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Recent H-2B Program Changes Require Careful Planning by Employers

The H-2B program provides visas for temporary, non-agricultural positions to foreign nationals in the United States. Traditionally, employers have used the H-2B program to fill positions whose temporariness can be demonstrated either because the employer has an “intermittent,” “seasonal,” “one-time occurrence,” or “peakload” need. Many industries with temporary needs, including construction, gardening, coaching, and tourism are heavily dependent upon H-2B workers.

Business Immigration Zone (BIZ): Supreme Court's Gay Marriage Ruling Gives Same-Sex Couples Access to Spousal Visas

The Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of same-sex marriage will make it easier for same-sex couples to obtain immigration benefits through marriage. The ruling may also encourage more LGBT executives and entrepreneurs to come to the United States, now that their ability to obtain marital immigration benefits is less expensive. In an historic 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court recently ruled that the 14th Amendment requires states to issue licenses to same-sex couples that want to marry. Indeed, Justice Anthony Kennedy opined that same-sex couples now exercise “the fundamental right to marry.”

U.S. Department of State Announces Two-Thirds of its Consular Posts are Online and Processing Visas

Executive Summary: On June 23, 2015, the U.S. Department of State (DOS) updated its alert regarding the technical problems that resulted in world-wide delays in visa processing, announcing that 39 consular posts, representing more than two-thirds of the agency's normal capacity, are now online and issuing visas. DOS also stated that it expects the system to be fully reconnected this week and will work over the weekend to clear the backlog of visas. DOS is currently rescheduling more than 1,500 visa applicants who were unable to be interviewed last week because of the systems problems.

Department of State Visa Issuance Update: 39 Consular Posts Are Online and Operational

The U.S. Department of State (DOS) continues to experience worldwide technical problems with issuing visas, the result of an apparent hardware failure. On June 23, 2015, the DOS announced that the visa issuance problems had been resolved at 39 consular posts, listed below. However, delays will continue with the scheduling of appointments and visa issuance as the backlogs are addressed.

Department of State Visa Issuance Problems Resolved in 22 Posts but Delays Continue

The U.S. Department of State (DOS) continues to experience worldwide technical problems with issuing visas, the result of an apparent hardware failure. On June 22, 2015, the DOS announced that the visa issuance problems have been resolved in 22 consular posts. However, delays continue with both scheduling appointments and visa issuance. More information is available on the Bureau of Consular Affairs website.

Update to Department of State Visa Shutdown

The U.S. Department of State (DOS) has provided an update on its ongoing technical problems with issuing visas. According to the update, the visa shutdown appears to be the result of a hardware failure. The DOS has over 100 computer experts (both public and private sector) working to identify the issues and restore functionality. The DOS is hopeful that the system will be back online by next week.

U.S. Department of State Experiences another World-Wide Delay in Visa Processing

Executive Summary: On June 15, 2015, the U.S. Department of State (DOS) announced that it is experiencing technical problems with its visa system, which have resulted in delays in printing visas and may require rescheduling some visa interviews.

Resource Update: USCIS Issues Flawed Guidance on Filing Amended H-1B Petitions Post Matter of Simeio

Executive Summary: USCIS recently published Guidance purporting to rely on Matter of Simeio Solutions, addressing when employers must file an amended H-1B petition on behalf of H-1B workers who are transferred to a new work location not listed in the original approved petition. Although the Guidance contains numerous legal flaws, it states that the agency will not take adverse action against employers or employees for failure to file an amended petition, if the employer files a required petition prior to August 19, 2015. However, to be entitled to this reprieve, the employer must also establish that it relied in good faith on non-binding agency correspondence in not filing to amend before relocating the H-1B worker.

USCIS Adds Foreign Language Resources for Employers

The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has released versions of current forms and the E-Verify poster in three additional foreign languages: Urdu, Punjabi and Somali. Employers with employees who are not proficient in English now have additional resources available in order to better inform employees of employment verification processes.

Jackson Lewis Employers’ Immigration Update

USCIS received approximately 233,000 petitions for fiscal year 2016 beginning in October 2015. Last year, USCIS received 172,500 petitions, meaning there was an increase of over 35% from last year. USCIS randomly selected petitions to meet the general category cap of 65,000 and the advance degree exemption cap of 20,000. Based on this year’s numbers, it appears that barely more than one in three petitions was selected.