Posts Tagged ‘H-1B visa’

DHS Proposes Rules Affecting Some High Skilled Workers and Spouses

Friday, August 1st, 2014

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has issued two proposed rules that affect the highly skilled. Both rules provide benefits, but in the grand scheme of immigration reform, the benefits are very limited and affect a limited class of foreign nationals.

The first DHS proposal would extend the availability of work authorization to H-4 dependent spouses of principal H-1B nonimmigrants. The extension would be limited, however, to H-4 dependent spouses of principal H-1B nonimmigrants who are in the process of seeking lawful permanent resident status through employment and who already have passed some of the hurdles. This includes those H-1Bs who are either the beneficiaries of an approved I-140 immigrant visa petition or whose stay in the U.S. has been extended under the American Competitiveness in the 21st Century Act (AC21), which allows H-1B workers seeking lawful permanent residence to stay and work in the U.S. beyond the normal six-year limit. Some 97,000 spouses are expected to become eligible for work authorization in the first year after the rule is finalized, with about 30,000 eligible annually. This still leaves, however, many H-1B visa holders’ spouses unable to work.

The second proposed rule would update existing regulations to include professional specialty workers from Chile and Singapore (H-1B1) and from Australia (E-3) in the list of classes of foreign national visa holders authorized for employment incident to status with a specific employer — in other words, not required to apply separately to DHS for work authorization — and permitting H-1B1 and E-3 workers up to 240 days of continued work authorization while they await approval of their status extension requests. The proposal also includes Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands–only transitional workers (CW-1). These rules currently apply to H-1B nonimmigrants. The rule would also permit foreign nationals applying for EB-1 visas to prove their academic achievements through evidence that does not appear in the current list of acceptable evidence. Instead, evidence that is “comparable” to the types of evidence listed in the regulations would be acceptable.

According to DHS, it is proposing these changes to benefit these highly skilled workers and CW-1 transitional workers by removing unnecessary hurdles that place such workers at a disadvantage when compared to similarly situated workers in other visa classifications.

The comment period ends in July, after which DHS must issue final rules before the proposals go into effect.

H-1B Professional Visas – Preparation Begins for April Filings

Monday, March 3rd, 2014

Once again it is H-1B filing season, and, once again USCIS is likely to receive the full allocation of visa petitions in the first week of filing commencing April 1.  Once the quota is reached, new H-1B visa requests will not be accepted until April 1, 2015, for work that commences on October 1, 2015 — more than 18 months from now!

Visas for professional specialty workers (H-1Bs) are, as they have been, capped at 65,000 per fiscal year. Another 20,000 visas are available to workers with advanced degrees (master’s or higher) obtained at U.S. institutions of higher education. Of the total 85,000 H-1B visas available, some 6,800 visas are set aside for nationals of Chile and Singapore under special rules.

While some H-1B petitions can be filed at any time because they are exempt from the numerical cap, the vast majority of H-1B applicants in business are subject to the cap.  Thus, employers should immediately identify first-time H-1B employees and begin preparing necessary petitions for the April 1 filing date. Employers and their employees should take time now to collect academic and work-experience documentation; secure translations and educational evaluations, where appropriate; organize wage and compensation data; and prepare detailed job descriptions.

Finally, now is also a good time for employers to review their company’s H-1B public access files to ensure that files are complete and in full compliance, as well as to determine that valid employer-employee relationships have been maintained.

H-1B Professional Visa – It’s Filing Season

Friday, March 9th, 2012

On April 1, employers will be able to file H-1B petitions for their employees who require a first-time H-1B visa for work that will commence on October 1, 2012. Now is not too soon to identify new H-1B employees and begin preparing necessary petitions. With increased denial rates and skyrocketing requests for additional evidence, employers may be able to avoid costly delays or denials with meticulous, careful planning and preparation.  (See more below.) A review of company H-1B public access files also may be prudent to ensure that files are complete and in full compliance as well as to determine that valid employer-employee relationships have been maintained.

While we anticipate that visas will remain available beyond April 1, H-1B visas will be used up much more rapidly as the economy recovers.  Under immigration rules, first-time H-1B visas are limited to 85,000 per fiscal year.

Update on H-1B Visas

Friday, October 14th, 2011

H-1B Professional Specialty Worker Cap Update: As October 1 marked the beginning of the new fiscal year, visas are now immediately available for new H-1B cap-subject petitions. As of October 7th, USCIS reports that 41,000 new H-1B cap-subject petitions were receipted and another 19,100 petitions for foreign nationals with advanced degrees for FY2012. There are 85,000 new H-1B visas available annually, of which 20,000 are designated for advanced degree holders.  For FY2011, H-1B visas became unavailable as of January 26, 2011.

Tough Penalties Levied Against School District in Maryland for H-1B Violations Become Final:  A Department of Labor Administrative Law Judge approved a settlement agreement with Maryland’s Prince George’s County School District (PGCSD), located in the Washington, D.C. metro area, to pay sizeable fines for major violations of the H-1B program, including failure to pay wages and to maintain documentation as required. Under the agreement, PGSCD is barred from hiring any new foreign workers for two years and must pay a civil penalty of more than $100,000 for violating the H-1B program and over $4 million in back wages to more than 1,000 teachers.

Over the last several years, government agencies involved with the H-1B program have stepped up their enforcement and auditing efforts. Employers and their human resource personnel are wise to make sure their public access files and other records relating to their H-1B employees are up to date and in good order.

H-1B Visas Still Available

Friday, December 10th, 2010

Following years of extremely high demand, 2010 is proving to be a very slow year for H 1B visa petitions. This is good news for businesses hoping to add foreign professional workers over the next several months and their prospective employees.

As of December 10, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) reports having accepted 52,400 H-1B visa petitions out of the 65,000 visas that are available each year. Another 900 visas are still available for those foreign nationals who are eligible to file under the “master’s cap,” which provides for an additional 20,000 visa numbers annually. For several years before the 2008 economic downturn, all H-1B visa numbers were exhausted the first day they became available. In 2009, the cap was reached on December 24.

If you are considering sponsoring a foreign worker in the near future, now is a good time to do so while visa numbers remain available. Once the cap is reached for FY 2011, employer-petitioners and their prospective employees will have to wait until October 1, 2011 to commence new H-1B work..

Considering H-1B Visa Processing in Canada? Third Country Nationals Should Proceed With Caution

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

Third country nationals (TCNs) with foreign degrees who have not been previously issued H-1B visas from their home consulate may find it increasingly difficult to obtain their visa at a U.S. post in Canada and should consider returning to their home country for visa issuance. It seems that U.S. consular posts in Canada are increasingly reluctant to issue visas to such TCNs because of the Posts’ distrust of degrees not from the U.S. or Canada and the Posts’ inability to properly authenticate them. While not official policy, the U.S. Embassy’s website for consular processing in Canada warns that officials may refuse to issue such visas and especially discourages such TCNs who last entered the U.S. on a visitor visa.