18 May 2018

USCIS Reminds F-1 Students About Actions Warranting Automatic Termination of OPT

On May 18th, USCIS issued a reminder to F-1 Students on Optional Practical Training (OPT) that transferring to another school or beginning study at another educational level automatically terminates the student’s OPT and corresponding Employment Authorization Document (EAD).  Continue reading

14 May 2018

Qualifying for EB-2 Beyond the Advanced Degree – Exceptional Ability

There are 5 Employment Based immigrant visa preference categories that individuals may use to obtain lawful permanent residence (green card) in the United States. Frequently, individuals are sponsored for the Employment Based Second Preference category, referred to as “EB-2”.

Often, individuals qualify for the EB-2 category based on a U.S. advanced degree or its foreign equivalent (or a U.S. Bachelor’s degree or foreign equivalent and 5 years of progressive post-baccalaureate experience). Individuals who do not meet the advanced degree requirement are frequently sponsored for an EB-3 immigrant visa, which can mean longer wait times for a green card depending on country of birth. However, there is another option for an individual to qualify for EB-2 without an advanced degree if they meet the exceptional ability requirements.  Continue reading

4 May 2018

Tech Companies Fight Back With Lawsuit Against H-1B Visa Restrictions

On May 1st, a group of small technology companies filed suit in federal court against the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) over a policy memo issued in February 2018, which places greater restrictions on H-1B employers who place employees at third-party work-sites. Continue reading

25 April 2018

Helpful Tips: PERM Labor Certification

There are usually 3 steps to the employment based green card process: (1) PERM Labor Certification, (2) I-140 Immigrant Petition and (3) Adjustment of Status. The PERM Labor Certification process is lengthy and requires careful maneuvering to avoid missteps along the way.

The PERM labor certification is usually the biggest hurdle to clear. So today I want to discuss some helpful tips when working on a PERM application. This list is in no way exhaustive and merely touches the surface of this complicated process. It’s important to understand that the Department of Labor’s (DOL) role in this process is to protect U.S. workers. Keeping this in mind will help you avoid mistakes.  Continue reading

12 April 2018

USCIS Completes H-1B Lottery for FY2019!

USCIS has completed the H-1B cap random selection process. On April 11, USCIS used a computer-generated random selection process, “lottery”, to select enough H-1B petitions to meet the 65,000 congressionally-mandated cap and the 20,000 Masters cap under the advanced degree exemption. USCIS announced that 190,098 H-1B petitions were received in this filing period. For Fiscal Year 2018, 199,000 H-1B petitions were received during the filing period.   Continue reading

6 April 2018

USCIS Announces H-1B Cap Has Been Met for FY2019

USCIS has reached the congressionally-mandated 65,000 H-1B visa cap for fiscal year 2019. USCIS has also received a sufficient number of H-1B petitions to meet the 20,000 visa U.S. advanced degree exemption, known as the master’s cap. USCIS will reject and return filing fees for all unselected cap-subject petitions that are not prohibited multiple filings.

USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions that are otherwise exempt from the cap.  Petitions filed for 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 FY 2019 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.

USCIS encourages H-1B applicants to subscribe to the H-1B Cap Season email updates located on the H-1B Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 Cap Season page.

29 March 2018

New Policy Memo Warns Against Multiple H-1B Cap Filings for the Same Beneficiary

USCIS issued a new policy memo on March 23rd, addressing the prohibition on multiple H-1B filings. Based on this policy guidance, USCIS will deny or revoke the approval of all cap-subject H-1B petitions filed by “related entities” for the same beneficiary absent a legitimate business need. Continue reading

24 March 2018

Impact of Premium Processing Suspension on OPT Students Selected in the H-1B Lottery

On March 20th, USCIS announced that Premium Processing will be suspended for all Cap-Subject H-1B petitions filed in the lottery for Fiscal Year 2019 (FY2019). This is expected to last until September 10, 2018.  Premium Processing allows for adjudication of a petition within 15 days of receipt of Form I-907 and associated fees as opposed to normal processing times that can exceed 6 months. If a Request for Evidence (RFE) is received, USCIS will issue a decision within 15 days from receipt of the employer’s RFE response.

The suspension of premium processing can have a negative impact on F-1 Optional Practical Training (OPT)* students whose petitions are selected in the lottery and whose OPT will expire prior to October 1st. Here’s why: Continue reading

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20 March 2018

Despite Earlier Indications, USCIS Announces Suspension of Premium Processing for all Cap Subject H-1B Petitions

USCIS just announced that it will SUSPEND Premium Processing for all Cap Subject H-1B petitions filed in the lottery for Fiscal Year 2019 (FY2019). This is expected to last until September 10, 2018.  Continue reading

28 February 2018

Issues to Consider if Filing in the H-1B Master’s Cap this Year

The current annual cap as set by Congress for new H-1B petitions is 65,000 (regular cap). An advanced degree exemption is available for the first 20,000 petitions filed for an individual who has obtained a U.S. Master’s degree or higher. This is commonly referred to as the “Master’s cap.”

If the cap is reached within the first 5 days of the new filing season, USCIS will stop accepting petitions and a computer-generated random selection process, also called the “lottery”, will be used to select petitions. Those with U.S. Master’s degrees are at an advantage because they essentially receive 2 shots in the lottery process.

The lottery system will first be conducted for the advanced degree exemption petitions (Master’s cap). Any petitions filed and not selected for those with a U.S. Master’s degree or higher will count against the regular cap.

Just because you have a U.S. Master’s degree does not always mean you are eligible to apply in the Master’s cap. Here’s why: Continue reading

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