The Department of Homeland Security released the Proposed Rule of the USCIS Fee Schedule yesterday. According to the Proposal, the increase in fees are intended to cover shortages in the Immigration Examination Fee Account (IEFA). The fees are used to meet certain national security, customer service, and adjudicative processing goals. The Proposal details how they have used the fees in the past, such as, for example, the Electronic Immigration System (ELIS) and improving processing times.
The L-1A petition allows U.S. employers to apply for non-immigrant temporary employment visas for those employees that have been serving in a managerial capacity or an executive capacity for at least one consecutive year within the last three years in a foreign branch, parent, subsidiary, or affiliated company. These visas last only one year. However, the employer may extend it in two-year increments for up to seven years. Moreover, if the employer desires to hire the beneficiary as a permanent employee in the U.S., the employer may sponsor the employee for permanent residence through an EB-1 application. EB-1 is an extensive process and will be covered in a separate posting.
On March 21, 2016, The USCIS announced that the H-2B Cap for the first half of FY2016 has been reached. The final receipt date was March 15, 2016 for those with a job start date before April 1, 2016. Every year, the USCIS allows 66,000 employees to enter the U.S. to work on a temporary basis through issuing H-2B visas. The first half of the fiscal year, they allow a limit of 33,000 applicants.
Optional Practical Training, commonly known as OPT to international students studying in the U.S,, is an opportunity the U.S. has provided to foreign students here on F-1 status to gain practical experience while in the country. We all hope that the student will receive a job offer before the end of his OPT term. Call it an internship or a co-op opportunity for international students, if you will. This opportunity extends the student’s F-1 status for at least a year after the program on which his F-1 status is based has ended. Students studying in the specialty fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics may obtain OPT for 17 months.
For business immigration attorneys, this time of the year is more than just tax season, this is also H-1B season. The deadline for H-1B petitions is April 1 and attorneys are striving to complete the applications and send them in for employers before the cap is filled.
The cap for H-1B visas still maintains at 65,000 even though the popularity of this visa is ever increasing. If your beneficiary has obtained a U.S. master’s degree or higher, the attorney may relax her efforts, but only a little bit! Those with U.S. equivalents of master’s degrees or higher are exempt from the 65,000 gap and the USCIS will consider the first 20,000 petitions received for beneficiaries with these advanced degrees.