Posted On: August 31, 2011

LATEST UPDATE: H-1B FY2012 CAP COUNTS

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

As of August 26, 2011, 29,000 H-1B Regular CAP subject non-immigrant visa petitions have been filed with the USCIS towards the 65,000 cap.

As of August 26, 2011, 15,800 H-1B Masters Degree CAP subject non-immigrant visa petitions have been filed with the USCIS towards the 20,000 cap.

*USCIS will continue to accept H-1B petitions until a sufficient number of H-1B petitions have been received to reach the statutory limits, taking into account the fact that some of these petitions may be denied, revoked, or withdrawn.

Stay tuned to MVP Law Group for FY 2012 H-1B CAP updates!

Posted On: August 30, 2011

Round-Up of Immigration Related Legislation (July-August 2011)

The following immigration-related bills were introduced into the House of Representatives and the Senate in July-August 2011 and summarized below by AILA (American Immigration Lawyers Association):

Senate Bills

Immigration Fraud Prevention Act of 2011 - S. 1336
Introduced by Sen. Feinstein (D-CA) on 7/7/11
Summary: Prevents immigration fraud by making it a Federal crime to defraud individuals in connection with any matter arising under immigration laws.

Hinder the Administration's Legalization Temptation (HALT) Act - S. 1380
Introduced by Sen. Vitter (R-LA) on 7/12/11
Summary: Suspends until Jan. 21, 2013 certain provisions of federal immigration law.

Trafficking in Persons Report Improvement Act of 2011 - S. 1362
Introduced by Sen. Webb (D-VA) on 7/13/11
Summary: Simplifies the Trafficking in Persons Report by reducing the number of country categories and ranking countries within each category according to their relative adherence to the minimum standards set forth in TVPA of 2000.

Helping Agriculture Receive Verifiable Employees Securely and Temporarily (HARVEST) Act of 2011 - S. 1384
Introduced by Sen. Chambliss (R-GA) on 7/19/11
Summary: Amends the INA to provide for the temporary employment of foreign agricultural workers.

Humane Enforcement and Legal Protections for (HELP) Separated Children Act - S. 1399
Introduced by Sen. Franken (D-MN) on 7/21/11
Summary: Protects children affected by immigration enforcement actions.

S. 1405
Introduced by Sen. Feinstein (D-CA) on 7/21/11
Summary: Private bill for the relief of Guy Privat Tape and Lou Nazie Raymonde Toto.

House Bills

H.R. 2805
Introduced by Rep. Lofgren (D-CA) on 8/5/11
Summary: Amends Section 220 of the Immigration and Nationality Technical Corrections Act of 1994 to make permanent made by the section.

Strengthening the Child Welfare Response to Human Trafficking Act of 2011- H.R. 2730
Introduced by Rep. Bass (D-CA) on 8/1/11
Summary: Amends Part E of Title IV of the Social Security Act to better enable State child welfare agencies to prevent human trafficking of children and serve the needs of children who are victims of human trafficking.

Hinder the Administration's Legalization Temptation (HALT) Act - H.R. 2497
Introduced by Rep. Smith (R-TX) on 7/12/11
Summary: Suspends until Jan. 21, 2013 certain provisions of federal immigration law.

H.R. 2556
Introduced by Rep. Ryan (D-OH) on 7/15/11
Summary: Suspends the issuance of visas to nationals of Brazil until Brazil amends it laws to remove the prohibition on extradition of nationals of Brazil to other countries.

Humane Enforcement and Legal Protections for (HELP) Separated Children Act - H.R. 2607
Introduced by Rep. Woolsey (D-CA) on 7/21/11
Summary: Protects children affected by immigration enforcement actions.

Military Families Act - H.R. 2638
Introduced by Rep. Filner (D-CA) on 7/25/11
Summary: Authorizes the adjustment of status for immediate family members of individuals who served honorably in the Armed Forces of the United States during the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts.

Jobs for Americans Act of 2011 - H.R. 2670
Introduced by Rep. Brooks (R-AL) 7/27/11
Summary: Provides that States and local government may pass laws that identify illegal aliens, deter illegal aliens from entering the United States, apprehend illegal aliens, or encourage or otherwise cause illegal aliens to leave the United States.

H.R. 2556
Introduced by Rep. Ryan (D-OH) on 7/15/11
Summary: Prohibits the issuance of a visa to a citizen, subject, national, or resident of Brazil until Brazil has removed the prohibition on extradition of Brazilian nationals to other countries. The bill authorizes the President to waive such prohibition on a case-by-case basis if in the U.S. national interest.

Source: "AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 11082563 (posted Aug. 25, 2011)"

Posted On: August 29, 2011

MVP "Immigration Q & A Forum" - This Friday, September 2nd, 2011

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, AZ SB1070, priority dates, or the debate focused on Ending Birthright Citizenship, 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, September 2nd, 2011. Act now and submit your questions!

THANK YOU!

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. And, therefore, your communication with us through this forum will not be considered as privileged or confidential.

Posted On: August 26, 2011

LATEST UPDATE: DOL Temporarily Suspends the Processing of Prevailing Wage Determinations

As of August 25, 2011 -
The Department of Labor (DOL) Liaison has received reports from members that PERM prevailing wage determinations are beginning to be received for requests submitted in early June 2011. Additionally, the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) has been in discussions with other stakeholders on possible courses of action, including individual mandamus actions, if DOL does not resume issuing prevailing wage determinations promptly.

Original Update: The OFLC National Prevailing Wage Center is experiencing delays in processing prevailing wage determinations as it is currently working to reissue certain determinations to comply with a court order issued June 15, 2011 in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. A Notice of Proposed Rulemaking was published in the Federal Register on June 28, 2011, and a Final Rule was published on August 1. All Center resources are currently being utilized to comply with this court order. The processing of Prevailing Wage Determinations, redeterminations, and Center Director Reviews has been temporarily suspended. Processing will resume as soon as full compliance with the court order has been completed by OFLC. They hope to comply with the court order before October 1, 2011.

We will continue to post new information as soon as it becomes available.

Source of Information: AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 11072571

Posted On: August 23, 2011

UPDATE: H-2B VISA CAP COUNTS

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) has updated the count of H2B Visa petitions received by the USCIS for the second half of FY2011 and first half of FY2012.

As of August 12, 2011, USCIS receipted 30,810 petitions toward the 33,000 H-2B cap amount for the second half of Fiscal Year (FY) 2011. This count includes 29,736 approved petitions and 1,074 pending petitions. The second half of FY2011 runs from (April 1, 2011 - September 30, 2011).

As of August 12, 2011, USCIS receipted 3,260 petitions toward the 33,000 H-2B cap amount for the first half of Fiscal Year (FY) 2012. This count includes 2,516 approved petitions and 744 pending petitions. The first half of FY2012 runs from (October 1, 2011 - March 31, 2012).

Stay tuned to MVP Law Group for H-2B CAP updates!

Posted On: August 19, 2011

MVP LAW GROUP – Immigration Q&A Forum, Friday, August 19th, 2011

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. And, therefore, your communication with us through this forum will not be considered as privileged or confidential.


Question #1 – Temporary Work Visa – H-1B Nonimmigrant Visa
How many H-1B nonimmigrant visas remain under the CAP for FY2012 beginning October 1, 2011?

Answer #1
As of August 12, 2011, there were approximately 39,700 H-1B Regular CAP subject nonimmigrant visas remaining and 5,300 H-1B Masters Exemption nonimmigrant visas remaining. USCIS will continue to accept both cap-subject petitions and advanced degree petitions until a sufficient number of H-1B petitions have been received to reach the statutory limits, taking into account the fact that some of these petitions may be denied, revoked, or withdrawn. For continuous FY2012 H-1B Cap updates, please refer to our www.h1bvisalawyerblog.com.


Question #2 – Family Based Immigration – Green Card
My wife and I, USC, are from El Salvador and we are going for vacation this weekend for a few weeks back to El Salvador. We have an adult child who still lives in El Salvador with his wife and children – we are interested in bringing him over here to the United States. Can you let us know what time period we would be looking at for bringing him over here as a Permanent Resident?

Answer #2
According to the September Visa Bulletin which is effective beginning September 1, 2011, the Family Based third preference category (F3) for all chargeability areas except China, India, Mexico and the Philippines, is backlogged, this means, that you must wait until a visa becomes available, until the priority date becomes current. Individuals in that preference category with priority dates of August 22, 2001 and earlier are being serviced. Accordingly, you would be looking at a time period of approximately 10+ years, if not longer, as it all depends upon the availability of immigrant visas. The priority dates in each category and for each country can change each month. However, please note that the priority dates can also stay the same. They can move very slowly or progress by several months or years. They can move forward or backward. Therefore, there is no way to anticipate what the priority date will be in a future month or when a category will become current.


Question #3 – General
I work for a company in San Bernardino, CA, a pharmaceutical company. They have expressed an interest in sponsoring my green card. I have a few friends in Maryland who used your firm for other immigration services and I wanted to know if I could use your firm also to process my green card? With me in California and your firm in Maryland, is it legal, can we do this?

Answer #3
MVP Law Group is an innovative law firm that provides business immigration services to corporations, universities, hospitals, and other organizations, as well as, entrepreneurs and individuals.. Immigration law is federal in nature (i.e., no state or provincial law is involved), therefore, our firm is able to provide U.S. business immigration services to clients located anywhere in the United States and around the world. If you would like to schedule a consultation to discuss your particular situation, please contact our office.


Question #4 – Employment Based Immigration – Green Card
Can a company sponsor my GC as an United Arab Emirates born individual in parallel to H1? (I was born in UAE and I have searched that GC processing depends on your birth country and my GC will be approved in just 6 months).

Answer #4
Based on the general information you have provided, a company is be able to initiate your Employment Based green card filing at the same time as the H-1B filing. Additionally, the priority date for citizens from the UAE in the EB2 preference category is current; however, the priority date for citizens from the UAE in the EB3 preference category is backlogged to November 22, 2005. Accordingly, if you are eligible to file in the EB2 preference category, you should be able to file the I-140 and I-485 petitions concurrently and should receive your GC according to the processing times listed on the USCIS website.


Question #5 – Temporary Work Visa – H2B Nonimmigrant Visa
How many H-2B nonimmigrant visas remain under the 2nd half of FY2011? Under the 1st half of FY2012?

Answer #5
As of 8/12/11, USCIS receipted 30,810 petitions toward the 33,000 H-2B cap amount for the second half of the fiscal year (FY) 2011 (April 1 - September 30). This count includes 29,736 approved and 1,074 pending petitions.

As of 08/12/11, USCIS receipted 3,260 petitions toward the 33,000 H-2B cap amount for the first half of Fiscal Year (FY) 2012, (October 1 - March 31). This count includes 2,516 approved petitions and 744 pending petitions.


Question #6 – Dependent H4 Nonimmigrant Visa
Will my spouse automatically be shifted from F2 to H4 once I receive my approved H1B or do I need to process her case separately?

Answer #6
In this situation, your spouse’s status will not automatically be converted to H4 status, she must file a Form I-539 (Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status), along with your I-129 visa petition requesting a change of status from F2 to H4. Her case will not need to be processed separately; it can be prepared and filed along with your H-1B visa petition. If you have already filed your H-1B petition, you will have to file her I-539 (H4) petition separately.


Question #7 – Employment Based Immigration – Green Card
It seems like it’s taking a lot longer to conduct recruitment prior to filing the Labor application, what’s the issue?

Answer #7
There are two known reasons for the delay:

(1) As of January 1, 2010 the Department of Labor (DOL) federalized the process for obtaining Prevailing wage requests, which is the first step in the Labor process before recruitment can be conducted. We normally could obtain a prevailing wage request directly from the specific state workforce agency within a few days to a week. In addition to federalizing the process, the DOL made the process for obtaining the prevailing wages by electronic means as well as by requesting a prevailing wage through the U.S .mail. After the centralization of this process, it takes approximately 45-60 days to obtain a prevailing wage determination from the DOL. The determinations are issued on a first come, first serve basis.

(2) Currently, the OFLC National Prevailing Wage Center is experiencing delays in processing prevailing wage determinations as it is currently working to reissue certain determinations to comply with a court order issued June 15, 2011 in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. A Notice of Proposed Rulemaking was published in the Federal Register on June 28, 2011, and a Final Rule was published on August 1. All Center resources are currently being utilized to comply with this court order. The processing of Prevailing Wage Determinations, redeterminations, and Center Director Reviews has been temporarily suspended. Processing will resume as soon as full compliance with the court order has been completed by OFLC. They hope to comply with the court order before October 1, 2011.


Question #8 – Family Based Immigration: Marriage – K1 Fiancé Visa
My son is a U.S. Citizen and is engaged to marry his British fiancé. Both have known one another for over nine years and have been engaged for six months. Can my son sponsor his fiancé? What needs to be done?

Answer #8
U.S. Citizens who are engaged to be married to a foreign national may petition the USCIS on behalf of their fiancé by way of the K-1 visa. To be eligible for this visa: (1) you must be legally able to marry; (2) the marriage must be a bona fide marriage with good intent; (3) you must be willing to marry within 90 days of the fiancé entering the United States; and (4) you must have met within two years of filing for the visa. Your son should first file a Petition for Alien Fiancé (Form I-130) with the USCIS. Once the petition is approved, the USCIS will forward the approved petition to the appropriate consulate to interview the applicant. Once the applicant attends the consular interview and is approved for the visa, she may travel to the United States to marry your son. A petition for K-1 status is valid for four months from the date of USCIS action, and may only be revalidated by the consular officer.


Question #9 – Temporary Work Visa – H-1B Nonimmigrant Visa
This is my first time filing for H1B; I just graduated from U.S. University few months ago. My approval notice states that the Consulate has been notified and that I need to appear there to obtain H-1B visa. I thought the approval notice I received was the H-1B visa. What to do?

Answer #9
Before you can commence work with your petitioning employer, an I-9 (Employment Eligibility Verification Form) will need to be prepared and an I-9 requires evidence of a valid and current I-94 (Arrival and Departure Record). If an I-94 has NOT been issued with your approval notice, you must obtain a valid and current I-94. Since you are already in the United States you will need to go back to your home country and obtain an H4 visa and I-94. Or as noted in the Approval Notice, you can file a new H4 petition to seek to change or extend your status based on this petition, if a request was not made or was made and you believe it was improperly or incorrectly denied.


Question #10 – Employment Based Immigration – Green Card
I know there are quite a few GC cases pending and USCIS can only work on cases up to available VISA numbers and once the numbers are consumed, then it could go back with the next VISA bulletin. I think we can call the USCIS and provide details of our case so that based on first come first call; they would process and issue the GC faster.

Answer #10
You cannot call the USCIS to speed up the processing/issuance of your Green Card. Priority dates were established for this exact purpose. Each individual has a specific priority date which was issued to them when their Labor application was submitted to the Department of Labor (DOL). Only when the applicant’s priority date becomes current will the USCIS begin to process the applicant’s I-485 paperwork and thereafter may issue the Green Card. However, your attorney may contact the USCIS via email on your behalf if your I-485 application was filed through the Texas Service Center (TSC). The attorney may send an email to a specific email address to inform the Service Center that their client’s priority date is current. The “streamline” process was created to provide a mechanism for American Immigration Lawyer Association (AILA) members to facilitate TSC processes relating to the identification of EB I-485 applications.

MVP Law Group would like to thank everyone who contributed a question or comment.

Our next “Immigration Q & A Forum” is scheduled for Friday, September 2nd, 2011!

Please remember to submit your questions/comments on our h1bvisalawyer blog.

Posted On: August 18, 2011

Updated Service Center Processing Times

Processing Time reports for all of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) Service Centers were released on August 17th, 2011 with processing dates as of June 30, 2011.

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

**Please be aware that the data provided above is approximately 45 days old at the time of posting.

If your petition is out-side of the normal range listed, contact USCIS. (1-800-375-5283)

If you are a client of MVP Law Group and would like our assistance please contact our office.

Posted On: August 17, 2011

BALCA Constrained Procedurally to Affirm Denial

The Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals (BALCA) recently affirmed the final determination of a Certifying Officer (CO) denying labor certification for an alien worker for the position of “Computer Systems Analyst.”

The CO denied the application stating that the journal used to advertise the position was not a recognized journal on websites and does not qualify as a professional journal. The Employer accordingly made a request for review of the denial stating that it fulfilled its obligation to advertise as indicated in the regulations and that the magazine, Computer, is a recognized professional journal. In its request for review the Employer included six pages of information from the IEEE website, which states that “for more than 40 years, developers, researchers, and managers have relied upon Computer for timely, peer-reviewed information about research, trends, best practices, and changes in the profession.” The CO forwarded the case directly to BALCA as a request for reconsideration was not made by the Employer.

PERM regulations 20 C.F.R. § 656.17(e)(1)(i)(B) and 656.17(e)(2)(ii) control and provide: sponsoring employers are normally required to attest to having placed two print advertisements on two different Sundays in the newspaper of general circulation in the area of intended employment most appropriate to the occupation and the worker likely to apply for the job opportunity. However, an exception under 20 CFR § 656.17(e)(1)(B)(4) provides that if the job requires experience and an advanced degree and a professional journal would normally be used to advertise the job opportunity, the employer may substitute one of the Sunday advertisements for an ad in the professional journal most likely to bring responses from able, willing, qualified and available U.S. workers.

In the instant case, because the Employer did not initially make a request for reconsideration from the CO, BALCA was limited by 20 CFR § 656.27(c) and had to analyze the record based only on the evidence upon which the CO’s denial was made. Therefore, the six page document provided by the Employer could not be reviewed by BALCA. The Board was forced to affirm the denial even though they believed that the CO was arguably incorrect in his determination that Computer magazine was not a qualifying professional journal.

Accordingly, the Board affirmed the decision of the CO in denying labor certification.

Posted On: August 16, 2011

LATEST UPDATE: H-1B FY2012 CAP COUNTS

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

As of August 12, 2011, 25,300 H-1B Regular CAP subject non-immigrant visa petitions have been filed with the USCIS towards the 65,000 cap.

As of August 12, 2011, 14,700 H-1B Masters Degree CAP subject non-immigrant visa petitions have been filed with the USCIS towards the 20,000 cap.

*USCIS will continue to accept H-1B petitions until a sufficient number of H-1B petitions have been received to reach the statutory limits, taking into account the fact that some of these petitions may be denied, revoked, or withdrawn.

Stay tuned to MVP Law Group for FY 2012 H-1B CAP updates!

Posted On: August 15, 2011

MVP "Immigration Q & A Forum" - This Friday, August 19th, 2011

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, priority dates, or the debate focused on Ending Birthright Citizenship, 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, August 19th, 2011. Act now and submit your questions!

THANK YOU!

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. And, therefore, your communication with us through this forum will not be considered as privileged or confidential.

Posted On: August 12, 2011

UPDATE: DOL Temporarily Suspends the Processing of Prevailing Wage Determinations

AILA has received a report that the NPWC is now sending out the following revised message regarding prevailing wage determinations:

The OFLC National Prevailing Wage Center is experiencing delays in processing prevailing wage determinations as it is currently working to reissue certain determinations to comply with a court order issued June 15, 2011 in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. A Notice of Proposed Rulemaking was published in the Federal Register on June 28, 2011, and a Final Rule will be published on August 1. All Center resources are currently being utilized to comply with this court order. The processing of Prevailing Wage Determinations, redeterminations, and Center Director Reviews has been temporarily suspended. Processing will resume as soon as full compliance with the court order has been completed by OFLC.

Q: How long will the suspension of prevailing wage determinations last?
This is unclear. In the rule published on August 1, DOL indicated that while they will be able to reissue all of the required H-2B wage determinations before October 1, they also stated that DOL could not reissue all 4,000 required H-2B wage determinations before August 31, 2011. DOL has not issued any estimate on when they will resume processing prevailing wages.

Q: Is there any way to expedite a prevailing wage request?
DOL’s policy is that they will not expedite, and applications will be handled on a first-in, first-out basis.

Q: What is AILA liaison doing about the PWD delays?
AILA liaison has been in communication with DOL for the past several weeks about the prevailing wage delays (as well as other problems related to the new SOC codes introduced on July 1), and has forwarded specific requests for guidance to DOL. AILA has also asked that DOL immediately resume processing all prevailing wage requests, as suspension of prevailing wage determinations prevents employers from filing any PERM applications. DOL will be holding a call with AILA liaison and other stakeholders next week on prevailing wages, and we hope that DOL will be able to provide some estimate on PWD processing times, as well as whether any relief may be available for PERM cases that must be filed due to AC-21 requirements, expiring recruitment, or other reasons.

AILA is continuing to follow up with DOL to obtain additional information on the extent and duration of the prevailing wage delays and will post new information as soon as it becomes available.

Source of Information: AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 11072571

Posted On: August 11, 2011

September 2011 Visa Bulletin

The Department of State has released its latest Visa Bulletin.

Click here to view the September 2011 Visa Bulletin.

The September 2011 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.

**The priority date is current if there is no backlog in the category, or if the priority date is on or before the date listed as current in the State Department's monthly Visa Bulletin.

Posted On: August 10, 2011

Remanded – Did the CO elevate form over substance?

The Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals (BALCA) recently affirmed the final determination of a Certifying Officer (CO) denying labor certification for an alien worker for the position of “Electrical Helper.”

A selection was not made for Section M-1, which concerns whether or not the application was completed by the Employer. The CO denied certification citing the omission of a response for Section M-1. The Employer requested reconsideration or review of the denial and submitted an amended form. The CO did not reconsider its decision and the case was forwarded to BALCA on April 30, 2010.

PERM regulation 20 C.F.R. § 656.17(a) provides that incomplete applications will be denied. Further PERM regulation 20 C.F.R. § 656.11(b) provides that once an application is filed, requests for modifications to the application will not be accepted.

In the instant case, the facts as presented are similar to those found in a 2010 BALCA decision, Gunnels, 2010-PER-626 (November 16, 2010) where an Employer had neglected to check the box in Section M-1, but similarly provided a preparer’s name and signature, thereby signifying that someone other than the Employer had filled out the application. In Gunnels, the Employer made a request for reconsideration, but titled it “Request for Review”. In that decision, the BALCA panel determined that the CO abused its discretion and elevated form over substance in refusing to reconsider the denial. Here, the Employer merely neglected to check a box in M-1, but provided the preparer’s name and signature. Whether the CO abused his discretion depends upon whether he denied the Employer the opportunity to be heard on its legal argument.

Accordingly, the Board remanded to provide the CO the opportunity to reconsider the issue.

Posted On: August 9, 2011

Administrative Appeals Office Processing Times

The Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) Processing Times were released with processing dates as of August 1, 2011.

If you filed an appeal, please review the link below to determine the applicable processing time associated with your particular case.

Administrative Appeals Office

The current processing time for an I-129 H-1B Appeal is 21 months; for an I-129 L1 Appeal - 23 months. The current processing time for an I-140 EB2 Appeal for an Advanced Degree Professional is 31 months; for an I-140EB3 Appeal for a Skilled or Professional Worker is 35 months.

**Most other cases are within USCIS's processing time goal of 6 months or less.

Posted On: August 8, 2011

Issue: Where an Employer receives two different PWDs based on its primary and alternative minimum requirements, which PWD must the employer use?

The Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals (BALCA) recently affirmed the final determination of a Certifying Officer (CO) denying labor certification for an alien worker for the position of “Programmer Analyst.”

The Employer listed the minimum requirements as a Bachelors degree plus 5 years of experience in the position offered, or in the alternative, a Masters degree plus 1 year of experience in the job offered. The prevailing wage for the position listed in the application was $34.67 per hour. After receiving the Employer’s Application, the CO issued an Audit Notification. The CO denied certification citing that the PWD listed on the application was different from that provided in the Audit response. The audit response provided a PWD of $46.16 per hour. The Employer requested reconsideration and provided the PWD consistent with the wage listed on the labor application. The $34.67 per hour wage was based upon a separate PWD containing the primary requirements of Bachelors degree plus 5 years experience; and the $46.16 per hour wage was based upon another PWD containing the alternative requirements of a Masters degree plus 1 year experience. The CO denied reconsideration providing that the PWD submitted in the audit response did not match the prevailing wage listed in the labor application. The case was forwarded to BALCA and the Employer filed a State of Intent to Proceed on August 3, 2010.

PERM regulation 20 C.F.R. § 656.1(a)(2) controls and provides that labor certification can only be granted if the employment of the foreign worker will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of U.S. workers who are similarly employed.

In the instant case, the facts present a clear example of how certification of the foreign worker could have an adverse effect on the wages of U.S. workers. The foreign worker has a Bachelors degree plus 5 years of experience and ought to be paid the amount that similarly situated U.S. employees earn in this position in the same area of intended employment, $46.16 per hour. Here, employment of the foreign worker could have an adverse effect on the wages of U.S. workers similarly employed that have a Bachelors degree plus 5 years of experience, since the Employer is only offering $34.67 per hour for this position. Accordingly, the proper PWD in such a situation is not the PWD that matches the “primary” or “alternative” job requirements; rather, the proper PWD is the higher of the two PWDs.

Accordingly, the Board affirmed the decision of the CO in denying labor certification.

Posted On: August 5, 2011

MVP LAW GROUP – Immigration Q&A Forum, Friday, August 5th, 2011

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. And, therefore, your communication with us through this forum will not be considered as privileged or confidential.


Question #1 – Employment Based Immigration – Green Card (Biometrics)
I went for ASC fingerprint appointment with my wife. She received code 2 biometrics and I received code 3 biometrics. What do these codes mean?

Answer #1
In order to inform the ASC what data they need the USCIS places a code in the upper right corner of the appointment notice.
Code 1 = Ten (10) fingerprints ONLY
Code 2 = Index fingerprint, Photo and Signature
Code 3 = Ten (10) fingerprints, Index fingerprint, Photo and Signature


Question #2 – Temporary Travel as a Non-Immigrant
For how long can a person stay in US on a Business Visa (B1/B2)?

Answer #2
It depends, normally for a period of 6 months; however, whatever date the Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) stamp on your I-94 card is the length of time you are eligible to remain in the U.S. lawfully.


Question #3 – Employment Based Immigration – Green Card (Biometrics)
My priority date is current – waiting on issuance of GC. Just received second biometrics appointment notice, as first was received back in 2007. Do I have to attend the second appointment?

Answer #3
Yes, you should appear for the fingerprint appointment. If your fingerprints were taken over 15 months ago, they have expired and the USCIS requires a new set in order to continue with the processing of your AOS petition.


Question #4 – Temporary Work Visa – H-1B Nonimmigrant Visa
How many H-1B nonimmigrant visas remain under the CAP?

Answer #4
As of July 29, 2011, there were approximately 42,300 H-1B Regular CAP subject nonimmigrant visas remaining and 6,200 H-1B Masters Exemption nonimmigrant visas remaining. USCIS will continue to accept both cap-subject petitions and advanced degree petitions until a sufficient number of H-1B petitions have been received to reach the statutory limits, taking into account the fact that some of these petitions may be denied, revoked, or withdrawn. For continuous FY2012 H-1B Cap updates, please refer to our www.h1bvisalawyerblog.com.


Question #5 – Employment Based Immigration – Green Card (Biometrics)
Can I appear for the biometrics before the date printed on the notice which is Aug 18? Few of my friends have managed to get it done much before the date printed on the notice so I wanted to ask you if its okay to take a chance?

Answer #5
There are procedures and policies set in place by the USCIS so that petitions are adjudicated and processes are completed in a timely manner. The USCIS has scheduled the appointment for the date listed due to their tremendous workload at the present time. We recommend that you attend the biometrics as scheduled. Please be aware that the USCIS has the discretion to turn you away if you do attempt to have your fingerprints taken outside of the time listed on your appointment notice.


Question #6 – Temporary Work Visas – H-1B Nonimmigrant Visa
I recently got a new project in Redmond, Washington. I will be working at a client in Redmond. I have a certified LCA for my location in Boise, Idaho which was filed with my H1B petition. Does my employer need to file a new labor for Redmond, WA? If so can you guide me and my employer in filing labor in a new state?

Answer #6
According to the regulations governing the H-1B program, when you move to a new location outside of the geographical location listed on the original certified LCA, a new LCA must be submitted to the Department of Labor (DOL), as well as an amended petition filed with the USCIS. In summary, since your location change would be considered a "material change" in your previously approved employment, you would need to file a new LCA as well as the amended petition to stay within the regulations.


Question #7 – Temporary Work Visa – H-1B Nonimmigrant Visa
I am in the process of transferring employers and I don’t know if I can get a hold of an ‘end client letter’. Can we submit my petition without the end client letter?

Answer #7
You may submit the case without the end client letter; however, you most likely will receive a request for additional evidence (RFE) asking for an end client letter, which will further delay the approval. The most important thing the USCIS wants to see when filing an H-1B petition for third party placement is the contractual placement of the beneficiary and the establishment of a bona fide employer-employee relationship. They want to make sure that the duties the employee will be engaged in at the third party client site are ‘specialty occupation’ duties, and the end client letter attests to that exact information. This was not always the case; however, now a days, there are a lot of companies that take advantage of the H-1B program and place applicants at third party sites and do not retain any employment relationship with them, so much so that the USCIS released a memo back in January of 2010 indicating the acceptable documents to establish the legitimacy of the third party placement. Therefore, in order to obtain an approval, you have to document the above information – ‘contractual placement’ of the applicant and that the ‘bona fide employer-employee relationship’ will continue to exist throughout the requested period.

Helpful Resources:
USCIS Memo - January 8, 2010
USCIS Q&A Guidance


Question #8 – Visa Bulletin
Where do I find the visa bulletin?

Answer #8
The Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs publishes the monthly Visa Bulletin on their website at www.travel.state.gov under the Visas section. Alternatively, visitors may access the Visa Bulletin directly by going to:
http://www.travel.state.gov/visa/bulletin/bulletin_1360.html.
To be placed on the Department of State’s E-mail subscription list for the “Visa Bulletin”, please send an E-mail to the following E-mail address: listserv@calist.state.gov and in the message body type: Subscribe Visa-Bulletin First name/Last name (example: Subscribe Visa-Bulletin Sally Doe)


Question #9 – Temporary Work Visa – H-1B Nonimmigrant Visa
My last name has been omitted from form I-129 receipt notice. All my paperwork and G-28 had both my first and last name spelled correctly. Last Name omitted on I-129 receipt, what do I need to do now?

Answer #9
You will need to contact the USCIS National Customer Service number (1-800-375-5283) and speak with a Representative to request that the mistake be corrected, so that your I-129 Approval notice (Form I-797) will provide your first and last name.


Question #10 – Temporary Work Visa – H-1B Nonimmigrant Visa
I need to renew my H-1B visa. I have my H-1B visa since 2003.I already filed for my green card. Currently, I'm at the last step waiting for I-485 approval. My I-140 has been approved. I have my EAD. I spoke with my employer, they are willing to sign the paperwork and renew my H-1B. However, they are not willing to pay for the attorney fee and filing fee. Will it be alright for me to pay all the fees (attorney fee + filing fee)?

Answer #10
Absolutely not. The legal fees for the preparation and filing of the H-1B nonimmigrant extension petition should be borne by the Employer. Additionally, the USCIS filing fees shall be borne by the Employer. The H-1B nonimmigrant visa program calls for sponsorship, meaning the Employer must “sponsor” you, meaning pay the necessary fees and support your employment in the U.S..


MVP Law Group would like to thank everyone who contributed a question or comment.

Our next “Immigration Q & A Forum” is scheduled for Friday, August 19th, 2011!

Please remember to submit your questions/comments on our H1B Visa Lawyer Blog.

Posted On: August 4, 2011

LATEST UPDATE: H-1B FY2012 CAP COUNTS

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

As of July 29, 2011, 22,700 H-1B Regular CAP subject non-immigrant visa petitions have been filed with the USCIS towards the 65,000 cap.

As of July 29, 2011, 13,800 H-1B Masters Degree CAP subject non-immigrant visa petitions have been filed with the USCIS towards the 20,000 cap.

*USCIS will continue to accept H-1B petitions until a sufficient number of H-1B petitions have been received to reach the statutory limits, taking into account the fact that some of these petitions may be denied, revoked, or withdrawn.

Stay tuned to MVP Law Group for FY 2012 H-1B CAP updates!

Posted On: August 4, 2011

Questions & Answers: USCIS Issues Guidance Memorandum on Establishing the "Employee-Employer Relationship" in H-1B Petitions

Introduction
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued updated guidance to adjudication officers to clarify what constitutes a valid employer-employee relationship to qualify for the H-1B ‘specialty occupation’ classification. The memorandum clarifies such relationships, particularly as it pertains to independent contractors, self-employed beneficiaries, and beneficiaries placed at third-party worksites. The memorandum is titled: “Determining Employer-Employee Relationship for Adjudication of H-1B Petitions, Including Third-Party Site Placements: Additions to Officer’s Field Manual (AFM) Chapter 31.3(g)(15)(AFM Update AD 10-24).” In addition to clarifying the requirements for a valid employer-employee relationship, the memorandum also discusses the types of evidence petitioners may provide to establish that an employer-employee relationship exists and will continue to exist with the beneficiary throughout the duration of the requested H-1B validity period.


Questions & Answers
Q: Does this memorandum change any of the requirements to establish eligibility for an H-1B petition?

A: No. This memorandum does not change any of the requirements for an H-1B petition. The H-1B regulations currently require that a United States employer establish that it has an employer-employee relations with respect to the beneficiary, as indicated by the fact that it may hire, pay, fire, supervise or otherwise control the work of any such employee. In addition to demonstrating that a valid employer-employee relationship will exist between the petitioner and the beneficiary, the petitioner must continue to comply with all of the requirements for an H-1B petition including:

- establishing that the beneficiary is coming to the United States temporarily to work in a specialty occupation;
- demonstrating that the beneficiary is qualified to perform services in the specialty occupation; and
- filing of a Labor Condition Application (LCA) specific to each location where the beneficiary will perform services.


Q: What factors does USCIS consider when evaluating the employer-employee relationship?

A: As stated in the memorandum, USCIS will evaluate whether the petitioner has the “right to control” the beneficiary’s employment, such as when, where and how the beneficiary performs the job. Please see the memorandum in the links in the upper right hand of this page for a list of factors that USCIS will review when determining whether the petitioner has the right to control the beneficiary. Please note that no one factor is decisive and adjudicators will review the totality of the circumstances when making a determination as to whether the employer-employee relationship exists.


Q: What types of evidence can I provide to demonstrate that I have a valid employer-employee relationship with the beneficiary?

A: You may demonstrate that you have a valid employer-employee relationship with the beneficiary by submitting the types of evidence outlined in the memorandum or similar probative types of evidence.


Q: What if I cannot submit the evidence listed in the memorandum?

A: The documents listed in the memorandum are only examples of evidence that establish the petitioner’s right to control the beneficiary’s employment. Unless a document is required by the regulations, i.e. an itinerary, you may provide similarly probative documents. You may submit a combination of any documents that sufficiently establish that the required relationship between you and the beneficiary exists. You should explain how the documents you are providing establish the relationship. Adjudicators will review and weigh all the evidence submitted to determine whether a qualifying employer-employee relationship has been established.


Q: What if I receive or have received an RFE requesting that I submit a particular type of evidence and I do not have the exact type of document listed in the RFE?

A: If the type of evidence requested in the RFE is not a document that is required by regulations, you may submit other similar probative evidence that addresses the issue(s) raised in the RFE. You should explain how the documents you are providing address the deficiency(ies) raised in the RFE. Adjudicators will review and weigh all evidence based on the totality of the circumstances. Please note that you cannot submit similar evidence in place of documents required by regulation.


Q: Will my petition be denied if I cannot establish that the qualifying employer-employee relationship will exist?

A: If you do not initially provide sufficient evidence of an employer-employee relationship for the duration of the requested validity period, you may be given an opportunity to correct the deficiency in response to a request for evidence (RFE). Your petition will be denied if you do not provide sufficiently probative evidence that the qualifying employer-employee relationship will exist for any time period.


Q: What if I can only establish that the qualifying employer-employee relationship will exist for a portion of the requested validity period?

A: If you do not initially provide sufficient evidence of an employer-employee relationship for the duration of the requested validity period, you may be given an opportunity to correct the deficiency in response to a request for evidence (RFE). Your petition may still be approved if you provide evidence that a qualifying employer-employee relationship will exist for a portion of the requested validity period (as long as all other requirements are met), however, USCIS will limit a petition’s validity to the time period of qualifying employment established by the evidence.


Q: What happens if I am filing a petition requesting a “Continuation of previously approved employment without change” or “Change in previously approved employment” and an extension of stay for the beneficiary in H-1B classification, but I did not maintain a valid employer-employee relationship with the beneficiary during the validity of the previous petition?

A: Your extension petition will be denied if USCIS determines that you did not maintain a valid employer-employee relationship with the beneficiary throughout the validity period of the previous petition. The only exception is if there is a compelling reason to approve the new petition (e.g. you are able to demonstrate that you did not meet all of the terms and conditions through no fault of your own). Such exceptions would be limited and made on a case-by-case basis.


Q: What if I am filing a petition requesting a “Change of Employer” and an extension of stay for the beneficiary’s H-1B classification? Would my petition be adjudicated under the section of the memorandum that deals with extension petitions?

A: No. The section of the memorandum that covers extension petitions applies solely to petitions filed by the same employer to extend H-1B status without a material change in the original terms of employment. All other petitions will be adjudicated in accordance with the section of the memorandum that covers initial petitions.


Q: I am a petitioner who will be employing the beneficiary to perform services in more than one work location. Do I need to submit an itinerary in support of my petition?

A: Yes. You will need to submit a complete itinerary of services or engagements, as described in the memo, in order to comply with 8 CFR 214.2(h)(2)(i)(B) if you are employing the beneficiary to perform services in more than one work location. Furthermore, you must comply with Department of Labor regulations requiring that you file an LCA specific to each work location for the beneficiary.


Q: The memorandum provides an example of when a beneficiary, who is the sole owner of the petitioner, would not establish a valid employer-employee relationship. Are there any examples of when a beneficiary, who is the sole owner of the petitioner, may be able to establish a valid employer-employee relationship?

A. Yes. In footnotes 9 and 10 of the memorandum, USCIS indicates that while a corporation may be a separate legal entity from its stockholders or sole owner, it may be difficult for that corporation to establish the requisite employer-employee relationship for purposes of an H-1B petition. However, if the facts show that there is a right to control by the petitioner over the employment of the beneficiary, then a valid employer-employee relationship may be established. For example, if the petitioner provides evidence that there is a separate Board of Directors which has the ability to hire, fire, pay, supervise or otherwise control the beneficiary, the petitioner may be able to establish an employer-employee relationship with the beneficiary.


Q: What happens if I do not submit evidence of the employer-employee relationship with my initial petition?

A: If you do not initially provide sufficient evidence of an employer-employee relationship for the duration of the requested validity period, you will be given an opportunity to correct the deficiency in response to a request for evidence (RFE). However, failure to provide this information with the initial submission will delay processing of your petition.


For more information on USCIS and its programs, call 1-800-375-5283.

Information Provided by: United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Published Jan. 13, 2010; revised Aug. 2, 2011

Posted On: August 3, 2011

MythBuster: Did the Obama Administration grant amnesty on June 17?

On June 17, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) issued a new policy entitled "Exercising Prosecutorial Discretion…" clarifying how immigration officials should focus on the agency's key priorities to pursue criminal immigrants who pose real threats to public safety and national security. Commentators, including a member of Congress and the union that represents immigration officers, have criticized the memo, calling it a grant of amnesty that shirks the Obama Administration's duty to enforce immigration law. Last week, Congressman Lamar Smith (R-TX) sent a letter to all members in the House of Representatives stating that the June 17 "memo suggested that the agency take steps to legalize millions of illegal immigrants."

Please click here to review the Policy - Exercising Prosecutorial Discretion Consistent with the Civil Immigration Enforcement Priorities of the Agency for the Apprehension, Detention, and Removal of Aliens


Myth 1. The Administration's "prosecutorial discretion" policy is a grant of amnesty

Ever since President Reagan signed a law in 1986 granting legal status for millions of undocumented immigrants, those in favor of more restrictive immigration laws have complained that Reagan should not have granted an "amnesty" to lawbreakers. In the past decade, every bill proposing to register undocumented immigrants and legalize their status-no matter how tough the enforcement provisions-have been labeled amnesty. Those same charges were leveled at ICE's June 17 policy announcement. But nothing in that policy can be accurately described as even close to an amnesty. Most importantly, it does not authorize immigration officials to grant any immigrant legal status that is not already established in law. The policy reiterates ICE's existing enforcement priorities and gives guidance as to how and when to apply them in the field in a variety of settings from the moment an agent speaks to a person through the point of a prosecutor deciding whether and how to appeal a decision by a judge.


Myth 2. The Administration is being soft on immigration enforcement.

Immigration enforcement has never been more vigorous. In the fiscal year that ended September of last year, ICE deported nearly 400,000 people, a record high. Last year, Congress granted the Administration's request for an additional $650 million to provide increased border resources, including more border patrol agents, more surveillance equipment, and technology improvements. President Obama has also cited significant increases in the number of criminal aliens that have been apprehended and deported. Smart and effective enforcement does not mean picking up everyone on the streets dragnet-style. It requires targeting ICE resources to achieve the agency's mission of enforcing the law and ensuring public safety and national security.


Myth 3. The Obama Administration has granted "deferred action"-effectively amnesty-to thousands of people.

In March, Homeland Secretary Janet Napolitano testified before Congress that DHS had granted deferred action in less than 900 cases in the previous fiscal year, fewer times than the previous administration. Deferred action is a decision by the government to suspend temporarily deportation proceedings against someone. Deferred action does not grant legal status or provide a path to legal permanent residency, and DHS can revoke it and reinitiate proceedings at any time. Typically deferred action has been granted to ameliorate hardship on a case by case basis both for people who may be eligible in the future for legal status and those who are not.

Since Napolitano testified, she has been accused of misleading the public. The Federation for American Immigration Reform, an advocacy group in support of more restrictive immigration policies, announced that DHS had, in fact, granted deferred action in 12,338 cases in 2010. Of those cases, however, 96 percent (or 11,796) were made to victims of domestic violence, human trafficking and serious crimes as part of the process for granting special visas to protect them, including many who are helping law enforcement in the investigation and prosecution of dangerous criminals. These special visas were authorized by Congress to prevent domestic abuse, human trafficking and other violent crimes, goals that have long had strong bipartisan support in Congress.


Myth 4. Prosecutorial discretion is a new invention of the Obama Administration.

ICE's June 17 policy did not create anything new but affirmed a long-standing principle used by prosecutors and law enforcement officials nationwide to decide whether and how to enforce the law in a particular case. Every day, our nation's law enforcement officials make decisions about who to arrest, who to prosecute, and what sentences to seek. In the past decade, administration officials under Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama have issued more than a dozen memoranda outlining the practice. In 1999, 28 members of the House of Representatives from both parties, including Rep. Lamar Smith who now criticizes the policy, wrote to then-Attorney General Janet Reno encouraging the use of prosecutorial discretion in the enforcement of immigration law. The letter questioned why there were not policies in place to guide prosecutorial discretion in cases where deportation was "unfair" and caused "unjustifiable hardship" - for example, in cases of immigrants who came to this country as children or had U.S. citizen family members. The June 17 policy uses similar criteria to guide its officials.


Myth 5. The Administration is bypassing Congress and creating new immigration law.

Critics have suggested that ICE's June 17 policy oversteps the Administration's executive powers and usurps Congress's authority to legislate. The Constitution delegates authority to Congress to make laws. The executive branch has the responsibility to implement those laws and must do so in a well-balanced manner consistent with the law. Historically, immigration officers, just as any other law enforcement officers, have exercised prosecutorial discretion to conserve finite enforcement resources and to prevent injustices. In a 2010 memo, Attorney General Holder explained, "[t]he reasoned exercise of prosecutorial discretion is essential to the fair, effective, and even-handed administration of the federal criminal laws. Decisions about whether to initiate charges, what charges and enhancements to pursue, when to accept a negotiated plea, and how to advocate at sentencing, are among the most fundamental duties of federal prosecutors." The June 17 ICE policy does not grant new authority but simply seeks to consolidate, update, and clarify the more than a dozen prosecutorial memos that have been issued over the past decade. ICE is not usurping Congress' authority; it is doing its job.

This Information provided by: The Pulse: AILA's Capitol Beat - August 2, 2011 Edition

Posted On: August 1, 2011

MVP "Immigration Q & A Forum" - This Friday, August 5th, 2011

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, priority dates, or the debate focused on Ending Birthright Citizenship, 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, August 5th, 2011. Act now and submit your questions!

THANK YOU!

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. And, therefore, your communication with us through this forum will not be considered as privileged or confidential.