12 May 2016
Category News Room
12 May 2016,
 0

H-1B Lottery Update

On May 2, 2016, USCIS announced that it had completed data entry for this year’s H-1B lottery.  Following completion of the data entry, USCIS issued receipt notices for those petitions that were selected in the lottery and mailed them to the employer and attorney of record.    We have notified all individuals for whom we have received receipt notices.  We have also been monitoring our bank account to determine whether any other checks associated with the H-1B lottery filings have been cashed and have not seen any checks clear for several days.

At this point, we anticipate we have been notified about all petitions that were selected, meaning that H-1B candidates who have not received receipt notices for their cases were likely not selected in this year’s lottery.  We will be able to confirm this is the case once USCIS returns the petition package to our office, which will likely occur sometime in June 2016.

For those candidates who were not selected in the H-1B lottery, we will be reaching out to discuss available contingency plans.  For those candidates who were selected in the H-1B lottery, we anticipate seeing approval notices between now and the end of September 2016, with processing times varying widely.  For those candidates who were selected in the H-1B lottery and filed with a premium processing request, we anticipate seeing an approval on or before May 26, 2016 given that USCIS began processing those cases today.

Important Reminder: Book your visa appointment early; consulates inundated during summer months.

During the summer months, consulates across the world become inundated with visa applications.  We anticipate consulates will be especially busy this year due to the changes in the Visa Waiver Program requiring certain Visa Waiver travelers to obtain a B visa, and it will likely be worse for consulates across Europe.  To ensure you are able to get a visa appointment during the timeframe you require, we recommend booking your appointment early.  In addition, you should expect the consulate will take 10-14 business days to return your passport following your interview and should plan your travel accordingly.

USCIS owns up to significant delays in processing times.

On April 28, 2016, USCIS publically addressed concerns regarding the serious delay in adjudicating applications. Citing a shortage of personnel and a high caseload, USCIS has asked applicants to continue to be patient. USCIS recently opened a service center in Potomac, Maryland where any new (and some transferred) I-765 applications submitted by F-1 and M-1 students seeking OPT will be adjudicated, and USCIS has been transferring I-129 applications between service centers in an effort to balance workload. However, USCIS does not anticipate an immediate improvement and has implemented a rule requiring applicants to wait until a case has been pending more than 210 days to make any inquiry, even if the “current processing times” suggests a case is outside the processing timeframe.

We recognize this is frustrating, especially when a prior extension only took three months or a colleague received his/her green card eight months after filing and you are still waiting nearly a year later. We are limited to placing service requests, which has now been restricted per the above, and pushing the best we can through available channels. Given that it does not appear processing times will improve any time soon, we want to have cases in a position to file when the filing window opens and we will discuss any case-specific situations as they arise.

USCIS changed rule regarding validity of medicals.

USCIS changed its policy regarding the validity of medical exams.  Medical exams now expire one year from the date the civil surgeon signs the form, instead of one year from the date the exams are received by USCIS.  With certain adjustments, particularly multinational manager applications, now taking around a year to adjudicate, the exam may expire if there is a delay in getting information needed to file. Accordingly, we are now recommending employees wait until everything else is in place for the adjustment of status (signed forms and letters back, all required documents to us, etc.) to get the medicals done to maximize their validity. There is also the option to interfile the medicals later and/or wait for a Request for Evidence. Your attorney will help advise on the best course of action for your situation.

USCIS proposes filing fee increases.

On May 4, 2016, USCIS published its proposed fee schedule increase for immigrant and nonimmigrant petitions and applications and will be accepting public comments until July 5, 2016. USCIS last adjusted its fees in November 2010. The proposed rule along with a complete list of the proposed fee schedule is available here. Following the comment period, USCIS will publish a final rule in the Federal Register along with the effective date for the fee increases. A few of the proposed fee increases are as follows:

Fee Type Current Fee Proposed Fee
I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker $325 $460
I-130, Petition for Alien Relative $420 $535
I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker $580 $700
I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status $985 (if under the age of 14 – $635) $1,140
I-751, Petition to Remove the Conditions of Residence $505 $595
I-765, Application for Employment Authorization $380 $410
N-400, Application for Naturalization $595 $640
Biometrics Fee $85 $85

June 2016 Visa Bulletin has been published.

On May 6, 2016, the Department of State released the June 2016 Visa Bulletin. The most noticeable change is the retrogression of the final action dates for EB-2 and EB-3 China, which have rolled back around three years, and EB-2 India, which has rolled back around four years.  While EB-2 India is expected to advance slowly during the last three months of the fiscal year, EB-2 and EB-3 China is not expected to advance prior to the end of the fiscal year.  USCIS has not yet announced whether it will follow the first or second chart; however, we anticipate USCIS will continue its trend and accept cases based on the first chart only.

 

** This newsletter/memo is provided for informational and discussion purposes only.  It does not act as a substitute for direct legal contact on an individual basis **

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