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FY 2016 H-1B Cap Petition Not Selected: What Are the Options?

Most “new” H-1B petitions must be counted against an annual H-1B cap. This limit, or “cap,” administered by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), is currently set at 65,000 plus an additional 20,000 reserved for those who hold an advanced degree from a U.S. college or university. Those petitions selected under the cap will have an October 1st start date in H-1B nonimmigrant status.

Appeals Court Rebuffs Obama's Request to Lift Immigration Executive Order Injunction

A divided 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has refused to lift a temporary hold on President Obama's executive order that would have allowed up to five million undocumented workers to remain in the US if they met certain conditions. A federal district court judge had blocked the order from taking effect in February.

OSC "Pattern and Practice" Investigations to Continue

Over the past few years, the number of employer investigations—and perhaps more noteworthy, the amount of the penalties assessed—by the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC) has steadily increased. All indications suggest that this trend will continue for the foreseeable future.

AAO Guidance Clarifies That Worker Mobility May Come at a Cost

In a move likely to elicit equal parts appreciation and exasperation among the employer community, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued guidance on the need to file an amended H-1B petition when there is a change in worksite locations.

USCIS Guidance Clarifies Employer Obligations to Amend H-1B Visa Petitions, Sets Compliance Deadline

On May 21, 2015, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued guidance on an employer's obligation to amend an H-1B visa petition to report a change in the employee's worksite location. This guidance is in response to the Administrative Appeals Office's recent decision in Matter of Simeio Solutions, LLC, in which it determined that an employer must file an amended H-1B petition when a new Labor Condition Application for a Nonimmigrant Worker (LCA) is required due to a change in the H-1B employee's location of employment.

New USCIS Guidance Has Significant Consequences for H-1B Employers

On April 9, 2015, the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a precedential decision (Matter of Simeio Solutions, 26 I&N Dec. 542) that significantly impacts U.S. employers employing H-1B workers with frequent worksite changes. The AAO provided clarification on when an “amended” H-1B petition must be filed in a decision that will significantly impact the compliance burden for many H-1B employers.

USCIS to Halt Premium Processing Service for H-1B Extensions

On May 19, 2015, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced it will temporarily halt acceptance of premium processing requests for all H-1B Extension of Stay petitions from May 26, 2015 through July 27, 2015.

USCIS Publishes Long-Awaited Filing Guidance for H-4 EAD Applications

On May 20, 2015, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published long-awaited information to help eligible H-4 dependent spouses apply for employment authorization documents (commonly known as “EAD cards”) under the Employment Authorization for Certain H-4 Dependent Spouses final rule. Under this rule, which goes into effect on May 26, 2015, an H-4 dependent spouse is eligible to apply for an EAD card if the principal H-1B status holder is the beneficiary of an approved I-140 petition or has already been granted H-1B status under the American Competitiveness in the 21st Century Act of 2000 (AC21) Sections 106(a) and (b). AC21 permits extensions of H-1B status beyond the usual six-year maximum period when the H-1B holder is the beneficiary of an approved I-140 employment-based immigrant petition or 365 days or more have passed since the filing of an I-140 immigrant visa petition or PERM (ETA Form 9089) labor certification application on behalf of that beneficiary.

Changes to Insurance Requirements for J-1 Visa Exchange Programs

In October of 2014, the U.S. Department of State revised Subpart A of the exchange visitor regulations. Changes to the reporting and English language proficiency requirements for exchange programs went into effect on January 5, 2015. Another major change that will take effect on May 15, 2015, involves increases to the required health insurance levels for all exchange visitors coming in on J-1 or J-2 visas. For programs beginning on or after May 15, the following insurance levels will be required

Temporary Suspension of USCIS 'Premium Processing' for H-1B Extensions

On May 19, 2015, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced a temporary suspension of its “premium processing” program as it relates to H-1B extensions in the United States. The suspension will be in effect from May 26, 2015, until July 27, 2015. Premium processing is an optional USCIS program whereby, for an additional government fee of $1,225, the USCIS will adjudicate petitions in 15 calendar days instead of the usual time period of several months. USCIS indicates that this measure will allow it to focus on implementation of the H-4 EAD final rule, which goes into effect on May 26, 2015.