Pearl Immigration NewsFlash
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General Release Vol. 128 (November 8, 2011)
Headlines (Details below)
FY2012 H-1B Numbers Going Fast
As of November 2, 2011, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has accepted (approved or pending) 50,800 H-1B petitions subject to the 65,000 cap for fiscal year (FY) 2012. Up to 6,800 visas are set aside from the 65,000 cap during each fiscal year for the H-1B1 program under the terms of legislation implementing the U.S.-Chile and U.S.-Singapore Free Trade Agreements.
Also, the 20,000 cap for those with advanced U.S. degrees was reached before the end of October; by contrast, last year only 16,700 had been used by then.
ABIL recommends that employers needing H-1B workers file quickly—once the cap is reached, the next opportunity to file will be April 1, 2012, for work starting October 1, 2012 (FY 2013).
Contact your Pearl Law attorney for details. More information on the cap count is available at http://www.uscis.gov/h-1b_count.
EB-2 Dates for China and India Jump
From the Department of State's Visa Bulletin for November 2011:
The November employment-based second preference cut-off date for applicants from China and India is the most favorable since August 2007. This advancement is expected to generate significant levels of demand based on new filings for adjustment of status at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services offices. While significant future cut-off date movements are anticipated, they may not be made on a monthly basis. Readers should not expect such movements to be the norm throughout the fiscal year, and an eventual retrogression of the cut-off at some point during the year is a distinct possibility.
In recent remarks, Charles Oppenheim of the Department of State's Visa Office discussed predictions for employment-based visa numbers. Mr. Oppenheim anticipates that in December 2011, the EB-2 priority date for China and India will move to March 1, 2008, and there could be additional movement in January and February. After that, movement in these two categories will likely slow down and possibly retrogress.
Mr. Oppenheim predicted that the EB-3 category for All Countries, Mexico and Philippines should move forward one month each month of 2012. He expects the EB-3 category for China to advance one to three weeks per month for the near future.
Prospects for India's EB-3 category look less promising. There are 54,000 cases that have been pending since 2007, and many more with subsequent priority dates that have not yet been filed. USCIS is allowed to adjudicate only 2,800 applications from India per year. This means potentially 225,000 to 300,000 people (including dependents) waiting for India EB-3 visa numbers. Mr. Oppenheim noted that more than 50 percent of all H-1Bs are given to Indian nationals each year and that the majority will apply for permanent residence.
Mr. Oppenheim said the EB-1 and 2 categories for All Countries, Mexico and Philippines, are expected to remain Current for some time. Last year there were 18,000 to 20,000 fewer cases filed in the EB-1 category, which allowed more EB-1 China and India petitions to move forward, along with some EB-2 adjustments from those countries.
The November Visa Bulletin is available at http://travel.state.gov/visa/bulletin/bulletin_5572.html.
"Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act" Heads to House Floor
On September 22, 2011, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) introduced the "Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act" (HR 3012) and the House Judiciary Committee approved the bill with changes on October 27. It now goes to the full House of Representatives for a vote. The bill would eliminate the per-country numerical limitation for employment-based immigrants over three years and increase it for family-based immigrants, from 7 percent to 15 percent per country. It also would amend the Chinese Student Protection Act of 1992 to eliminate the provision requiring the reduction of annual Chinese (PRC) immigrant visas to offset status adjustments under the Act.
In media releases, Rep. Chaffetz has said, "Per-country limits make no sense in the context of employment-based visas. Companies view all highly skilled immigrants as the same regardless of where they are from—be it India or Brazil. By removing per-country limits, American companies will be able to access the best talent." He noted that the current percentage cap "has created a backlog of qualified workers." Rep. Chaffetz pointed out that the legislation will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed workers in the US. but will "encourage high-skilled immigrants who were educated in the U.S. to stay and contribute to our economy, rather than taking the skills they learned and aiding our competitor nations."
Co-sponsors of the bill include Reps. Tim Griffin (R-AZ), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and Lamar Smith (R-TX). It is supported by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce; Compete America, a coalition of high-tech companies, including Microsoft, Google and Oracle; various trade groups, including the Business Software Alliance, the Semiconductor Industry Association and the Information Technology Industry Council; and Immigration Voice, a leading coalition of highly skilled foreign professionals.
Rep. Chaffetz's statement is available at http://chaffetz.house.gov/press-releases/2011/10/chaffetz-sponsored-immigration-bill-passes-house-judiciary-committee.shtml. The text of the bill is available at http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-112hr3012ih/pdf/BILLS-112hr3012ih.pdf.
EAD Card and Certificate of Citizenship Redesigned
USCIS announced a redesigned Employment Authorization Document (EAD) and Certificate of Citizenship (Form N-560) with new security features. USCIS began issuing the new EADs on October 25, 2011, and the new N-560s on October 30. USCIS anticipates that more than a million people will receive the new documents by the end of next year.
USCIS will replace EADs already in circulation as individuals apply for their renewal or replacement. All previously issued EADs remain valid until the expiration date printed on the card; previously issued Certificates of Citizenship remain valid indefinitely.
USCIS said the new features of the EAD will better equip workers, employers and law enforcement officials to recognize the card as definitive proof of authorization to work in the United States. They worked closely with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Forensic Document Laboratory to incorporate technology and tactile features to deter counterfeiting, tampering and fraud, and to facilitate card authentication.
The announcement is available at http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis/menuitem.5af9bb95919f35e66f614176543f6d1a/?vgnextoid=338ce8ba05b33310VgnVCM100000082ca60aRCRD&vgnextchannel=68439c7755cb9010VgnVCM10000045f3d6a1RCRD. A related fact sheet is available at http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis/menuitem.5af9bb95919f35e66f614176543f6d1a/?vgnextoid=19a9e8ba05b33310VgnVCM100000082ca60aRCRD&vgnextchannel=acffaca797e63110VgnVCM1000004718190aRCRD.
Follow these links to access current processing times of the USCIS Service Centers and the Department of Labor, or the Department of State's latest Visa Bulletin with the most recent cut-off dates for visa numbers:
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The Pearl Immigration NewsFlash provides periodic alerts about noteworthy developments in business-related immigration. It is provided as information only and is not a substitute for legal counsel. If you have questions about the NewsFlash, please contact your PLG attorney or write email@example.com.
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