February 28, 2019
Dozens of lawsuits have been filed in recent days by a group of IT companies who are alleging that the US government coordinated to limit the number of H-1B visas approved for companies known for IT outsourcing.
ITServe Alliance, a group of 1,100 IT outsourcers, including all of the companies in the lawsuits, are claiming that new regulations around H-1B visas are meant to eliminate the industry. H-1B visas allow for skilled foreign workers to gain entry and employment in the United States, and are used to fill critical skill shortages, particularly in the IT sector.
Evidence of discrimination does exist, as notable domestic IT companies like Microsoft, Amazon, and Apple had very successfully navigated the new regulations with less than 1% of their applications denied. However, other IT companies like Capgemini had an 80% denial rate for their H-1B applications.
Lawsuits like this are further evidence of the need for legal counsel throughout this process, for both companies and potential employees. Lawyers specializing in immigration law can assist in navigating the complex administrative process, as well as help protect clients in the event of discriminatory practices.
February 25, 2019
Early in his Presidency, President Trump made a concerted effort through legislation and executive orders to encourage companies to hire Americans and discourage the use of foreign labor. One year out, we can see that these policy changes have hit IT companies the hardest.
The USCIS announced the denial rates for many companies attempting to hire foreign workers through H-1B applications, and the results were disappointing to many new disruptors in the IT field. While major companies like Amazon and Microsoft only had 1% denial rates, the denial rates for others like Capgemini and Cognizant were 80% and 61%, respectively. Newer organizations are likely going to face an uphill climb in future years as they attempt to fill critical skills shortages at a time when domestic unemployment is hitting all-time lows.
While much of the focus is often on the employees themselves ensuring that their application is correct, it is important that companies hiring foreign workers are on top of their game when it comes to navigating the complicated system. Many of the denials were as a result of lagging responses to “Requests for Evidence”, and the bar appears to be getting higher. It is in the interests of both employers and employees to seek qualified legal counsel to assist with these requests, to prevent a scenario like the ones facing Capgemini and Cognizant.
February 22, 2019
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that they have reached the cap on H-2B visas for fiscal year 2019. This means that all new H-2B visa requests that request a start date before Oct 1, 2019 will be automatically rejected.
The final date for accepted visa requests will be Feb. 19, 2019. Because the number of petitions exceeded the number of allowable visas, this triggered the selection system known as the “lottery” to determine who would receive a H-2B visa. The lottery was conducted on Feb 21st, with the assignments being released on Feb 22nd.
IMPORTANT: There are visa requests that are EXEMPT from the cap. These include:
· Current H-2B workers extending their stay
· Fish roe processors, technicians, and supervisors
· Labor or service workers in Guam or Northern Mariana Islands
If you are unsure of your lottery status, confused as to whether or not you qualify for an exemption, or if you want to ensure an optimal visa for best lottery odds next year, it is important to seek qualified legal counsel specializing in immigration law immediately.
For more information:
February 18, 2019
The USCIS has announced that it will resume premium processing of H-1B petitions filed before the end of last year. While the properly requested premium processing normally guarantees a 15-day processing time, the USCIS has previously announced in January that they had suspended the program due to the government shutdown.
With the government now refunded, the USCIS will resume the premium processing for those applicants who submitted the requests before December 21st, 2018. It is imperative that applications are properly submitted, and that in the event of a transfer or a request for evidence, those materials be handed promptly and appropriately. The USCIS notes that the premium processing clock does not start until all the materials are sent into the correct service center!
If you are confused or concerned about the validity of your application or how to handle the numerous and complex immigration laws, it is highly, HIGHLY encouraged that you seek qualified legal counsel. Don’t let a simple mistake ruin your chances at a visa!
February 15, 2019
US Attorneys recently announced the arrest of a man accused of committing mass Visa fraud and falsely procuring US citizenship.
Neeraj Sharma, of Piscataway, NJ was arrested and charged after federal investigators claimed he recruited foreign workers under H-1B visas, but those workers and staffers never actually secured work in the United States. Sharma allegedly falsely claimed in the applications that the workers had full-time jobs secured in the US, a requirement for the H-1B, but had forged key aspects of the applications to help 11 people falsely enter the country.
This story comes on the heels of a recent sting operation, in which federal investigators created a fake university to find predatory “recruiters” falsely helping international students enter the country in exchange for kickbacks and bribes.
Sherma is facing stiff penalties if convicted, including up to 10 years in prison. This story should serve as a warning for those concerned about their H-1B applications to work only with qualified legal professionals and to ensure that all applications are done legally and appropriately.
For more information on this story, see the USCIS press release here:
来自新泽西州的Neeraj Sharma日前被逮捕，他被指控以帮忙申请H-1B签证为由，协助外国工人进入美国，但事实上这些外国工人并未真正获得美国公司的雇用。 Sharma在申请中谎称这些外国工人在美国获得了全职工作，伪造了公司材料，帮助11人通过”假冒”的H-1B签证进入该国。
FEBRUARY 11, 2019
Last August, the USCIS announced policy changes that dramatically impacts foreign students in the US on visas, particularly those on the F, M, and J visas. In short, the changes impact the way that those on visas can accrue “unlawful presence” in the United States, which can lead to consequences such as a 3-year or a 10-year bar. Additionally, visa holders with unlawful presence can be deported.
Foreign students can even begin accruing unlawful presence time without knowing it! Regardless of whether they are informed by the government or not (and its likely that they are not), overstaying the visa unintentionally can lead to dramatic consequences.
Now that it has been more than 180 days since the start of the policy changes, the first waves of visa holders affected are now facing a 3-year ban. Maintaining unlawful presence for a year can result in a 10-year ban.
It is important for visa holders to continuously confirm their lawful status in the US in the face of ever-changing laws and regulation. If you are a F, M, or J visa holder who is concerned about your status, it is important to seek qualified legal assistance as soon as possible!
FEBRUARY 08, 2019
According to a recent study by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), the processing times for US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has increased by 46% since the start of the Trump Administration. Additionally, this decrease has occurred in spite of the fact that 2018 saw fewer visa petitions than previous years.
These delays are causing ripple effects throughout the immigration process, hurting both business trying to get skilled labor, and potential visa holders trying to obtain legal status in the US. An assessment by the Houston Public Media showed that there had been additional strain on local human resource departments trying to account for the delays, and a growing fear that the cascading results would discourage growth for US companies.
The author of the AILA report, Jason Boyd, was quoted as calling the delays “crisis level”. The report attributed the delays to the Trump Administration’s confusing and substantial changes the immigration process compared to the previous Obama Administration.
Due to the level of complexity involved, and the time-sensitive nature of the process, it is best for all prospective employers or employees to get qualified legal help as early in the process as possible.
AILA报告的作者Jason Boyd称这种延迟为“危机等级”的延迟。 该报告将延误归咎于与前一任奥巴马政府相比，特朗普政府对移民程序的疑惑和对此的重大改变。
FEBRUARY 04, 2019
Late last month, the Department of Homeland Security announced a rule change to H-1B petitions, with a specific focus on those eligible for the advanced degree exemption. According to the USCIS announcement, the rule change “…reverses the order by which U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) selects H-1B petitions under the H-1B regular cap and the advanced degree exemption, and it introduces an electronic registration requirement for petitioners seeking to file H-1B cap-subject petitions.”
USCIS Director Cissna claimed that the rule changes were meant to give those with graduate degrees a better chance of selection during the H-1B lottery and to make the visa system as a whole more efficient and lower cost. The department estimates that the increase in selected petitions of master’s degrees holders will be 16%. Overall, this will help US companies fill more specialized roles with foreign workers. These changes will be effective on April 1st.
All of this is part of the Trump administration’s goal of reforming the visa process to favor more qualified or higher skilled workers, with more changes likely over the next few years.
For any worker trying to get an H-1B visa, regardless of their educational status, it is vital to get qualified legal representation as soon as possible. The changes to both the selection system and petition process can be vital in properly applying for the visa, and so it is critical to have experienced help.
美国公民及移民服务局局长Cissna称，规则的变化旨在让那些拥有硕士及以上学位的人在H-1B抽签期间有更好的机会被选上，并使整个签证制度更有效率和更低成本。 该部门估计，持有硕士及以上学位申请人被选中的数量将增加16％。 总的来说，这将有助于美国公司招聘到在更加专业细分的职位上的外国员工。 这些更改将于4月1日生效。