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White House Plans to Allow Work Authorizations for Spouses of H-1B Visa Holders, as Well as to Enhance Opportunities for Outstanding Professors and Researchers

In a press release dated April 7, 2014, the White House announced that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will soon publish proposed rules, as part of the “Attracting the World’s Best and Brightest” initiative, to allow spouses of certain H-1B visa holders to be eligible for employment authorization to work in the U.S. This effort will be part of a series of steps to strengthen entrepreneurship in the United States and abroad, as well as attract high-skilled immigrants to the United States.

USCIS Receives Around 172,500 H-1B Petitions, Completes Selection Lottery

On April 7, 2014, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) stated that it had received sufficient H-1B cap-subject petitions to reach the annual 65,000 “regular cap” limit for fiscal year (FY) 2015. USCIS also received more than 20,000 H-1B petitions filed on behalf of foreign nationals who possess U.S. advanced degrees.

Tough ICE Deportation, I-9 Worksite Enforcement Efforts Continue to Affect Employers

As employers know, failing to comply with I-9 requirements can lead to fines, the loss of federal funding, even criminal sanctions against employers and, as we discussed at this year’s Employment Law Conference, their individual supervisors, HR staff, and executives. The takeaway point is that you must be proactive about I-9 compliance and consider working with us to conduct an internal audit now before ICE knocks on your door. As we discuss below, an internal I-9 audit and I-9 training for your key employees does not need to be difficult or time consuming.

H-1B Cap Reached for FY 2015 – Alternative Visa Options for Employers

On April 7, 2014, USCIS announced the H-1B cap for fiscal year 2015 (October 1, 2014-September 30, 2015) had been reached as it received more applications than the number of available H-1B visas. The cap on the number of H-1B visas available each fiscal year is 65,000. It will now conduct a random selection process of the H-1B applications received to determine which applications will be “assigned” an H-1B cap number and adjudicated.

H-1B Cap Reached for Fiscal Year 2015

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on Monday, April 7, 2014 that it received a sufficient number of H-1B petitions to reach the statutory cap for fiscal year 2015 during the first week of the filing period, which ran from April 1, 2014 to April 7, 2014. USCIS also confirmed that it received more than the limit of 20,000 H-1B petitions under the advanced degree exemption. As the H-1B cap is now officially oversubscribed, USCIS will no longer accept H-1B cap petitions for fiscal year 2015.

FY 2015 H-1B Cap Reached, Selection Lottery to be Conducted

On April 7, 2014, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it had received sufficient H-1B cap-subject petitions to reach the annual 65,000 “regular cap” limit for fiscal year (FY) 2015. USCIS also received more than 20,000 H-1B petitions filed on behalf of foreign nationals who possess U.S. advanced degrees. The agency has not yet announced the total number of H-1B cap-subject petitions received during the filing period, though it is expected to be greater than the volume (approximately 124,000 cases) received last year. USCIS will reject H-1B cap-subject petitions received after April 7, 2014.

Employers Should Anticipate Tougher Worksite Enforcement Efforts in the Near Future

In a recent report entitled “U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Worksite Enforcement Administrative Inspection Process,” Acting Assistant Inspector General for Audits Mark Bell discussed the results of an audit of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (“ICE”) worksite enforcement processes. The purpose for the audit was to determine whether ICE was meeting directives set out in the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act. The report concluded that ICE has been inconsistent in its enforcement policies and made recommendations to improve ICE’s implementation of its worksite strategy and uniformly strengthen its fine and audit procedures.

Immigration eAuthority (March 27, 2014)

Is 2014 the Year for Immigration Reform?

Let the H-1B Games Begin: May the Odds Be Ever in Your Favor

Katniss Everdeen’s bow and arrow will not help employers on April 1st, 2014 when the competition for H-1B work visas begins. On April 1, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) begins accepting H-1B petitions for foreign workers in professional or specialty occupation jobs to fill the 65,000 available slots for applicants who hold a bachelor’s degree or the equivalent and the 20,000 available slots for applicants who hold a U.S. master’s degree or higher.

E-Verify Enhancement Provides Email Notification to Employees

United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) has launched a new customer service enhancement to E-Verify, the Internet-based employment eligibility verification program that compares information on an employee’s Form I-9 with data in Social Security Administration (SSA) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) records. With this enhancement, the E-Verify system will continue to issue a Tentative Nonconfirmation (TNC) if there is a record mismatch that needs to be resolved before the employee can be confirmed as work authorized, but will now also notify the employee electronically.