Last week, USCIS announced that beginning on April 3rd, 2017, they will no longer be accepting H-1B petitions filed under the premium processing service. This service allowed for petitioners to pay an extra fee in order to guarantee the adjudication of their case within fifteen (15) calendar days of receipt. The fact that USCIS will suspend premium processing for H-1B cases on April 3rd means that no cap-subject cases filed this year will be eligible for premium processing (April 3rd is the first day USCIS will accept such cases). USCIS has stated, however, that H-1B cases will be eligible for expedited processing in accordance with their standard “expedite criteria” available on their website.
On Friday, January 27, 2017, President Trump signed an executive order (EO) entitled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.” This order, which took effect upon signing, halted all refugee admissions for 120 days, permanently suspended refugee admissions from Syria, and temporarily barred entry for 90 days of nationals from seven Middle Eastern and North African nations. As these orders were implemented, chaos broke out at the nation’s airports and ports-of-entry causing myriads of foreign nationals to either be subject to enhanced questioning, detainment, or even deportation from the United States. Several lawsuits were quickly filed that affected the order, but as of the date of this writing the vast majority of the substance of the President’s decree remains in effect. Continue Reading Trump’s Executive Order on the Travel Ban
On April 1 of each year in recent memory more than 200,000 employers vie for the coveted 85,000 H-1B visas for their foreign professional employees. This year USCIS will begin accepting H-1B petitions subject to annual numerical restrictions on Monday, April 3, 2017 (April 1st falls on a Saturday this year) for the 2018 fiscal year. Since the number of petitions USCIS is allowed to accept by law (known colloquially as the “cap”) will almost certainly be exceeded by the April 7th deadline, USCIS will thereafter conduct a random lottery process in order to determine whose petitions will be accepted and whose petitions will be rejected. Those with U.S. advanced degrees (masters or above) get better odds in the lottery drawing.
Proper and timely H-1B preparation is paramount to success as there are required steps that need to be taken (for example, the filing of an LCA with the Department of Labor) prior to filing the actual petition with USCIS. LCAs are usually reviewed and certified by the Department of Labor within seven (7) days, but such timelines cannot be trusted during the peak of the H-1B season. Continue Reading H-1B Cap Season Has Officially Begun