December Visa Bulletin

Recently the Department of State (DOS) released the December Visa Bulletin and it brought no holiday gifts. All of the dates in the “Dates for Filing” chart remained unchanged whereas dates in the “Final Action Dates” chart stayed the same or barely crept forward. For example, of the 4 categories for Indian nationals, the India EB2 category is the only one that moved forward and it moved forward by a whopping 2 days ūüôĀ On the good news front, the USCIS has announced that it will accept I-485 filings in Dec using the “Dates for Filing” chart consequently, we are recommending that all persons eligible to file I-485’s in December, do so.

In a sign of dark clouds looming on the horizon, the DOS predicted that retrogression in the “All other countries” categories for EB2 and EB3 is imminent and cut-off dates could occur as soon as January. Typically, this does not occur until near the end of the fiscal year i.e. Aug or Sept. Retrogression remains a major problem for legal immigrants and only a legislative solution can solve the issue. With the current political climate, no relief is expected.

By |December 2nd, 2019|Green Cards|0 Comments|

Proposed Fee Increases…‚Ķ‚Ķ. Plus More

In a recent proposed rule, the USCIS has proposed changes to filing fees for most immigration benefits. Some filings would actually go down eg. the I-140 would go from $700.00 to $545.00 and the biometric charges would be reduced from $85.00 to $30.00 however, most filing fees would increase. For example, the H-1b visa petition fee would increase from $460.00 to $560.00 and an L-1 petition would go from $460.00 to $815.00. Other significant changes proposed include the lengthening of the time the USCIS has to process a premium processing case from 15 calendar days to 15 business days. Also, in an effort that targets certain dependent employers, those with more than 50 employees who have more than 50% of their workforce made up on H-1b and/or L-1 workers, would be required to pay an additional $4,000(H-1) or $4500(L-1) fee, respectively, for extensions. At present, the additional fee is only imposed on new petitions. Given the current practice of the USCIS to illegally shorten approval notices for staffing/consulting cos. this would be a rather severe result. Comments on the proposed rule are due on Dec 16, 2019.

Premium Filing Fee to Increase

In a move designed to offset the tremendous amount of paper costs associated with issuing 1200 page RFE’s on H-1b cases, the USCIS has announced that they will be raising the premium processing fees on I-129 and I-140 petitions to $1440.00 effective Dec 2nd. With this increased fee, they promise to continue to overlook the evidence presented, bastardize the regulations, ignore decisions from Federal Courts and the AAO; business as usual !

H-1b Abuse ?

Possible H-1b abuse by Uber ? Check out this report in the Mercury News. The report that they are filing for senior level software engineer positions at a level 2 OES wage appears to be a direct contravention of well-established DOL rules. Hopefully, after this practice has been brought to light, the company will take corrective action or if not, the DOL will investigate. For the legal immigration system to work well and not open itself up to extreme restrictions, U.S. employers must play by the rules.

H-1b Fraud

Yes, H-1b fraud is real; less prevalent than the White House would have you believe but, more prevalent than many in the industry want to admit. As a recent CEO discovered, fraudulent acts can lead you to prison. Check out the story of this CEO who was recently sentenced to 7 years behind bars.

IT Talent Shortage

During a time of tremendous IT talent shortage, one has to wonder what is motivating the White House and the USCIS to curb the immigration of legal H-1b workers. The Wall Street Journal recently discussed the severity of the shortage.  

USCIS Delivers ! and Then is Stopped :)

The USCIS has released the new forms that seek information to comply with the new public charge rule.¬† Refer to¬†Part 6 of the I-129 form here.¬† The new forms must be used for all filings as of Oct 15, 2019. It’s amazing how quickly¬†the USCIS¬†delivered with the threat of another Federal¬†Judge¬†chiding¬†them and telling¬†them to “get your act together”¬†!

Update as of 10-11-2019, multiple Federal Courts have blocked the implementation of the Public Charge rule and the enw forms.

Deadline for New Forms Looms !

The Public Charge rule goes into effect on Oct 15, 2019 and most in the business immigration arena expected to feel little to no effect however, the USCIS has yet to publish the new forms to be used and as a result, cases that use the I-129 (H,L,O, etc); I-539 (dependents); and, the I-485 (permanent residency) can not be filed after Fri Oct 11th (Mon. Oct 14th is a Federal Holiday) . The USCIS web-site has posted the following “On Aug. 14, 2019, DHS published a final rule on the public charge ground of inadmissibility (see section 212(a)(4) of the Immigration and Nationality Act). The final rule becomes effective Oct. 15, 2019. What to Know About Sending Us Your Form The current edition of the form, dated 1/31/2019 ‚ÄĘWe will accept the current edition of this form if it is postmarked on or before Oct. 14. ‚ÄĘWe will not accept it if it is postmarked on or after Oct. 15. The updated edition of the form On or after Oct. 15, we will accept only an updated edition that will be linked to this page. “

Yesterday, the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) filed a federal lawsuit seeking to enjoin the USCIS from refusing to accept the current forms until they have released the new forms. More updates to follow.  

ITServe Synergy 2019

HLG attorneys, Matt Minor and Anthony Zarate will be attending the ITServe Synergy 2019 conference in Chicago on Oct 17th and 18th. Stop by and see them if you are attending. HLG partner, Mike Hammond will be a panelist discussing H-1b RFE’s as part of the Friday educational sessions.

USCIS Admits Orders from the WH to Deny H-1b Visas

In an admission that surprises no one, documents which the USCIS was forced to release under FOIA litigation confirms that the USCIS was ordered by the Trump Administration to increase the denials of H-1b visas  and were advised that no legal or regulatory authority was needed to support the denials. The full story is published in Forbes with links to the incriminating documents. These documents are expected to be at the front and center of all federal litigation brought by U.S. employers seeking to overturn arbitrary and capricious denials. It is also expected that charges of bad faith will be brought.