Tuesday, January 31, 2023

FY 2024 CAP REGISTRATION BEGINS MARCH 1

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced the registration period for FY 2024 H-1B Cap will open on Wednesday, March 1, 2023, at noon Eastern and will end on Friday, March 17, 2023, at noon Eastern. USCIS intends to notify selected registrants by March 31, 2023.

During the registration window, employers must register prospective H-1B beneficiaries online for the beneficiaries to be considered in the selection process. Registration requires minimal biographical information about each beneficiary and whether the beneficiary is eligible for the U.S. advanced degree cap.

Employers new to the H-1B Cap electronic registration process can create an H-1B Registrant account on myUSCIS beginning at noon Eastern on February 21. Employers who have an account for previous H-1B Cap electronic registration periods may use their existing account for the upcoming registration period. Each beneficiary registered will incur a nominal $10 fee due to USCIS.

Under U.S. immigration law, USCIS must select 65,000 H-1B workers for the regular cap and 20,000 H-1B workers for the advanced degree exemption (the master’s cap).

MU Law will be hosting a FREE webinar all about the H-1B Cap for our clients and friends on Tuesday, February 7, 2023, at 2PM Eastern. Learn more here.

Thursday, January 26, 2023

H-1B 2023 CAP WEBINAR

 

MU Law will be hosting a FREE webinar for our clients and friends on Tuesday, February 7, 2023 at 2PM Eastern (1PM Central).

 

Join us for this FREE webinar to learn more about:

·         H-1B Cap Basics, Registration Process, and Projections

·         What is a Specialty Occupation?

·         H-1B Dependency

·         Special Issues for Staffing Companies, Third Party Placements

·         Employer-Employee relationships, end-client documentation

·         Cap-gap for F-1s as well as CPT/OPT maintenance

·         Alternatives to an H-1B

·         Top 10 things H-1B employers can do to stay compliant

 

PLEASE JOIN US!

Monday, January 23, 2023

PREMIUM PROCESSING WILL EXPAND TO INCLUDE INITIAL EB-1 AND EB-2 I-140 PETITIONS AND OPT/STEM OPT APPLICATIONS

Continuing its initiative to expand premium processing eligibility, on January 12, 2023, USCIS issued a news alert that its premium processing program will be expanded again to include initial I-140 petitions filed under the EB-1 and EB-2 categories, as well as applications for OPT and STEM OPT applications.

EB-1 and EB-2 I-140 Petitions

MU previously published blogs on the first phase, second phase, third phase of the initiative.

Beginning Jan. 30, 2023, USCIS will accept Form I-907 requests for:

        All pending E13 multinational executive and manager petitions and E21 NIW petitions; and

        All initial E13 multinational executive and manager petitions and E21 NIW petitions.

USCIS has 45 days to issue an RFE, approval, or denial on cases that request premium processing for these newly included Form I-140 classifications. USCIS will reject any premium processing requests for the classifications above that are filed before the appropriate start date.  

OPT and STEM OPT Applications

In March 2023, USCIS will accept Premium Processing upgrade requests for pending OPT and STEM OPT applications.

In April 2023, USCIS will accept Premium Processing requests for initial OPT and STEM OPT applications.

USCIS will announce the specific dates for each category in February 2023. 

USCIS also anticipates expanding Premium Processing for certain student and exchange visitors who have filed Forms I-539 in May 2023 and June 2023; an announcement from USCIS on this expansion is forthcoming.

USCIS has 30 days to issue an RFE, approval, or denial on cases that request premium processing for Form I-765 and I-539 classifications.


Tuesday, January 17, 2023

FEBRUARY 2023 VISA BULLETIN: ANALYSIS

The Department of State has recently issued the February 2023 Visa Bulletin.  This blog post analyzes this month's Visa Bulletin. 

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

Worldwide

CHINA

INDIA

PHILIPPINES

1st

C

01FEB22

01FEB22

C

2nd

01NOV22

08JUN19

08OCT11

01NOV22

3rd

C

01AUG18

15JUN12

C

Other workers

01JAN20

22DEC13

15JUN12

01JAN20

Table B: Dates of Filing

The USCIS is using the Table B Dates of Filing chart for I-485 employment-based filings. See: USCIS Visa Bulletin Dates

MU Law Analysis

This was an uneventful Visa Bulletin.  Most dates remained the same as in the January 2022 Visa Bulletin. 

The WW and Philippine EB-3 remain current. We expect these categories to be current through much of the current fiscal year. 

EB-3 Other Workers, which is the category for occupations such as Nurse Aides, remains retrogressed.  It reverted to January 2020 because of continued higher usage than expected by the State Department. 

We remind all readers that the FY 2023 employment-based immigrant visa limit is 197,000, as compared with 281,507 in FY 2022.  These quotas are greater than the usual 140,000 employment-based limit because of spillovers of unused family-based immigrant visas in the prior fiscal year. Slowdowns related to COVID caused the allocation of family-based visas to be short of the limit.  It is expected that the employment-based quota will return to 140,000 in FY 2024, which starts October 1, 2023.


Wednesday, January 4, 2023

USCIS PUBLISHES PROPOSED FILING FEE INCREASE

On January 3,2023, the USCIS published a proposed rule that will increase DHS (USCIS) government filing fees .  The proposed fees for most business immigration filings are in the table, below.  The above-link will lead the reader to the full list of proposed increases.  DHS will accept public comments on the proposed rule for 60 days following publication of the proposed rule in the Federal Register. DHS will then carefully review and consider each comment before drafting and publishing a final rule to implement a new fee schedule.

USCIS last raised their fees in 2016, and before that in 2010. USCIS fees pay for much of the USCIS budget.  Very little of the USCIS’ budget comes from federal tax dollars.

Proposed fees

 

Form

Proposed Fee

Current Fee

Change

I-129 (H-1B)

$780

$460

+$320

I-129 (L-1)

$1,385

$460

+$925

I-130 (online)

$710

$535

+$175

I-130 (paper)

$820

$535

+$285

I-140

$715

$700

+$15

I-485

$1540

$1,225

+$315

I-485 with I-765 & I-131

$2820

$1,225

+$1,595

 

Thursday, December 22, 2022

USCIS ANNOUNCES TRIAL FOR UPDATES TO THE NATURALIZATION TEST

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced it will conduct a nationwide trial of proposed changes to certain portions of the naturalization test.  Currently, the naturalization test consists of four components: reading, writing, civics, and the ability to speak English. The USCIS subject matter experts reviewed the current format and suggested redesigning the civics and speaking components of the test. The trial is expected to improve the standardization and structure of the naturalization test.

The trial, tentatively scheduled for a five-month period in 2023, will test a newly developed English-speaking component and a civics component with updated format and content. The reading and writing components of the naturalization test will remain unchanged.

The trial will be conducted with the help of volunteer community-based organizations (CBOs) that work with immigrant English language learners and lawful permanent residents preparing for naturalization. The UCSIS may use the results of the trial to support changes to the naturalization test.

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

JANUARY 2023 VISA BULLETIN

The Department of State has recently issued the January 2023 Visa Bulletin.  This blog post analyzes this month's Visa Bulletin.  The FY 2023 employment-based immigrant visa limit is 197,000, as compared with 281,507 in FY 2022.  These quotas are greater than the usual 140,000 employment-based limit because of spillovers of unused family-based immigrant visas in the prior fiscal year.  Slowdowns related to COVID caused the allocation of family-based visas to be short of the limit.

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

Worldwide

CHINA

INDIA

PHILIPPINES

1st

C

01FEB22

01FEB22

C

2nd

01NOV22

08JUN19

08OCT11

01NOV22

3rd

C

01AUG18

15JUN12

C

Other workers

01JUN20

22JUN13

15JUN12

01JUN20

Table B: Dates of Filing

The USCIS is using the Table B Dates of Filing chart for I-485 employment-based filings. See: USCIS Visa Bulletin Dates

MU Law Analysis

A retrogression has now happened in India EB1 and China EB-1.  This reflects a smaller allocation of employment-based immigrant numbers than in the past two years, along with continued high demand in all immigration categories.

All other dates are the same as in the December 2022 Visa Bulletin. 

The WW and Philippine EB-3 remain current. We expect these categories to be current through much of the current fiscal year. 

EB-3 Other Workers, which is the category for occupations such as Nurse Aides, remains retrogressed but held steady to June 2020 for Philippines and ROW.  We do not expect further retrogression in these two categories.  We would not be surprised to see some progression in these categories throughout this fiscal year.


Monday, November 28, 2022

HOW DOES CGFNS FIT INTO US NURSE IMMIGRATION

We often receive questions about the role of CGFNS in nurse immigration.  CGFNS has a number of different product lines which overlap and add to the confusion.

Here are three of the most common uses of CGFNS within the US visa processing system.  It is best to think of these three product lines as independent:

CGFNS credentials evaluation (CES) – Many US state licensing bodies call on CGFNS to review and evaluate foreign nurse’s credentials in advance of qualifying the nurses to sit for the NCLEX exam.  CES is the process by which applicants can have their nursing education evaluated by CGFNS for clearance to sit for the state’s nursing exam (NCLEX).

CGFNS Predictor (Qualifying) Exam – This is an older, legacy exam that is now rarely used to assess a foreign nurse’s competence in nursing.  It was more widespread before the expansion of international NCLEX testing centers. 

CGFNS Visa Screen – This is the Healthcare Worker Certificate (HWC) that is needed by RNs at the very end of their immigration process, at their consular interview.  CGFNS’ HWC is branded the Visa Screen.  All nurses and allied healthcare workers must have:

·        Passed the US licensing exam;

·        Graduated from a university that is equivalent to a US school in the same profession;

·        Passed an English fluency examination; and

·        Hold a spotless overseas professional license. 

In recent years USCIS approved a second issuer of HWCs, Josef Silney. 

Thursday, November 17, 2022

DECEMBER 2022 VISA BULLETIN: ANALYSIS AND PREDICTIONS

The Department of State has recently issued the December 2022 Visa Bulletin.  This blog post analyzes this month's Visa Bulletin.  The FY 2023 employment-based immigrant visa limit is 197,000, as compared with 281,507 in FY 2022.  These quotas are greater than the usual 140,000 employment-based limit because of spillovers of unused family-based immigrant visas in the prior fiscal year.  Slowdowns related to COVID caused the allocation of family-based visas to be short of the limit.

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

Worldwide

CHINA

INDIA

PHILIPPINES

1st

C

C

C

C

2nd

01NOV22

08JUN19

08OCT11

01NOV22

3rd

C

01AUG18

15JUN12

C

Other workers

01JUN20

22JUN13

15JUN12

01JUN20

Table B: Dates of Filing

The USCIS is using the Table B Dates of Filing chart for I-485 employment-based filings. See: USCIS Visa Bulletin Dates

MU Law Analysis

As expected, there was a retrogression in India EB2 in the coming months due to high demand.  All categories of EB-2 retrogression, which reflects a smaller allocation of employment based immigrant numbers than in the past two years. 

On the other hand, India EB-3 progressed two months, which was unexpected good news. 

The WW and Philippine EB-3 remain current. We expect these categories to be current through much of the current fiscal year. 

EB-3 Other Workers, which is the category for occupations such as Nurse Aides, remains retrogressed but held steady to June 2020 for Philippines and ROW.  We do not expect further retrogression in these two categories.  We would not be surprised to see some progression in these categories throughout this fiscal year.

China EB-3 advanced by six weeks, but a note at the end of the Visa Bulletin said that EB-1 China and India should expect a retrogression in the in the coming months.