USCIS Updates Fiscal Year 2011 H-1B Cap as of June 18, 2010

June 28th, 2010

As of June 18, 2010, USCIS has received 22,900 H-1B petitions subject to the FY 2011 bachelor’s degree cap, of which there are 65,000 visas each fiscal year. Also, USCIS has received 9,700 H-1B petitions subject to the FY 2011 US master’s degree cap, of which there are 20,000 visas each fiscal year.  If the master’s cap is reached, USCIS has stated that any petitions filed on behalf of aliens with an advanced US degree will be counted toward the general 65,000 H-1B cap. These numbers are still moving very slowly and it appears that we may have another year where the cap will not be reached until the end of this year or even later.

USCIS Publishes Fee Increase Rule in Federal Register in June 2010

June 17th, 2010

USCIS has published notice of its rule to increase immigration filing fees in the June 2010 Federal Register.  The increases average 10 percent per petition or application.  USCIS states that a comprehensive review of fees regularly occurs every two years and it is to ensure full recovery of costs and maintenance of adequate services.  It also states that it has met or surpassed its processing times goals in its 2008/2009 review.

There will be no fee for military naturalization applications.  USCIS proposes a new fee of $615 for processing civil surgeon designations.  A medical exam performed by a designated civil surgeon must accompany all applications to adjust status (Form I-485) and V status applications (Form I-539).  DHS also proposes a fee for regional service center designations under the Immigrant Investor Pilot Program.  This program, known as the EB-5, allows foreign nationals to obtain legal permanent residency if they invest a certain level of capital and create a certain number of jobs in the US.  One aspect of this program encourages foreign nationals to invest in distinct economic “regional centers.”

USCIS proposes to increase the following fees for forms that include biometrics, including the following:  Form I-485, Application to Adjust Status, from $1,010 to $1,070; the Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residency, from $545 to $590; Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, from $675 to $680.

While USCIS has indeed sped up its processing of many applications, including the family and employment-based Form I-485 and Form I-140, other parts of the immigration system are still woefully slow, including the PERM labor certification application run through the Department of Labor.  Also, the prodigious backlog in immigrant visa numbers is causing great stresses for foreign nationals waiting years to obtain legal permanent residency.  Immigrant visa numbers need to be increased drastically to take into account the increased demand for such numbers based on the growth of our economy and need for foreign skilled workers.  This economic slump is only temporary and soon we will be faced with a dearth of skilled workers again to fuel and sustain a strong economy.

USCIS Updates Fiscal Year 2011 H-1B Cap as of June 11, 2010

June 17th, 2010

USCIS has received 22,200 H-1B petitions subject to the FY 2011 bachelor’s degree cap, of which there are 65,000 visas each fiscal year. Also, USCIS has received 9,400 H-1B petitions subject to the FY 2011 US master’s degree cap, of which there are 20,000 visas each fiscal year.  If the master’s cap is reached, USCIS has stated that any petitions filed on behalf of aliens with an advanced US degree will be counted toward the general 65,000 H-1B cap. 

These numbers are moving quite slowly and we could have another record year where visa numbers remain available until the end of 2010, like last year’s cap, which was reached in December 2009.  For example, since May 21, 2010, the bachelor’s cap numbers have only progressed by a little over 5,000 and the master’s cap have increased by approximately 3,000.  However, if the economy does heat up, then these numbers should start moving more quickly. 

Employers can continue to file H-1B petitions for a start date before October 1, 2011, so long as H-1B numbers are available.  However, the start cannot be more than six months in advance of the date of preparation on the Form ETA 9035 Labor Condition Application (LCA), which is filed with the Department of Labor.  The employer must file a certified LCA with USCIS in support of the H-1B petition.  Currently, the DOL is taking seven days to certify an LCA, unless it requests evidence verifying the employer’s information.  DOL has been denying many LCAs based on its inability to verify the employer’s FEIN.  This can delay the certification another two weeks.