Articles Posted in Labor Certifications (PERM)

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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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    This 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

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    Bad 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 Fong & Aquino to plan your employment cases now. —ecf

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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)
  • 2012 calendar.jpgFiscal year 2012 began on October 1, 2011 and as expected, we saw some movement in the visa bulletin. Here is a brief summary of what the US Visa Office reports seeing in terms of usage in the first 3 months of the FY 2012.

    Employment-based usage has been quite slow, but we can still expect to see some advances in the EB bulletin. There are still some EB-2 cases from 2007 in the USCIS pipeline, so we will probably see EB-2 hover around that date until cases are cleared out before forward movement is consistent.

    There has been a severe slowdown in the usage of EB-1 numbers, with some speculation that recent USCIS interpretation and clarification with regard to the standard for extraordinary ability cases has created a stricter standard and perhaps has dissuaded some applicants from filing cases.

    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