USCIS Confirms H-1B FY2019 is Same as Usual

USCIS confirmed to AILA’s that it is “not anticipating any procedural changes for the FY2019 H-1B cap season.” It also does not anticipate that premium processing will be suspended for non-cap H-1B petitions, though there may be a short suspension of premium processing for H-1B cap-subject petitions. [See AILA Doc. No. 18012505.]

Pew Research Center – Foreign Graduates Are Staying in the U.S. for Employment

International students choose to study in the U.S. for many different reasons, and many choose to stay and work after they graduate from U.S. colleges and universities. The Pew Research Center analyzed U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) data and found that more and more high-skilled foreign graudates find jobs in the United States under the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program. The OPT program provides an important opportunity for foreign graduates to work in the U.S. for up to 12 months or 36 months, depending on their field.  Many students choose to take advantage of the OPT programs to utilize the skills they learned.

The Pew Research Center found that the federal government approved nearly 700,000 OPT applications between 2008 and 2014. Below are the interesting findings:

  • The annual number of OPT approvals rose from 28,497 in 2008 to 136,617 in 2014.
  • Many of those working in the U.S. under the OPT program go on to apply for H-1B visas to stay longer in the U.S.
  • Those with STEM majors had a higher employment rate (73%) than non-STEM majors (57%).
  • Foreign students from India and China accounted for more than half (57%) of all those who were approved for OPT.

To read the full report by Neil Ruiz: click here.

USCIS to Resume H-1B Premium Processing for Certain Cap-Exempt Petitions

Today, USCIS announced that it has resumed premium processing for certain cap-exempt H-1B petitions. Premium processing will resume for petitions that may be exempt from the cap if the H-1B petitioner is:

  • * An institution of higher education;
  • * A nonprofit related to or affiliated with an institution of higher education; or
  • * A nonprofit research or governmental research organization.

Effective immediately, those cap-exempt petitioners who are eligible for premium processing can file Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service for Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker. Form I-907 can be filed together with an H-1B petition or separately for a pending H-1B petition. On June 26, 2017, USCIS resumed premium processing for H-1B petitions filed on behalf of physicians under the Conrad 30 waiver program and interested government agency waivers.

Employment Based Green Card Process Overview

Now you have your H-1b, how do you get your employer to sponsor you for an employment-based green card? The visa number backlogs vary enormously based on the applicant’s nationality. It is always better to start early.

The procedure for an employer to sponsor foreign nationals for lawful permanent residence (a.k.a. green card) is composed of three phases: the PERM labor certification, the visa petition, and the application for permanent residence.

I. PERM Labor Certification

A foreign national seeking to obtain U.S. lawful permanent residence through employment must be the beneficiary of an approved application for permanent employment certification. This application requires the employer to test the labor market to determine whether there are any qualified and available U.S. workers who are immediately available to accept the offered position of intended employment. The U.S. employer is required to obtain a prevailing wage determination (PWD) from the National Prevailing Wage Center (NPWC).  After obtaining a PWD, the employer is required to take required recruitment steps.

II. The Visa Petition

If the PERM application is certified and the employer wishes to proceed to the next step, filing the employment-based immigrant petition (Form I-140) with USCIS, the beneficiary will be required to provide documentation to establish that he or she met the advertised requirements for the position on the date that the PERM application was filed. To file the immigrant visa petition, the employer must also establish that it has the ability to pay the beneficiary of the PERM application at least the prevailing wage as determined by the formal PWD requestor the offered wage, which may be higher than the prevailing wage.

III. Application for Lawful Permanent Residence

The last phase of the process allows the employee file his or her Form I-485, applications for adjustment of status (the application that grants permanent residence). At the end of this step, the employee will be granted permanent residence, and, shortly thereafter, be issued a “green card” as evidence of permanent residence. In the event of a backlog in the employment-based priority dates, the beneficiary and family members will not be able to file concurrent I-485 applications. They will need to wait until their priority date becomes current before they can file these applications.

 

纵览2018财年H-1B申请情况

 

移民局2017年4月11日宣布,已经采用计算机随机选择过程或彩票选择足够的H-1B申请,以满足2017年度的65,000个一般类别 (Regular Cap) 和20,000个高级学位 (Master’s Cap) 的名额。移民局将拒绝并返还所有未选择以及重复的申请。 USCIS在4月3日开始的申请期间收到了199,000份H-1B申请。这一数字比去年申请期间的23.3万份申请减少了15.7%。虽然总体申请数量与去年相比有所减少,但今年是连续第五年USCIS在H-1B申请的第一周内就接受足够的申请。

尽管H-1B申请是经济改善工作机会提高的证据,但是今年提交的申请少了也并不奇怪。印度的一些信息技术公司之前就宣布,他们正在减少提交经验较少的H-1B工人人数,这意味着更多的工作将留在印度而不是迁往美国。另外,去年来说,有些小型信息技术公司面临审查,表示会提出较少的H-1B申请。其他的话,很多雇主被H-1B签证的限制所阻挠,可能更不愿意赞助来自美国学校的外国毕业生。

自1997年以来,H-1B上限已经达到了财政年度以来的每一年,除了上限暂时上调至195,000的几年之外。

USCIS Confirms Lottery Selection Process for 2018 H-1B Petitions

American Immigration Lawyer’s Association (AILA) confirmed on March 27, 2017 that USCIS will be conducting a lottery for Fiscal Year 2018 H-1B petitions. The process for receiving and receipting H-1B cap cases for 2018 will be the same as with prior years. During the period of April 3-7, 2017, if USCIS receives enough petitions to reach the 65,000 statutory H-1B cap and the 20,000 cap for petitions filed under the advanced degree exemption, a lottery will be conducted. As in the past, a random computer selection will be run first the 20,000 master’s cap petitions. Any petitions not selected for the master’s cap will then be included in the random selection process for the 65,000 regular cap.

Good luck to everyone facing the lottery this year.

2017年3月27日 - 移民局确认,2018年度收到和收到H-1B上限案件的过程将与前几年相同,包括随机抽奖。因此,如果在2017年4月3日至7日期间收到足够的请愿书达到65,000个法定H-1B上限,并且收到高等学位提交的20,000个申请人数,则会像过去一样,随机的电脑选择将首先针对20,000的高等学位请愿书。任何未被抽中的高等学位请愿书将被纳入65,000常规上限的随机选择过程中。

USCIS Bought Back Certain H-1B Visa Premium Processing After a Long Halt

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has brought back premium processing for certain CAP exempt petitions.

On April 3, 2017, USCIS halted premium processing of H-1B visa petitions, for up to six months. While H-1B premium processing is suspended, petitioners will not be able to file Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service for a Form I-129. Prior to the halt, employers can request premium processing of H-1B petitions to ensure that USCIS will review the petition within 15 days at a cost of $1,225. Most non-premium processing types of H-1B petitions are currently averaging 6 to 8 months processing time. This suspension will apply to all H-1B regular cap and master’s cap petitions filed for the FY18 H-1B.

The only option for H-1B employers is that they may submit requests to expedite an H-1B petition if they meet the Expedite Criteria. The employer must meet one of these concerns concerns as “severe financial loss,” “emergency situation” or “humanitarian reasons.”

USCIS said the halt is necessary to adjudicate long-pending petitions before the high volume of incoming petitions. However, the plan may cause significant impact on the fee-funded USCIS’s revenue.