices of J Craig Fong today. ---ecf

    April 24, 2012

    H-1B Quota Update and China and India EB-2 Category Full!

    glass half full & glass totally full.jpgH-1B quota numbers released today show that as of April 20, 2012 cap eligible petitions amounted to:

  • Bachelor's degree cap: 25,000
  • Advanced degree cap: 10,900
  • A collective sigh of relief for all those who are still job seeking and/or just beginning OPT employment as the H-1B cap seems to filling more slowly than in the first few days of the filing period. But as I speculated in a previous entry, we may see a spike in usage once new graduates in the following months become eligible to submit an H-1B petition.

    I have also blogged about the retrogression which is hitting the employment-based 2nd preference category for Chinese and Indian nationals. US Dept of State has confirmed recently that the annual limit for those country nationals has been reached. USCIS cannot then grant anymore adjustments of status applications nor can the US Embassies abroad process any additional immigrant visas for Chinese and Indian nationals in the category of EB-2. Please continue to read our blog for more information regarding the H-1B quota and visa bulletin news. ---ecf

    April 18, 2012

    H-1B Quota - New Numbers Show a Slight Slowing of Usage

    hourglass and white figure.jpgThe H-1B quota count came out again yesterday. USCIS released the following quota numbers:

  • Bachelor's degree quota: approximately 20,600 petitions received

  • Advanced degree quota: approximately 9,700 petitions received
  • This tells us that those petitioners and employees who had a job in hand by April 1, did not delay in getting their petitions submitted once the filing period started. However, this may be good news for those who are still job searching, preparing petitions, or negotiating their H-1b petitions with employers. Usage seems to be slowing, but a word of caution that the numbers can surge upwards again once new graduates firm up job offers come May and June. Best of luck to those making applications. Call the attorneys at Law Offices of J Craig Fong for your consultation on an H-1B petition. ---ecf

    April 16, 2012

    Visa Fee Changes

    USDOS issued a reminder that visa fees changed last Friday, April 13. For those of you who have paid an immigrant visa fee before April 13, the fee is likely to have decreased. But you won't get a refund for it!

    IF you have paid a visa fee prior to April 13 and the visa fee has now increased, you won't have to pay the difference as long as the visa interview takes place BEFORE June 12, 2012.

    April 13, 2012

    Retrogression for EB-2 India and China and Age Outs: May 2012 Visa Bulletin Report

    Retrogression has hit the EB-2 preference categories for India and China. USDOS released the May 2012 visa bulletin showing EB-2 priority dates of August 15, 2007 for both countries. The EB-3 priority dates have moved forward about one month, with the exception of India which forward about a week to September 8, 2002. Families with dependents who will age out at age 21 should call the attorneys at Law Offices of J Craig Fong to talk about options now. ---ecf
    Visa Bultn May 2012 EMT.png

    The family-based visa bulletin shows slow movement as well:
    Visa Bultn May 2012 FAM.png

    April 9, 2012

    FY2013 H-1B Count

    Counting Peas smaller file size.jpgLast week, I reported that the H-1B cap count was pretty high considering the quota had only been open for 3 days of filing. Today, the CIS released a more accurate count which separates the Bachelor's and Master's cap, the latter of which is nearly half used.

  • H-1B Bachelor's degree cap: 17,400 petitions have been received
  • H-1B Master's degree cap: 8,200 petitions have been received

  • There's no doubt now that the H-1B quota will close much earlier this year. If you need to submit an H-1B application this year, call the attorneys at Law Offices of J Craig Fong for a consultation. ---ecf

    April 7, 2012

    Visa Fees to Increase

    Starting April 13, 2012, visa processing fees will increase. The fees for most nonimmigrant visa applications and Border Crossing Cards will increase but we will see a decrease in all immigrant visa processing fees.

    • Petition-based visas: H, L, O, P, Q, R will increase from $150 to $190
    • Visitor, student, exchange visitor and journalist visas: B, F-1, J-1, M-1, I visas will increase from $140 to $160
    • Treaty investor and treaty trader visas: E-1, E-2 will decrease from $390 to $270
    • Border crossing cards will increase: BCCs $140 to $160
    • Fiance(e) visas: K visas to decrease from $350 to $240
    • Immediate relative and family preference applications will decrease from $330 to $230
    • Employment-based applications will increase from $720 to $405
    • For more information, visit the USDOS website or call the attorneys at Law Offices of J Craig Fong if you need help submitting your visa application. ---ecf

    April 6, 2012

    2013 H-1B Quota is Moving Fast

    The first H-1B quota count for the first three days of the filing period tell us that H-1B usage is up. It's still too early to know how long it will last, but we should all keep in mind that it does take time to prepare a thorough H-1b petition and that just rushing to file petition can backfire on you if the case is not well prepared and you are not prepared for a Request for Evidence (RFE). In 2011, many people were surprised to see an increase in RFEs and denials. Call the attorneys at Law Offices of J Craig Fong for a consultation on your H-1B. ---ecf

    April 5, 2012

    Immigration Option for Gay Men & Lesbians in Deportation

    Thumbnail image for rainbow_flag.gifThe immigration attorneys at the Law Offices of J Craig Fong -- with clients from the Coachella Valley and Palm Springs, to Southern California and Los Angeles, and throughout the world -- have been closely watching the implementation of the prosecutorial discretion policy as it affects gay men, lesbians, and persons in nontraditional family relationships.

    As readers of this blog may recall, in the latter half of 2011, the Obama administration instructed its enforcers of the immigration laws (also known as the Immigration and Customs Enforcement branch of the Department of Homeland Security) to consider exercising its discretion to dismiss "low priority" deportation and removal cases. The "Morton Memo" indicated that the following criteria may be viewed as positive factors:

    Circumstances of arrival - especially if the person came to the US as a child
    Pursuit of education - if they have graduated from high school in the United States and/or are pursuing higher education
    U.S. Military service
    Ties to the U.S., including family relationships
    Pregnant or nursing women
    Age, especially for minors and the elderly
    If the person is a primary caretaker of another person with a severe illness or disability
    Persons who are likely to be granted temporary or permanent status because they are an asylum seeker, victim of domestic violence, human trafficking, or other crime

    In the months that have followed, many questions were raised and Immigration and Customs Enforcement continues to tweak the memo's implementation. However, one question that seems to be resolved is that the government appears to recognize that an individual in removal proceedings who is in a bona fide same-sex relationship may be deserving of prosecutorial discretion.

    Earlier this month, a gay Costa Rican man was spared from deportation based in part due to his 2008 marriage to a U.S. citizen. Last year, an Immigration Judge in New Jersey granted a reprieve in the deportation proceedings against a Venezuelan man married to a U.S. citizen. However, the policy does not appear to be uniformly applied, as a couple in Philadelphia still faces the prospect of separation.

    The immigration attorneys at the Law Offices of J Craig Fong cannot stress enough: This is not "amnesty." There is no new program for legalization here. The government is not providing any lawful permanent resident status or employment authorization. However, in some circumstances, the Government IS viewing a same-sex marriage as a positive factor and allowing some non-traditional families to stay together inside the United States.

    If you are a gay man or lesbian or in a nontraditional family relationship, or if you or a loved one is facing the prospect of removal from the USA, you should consult with the immigration attorneys at the Law Offices of J Craig Fong. We have offices in Los Angeles and Palm Springs. Attorneys at our firm have served the gay and lesbian community with pride for over a quarter of a century. --jcf & ra

    April 5, 2012

    2013 H-1B Quota Numbers

    pie.png
    USCIS reported yesterday that 22,323 cap-subject petitions were received already. About one-quarter of those will be counted against the advanced degree cap. Thus far, usage is about the double the amount of last year's usage. If you are considering an H-1B petition this year, call the attorneys at Law Offices of J Craig Fong for your consultation now or contact us at here.---ecf

    April 3, 2012

    F-1 Cap Gap and H-1B Issues

    help button.jpgF-1 cap gap issues cause a lot of confusion, but here is a quick guide to help you all you need are clear answers. I posted a similar blog entry last year. The full guidance from USCIS can be found here:

  • Can an F-1 student file an H-1B petition during the so-called grace period or 60 days after their I-20 or OPT expires? Yes.

  • Do the cap gap protections extend to someone who requested consular processing on their I-129? No.

  • Does the 90 day limitation on unemployment still apply during an OPT extension granted from a cap gap application? Yes.

  • Can an F-1 student travel while on the automatic cap gap employment extension and return as an F-1 student? No.
  • While these quick tips are meant to provide a few quick answers, it's always best to have your situation analyzed by the business immigration attorneys at Law Offices of J Craig Fong. Our attorneys have the experience you need, and are often requested by llocal and national bar associations to provide training courses to other attorneys. Call today for a free consultation. ---ecf

    March 23, 2012

    Applying for TPS - Syria

    Map Syria.jpgTime to apply? Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Syrians in the US! The USCIS has just announced that Syria will now be a designated country for temporary protected status. Due to the political instability in Syria, Syrians who are now in the United States will soon be able to apply for TPS which will allow them to be granted employment authorization and for extensions of the TPS designation is extended for Syria. The initial TPS designation will be for 18 months. USCIS has instructed applicants NOT to submit applications yet but applications may be prepared now in anticipation of more guidance next week. Remember that TPS is not automatic and applicants will have to show their eligibility, and background checks will still be conducted of all applicants. Those who will be found ineligible are those who have multiple convictions or other factors but certain noncriminal and non-security grounds can be waived. If you are interested in applying for TPS, call Law Offices of J Craig Fong for a consultation. ---ecf

    March 23, 2012

    EB-2 China and India Update: Predicted Regression Date of Aug. 15, 2007

    backwards moving clock.jpgThis is just in from AILA. It has been reported that in the May 2012 visa bulletin, the USDOS will retrogress the priority dates for China and India EB-2 to August 15, 2007. The April 2012 priority dates are at May 1, 2010. It's still too early to know how long the regression will last, or when there will might be forward movement again this fiscal year. USDOS did report that demand for this preference category from China and India remains very high. Cases will still be "preadjudicated" and held by Dept. of State under their "pending files" in order to be ready when visa numbers can be used for cases filed after May 1, 2010. ---ecf

    March 21, 2012

    EB-2 Retrogression on the Horizon

    U Turn arrow.jpgBad news for those watching in the China and India EB-2 preference category priority dates. It is reported on March 16 that the US Department of State will likely retrogress the EB-2 priority dates to around August 2007 in the May or June 2012 visa bulletin. The April 2012 visa bulletin priority dates for China and India are at May 1, 2010. All other countries are current.

    The reason given for the anticipated retrogression is that USDOS anticipates there will be no "spill down" from any unused EB-1 numbers, meaning all the allocated immigrant visa numbers for Fiscal Year 2012 will likely be used this year in the employment first preference category. This is also an important note for EB-1 applicants: if you are planning an employment first preference case, you might want to get that case in earlier than later. Call the business immigration attorneys at the Law Offices of J Craig Fong to plan your employment cases now. ---ecf

    March 19, 2012

    PERM Processing Times

    forest for the trees2.jpgThe days of PERM processing within a week or two are long gone, but the business immigration attorneys at the Law Offices of J Craig Fong, have seen a decrease in time for adjudications at US Dept of Labor.

    Although processing times still vary, we have recently seen certifications within 2 months of filing. The icert portal reports that analyst reviews are hovering around the submission date of November 2011. That's about 4 months from submission to getting an initial response.

    In the world of audits, Department of Labor reports that they are working on cases originally submitted around July 2011. As many had expected, supervised recruitment is still an issue. In a report summarizing PERM cases filed between October 1, 2011 to March 5, 2012, the Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC) confirmed 26,100 active cases as of March 5 with only 4% of cases undergoing supervised recruitment. While it's still early in the fiscal year, we also know it takes time for a case to proceed from submission to audit, it was notable that a full 26% are in audit review. We may expect an increase in supervised recruitment requests.

    Understanding how to protect your PERM case from audit or denial is tricky. There are no guarantees with this system and it is fraught with risk. One must see the forest for the trees. There are very specific timeframes and requirements that have to be observed with precision, but your attorney must help you keep sight of the big picture, too. Many people contact me after a labor certification is approved but with a denied I-140 in hand. While you can always start over if you've extra time left on your current nonimmigrant status, it's a given that processing times are still significant. This makes it as important as ever to know that your labor certification application is in the hands of someone with experience, someone who can get the job done the first time. Call The Law Offices of J Craig Fong for a consultation to discuss your PERM case to get a real view of what you might be dealing with in PERM. ---ecf