Monday, September 16, 2019

ANALYSIS OF CURRENT RFE TRENDS AND HOW TO GET YOUR CASE APPROVED

MU Law will be hosting a free webinar for our clients and friends on Wednesday November 13, 2019 at 2PM / 11AM PT. Interested clients and friends can register for our webinar by clicking on the link below.

Register Here

This webinar will provide an analysis of current RFE trends and how to beat the USCIS’s RFE and get your case approved.  
  
Webinar Agenda:
1.   H-1B issues
·       Specialty Occupation
·       Availability of Work
·       Right to Control
2.   I-140 Issues
·       Bona Fide Offer
·       Ability to Pay
3.   I-485 Issues
·       Maintenance of Status
o   F-1 to Green Card
o   H-1B to Green Card
4.   Q&A

PLEASE JOIN US!

Monday, September 9, 2019

US CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION SERVICE ANNOUNCES FEE FOR PRE-REGISTRATION FOR H-1BS


On September 4, 2019 the USCIS announced a new proposed rule that requires employers preparing to file H-1B cap-subject petitions to pay a $10 fee for each electronic registration the employer submits to USCIS.  The USCIS is funded by fees collected for filings and plans to use the registration fees to cover the costs of implementing the new pre-registration system.

In January 2019 the USCIS introduced an electronic registration requirement for employers seeking to file H-1B cap-subject petitions.  Under the January 2019 rule, 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 submit the actual H-1B petition.  

After considering public feedback, USCIS decided to suspend the electronic pre-registration requirement until the April 2020 cap season in order to complete user testing and ensure the system and process are fully functional.

Monday, August 19, 2019

US DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY ANNOUNCES NEW “PUBLIC CHARGE” RULE


On August 14, 2019 the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced a new “public charge” rule; this rule will go into effect on October 15, 2019.  Under a longstanding law and policy, if immigration authorities determine someone is “likely to become a public charge” the US can deny the applicant’s green card or other visa to the US.  A public charge is someone who is dependent on the government, through benefits programs.  The Trump Administration’s new rule changes the standard by the DHS determines whether a foreign national is likely to become a public charge.


Under the previous policy, DHS examined whether an intending immigrant was primarily dependent on public benefits.  Under the new rule, immigration officers will examine whether immigrants are likely at any time to become a public charge, using a multi-factor test. 


Public benefits under the new rule include:
  1. Any federal, state, or local cash assistance, including:

    1.   Social Security Income (SSI)
    2.  Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
    3.  Government programs for income maintenance often called “general assistance”

  1. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) also known as food stamps
  2. Section 8 Housing Assistance
  3. Medicaid, with certain exceptions
  4. Public Housing under Section 

The immigration officer will take into account a broad range of factors and consider all of the following when making a determination if the foreign national visa applicant is likely to become a pubic charge:
  1. Receipt of a public benefit for more than 12 months in the aggregate within a 36 month period
  2. Age
  3. Health
  4. Family status
  5. Education and skills
  6. Assets, resources, and financial status

This rule will apply to all applicants for any type of visa, though it is expected that the immigration officers will look most closely at those applying for a green card.  Employment-based visa applicants should be treated favorably because, by virtue of their employer-sponsor, they have guaranteed employment and income in the United States.  However, policy experts forecast that this rule will likely be applied inconsistently and cause fewer legal immigrants to enter the United States.


Thursday, August 15, 2019

SEPTEMBER 2019 VISA BULLETIN: ANALYSIS

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

September 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.

Employment-
based
All Other
CHINA
INDIA
PHILIPPINES
1st
01OCT17
01JAN14
U
01OCT17
2nd
01JAN18
01JAN17
08MAY09
01JAN18
3rd
01JUL16
01JAN14
01JUL05
01JUL16

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.

Employment-
based
All Other
CHINA
INDIA
PHILIPPINES 
1st
01SEP18
01OCT17
01OCT17
01SEP18
2nd
C
01JUN17
01JUN09 
C
3rd
C
01JUN16
01APR10
C


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

As always happens in August and September, the dates have retrogressed, often making the numbers effectively unavailable.  This is common.  The USCIS and DOS are making sure to use all available visa numbers, without exceeding the legal quotas.

Numbers will once again be available for applicants beginning October 1, 2019 under the FY-2020 annual numerical limitations.  For October, the first month of fiscal year 2020, the DOS expects to return to return the final action dates to those which applied for July.  Click this link to see the July dates.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

CGFNS, AHA, PNAA ALL OPPOSE BILL RESTRICTING NURSES


CGFNS International, the US’ issuer on Visa Screens for nurses and other allied healthcare professions, has issued a letter to its Pennsylvania senators expressing concern over S.386 Fairness bill.  That bill would decimate healthcare immigration into the US, as explained in our March blog post.  The letter also notes that the American Hospital Association and the Philippine Nurses Association of America also do not support the bill.

The letter, which is signed by CGFNS President and CEO Franklin Shaffer, explains that while the bills’ aims are understandable, the consequence of the bill would be to create visa retrogressions for every country.  Shaffer asks that the bill is modified to ensure that healthcare professionals, including nurses, are not negatively impacted by this bill. 

There has been an intense effort to modify the bill to protect US patients by continuing to allow badly needed nurses and healthcare professionals into the US.  A competitive bill, sponsored by Sen. Rand Paul and titled the BELIEVE Act, would meet both aims: eliminate the unfair per country quotas, while still allowing nurses and healthcare professionals into the US. 

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

SEN. PAUL’S BELIEVE ACT IS MERIT BASED IMMIGRATION

Sen. Ran Paul (R-KY) has introduced a bill, the BELIEVE Act, that greatly improves the US employment-based visa system. 

Sen. Rand Paul’s act expands employment-based immigration visas, provides additional visas for Schedule A shortage occupations, ends per-country caps on employment-based immigration green cards, and allow spouses and children of temporary workers to legally work.  All while still providing all the same protections for American workers in an economy where nearly every qualified American worker currently has a job.

As the Cato Institute says, the

The BELIEVE Act would do more to move the United States toward a merit-based system than any other legislation introduced this congress. No legislation since the 2013 immigration reform bill that passed the Senate would increase skilled immigration more than this bill. A fourfold increase in employment-based permanent immigration would bring the United States more in line with the Canadian system.

Importantly, the BELIEVE Act considers the needs of US healthcare patients.  It provides additional visas for nurses and physical therapists, which will help all Americans, especially in rural communities where the nursing shortage is most dire.

For instance, Chattanooga area healthcare facilities and hospitals just announced that they cannot find nurses, despite Chattanooga area schools producing 500 nurses per year and despite more than 6,500 registered nurses living in the county.  CHI Memorial is now offering $20,000 sign-on bonuses to new nurses.  These shortages are rampant throughout the US.

Sen. Paul should be commended for producing legislation that serves all interests needs, except those who want to restrict immigration into the US.  Musillo Unkenholt strongly supports this bill.  If you are a healthcare facility or hospital who is willing to help support this bill, please contact Chris.


Tuesday, July 23, 2019

MUSILLO UNKENHOLT TURNS TEN - MU WILL BE CLOSED ON JULY 26

By Chris Musillo

July 1, 2019 marks ten years since Musillo Unkenholt began.  America itself was founded on July 4, 1776.  It was serendipitous to birth an immigration law firm over the same week as the country itself was birthed.  In celebration of our tenth birthday, MU will be closed on Friday July 26.  We will be having a food and drink tasting event out of the office.  We are being chauffeured to a number of cool places here in Cincinnati!

I hope that you will indulge me with a little history on our special birthday. 

Cindy Unkenholt and I launched the firm by choosing a name that continues to confuse the legal profession: Musillo Unkenholt.  Very Italian, and very, very German.  

Besides the two of us, we started with five paralegals: Rita, Jenna, Amy, Kathryn, and Mary.  Three of these five are still here at MU: Rita, Jenna, and Amy.  The fact that I remain working with these three stars fills me with daily happiness.

These three set the MU culture, and the others who work here embody it and enhance it.  It is fashionable right now to talk about an office “growing” a culture.  We have had a great culture from MU’s first day.  We are creative and dedicated.  We don’t cheat the work – we work hard.  Everyone takes tremendous pride and ownership over a successful case.

We are dedicated, and yet we have fun too.  We go to ballgames, happy hours, firm lunches, road trips, and parties.  We give back to our community. We treat each other with immense respect.  And we also eat a lot of cupcakes. 

The culture is evident in a significant way: the long tenure of these special people.  In ten years, we have never had an attorney quit the law firm.  We have had very few paralegals leave the firm.  The consistency of our team is because of the culture that is set by the people.  Let me tell you a little about these amazing people.

In spite of retiring a few years ago, Cindy remains one of my closest friends.  It would have been impossible to start this firm without her.  Her willingness to take this chance with me is something that will fill me for the rest of my life.  She supported me when I needed to be supported.  She also challenged me when I needed to be challenged.  Some of my favorite memories with Cindy are the early days, when she and I worked through the processes that are necessary to start a business: websites, payroll, insurance, leases, budgets, bank accounts, and a thousand other things.  I am so glad that she continues to be a part of the firm, regularly showing up at MU events. 

These ten years have been a rich journey that would not have been rich without Rita, Jenna, and Amy.  These three outstanding women are the lifeblood of the firm.  They have worked on the hardest cases, and for the largest and most demanding clients.  They have put in countless hours in these ten years (As I type this, on a Saturday morning at my desk, Jenna is across the hall working on a case).  I cannot thank them enough. 

Rita recently earned a promotion to become MUs Human Resource Manager, although she still pitches in as a paralegal during busy times.  She was my first hire back in 1999.  She has a dedication, an energy, and a sense of ownership of MU that is incomparable.  She is always the first one at the office, and sometimes, the last to leave. 

Jenna constantly goes far beyond what any employer should ask of her.  Her passion for the work has brought clients to tears of joy.  These thankful clients have sent her beautiful emails and gifts to recognize her part in making their American dream come true.  Like Rita, Jenna’s work ethic is unbounded.

Amy has a unique sense of honing in on exactly what the client needs. It is most evident in her ability to communicate confusing immigration concepts in a clean style.  This ability has put many, many client’s minds at ease.  But that’s not her only talent: Amy’s baking skills are responsible for the cupcakes.

Our attorney team is outstanding.  I was proud to invite Maria into the partnership this past January.  She has been at MU since 2011, and quickly fell into the MU way of doing things.  She is a smart, hardworking lawyer, who has blossomed into much more than just a co-leader.  She takes her leadership skills beyond the MU doors.  She founded the Cincinnati Bar Association’s Immigration Committee.  That proved so successful that they asked her to join the CBA Board.  She teaches at the University of Cincinnati’s Law School as an Adjunct Professor.  She came into the firm with a passion for immigrants -- a passion that even drove her to marry one! 

Anshu is our next longest tenured lawyer.  Her ability to work through any problem with grace under fire is something that everyone should envy.  She never gets frazzled, no matter the challenge in front of her.  She concentrates entirely on the solution.  It’s remarkable.  Maria and I can’t wait to bring her into the partnership.

Shabnam was our first student law clerk that we offered the opportunity to join MU, a decision that has worked out so well that we repeated it with Allyson, Olivia, Rob, and soon, Megan.  John is our only lateral attorney, and we’re lucky that he left Montreal to come back to Cincinnati.  This group shares strategies, and genuinely cares about each other’s success.  We have great and productive attorney meetings where the energy for the work really shows.

Beyond the three originals, we have an enormously talented group of paralegals.  Nicole was an old friend who took a few years away from paralegal work, came back, and hasn’t missed a beat.  She is laser-focused on getting cases filed and approved.  We plucked Annalisa right out of paralegal school and, as with Shabnam and the attorneys, has been such a pleasure to work with that we repeated the practice with Heather, Candice, Julia, Ally, and Tyler. 

Ana, Mary, Tina, Denna, Gwendolyn, Aigerim, and Tess, came to MU from a variety of different backgrounds.  Some are immigrants or come from first-generation families.  Some are natives.  All are Americans.  And all are very much appreciated.  Like the US itself, the diversity of our team’s personality, race, gender, vibrancy, and background, enhances the experience that we all have with each other.

This entire experience would be impossible without our inspiring clients.  These businesses are not just from here in Greater Cincinnati, but from Florida, Texas, New York, New Jersey, Iowa, California, Washington DC, Maine, Alabama, Missouri, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, and, well now that I think about it, every state.  We have even secured a visa for healthcare worker in rural Alaska.

Many of the business clients started with us from the day that we opened the law firm’s doors.  Many started small and have developed into exciting companies.  Together they employ thousands of immigrants, and tens of thousands of Americans.  They serve literally millions of people.  They have grown as we have grown.  The product of these client relationships is exponential.  

The owners and leaders of these companies are not just business colleagues, but genuine friends.  We call and email and text at weird hours and on weekends.  I have been to many of their homes.  I have met their spouses, children, and parents. 

Our clients are from countless countries around the world, most often from the Philippines and India.  I have worked with thousands of wonderful people from these two lovely countries helping them achieve what my own family achieved a generation ago: legal passage to the US to a place that lets them maximize their talents.  I have had the chance to visit both countries and have a deep appreciation for their values and ethos, and maybe a little too much of an appreciation for their food. 

Beyond these two incredible countries, MU has worked with clients from nearly every country in Europe, much of Asia, Africa, and North and South America.  Still we can do more.  We have not yet immigrated any penguins from Antarctica. 

The next ten years will be exciting.  Immigration is a dynamic area of law.  We will be moving our office into larger space in the fall, having outgrown our home at 205 W Fourth Street. 

We have a stalwart group of experienced employees who continue set a model tone.  We have a collection of younger employees who infuse this place with enormous energy.  Thank you to everyone who has been a part of ten wonderful years.  I can’t wait to see what happens over the next ten.

With an incredible amount of thankfulness and gratitude,
Chris

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

ROLL CALL: US HEALTH CARE WOULD COLLAPSE WITHOUT FOREIGN NURSES

An article in Roll Call highlights the significant damage that the Fairness Act would do to American healthcare, a point that we have raised in the past.  As we said then,

The Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act has a worthwhile aim: eliminating the incredibly long backlog for Indian EB2 and EB3 applicants.  Musillo Unkenholt is in favor of the bill, provided that it is modified in a way to allow nurses to continue to come to the US.  As it is currently structured, the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act would eliminate nurse immigration into the US.

Fortunately, there is a better way.  Last week, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) introduced the BELIEVE Act.  This Act merges the Fairness Act with increased employment-based immigration numbers and preserves visas for those occupations that are in such short supply that the importation of these workers has no negative impact on the wages and working conditions of US labor.  Musillo Unkenholt strongly supports the BELIEVE Act.

Friday, July 12, 2019

AUGUST 2019 VISA BULLETIN: ANALYSIS AND FAQ

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

August 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.

Employment-
based
All Other
CHINA
INDIA
PHILIPPINES
1st
01JUL16
01JUL16
01JAN15
01JUL16
2nd
01JAN17
01JAN17
02MAY09
01JAN17
3rd
01JUL16
01JAN16
01JAN06
01JUL16

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.

Employment-
based
All Other
CHINA
INDIA
PHILIPPINES 
1st
01SEP18
01OCT17
01OCT17
01SEP18
2nd
C
01FEB17
01JUN09 
C
3rd
C
01JUN16
01APR10
C


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

The DOS has retrogressed nearly all categories in August.  This happens almost every year.  It is nothing to be concerned about.  The DOS noted that:

The implementation of the above mentioned dates is expected to be only a temporary issue.  For October, the first month of fiscal year 2020, every effort will be made to return these final action dates to those which applied for July.
FAQ

Musillo Unkenholt has received many emails and phone calls from people who have questions about this Visa Bulletin.  We have put together this FAQ for all readers of the MU Law Blog.

Q.  Why do the August and September Visa Bulletins always have unusual progressions and retrogressions?

A. These two Visa Bulletins are the final two Visa Bulletins of the US Fiscal Year, which runs from October 1 – September 30.  The DOS must make sure that it uses all 140,000 employment-based immigrant visas.  If it does not use all 140,000 immigrant visas, then the visas do not roll over into the next fiscal year.  On the other hand, the DOS cannot use more than 140,000 immigrant visas or else they violate federal law.  

Q. The Philippine and All Other EB2 retrogressed for the first time in many years.  Does this mean that the Philippine EB2 and All Other dates will permanently be retrogressed?

A.  No.  This is a temporary retrogression that will only last until October 1, 2019.  The DOS expects that the October Visa Bulletin will be Current for both Philippines and All Other EB-2.

Q.  If I have an interview will I still be able to get my green card?

A.  If you have an interview before July 31, you will be able to get your green card.  However if you do not have an interview until August or September, the interview may be postponed until October.


Q. At what rate will the Philippine EB-3 and All Other EB-3 move in 2019 and 202?

A.  The DOS indicated that the Philippine EB-3 and All Other EB-3 should remain Current or almost Current after October 1.  After October, we expect continued favorable Visa Bulletins for these categories.


Please post any other questions to the blog or Facebook and we will try to timely answer.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

IMMIGRATION 101: AN OVERVIEW OF EMPLOYMENT-BASED IMMIGRATION OPTIONS


MU Law will be hosting a free webinar for our clients and friends on Wednesday August 21, 2019 at 2PM / 11AM PT. Interested clients and friends can register for our webinar by clicking on the link below.
This webinar will provide a high level overview of a variety of work visa classifications.  An Immigration 101 session, this webinar will give clients a general understanding of the visa options available for employees at all levels of any organization.   
Webinar Agenda:
  • Overview of H-1Bs
  • OPT and CPT work authorization for students
  • Free Trade Visas, i.e. TN, H-1B1, and E-3
  • Visas for Entrepreneurs, e.g. L-1A, L-1B, E-1, and E-2
  • Summary of the green card process for employees
  • Q&A
PLEASE JOIN US!

Thursday, June 13, 2019

JULY 2019 VISA BULLETIN: ANALYSIS AND PREDICTIONS

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

July 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.

Employment-
based
All Other
CHINA
INDIA
PHILIPPINES
1st
22APR18
08MAY17
01JAN15
22APR18
2nd
C
01NOV16
24APR09
C
3rd
C
01JAN16
01JUL09
C

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.

Employment-
based
All Other
CHINA
INDIA
PHILIPPINES 
1st
01SEP18
01OCT17
01OCT17
01SEP18
2nd
C
01FEB17
01JUN09 
C
3rd
C
01JUN16
01APR10
C

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

All Other: The EB-1 category stayed still.  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:  China EB-1 moved three months.  China EB-2 moved 3 months, a fifteen-month progression so far in 2019’s calendar months.  EB-3 also moved ahead about three months -- which reflects continued demand in EB-3, likely related to the many EB-3 “downgrades”.  EB-2 remains superior to EB-3.

India: There was very little movement in any of the Indian categories.  EB-1 will almost surely not move in FY 2019.  We do not expect any significant Indian movement this fiscal year.  Longer term, we are slightly more optimistic about India EB-3, which should progress faster than EB-2.

Philippines: The EB-3 is current!  We do not expect any retrogression in the near future.  Great days for Philippine employment-based nationals.