H-1B Season is Here

 

January 26, 2017

 

Dear Clients and Friends:

 

Please be advised that now is the time to prepare necessary H-1B petitions. The H-1B is one of the most common work visas for professionals in the United States. It is used for engineers, scientists, physicians, accountants, architects and many others.

 

Unfortunately, each year we are faced with a shortage of H-1B visas. The US Citizenship and Immigration Services can approve no more than 65,000 H-1B’s, with an additional allotment of 20,000 to those with Master’s Degrees from US universities. Please note that there are exceptions to these quotas, but they are very limited.

 

All H-1B petitions subject to the quotas should be filed on April 1, 2017. It is expected that the entire year’s H-1B quota will be reached within the first week of filing.

 

Prior to filing an H-1B petition, there are several preliminary steps which must be made, including ascertaining a prevailing wage, filing a Labor Condition Application with the US Department of Labor, and preparing numerous immigration forms. The employee may also need documents translated, or foreign degrees evaluated.

 

In order to accommodate these preliminary steps, we strongly recommend that companies begin contacting our office at the earliest possible date as soon as you have a candidate that may need an H-1B. We can begin these petitions now.

 

The professionals at Law Office of Adrienne J. Vaughan would be happy to speak to you about any potential employees you may be considering an H-1B visa. We have more than 15 years of experience in processing a large number of H-1B petitions of all types in all industries. With limited H-1B availability predicted again this year, it is critical that submissions be made as thoroughly and professionally as possible. Don’t risk a rejection during this critical window of H-1B opportunity. Our firm would be happy to guide you through the process. We invite you to email Adrienne directly at adriennejv@ajvimmigrationlaw.com or call to 617-840-8515.

 

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Reminder to Employers on Form I-9

Beginning Jan. 22, 2017, employers must use the 11/14/2016 N version of Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, to verify the identity and work eligibility of every new employee hired after Nov. 6,  1986, or for the re-verification of expiring employment authorization of current employees (if applicable).

The date on the form is found on the lower left hand corner of the form. Prior versions of the form will no longer be valid for use. Employers who fail to use Form I-9 11/14/2016 N on or after Jan. 22, 2017 may be subject to  all applicable penalties under section 274A of the Immigration and Nationality Act, 8 U.S.C. 1324a, as  enforced by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Employers should continue to follow existing storage and retention rules for each previously completed  Form I-9.

USCIS has a good resource called “I-9 Central” at USCIS.GOV  for more information.

New Head of DHS (and USCIS)

Last Friday, January 20, 2017, John F. Kelly was sworn in as the new Secretary of Homeland Security.  The Department of Homeland Security is the third largest federal department in the US that includes FEMA, TSA, The Coast Guard, Customs and Border Protection (CBP),  Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) , and the US Immigration (USCIS).

Prior to this post, Secretary Kelly served in the US Marine Corps for 45 years.

 

Happy New Year!

With the start of 2017, I want to officially wish all my readers a very happy New Year.  The new year is always a time for reflection and resolutions. And January, with its grey skies and cold weather always present particular challenges for everyone to stay healthy and optimistic for the coming year.  These last few months  we have seen a tumultuous election cycle which has shown great fissures in our politics. As I watched the inauguration last Friday, the worldwide protests on Saturday and the ensuing debates, I have, like many of my fellow Americans, felt every emotion possible in quick succession.  It’s been a whirlwind of change in our country.

As an immigration attorney, and hence advocate for my clients, I have watched the last political cycle with particular attention. And, as always, I monitor and  analyze to ensure that my clients have the best information on timely events to make the best decisions.  My new year’s resolution this 2017 is that I will also endeavor to better communicate this via my blog and twitter. I predict that 2017 will be a year of great changes, and thus I look forward to once again being active on these channels. Don’t hesitate to let me know if you have any questions or comments.

 

Visa Bulletin Changes

USCIS made big changes to the way they published the visa bulletin for October. This was big news. But the bigger news was that shortly after publishing the October visa bulletin, it was revised/reissued, effectively rolling back the dates of eligibility. It’s gotten so heated that a class action lawsuit has been filed. So let’s look at the facts that have lead us to this point.

As many of you may know, immigrant “green card” visa availability is backlogged for many family and employment-based categories, among others. As a result, the State Department publishes each month something called “the Visa Bulletin” which determines who may file the final application for their green card in the coming month. October is often the most anxiously awaited visa bulletin as that is the first month in the fiscal year and often contains important projections for the year ahead. As is common, the Visa Bulletin is published 2 or so weeks before it goes into effect.

On September 9 2015 the October visa bulletin was released with great fanfare. For the first time ever it added a new category which reflected the date on which an application could be filed, and this date was in many cases far in advance of the date on which the case could be adjudicated based on priority date. The result of this earlier filing date is that those applicants within this window could file and obtain interim benefits, including a work and travel permit as well as greater job mobility while their green card was pending.

This initiative is part of the President’s visa modernization efforts and was intended to not only benefit foreign nationals caught in lengthy immigration backlogs, but to allow the State Department to better predict future backlogs. Unfortunately, the great benefit it can have has been marred and greatly overshadowed by the fact that the October Visa Bulletin was thereafter “updated” on September 25 through the release of new Bulletin which rolled-back some of those filing dates.

The roll back has been attributed to further discussions and recalculations made by the government agencies involved trying to avert further problems in the future. It has been hard news on those whose priority dates are no longer current, especially considering that some percentage of them may have made significant efforts to prepare a case in anticipation of filing and obtaining interim benefits on October 1. As a result, the national immigration lawyers association of which I am a member, American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) has tried to have the earlier Visa Bulletin reinstated and some individual AILA members have also filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of those impacted.

The ramifications of the Revised Visa bulletin are upsetting. The would-be applicants and their lawyers acted in what many feel is justifiable reliance on the earlier visa bulletin only now to be thwarted. However, it is important to remember that this entire new two-date visa bulletin remains a significant benefit to many, not just in October, but in the future. It will provide greater job mobility and more interim benefits like work and travel permits earlier than they would have otherwise been available. Thus, in the big picture, it is still a win. We just need to get past this first hurdle to see it clearly. Check out the new visa bulletin structure, the October release/re-release, and more at
http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/law-and-policy/bulletin/2016/visa-bulletin-for-october-2015.html
Stay tuned.

Temporary Funding Secured for Important Immigration Programs

Three important immigration programs that were set to “sunset” or end on September 30, 2015, were part of the Continuing Appropriations Act that President Obama signed on 9/30/2015. These programs, including the Conrad 30 program for foreign physicians, Religious Worker programs, and the EB-5 investor program, have been extended and funded through December 11, 2015.

Diversity Visa (DV 2017) Now Open

Between October 1, 2015 and November 3, 2015 the US Department of State will accept electronic submissions for the DV-2017. Applicants must be from countries with historically low rates of immigration to the U.S. Those who are randomly selected may be eligible for one of 50,000 diversity visa green cards. There is no cost for the program, but requirements are rigid and it is critical to fill in your application accurately. See who is eligible and details on the application at http://www.dvlottery.state.gov.