The Department of State has released the December visa bulletin and EB2 India and PRC dates have surged ahead to March 15, 2008. This is a movement of over 4 months from the November bulletin and an almost 2 year improvement over the December 2010 bulletin. In spite of dire warnings from the DOS that a slowdown of movement and even possible retrogression is in store for the EB2 category, at least for now, there are smiles all around.
In spite of all the rhetoric coming from the White House on increasing entrepreneurial opportunities in the U.S. for immigrants that create jobs for U.S. workers, the opposite is the reality, as this case reported by ABC News illustrates. One must wonder, who is in charge of U.S. immigration policy ? President Obama certainly isn’t ! Right now, the hard line restrictionists led by the esteemed Senator Grassley and his cohort, Senator Durbin would be proud of the closed door policy and culture of NO that this administration has achieved.
This week, Mike Hammond will be attending the TechServe Alliance Annual conference in Az. He will be a speaker on a panel entitled, “At Your Own Peril: A Panel Discussion on the Key Legal Issues Confronting the IT Staffing & Services Industry” moderated by the CEO of TechServe, Mark Roberts. If you are going to be in attendance, please attend this session.
The USCIS has announced that the 20,000 quota allocated to graduates of US Master’s or higher degree programs for H-1b visas has been reached as of 10-21-2011. There are also less than 20,000 left in the regular quota and there has been a recent marked increase in the number of new filings. If the current pace continues, the cap will be reached in Dec, several months ahead of projections from only 30-45 days ago.
Once again, the USCIS is publicly pretending to be the friend of entrepreneurs, investors and specially skilled foreign workers while the culture of NO remains deeply ingrained at the Service Centers and at the US Consulates. In announcing the “Entrepreneurs in Residence” program, Director Mayorkas, has once again put forth the right message. Unfortunately, his own agency is not on the same page, honestly, they are not even in the same library. It is time for the Director to stop creating new initiatives and clean-up his own house.
As reported a few weeks ago in Federal Computer Week, the Social Security Administration (SSA) released a study that drew the conclusion that a significant percentage of H-1b holders did not fulfill the purpose of the H-1b. The SSA specifically pointed to persons who received wages from an employer, other than the H-1b sponsor and another group of H-1b workers who received no wages at all. The findings are interesting however, the conclusions are at best dubious without more information. Of those H-1b holders who did not earn wages, how many remained in the U.S. ? During the period of time studied, the U.S. economy was in the middle of a fairly large recession and many H-1b workers returned overseas to work for the overseas offices of their international employers. Many others were simply laid off and returned home with the hope that when the economy improved, they could return to the US on their valid H-1b visas and resume employment. In addition, it is a common practice among larger employers to file for H-1b workers that may be needed on a US based project on a sporadic basis but, due to factors such as the H-1b quota, a draconian interpretation of the L-1 visa, and the complete bastardization of the B visa, the H-1b is the only vehicle available to insure that a key employee can be brought to the U.S. when needed. Were any of these factors considered by the SSA ? As for H-1b workers who received wages from an employer not approved by the USCIS, I can think of numerous scenarios under which an H-1b holder may work for an employer not approved by the USCIS. How about persons who are using the portability rules and transfer to a new employer while the I-129 petition is pending ? Or a person who changes employers while using an EAD after their I-485 has been pending for more than 180 days, commonly referred to as an AC21 transfer ? Or how about the common scenario of a corporate merger, acquisition, name change, or re-ogranization where no new I-129 is required but, only an update of the LCA files ? Or how about the scenario when an employer starts using a payroll processing company or other BPO which results in pay stubs and W-2′s being issue under another name than that of the employer ? (This one always seems to stump the USCIS so don’t feel so bad SSA, you are in good company.) Maybe all of theses scenarios were considered but, based upon the past history of other reports on the H-1b program, I doubt it.
This week, the DOS released the November Visa Bulletin and the dates jumped once again for EB2 India and Chinese nationals but, remained painstakingly slow for all others. The National Foundation for American Policy recently released a study in which it calculated that the wait in the EB3 category had reached 70 years for Indian and Chinese nationals. Yes, that says 70 !
Many IT Consulting cos. allow workers to telecommute and work form home instead of going into the office or a client facility each day. Unfortunately for H-1b workers, this practice poses a significant risk. Recently, several US Consulates in India have denied H-1b visas for H-1b workers who indicated that they were being permitted to perform part of their work remotely from home. It was reported that one Consular official commented, “if you can work from home, you may as well stay here in India and work” Although there is no legal basis or authority for a visa refusal on these grounds, the concept of legal basis or authority is often unrecognized at US Consulates particularly in India and Manila.
You have the perfect L-1b case. Your employee has worked for your Indian office for over 100 years; he invented the proprietary tool that your company now uses all over the world; he is coming into the US to your wholly owned subsidiary to train US workers on how to use this proprietary tool so they can add US jobs in a blue state; and, he will not even look in the direction of any 3rd party worksite. Your company just got the USCIS to approve a blanket L petition for you. He is well prepped for the visa interview. You are so confident, you have even started to fix some namkeen snacks for his arrival ! DENIED ! DENIED ! DENIED ! This unfortunately, is standard operating procedure for the US Consulates in India considering L-1b blanket visa petitions and the USCIS adjudicators reviewing L-1b individual petitions. In spite of public statements from USCIS Director Mayorkas and claims by President Obama about welcoming arms for immigrant innovators and entrepreneurs, the ugly truth is that Indian innovators and entrepreneurs are about as welcome in the US right now as Al Gore would be at a Coal Mining convention. It is time for the speeches to end. Indian innovators and entrepreneurs deserve better. At some point along the spectrum of adjudicators and bureaucrats, someone needs to stand up and say, “hey guys, just for today, let’s do something crazy and unusual and follow the law !” For more on this subject, check out this great post by renowned immigration attorney Angelo Paparelli.