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U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on Wednesday, March 15th that it will begin accepting H-1B petitions subject to the Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 cap on Monday, April 3, 2017. Cases will be considered accepted on the date that USCIS receives a properly filed petition for which the correct fee has been submitted; not the date that the petition is postmarked.

The cap (the numerical limitation on H-1B petitions) for FY 2018 is 65,000. In addition, the first 20,000 H-1B petitions filed on behalf of individuals with U.S. master’s degree or higher are exempt from the fiscal year cap of 65,000.

USCIS recently announced, “USCIS Will Temporarily Suspend Premium Processing for All H-1B Petitions”. This temporary suspension of premium processing, which is for all H-1B petitions will start April 3rd and could last up to six months. While premium processing is suspended any Form I-907 filed with an H-1B petition will be rejected. If the petitioner submits one combined check for both the Form I-907 and Form I-129 H-1B fees, both forms will be rejected.

Processing Time reports for all of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) Service Centers were released on 3/8/17 with processing dates as of 1/31/17.

If you filed a petition with one of the Service Centers, please review the links below to determine the applicable processing time associated with your particular case.

California Service Center (CSC)

The Department of State has released its latest Visa Bulletin.

Click here to view the April 2017 Visa Bulletin

The monthly Visa Bulletin has changed. The bulletin now summarizes the availability of immigrant numbers during the reported month for: “Application Final Action Dates” (consistent with prior Visa Bulletins) and “Dates for Filing Applications,” indicating when immigrant visa applicants should be notified to assemble and submit required documentation to the National Visa Center using Consular Processing (outside of the US) or file on their own with USCIS Form I-485 (within the US).

The Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals (BALCA) recently affirmed the decision of a Certifying Officer (CO) to deny labor certification for the position of “Hardwood Floor Installer.”

Upon evaluating the Employer’s Application for Permanent Labor Certification, an Audit was issued. In this Audit Notification, the CO asked the Employer to explain why US workers were rejected. After reviewing the Audit response, the CO denied the labor certification stating the Employer rejected three US applicants for reasons that were not job related. The CO “found the rejections were based on the failure to meet the Employer’s job requirement of having two years of hardwood floor installation experience.” He discovered three of the candidates have other experience in the construction industry that he believed would meet the requirements for the job.

The Employer requested reconsideration and BALCA review. They argued the CO was wrong in judging these three candidates were qualified for the position. Even though the applicants did have experience in “general carpentry/and or construction,” they did not believe this experience was enough to meet the requirements of the Hardwood Floor Installer job. The Employer included a Business Necessity Letter in its Audit response materials. The Employer pointed out that one of the candidates did have skills in hard wood flooring installation but he did not list how he obtained that experience. The employer also provided proof to the CO of letters that they had sent to the US worker applicants asking for them to contact the company with further information on their qualifications. The Employer claimed none of them responded to the letters.

MVP Law Group, P.A. makes available the information and materials in this forum for informational purposes only. The information is general in nature and does not constitute legal advice or any contractual obligations. Further, the use of this site, and the sending or receipt of this information, does not create an attorney-client relationship between us. Therefore, your communication with us through this forum will not be considered as privileged or confidential.

Question #1 – Premium Processing

Can Premium Processing be used to speed out the processing of an H-1B extension?

USCIS has raised its immigration filing fees effective December 23, 2016. Applications and petitions postmarked or filed on or after December 23, 2016, must include these new fees. Please note that USCIS will reject your submission if the fees are not correct!

New USCIS’ fees effective December 23, 2016

FORM TITLE New Fee($)
G–1041 Genealogy Index Search Request 65
G–1041A Genealogy Records Request (Copy from Microfilm) 65
G–1041A Genealogy Records Request (Copy from Textual Record) 65
I–90 Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card 455
I-102 Application for Replacement/Initial Nonimmigrant Arrival-Departure Document 455
I-129/129CW Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker 460
I-129F Petition for Alien Fiancé(e) 535
I–130 Petition for Alien Relative 535
I–131/I-131A Application for Travel Document 575
I–140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker 700
I–191 Application for Advance Permission to Return to Unrelinquished Domicile 930
I–192 Application for Advance Permission to Enter as Nonimmigrant 585/930*
I-193 Application for Waiver of Passport and/or Visa 585
I-212 Application for Permission to Reapply for Admission into the U.S. After Deportation or Removal 930
I-290B Notice of Appeal or Motion 675
I-360 Petition for Amerasian Widow(er) or Special Immigrant 435
I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status 1,140
I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status (certain applicants under the age of 14 years) 750
I-526 Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur 3,675
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status 370
I-600/600A Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative/Application for Advance Petition Processing of Orphan Petition 775
I-601 Application for Waiver of Ground of Excludability 930
I-601A Application for Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver 630
I-612 Application for Waiver of the Foreign Residence Requirement (Under Section 212(e) of the INA, as Amended) 930
I-687 Application for Status as a Temporary Resident under Section 245A of the Immigration and Nationality Act 1,130
I-690 Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility 715
I-694 Notice of Appeal of Decision 890
I-698 Application to Adjust Status From Temporary to Permanent Resident (Under Section 245A of the INA) 1,670
I-751 Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence 595
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization 410
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 775
I-800A Supp. 3 Request for Action on Approved Form I-800A 385
I-817 Application for Family Unity Benefits 600
I-824 Application for Action on an Approved Application or Petition 465
I-829 Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions 3,750
I-910 Application for Civil Surgeon Designation 785
I-924 Application for Regional Center Designation Under the Immigrant Investor Program 17,795
I-924A Annual Certification of Regional Center 3,035
I-929 Petition for Qualifying Family Member of a U-1 Nonimmigrant 230
N-300 Application to File Declaration of Intention 270
N-336 Request for Hearing on a Decision in Naturalization Proceedings 700
N-400 Application for Naturalization 640
N-470 Application to Preserve Residence for Naturalization Purposes 355
N-565 Application for Replacement Naturalization/Citizenship Document 555
N-600/N-600K Application for Certification of Citizenship/Application for Citizenship and Issuance of Certificate under Section 322 1,170
USCIS Immigrant Fee 220
Biometric Services Fee 85

Note:

* The fee for Form I-192 will remain $585 when filed with and processed by CBP

** Certain forms require Biometric Services Fee, add $85

For further details please review the USCIS News Release, “USCIS Announces Final Rule Adjusting Immigration Benefit Application and Petition Fees“.

Source of Information:
USCIS.gov, 10/24/16, News Release:
USCIS Announces Final Rule Adjusting Immigration Benefit Application and Petition Fees

We wanted to find a new way to engage our reader base. Every other Friday, we will post the ten (10) best/most frequently asked questions received during the week from our h1bvisalawyerblog, Facebook, and Twitter readers. We will answer those questions and provide the Q&A on our H-1B Visa Lawyer Blog.

If you have a burning question, are seeking assistance with a difficult immigration related case, wish to discuss your views on Comprehensive Immigration Reform, DREAMers, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, priority dates, the monthly visa bulletin, adjustment applications, etc., please contact us by submitting your question/comment/viewpoint in our comment box provided on our H-1B Visa Lawyer Blog.

Our next “Q & A Forum” will take place this Friday, March 17, 2017. Act now and submit your questions!

These are my notes from the Monday, March 6th mid-day News Conference about, “Executive Order Protecting The Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into The United States”, President Trump’s Revised Travel Ban. The News Conference was given by three of President Trump’s Cabinet Members: Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, Attorney General, Jeff Sessions and Secretary of Homeland Security, John Kelly. The President was not present for the News Conference; he signed the Executive Order in private earlier in the morning. Also, there was no Question and Answer period for the reporters at the end of the presentation.

Notes:

  • Executive Order 13769 suspended for 90 days the entry of certain aliens from six countries:  Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. They have removed Iraq from list.

The H-2B non-agricultural temporary worker program allows U.S. employers to bring foreign nationals to the United States to fill temporary non-agricultural jobs. There is a cap limit of 33,000 for the first half of the fiscal year and 33,000 for the second half for a total of 66,000 per year. If the cap is not reached during the first half of the fiscal year, the extra numbers are then made available for the second half.

The H-2B cap limit for first half of FY 2017 (October 1 – March 31) is 33,000. As of the last count (1/10/17) this first half cap count has been reached. Please read USCIS update below!


The H-2B cap limit for second half of FY 2017 (April 1 – September 30) is 33,000. As of the last count (2/28/17); 14,348 beneficiaries have been approved and 9,430 are pending for a total of 23,778.