Business Immigration Monthly for April 2014

Date: 4/7/2014
 Business Immigration Monthly for April 2014

USCIS Announces That H-1B Quota For Fiscal Year 2015 Has Been Met – USCIS May Have Received a Record Number of H-1B Quota Filings

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today that the H-1B quota for fiscal year 2015 (October 1, 2014 through September 30, 2015) has been met. Similar to previous years, the H-1B quota for fiscal year 2015 was limited to 65,000. The USCIS also announced that the U.S. Master's Degree or higher exemption from the H-1B quota for fiscal year 2015 has also been met. This exemption is limited to 20,000. The USCIS indicated that it received more petitions filed against the H-1B quota and U.S. Master's Degree exemption from the H-1B quota. However, unlike previous H-1B quota seasons, the USCIS did not include with the announcement the approximate number of H-1B quota petitions received. It is believed that the USCIS did not include this information because it has recevied a record number of filings and it has not had the opportunity to count all of the H-1B quota petitions received.

Because the USCIS received more petitions than statutorily allowed in both the regular quota and the U.S. Master's Degree exemption, the USCIS will now conduct two random selection processes (a.k.a. lotteries) to determine which petitions will be selected and adjudicated under the H-1B quota. The USCIS will first conduct a random selection process on the petitions claiming the U.S. Master's Degree exemption. The petitions not selected in the first random selection process will then be included with the petitions filed against the regular H-1B quota in a second random selection process. In either random selection process, there is no preference given to occupation, nationality or any other criteria. It is a pure lottery. The petitions which are selected in either of the random selection processes will then be adjudicated by the USCIS. The petitions that have not been selected will be returned with their filing fees to the petitioner or the petitioner's representative. The USCIS stated in its announcement that it could not anticipate when it would be conducting the random selection processes due to the "high number of petitions" received.

Also, due to the high number of H-1B quota petitions received, the USCIS has indicated that the 15 day premium processing clock for those petitions filed requesting the premium processing service and which were selected in either one of the random selection processes may not commence until Monday, April 28, 2014. The USCIS will then have 15 days after this date to complete its initial review of these petitions.

Unless legislation is enacted which raises the H-1B quota, the next H-1B quota will not become available until April 1, 2015 (for petitions with H-1B employment start dates of October 1, 2015 or later). The H-1B quota does not apply to H-1B extension petitions or H-1B initial petitions which are not subject to the quota. Employers with these types of petitions may continue to file their H-1B petitions.

Additional information about the fiscal year 2015 H-1B quota will be contained in our firm's future Immigration Updates when they become available.

USCIS Announces That H-2B Quota For The First Half of Fiscal Year 2014 Has Been Met – USCIS Already Receives a Significant Number of Petitions Filed Against The Second Half of The Fiscal Year 2014 H-2B Quota

On March 7, 2014, the USCIS announced that the H-2B cap for the first half of fiscal year 2014 was reached. Similar to previous years, the H-2B cap for fiscal year 2014 is 66,000 with 33,000 being allocated in the first half of the fiscal year (October 1 through March 31) and 33,000 being allocated in the second half of the fiscal year (April 1 through September 30). The USCIS also factors into the H-2B quota an allowance for withdrawals, denials and revocations. The USCIS indicated that the target quota number to fully use all 33,000 H-2B visas in the first half of fiscal year 2014 was 41,000. On March 14, 2014, the USCIS announced that it has received a sufficient number of H-2B quota petitions to meet the first half of the fiscal year 2014 H-2B quota. Although the USCIS indicated a target number for the first half of the fiscal year, it has not indicated a target number for the second half of the fiscal year. As of March 28, 2014, the USCIS indicated that it has received more than 18,800 petitions filed against the second half of the fiscal year H-2B quota. Therefore, the second half of the fiscal year 2014 H-2B quota may be met much more quickly than the first half quota was met.

Additional information about the fiscal year 2014 H-2B quota will be contained in our firm's future Immigration Updates when it becomes available.

April 2014 Visa Bulletin Update

Today, the U.S. Department of State ("DOS") released its April 2014 Visa Bulletin which shows the availability of employment-based immigrant visa categories for the month of March. Below is a summary of this month's highlights:

  • The EB-3 categories for World, China and Mexico continue to advance from September 1, 2012 to October 1, 2012.
  • The EB-2 China category has advanced from February 15, 2009 to March 8, 2009.
  • The EB-2 India category remains at November 15, 2004 after the prior retrogression of four years several months ago.
  • The EB-3 India category remains at September 15.

Forecasted Availability

In late 2013, the DOS has indicated the following visa availability:

· EB-1: will remain current.

· EB-2: World category will remain current; China will advance three to five weeks; and India will show no further advancement.

· EB-3 China: Although the DOS had indicated a potential retrogression for the February 2014 Visa Bulletin, this category continues to advance through April 2014. It is not likely to last.

· EB-3 India: will show no further advancement.

·

Please note that month-to-month availability of immigrant visas varies and depends on many factors. These forecasts do not guarantee future availability.

Comparison to Prior Months

The following is a comparison of priority date movement since the inception of the current retrogression in 2007:

Dec 2007

Jun 2008

Aug 2009

Sept 2012

Jan2014

Mar 2014

Apr 2014

EB-3 World

09/01/02

03/01/06

U

10/01/06

04/01/12

09/01/12

10/01/12

EB-2 China

01/01/03

04/01/04

10/01/03

U

12/08/08

02/15/09

03/08/09

EB-3 China

10/15/01

03/22/03

U

12/15/05

04/01/12

09/01/12

10/01/12

EB-2 India

01/01/02

04/01/04

10/01/03

U

11/15/04

11/15/04

11/15/04

EB-3 India

05/01/01

11/01/01

U

10/08/02

09/01/03

09/15/03

09/15/03

EB-3 Other Workers

10/01/01

01/01/03

U

10/01/06

04/01/12

09/01/12

10/01/12

Additional information about the movement of the employment-based immigrant visa priority dates will be contained in our firm's future Immigration Updates when it becomes available.

MFEM NEWS

Mr. Bob White Will Again Participate In AILA's National Day of Action to Discuss Immigration Reform With Various Senators and House Representatives Members in Washington, D.C.

Mr. Bob White of the firm's Immigration Group will again participate in the American Immigration Lawyers Association's (AILA) National Day of Action in Washington, D.C. Mr. White routinely visits members of Congress both locally and in Washington, D.C. to lobby for immigration reform. During his meetings this year, Mr. White will be meeting with Congressional leaders in both the House and Senate to discuss how our country's dysfunctional immigration system is adversely affecting U.S. businesses and the U.S. economy. Mr. White will also discuss with these Congressional representatives how pending bills in both the House of Representatives and the Senate could improve the U.S. employment-based immigration system or make the system even more dysfunctional. The goal of Mr. White's lobbying efforts is to educate Congressional leadership in Washington about the benefits of immigration, how our country's current immigration system is putting our country at an economic disadvantage and to explain how best to improve the employment-based immigration system to ensure that our country remains competitive on the international stage.

For more information about this or any other immigration law topic, please contact Bob White, at 847.734.8811 or via email at rwhite@masudafunai.com.

Weekly Immigration Updates are provided under the Legal Update link of the Immigration Group Section of our firm's website at www.masudafunai.com.