Posted On: September 30, 2009

Q&A with USCIS regarding Pending Employment Based I-485 Petitions

Do you have questions about the status of your pending Employment Based I-485 Petition?

Hopefully the Q&A created by the USCIS will help ease your frustration and answer some of your questions.

Following the Q&A are I-485 Employment Based Inventory Statistics, which provide an explanation as to how to interpret them. The Inventory Statistics are categorized by Country and Priority Date.

Posted On: September 29, 2009

BALCA upholds denial of Labor Certification – Notice of Posting Inadequate

The Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals (BALCA) recently affirmed the final determination of a Certifying Officer (CO) denying labor certification (LC) for an alien worker for the position of “Specialty Cook/Italian."

The employer filed a LC which was accepted for processing on June 13, 2006. Thereafter, the CO issued an audit notification letter requesting among other documents, the Employer’s Notice of Filing. The employer submitted its Notice of Filing, yet the Notice failed to provide the CO’s address or any other means of contacting the CO. As such, the CO issued a denial letter.

PERM Regulation 20 C.F.R. § 656.10(d)(3) controls and it provides that the Notice of Filing must (i) State that the notice is being provided as a result of the filing of an application for permanent alien labor certification for the relevant job opportunity; (ii) State that any person may provide documentary evidence bearing on the application to the Certifying Officer of the Department of Labor; (iii) Provide the address of the appropriate Certifying Officer; and (iv) Be provided between 30 and 180 days before filing the application.

The purpose of the regulation is to allow any person to submit documentary evidence bearing on the application for certification to the Certifying Officer (such as information on available workers, information on wages and working conditions, and information on the Employer’s failure to meet the terms and conditions with respect to the employment of alien workers and co-workers). By omitting the CO’s address and contact information, the purpose of the Notice of Filing was defeated.

As such, the Board had to affirm the decision of the CO in denying labor certification.

To read the entire decision: Matter of Ron Lopes, LLC

Posted On: September 28, 2009

LATEST UPDATE - FY 2010 H-1B Cap Count

On September 24, 2009, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) updated the count of H-1B petitions received and counted towards the 65,000 cap.

As of September 18, 2009, 46,000 H-1B cap subject nonimmigrant visa petitions have been accepted by USCIS. The Service has advised that they will continue to accept petitions until the cap is reached.

Additionally, the Service has reported that they received 20,000 advanced degree H-1B petitions. Although the limit on advanced degree petitions is 20,000, past experience has tended to show that not all petitions received are approvable.

Accordingly, qualifying applicants are still able to petition for an H-1B nonimmigrant visa either under the general cap, or as an applicant with an advanced degree. (i.e., U.S. Master’s degree)

If you are interested in applying for an H-1B nonimmigrant visa, please contact our office.

Posted On: September 18, 2009

ICE Investigation results in fine of $450,000 for hiring illegal aliens

After an investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Social Security Administration's Office of Inspector General, the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the U.S. Marshals Service and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a Missouri poultry processing plant paid $450,000 in fines as part of a settlement agreement for hiring illegal aliens.

As a result of the 2007 poultry plant investigation, ICE administratively arrested 136 illegal alien workers from Mexico and Guatemala within the plant in Cassville, MO. Two of the company's hiring personnel were convicted of harboring illegal aliens and inducing them to remain in the U.S.

An additional provision of the settlement agreement provides that the company has to establish a compliance program to ensure that its employment procedures are in accordance with U.S. immigration laws. Additionally, the company has to train its human resource managers and employees on how to avoid hiring an illegal workforce.

It has become apparent that ICE aggressively targets employers who violate immigration laws by knowingly employing an illegal workforce. The funds received as a result of these types of investigations are used to promote future law enforcement programs and activities with the purpose of deterring employers from employing an illegal workforce.

The MVP Law Group, P.A. provides assistance to employers interested in establishing an employment compliance program which includes training administrative personnel and other employees. If you are interested, please contact our office.

Posted On: September 17, 2009

Updated Service Centers Processing Times

Processing Time reports for all of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) Centers were released on September 14, 2009 with processing dates as of July 31, 2009.

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
National Benefits Center
Nebraska Service Center
Texas Service Center
Vermont Service Center

If your petition is out-side of the normal range listed, contact USCIS. (1-800-375-5283)
If you would like our assistance, feel free to contact our office.

Posted On: September 11, 2009

October 2009 Visa Bulletin

The Department of State has released its latest Visa Bulletin. The October 2009 visa bulletin still shows employment based third preference (EB-3) visas as oversubscribed while the employment based second preference (EB-2) is current for all areas of chargeability except for China and India.

Click here to view the October 2009 Visa Bulletin.

Posted On: September 10, 2009

Expiration Date for Form I-9 will remain valid until 8/31/2012

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) recently announced that the 8/7/2009 revision of Form I-9, which is currently located on the USCIS website will remain valid until 8/31/2012.

U.S. employers should no longer be using outdated versions of Form I-9. However, the Service has indicated that employers may use versions 8/7/2009 or 2/2/2009 of Form I-9 until 8/31/2012. The revision date is located in the bottom right hand corner of the form.

The updated Form I-9 is available in English and Spanish via the USCIS website. Instructions for completing Form I-9 have also been made available by the USCIS. Additionally, the USCIS has provided a 1-800 number that employers may use to order updated Form I-9 if they do not have online access.

If you need assistance in completing Form I-9, or are interested in conducting an in-house Form I-9 Audit, please contact our office for assistance.

Posted On: September 8, 2009

Federal Contractors & Subcontractors MUST use E-Verify beginning TODAY!

Beginning September 8, 2009, all Federal Contractors and Subcontractors who enter into contracts on and after September 8, 2009 must be enrolled in the online E-Verify work authorization program.

The E-Verify program is a free optional web based employment verification program that verify's employee's employment eligibility by submitting key information from Form I-9 into the online database.

The purpose of the program is to deter unauthorized individuals from attempting to work, while at the same time helping employers to avoid contributing to an unauthorized workforce.

Companies who are awarded a contract on and after September 8, 2009 will have 30 days from the contract award date to enroll in the E-Verify program.

Posted On: September 7, 2009

LATEST UPDATE - FY 2010 H-1B Cap Count

On September 4, 2009, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) updated the count of H-1B petitions received and counted towards the 65,000 cap.

As of August 28, 2009, 45,100 H-1B cap subject nonimmigrant visa petitions have been accepted by USCIS. The Service has advised that they will continue to accept petitions until the cap is reached.

Additionally, the Service has reported that they received 20,000 advanced degree H-1B petitions. Although the limit on advanced degree petitions is 20,000, past experience has tended to show that not all petitions received are approvable.

Accordingly, qualifying applicants are still able to petition for an H-1B nonimmigrant visa either under the general cap, or as an applicant with an advanced degree. (i.e., U.S. Master’s degree)

If you are interested in applying for an H-1B nonimmigrant visa, please contact our office.

Posted On: September 3, 2009

H-1B Employee Questionnaire issued by the DOL Wage and Hour Division

The Department of Labor (DOL) Wage and Hour Division has recently issued an H-1B Employee Questionnaire that covers issues dealing with H-1B employment such as wages and deductions, working conditions, termination, and more...

This questionnaire has been sent via email by the DOL to an H-1B Employee, and provides that its purpose is to determine whether the particular company is being compliant with the H-1B rules and regulations.

It also provides that receipt of the questionnaire does not imply that the particular company has violated any law. H-1B employees who receive the questionnaire via email are strongly encourage to promptly respond.