visa numbers

USCIS Completes the H-1B Cap Random Selection Process for FY 2019

On April 11, USCIS used a computer-generated random selection process to select enough H-1B petitions to meet the congressionally-mandated cap and the U.S. advanced degree exemption, known as the master’s cap, for fiscal year (FY) 2019.

USCIS received 190,098 H-1B petitions during the filing period, which began April 2, including petitions filed for the advanced degree exemption. USCIS announced on April 6, that it had received enough H-1B petitions to reach the statutory cap of 65,000 and the master’s cap of 20,000. USCIS will reject and return all unselected petitions with their filing fees unless the petition is a prohibited multiple filing.

 

USCIS Reaches FY 2019 H-1B Cap

Demonstrating a critical demand for educated foreign workers in the United States, the annual H-1B cap was reached on April 6, 2018.  This is the 6th year of H-1B cap being reached within the first week of filing acceptance.  

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.

The agency will reject and return filing fees for all unselected cap-subject petitions that are not prohibited multiple filings (PDF, 119 KB).

H-1B VISA PROGRAM AND TRUMP: HOW HIGH-SKILLED IMMIGRANTS ARE BEING THREATENED BY PRESIDENT’S ADMINISTRATION

The Trump administration’s once-rumored restrictions to the H-1B visa program have begun to take effect.

They’re causing a shakeup particularly in the United States tech industry because the temporary, non-immigrant work document enables companies to hire highly skilled foreign workers in fields that require technical and theoretical expertise.

As H-1B applications get under way, foreigners face new challenges

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, introduced a bill Thursday that would vastly increase the number of H-1B visas available and ease restrictions on the issuance of green cards to foreign workers.

The bill, also sponsored by Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., would bring relief to the Bay Area’s large community of immigrants working at startups and big tech companies, many of whom rely on the H-1B visa, as well as their employers, who have quietly lobbied for years for an expansion of the program.

Congress Passes Stopgap Bill to Avoid Government Shutdown Against a Friday Deadline**

**which includes the EB-5 Program extension to January 19, 2018

WASHINGTON — Congress gave final approval on Thursday to legislation to keep the government funded into January, averting a government shutdown this weekend but kicking fights over issues like immigration, surveillance and health care into the new year.

The stopgap spending bill extends government funding until Jan. 19 while also providing a short-term funding fix for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, whose financing lapsed at the end of September.

USCIS Will Temporarily Suspend Premium Processing for All H-1B Petitions

Starting April 3, 2017, USCIS will temporarily suspend premium processing for all H-1B petitions. This suspension may last up to 6 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, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker which requests the H-1B nonimmigrant classification. We will notify the public before resuming premium processing for H-1B petitions.

Who Is Affected

The temporary suspension applies to all H-1B petitions filed on or after April 3, 2017. Since FY18 cap-subject H-1B petitions cannot be filed before April 3, 2017, this suspension will apply to all petitions filed for the FY18 H-1B regular cap and master’s advanced degree cap exemption (the “master’s cap”). The suspension also applies to petitions that may be cap-exempt.

While premium processing is suspended, we will reject any Form I-907 filed with an H-1B petition. If the petitioner submits one combined check for both the Form I-907 and Form I-129 H-1B fees, we will have to reject both forms.

We will continue to premium process Form I-129 H-1B petitions if the petitioner properly filed an associated Form I-907 before April 3, 2017. Therefore, we will refund the premium processing fee if:

  1. The petitioner filed the Form I-907 for an H-1B petition before April 3, 2017, and
  2. We did not take adjudicative action on the case within the 15-calendar-day processing period.

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

Requesting Expedited Processing

While premium processing is suspended, petitioners may submit a request to expedite an H-1B petition if they meet the criteria on the Expedite Criteria webpage. It is the petitioner’s responsibility to demonstrate that they meet at least one of the expedite criteria, and we encourage petitioners to submit documentary evidence to support their expedite request.

We review all expedite requests on a case-by-case basis and requests are granted at the discretion of the office leadership.

Why We Are Temporarily Suspending Premium Processing for H-1B Petitions

This temporary suspension will help us to reduce overall H-1B processing times. By temporarily suspending premiumprocessing, we will be able to:

  • Process long-pending petitions, which we have currently been unable to process due to the high volume of incoming petitions and the significant surge in premium processing requests over the past few years; and
  • Prioritize adjudication of H-1B extension of status cases that are nearing the 240 day mark. 

Nationwide Temporary Restraining Order has halted the Executive Order

National temporary restraining order granted in Washington State and Minnesota's challenge to President Trump's executive order banning Muslims and refugees.

NEW ADMINISTRATION’S IMPACT ON IMMIGRATION

IMMIGRATION was a top platform for Trump in his campaign, and as the President-elect how his campaign rhetoric will be played out is still up in the air.  Some of the major areas in immigration law that will most likely be affected are: 

1)    Decrease Legal Immigration – In furthering his administration’s “protectionist views,” Trump may restrict legal immigration as well as further regulating legal workers coming to the U.S. on employment authorized visas (i.e., H-1B and L-1 skilled workers).  His campaign rhetoric on “bringing jobs back to the U.S.” and limiting outsourcing jobs offshore and highly-skilled immigration may result in tightening of regulations in granting visas –especially the highly political H-1B visas which are currently capped at issuance of only 65,000 H-1B visas per fiscal year.  Every year the H-1B visas are depleted and every year, U.S. businesses lament and lobby for increase in these visa numbers, but after Trump is in the office, it looks highly doubtful that this would result in any increase in H-1B visa numbers.  Instead, it may mean more restrictions placed on the issuance of the visas themselves, as well as other categories of skilled worker visas, as well as raising of the fees for filing such petitions.  If U.S. businesses want to hire skilled foreign workers, they will have to pay the price and jump through hoops to do so.

2)    Deportation/Removal/Detention – In his latest TV interview on “60 Minutes” recently, Trump softened some of his rhetoric on immigration, but still vowed to deport or jail as many as 3 million immigrants who have “criminal records” or are “gang members” or “drug dealers.” He did not specify or lay out a clear plan, nor how he would go about funding such a measure.

3)    Building a Border Wall/increase border security – President-Elect Trump may be backing off a bit on his most famous campaign promise of “building a wall” and having the Mexican government pay for it.  He would most likely work with Congress to “expand” the current physical barrier/fences (more of a “symbolic wall”), and expand Border patrol.

4)    End Birthright Citizenship – Trump, despite the 14th Amendment provision that all persons born or naturalized in the U.S. are citizens, has stated that children of undocumented aliens born in the U.S. “must go.”  In terms of how/if this will be implemented is yet to be determined. 

5)    End Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (known as “DACA”) –President-elect Donald Trump pledged to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative which was implemented in 2012 by then Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.  DACA gave deportation relief and work permits to undocumented youth who arrived in the U.S. as a minor (under 16 years old), went to school, and no criminal convictions.  This could impact over 1.3 million young immigrants (700,000 of those who are currently in the workforce under this provision).  Though statements on Trump’s campaign website clearly indicated an intention to end DACA, much remains to be seen.  It is still to be determined know how or when DACA might end. It is possible that USCIS could stop accepting or approving all DACA applications. Alternatively, USCIS could halt only certain components of DACA.

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach served as the advisor to Trump on immigration during the campaign, and will likely have a major role in Trump’s administration on immigration matters.  He has indicated that Trump will repeal/scrap many of Obama’s immigration policies/incentives as well as Obama administration’s approach of deporting and enforcement policies. 

As far as how (or if) and when any of the above changes to immigration policies and regulations will be implemented are yet to be determined.  But one thing is certain, whatever measures the new President-Elect take to change the regulations (which require legislation) will not happen overnight and it won’t be passed through Congress without some strong opposition and push-back.  It is well known that the Speaker of the House Paul Ryan has very different views on immigration, and will be a big factor in whether or how much of Trump’s immigration “plans” get any traction even in the Republican controlled Congress.  It will once again come down to cooperation between the two parties being key factor in accomplishing any immigration reform or changes.  

We will keep a close eye on these issues and advise accordingly.   

EB-5 visa program may expire on Sept. 30 if Congress doesn’t take action

The investor visa program, EB-5, is set to expire on September 30, unless Congress can temporarily extend it, or reform it to cut down the loopholes and eliminate the numerous cases of fraud that surface with the program.

Visa Bulletin (September 2016)

This bulletin summarizes the availability of immigrant numbers during September 2016 for: “Final Action Dates” and “Dates for Filing Applications,” indicating when immigrant visa applicants should be notified to assemble and submit required documentation to the National Visa Center.