Articles Posted in Free Trade (TN, E-3)

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The 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

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 Fong & Aquino to talk about options now. —ecf Visa Bultn May 2012 EMT.png

The family-based visa bulletin shows slow movement as well:
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F-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.
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    The days of PERM processing within a week or two are long gone, but the business immigration attorneys at Fong & Aquino, 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.

    Vector arrows.jpgH-1B news. April 1, is just around the corner. The so-called “H-1B season” is upon us with preparations in high gear for early filings. While I won’t give predictions or insight into how long this quota will last, the important thing is to prepare your case well and do it as early as possible.

    This blog entry will focus on a 2010 H-1B USCIS memo that was updated on March 12, 2012 discussing “employer-employee” relationships. Simply put, this memo gives guidance on how to prove up cases involving independent contractors, self-employed beneficiaries, and beneficiaries placed at third-party worksites. Having represented a range of employers with H-1B workers who travel about for their jobs in technology, accounting and finance, and business consulting, the attorneys at Fong & Aquino know the challenges facing employers in initial H-1B petitions, updating LCA requirements, and keeping employees in status throughout their H-1B stay, wherever they may be performing services. Such employers must know that they have additional responsibilities in preparing itineraries and documenting prevailing wages in different geographic areas.

    If you or your employer have a non-traditional employment arrangement, such as one involving different worksites, contact the attorneys at Fong & Aquino for a initial consultation. —ecf

    Magnet with Key.jpg Last week, Department of Homeland Security announced several proposed reforms to “attract and retain highly skilled workers.” These reforms include employment authorization of certain H-4 spouses and other concrete incentives.

    DHS released a press release describing these administrative reforms, which would impact the benefits and the adjudications process in several different ways, ultimately benefiting employers, universities, scholars and workers (and their spouses):

  • Allowing H-4 dependent spouses to apply for EADs (employment authorization documents) if the principal H-1B spouse has extended their period of stay under AC 21 Section 104(c) or 106(c)
  • Stopwatch 15 secs remaining.jpgThe last update from USCIS announced that the US advanced degree cap for H-1Bs has been filled.

      The regular H-1B quota has accepted 46,200 petitions leaving 18,800 slots available for new H-1B cases to be filed.

      We can expect this last batch of H-1B slots to fill up quicker since those with advanced degrees will now be making applications towards the regular H1-B quota.

    hanging onto time.jpgSeptember 30 marks the end of fiscal year for 2011. I wanted to review some statistics regarding labor certification information by the US Dept. of Labor which shows some interesting statistics about labor certification processing times and audits between October 1, 2010 and May 31, 2011.

    Labor certification audits are still taking about a year for review and out of approximately 22,000 of the cases that were pending as of May 31, 2011, only 44% of those case were pending initial analyst reviews. The rest of the 56% were either in audit, appeal, or at the sponsorship verification stage. Since DOL reported a 63% increase in applications compared to 2010, we can probably expect that audit queue to increase.

    As many of you may have noticed, prevailing wage requests are taking more than 3 months for a determination. Those who might need to file labor certifications before the end of the year in order to preserve the ability to extend an H-1B might begin thinking about leaving the US and recapturing H-1B time later if you are unable to file the initial labor certification 365 days before your anticipated H-1B expiration date. While admittedly, this isn’t the ideal scenario, it stops the H-1B clock, even if momentarily… so that you can plan for a timely extension when you’re eligible. Call the business immigration attorneys at Fong & Aquino if you’d like an assessment of your labor certification or H-1B case, don’t wait another second! –ecf

    In the last month, usage of H-1B numbers have continued to crawl upwards:

  • The regular H-1B cap has seen an increase from 25,300 petitions received to 32,200 as of September 9, 2011
  • The advanced degree cap has moved toward the 20,000 cap from 14,700 petitions received to 16,700 received as of September 9, 2011
  • So far, the USCIS has announced that it received 5,900 H-1B applications for the normal quota and an additional 4,500 for the advanced degree quota. These numbers were released yesterday, April 7, 2011.

    In years past, many remember that the H-1B quota was exhausted as early as the first day of applications. Last year, the H-1B cap was not reached until January the following year. I would anticipate that with the economy still rebounding, the H-1B quota will last a significant amount of time. This will also ensure that everyone who can find a job offer this year will have a chance to make an H-1B application. Please contact the business immigration attorneys at Fong & Aquino for a consultation if you are interested in applying for an H-1B this year! —ecf