Monday, January 14, 2019

FEBRUARY 2019 VISA BULLETIN: ANALYSIS AND PREDICTIONS

The Department of State has just issued the February 2019 Visa Bulletin. This is the fifth Visa Bulletin of Fiscal Year 2019. This blog post analyzes this month's Visa Bulletin.

February 2019 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     
PHILIPPINES    
EB-1
01DEC17
08FEB17
08FEB17
01DEC17
EB-2
C
01OCT15
06APR09 
C
EB-3
C
01JUL15
22APR09 
01AUG17    

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     
PHILIPPINES    
EB-1
01JUN18
01OCT17
01OCT17
01JUN18
EB-2
C
01NOV15
22MAY09 
C
EB-3
01JAN16
01APR10 

01OCT17      

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

All Other: As we expected, the EB-1 category again moved several months.  We expect continued steady movement in this category for All Other.  We do not see any retrogression in the future for EB2 or EB3, other than the usual retrogression at the end of the Fiscal Year.

China: Likewise, the China EB-1 category progressed several months. This category may not move as fast as All Other in the next few Visa Bulletins.  China EB-2 moved two months.  EB-3 only moved a few weeks, reflecting continued high demand.  Still, we expect EB-3 to slightly outpace EB-2 in the next few Visa Bulletins.

India: India EB-2 moved by just one week. EB-3 progressed by six weeks.  We expect the slow/no progress to be standard for EB-2 in the first part of FY 2019.  We are slightly more optimistic about India EB-3, which could continue to progress faster than EB-2.

Philippines: The EB-3 date showed steady progress, improving by six weeks. Over the course of FY2019, we should eventually see the EB-3 priority date extend into FY2018.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

H-1B COMMENT PERIOD CLOSED

Last month USCIS published two proposed rules to the H-1B cap process.  As we noted on December 5, 2018:

 The two rules are:

1.    Electronic pre-registration for the H-1B cap.  This is a proposed rule that has been considered by USCIS since 2011.  Under the proposal, all H-1B lottery petitions will need to be electronically pre-registered during the H-1B pre-registration period from April 1-7.  After the pre-registration period has concluded, USCIS will run the H-1B lottery.  All H-1B lottery winners will then have 60 days to submit the actual H-1B petition.  If implemented properly, this should save petitioners and the industry significant expense.

2.    H-1B Masters Cap Allocation Preference.  USCIS will technically re-engineer the way that it conducts the H-1B lottery.  The result of the re-engineering should mean that a slightly greater number of H-1B petitions will be approved for US Masters Degree H-1B Beneficiaries than under the current H-1B lottery.  We previously explained this process on an earlier blog.

Now that the comment period has ended the USCIS must read and consider all of the comments, which were plentiful.  Many of the comments focused on the fact that rushing this proposal forward for the April 1, 2019 H-1B cap is a bad idea.  MU Law agrees that the USCIS is moving too fast with these recommendations.

The USCIS has not announced a timetable for a decision as to whether the proposed changes will be adopted and, if so, whether they will go into effect for April 2019.  It is however expected that they will make a decision by February.



Friday, December 21, 2018

DENIAL OF “ADVANCED PAROLE” TRAVEL PERMITS FOR ABANDONMENT


During the annual Office of the Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) Ombudsman Conference, USCIS Director, Francis Cissna, stated it is the USCIS’s intention to end the practice of denying pending Advanced Parole applications (travel permits) in situations where the applicant travels overseas while the travel permit application is pending. 

The USCIS has recently updated the “special instructions” section of their website regarding travel permits indicating individuals may travel when they have a pending travel permit application pending, provided they also have an approved travel permit that is valid for the entire time the individual is abroad. The pending travel permit will not be considered abandoned and so will not be denied in this situation.

The USCIS website does not state that this change in policy applies to foreign nationals who travel abroad with a valid H or L visa.  Non-immigrant intent is required for most visas, with a noted exception for those holding H-1B or L-1 status.  Because of this exception, those traveling on H-1B or L-1 while their green cards are pending do not need a travel permit.

Travel permit applications are made most commonly when an individual applies for a green card.  At the time the green card application is filed, an application for a work and travel permit is also filed.  Unless the green card applicant holds H or L status, the green card applicant should not travel abroad until the travel permit is issued.  Traveling abroad without a valid travel permit while a green card application is pending will cause the denial of the green card application for abandonment.

Monday, December 17, 2018

JANUARY 2019 VISA BULLETIN

The Department of State has just issued the January 2019 Visa Bulletin. This is the fourth Visa Bulletin of Fiscal Year 2019. This blog post analyzes this month's Visa Bulletin.

January 2019 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     
PHILIPPINES    
EB-1
01OCT17
15DEC16
01DEC16
01OCT17
EB-2
C
01AUG15
01APR09 
C
EB-3
C
08JUN15
01MAR09 
22JUN17    


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     
PHILIPPINES    
EB-1
01JUN18
01OCT17
01OCT17
01JUN18
EB-2
C
08SEP15
22MAY09 
C
EB-3
01JAN16
01JAN10 

01AUG17      

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

All Other, Mexico: As we expected, the EB-1 category again moved several months.  We expect continued steady movement in this category for All Other.  We do not see any retrogression in the future for EB2 or EB3, other than the usual retrogression at the end of the Fiscal Year.

China: Likewise, the China EB-1 category progressed several months. This category may not move as fast as All Other in the next few Visa Bulletins. China EB-2 moved two months,
EB-3 did not advance, reflecting high demand.  Still, we expect EB-3 to slightly outpace EB-2 in the next few Visa Bulletins.

India: India EB-2 and EB-3 did not move. We expect the slow/no progress to be standard for EB-2 in the first part of FY 2019.  We are slightly more optimistic about India EB-3.

Philippines: The EB-3 date again also only moved up by week, which is slower than we would have liked to have seen.  While over the course of FY2019, we should eventually see the EB-3 priority date extend into FY2018, we do not expect too much movement in the next few Visa Bulletins.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

TWO PROPOSED H-1B CAP MODIFICATIONS

The USCIS has published two proposed rules that will change H-1B cap processes.  While the USCIS hopes that these two rules are finalized in time for the April 2019 H-1B cap, the USCIS has not yet committed to a timeline.  The public may comment on the two proposed rules until January 2, 2019.

The two rules are:

1. Electronic pre-registration for the H-1B cap.  This is a proposed rule that has been considered by USCIS since 2011.  Under the proposal, all H-1B lottery petitions will need to be electronically pre-registered during the H-1B pre-registration period from April 1-7.  After the pre-registration period has concluded, USCIS will run the H-1B lottery.  All H-1B lottery winners will then have 60 days to submit the actual H-1B petition.  If implemented properly, this should save petitioners and the industry significant expense.

2. H-1B Masters Cap Allocation Preference.  USCIS will technically re-engineer the way that it conducts the H-1B lottery.  The result of the re-engineering should mean that a slightly greater number of H-1B petitions will be approved for US Masters Degree H-1B Beneficiaries than under the current H-1B lottery.  We previously explained this process on an earlier blog.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

US DEPARTMENT OF LABOR (DOL) RELEASES NEW LABOR CONDITION APPLICATION (LCA)


Effective Monday, November 19, 2018, the DOL released a new LCA (Form ETA-9035) which must be used on all immigration filings going forward. A certified LCA must be included in immigration filings for H-1B, H-1B1, and E-3 status.  The DOL generally certifies an LCA approximately 7-10 days after submission of the LCA to the DOL.    

Certified and date-valid LCAs in the old format can still be used in immigration filings, provided the LCAs have unused slots in the appropriate filing category, e.g. new employment, continuation of employment without change, etc. 

For all immigration filings, the new LCA requires the legal business name of the end-client(s) as well as the street address of the worksite(s) where the employee will physically work.

For H-1B masters cap petitions, the new LCA requires:
o   The name of the institution that awarded the employee’s master’s degree;
o   The field of study in which the employee’s master’s degree was awarded;
o   The date on which the employee’s master’s degree was awarded; and
o   Documentation substantiating the employee’s master’s degree information.

MU’s employer checklists for H-1B, H-1B1, and E-3 filings have been updated to request this information from employers at case initiation. 

Thursday, November 15, 2018

DECEMBER 2018 VISA BULLETIN: TRENDS AND PREDICTIONS


The Department of State has just issued the December 2018 Visa Bulletin. This is the third Visa Bulletin of Fiscal Year 2019. This blog post analyzes this month's Visa Bulletin.

December 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     
PHIL'PNES    
EB-1
01JUL17
01SEP16
01SEP16
01JUL17
EB-2
C
01JUL15
01APR09 
C
EB-3
C
08JUN15
01MAR09 
15JUN17    

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     
PHIL'PNES    
EB-1
01JUN18
01OCT17
01OCT17
01JUN18
EB-2
C
08SEP15
22MAY09 
C
EB-3
01DEC15
01JAN10 

01AUG17      


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

All Other, Mexico
: As we expected, the EB-1 category moved several months. We expect continued steady movement in this category for All Other.

China: Likewise, the China EB-1 category progressed several months. This category may not move as fast as All Other in the next few Visa Bulletins. China EB-2 moved two months, although EB-3 only advanced one week. We expect EB-3 to slightly outpace EB-2 in the next few Visa Bulletins.

India: The Indian EB-3 date moved two months, which was more than expected. There is a chance that EB-3 continues to move at this pace for the next few Visa Bulletins. We expect the slow/no progress to be standard for EB-2 in the first part of FY 2019.

Philippines: The EB-3 date again also only moved up by week, which is slower than we would have liked to have seen. While over the course of FY2019, we should eventually see the EB-3 priority date extend into CY2018, we do not expect too much movement in the next few Visa Bulletins.



Monday, November 5, 2018

USCIS ANNOUNCES THE TERMINATION OF SELF-SCHEDULED INFOPASS APPOINTMENTS


In 2019, the USCIS plans to expand its Information Services Modernization Program throughout the US. This expansion will end self-scheduled InfoPass appointments and instead applicants will use the USCIS website to view general how-to information, access processing times, check case status, and other information about the processing of immigration cases.

The USCIS states that the transition to the Information Services Modernization Program has already improved the delivery of emergency services which can only be provided in person. USCIS surveys and data determined that most people scheduling InfoPass appointments could obtain the same information by calling the USCIS or checking the USCIS website. 

Going forward, when the USCIS customer service representative online or on the phone determines an in-person appointment is necessary, the customer service representative will schedule the appointment for the applicant.  

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

USCIS MAY IMPROVE US MASTERS CHANCES AT H-1B LOTTERY


Bloomberg reports that USCIS is considering a proposal that will slightly improve the chances of US Master Degree holders to win the H-1B lottery.  If the proposed change had been in effect in April 2018 numbers, about 2,700 more US Masters degree holders would have won the lottery, at the expense of 2,700 regular H-1B cap winners (non-US Master’s degree).  USCIS selects 85,000 H-1B cap lottery winners each April.

USCIS has signaled that it wants to reorder the way that it runs the lottery.  Under the present lottery program, the USCIS segregates all of the H-1B beneficiaries who hold Masters degrees and runs a “Masters-only” lottery.  It then takes all of the Masters lottery-losers, combines them with the regular H-1B beneficiaries and runs the regular-cap lottery.

The proposal calls for the USCIS to reverse the process.  The USCIS would run the regular lottery first.  The regular lottery would include both regular cap petitions and Master’s degree holders.  Then, USCIS would take all Masters degree losers and run a Masters lottery.  As shown in the 2018 example, the result would be that slightly more Masters degree holders would win the lottery at the expense of slightly fewer non-Masters cap beneficiaries.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

REMINDER: USCIS POLICY MEMOS WEBINAR NOV. 7

As a reminder, MU is hosting a free webinar on November 7. 

Over the last six months, the USCIS has issued several new policy memorandums. Join us for a webinar recapping these new memos and recent trends in adjudications. The webinar will cover: 
  • Denial Notices issued without an RFE/NOID
  • Notice to Appear (NTA) issuance 
  • OPT/F-1 updates (including unlawful presence and 3rd party work-sites on OPT)
  • H-1B 3rd party work-site and itinerary memo
  • Rescission of deference to previous approvals 

Please click the link below to register for the webinar. 


Should you have any questions regarding the event or our services, please do not hesitate to contact Chris Musillo

This webinar is for MU Law clients and friends of the firm. 

We look forward to speaking with you!