hourglass and white figure.jpg
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

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.

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:
Visa Bultn May 2012 FAM.png

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 Fong & Aquino for a consultation. —ecf

    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

    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 Fong & Aquino for a consultation on your H-1B. —ecf

    Thumbnail image for rainbow_flag.gifThe immigration attorneys at Fong & Aquino — 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

    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 Fong & Aquino for your consultation now or contact us at here.—ecf

    help button.jpg
    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.
  • Map Syria.jpg
    Time 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 Fong & Aquino for a consultation. —ecf