Want an appointment at a local office? Soon you may not be able to make one.

USCIS announced that it is phasing out InfoPass appointments at local offices (self-scheduled appointments) except on a limited basis. Basically they will allow appointments on an emergency basis and to deliver documents to the local office only. USCIS stated that their research showed that for the vast majority of people who make appointments at local offices, the questions they asked could be answered using the on-line resources at USCIS.com or calling the 1-800 number. In addition to the limited on-line appointments, if you call the 1-800 number and they determine that an appointment at the local office is needed, they will schedule it directly for you. There are certainly pluses and minuses to this new policy.

In the plus category, this should allow officers to spend more time interviewing people and adjudicating cases, thus bringing timelines for family and employment based green cards down.

In the minus category, it will make it much harder to find out exactly what is going on with a case once it is at the local office. Most local offices use to have special emails that immigration attorney’s could contact if there were issues. In addition, attorney’s (as well as immigrants themselves) could make appointments with the local office to find out what was happening with a case. Now, all that is available is calling the 1-800 number to try and find out what is going on. The only result of this is that it will be much harder to actually get the status of a case.

Currently the new policy is only in place in a limited number of states. However it should be rolled out nationwide by the new year. We will keep you updated as more information becomes available.

Please remember, as always, this blog does not offer legal advice. If you need legal advice, consult with a lawyer instead of a blog. Thank you.

Charlie Oppenheim Updates his Predications for Movement of Immigration Visa Numbers

Charlie Oppenheim updated his predictions on the movement of immigrant visa numbers for the foreseeable future. I will detail some of the highlights below, however, please do remember that these are just predictions from Mr. Oppenheim and they can change depending on what the actual demand in any given category actually materializes.

EB-1

 

While Charlie previously thought there would not be movement forward until next year, it now appears that next month (December) should see forward movement on the Worldwide numbers as well as for India and China. Charlie is still not sure how far forward they will move, so we will need to wait for next month to see what happens. He does caution, however, that Worldwide numbers will not become current in the foreseeable future, and this will probably be the norm for at least the first half of the fiscal year.

EB-2 + EB-3

 

Based upon current demand, China numbers will continue to move forward as they did for the November bulletin. On the other hand, EB-3 for China is seeing high demand right now. At the moment EB-2 China is only about 2 weeks ahead of EB-3 China. It is possible that the EB-2 date will pass the EB-3 date soon. However, Charlie is not sure if the current EB-3 demand is based upon downgraded EB-2s. If this is the case, then the forward movement of EB-2 dates could be affected by this phenomena.

For India, the EB-2 numbers and EB-3 numbers held steady in November, and it is projected that there will be little , if any, advancement in December for the EB-2 numbers. However the EB-3 usage is lighter, and there should be forward movement of a few weeks (or even months) in December.

 

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p dir=”auto”>If you have any questions, please call or email me. Please remember, as always, this blog does not offer legal advice. If you need legal advice, consult with a lawyer instead of a blog. Thank you.

November Visa Bulletin Released

The Department of State has released the November 2018 visa bulletin. While there are no real surprises, we will go through the details below. It should be noted that USCIS has stated that the Dates for Filing should be used for both family and employment based immigrant visas, so we will indicate those below as well.

Work Based Immigration Visas

EB1: The dates stayed the same (June 1, 2016 for India and China and April 1, 2017 for All Other Countries). Dates for Filing: October 1, 2017 for India and China and June 1, 2018 for All Other Countries).

EB2: China had the only change, going forward about 1 month to May 15, 2015. Otherwise India stayed at March 26, 2009 and All Other Countries stayed current. Dates for Filing: China is at June 15, 2015 and India is at May 22, 2009.

EB3: All stayed the same as last month (June 1, 2015 for China, January 1, 2009 for India and June 8, 2017 for the Philippines, while All Other Countries remained current). Dates for Filing: August 8, 2015 for China, October 1, 2009 for India, and July 17, 2017 for the Philippines.

Family Based Immigrant Visas

F1: Mexico stayed at August 1, 1997, the Philippines moved to February 1, 2007 and India, China and All Other Countries moved to June 22, 2011. Dates for Filing: Mexico stayed at October 8, 1998, the Philippines stayed at February 15, 2008 and India, China and All Other Countries stayed at March 8, 2012.

F2A: Mexico moved forward 1 month to September 1, 2016 and China, India, the Philippines and All Other Areas moved forward to September 15, 2016. Dates for Filing: Stayed at December 1, 2017 for All Countries.

F2B: Mexico moved forward to June 8, 1997 while the Philippines moved forward to June 1, 2007. India, China and All Other Countries moved forward to January 1, 2012. Dates for Filing: Stayed the same, June 22, 1997 for Mexico, December 15, 2007 for the Philippines and March 22, 2014 for India, China and All Other Countries.

F3: Mexico moved forward to December 22, 1995, the Philippines has moved to June 1, 1997 and China, India and All Other Countries are at January 8, 2007. Dates for Filing: No Movement. Mexico is at December 22, 1998, the Philippines are at June 1, 1997 and India, china and All Other Countries are at January 8, 2007.

F4: Mexico moved forward to February 8, 1998, the Philippines moved forward to June 15, 1995, India moved forward to June 1, 2004 and China and All Other Countries are at March 22, 2005. Dates for Filing: No Movement. Mexico is at June 22, 1998, the Philippines is at April 8, 1996, India is at January 1, 2005 and China and All Other Countries are at June 1, 2005.

October Visa Bulletin and Update from Charlie Oppenheim

The Department of State has released the October Visa Bulletin and Charlie Oppenheim, the person in charge of the Visa Bulletin has also updated us on what may happen in the near future with visa numbers.

First, in terms of the Visa Bulletin, what is probably most important to people is the EB-1 and EB-2 priority date cut-offs.  For October, the EB-1 cutoff for worldwide (and yes, it is NOT current) is April 1, 2017.  For India and China it is June 1, 2016.  According to Charlie, these dates will most likely not change until January 2019.

For EB-2 numbers, Worldwide did come back to Current.  However India and China remain backlogged.  India is at March 26, 2009 and China is at April 1, 2015.  Worldwide EB-3 is also current again, with India at January 1, 2009, China at June 1, 2015 and the Philippines at June 1, 2017.  Right now Charlie is predicting that Worldwide numbers will remain Current for the foreseeable future.  India and China will both move forward slowly, and India EB-3 may surpass India EB-3 at some point this year.

For Family based immigrant visas, according to Charlie, Mexico and China may move forward more rapidly than in the past as there has been less demand from those countries.  India, however, has seen increased demand and may not move forward as rapidly, if at all.  For specific categories and their priority dates, please call us.

Please remember, as always, this blog does not offer legal advice. If you need legal advice, consult with a lawyer instead of a Blog. Thank you.

May Visa Bulletin and Update from Charlie Oppenheim

UnknownRecently Charlie Oppenheim once again spoke with AILA and updated us on immigrant visa usage numbers.  This update also encompasses the updates in the May Visa Bulletin so there will be no separate post about that.  Below are the highlights of that update.

 

Employment Based Categories

In the April Bulletin Charlie moved forward several employment based categories quite a bit.  This was done to spur filings and usage of immigrant visas.  However, due to the longer timeframes now for adjudicating such cases, it will be months before the usage starts to affect visa numbers.  Therefore, for most categories, including EB-1 for China and India, EB-2 India, and EB-3 for China and the Philippines, the dates will hold steady in May.  Several other categories will see some forward movement:

EB-2 China will move forward 1 month to September 1, 2014

EB-2 India will move forward 3 months to May 8, 2008

EB-3 Other Workers – China will move forward about 1 month to May 1, 2007

EB-3 Other Workers – India will move forward about 3 month to May 1, 2008

For the future, it is likely that most employment-based final action dates will hold at their May dates for the month of June with some changes possible in July. What occurs is entirely dependent on demand that may materialize, and continuing consultations with USCIS. The wildcard this year that could cause unanticipated fluctuations in the final action dates is the pace of USCIS field office processing of I-485s.

Specifically looking at EB-1 China and India:  It is now too early to know whether the high worldwide EB-1 demand seen over the past few months is the result of a processing glut or sustained demand. Because of this, it is likely that EB-1 China and India will hold for at least another month, but Charlie is closely watching  demand to determine whether any advancements may be possible.

Lastly, Charlie is hopeful that the advancements made in April to EB-2 China will be sufficient to exhaust the visa numbers in this category, however he continues to monitor China EB-3 downgrades and is likely to hold the final action dates in these categories for at least another month. Despite this, there still remains the possibility of some advancement later this fiscal year if the anticipated demand does not materialize.

Family Based Categories

Below are the Dates for Filing (not the final action dates)  for family based categories:

Family-
Sponsored 
All Chargeability
Areas Except
Those Listed
CHINA-
mainland
born
INDIA MEXICO PHILIPPINES 
F1 08JAN12 08JAN12 08JAN12 15JUL98 08OCT07
F2A 22SEP17 22SEP17 22SEP17 22SEP17 22SEP17
F2B 08SEP11 08SEP11 08SEP11 22MAY97 08SEP07
F3 08SEP06 08SEP06 08SEP06 22SEP98 22JUL95
F4 01APR05 01APR05 01DEC04 08MAY98 15OCT95

As we have pointed out before, unlike employment based applications, most family-based preference petitions are processed through the National Visa Center and U.S. consulates abroad, which accept applications based on the “filing date” rather than the final action date. As a result, Charlie has excellent visibility into demand in these categories, enabling a slow and steady progression of the final action dates with much less volatility than is seen in the employment-based preference categories.

Final action dates advance modestly in May for all family-based preference categories, except F-1 China, India and Worldwide, which hold at the April dates. There is no retrogression in any of the family-based preference categories in May.

Please remember, as always, this blog does not offer legal advice. If you need legal advice, consult with a lawyer instead of a blog. Thank you.

USCIS Reaches FY 2019 H-1B Visa Cap And Finishes Count

imagesUSCIS announced on April 11 that they had received enough applications to fill the FY 2019 H-1B Cap.  Just today they announced that they had completed the counting nad selection process.  We should begin to receive receipts first, then returned applications that were not selected.  Here is the text of the press release from USCIS:

On April 11, USCIS used a computer-generated random selection process to select enough H-1B petitions to meet the congressionally-mandated cap and the U.S. advanced degree exemption, known as the master’s cap, for fiscal year (FY) 2019.

USCIS received 190,098 H-1B petitions during the filing period, which began April 2, including petitions filed for the advanced degree exemption. USCIS announced on April 6, that it had received enough H-1B petitions to reach the statutory cap of 65,000 and the master’s cap of 20,000. USCIS will reject and return all unselected petitions with their filing fees unless the petition is a prohibited multiple filing.

USCIS conducted the selection process for the master’s cap first. All unselected master’s cap petitions then became part of the random selection process for the 65,000 cap.

USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions that are otherwise exempt from the cap. Petitions filed for current H-1B workers who have been counted previously against the cap, and who still retain their cap number, will also not be counted towards the FY 2019 H-1B cap. USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions filed to:

  • Extend the amount of time a current H-1B worker may remain in the United States;
  • Change the terms of employment for current H-1B workers;
  • Allow current H-1B workers to change employers; and
  • Allow current H-1B workers to work concurrently in a second H-1B position.

 

Please remember, as always, this blog does not offer legal advice. If you need legal advice, consult with a lawyer instead of a blog. Thank you.

 

USCIS Suspending Premium Processing for Cap Subject H-1B applications

images-1Yesterday, USCIS announced that they would be suspending premium processing for 2019 Cap-subject applications until September 10, 2018.  This means you can only file cap-subject applications via regular processing.  Those applications that are cap-exempt, including those filed by universities and those for extensions of H-1B status, can continue to use premium processing.  Below is a section of the press release from USCIS:

Starting April 2, 2018, USCIS will begin accepting H-1B petitions subject to the Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 cap. We will temporarily suspend premium processing for all FY 2019 cap-subject petitions, including petitions seeking an exemption for individuals with a U.S. master’s degree or higher. This suspension is expected to last until Sept. 10, 2018. During this time, we will continue to accept premium processing requests for H-1B petitions that are not subject to the FY 2019 cap. We will notify the public before resuming premium processing for cap-subject H-1B petitions or making any other premium processing updates.
During this temporary suspension, we will reject any Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service, filed with an FY 2019 cap-subject H-1B petition. If a petitioner submits one combined check for the fees for Form I-907 and Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, we will reject both forms. When we resume premium processing, petitioners may file a Form I-907 for FY 2019 cap-subject H-1B petitions that remain pending.

Please call our office with any questions you may have.  And, please remember, as always, this blog does not offer legal advice. If you need legal advice, consult with a lawyer instead of a blog. Thank you.