Thursday, May 17, 2018

USCIS FINISHES H-1B LOTTERY


The H-1B lottery has been completed.  USCIS has finished the data entry for all FY 2019 H-1B cap-subject petitions.  Musillo Unkenholt continues to see H-1B checks being cashed and continues to receive H-1B receipt notices in our mail.  Therefore H-1B cap-subject petitioners should not lose hope yet if they have not received an H-1B receipt notice.  We expected that we will continue to see H-1B receipts for the next two weeks.

After the final H-1B receipt notices are sent by USCIS, they will begin returning all H-1B cap-subject petitions that were not selected.  In past years it has taken USCIS 1-2 months to complete this process.  Musillo Unkenholt does not expect the final H-1B returns until late June or early July.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

TWO MAJOR CHANGES FOR F-1 STUDENTS

USCIS has recently issued two updates that impact F-1 students. 

Unlawful Presence

On May 11, 2018, the USCIS issued a policy memorandum that changed the rules regarding unlawful presence for F-1 students.  Unlawful presence begins to accrue once a foreign national has stayed beyond the end date on his/her I-94 card.  Because F-1 I-94 cards do not have an end date, but show D/S (duration of status) as the term of stay, unlawful presence did not apply to F-1s. 

As of August 8, 2018, individuals in F, J, and M status who fail to maintain their status will start accruing unlawful presence on or after the date of one of the following events:
  • The day after DHS denies the student’s request for an immigration benefit with a formal finding that the student violated status while adjudicating the benefit request;
  • The day after the student’s I-94 expires; 
  • The day after an immigration judge or in certain cases, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), orders the student excluded, deported, or removed; 
  • The day after the student no longer pursues a course of study or authorized activity, or the day after the student engages in unauthorized activity (e.g. unauthorized employment); or
  • The day after the student completes his/her course of study or program, including any authorized CPT or OPT plus any authorized grace period.


Individuals who have accrued more than 180 days of unlawful presence are generally subject to a 3 year bar of re-entry to the US.  Individuals who accrue more than 365 days of unlawful presence are generally subject to a 10 year bar of re-entry to the US.

STEM OPT   

In April 2018, USCIS updated its website regarding STEM OPT extensions to indicate students are not permitted to engage in STEM OPT at third party worksite locations.  No formal policy memo or update was announced regarding this change. 

The 2016 STEM OPT Rule requires only that the student be a bona fide employee of the employer signing the I-983 training plan.  The I-983 does require that the student “receive on-site supervision and training” but does not specify if the employer must provide this supervision. 

This issue has been raised with DHS and members of Congress through industry groups and the American Immigration Lawyers Association and is currently under review.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

JUNE 2018 VISA BULLETIN: LATEST UPDATE AND ANALYSIS

The Department of State has just issued the June 2018 Visa Bulletin.  This is the ninth Visa Bulletin of Fiscal Year 2018.  This blog post analyzes this month's Visa Bulletin.

June 2018 Visa Bulletin

Table A: Final Action Dates -- Applications with these dates may be approved for their Green Card (Permanent Residency card) or Immigrant Visa appointment.

EB 
Class 
All Other  
CHINA       
INDIA     
MEXICO   
PHIL'PNES    
EB-1
C
01JAN12
01JAN12
C
C
EB-2
C
01SEP14
26DEC08 
C
C
EB-3
01JUN15
01MAY08 

01JAN17      

Table B: Dates for Filing -- The DOS may work on applications with these dates. But the Visa cannot be approved until the date is current per Table A.

EB 
Class 
All Other  
CHINA       
INDIA     
MEXICO   
PHIL'PNES    
EB-1
C
C
C
C
EB-2
C
01FEB15
01APR09 
C
C
EB-3
01JAN16
01SEP08 

01JUL17       

MU Law Analysis (all references are to Table A unless noted)

All Other:  The EB-2 has been current for many years.  The EB-3 is also current and is expected to remain current for the foreseeable future.

China (mainland-born):  As with all categories this month, the movements were nonexistent.  It would not surprise MU if the Chinese numbers did not move for the remainder of the fiscal year.  China EB-2 is a better bet to progress than EB-3, although it remains doubtful that EB-2 progresses ahead of EB-3.

India:  There is a similar story with India as with China.  No progress, outside of a minor 4 day movement in EB-3.  We would not be surprised to see minor movements in these categories before the end of the fiscal year.

Mexico: Mirrors All Other in analysis.

Philippines: Phils EB-3 stayed the same, which is not surprising considering the enormous progressions of the last few years. The Phils EB-3 number will probably continue to only move negligible, reflecting the large numbers of Philippine RN EB-3 petitions that were filed in 2016-2018.  There is a chance of a small progression in the next few VBs.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

H-1B EMPLOYERS SUE USCIS TO STOP HARASSING EMPLOYER-EMPLOYEE RFEs


On May 1 a significant lawsuit was filed in federal court in New Jersey.  The Plaintiffs, three IT consulting companies, seek to overturn some of the most harassing parts of the USCIS’ policy against H-1Bs.

The legal issue is simple: USCIS is only allowed to enforce laws that are passed by Congress.  USCIS is not allowed to create laws.  The lawsuit alleges that the USCIS’ policy of seeking third-party contracts, vendor letters, itineraries, and endless details over employer-employee relationships are all outside USCIS’ authority.

Jon Wasden is the attorney who filed the case.  Jon worked at USCIS's Administrative Appeals Office and the Justice Department and has substantial experience in these issues. 

If your H-1B has been denied for these reasons, please let me know and I can put you in touch with Jon or you can visit his website.

Monday, April 30, 2018

DHS DIR. CISSNA CONTINUES THE ASSAULT ON H-1Bs


Earlier this month, USCIS Director Francis Cissna, in a letter to Sen. Grassley (R-IA), described a number of forthcoming policies aimed at restricting the H-1B.  Dir. Cissna’s policy changes hide behind fraud concerns.  The real target is reducing legal immigration.

The new restrictions that USCIS plans to unilaterally impose include:
  • Rewrite the definition of “Specialty Occupation”.  USCIS will rewrite the definition of specialty occupation.  Under the current “bottom-up” approach, US employers decide who comes to America.  The agency’s “big government” rewrite will create more regulation, more USCIS officer discretion, and less accountability for USCIS officers.  These policies are being produced because the administration thinks that it knows who are the “best and brightest,” instead of the marketplace.
  • Ratcheting up third-party worksite H-1B denials.  Despite no objective evidence that fraud exists in third-party staffing situations, USCIS seeks to ask for additional evidence that it does not ask for in first-party worksite assignments.  This issue seems ripe for litigation. It seems inevitable that an H-1B employer will successfully challenge the Service’s overreaching requests in this area.


Friday, April 20, 2018

CHECKING IN ON THE VISA BULLETIN

The Department of State’s Visa Bulletin guru, Charlie Oppenheim, hosts monthly meetings with the American Immigration Lawyers Association.  Charlie Oppenheim is the Department of State’s Chief of the Control and Reporting Division. He is the officer who is responsible for producing the Visa Bulletin each month.

This month’s Check In With Charlie featured predictions about EB2 and EB3, which are the most popular categories for readers of this Blog.  Here are some of this month’s highlights:

Categories in which final action dates will remain the same include-
EB-1 China and India;
EB-2 India;
EB-3 China and Philippines;
EB-4 El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, and
EB-5 China.

Categories with modest advancements-
EB-2 China will move forward one month to September 1, 2014;
EB-3 India will advance three months to May 1, 2008;
EB-3 Other Workers China and India will advance one and three months respectively, to May 1, 2007 and May 1, 2008; and
EB-4 Mexico will advance roughly five weeks to October 22, 2016.

It is likely that most employment-based final action dates will hold at their May dates for the month of June with some changes possible in July. What occurs is entirely dependent on demand that may materialize, and continuing consultations with USCIS. The wildcard this year that could cause unanticipated fluctuations in the final action dates is the pace of USCIS field office processing of I-485s.

Friday, April 13, 2018

USCIS RECEIVES 190,000 H-1B CAP PETITIONS


USCIS announced that it received 190,098 petitions during the filing period, including petitions filed for the advanced degree exemption (compared to the 199,000 H-1B petitions received during the FY2018 filing period).

USCIS is in the process of running the H-1B lottery and notifying H-1B cap winners.  Petitioners should expect about 44% of their H-1B cap filings to be H-1B cap winners.  Based on prior years, we will receive H-1B lottery winner receipts throughout April and May.  After that we will receive the H-1B lottery loser petitions.  Traditionally if you do not receive a winner receipt notice by June 1, you have probably lost the H-1B lottery.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

MAY 2018 VISA BULLETIN: NEWS AND ANALYSIS

The Department of State has just issued the May 2018 Visa Bulletin.  This is the eighth Visa Bulletin of Fiscal Year 2018.  This blog post analyzes this month's Visa Bulletin.

May 2018 Visa Bulletin

Table A: Final Action Dates -- Applications with these dates may be approved for their Green Card (Permanent Residency card) or Immigrant Visa appointment.

EB 
Class 
All Other  
CHINA       
INDIA     
MEXICO   
PHIL'PNES    
EB-1
C
01JAN12
01JAN12
C
C
EB-2
C
01SEP14
22DEC08 
C
C
EB-3
01JUN15
01MAY08 

01JAN17      

Table B: Dates for Filing -- The DOS may work on applications with these dates. But the Visa cannot be approved until the date is current per Table A.

EB 
Class 
All Other  
CHINA       
INDIA     
MEXICO   
PHIL'PNES    
EB-1
C
C
C
C
EB-2
C
01FEB15
01APR09 
C
C
EB-3
01JAN16
01SEP08 

01JUL17       

MU Law Analysis (all references are to Table A unless noted)

All Other:  The EB-2 has been current for many years.  The EB-3 is also current and is expected to remain current for the foreseeable future.

China (mainland-born):  As with all categories this month, the movements were minor or nonexistent.  It would not surprise MU if the Chinese numbers stayed steady through the fiscal year.  China EB-2 is a better bet to progress than EB-3, although it remains doubtful that EB-2 progresses ahead of EB-3.

India:  India EB-3 had the most promising move of all EB categories, progressing from February to May 2008, which marks two consecutive months of great progress.  This likely reflects the fact that many older Indian EB-3s have either dropped out of the system or have upgraded to EB-2.  For a long time, MU Law has believed that India EB-3 would move much faster, once India EB-3 moved past 2007.

Mexico: Mirrors All Other in analysis.

Philippines: Phils EB-3 stayed steady, which is not surprising considering the enormous progressions of the last few years. The Phils EB-3 number will probably continue to only move slowly, reflecting the large numbers of Philippine RN EB-3 petitions that were filed in 2016-2018.

Friday, April 6, 2018

H-1B CAP 2018 HAS BEEN REACHED


USCIS today that it has received more than 85,000-1B cap-subject petitions They did not specify how many H-1B cap-subject petitions were received.  We expect to know the overage within the next few weeks.  Last year, the announcement happened on April 17.

USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions that are otherwise exempt from the cap. Petitions filed on behalf of current H-1B workers who have been counted previously against the cap. USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions filed to:
  • Extend the amount of time a current H-1B worker may remain in the United States;
  • Change the terms of employment for current H-1B workers;
  • Amend the H-1B petition to notify the USCIS of the filing of a new LCA and/or geographic change in employment;
  • Allow current H-1B workers to change employers; and
  • Allow current H-1B workers to work concurrently in a second, contemporaneous part-time H-1B position. 


Wednesday, April 4, 2018

WHICH US CITIES ATTRACT H-1B WORKERS?


The Pew Research Center has a new, fascinating study that shows the destination of H-1B workers.  The most surprising result is that the Bay Area attracts fewer H-1B workers than one might expect. 

From the study:

The San Jose, California, metro area, home of Silicon Valley, trailed the leading metro area on these measures, despite being home to some of the world’s most famous technology companies. The San Jose metro area had 22,200 H-1B approvals from fiscal 2010 to 2016, which amounted to two approvals per 100 workers.

The average H-1B worker earns $80,600, which is considerably higher than the average college-educated American, who earns $72,376.  In many Midwestern cities, it is impossible to make the case that H-1B workers are driving down salaries or that H-1B workers are saturating the supply of workers.

Metro Area
H-1B worker per 1,000 US workers
Avg H-1B Salary
Indianapolis
0.640
$71,700
Minneapolis
1.000
$90,500
Birmingham
1.240
$80,900
St. Louis
1.260
$84,700
Kansas City
1.260
$76,500
Denver
1.270
$91,300
Cincinnati
1.370
$70,200
Omaha
1.440
$90,400
Oklahoma City
1.470
$72,800
Columbus
1.760
$72,500

In all of these metropolitan areas, there are only 1 or 2 H-1B workers per 1,000 US workers, which is a minuscule percentage of the workforce.  As usual, the bluster around the H-1B program pales in comparison to the actual facts.