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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
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    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 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

    2013 H-1B Quota Numbers

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    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

    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

    March 13, 2012

    Preparing H-1B Petitions With Multiple Worksites

    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 the Law Offices of J Craig Fong 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 Law Offices of J Craig Fong for a free initial consultation. ---ecf

    February 7, 2012

    H-4 Work Authorization and Other Reforms to Attract and Retain Highly Skilled Workers

    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)
  • Expanding STEM OPT extensions to F-1s whose underlying or previous degrees were STEM related, even if their current course of study is not a STEM major
  • Expansion of the list of eligible STEM majors
  • Allowing F-1 spouses to engage in part-time studies other than vocational or recreational classes
  • Giving universities and colleges more flexibility to increase the number of DSOs or Designated Student Officers at universities and colleges to meet both the administrative and guidance needs of incoming students
  • Increase the type of evidence that Outstanding Professors and Researchers can provide in order to establish eligibility to include "comparable evidence"
  • Allow for the 240-day continued employment authorization of E-3s and H-1B1s upon timely extension, which is already the case for H-1s and L-1s

    At present, the proposed reform to allow EADs for H-4 dependent spouses is in rulemaking, though at a very early stage. We should be prepared to hear updates on the process of each of these administrative reforms, though we have been notified that changes will take time. It is still encouraging in that we have some concrete information on how such reform will impact the highly skilled workers and their spouses who are waiting in the priority date queues or just beginning to prepare for H-1Bs, labor certifications, national interest waivers, extraordinary ability workers and outstanding researcher or professor petitions, etc.

    If you are interested in learning more about these administrative reforms, be sure to subscribe to our blog for updates. If you have a case that you'd like for us to assess, call the business immigration law attorneys at the Law Offices of J Craig Fong. ---ecf

  • January 23, 2012

    Employment Based Visa Numbers the Outlook for Fiscal Year 2012

    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.

    The immigration attorneys at the Law Offices of J Craig Fong have been practicing employment-based immigration law for nearly than 50 years in total. While the early FY 2012 numbers reflect some slowdown in usage either due to a sluggish economy or stricter adjudications by USCIS, each case is fact-specific so if you have questions regarding an employment-based immigration case for yourself or someone you want to hire, give us a call for a free consultation. We can assess your situation in detail to help you chart a path through 2012! ---ecf