Important Announcements


FYI 2018 H-1B Cap Season Begins April 3, 2017

The H-1B employment visa is limited to 65,000 new visa applications per year, called the H-1B Cap. The soonest an employer may file an H-1B petition is April 3, for an October 1, start date. We begin the H-1B petition preparation process in January for the coming April 1 filing. Last year the H-1B cap was reached on April 1.

As each H-1B Cap is reached (65,000 Bachelor's Degree Cap and 20,000 U.S. Master's Degree Cap) there is a lottery for the remaining petitions. Approximately, 33% of employers had their H-1B petitions returned. There is no way of knowing how many petitions will be filed this H-1B Cap Season, however, we anticipate that even more petitions may be filed this year than last year.

We ask companies to evaluate their H-1B needs and notify us as soon as possible. Please, do not wait to the last minute. The H-1B petition has specific requirements that must be met and often additional documentation must be obtained. In order to file an H-1B petition a specific professional employee is identified for a specialty occupation. The H-1B petitions cannot be filed, with a name to be entered at a later date.

The H-1B positions offered to foreign national employees require attestations regarding, job duties, worksite, wage, technologies, source code, and technical data made available to the employee. Start-ups, small businesses, and consulting companies require additional documentation above the standard H-1B petition. Let us guide you to ensure your petition will be successful!

We expect the H-1B Bachelor's and U.S. Master's Cap to be reached within the first 5 business days of April. We advise you to act as if April 1st is the "must file" date and start early. We need at least five working days in order to prepare and obtain a certified Labor Condition Application (LCA) from the Department of Labor (DOL) before we can file the H-1B petition. Towards April 1st the DOL gets extremely busy and the timeframe for an approved LCA has been longer.

Our goal is to give you the best service possible. Look at employees who are on F-1 (student practical trainees) who need an H-1B to continue working with you, résumés of persons who are currently going through the hiring process, and persons who were not able to make it under last year's H-1B cap and contact us now.

Should you have any questions about this, please do not hesitate to contact our office at 650-588-7100 or email Kim Salvador.


EB2 National Interest Waiver Processing Resumed

USCIS has resumed the processing of EB-2 Waiver of the Labor Certification Requirement in the National Interest (EB-2 NIW) cases affected by the Matter of Dhanasar precedent decision. EB-2 NIW case processing was temporarily on hold pending guidance and training of USCIS staff.

On December 27, 2016, the USCIS Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) announced in Matter of Dhanasar, 26 I&N Dec. 884 (AAO 2016) a new analytical framework for determining whether a foreign national pursuing employment-based permanent residence in the EB-2 category as a member of the professions holding an advanced degree or as an individual of exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business is eligible for a discretionary waiver of the job offer and labor certification requirements in the U.S. national interest - a "National Interest Waiver" (NIW). See, 8 CFR §204.5(k)(4).

Matter of Dhanasar vacates the framework set forth in Matter of New York State Department of Transportation and appears to make NIWs more easily available to foreign nationals pursuing endeavors that would benefit the United States, including entrepreneurs and the self-employed.

Under the new test, in order to be granted an NIW, an EB-2 petitioner - either the foreign national or an employer - must meet all of the following criteria, under the preponderance of evidence ("more likely than not") standard:

  1. The foreign national's proposed endeavor has both substantial merit and national importance. A wide range of fields of endeavor may qualify, including business, entrepreneurialism, science, technology, culture, health, and education.
  2. The foreign national is well-positioned to advance the proposed endeavor. To determine whether the foreign national meets this requirement, USCIS will look to his or her education, skills, knowledge and record of success in related or similar efforts, a model or plan for future activities, progress toward achieving the endeavor, and the interest of potential customers, users, investors or other relevant entities or individuals.
  3. On balance, it would be beneficial to the U.S. to waive the job offer and labor certification requirements of the EB-2 category. To meet this requirement, USCIS will consider (among other factors) whether the U.S. would benefit from the foreign national's contributions even if qualified U.S. workers are otherwise available, and whether the national interest of the foreign national's contributions is sufficiently urgent to warrant foregoing the labor certification process.

The AAO noted that the petitioner must also show that a favorable exercise of discretion is warranted. In addition, the beneficiary must qualify as a member of the professions holding an advanced degree or as an individual of exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business.

Litwin & Smith, A Law Corporation has an impeccable track record of EB-2 NIW successful filings. You might read an article we have on our website: http://www.litwinlaw.com/CM/Articles/National-Interest.asp

Please call 650 588 7100 to arrange a consultation to discuss your possibilities more fully.


President Trump suspends entry into the US of person from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen.

President Trump suspended entry into the United States, of persons of designated countries as immigrants and nonimmigrants, for 30 days from the date of this order. The President reference Division O, Title II, Section 203 of the 2016 Consolidated Appropriations Act, which lays out seven countries: Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen are designated by the Department of Homeland Security.

These persons should not plan to travel in or out of the US on any non-immigrant or immigrant visa.


DHS Secretary Kelly Affirms Recent ICE Enforcement Actions Includes persons with DUI including them as a public safety threat, criminal aliens and gang members, as well as violators of immigration laws.

Of those arrested, approximately 75 percent were criminal aliens, convicted of crimes including, but not limited to, homicide, aggravated sexual abuse, sexual assault of a minor, lewd and lascivious acts with a child, indecent liberties with a minor, drug trafficking, battery, assault, DUI and weapons charges.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) launched a series of targeted enforcement operations across the country last week. These operations targeted public safety threats, such as convicted criminal aliens and gang members, as well as individuals who have violated our nation’s immigration laws, including those who illegally re-entered the country after being removed and immigration fugitives ordered removed by federal immigration judges.

ICE officers in the Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, San Antonio and New York City areas of responsibility arrested more than 680 individuals who pose a threat to public safety, border security or the integrity of our nation’s immigration system. Of those arrested, approximately 75 percent were criminal aliens, convicted of crimes including, but not limited to, homicide, aggravated sexual abuse, sexual assault of a minor, lewd and lascivious acts with a child, indecent liberties with a minor, drug trafficking, battery, assault, DUI and weapons charges.

ICE conducts these kind of targeted enforcement operations regularly and has for many years. The focus of these enforcement operations is consistent with the routine, targeted arrests carried out by ICE’s Fugitive Operations teams on a daily basis.

President Trump has been clear in affirming the critical mission of DHS in protecting the nation and directed our Department to focus on removing illegal aliens who have violated our immigration laws, with a specific focus on those who pose a threat to public safety, have been charged with criminal offenses, have committed immigration violations or have been deported and re-entered the country illegally.


Important I-140 Update

While an employer may revoke I-140 after 180 days of approval; A new rule which takes effect January 17, 2017, states that after 180 days the employee may continue to use the I-140 approval for immigration purposes even if the employer decides to Withdraw the I-140 after that time.

Form I–140 petition validity. The final rule clarifies the circumstances under which an approved Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker (Form I–140 petition) remains valid, even after the petitioner withdraws the petition or the petitioner’s business terminates, including for purposes of status extension applications filed on behalf of the beneficiary, job portability of H–1B nonimmigrants, and job portability under section 204(j) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 8 U.S.C.1154(j)

Retention of employment-based immigrant visa petitions. To enhance job portability for certain workers with approved Form I–140 petitions in the EB–1, second preference (EB–2), and third preference (EB–3) categories, but who are unable to obtain LPR status due to immigrant visa backlogs, the final rule provides that Form I–140 petitions that have been approved for 180 days or more would no longer be subject to automatic revocation based solely on the withdrawal by the petitioner or the termination of the petitioner’s business.

Travel advisory for foreign nationals who plan to travel outside the U.S. this holiday season

This travel advisory addresses important information for foreign nationals who plan to travel outside the U.S. to make ensure reentry is as seamless as possible.

If you are unsure, or if your specific situation needs attention, please contact our office prior to departure. In order to reenter the U.S. you will need a valid Green Card, a valid nonimmigrant visa, or other another travel document such as an advance parole travel permit, in order to be able to re-enter the U.S.

Basic Documents Required for Re-Entry to the U.S.:

  • Passport valid for at least six months beyond the date of intended departure from the U.S.
  • Valid U.S. Visa (see below, if applying for a new visa while abroad)
  • Original Form I-797, Notice of Approval (for nonimmigrant petition based cases) as well as an employment verification letter and pay stubs to show continued employment
  • Valid Advance Parole for pending adjustment of status applicants (this must be approved prior to departure, unless you have a valid H-1B/H-4 or L-1/L-2 visa)
  • Valid Lawful Permanent Resident Card (Green Card) for U.S. permanent residents.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has automated Form I-94 at air and sea ports of entry. CBP no longer provides a paper form (unless traveling through a land port of entry) and an admission stamp is issued in the passport. The online I-94 (record of admission) should be printed as soon as possible after admission to the U.S. from www.cbp.gov/I94. Please send us a copy of your new I-94 each time you return from international travel so we may update your file accordingly.

Applying For a Nonimmigrant Visa at a U.S. Consular Post:

  • Nonimmigrant visa appointments at many consular posts worldwide are backlogged during the holiday season, so book as far in advance as possible.
  • Most applicants between ages 14 years and 79 years must have an in-person consular interview.
  • Beginning November 29, 2016, travelers holding Chinese (PRC) passports with 10-year B-1/B-2 visas must enroll in the Electronic Visa Update System (EVUS) in order to be admitted into the United States. Enrollment will expire after two years, or on the date the traveler’s visa or passport expires, whichever occurs first.
  • The Department of State recently implemented a policy of "prudentially" revoking nonimmigrant visas of individuals arrested for, or convicted of, driving under the influence that occurred within the previous five years. While a visa revocation does not become effective until the person travels abroad and does not affect their underlying nonimmigrant status, the visa is no longer valid for travel back to the U.S.
  • After departure from the U.S. a non-immigrant with such an arrest and/or conviction must apply for a new visa from a U.S. Consular post and will be referred to a panel physician for a medical exam to determine medical admissibility. Please contact your attorney prior to international travel to discuss any alcohol related incident (and/or other criminal incident) and how it might impact your admissibility and the visa process.

Our firm wishes you a Happy Holidays and safe travels!

VERY IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT concerning the December 2016 Visa Bulletin

The December Visa Bulletin is published today, November 9, 2016. It summarizes the availability of immigrant numbers during December for: "Final Action Dates" and "Dates for Filing Applications," indicating when immigrant visa applicants should be notified to assemble and submit required documentation to the National Visa Center to obtain an immigrant visa for travel to the US and admission as a lawful permanent residence.

https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/law-and-policy/bulletin/2017/visa-bulletin-for-december-2016.html

Visit www.uscis.gov/visabulletininfo for information on whether USCIS has determined that the Filing Date Chart can be used (in lieu of the Final Action Date Chart) this month for filing applications for adjustment of status with USCIS.

EMPLOYMENT BASED IMMIGRANT VISA AVAILABILITY

The level of demand in many Employment-based categories for cases filed with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for adjustment of status increased significantly late last winter. Those levels have been sustained, and at this time there are no signs that demand is diminishing.

The following updates to previous projections regarding visa availability are announced in the December 2016 Visa Bulletin in an effort to provide the maximum amount of advance notice:

EB1: Current during the coming months. However, it will be necessary to impose a Final Action Date for China-mainland born and India at some point.

EB2: Current for the foreseeable future. But, based on the current demand pattern it appears likely that it will be necessary to impose a Worldwide, Mexico, and Philippines Final Action Date no later than July.

EB 3: The level of demand appears to be increasing at the long-anticipated rate. Therefore, this date has been held for December, and is likely to hold once again for January, while determining if this increased level will be sustained.

- INDIA EB3: Movement of this date will be limited to one week, then the date will hold for several months, then move one week, then likely to hold.

EB4: Current for all countries other than Mexico, . But, based on the current demand pattern it appears likely that it will be necessary to impose a Worldwide, Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras which are available for priority dates before 15 July 2015.

EB5: Current for all countries other than China which are available for priority dates before 22 March 2014.

SCHEDULED EXPIRATION OF TWO EMPLOYMENT VISA
CATEGORIES

EB4: Employment Fourth Preference Certain Religious Workers (SR):

Pursuant to the 10-week continuing resolution signed on September 29, 2016, the non-minister special immigrant program expires on December 9, 2016. No SR visas may be issued overseas, or final action taken on adjustment of status cases, after midnight December 8, 2016. Visas issued prior to this date will only be issued with a validity date of December 8, 2016, and all individuals seeking admission as a non-minister special immigrant must be admitted (repeat, admitted) into the U.S. no later than midnight December 8, 2016.

The final action date for this category has been listed as "Current" for December for all countries except El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico, which are subject to a July 15, 2015 final action date for December. If there is no legislative action extending this category for FY-2017, the final action date would immediately become "Unavailable" for December for all countries effective December 10, 2016.

EB5: Employment Fifth Preference Categories (I5 and R5):

The 10-week continuing resolution signed on September 29, 2016 extended this immigrant investor pilot program until December 9, 2016. The I5 and R5 visas may be issued until close of business on December 9, 2016, and may be issued for the full validity period. No I5 or R5 visas may be issued overseas, or final action taken on adjustment of status cases, after December 9, 2016.

The final action dates for the I5 and R5 categories have been listed as "Current" for December for all countries except China-mainland born, which is subject to a March 22, 2014 final action date. If there is no legislative action extending them for FY-2017, the final action dates would immediately become "Unavailable" for December for all countries effective December 10, 2016.

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USCIS filing fees going up 12/23/2016

The Department of Homeland Security has published its final rule in regards to the new fee schedule for USCIS immigration and naturalization benefit requests. DHS has increased fees by a weighted average of 21 percent. Applications and petitions mailed, postmarked, or otherwise filed on or after 12/23/16 must include new fee.

The current USCIS fee schedule and the new fees, effective in December 23, 2016, are displayed in the table below.

Immigration Filing Fees 23 December 2016

DHS final rule with the fee schedule for USCIS immigration and naturalization benefit requests. DHS increased fees by a weighted average of 21 percent. Applications and petitions mailed, postmarked, or otherwise filed on or after 12/23/16 must include new fee. (81 FR 73292, 10/24/16). The current USCIS fee schedule and the new fees, effective in December 23, 2016, are displayed in the le below.


Form

Title

Current fee

New Fee

G-1041

Genealogy Index Search Request

$20

$65

G-1041A

Genealogy Records Request (Copy from Microfilm)

$20

$65

G-1041A

Genealogy Records Request (Copy from Textual Record)

$35

$65

I-90

Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card

$365

$455

I-102

Application for Replacement/Initial Nonimmigrant Arrival-Departure Document

$330

$445

I-129 / 129CW

Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker

$325

$460

I-129F

Petition for Alien Fiancé(e)

$340

$535

I-130

Petition for Alien Relative

$420

$535

I-131 / I-131A

Application for Travel Document

$360

$575

I-140

Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker

$580

$700

I-191

Application for Advance Permission to Return to Unrelinquished Domicile

$585

$930

I-192

Application for Advance Permission to Enter as Nonimmigrant

$585

$585/$930

I-193

Application for Waiver of Passport and/or Visa

$585

$585

I-212

Application for Permission to Reapply for Admission into the U.S. After Deportation or Removal

$585

$930

I-290B

Notice of Appeal or Motion

$630

$675

I-360

Petition for Amerasian Widow(er) or Special Immigrant

$405

$435

I-485

Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status

$985

$1,140

I-485

Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status (certain applicants under the age of 14 years)

$635

$750

I-526

Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur

$1,500

$3,675

I-539

Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status

$290

$370

I-600 / 600A

Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative/Application for Advance Petition Processing of Orphan Petition

$720

$775

I-800 / 800A

Petition to Classify Convention Adoptee as an Immediate Relative/Application for Determination of Suitability to Adopt a Child from a Convention Country

$720

$775

I-601

Application for Waiver of Ground of Excludability

$585

$930

I-601A

Application for Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver

$585

$630

I-612

Application for Waiver of the Foreign Residence Requirement (Under Section 212(e) of the INA, as Amended)

$585

$930

I-687

Application for Status as a Temporary Resident under Section 245A of the Immigration and Nationality Act

$1,130

$1,130

I-690

Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility

$200

$715

I-694

Notice of Appeal of Decision

$755

$890

I-698

Application to Adjust Status From Temporary to Permanent Resident (Under Section 245A of the INA)

$1,020

$1,670

I-751

Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence

$505

$595

I-765

Application for Employment Authorization

$380

$410

I-800A Supp. 3

Request for Action on Approved Form I-800A

$360

$385

I-817

Application for Family Unity Benefits

$435

$600

I-824

Application for Action on an Approved Application or Petition

$405

$465

I-829

Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions

$3,750

$3,750

I-910

Application for Civil Surgeon Designation

$615

$785

I-924

Application for Regional Center Designation Under the Immigrant Investor Program

$6,230

$17,795

I-924A

Annual Certification of Regional Center

$0

$3,035

I-929

Petition for Qualifying Family Member of a U-1 Nonimmigrant

$215

$230

N-300

Application to File Declaration of Intention

$250

$270

N-336

Request for Hearing on a Decision in Naturalization Proceedings

$650

$700

N-400

Application for Naturalization

$595

$640

N-470

Application to Preserve Residence for Naturalization Purposes

$330

$355

N-565

Application for Replacement Naturalization/Citizenship Document

$345

$555

N-600/ N-600K

Application for Certification of Citizenship/Application for Citizenship and Issuance of Certificate under Section 322

$600/550

$1,170

USCIS Immigrant Fee

$165

$220

Biometric Services Fee

$85

$85


The 2018 Diversity Immigrant Visa Program (DV-2018) program registration period will run from noon, EDT on October 4, 2016, through noon, EST November 7, 2016

1. The Immigration and Nationality Act states that no DVs shall be provided for "high admission" countries - those countries from which there were more than a total of 50,000 immigrants during the previous five years. Each year, the Department of Homeland Security's U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) compiles the immigrant admission figures for the previous five years to identify the countries that are ineligible for the annual DV program. USCIS makes a separate determination before each program application period, and the list of countries eligible for the program changes from year to year.

2. For DV-2018, there is one change to the eligible countries list: Ecuador is once again eligible this year. The list of ineligible countries includes: Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China (mainland-born), Colombia, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, the Philippines, South Korea, the United Kingdom (excluding Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, and Vietnam.

These countries are ineligible for the DV-2018 program because they met the 50,000 threshold for immigrant admissions to the United States in the past five years. (Note: Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan remain eligible.)

3. The online DV system will be open for entries beginning noon Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) on October 4, 2016, and will close for entries at noon Eastern Standard Time (EST) on November 7, 2016. Entrants are advised to apply early. In the past, there have been system delays caused by extremely heavy demand during the final days of the registration period preventing some individuals from submitting their entries. Entries will not be accepted after noon EST on November 7, 2016, regardless of system delays during the registration period.

4. In an ongoing efforts to combat fraud entrants will not be notified of their selection by regular mail or email. Beginning May 2, 2017, entrants may enter their DV-2018 entry confirmation number into the Entrant Status Check, available at dvlottery.state.gov, to determine whether their entry was selected. Selected individuals who respond to the notification instructions provided on the E-DV confirmation page on Entrant Status Check also will receive notification of their scheduled IV appointment through Entrant Status Check. DV-2018 data will be available through Entrant Status Check until at least September 30, 2018. All entrants should keep their confirmation number until September 30, 2018, regardless of whether they are selected initially.

5. The Entrant Status Check, when available on May 2, 2017, will provide next-step instructions to selectees, and will direct each selectee to the "Instructions for Selectees" web pages, which are accessible at dvselectee.state.gov.

6. DV-2018 selectees who respond to the notification instructions on Entrant Status Check will receive an email communication alerting them of a scheduled visa appointment. These emails will not contain the actual appointment date and time, but will instead direct selectees to check their interview appointment details on Entrant Status Check.

7. Posts may translate the DV instructions bulletin locally, provided that the translation is accurate and complete (including all FAQs) and that the layout of the translated bulletin looks as much like the English version as possible.

8. Key information:

  • The DV-2018 program registration period will run from noon, EDT on October 4, 2016, through noon, EST November 7, 2016.
  • The Department will conduct the DV-2018 program entirely electronically, including electronic entry. No paper entries will be accepted. The Department website for the submission of E-DV entries is dvlottery.state.gov.
  • Registered entries that comply with form submission instructions will result in the display of a confirmation screen page that contains the entrant's name and confirmation number, which the entrant should print. The confirmation screen page will provide information the entrant must use to check the status of his or her entry electronically through the Entrant Status Check available at dvlottery.state.gov. Only entrants who have their confirmation information will be able to check their Entrant Status and, if selected, receive application instructions and notification of their IV interview appointment. A link on the Entry Status Check page will allow entrants to retrieve their confirmation number by entering their email address, last name, and year of birth.
  • Entrants may prepare and submit their own entries or have someone submit the entry for them. Whether the individual submits an entry directly, or an attorney, friend, relative, etc. provides assistance, only one entry may be submitted in the name of each individual, and the entrant remains responsible for ensuring that the information is correct and complete. All entrants, including those not selected, will be able to check the status of their entry through the Entrant Status Check available at dvlottery.state.gov.

Please note DACA renewals are taking longer than the listed processing times

DACA recipients should be advised that they require great diligence in filing renewals to avoid gaps in employment authorization. We recommend filing a DACA renewal request 150 days before expiration as permitted by USCIS. While USCIS states its current goal is to process DACA renewal requests within 120 days. We do not find this to be the norm. Additionally, we recommend you follow up with USCIS when the request has been pending 106 days or more as provided by USCIS.

When to Renew

USCIS strongly encourages you to submit your DACA renewal request between 150 days and 120 days before the expiration date located on your current Form I-797 DACA approval notice and Employment Authorization Document (EAD). Filing during this window will minimize the possibility that your current period of DACA will expire before you receive a decision on your renewal request.

USCIS’s current goal is to process DACA renewal requests within 120 days. If your renewal request has been pending more than 105 days and you have not heard anything, you may contact USCIS Customer Service.

Since March 27, 2015, USCIS has been mailing renewal reminder notices to DACA recipients 180 days before the expiration date of their current period of deferred action. Previously, these reminder notices were mailed 100 days in advance. The earlier notices are intended to allow DACA recipients the necessary time to begin gathering the documentation required for the filing of their renewal request. If you have any questions about the filing of your DACA renewal, please contact our office at (650) 588-7100.

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Unless you are a U.S. Citizen, did you know you must notify USCIS each time you move?

Unless you are a U.S. Citizen you are required by law to report every change of address to the USCIS within 10 days of your move (anyone living in the U.S. who is not a U.S. citizen must report). You can find instructions online at:

http://www.uscis.gov/ar-11

Note: Failure to file AR-11 could lead to deportation and could be an issue in Adjustment of Status (AOS-last green card stage). The immigration authority still can prosecute you for failure to file AR-11, no matter how many years ago.

If you have any questions please feel free to call our office at (650) 588-7100

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August 2016 Visa Bulletin, Notes

2016 August Visa Bulletin notes regarding retrogressed preference categories and hopes for recovery in Fiscal Year (FY) 2017.

Family-Based Projections

In September, most of the family-based categories will likely hold or retrogress from where they are in August. Only F-4 Worldwide has the potential to advance in September. Visa Control expects a full recovery from retrogressions in all of the family-based categories in October, with the exception of F-4 China and F-4 India which will take some time. Beginning in November 2015, beneficiaries of F-4 China and F-4 India started responding to NVC Agent of Choice letters in larger numbers, which resulted in the retrogression of these cut-off dates.

Note: Many applicants "respond," to the Agent of Choice letter but fail to take the required steps to become "documentarily qualified," resulting in an interview. A "response" keeps the case active, even if the applicant is not immigrating in the foreseeable future. Recently, F-4 China, India, and others in the family preference categories documented their cases. A similar phenomenon happened in 2009/2010: Applicants were not responding, demand appeared low, and cut-off dates advanced quite rapidly. Then, beginning in September 2010, a large number of applicants who had been eligible for extended periods of time provided documents to become documentarily qualified. That influx of demand resulted in retrogression of most of the family-based dates by February 2011.

F-4 China, which shared the F-4 Worldwide Final Action date until retrogressing in June 2016 to January 1, 2003, will remain at that cut-off date through August. This category is expected to return to the prior Final Action date of July 22, 2003 by November, 2016.

F-4 India also shared the F-4 Worldwide Final Action date until it retrogressed in June. The Final Action date should advance to around November 2002 in October, with a full recovery unlikely to happen prior to June 2017.

F-2A and F-3 preference categories are likely to retrogress temporarily in September, and then return to their respective August 2015 Final Action dates in October.

EB Preference Categories

EB-2 and EB-3 China Final Action date of January 1, 2010 that was imposed in June for with no forward movement in either of these categories expected this fiscal year (through September). EB-3 India should advance into a 2005 Final Action date in September. EB-2 India will continue one week ahead of the EB-3 India Final Action date in September. EB-2 India and EB-2 China cut-off dates may advance in October, they will not recover, then. EB-2 China may recover in November.

EB-3 Worldwide has been hovering close to "current" for some time, and is expected to remain so through at least October.

EB-2 Worldwide was imposed a February 1, 2014 Final Action date in the August. That date should hold at February 1, 2014 in September and is expected to fully recover to "current" in October.

EB-5 Regional Center categories remain uncertain as that category will sunset September 30, unless Congress acts. EB-1 China and EB-1 India retrogressed to avoid a cut-off date for EB-1 Worldwide. EB-1 China and EB-1 India will should become current in October or November.

EB-4 and Certain Religious Worker (SR) Preference Categories

EB-4 El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico January 1, 2010 cut-off date will remain through September. The imposition of a cut-off date for these countries is largely due to high demand for Special Immigrant Juvenile visas. A January 1, 2010 cut-off date will also be imposed on EB-4 India starting in August.

EB-4 Mexico and EB-4 India is expected to become current again in October. EB-4 El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras are not likely to become current. EB-4 Final Action dates for these Central American countries remains uncertain because of the uncertain number of adjustment filings received in April 2015, leading to the cutoff.

Request that the I-485 adjudicating officer request a visa number from the State Department. Doing so will place the case in the queue for immediate approval once the priority date becomes current, and will also place the case in the DOS "pending demand" file that may help advance the processing of EB-4 cases in removal proceedings.

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Does the 'H' visa clock of 6 years include time spent on both H1 and H4 status?

H4 and H1B time no longer count against each other.

A 2006 USCIS Memo decoupled their time.

Only time in H1 and L1 combine against the H1 6 years or L1 5 year (specialized knowledge) or 7 year (executive / manager) limits.

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EB-4 Visa Limits Reached for Special Immigrants from India

The August 2016 Visa Bulletin will reflect a final action date of 1/1/10 for EB-4 visas for special immigrants from India. Starting August 1, 2016, applicants from India who filed Form I-360 on or after 1/1/10 will not be able to apply for an immigrant visa or to adjust status until new visa numbers become available after October 1, 2016. EB-4 preference numbers are currently not available for El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico as well.

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The Supreme Court ruling today prevents the expansion of DACA and the implementation of DAPA.

By a 4 to 4 split, a deadlocked U.S. Supreme Court in Unites States v. Texas 15-674, effectively upheld the lower court injunction halting the expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and the new program for Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents known as DAPA. The decision leaves only the original DACA program in place.

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Important Message regarding H1B Extensions and Change of Employer Petitions. Processing is now taking approximately 9 Months, Employers May Now Inquire After 7 Months

Employers May Submit Inquiries If Extension of Status/Change of Employer Petition Has Been Pending for 210 Days or More

Beginning last month, USCIS began allowing petitioners who filed Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, requesting an extension of status or change of employer to submit an inquiry if their petition has been pending for 210 days or more. According to USCIS, they are still seeing delayed processing beyond 240 days. Possibly, the inquiry will bump the Form I-129 Petition to adjudication. It is important to remember, if the pending Form I-129 Petition extension request has been pending more than 240 days from the expiration of the prior validity date employment authorization ends and the employee must be put on unpaid leave of absence. The employer may consider filing a Form I-907 Premium Processing request for USCIS adjudication within 15 days. H1B continued employment authorization granted by the filing of Form I-129 for a Change of Employer petition under AC-21 Regulations appears to continue indefinitely until the USCIS adjudicates the petition filing or until the USCIS promulgates further guidance regarding AC-21 Regulation and Change of Employer Petitions.

When asking about your case status, please provide USCIS with your original receipt number and specify that your case has been pending for 210 days or more. All USCIS customers are reminded that if you move while your case is pending, you must inform USCIS of your address change. Employee changes of address may impact the adjudication of the Form I-129. Employee changes of address may be filed online at uscis.gov/addresschange. Employees may also call the National Customer Service Center or mail us Form AR-11, Change of Address. It is important that you notify us of any address change as soon as possible, so that you continue to receive USCIS notifications.

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USCIS ANNOUNCED ON THURSDAY APRIL 7TH, THAT THE FY2017 H-1B CAP HAS BEEN MET

The H-1B Cap for FY2017 has been met. You should not anticipate receiving any receipt notices until early May. Those petitions filed with Premium Processing will be issued receipt notices first and then standard processing petitions will follow. Last year receipt notices were received during the months of May and June and in some cases beyond. Here is the notice which USCIS released today, Thursday April 7th.

"U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has reached the congressionally mandated H-1B cap for fiscal year (FY) 2017. USCIS has also received more than the limit of 20,000

H-1B petitions filed under the U.S. advanced degree exemption.

USCIS will use a computer-generated process, also known as the lottery, to randomly select the petitions needed to meet the caps of 65,000 visas for the general category and 20,000 for the advanced degree exemption.

USCIS will first randomly select petitions for the advanced degree exemption. All unselected advanced degree petitions will become part of the random selection process for the 65,000 general cap. The agency will reject and return filing fees for all unselected cap-subject petitions that are not duplicate filings.

Before running the lottery, USCIS will complete initial intake for all filings received during the filing period, which ended April 7. Due to the high number of petitions, USCIS is not yet able to announce the date it will conduct the random selection process.

USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions that are otherwise exempt from the cap. Petitions filed on behalf of current H-1B workers who have been counted previously against the cap, and who still retain their cap number, will also not be counted toward the congressionally mandated FY 2017 H-1B cap. USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions filed to:

• Extend the amount of time a current H-1B worker may remain in the United States;
• Change the terms of employment for current H-1B workers;
• Allow current H-1B workers to change employers; and
• Allow current H-1B workers to work concurrently in a second H-1B position.

U.S. businesses use the H-1B program to employ foreign workers in occupations that require highly specialized knowledge in fields such as science, engineering and computer programming."

Processing for Cap-Subject Petitions

USCIS has temporarily adjusted its current premium processing practice based on historic premium processing receipt levels. H-1B petitioners who requested premium processing together with their H-1B petitions should expect to hear first. USCIS will begin premium processing for H-1B cap-subject petitions requesting premium processing no later than May 16, 2016.

If you have any questions about alternatives now that the H-1B Cap has been reached, please contact our office at (650) 588-7100 so we may explore other options which may be available to you.

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FY 2017 H-1B Cap Season Begins February 2016

The H-1B employment visa is limited to 65,000 new visa applications per year, called the H-1B Cap. The soonest an employer may file an H-1B petition is April 1, for an October 1, start date. We begin the H-1B petition preparation process in February for the coming April 1 filing. Last year the H-1B cap was reached on April 1. You might find out more about the H-1B visa here.

When, as in previous years, each H-1B Cap is reached (65,000 Regular Cap and 20,000 U.S. Masters Cap) in the first 5 days of April (employers are allowed four more days to get their petitions in). and there are more petitions filed than numbers were available, there is a lottery. Approximately, 33% of the employers who had diligently prepared and filed H-1B petitions had their petitions returned. There is no way of knowing how many petitions will be filed this H-1B Cap Season, however, we anticipate that even more petitions may be filed this year than last year.

We ask clients to evaluate their needs for H-1Bs and notify us as soon as possible. Please, do not wait to the last minute. The H-1B petition has specific requirements that must be met and often additional documentation must be obtained. In order to file an H-1B petition a specific professional employee is identified for a specialty occupation. The H-1B petitions cannot be filed, with a name to be entered at a later date.

The H-1B positions offered to foreign national employees require attestations regarding, job duties, work-site, wage, technologies, source code, and technical data made available to the employee Start-ups, small U.S. businesses, and consulting companies require additional documentation above the standard H-1B petition. But, no worries! We will guide you. So, your petition will be successful!

We expect the H-1B Regular and U.S. Masters Cap will be reached the first 5 business days of April. We advise you to act as if April 1 st is the "must file" date and start early. We need at least five working days in order to prepare and obtain a certified Labor Condition Application (LCA) from the Department of Labor (DOL) before we can file the H-1B petition. Towards April 1 the DOL gets extremely busy and the timeframe for an approved LCA has been longer.

Our goal is to give you the best service possible. Look at employees who are on F-1 (student practical trainees) who need an H-1B to continue working with you, résumés of persons who are currently going through the hiring process, and persons who were not able to make it under last year's H-1B cap and contact us now.

Previously, we had a case that was so last minute, the LCA was finally issued on the last day that the Immigration Service was accepting H-1B petitions. In order to make the filing deadline, we had to arrange to have the application couriered for same-day delivery to the California Service Center in Laguna Niguel, California! (You can imagine the time, expense, and flurry of activities that was necessary in order to get that all tied up and delivered to the California Service Center in time!

Should you have any questions about this, please do not hesitate to contact our office at 650-490-4545.

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USCIS Resumes Premium Processing for Extension of Stay H-1B Petitions

Beginning July 13, 2015, USCIS will resume accepting Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service for all Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, H-1B extension of stay petitions. Premium processing requests for Form I-129 H-1B extension of stay petitions received by USCIS before July 13, 2015 will be rejected.

USCIS previously announced on May 19, 2015, that premium processing service would be suspended for Form I-129 H-1B extension of stay petitions from May 26, 2015 to July 27, 2015. The temporary suspension allowed us to implement the Employment Authorization for Certain H-4 Dependent Spouses final rule in a timely manner and begin adjudication of applications for employment authorization filed by H-4 nonimmigrants under the new regulation. Premium processing remained available for all other types of Form I-129 H-1B petitions during the temporary suspension.

They have now determined based on their workload that they can now resume premium processing service for H-1B extension of stay petitions on July 13, 2015.

As a reminder, only the new version (edition date: 01/29/2015) of Form I-907 is acceptable. You can find the edition date printed on the bottom left corner of every page of the form and instructions. USCIS will reject previous editions of this form.

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Employers: Do you need to file an Amended H-1B petition?

You must file an amended H-1B petition if your H-1B employee changed or is going to change his or her place of employment to a worksite location outside of the metropolitan statistical area (MSA) or an "area of intended employment" covered by the existing approved H-1B petition, even if a new LCA is already certified and posted at the new location.

Note: Once you file the amended petition, your H-1B employee can immediately begin to work at the new location. You do not have to wait for a final decision on the amended petition for your H-1B employee to start work at the new location.

When You Do NOT Need to File an Amended Petition

A move within an MSA: If your H-1B employee is moving to a new job location within the same MSA or area of intended employment a new LCA is not required.

If you have any questions or would like some additional information, please do not hesitate to call our office at (650) 588-7100 to ask for clarification.

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DACA Recipients with Three-Year EADs Issued After the Injunction Must Return EAD by July 17

USCIS has sent letters to affected DACA recipients who have received EAD cards after February 16, 2015. DACA recipients with 3-year EADs issued after February 16, 2015 must return their EAD cards to USCIS by July 17, 2015. Failure to return the invalid EAD may have an impact on your deferred action and employment authorization.

Note that this does not affect EADs that were issued before the injunction.

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Did You Know a Green Card Does Not Always Have a Signature?

USCIS has recently released a statement that says:

They want you to know that Green Cards (also known as Permanent Resident Cards) do not always include the holder's signature. In some cases, they may waive the signature requirement for certain individuals, such as children under the age of consent or individuals who are physically unable to provide a signature.

Since February 2015, they have been waiving the signature requirement for individuals entering the United States for the first time as lawful permanent residents after obtaining an immigrant visa abroad from a U.S. Embassy or consulate.

When a Green Card is issued without a signature, the card will say "Signature Waived" on the front and back of the card where a signature would normally be located. Green Cards are official documents issued by USCIS that identify the holder as a lawful permanent resident of the United States. The cards are also proof of identity and work authorization.

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current USCIS fee schedule and the new fees, effective in December 23, 2016, are displayed in the table below.

Other Important Announcements:

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Immigration Filing Fees 23 December 2016