Tuesday, March 31, 2015


One of internationally-trained Physical Therapists biggest headaches is equating their foreign college degrees to US college degrees.  With the aim of curing this headache, CGFNS has recently launched e-Coach Learning Service.   

The new program helps internationally educated health professionals by providing the resources necessary to help meet the requirements as specified in the assessment tool by outlining the courses needed to remediate the educational deficiencies identified on their Coursework Tool Evaluation and Summary Statement.

Coursework Tools include the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT) Coursework Tool for Foreign-Educated Physical Therapists and Physical Therapist Assistants (CWT) and the CGFNS Education Comparability Tool (ECT).

The service is available through CGFNS’ webpage.

Friday, March 27, 2015


Senators and Congressmen have a long history of attaching pet amendments to budget and funding bills.  They know that these bills are “must pass” legislation, meaning that Congress will certainly pass a budget or else the entire government would shut down.  Since budget and funding bills are must pass, prized amendments get approved without going through the usual route, working their way through subcommittees and full committees.  This year several odd amendments were offered.

Sen. Hatch (R-UT) offered an amendment that sought to allow the conference committee to raise the H-1B cap, increase STEM visas, raise the green card cap, and increase the H-1B fee.  Sen. Grassley (R-IA) sought the exact opposite.  He hoped to restrict H-1B usage.  Neither amendment was successful. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015


The H-1B cap requires that all H-1B petitions are received at the USCIS’ California Service Center or Vermont Service Center by Tuesday April 7, 2015.  Below are some key points to keep in mind about this year’s H-1B cap:

-The USCIS makes no accommodation for delays caused by couriers.  Accordingly, MU Law will file the vast majority of its H-1B petitions on March 31 for delivery by April 1, which is the first day that H-1B petitions are accepted.

-Premium Processing Service (PPS) may not start until May 11, 2015, although the USCIS could start PPS earlier, depending on the volume of petitions that are received.  Last year PPS began on April 28.

-The USCIS expects that more H-1B petitions will be received this year than last year.  At the recent AILA Manila chapter conference, a USCIS official said that he expected more than 200,000 H-1B cap-subject filings.  There were 172,500 cap-subject H-1Bs in 2014 (FY 2015).

-Last year it was mid-May before most H-1B lottery winners and losers found out about the outcome of their lottery selection.  Since the volume is expected to be greater in 2015, it may not be until June until lottery winners and losers know their outcome.

Thursday, March 19, 2015


The Senate is controlled by Republicans who are odds at how to handle the real and perceived problems with the H-1B visa.  One group of Senators, led by Sen. Orin Hatch (R-UT), recognizes the obvious: that the H-1B visa quota is an enormous hindrance to the US economy.  Sen. Hatch’s solution is to increase the quota while maintaining protections for US workers.  Sen. Hatch’s bill, the I-Squared bill, has support from Senators in both parties, with co-sponsorship from eleven different Senators.  It is the rare piece of legislation that has support from a diverse group of Senators. 

This sensible coalition recognizes that an increased H-1B visa cap is necessary.  There is no real evidence that the H-1B drives down US workers’ wages.  

The other side of the debate is spearheaded by Sen. Grassley (R-IA), with Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) riding alongside.  Neither Senator is actually interested in getting legislation passed, as evidenced by the fact that neither has actually introduced any legislation.  They are only interested in rabble rousing.  Earlier this week, they held a hearing on the H-1B visa, which amounted to nothing. 

Sen. Grassley's plan seems to be able to force amendments to the I-Squared, whose support is growing.  He has done this many times in the past.  These amendments will only increase the regulatory and legislative headaches that lawful staffing companies already face.  The companies that take advantage of loose enforcement will continue to do so.  

It is in the Senator's best interest to keep the H-1B bill alive and well.  How else can he tell the protectionists how bad it is?  

Monday, March 16, 2015


This year’s H-1B filing date of April 1, 2015 is coming fast.  MU Law predicts that the USCIS may see 200,000 H-1Bs filed this year, more than double the Congressional cap of 85,000.  When the USCIS receives more H-1B petitions than slots available it holds an “H-1B lottery”.  Last year, the USCIS held an H-1B lottery because it received over twice as many H-1B petitions as slots available..

If you are considering filing an H-1B cap-subject petition, MU Law urges you to begin that process now.

Many healthcare professions ordinarily qualify for H-1B status, including Physical Therapists,Occupational TherapistsSpeech Language Therapists, and some Registered Nursing positions.

International workers who are working in the U.S. on an H-1B visa with another cap-subject employer are not subject to H-1B cap. These cases are commonly referred to as “H-1B transfer” cases and may be filed at any time throughout the year.

Employees that need a "cap-subject" H-1B include:

* International students working on an EAD card under an OPT or CPT program after having attended a U.S. school
* International employees working on a TN may need an H-1B filed for them in order for them to pursue a permanent residency (green card) case
* Prospective international employees in another visa status e.g. H-4, L-2, J-1, F-1
* H-1B workers with a cap exempt organization
* Prospective international employees currently living abroad

Past H-1B Demand:

H-1B Cap Numbers:
Date H-1B Cap Reached:
H-1B 2003 (FY 2004)
October 1, 2003
H-1B 2004 (FY 2005)
October 1, 2004
H-1B 2005 (FY 2006)
August 10, 2005
H-1B 2006 (FY 2007)
May 26, 2006
H-1B 2007 (FY 2008)
April 3, 2007
H-1B 2008 (FY 2009)
April 7, 2008
H-1B 2009 (FY 2010)
December 21, 2009
H-1B 2010 (FY 2011)
January 25, 2011
H-1B 2011 (FY 2012)
November 22, 2011
H-1B 2012 (FY 2013)
June 11, 2012
H-1B 2013 (FY 2014)
April 5, 2013
H-1B 2014 (FY 2015)
April 1, 2014
H-1B 2015 (FY 2016)
April 1, 2015 (expected)

Wednesday, March 11, 2015


The Department of State has just released the April 2015 Visa Bulletin. This is the seventh Visa Bulletin of the 2015 US Fiscal Year, which began October 1, 2014. There is once again very positive news for many immigrant visa categories.
The biggest news is the continued progression of the Philippines EB-3, the Worldwide-All Other (ROW) EB-3 date and the Mexican EB-3 date. These are all now at October 2014, which is the closest to current they have been in many years. This is yet another large progression in dates.
India EB-2 climbed forward steadily as well. It has moved to September 2007, representing a 2 and a half year increase in the last three months. 

Chinese numbers righted themselves. For two years the Chinese EB-3 has been more favorable than Chinese EB-2. With this Visa Bulletin, Chinese EB-2 is now the better date.
Employment- Based
All Chargeability Areas Except Those Listed

Wednesday, March 4, 2015


In July 2014, the USCIS published and released a Memorandum aimed at clarifying the USCIS’ position on the approvability of H-1B Registered Nurses.  The Memorandum updated the long-standing 2002 Johnny Williams USCIS Memorandum on the same subject.  The July 2014 Memorandum did not provide any substantive guidance beyond than the 2002 Williams Memorandum.   It paid lip service to the idea that USCIS officers should remember that, “there are some situations, however, where the petitioner may be able to show that a nursing position qualifies as a specialty occupation”.

Oddly, the July 2014 Memorandum disappeared from the USCIS’ website shortly after publication.  Some practitioners hoped that that USCIS had reconsidered the Memorandum and would issue a Memorandum that provided concrete instruction and examples.

Unfortunately, the USCIS has finally republished the Memorandum.  It is identical to the July 2014 Memorandum, except the date of the Memorandum is now February 18, 2015.

An article that MU Law posted in July 2014 includes a link to the July 2014 Memorandum and an analysis of the missed opportunity.  Rather than restate the arguments that we made in that article, we will just point you there.

Monday, March 2, 2015


Starting May 26, 2105, certain H-4 spouses of H-1B holders can file for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD).  The full regulation has just been published. 

Musillo Unkenholt has had many questions from clients and friends of the firm.  We have published these in this FAQ.

Can I file before May 26, 2015?
No.  The USCIS will not accept EAD applications until May 26, 2015.

How long will it take the USCIS to process the EAD Application?
Traditionally EAD Applications take 90-120 days until approval.

Can I work upon the filing of the EAD Application?
No.  The EAD must be approved?

Who qualifies for the new H-4 EAD card?
Certain H-4 spouses may file for the new H-4 EAD.  Children who hold H-4 status are ineligible for the EAD.

Which H-4 spouses may file for an EAD?
In order to decide if you qualify for the H-4, we must look to the underlying H-1B status holder.  The USCIS elected to apply the rule first set forth in Section 106 of AC21.  The H-1B worker must either:

A.  Hold an approved I-140, Petition for Alien Worker.  The approved I-140 does not need to be from his present employer; or
B.  Have a priority date that is at least one year old.  A priority date can be established by the filing of a PERM Application or a Form I-140.

May an H-4 spouse file for an EAD if the H-4 spouse holds (A) an approved I-140 or (B) one year has passed since the filing of a PERM or I-140?
No.  The USCIS looks to the H-1B worker to meet A or B, above.  It is irrelevant if the H-4 meets A or B.

Are there any limitations on the work that I can perform on an H-4 EAD?  For instance, is there a prevailing wage?  Am I limited only to certain types of jobs?
No.  There are no such limitations.  You can work for any employer, at any rate (above minimum wage), and in any occupation.

What should I do if I want to file an H-4 EAD?
EAD Applications do not require an attorney’s assistance, although many people find it helpful to have an attorney assist in the process.  If you would like MU Law to help, please contact us.