September 18, 2014 § Leave a comment
Each month, the U.S. Department of State (DOS) publishes a Visa Bulletin that summarizes the available immigrant visa numbers for the upcoming month. The visa numbers are calculated based on total fiscal year limits set by the Department of State.
The Visa Bulletin is broken down by categories (e.g. employment-based), preferences (e.g. 2nd preference), and countries of chargeability (e.g. India), which are presented in matrix format. On each of the matrices, the breakdowns come together with either a “C,” a “U,” or a date.
- A “C” stands for current (i.e., all of the immigrant visa demand for that breakdown can be satisfied by the amount of available visa numbers currently allocated).
- A “U” stands for unavailable (i.e., all of the allocated visa numbers in that breakdown have been used for the fiscal year).
- A date represents the cut-off date for an oversubscribed breakdown (i.e., not all of the immigrant visa demand for that breakdown can be satisfied by the amount of available visa numbers currently allocated).
Cut-off dates are determined by priority dates (i.e., date of filing for the petition or application granting a visa number). Thus, if a date is listed in one of the matrix breakdowns on the monthly Visa Bulletin, the date represents the priority date of the first applicant whose immigrant visa application could not be processed within the numerical limits.
For example, if “01APR11” appears in one of the matrix breakdowns, then only applicants whose priority dates are earlier than April 1, 2011 are eligible to receive an immigrant visa.
Countries of chargeability are determined by countries of birth. It is important to note that this is not referring to country of citizenship. Often times, foreign nationals mistakenly believe that they can “skip the line” by obtaining citizenship in another country. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
Currently, the Department of State has four countries designated on the Visa Bulletin whose visa demand exceeds the per-country limitation. These countries are China (mainland born), India, Mexico, and Philippines. If a country is not specifically represented on the Visa Bulletin, it falls into the “All Chargeability Areas” section. In recent months, the India Employment-Based Second Preference (“EB-2 India”) cut-off date has been rapidly advancing due to the use of “otherwise unused” immigrant visa numbers. However, this rapid advancement has led to increased demand for these visas.
In the October 2014 Visa Bulletin, the DOS specifically mentions that the increased demand will require the retrogression of the EB-2 India cut-off date. The Visa Bulletin goes on to explain that the retrogression could occur as early as November 2014. Currently, the cut-off date for EB-2 India is May 1, 2009. However, Visa Bulletin experts are predicting a retrogression to around 2005.
Pursuant to this information, foreign nationals who fall under the EB-2 India category should verify whether they are eligible to file an immigrant visa application based on the current cut-off date. Eligible individuals should heed the retrogression warning and file their applications as soon as possible. Not sure how to verify this information? GoffWilson is here to help! Please contact our office today for more information on filing an immigrant visa application.
To view the October 2014 Visa Bulletin click here.
July 16, 2014 § Leave a comment
Two years ago it was announced that individuals who came to the US as children and met several guidelines could request consideration of deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal.
The time for renewal of the initial two-year grant of deferred action for childhood arrivals (DACA) is upon us and we want to highlight the renewal process. To request a renewal, you must meet the initial DACA guidelines:
- You were under the age of 31 on June 15, 2012
- You came to the US prior to your 16th birthday
- You have continuously resided in the US since June 15, 2007
- You were physically present in the US on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making your request for consideration of deferred action with USCIS
- Either you entered without inspection before June 15, 2012, or your lawful immigration status expired as of June 15, 2012
- You are currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces
- You have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, three or more other misdemeanors, and you do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety
In addition, for your renewal, you must also meet the following:
- You have not departed the US on or after August 15, 2012, without advance parole; and
- You have continuously resided in the US since you submitted your last DACA request that was approved.
We recommend that submissions for renewal occur no later than 120 days before your current period of deferred action will expire; earlier submissions may be rejected with instructions to file closer to the date of expiration.
There is a $380 filing fee for Form I-765 and an $85 biometric fee for a total filing fee cost of $465 paid to the immigration service.
We are happy to answer any questions you may have and we can assist you with the renewal process of your status. Immigration is all we do!
June 11, 2014 § Leave a comment
Over the next few weeks, schools across the United States will let out for the summer and many people are making vacation plans, hoping to enjoy some of the summer heat, catch up with family, or take that trip dreamed of during the long, cold winter months. With the economy showing signs of recovery, we can expect to see even more people traveling internationally to enjoy these coming warm summer months.
To improve the speed with which U.S., Canadian, and eligible Visa Waiver Program international travelers move through the U.S. Border Clearance process, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has implemented a program called Automated Passport Control (APC). Americans, Canadians and international visitors under the VISA Waiver Program are eligible to use APC kiosks. Visa Waiver Program visitors must also have ESTA approval. CBP plans to roll-out the program for Lawful Permanent Residents by the end of 2014.
Since August 2013, this program has been successfully piloted in various locations around the US such as Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport and New York’s JFK International Airport.
Self-Service APC Kiosks
Instead of filling out a paper Customs declaration form, passengers who are eligible can proceed directly to a self-service kiosk in the passport control area. In addition to speeding up the clearance process, the kiosks also allow people residing at the same address to be processed together. Travelers will be prompted to scan their passport, take a photograph using the kiosk, and answer a series of questions verifying biographic and flight information.
Once passengers have completed the series of questions and submitted their Customs declaration form, a receipt will be issued which is then taken, together with their passport, to a CBP Officer to finalize their inspection for entry into the U.S.
APC Kiosks Are Currently Operational at the Following Airports:
• Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL)
• Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS)
• Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT)
• Chicago Midway International Airport (MDW)
• Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD)
• Dallas/Forth Worth International Airport (DFW)
• Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL)
• Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH)
• Miami International Airport (MIA)
• Montréal-Pierre Elliot Trudeau International Airport (YUL)
• New York John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK)
• Orlando International Airport (MCO)
• Seattle Sea-Tac Airport (SEA)
• Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ)
• Vancouver International Airport (YVR)
APC kiosks are available in the following languages: English, Spanish, French, Italian, Korean, Dutch, German, Chinese (Traditional/Simplified), and Japanese.
To make sure your trip is uninterrupted, always check the expiration in your passport before traveling. With the new APC, you will be able to avoid long lines at the U.S. border clearance and enjoy your vacation all the more!
For more information on CBP please visit their website (www.cbp.gov). For more information on APC, click here. For all your immigration questions, including international travel, please call us- we’re here to help!
May 15, 2014 § Leave a comment
APPROVED FOR ONE HRCI GENERAL CREDIT
Don’t miss this opportunity to stay current! On May 29, 2014, Attorney John Wilson will be giving a webinar on the alternatives to the H-1B specialized knowledge visa for professionals. Registration is now open – click here!
This webinar will focus on alternative options to the H-1B visa for both individuals and their employers. We will discuss the H-1B cap, portability, and review the following alternatives: E-3 Australian visa, B in lieu of H-1 or H-3, B-1, TN, OPT and OPT STEM Extension, L-1A and L-1Bs, E-1 and E-2, and O-1A and O-1B visas.
The webinar will be one hour in length beginning at 2 p.m. (EDT) with 15 minutes afforded for Q&A. GoffWilson is pleased to offer participants one recertification credit hour through the HR Certification Institute for PHP, SPHR and GPHR. A certificate will be provided for all who complete the webinar.
May 2, 2014 § Leave a comment
John R. Wilson, Esq.
May 29, 2014
Join us on May 29 for our webinar, “The Land of Opportunity-Beyond the H-1B: Alternative Temporary Work Visas.”
On April 1, 2014, the U.S. Immigration Service began accepting new H-1B visa applications for those with specialized knowledge and advanced degrees for the 2015 fiscal year cap. Due to the high volume of petitions filed, the cap was reached by April 7, 2014. Petitions were selected at random to meet the numerical limit for Fiscal Year 2015.
Presented by our own John R. Wilson, Esq., our 60-minute webinar will focus on alternative options to the H-1B visa for both individuals and their employers and will include 15 minutes of interactive Q & A.
We will discuss the H-1B cap, portability, and review the following alternatives: E-3 Australian visa, B in lieu of H-1 or H-3, B-1, TN, OPT and OPT STEM Extension, L-1A and L-1Bs, E-1 and E-2, and O-1A and O-1B visas.
This program has been submitted for 1 (General) recertification credit hour toward PHR, SPHR and GPHR recertification through the HR Certification Institute.
To order tickets, visit the Eventbrite listing.
April 18, 2014 § Leave a comment
Join us for our popular I-9 Workshop Training Seminar! The workshop will take place on Thursday, June 5 from 8 a.m. to noon at the Delta Dental Auditorium in Concord, NH. Participants earn three Human Resource Certification Institute (HRCI) continuing education credit hours for completing the training.
This is a hands-on workshop where participants will complete sample I-9 Forms and have an opportunity to ask questions. All participants receive a copy of the current GoffWilson proprietary workbook and reference manual as well.
The registration fee for the seminar is $115, which includes intensive Form I-9 training, the updated 2014 version of the GoffWilson proprietary I-9 manual, breakfast, and three hours of HRCI credit. Early registration is recommended as space is limited, and the workshop sells out every year.
To order tickets, visit the Eventbrite listing.
8:00 a.m. Registration and Breakfast
8:30 a.m. Seminar Begins – Introduction
8:45 a.m. Intensive Training Part I: Completing the I-9 Form
- Lists of Acceptable Documents
- Receipt Rule Samples and Establishing Office Procedures
10:00 a.m. Break
10:15 a.m. Intensive Training Part II: Retention and Maintenance
- Issue Spotting, Retention Requirements, Social Security
- No-Match Letters, E-Verify requirement
- Federal Contractor, I-9 Compliance Resource Guide
11:45 a.m. Questions & Answers
Noon: End of Seminar
April 16, 2014 § Leave a comment
USCIS announced on April 7, 2014 that is had reached the statutory cap of 65,000 for H-1B petitions for fiscal year (FY) 2015. The H-1B visa program allows for businesses to employ foreign workers in occupations that require highly specialized training and/or education in such fields as science, engineering, and computer programing.
USCIS received a record number of about 172,000 H-1B petitions during the week-long filing period which began on April 1. This number included petitions filed under the Master’s Cap exemption for individuals with advanced degrees, which is subject to a 20,000 cap.
As a result of almost 50,000 more applications received for FY 2015, USCIS completed a computer-generated random lottery for the third time ever in its history. After meeting the 65,000 general-category cap and 20,000 cap under the advanced degree exemption, all petitions not selected will be returned.
According to an earlier announcement from USCIS on March 25, premium processing for H-1B cap cases will begin no later than April 28, 2014.
USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions for Cap-Exempt petitions such as extensions, changes in terms of employment for current H-1B workers, change of employers, and working concurrently in a second H-1B position. This processing time is currently being reported by the USCIS website as being 2 to 2 ½ months.
Please visit the following links for the USCIS press releases/alerts:
GoffWilson is ready to answer all of your questions and concerns regarding the H-1B petition or other types of employment based applications. Just give us a call– we are ready to help!