Outstanding Researcher Petition Approved for R&D Engineer

March 10th, 2010

This month I was successful once more in obtaining an approval on a Form I-140 EB1-B outstanding researcher petition for a private R&D engineering company.  The applicant only had a few years of experience post-doc but the quality and originality of her work were outstanding.  She had the usual publications, presentations, citations and evidence of judging others’ work, as well as the less usual patents.  It was the quality of her recommendation letters that was critical to the petition, as is almost always the case.

USCIS Announces Opening of FY 2011 H-1B Visa Season on April 1, 2011

March 10th, 2010

USCIS announced that it will start accepting H-1B visa petition subject to the H-1B cap for Fiscal Year 2011 on April 1, 2010.  The earliest start date under this program is October 1, 2010.  There are 65,000 H-1B visa numbers available each year pursuant to the bachelor’s cap and an additional 20,000 numbers for those with a master’s degree from a US institution.  If the demand exceeds the cap, then USCIS will subject petitions received by a cut-off date to a random computerized lottery.  For those petitions that do not receive a number, USCIS will return these petitions along with the filing fees and without prejudice.

Certain petitions are cap exempt and these are for beneficiaries working at: (1) institutions of higher education or affiliated nonprofit entities, (2) nonprofit research organizations and (3) governmental research organizations.  Also, for those individuals who have been counted against the cap within the past six years, and have not departed the US for more than one year, are not subject to the cap.  These individuals include those extending or amending their status, changing employers or filing concurrent petitions.

Based on last year’s track record, during which time the cap was not reached until December 2009, and the continuing sluggishness of our economy, it is doubtful that we will reach the cap in April 2010.  However, I would not venture to bet when we do reach it.

DHS Announces Greece as Member of Visa Waiver Program

March 10th, 2010

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced today that Greece is now a member of the Visa Waiver Program.  The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) was established as a pilot program in 1986 to eliminate unnecessary barriers to travel to the US.  In October 2000 it became a permanent feature of US immigration law and now more than 35 countries are members.  The key advantage to VWP is that citizens of member countries do not need to secure a visa to the US so long as they are coming to visit for no more than 90 days.  However, they will need to obtain Elecronic System Travel Authorization (ESTA) through a web-based system.  Member countries of the VWP must satisfy stringent security requirements, such as security-related data sharing between the member and the US, timely reporting of lost or stolen passports and the maintenance of high counter terrorism, law enforcement and border control standards.