Tag Archives: H-1B

UPDATE: The iCERT Portal System is currently unavailable

The Department of Labor provided an iCERT update this afternoon: IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT (Updated January 2, 2019, 12:00PM EST): Within the first five minutes of opening the semi-annual H-2B certification process on January 1, 2019, the U.S. Department of Labor iCERT system had an unprecedented demand for H-2B certifications with more than 97,800 workers requested in … Continue Reading

The iCERT Portal System is Currently Unavailable

The Department of Labor announced an iCERT service interruption on Jan. 1: IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT: We sincerely apologize for the major service interruption in the iCERT System early in the morning of January 1, 2019. Due to overwhelming filing demand, the Department’s technology staff is working diligently to investigate the cause of the system outage and … Continue Reading

Notice of Proposed Rule for H-1B Cap Season: Summary and Real-World Implications

On Nov. 30, 2018, the Department of Homeland Security issued the notice of proposed rulemaking to amend its H-1B cap-subject lottery process that USCIS conducts every year. The proposed rule seeks to amend the way H-1B cap-subject petitions are submitted for the lottery, and also the way H-1B cap-subject petitions are randomly selected. USCIS proposes a … Continue Reading

DOL Implements New LCA Form Effective Nov. 19, 2018

The Labor Condition Application (LCA) Form, ETA 9035, is a required form for non-immigrant visa categories including the H-1B, H-1B1 (Chile/Singapore) and E-3 (Australia). Pursuant to The Department of Labor’s plans to better protect American workers, confront fraud, and increase transparency, a new version of the LCA form took effect on Nov. 19, 2018. This form includes … Continue Reading

USCIS Continues to Increase Number of RFEs and Denials Issued

Since President Trump issued his “Buy American and Hire American” Executive Order in April 2017, USCIS has been issuing Requests for Evidence (RFEs) at unprecedented rates. While the H-1B visa category was specifically targeted as one requiring stricter scrutiny and reform efforts, USCIS has also focused on other visa types for significant adjudication and approval … Continue Reading

USCIS Publishes a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to Remove Employment Authorization for Certain H-4 VISA Holders

As an update (to this recent posting), we clarify that USCIS recently indicated in the Fall Unified Agenda the posting of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in November 2018 (see RIN 1615-AC15) on this regulation. Please check back as this and other H-1B regulatory actions are anticipated in the near future. U.S. Department of Homeland … Continue Reading

USCIS Proposes Increase to Premium Processing Fee

On Aug. 31, 2018, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) proposed a final rule in the Federal Register to increase the premium processing fee for certain visa petitions to $1,410, effective Oct. 1, 2018. Premium processing, a service offered for certain petitions, requires U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to adjudicate a petition (i.e., approve, … Continue Reading

USCIS Extends and Expands Suspension of Premium Processing for H-1B Petitions

USCIS is extending the temporary suspension of premium processing for cap-subject H-1B petitions and, beginning Sept. 11, 2018, will be expanding this temporary suspension to include certain additional H-1B petitions. The suspensions are expected to last until Feb. 19, 2019.  While H-1B premium processing is suspended, USCIS will reject any request for premium processing filed with … Continue Reading

USCIS Completes the H-1B Cap Random Selection Process for FY 2019

USCIS has announced that it received 190,098 H-1B petitions during the filing period for FY2019, which began on April 2, 2018, including petitions filed for the advanced degree exemption.  This year’s number of petitions is lower than the 199,000 H-1B petitions filed in FY2018.  Per the regulations, on April 11, USCIS conducted its random lottery … Continue Reading

Temporary Suspension of Premium Processing for FY2019 H-1B Cap Cases

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) announced a temporary suspension of premium processing for 2019 Fiscal Year H-1B cap-subject petitions, including those cases seeking exemption on the basis of the beneficiary having obtained a U.S. masters or higher degree. It is expected that the temporary suspension will last until Sept. 10, 2018. The reason for … Continue Reading

New USCIS Memo Formalizes Additional Requirements for H-1Bs at Third Party Worksites

In support of its efforts to combat H-1B fraud and consistent with President Trump’s Buy American Hire American initiative, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will now require employers sponsoring H-1B workers at third-party worksites to include additional information and documentation in their H-1B filings. The new policy memorandum “Contracts and Itineraries Requirements for … Continue Reading

OMB OIRA Releases Unified Agenda and USCIS Regulatory Priorities, Including H-1B, EB-5, and More

On Dec. 14, the Office of Management and Budget Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OMB) published the biennial Unified Agenda.  A long-standing outgrowth of previous regulatory reform efforts, the Unified Agenda offers the public the “current thinking” of federal agencies on upcoming Agency regulatory priorities. Of importance to the immigration community, DHS USCIS posed … Continue Reading

New Trump Administration Policy in Support of Buy American, Hire American Toughens Visa Extension Process

For over a decade, filing an extension of nonimmigrant status in visa categories such as the H-1B was a fairly routine process for cases involving the same employer and same underlying facts.  This changed yesterday. As part of the Trump Administration’s Buy American, Hire American: Putting American Workers First initiative, USCIS rescinded a long-standing policy … Continue Reading

USCIS Changes Locations To File Forms I-129

On Oct. 12, 2017, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced a major change in the direct filing addresses for certain Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker petitions. Previously, the filing center for these petitions was determined by the U.S. state or territory where the beneficiary’s worksite or training site was located. With USCIS’s … Continue Reading

USCIS Approval Notices Cause Confusion due to Inconsistent Validity Periods

USCIS has begun issuing I-797A, Notice of Action Approval Notices containing inconsistent validity periods on the face of the document. Specifically, the top portion of the I-797A approval notices lists the approved visa classification (e.g., H-1B) and the authorized validity period of that visa classification (e.g., from Oct. 1, 2017, to Sept. 11, 2020). The … Continue Reading

USCIS to Resume H-1B Premium Processing for Petitions Filed under FY2018 Cap

USCIS announced today that it will resume its premium processing service for all H-1B petitions that are subject to this year’s H-1B cap.  This news provides much needed relief to employers and foreign nationals, particularly in those situations where an employee is relying on F-1 optional practical training (OPT) cap gap provisions for work authorization. … Continue Reading

USCIS Issues Policy Memorandum to Define “Affiliate” or “Subsidiary for Determining the H-1B ACWIA Fee

On Aug. 28, 2017, USCIS released a policy memorandum that clarified the definition of “affiliate” and “subsidiary” for purposes of determining the H-1B ACWIA fee.  The H-1B ACWIA fee is $1500 for H-1B petitioners who have 26 or more full-time equivalent (FTE) employees, and half that amount ($750) for H-1B petitioners who have 25 or … Continue Reading

Emerging Trends: USCIS Challenging Level 1 Wages and Computer Programmer Occupational Classification for H-1B Petitions

Over the past several months, some trends have developed which pose challenges for employers taking part in the H-1B program: 1. the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) is issuing Requests for Evidence (RFEs) for H-1B petitions that challenge the H-1B position’s level 1 prevailing wage classification, the lowest permitted wage level for H-1B filings; … Continue Reading

USCIS Posts Comprehensive Reports Containing H-1B and EAD Data

Under the heading “Transparency for U.S. Workers,” the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) uploaded five reports today containing comprehensive data regarding its H-1B and Employment Authorization Documents (EAD) adjudications. The H-1B reports “provide information about the hiring practices of employers who petition for foreign national workers.” The H-1B trend report contains statistics about the H-1B program … Continue Reading
LexBlog