DREAM Act Hanging in There

December 14th, 2010

Based on the complexity of the procedural maneuvering of the House and Senate on the DREAM Act, it would appear that the legislation is dead.  However, after careful analysis it is clear that it still has a chance of success.  Essentially, it the Senate (S. 3992) will be voting on it later this week or early next week and the House has already passed its version (H.R. 6497/ H.R. 5281). 

If the Senate passes the same legislation as the House’s version, then it next goes to President Obama for signature.  The Democrats need 60 votes to win and they may have to negotiate amendments along the way.  If that is the case, then it will return to the House for another vote before the President can sign it. 

The DREAM Act would provide legal status to undocumented students in the US who entered the US before age 16 and who either attend college or join the military.  In the vaccuum of more comprehensive immigration legislation, this stand-alone provision is a fair and necessary alternative.

USCIS Updates Fiscal Year 2011 H-1B Cap as of December 10, 2010

December 14th, 2010

As of December 10, 2010, USCIS has received approximately 52,400 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 19,000 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. 

Once these numbers are exhausted, then new petitions subject to the cap can be filed as early as April 1, 2011, requesting a start date of October 1, 2011. 

Remember that since November 23, 2010, the filing fees for the I-129 petition increases from $320 to $325.  The ACWIA Fee and the Fraud Fee will remain the same.  Also the premium processing Form I-907 fee increased from $1,000 to $1,225.  Filing via premium processing does not strengthen the petition for approval.  Rather, it just quickens the processing time from around the current four to five months to 10 business days, provided that USCIS does not request additional evidence.  Finally, the new H-1B fee for employers with more than 50 employees and more than half of its workforce in H-1B status is $2,000.