Wednesday, October 22, 2014

VISA BULLETIN PROJECTIONS FOR THE NEXT FEW MONTHS

AILA has again recently dialoged with the Department of State’s Charlie Oppenheim, who is the DOS’ chief for producing the Visa Bulletin.  MU Law has spoken with Mr. Oppenheim several times in the past and have always found that his projections are well thought out and very accurate.

Here are his projections based on his recent conversation with AILA:

EB-2 India
The November 2014 Visa Bulletin retrogressed India EB-2 to February 2005, which was 4 years worse than the October 2014 Visa Bulletin.  Unfortunately, the India EB-2 date is expected to stay in 2005 for the foreseeable future.

EB-3 India
This category should see continued slow movement of about one or two weeks for every Visa Bulletin.

EB-3 Philippines
The EB-3 Philippine’s date is expected to remain the same as the Worldwide EB-3 date for the next several months.  These dates will remain the same unless the demand for the Philippines EB-3 spikes in future months.

EB-2 China
This category should progress three to five weeks for every monthly Visa Bulletin.

EB-3 China
EB-3 China should see rapid promotion of dates in the forthcoming months.

Friday, October 17, 2014

FCCPT PILOTING EXPEDITED SERVICE

The Foreign Credentialing Commission on Physical Therapy is launching a pilot program, offering expedited completion of reviews.  The Expedited Service program guarantees completion within six weeks.  The reviews have traditionally taken eight weeks.  An Expedited Service can be requested at any time prior to the start of a review and up to two weeks after the start of the review.

Friday, October 10, 2014

NOVEMBER 2014 VISA BULLETIN

The Department of State has just released the November 2014 Visa Bulletin.  This is the second Visa Bulletin of the 2015 US Fiscal Year, which began October 1, 2014.  

The Philippines EB-3 yet has again had a substantial progression.  It is now at June 2012, which is a five year jump since March 2014.  It remains consistent with the All Other (ROW) EB-3 date.

India EB-2 had a dramatic retrogression, moving from May 2009 all the way back to February 2005.  India EB-3 remains stuck in November 2003.

The Chinese EB-3 number continued to move dramatically and inconsistently.  It is now at January 2010 and is more favorable than China EB-3.

The Visa Bulletin also included this projection:


EMPLOYMENT-based categories (potential monthly movement)
Employment First: Current
Employment Second
Worldwide: Current
China:        Three to five weeks
India:         No forward movement
Employment Third:
Worldwide: Continued rapid forward movement for the next several months. After such rapid advance of the cut-off date applicant demand for number use, particularly for adjustment of status cases, is expected to increase significantly. Once such demand begins to materialize at a greater rate it will impact this cut-off date situation. 
China:       Rapid forward movement. Such movement is likely to result in increased demand which may require "corrective" action possibly as early as February.
India:        Little if any movement
Mexico:      Will remain at the worldwide date
Philippines: Will remain at the worldwide date. Increased demand may require "corrective" action at some point later in the fiscal year. 
Employment- Based
All Other
CHINA - mainland bornINDIAMEXICOPHILIPPINES
1stCCCCC
2ndC08DEC0915FEB05CC
3rd01JUN1201JAN1022NOV0301JUN1201JUN12


Thursday, October 9, 2014

FSBPT ELIMINATING DISTINCTION BETWEEN GENERAL EDUCATION AND PROFESSIONAL EDUCATION

Starting November 1, 2014, the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT) will eliminate the distinction between General Education and Professional Education.  This is a modification of the Interpretive Guidelines for the FSBPT Coursework Tool (CWT).

The Coursework Tool accepted by all member boards to evaluate whether a foreign educated PT or PTA’s education is substantially equivalent to a US PT or PTA education.

FSBPT’s Board issued a comprehensive notice letting the public know that the Board “did not approve this change lightly”.  The Board explained that the elimination of the distinction had been considered for several years and had been recommended by the FSBPT’s Foreign Educated Standards Committee.  Notably, within US education and within the criteria developed by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE), there is no such term as general education.  The new policy does not to eliminate the required courses within General Education, but it does eliminate the artificial distinction between Professional Education and General Education.

For foreign-educated PTs, this change could be helpful.  Presently the CWT requires 150 total credits, which is comparable to what is needed for a US post-graduate degree.  In many international PT programs these general courses are embedded into the PT professional courses, not completed ahead of entry. The current model would not allow the evaluator to give credit as a general course since it was taken as part of their professional coursework.

Previously, some foreign-educated PTs education was found to be incomparable to a US-educated because of the distinction between Professional Education and General Education.  This resulted in some foreign-educated PTs having to take “make-up” classes, usually from CLEP.  As the Board correctly points out, “to ask an applicant to complete a prerequisite after completing professional curriculum seems counterintuitive, and sets up an unreasonable barrier to licensure.”  

Monday, October 6, 2014

AILA AUDIO CLE ON NURSES AND ALLIED HEALTH

The AILA Education Department has scheduled an audio seminar for Thursday, October 9, 2014 @ 2:00 pm (Eastern Time) entitled “Petitions for Nurses and Allied Healthcare Workers.”  MU Law’s Chris Musillo is the Moderator of this audio seminar.  Chris’ co-speakers are with Tiffany Baldwin and Carl Shusterman.

The audio seminar will include these topics:
  • H-1B for Nurses: 2002 and 2014 USCIS Memorandum
  • Using Schedule A for Nurses and Physical Therapists
  • EB-2 Consideration for Healthcare Worker
  • USCIS Reliance on the EDGE Database in Evaluation of Foreign Education
  • The Role of State Licensing and Credentialing in H-1B and PERM Cases
  • Drafting Immigrant Visa Applications for Roving Healthcare Workers
  • Visa Screen: Who Needs It and Why?
The panel has reserved 30 minutes for Questions and Answers at the conclusion of the presentation.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

MASSACHUSETTS PUTS OUT THE WELCOME MAT FOR H-1B WORKERS

The State of Massachusetts has hit upon an ingenious plan to widen the path for H-1B workers and employers, as reported by CNN/Money.  By using the H-1B “concurrent” employer program and coupling it with the H-1B “cap exemption” for Universities, Massachusetts will help foreign entrepreneurs obtain H-1B visas to work in Massachusetts.

The plan appears to work like this: the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative will vet prospective H-1B entrepreneurs.  When an innovative entrepreneur is identified, the Collaborative will find a Massachusetts University to sponsor the H-1B worker under the “cap exemption” rule.  This rule says that an H-1B worker who is sponsored by a University is not subject to the H-1B lottery

Because there is no set required number of hours that the H-1B worker must be employed at the University, the expectation is that the H-1B worker will only work 8-10 hours per week at the University. 

Presumably, the H-1B start-up will then sponsor the H-1B worker for a “concurrent” H-1B visa.  The H-1B employee will spend the rest of the work-week employed by the start-up. 

Without the assistance of the University, the plan would not work because the start-up’s H-1B sponsorship would normally be subject to the H-1B lottery.  The plan is an elegant and creative one to deal with an outdated H-1B cap.

There is no reason that Massachusetts has to limit this plan to entrepreneurs.  It could also be used to help fill critically short healthcare occupations.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

FSBPT LAUNCHES PLAN FOR INTERSTATE LICENSE COMPACT

The Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT) is in the nascent stage of developing a Physical Therapy license compact.  FSBPT’s aim is to reduce regulatory burdens by allowing cross-state practice for licensed Physical Therapists.  The nursing profession has had a nursing compact since 2000.  According to FSPBT, 24 states participate in the nursing compact.

FSBPT’s Advisory Task Force has recommended a similar model to the nursing compact. 
The licensee participant must hold one valid, current, unrestricted license his or her primary state of residence, notify any remote states in which s/he will be practicing and pay a fee to the remote state.

The final language is expected to be ready for review in mid-2015.  If a state wishes to participate in the PT license compact, that state will need to pass the final language into law.  This likely requires state legislative action.

FSPBT has a series of articles and FAQs on their webpage.

Monday, September 22, 2014

DELAYS AT THE NVC

The progression of priority dates in the recent few months has been exciting news for many, especially those EB-3 applicants who have been patiently waiting for their green cards for many years. 

Unfortunately the unexpected progression has swamped the National Visa Center.  The NVC is now issuing letters indicating that NVC cases will be delayed for 60 days.  Here is an excerpt from a stock form letter that our office has received in the last few days.  We have received about a dozen of these letters.

We are currently receiving an increased number of approved petitions from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. As a result, we are experiencing increased review times for documents received.

We expect it will be at least 60 days from the date we received your mail before we complete the review of your documents. We will notify you when we review your documents.

We are working to reduce these processing times and we appreciate your patience.


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

NVC FEE BILL REDUCTION

The Department of State has just reduced the price that it charges for an immigrant visa NVC Fee Bill.  The new fee is $345, which is decrease of $60 from the old rate of $405.  It is a steep reduction from a few years ago when the NVC Fee Bill charge was $720. 

The new, lower fee is effective September 12, 2014.  Fees that will decrease are not refundable.  If you paid a visa fee before September 12, 2014 and that fee decreased, the NVC will not issue a refund.

Many other fees associated with the visa process changed on September 12.  Some nonimmigrant visa fees increased.  For fees that will increase (nonimmigrant fees only), Visa fees paid will be accepted 90 days after the new fees go into effect.

  • If you paid your visa fee before September 12, 2014, and your visa interview is on or before December 11, 2014, you do not have to pay the difference between the new and old fee amounts.
  • If you paid your visa fee before September 12, 2014, and your visa interview is on or after December 12, 2014, you will be required to pay the difference between the old and new fee amounts.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

VISA BULLETIN OCTOBER 2014

The Department of State has just released the October 2014 Visa Bulletin.  This is the first Visa Bulletin of the 2015 US Fiscal Year, which begins October 1, 2014.

The Philippines EB-3 has again had a substantial progression.  It is now at October 2011, which is a four year jump in the last four months.  It remains consistent with the All Other (ROW) EB-3 date.

India EB-2 also remained at May 2009.  India EB-3 unfortunately remains stuck in November 2003.

The Chinese EB-3 number continued to move dramatically and inconsistently.  It is now at April 2009.

Employment- Based
All Other
CHINA - mainland born
INDIA
MEXICO
PHILIPPINES
1st
C
C
C
C
C
2nd
C
15NOV09
01MAY09
C
C
3rd
01OCT11
01APR09
15NOV03
01OCT11
01OCT11

Monday, September 8, 2014

AILA URGES USCIS TO CLARIFY AMBIGUOUS H-1B STANDARDS FOR NURSES

The USCIS issued a Memorandum in July 2014 aimed at clarifying their position on the adjudication of H-1Bs for Registered Nurses.  The Memorandum failed at this aim.  While it acknowledged that more and more employers are requiring Bachelor Degreed Registered Nurses, it failed to give any helpful guidance to USCIS officers. 

Now AILA hasweighed in on the discussion.  In contrast to the USCIS, AILA makes several important points.  Notably, AILA points out that the Occupational Outlook Handbook, “does not foreclose, but in fact lends credibility to the claim that an employer has such a requirement.”  This is true because the OOH recognizes the evolving nature of the position.

AILA also makes another clever factual argument. 

the O*Net database provides that 66% of employer respondents require an associate’s degree, while 23% require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree as an entry level credential for a registered nurse position. Therefore, 23% of employers should be able to demonstrate to the satisfaction of USCIS that a nurse is a specialty occupation.

Adding to the problem, it appears that the link to the USCIS’ July Memorandum has disappeared.  Fortunately, we have preserved a copy on our DocStoc page.

Friday, September 5, 2014

US PT SHORTAGE IS GROWING

The Physical Therapy job market has long been predicted to be an area ripe for US labor shortages.  The 2014 Occupational Outlook Handbook projects that employment of Physical Therapists is expected to grow by 36 percent through 2022, which is “mush faster than the average for all occupations.”

The Conference Board’s new study From Not Enough Jobs to Not Enough Workers now reports that aging populations will cause even greater shortages than originally predicted in three targeted industries.  In a surprise to no one, healthcare is one of these three targeted industries. 


Health-related occupations. The same aging of the U.S. population that will curtail working-age population growth to as low as 0.15 percent by 2030 is also driving up demand for medical workers. At the same time, high education and experience requirements limit entry into the job market. The result is a dearth in many healthcare professions, including occupational therapy assistants, physical therapists and therapist assistants, nurse practitioners and midwives, and dental hygienists. Among doctors, optometrists and podiatrists are the specialists most at risk of shortage, with the general physicians and surgeons category not far behind.

The study has been cited in the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg Businessweek, and PT in Motion.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

MU LAW FREE CLIENT CONFERENCE CALL

Musillo Unkenholt will hold a free teleconference on Wednesday September 17, 2014 at 3PM ET / 12 noon PT.  All clients and friends of the firm are encouraged to dial-in to the call.  If you would like to register for the call, please send an email to: Annalisa@muimmigration.com.

The agenda for the teleconference includes:
* H-1B onboarding starts Oct 1: What do employers need to do to stay compliant?
* When does my H-1B worker have to start working?  The 30/60 day rule.
* When do I have to start paying an H-1B worker's salary?
* Form I-9 compliance
* E-Verify compliance
* Managing Social Security number issues.
* Handling Professional licensure issues.
* Working with the Consulate for H-1B Visa Issuance.
* H-1B cap 2014 final numbers and projections for 2015.
* What Congress and Pres. Obama are expected to do in 2014 in employment-based immigration.

Please contact your MU immigration attorney if you have any questions about this MU Visa Advisor or any other immigration issue.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

BLOOMBERG NEWS ON THE NEW USCIS NURSE H-1B MEMO

Bloomberg News BNA has published a detailed analysis of several recent H-1B visa developments, including the new USCIS Nurse H-1B Memorandum.  Several attorneys, including MU Law’s Chris Musillo, were interviewed for the article.  Bloomberg has allowed MU Law to publish a copy of the article.

The article discusses increasing H-1B denial rates in spite of the fact that no new H-1B regulations have been published by USCIS in years.  One reason for the increasing denial rates have been stricter USCIS interpretations of “specialty occupation,” based on faulty reliance of the Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook

Chris’ comments highlight the USCIS over-reliance on the Occupational Outlook Handbook when adjudicating H-1Bs for Registered Nurses.  Chris points out that while most nursing positions do not require Bachelor Degrees, some do.  Since some require a Bachelor’s degree the USCIS ought to look at an employer’s actual positional requirement instead of limiting review to the industry standards listed in the Occupational Outlook Handbook.

The Bloomberg article also discusses some recent court decisions and USCIS interpretations in light of these decisions.  

NOTE – the Bloomberg article is reproduced with permission from Daily Labor Report, Copyright 2014 by The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. (800-372-1033)  <http://www.bna.com>
Bloomberg H-1B Article.pdf

Thursday, August 21, 2014

VISA PROJECTIONS FOR THE REST OF 2014

AILA has recently dialoged with the Department of State’s Charlie Oppenheim, who is the DOS’ chief for producing the Visa Bulletin.  MU Law has spoken with Mr. Oppenheim several times in the past and have always found that his projections are well thought out and very accurate.

Here are his projections based on his recent conversation with AILA:
  • The Philippine EB-3 date should continue to be consistent with the Worldwide (Rest of World) date for at least the next few months.  Usage of Philippine EB-1 and EB-2 numbers has decreased, leaving more numbers for Philippine EB-3. 
  • India EB-2 numbers should continue to be favorable, although large jumps forward should not be expected.  The current priority date for Indian EB-2 is May 2009.  Adjustment of Status applicants should be prepared to get RFEs for medical exams if their priority date is at or near that date.  Adjustment of Status applicants should be prepared to get RFEs for medical exams if their priority date is at or near that date.  

Monday, August 18, 2014

HOW TO GET PROOF OF SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER

One constant challenge for immigration foreign nationals is obtaining a Social Security Number once they have entered the US.  Traditionally, the Social Security Administration (SSA) made Social Security Number cards available via in-person visits immediately or almost immediately after one entered the US.  Effective August 1, 2014, however, the SSA will no longer provide Social Security Number card printouts.  It will now take up to two weeks before the SSNs are issued.

The SSA, says that the an applicant can get an instant letter online with a personal my Social Security account, or they may continue to call the SSA toll-free to request a letter by mail.  The phone number is: 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

SEPTEMBER 2014 VISA BULLETIN: GREAT NEWS FOR THE PHILIPPINES

The Department of State has just released the September 2014 Visa Bulletin. This is the twelfth and final Visa Bulletin of the 2014 US Fiscal Year, which began on October 1, 2013. The October 2014 Visa Bulletin will begin the 2015 Fiscal Year.

The Philippines EB-3 jumped again. It is now at April 2011, which is a four year jump in the last four months.

India EB-2 also moved forward steadily. It progressed to May 2009.


The Chinese EB-3 number remained at November 2008. 



The All Other EB-3 held steady as well. It remains at April 2011. As we predicted last month, it did not progress.

Employment- Based
All Other
CHINA - mainland bornINDIAMEXICOPHILIPPINES
1stCCCCC
2ndC08OCT0901MAY09CC
3rd01APR1101NOV0808NOV0301APR1101APR11
Other Workers01APR1122JUL0508NOV0301APR1101APR11

Monday, August 11, 2014

TALK WITH THE NEW USCIS CHIEF

New USCIS Chief Leon Rodriguez was nominated for the job shortly after Alejandro Mayorkas accepted the positon of Deputy Secretary of the USCIS.  Director Rodriguez was sworn into the role on July 9, 2014.  Mr. Mayorkas’ tenure as Director was marked by greater engagement with the public than his predecessors.  Mr. Mayorkas regularly attended AILA functions and routinely held “town hall” style meetings with the public. 

Mr. Rodriguez seems poised to continue in this manner.  USCIS will be holding a stakeholder teleconference on Thursday, Aug. 14, from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. ET, with USCIS Director Léon Rodríguez.

During the teleconference, Director Rodríguez will introduce himself to the USCIS stakeholder community and answer questions.  Teleconference registration details are expected shortly. 


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

WHY RECRUIT AN INTERNATIONAL HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONAL?

According to a 2012 “United States Registered Nurse Workforce Report Card and Shortage Forecast,” published in the American Journal of Medical Quality, 
“With an aging U.S. population, health care demand is growing at an unprecedented pace . . . The number of states receiving a grade of “D” or “F” for their RN shortage ratio will increase from 5 in 2009 to 30 by 2030, for a total national deficit of 918,232 RN jobs. There will be significant RN workforce shortages throughout the country in 2030; the western region will have the largest shortage ratio of 389 RN jobs per 100,000.”
The situation is no better in other allied healthcare occupations.  According to the Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook by 2022, employment of Physical Therapists is expected to skyrocket by 36 percent.  The same is true of Occupational Therapists (29 percent), Pharmacists (14 percent), and Speech Language Pathologists (19 percent). 

Contrary to some public perception, International Healthcare Professionals are not undereducated.  Prior to issuance of a visa, the International Healthcare Professional’s education, training, past licenses, and experience must be verified and proved that it is authentic and comparable to an American healthcare worker of the same type.  International Healthcare Professionals must pass English fluency exams prior to visa issuance.

International Healthcare Professionals are also not underpaid.  Because of strict USCIS and DOL wage requirements, International Healthcare Professionals must be paid the greater of prevailing and actual wages.  International Healthcare Professionals cannot have their hours reduced.  The employer must pay the guaranteed minimum hours unless the International Healthcare Professional is unavailable for work because of non-work related factors, such as the worker’s own voluntary request for time off, or in other circumstances where the worker is unable to work.

The PERM labor certification process guarantees that there are no US workers ready, willing, and able of performing the position before any International Healthcare Professional is granted an immigrant visa.  Employers cannot make International Healthcare Professionals sign onerous contracts, including those contain penalty clauses.

Recent studies are pointing to the high quality of care provided by International Healthcare Professionals and the added value that they bring to the US healthcare industry.  Patricia Cortes, Assistant Professor, Markets, Public Policy and Law, Boston University, authored a 2012 study, Relative Quality Of Foreign Nurses In The United States

She found that,
"foreign nurses, in particular Filipinos, tend to work in more demanding settings and maintain less desirable schedules - they are more likely to work in hospitals, work full-time, and do shift work, as compared to their native counterparts.
Natives are more likely to work part-time and choose jobs with standard schedules - for example, they tend to work in physicians’ offices and schools, etc. In terms of educational background, the majority of foreign nurses have at least a bachelor’s degree, whereas a larger fraction of natives have an associate degree. A more educated nurse workforce (as measured by the share of nurses in a hospital holding a bachelor’s degree) has been associated with better patient outcomes and higher nurse productivity."

Monday, July 28, 2014

MU LAW'S OFFICE CLOSING EARLY ON JULY 30

Musillo Unkenholt LLC turned five years old on July 1, 2014!  It would have been impossible to have our five years of success without the hard-effort and talent of our Legal team.  In celebration of our fifth birthday and in recognition of everyone's hard work, we will closing the office at 12 noon (ET) on Wednesday July 30.  We are having a group outing at the Cincinnati Reds baseball game.  If you contact us during the afternoon of July 30, rest assured that we will promptly return your call or email on Thursday.