AILA Annual Conference

The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) will be holding its annual legal conference in New Orleans this week and 9 attorneys from HLG will be attending. HLG attorneys, Lisa Galvan and Dwight Myfelt will be speakers. We will be providing client specific updates after the event.

By |June 20th, 2017|Events|0 Comments|

July Visa Bulletin

The July Visa Bulletin has been released by the Department of State (DOS) and there was exciting news for many. The EB3 worldwide all other category is almost “current” as it jumped to June 8, 2017; the EB3 India category jumped ahead 9 mos.; and, the EB3 Philippines category jumped ahead 1 year. Unfortunately, there was also bad news for many as retrogression continues to be an issue for persons from India and China.

Do I (Still) Qualify for the H1B Master Cap?

On May 31, 2017, USCIS released a memo clarifying that to be eligible for an H-1B cap exemption based on a Master’s Degree, the school from where the beneficiary obtained their degree has to have been a U.S. “institution of higher education” when the degree was earned. The policy memo cites to Matter of A-T- Inc., an “adopted decision,” meaning the decision is binding policy guidance for all USCIS personnel.

As you probably know, there are only 65,000 H-1B visas available under the cap each year, with an additional 20,000 for people who have earned a master’s degree or higher in the U.S. In their decision, the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) stated, “[U]nder our interpretation, an individual who earns a degree from a (pre-)accredited institution may continue to qualify for the Master’s Cap exemption even if the institution later closes or loses its (pre-)accreditation status.”

This will be an important memo to keep in mind as USCIS has, in some instances, gone back and reviewed a beneficiary’s initial H1B petition – and which cap they were counted under – while adjudicating a current extension. Even when the beneficiary has been in the U.S. for over 5 years.

DOL releases PERM data

The DOL recently released FY 2017 2nd Q PERM data. Note that the denial rate has increased slightly and over 25% of cases are either under audit or appeal.

HLG to host seminar in NJ/NYC

HLG will host a seminar in the NJ/NYC area on Fri. Aug 18th. The seminar will discuss some of the changes that have been made that impact business immigration and will give practical advice on how to address those changes in your business. Registration is free. For details go here.

By |May 22nd, 2017|Events|0 Comments|

June Visa Bulletin

Retrogression rears its ugly head again in the June Visa Bulletin as the EB1 categories for India and China retrogressed from “current” to Jan 2012. This was predicted in the prior Visa bulletin and noted in this space so no surprise but, still troubling. It is expected that the dates for these 2 categories will return to ‘current’ with the new fiscal year and the October bulletin. Other categories saw small but, steady movement forward.

USCIS to begin returning rejected H-1b lottery cases

The USCIS has announced that it has completed the data entry of all H-1b cap lottery cases and that rejected cases will begin to be returned next week. Receipts are expected to continue to trickle in over the next week. The USCIS did not provide an estimate for when all receipts or rejected cases would be sent out but, we expect it to be another 4- 6 weeks.

H-1b Reform What’s next ? Anything ?

As the H-1b industry has absorbed the impact of the Executive Orders issued over the past month, questions arise as to what is next ? As most experts agree, EO’s have limited impact on the H-1b outside of a chilling effect on employers and workers alike, and though this should not be diminished as insignificant, big changes that may last for decades can only come through legislative change. A nice summary of where we stand at present and what might be coming was published in Computerworld last week. Check it out here.

Calculating Your EB Experience Time

On April 17, 2017 an immigration policy memorandum was issued by the Service adopting “Matter of O-A- Inc.,” a copy of the memo can be found here, as a guidepost for USCIS decisions going forward. This case was focused on whether, at the time a provisional certificate is issued, a beneficiary has completed all substantive requirements to earn the degree and the university or college has approved the degree.

In this case, the beneficiary’s provisional certificate was issued May 17, 2006, but she did not receive her formal diploma until March 30, 2007, according to the decision. The priority date was Oct. 23, 2014. The director concluded that the beneficiary fell short of the five-year requirement because she accrued four years and eight months of qualifying experience between the diploma date and the priority date, but the agency said that, based on the evidence in the record, the issuance of the provisional certificate conferred the foreign equivalent of a U.S. bachelor’s degree. And the agency found that she had obtained at least five years of qualifying post-baccalaureate experience.

It was determined that the provisional certificate, together with the beneficiary’s statement of marks, showed that she had completed all the substantive requirements for her degree and that the university approved her degree. As such, the agency determined that the petitioner had shown that the beneficiary met the minimum education and experience requirements of the labor certification and EB-2 classification and sustained the appeal.

Going forward, the Service has been directed to conduct case-specific analysis to determine whether a beneficiary who received a provisional certificate had completed all requirements to earn the degree and that the school had approved the degree at the time the certificate was issued. This is good news for those beneficiary who get their provisional certificates much earlier than their diplomas.

Attacks on Trump’s EO

The attacks on Trump’s new EO are growing in number as people review what the EO is trying to achieve. An article in The Federalist is worth reading. Another article at SHRM.org discusses the limitations that the President has in making meaningful changes to the H-1b program without legislative action.