USCIS suspends Premium Processing Again

USCIS is extending the previously announced temporary suspension of premium processing for cap-subject H-1B petitions and, beginning Sept. 11, 2018, will be expanding this temporary suspension to include certain additional H-1B petitions. We expect these suspensions will last until Feb. 19, 2019, and will notify the public via uscis.gov before resuming premium processing for these petitions.

While H-1B premium processing is suspended, we will reject any Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service filed with an affected Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker. If a petitioner submits one combined check for the Form I-907 and Form I‑129 H-1B fees, both forms will be rejected.

Who Is Affected

The expanded temporary suspension applies to all H-1B petitions filed at the Vermont and California Service Centers (excluding cap-exempt filings as noted below).

The previously announced suspension of premium processing for fiscal year 2019 cap-subject H-1B petitions was originally slated to last until Sept. 10, 2018, but that suspension is being extended through an estimated date of Feb. 19, 2019.

We will continue premium processing of Form I-129 H-1B petitions that are not currently suspended if the petitioner properly filed an associated Form I-907 before Sept. 11, 2018. Therefore, we will refund the premium processing fee if:

  • The petitioner filed the Form I-907 for an H-1B petition before Sept. 11, 2018; and
  • We did not take adjudicative action on the case within the 15-calendar-day processing period.

Premium Processing Remains Available for Certain H-1B Petitions

The suspension does not apply to:

  1. Cap-exempt petitions that are filed exclusively at the California Service Center because the employer is cap exempt or because the beneficiary will be employed at a qualifying cap exempt institution, entity, or organization; or
  2. Those petitions filed exclusively at the Nebraska Service Center by an employer requesting a “Continuation of previously approved employment without change with the same employer” (Box b. on Part 2, Question 2, Page 2 of the current Form I-129) with a concurrent request to:
    1. Notify the office in Part 4 so each beneficiary can obtain a visa or be admitted. (Box on Part 2, Question 4, Page 2 of the current Form I-129); or
    2. Extend the stay of each beneficiary because the beneficiary now holds this status. (Box c. on Part 2, Question 4, Page 2 of the current Form I-129).

This temporary suspension of premium processing does not apply to any other nonimmigrant classifications filed on Form I-129.

Premium Processing Resume for Certain H-1bs

USCIS announced that Premium Processing for Cap 2018
H-1b resumes! If you want to “upgrade” your cap H-1b petition, please contact us. #immigration #H-1b #workvisa

H-1b

WASHINGTON — U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) resumed premium processing today for all H-1B visa petitions subject to the Fiscal Year year (FY) 2018 cap. The FY 2018 cap has been set at 65,000 visas. Premium processing has also resumed for the annual 20,000 additional petitions that are set aside to hire workers with a U.S. master’s degree or higher educational degree.

H-1B visas provide skilled workers for a wide range of specialty occupations, including information technology, academic research, and accounting. When a petitioner requests the agency’s premium processing service, USCIS guarantees a 15-day processing time. If the 15- calendar day processing time is not met, the agency will refund the petitioner’s premium processing service fee and continue with expedited processing of the application. This service is only available for pending petitions, not new submissions, since USCIS received enough petitions in April to meet the FY 2018 cap.

In addition to today’s resumption of premium processing for H-1B visa petitions subject to the FY 2018 cap, USCIS previously resumed premium processing H-1B petitions filed on behalf of physicians under the Conrad 30 waiver program, as well as interested government agency waivers and for certain H-1B petitions that are not subject to the cap. Premium processing remains temporarily suspended for all other H-1B petitions, such as extensions of stay.

USCIS plans to resume premium processing for all other remaining H‑1B petitions not subject to the FY 2018 cap, as agency workloads permit. However, remaining petitioners may submit a request to expedite their application if they meet the specific agency criteria. USCIS reviews all expedite requests on a case-by-case basis, and requests are granted at the discretion of the office leadership.

USCIS will release future announcements when we begin accepting premium processing for other H-1B petitions, not subject to the FY 2018 cap.

For more information on USCIS and its programs, please visit uscis.gov or follow us on Twitter (@uscis), YouTube (/uscis), Facebook(/uscis), and Instagram (@USCIS).

 

USCIS Completes Data Entry of Fiscal Year 2018 H-1B Cap Subject Petitions

USCIS announced on May 3, 2017, that it has completed data entry of all fiscal year 2018 H-1B cap-subject petitions selected in our computer-generated random process. USCIS will now begin returning all H-1B cap-subject petitions that were not selected. Due to the high volume of filings, USCIS is unable to provide a definite time frame for returning these petitions. USCIS asks petitioners not to inquire about the status of submitted cap-subject petitions until they receive a receipt notice or an unselected petition is returned. USCIS will issue an announcement once all the unselected petitions have been returned. Additionally, USCIS is transferring some Form I-129 H-1B cap subject petitions from the Vermont Service Center to the California Service Center to balance the distribution of cap cases. If your case is transferred, you will receive notification in the mail.

 

Surprise Surprise H-1b Visa Cap is met again on the first day

WASHINGTON – U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has reached the congressionally mandated 65,000 visa H-1B cap for fiscal year 2018. USCIS has also received a sufficient number of H-1B petitions to meet the 20,000 visa U.S. advanced degree exemption, also known as the master’s cap.

The agency will reject and return filing fees for all unselected cap-subject petitions that are not duplicate filings.

USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions that are otherwise exempt from the cap.  However, please keep in mind USCIS suspended premium processing April 3 for up to six months for all H-1B petitions, including cap-exempt petitions. Petitions filed on behalf of current H-1B workers who have been counted previously against the cap, and who still retain their cap number, will also not be counted toward the congressionally mandated FY 2018 H-1B cap. USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions filed to:

  • Extend the amount of time a current H-1B worker may remain in the United States;
  • Change the terms of employment for current H-1B workers;
  • Allow current H-1B workers to change employers; and
  • Allow current H-1B workers to work concurrently in a second H-1B position.

U.S. businesses use the H-1B program to employ foreign workers in occupations that require specialized knowledge.

We encourage H-1B applicants to subscribe to the H-1B Cap Season email updates located on the H-1B Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Cap Season Web page.

Can Computer Programmers still obtain H-1b Visas?

In a memo released last week, United States immigration officials moved to clarify the process for vetting H-1B visas for computer programmers.

 

 US Citizenship and Immigration Services memo posted online advises immigration officials to no longer follow an “obsolete” memo from 2000, which provided guidance on how to vet requests for H-1B visas, a type of visa for high-skilled workers that’s popular in the tech industry.

According to the memo, “the fact that a person may be employed as a computer programmer and may use information technology skills and knowledge to help an enterprise achieve its goals in the course of his or her job is not sufficient to establish the position as a specialty occupation.” The memo specifically says that “an entry-level computer programmer position would not generally qualify as a position in a specialty occupation.”

The memo also reminds officials to consider the wage level of a position in whether it qualifies as sufficiently complex for a visa. (The H-1B program has sometimes been criticized for overreaching to include lower-wage workers in the industry.)

 

In addition, the December 22, 2000 memo that was based on Department of Labor materials from the late 90s and early 2000s, needed to be updated. The high-tech industry has evolved significantly since 2000, as have the occupations within the industry.Though the memo focuses on Computer Programmers, the message is clear. In order to qualify for an H-1B, the employer must show that the position requires theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge, which requires the attainment of bachelor’s degree or higher in a specific specialty. This is true for all H-1Bs

 

Toward this end, the memo supports the proposition that a position cannot simultaneously have a job classification and pay rate at the low end of the industry salary range, while at the same time listing specific job requirements and skills that are more complex and specialized.

According to information and cases shared by AILA members, for at least the past several years USCIS has not taken the approach that a “Computer Programmer” is a slam-dunk H-1B.

H-1b Visa Tip of the Day – Increase in Fees

The new I-129 Fee is $460, effective 12 a.m. Eastern U.S. time, December 23, 2016.

Who PaysReason for FeeFee AmountAdditional Information
Certain H-1B or H-1B1 petitioners with more than 25 employees (count your full-time equivalent employees in the United States, including those at any U.S. affiliates or subsidiaries) (see details and exceptions below)American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act of 1998(ACWIA)$1,500

Fee may be included in the same check or money order with the base petition fee; however, a separate payment is preferred

The beneficiary is not premitted to pay the ACWIA fee. That would be considered an offset against wages and/or benefits paid as stated on the Labor Condition Application

The H-1B Visa Reform Act of 2004 (PDF, 137 KB) (part of Pub. L. 108-447) permanently extended and increased the ACWIA fee
Certain H-1B or H-1B-1 petitioners with 25 or fewer employees (count your full-time equivalent employees in the United States, including those at any U.S. affiliates or subsidiaries) (see details and exceptions below)ACWIA$750

Fee may be included in the same check or money order with the base petition fee; however, a separate payment is preferred

The beneficiary is not permitted to pay the ACWIA fee. That would be considered an offset against wages and/or benefits paid as stated on the Labor Condition Application

The L-1 Visa and H-1B Visa Reform Act of 2004 (PDF, 137 KB)( part of Pub. L. 108-447) permanently extended the ACWIA fee
Employers seeking initial H-1B nonimmigrant status for a foreign worker

OR

Employers seeking approval for a foreign worker already in H-1B nonimmigrant status to change employers, including petitions requesting new concurrent employment (with exceptions below)

Fraud Prevention and Detection Fee$500

Fee should be submitted in a separate check or money order

The L-1 Visa and H-1B Visa Reform Act of 2004 (PDF, 137 KB) (part of Pub. L. 108-447)
H-1B petitioners that employ 50 or more employees in the United States if more than 50 percent of these employees are in H-1B, L-1A or L-1B nonimmigrant status (with exceptions below)Pub. L. 114-113$4,000

Fees should be submitted in a separate check or money order

Signed into law Dec. 18, 2015, and is valid until Sept. 30, 2025.   The fee is applicable for petitions filed on or after Dec. 18, 2015.
H-2B petitioners who file with USCIS(one fee per petition regardless of the number of workers being requested on Form I-129)Fraud Prevention and Detection Fee$150

Fee should be submitted in a separate check or money order

The beneficiary(ies) are not permitted to pay any H-2B filing or Fraud Prevention and Detection fee with an H-2B petition. USCIS regulations and U.S. Department of Labor guidelines prohibit H-2B beneficiaries from paying such fees.

INA 214(c)(13); 8 CFR 214.2(h)(6)(i)(B)-(D); U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division Field Assistance Bulletin No. 2009-2 (Aug. 21, 2009).

 

 

FY2018 H-1b Visa cap Season is Here

Planning for the FY17 H1B Cap Season

On Wednesday, April 1, 2017, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin accepting H1B cap-subject case filings for fiscal year 2018 (FY18). April 1st may seem a long time from today, but employers and potential H1B candidates should be preparing now. The Fleischer Law Firm is already accepting H1B cap-subject cases for FY18. Contact us today with your candidates and questions.

What is an H-1b visa ?
The H1B visa classification permits a foreign national to work in the United States for a temporary period. It is available for offers of employment that are in a specialty occupation which is generally a job that requires a Bachelor’s degree of higher. A person may hold H1B status for a maximum of six years, and it may be issued in increments of up to three years by the USCIS. An employee may receive extensions of H1B status beyond six years in certain circumstances, if s/he is in the process of applying for employment-based permanent residence (commonly referred to as the “green card”). H1B visas are numerically limited, with a total of 85,000 visas available each fiscal year (20,000 of these visas are restricted to individuals who have received master’s degrees or higher from U.S colleges or universities). This limitation is called the H1B cap.

What is the H-1b Cap ?
Each year, H1B cap-subject cases can be filed beginning on April 1,. Under USCIS regulations, the minimum filing period for H1B cap cases is five business days. If there are still cap numbers available at the end of the first five days, the cap remains open until filled. If there are enough cases to meet or exceed the cap in the first five days, the cap closes. In that event, the USCIS stops accepting new H1B cap filings, and a lottery is conducted from the cases filed during that first week to randomly select the cases that the USCIS will adjudicate. The remaining cases are then returned without being processed.

The Lottery
Last year, The USCIS received over  233,000  H-1b filings . Thus, a lottery was needed to select from the cases filed during the minimum required filing period. Analysts believe the cap will be met the first week again this year.

The Time to Prepare is NOW The Fleischer Law Firm begins to accept cap-subject H1B cases months prior to April 1st each year. While these petitions cannot be filed with the USCIS until then, initiating the process early provides a number of potential advantages. First of all, the attorney working on the case will have time to fully identify and consider all documents needed from either the employer and/or foreign national candidate.

Planning for Employers Employers should begin considering and vetting which of their employees may need H1B cap-subject filings. Most commonly, these are students on F-1 optional practical training (OPT). Other typical examples include L-2 employees working on employment authorization documents (EADs), who may wish to hold a status that is not dependent upon their spouses. Further, there is always a ripe crop of H-4 spouses who are looking to obtain an H-1b in order to work. Employers should anticipate their clients needs for FY16 and call our Firm now.

Planning for Foreign Nationals/ Employees While many employers proactively identify their needs for H1B filings, foreign national workers still should approach their employers, generally through the Human Resources Department or managers. It is also important to update your resumes, make sure you have foreign degree evaluations, and have all your previous immigration paperwork like I-94s, I-20s and passports. This can be particularly important if one’s employer is unfamiliar with H1B filings and may need to seek appropriate legal guidance in order to make an informed decision.

US Visa Sample

Tips and Requirements for Filing

1. Complete all sections of the Form I-129 petition, including the H Classification Supplement (pages 11 and 12 of the form) and the H-1B Data Collection and Filing Fee Exemption Supplement (pages 17-19). Make sure the Form I-129 has a revision date of November 23, 2010, or later. (You can find current versions of forms at www.uscis.gov/forms.)

2. Make sure each form has an original signature, preferably in black ink.

 3. Include a signed check or money order with the correct fee amount.

4. Submit all required documentation and evidence with the petition at the time of filing to ensure timely processing.

5. You must submit a certified Department of Labor LCA (Form ETA 9035) at the time you file your petition. A copy of the LCA is acceptable.

6. You must submit evidence of the beneficiary’s education credentials at the time of filing. If all of the requirements for a degree have been met, but the degree has not yet been awarded, you may submit the following alternate evidence: *

A copy of the beneficiary’s final transcript; or * A letter from the registrar confirming that all of the degree requirements have been met. If the educational institution does not have a registrar, then such a letter must be signed by the person in charge of educational records where the degree will be awarded.

7. If the beneficiary will be applying for a nonimmigrant visa abroad, you must submit a copy of your H-1B petition and any subsequent response to a Request for Evidence or Notice of Intent to Deny with your filing. USCIS will not make a copy if you do not provide one.

8. You must file your petition with the correct service center depending on the H-1B beneficiary’s work location(s) as specified in the petition.

9. The following fees may be required with a petition subject to the cap: * Base filing fee: $460 * $750 for employers with 1 to 25 full-time equivalent employees, unless exempt * $1,500 for employers with 26 or more full-time equivalent employees, unless exempt * $500 to be submitted with a request for initial H-1B status or with a request for a beneficiary already in H-1B status to change employers. (This fee does not apply to Chile/Singapore H-1B1 petitions.) * $2,000 to be submitted by a petitioner that employs 50 or more employees in the United States, if more than half of those employees are in H-1B or L-1 nonimmigrant status. * $1,225 for employers seeking Premium Processing Service

Conclusion

Being well prepared for the H1B cap season, not to mention being represented by an experienced legal team, can mean the difference between an H1B approval, and having to try again next year. It should be noted that once this cap is closed, the next H1B cap will not open until April 1, 2018, with an H1B start date of October 1, 2019

20 Million Dollar H-1b Visa Fraud Scheme

Crime does not pay.. and it make it harder  for all of us and the companies to do things the right way

 

USCIS Assists in $20 Million Visa Fraud Investigation

 

ALEXANDRIA, VA. – U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services assisted with an investigation that has led to Raju Kosuri, 44, and Smriti Jharia, 45, a married couple from Ashburn, pleading guilty today to charges of conspiracy to defraud the United States and visa fraud, among other charges.

Kosuri and Jharia were indicted on April 27. According to the statement of facts filed with the plea agreement, Kosuri, Jharia, and their co-conspirators fraudulently applied for more than 900 illegal immigration benefits under the H-1B visa program. Since 2008, and at a much greater scale since 2011, Kosuri has built a staffing business that amounts to a visa-for-sale system, which violates federal law. Kosuri and Jharia also admitted to defrauding the Small Business Administration in connection with a scheme to obtain HUBZone certification for a business named EcomNets Federal Solutions. Kosuri agreed to forfeit proceeds of his fraud schemes in the amount of $20,900,000.

H-1b visa Fraud
H-1b visa Fraud

H-1b Lottery a done deal. Were you selected?

USCIS announced on May 2, 2016, that it has completed data entry of all fiscal year 2017 H-1B cap-subject petitions selected in our computer-generated random process. USCIS will now begin returning all H-1B cap-subject petitions that were not selected. Due to the high volume of filings, USCIS is unable to provide a definite time frame for returning these petitions. USCIS asks petitioners not to inquire about the status of submitted cap-subject petitions until they receive a receipt notice or an unselected petition is returned. USCIS will issue an announcement once all the unselected petitions have been returned.

First H-1b visa FY2017 Cap receipt received

Today, I received my first lottery chosen H-1b visa cap case receipt. This was a premium processing case. The lucky candidate’s name  is ARUNKUMAR.

The agency conducted the selection process for the advanced degree exemption first. All unselected advanced degree petitions then became part of the random selection process for the 65,000 limit.

As announced on March 16, 2016, USCIS will begin premium processing for H-1B cap cases no later than May 16, 2016.

May the odds forever be in your favor