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USCIS Announces H1-B Lottery

 

H1-B H-1B, USCIS, H1BUSCIS announced on April 7 that it has received a sufficient number of H-1B petitions to reach the statutory cap of 65,000 visas for fiscal year (FY) 2015. USCIS has also received more than the limit of 20,000 H-1B petitions filed under the advanced degree exemption.

USCIS received about 172,500 H-1B petitions during the filing period which began April 1, including petitions filed for the advanced degree exemption. On April 10, 2014, USCIS completed a computer-generated random selection process, or lottery, to select enough petitions to meet the 65,000 general-category cap and 20,000 cap under the advanced degree exemption. For cap-subject petitions not randomly selected, USCIS will reject and return the petition with filing fees, unless it is found to be a duplicate filing.

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USCIS ANNOUNCES H1B CAP REACHED FOR NEW H1B VISAS

 

H1B cap, H1B, H1B visaWASHINGTON—U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today that it has received a sufficient number of H-1B petitions to reach the statutory cap for fiscal year (FY) 2015.  USCIS has also received more than the limit of 20,000 H-1B petitions filed under the U. S. advanced degree exemption.   

Before running a random selection process, USCIS will complete initial intake for all filings received during the filing period which ended today. Due to the high number of petitions, USCIS is not yet able to announce the date on which it will conduct the random selection process.

A computer-generated process will randomly select the number of petitions needed to meet the caps of 65,000 visas for the general category and 20,000 under the advanced degree exemption. USCIS will reject and return filing fees for all cap-subject petitions that are not selected, unless found to be a duplicate filing. 

The agency will conduct the selection process for the advanced degree exemption first. All advanced degree petitions not selected will become part of the random selection process for the 65,000 limit.

USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions that are otherwise exempt from the cap. Petitions filed on behalf of current H-1B workers who have been counted previously against the cap will not be counted towards the congressionally mandated FY 2015 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.

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Immigration Reform? Tell the White House What You Want

 

immigration reform, comprehensive immigration reformRecord your question about immigration reform via Skype on Bing ASAP.  The questions are to be answered by Vice President Biden and the President's Domestic Policy Advisor, Cecelia Munoz Wednesday.  

The  White House put up a site last week giving people the opportunity to Skype questions about immigration law and immigration reform that will then be viewed and addressed by Vice President and the President's Domestic Policy Advisor on Wednesday. So far there are only a couple questions posted.  It is very important that we get the word out about this and have the pro-immigration community post lots of questions so that the White House knows that immigration should be one of their top priorities.

http://www.bing.com/politics/pulse/whitehouse

More about the Bing/Skype video Q&A from the Whitehouse website...

Ask Vice President Biden and Cecilia Muñoz Your Questions About Immigration Reform

Our nation's immigration system is broken – and fixing it is an economic, national security, and moral imperative. That’s why President Obama is deeply committed to working to pass a common sense, comprehensive set of reforms that ensures everyone plays by the same rules. And we want to answer your questions about the issue.

On Wednesday, December 11th, Vice President Biden and Cecilia Muñoz, the President’s Domestic Policy Advisor, are sitting down to answer your questions about immigration reform. During the conversation hosted by Bing and Skype, the Vice President and Cecilia will speak with folks from around the country via live Skype Video Call, answer questions submitted through Skype Video and from social media.

What are your questions about immigration reform? Ask a question by Skype Video Message now and join the conversation on Twitter with #AskTheWhiteHouse, then be sure to tune in live on Wednesday, December 11th at 3:45 p.m. ET atBing.com/WhiteHouse and WhiteHouse.gov/live.

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EB-5 Investment Visas and Indirect Construction Jobs--What you need to know

 

describe the imageLawyers representing EB-5 investors should be aware of the latest USCIS
adjudications trend challenging claims of construction jobs by means of
requiring third-party validation of construction data and regional industry
standards. Immigration lawyers should now ask the Investor's selected Regional
Center to provide such supporting evidence in advance of filing the I-526
petition or in anticipation of the RFE.

Ever since Matter of Ho, 22 I&N Dec. 206 (Assoc. Comm'r 1998),
USCIS has required the submission of a "comprehensive business plan" in the Form
I-526 filing to clarify the investor's claimed job creation projections. But
recently, the USCIS has expanded its standard requiring a more detailed and
verified analysis of any construction phase jobs.

When a Regional Center project claims a construction period exceeding 24
months, EB5 investors can claim direct, indirect and induced jobs resulting from
the construction phase activities and qualified construction expenditures. When
the business plan making such job claims is submitted to the USCIS as part of
the I-526 petition, the agency will apply the following test:

"Because construction will surpass two years, the petitioner must present a business plan with a more detailed and itemized construction timeline showing all relevant phases of the construction effort. The business plan must also provide transparent, objective, and verifiable data illustrating that the proposed construction timeline and budget are within a reasonable range when compared to industry standards."

In failing to meet this standard with an initial I-526 filing package, the
USCIS will issue an RFE for such records. In response, the Regional Center will
need to supply associated investors with an evidence package that contains
third-party opinions verifying or explaining business plan claims relating to
construction activity and assumptions. These may include following:

  • General Contractor's Detailed Construction Timeline. This
    report breaks down all phases of the build-out, by date and subcontractor
    specialty/trade. The timeline should provide expected start and completion dates
    for each distinct activity.
  • Third Party Validation of Construction Timeline. This
    expert opinion assesses the project's construction timeline claim and measures
    the timeline against regional industry norms.
  • Third Party Validation of Construction Costs. This expert
    opinion assesses the itemized budget costs and compares them with verifiable
    data, analysis, and industry standards. Reliable construction costs are
    important to the USCIS because these are direct inputs to the economic modeling
    that calculates job creation.

These are just a few examples of how a comprehensive business plan claiming
construction jobs may effectively utilize third-party verification of critical
construction data, budgets, timelines and assumptions to ensure Matter of Ho
compliance. Given the emerging USCIS trend in this area, EB5 lawyers should be
prepared to supply exhibits which contain transparent, objective, and verifiable
data illustrating that the proposed construction timeline and budget are within
a reasonable range when compared to industry standards. And note that such
third-party construction experts are not in lieu of the Regional Center's
economist calculating the job creation, but are rather in addition to the
economist.

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DOJ Fines IBM for Discriminatory H1-B Hiring Practices

 

H1-B; H1; DOJ, USCISThe Justice Department announced that it reached an agreement yesterday with International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) resolving allegations that the company violated the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) when it placed online job postings for application and software developers that contained citizenship status preferences for F-1 and H-1B temporary visa holders.  F-1 visas are issued to foreign students studying in the United States, and H-1B visas are issued to foreign nationals with technical expertise in specialized fields.  

Under the INA, employers may not discriminate on the basis of citizenship status unless required to comply with law, regulation, executive order or government contract.  Although IBM’s job postings were for positions that would ultimately require the successful candidate to relocate overseas, the anti-discrimination provision of the INA does not permit employers to express or imply a preference for temporary visa holders over U.S. workers, such as U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents, for any employment opportunity in the United States.

 Under the settlement agreement, IBM has agreed to pay $44,400 in civil penalties to the United States.  IBM further agreed to revise its hiring and recruiting procedures and train its human resources personnel to ensure compliance with the INA, and to be subject to reporting requirements for a period of two years.

 

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AILA Urges Boehner to Act on Immigration Bill

 
describe the imageToday, House Democrats introduced a comprehensive reform bill based on the bill that passed the full Senate in June with a bipartisan vote of 68 to 32.

"Some might say that this isn't the time to bring up immigration reform
legislation but I disagree," said AILA President Doug Stump. He continued, "Now
is the right time because while there is disagreement around other issues,
immigration reform is something that the vast majority of Americans actually
agree on: that common sense reform is urgently needed and should include a
roadmap to legalization for the undocumented." A February Fox News
Poll
that found 72% of registered voters favor allowing illegal immigrants
to remain in the country and eventually qualify for U.S. citizenship, as long as
other requirements are met.

"This bill is not perfect, far from it. Nor was the Senate bill it drew upon.
We are talking compromise. AILA has major reservations about these bills, but no
one gets everything they want. Businesses aren't getting everything, and nor is
labor. Nor are faith groups, ethnic groups or civil rights organizations," Stump
noted.

"Like the Senate bill, this House version is tough yet also reasonably fair
and will provide enough slots to boost our economy, help American businesses,
and keep American families together," Stump said. The House bill replaces the
Senate bill's expensive "border surge" package with the bipartisan border
security bill that passed the House Homeland Security Committee earlier this
year.

"We call on Speaker Boehner to bring comprehensive immigration reform to the
House floor. By AILA's count, there are enough Democrats and Republicans who
support reform to get a bill passed in the House. He should bring everyone
together and get the job done. Put aside your differences for one moment and
allow the needs of the many to overcome the strident rhetoric that has consumed
so much of the political process. This is what Americans want and what America
needs," he concluded.

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Government Shutdown-What happens to Immigration Services?

 

 Dept. of Homeland Security, ICE, USCISCIS Ombudsman: The CIS
Ombudsman's Office will be closed
and will not be accepting any inquiries
through their online case intake system.

DOL:
OFLC functions are not "excepted" from a shutdown and its employees would be
placed in furlough status should a lapse in appropriated funds occur.
Consequently, in the event of a government shutdown, OFLC will neither accept
nor process any applications or related materials (such as audit responses), it
receives, including Labor Condition Applications, Applications for Prevailing
Wage Determination, Applications for Temporary Employment Certification, or
Applications for Permanent Employment Certification. OFLC's web site, including
the iCERT Visa Portal System and the PERM system, would become static and unable
to process any requests or allow authorized users to access their online
accounts.

DOL's Office of Administrative Law Judges will be unable
to perform any case-related activities
, including conducting hearings.
Hearings that have been previously scheduled will therefore be cancelled prior
to the date of the hearing, and they will not be rescheduled for hearing until
an appropriations bill or continuing resolution takes effect.

DHS: Due to the lapse in federal, DHS’s
website will not be actively managed
.

DOS: The Department will continue as many normal operations
as possible; operating status and available funding will need to be monitored
continuously and closely, and planning for a lapse in appropriations must be
continued. Review their “Guidance
on Operations”
for more information.

EOIR: EOIR has indicated that its response to a potential
shutdown is the same as it was in 2011. EOIR has been advised to "put its
shutdown plans in place." As with other agencies, personnel who are not
considered "essential" will be furloughed. EOIR has indicated that the detained
docket would likely be considered an essential function and would therefore be
able to continue in operation.

Update from EOIR on October 1, 2013: Court functions that support the
detained caseload will continue, but other functions are suspended. The Board of
Immigration Appeals (BIA) is processing emergency stay requests as well as cases
where the alien is detained, including case appeals, motions, federal court
remands, and bonds. Please review their
notice for more information
.

ICE: From ICE Community Outreach - ICE detention and
enforcement operations shall continue. ICE chief counsel trail attorneys will
still work on the detained docket only during a shutdown. Please coordinate with
your local Chief Counsel Office on more specifics. The ICE Community and
Detainee Helpline will remain operational.

USCIS: All USCIS
offices worldwide are open
and individuals should report to interviews and
appointments as scheduled. E-Verify is currently unavailable due to a government
shutdown.

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2015 DV Lottery Opens October 1, 2013

 

dv lottery

The U.S. diversity (DV)
immigrant visa lottery
 for fiscal year 2015 opens on Tuesday, October
1, 2013 and will remain open for entries until November 2, 2013.  This
year, the U.S. government has 50,000 immigrant visas available through the DV
lottery and subsequent DV visa application process.

As in previous years, the Department of State
(DOS) will select about 100,000 entries as “winners” and then through a process
of elimination, 50,000 DV immigrant visas will actually be issued.  At
least half of the “winners” will be eliminated either due to technical errors,
the applicant’s failure to meet the minimum education or experience
requirements, or because the application was not approved before the
September 30th cut-off date.

Incorrectly Submitted Lottery Entries

The DV program has a deceptive appearance of
simplicity, but has numerous pitfalls.  These include rigid and technical
qualification requirements, such as being born in (as opposed to being a
citizen of) a country from among those listed as
qualifying countries by the Department of State
 docs/DV_2015_Instructions.pdf as well as specific
minimum educational (a G.E.D. is not accepted as the equivalent of a
high-school degree) or work experience requirements.  These rigid pitfalls
end up disqualifying thousands of distraught lottery winners every year.

DV Visa Application Cut-off Date

The DV immigrant visa is a “Cinderella visa.”
If not completed prior to midnight on September 30, the end of the government’s
fiscal year, it disappears.  This means once notified of selection,
numerous qualification steps must be completed prior to September 30 of the
relevant year.  The 2015 DV lottery opens October 1, 2013, and
those selected will have until September 30, 2015 to complete the
entire process and receive the DV visa.

Presently entrants will have to check their
lottery results online as no notifications of winning will be issued by
the government.  Starting on May 1, 2014, and continuing for the 16-month
period through at least September 2015, DV lottery entrants will have to
periodically check to see if DOS has updated their online lottery status. 
If so, the clock starts ticking for that lottery winner to prepare and submit
their DV visa application right away.  Historically (and again
anecdotally), this has resulted in tens of thousands of DV lottery winners
finding themselves unable to reach the finish line by the deadline.

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USCIS: Backlog in Processing of EB5-I526 Immigrant Investor Petitions

 

Eb-5 visa, investment visa, I526USCIS has released an update on the processing times for I 526 Investor Petitions also known as the Immigration Petition for Alien Entrepeneurs.  Petitioners have grown accustomed to adjudication of these Petitions taking 6-9 months.  The latest update provided by USCIS is that Petitioners can expect these Petitions to take 16 months to approve.  As of July 31, 2013, USCIS is working on I526 petitions filed in March 2012.  

This delay in processing can have a significant impact where the Petitioner has invested $500 000 to $1 million dollars in a business but would have to conceivable wait 16 months for I526 approval and then a minimum of an additional 6 months for consular processing to be able to come to the United States to manage their investment. 

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United States Citizenship and immigration ("USCIS") Warns of New Scam

 

uscis; scamIn recent weeks, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) learned of a new telephone scam targeting USCIS applicants and petitioners. Scammers are using a technique called “Caller ID spoofing” to display a misleading or inaccurate phone number in a recipient’s Caller ID. The scammer poses as a USCIS official and requests personal information (such as Social Security number, passport number, or A-number), identifies supposed issues in the recipient’s immigration records, and asks for payment to correct these records.  

If you receive a call like that, USCIS urges you to say “No, thank you” and hang up immediately.  USCIS never asks for any form of payment or personal information over the phone. Do not give payment or personal information over the phone to anyone who claims to be a USCIS official. In general, we encourage you to protect your personal information and not to provide details about your immigration application in any public area.

 If you have been a victim of this telephone scam, please report it to the Federal Trade Commission at https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/, or report it to an appropriate state authority. (Visit www.uscis.gov/avoidscams for information on where to report scams in your state.)

 If you have a question about your immigration record, please call the National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283, or make an InfoPass appointment by visiting our website at http://infopass.uscis.gov/.   

 

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