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June 2015 Visa Bulletin contains a bit of good news for persons in certainemployment-based (EB) categories. However, for others, like Chineseinvestors, the news is mostly bad. For Filipino professionals and Mexicans and Filipinos in some of the family-based (FB) categories, the news is downright ugly.
The worldwide EB-3 category (professionals, skilled and unskilled workers) advances 6 weeks creating the shortest backlog in this category in several years.
For persons born in China, the EB-2 numbers (for advanced-degree professionals) jump ahead by an entire year! EB-3 China advances by 4 months.
For persons born in India, the EB-2 category leaps ahead by 5 ½ months while the EB-3 numbers inch forward by a single week.
The worldwide family-based categories barely advance while the FB-2B (unmarried adult sons and daughters of permanent residents) and FB-3 (married sons and daughters of US citizens) numbers remain frozen.
For persons born in Mexico, most of the family-based categories advance either 1 week or not at all. In some of these categories, the waiting times exceed 20 years. The same is true for persons born in the Philippines.
The EB-5 investor category for persons born in China, which retrogressed 2 years in May, fails to move forward in June.
For persons born in Mexico who were sponsored by their US citizen brothers and sisters 18 years ago, the wait lengthens by 4 ½ months. This is a good example of how our legal immigration system is broken.
But what is much worse is the Philippines FB-1 category for unmarried adult sons and daughters of US citizens. In June, the present 10-year wait will lengthen to 15 years!
And finally, have pity for Filipinos in the EB-3 category (nurses, accountants, engineers, etc.). In May, their waiting times increased from 7 months to 7 years. (No, this is not a typo!). And in June, their waiting times will increase again, this time to 10 years.
Remember that as the federal fiscal year (October 1 to September 30) approaches its end, waiting times have a tendency to increase. This year, there are increasing earlier than usual.
However, do not despair. When the October Visa Bulletin is released, the outlook is bound to improve, at least to an extent.
If only Congress would take action to fix our broken immigration system, but that would probably be asking too much…
Updated 05-12-2015 at 04:51 PM by CShusterman
(Visa Bulletin, Priority Date, Family-Based, Employment-Based)
On May 26, the USCIS will begin accepting applications for form I-765 Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) submitted by certain H-4 spouses of H-1B professionals.
What follows is a list of answers to 10 of the most frequently asked questions about this new policy:
1. Which H-4 spouses are eligible for EADs?
H-4 spouses of H-1B professionals with approved I-140 visa petitions or who is the beneficiary of a PERM application or an I-140 which was filed at least 365 days before the expiration of his or her 6-year limitation of stay as an H-1B nonimmigrant. If the PERM application was approved, the I-140 must have been filed with the USCIS within 180 days.
2. What forms do I need to file?
File form I-765 with proof of your H-4 status, show that your spouse is in H-1B status and has an approved I-140 or that a PERM application or I-140 was filed over 1 year before the ending of the 6th year of the H-1B. The filing fee is $380. If you are filing for an H-4 extension, you may apply for an EAD concurrently.
3. How long will my EAD be valid?
Be sure to request that your EAD last for as long as your H-4 status is valid.
4. Are there any limits on my employment?
No, you can work in any type of lawful employment. You can even work for multiple employers if you wish. You can change jobs at any time. You can start your own business. You can stop working at any time. You can work as a salaried employee, an hourly employee or a contractor.
5. What if my spouse and I are both in H-1B status? Can I change to H-4 status and request an EAD at the same time?
Yes, as long as you meet the eligibility requirements discussed in Question #1 above. Your employer will probably be delighted not to have to submit and pay for an H-1B extension for you.
6. How early am I allowed to submit my H-4 extension and EAD application?
You can concurrently submit your H-4 extension and EAD application 6 months prior to the expiration date of your H-4 status.
7. How long will it take for me to receive an EAD?
An EAD should be issued within 90 days. However, if you are applying for an H-4 and an EAD simultaneously, the waiting time will be longer.
8. What if my spouse no longer works for the employer who filed his/her approved I-140?
This fact alone should not prevent you from obtaining an EAD. A 2000 law commonly referred to as AC-21 permits a person in H-1B status with an approved I-140 and a pending I-485 to change employers after his/her I-485 has been pending for 180 days or more as long as his/her new job is in the same or a similar occupation. No new PERM or I-140 is required. However, even if this is not the case, you will still be permitted to obtain an EAD. Your spouse will be able to retain the old priority date, but his/her new employer may have to file a new PERM application and an I-140 visa petition.
9. Can I use premium processing to apply for an EAD? Can I file my application online? Is it possible for an H-4 child of a parent in H-1B status to apply for an EAD?
The answer is no to each of these questions.
10. Approximately how many H-4 spouses will be able to qualify for EADs?
The USCIS estimates up to 179,600 H-4 spouses will be eligible to apply for EADs during the first year of this program, and 55,000 in each subsequent year. The new program does not distinguish between cap-subject and cap-exempt H-1Bs.
Updated 05-22-2015 at 02:06 PM by CShusterman
USCIS received 233,000 H-1B petitions from companies in the US seeking to employ foreign-born professional workers. This exceeds the number of H-1B petitions received last year by over 60,000. Under current law, only 85,000 of these petitions can be approved, about 36%.
Most of the other 64% of these petitions will be returned to disappointed employers. Computer professionals, physicians, teachers, researchers and many others will have to find jobs abroad. If they are in the US, most will be forced to return to their home countries.
Congress has faced this problem in the past and resolved it by increasing the H-1B quota. In January 2013, a bipartisan group of Senators introduced the “I-Squared” bill which would do just that.
However, Congress is stalemated on this and many other immigration issues.
The Chairmen of the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Immigration Subcommittee oppose this legislation and are focused on tightening loopholes in the H-1B program. Many of their concerns are valid. When a few companies use H-1B workers to displace US workers, I think we can all agree that this is wrong, and that the law needs to be changed to prevent this from happening.
But why can’t the H-1B cap be raised and loopholes in the law be closed at the same time? This would be a reasonable compromise and Congress is supposed to adapt at the art of compromise, especially when the H-1B program is clearly in the our national interest.
Smart, well-educated foreign-born scientists worked for the Manhattan Project and helped save many thousands of American lives in World War II. More recently, foreign-born professionals were responsible for developing the anti-HIV cocktail and founding major US employers like Google, Yahoo, Intel and providing jobs for hundreds of thousands of American workers.
It’s time for Congress to get its house in order and pass H-1B legislation.
Outside the world of Congress, on April 13, the USCIS selected the 85,000 lucky H-1B lottery winners. However, it will be some time before they are notified.
The USCIS will begin to adjudicate H-1B cap-subject cases where the employers paid an extra fee for premium processing starting on April 27. Then, by May 12, these employers will receive approvals, denials or requests for additional evidence on these cases.
After this, USCIS will begin to adjudicate non-premium processing H-1B petitions. This process will probably continue until August.
Most H-1B professionals for whom petitions are approved by the USCIS will be able to start work on October 1, 2015 although students with OPT will be able to continue their employment throughout the summer if H-1B petitions are approved on their behalf.
Employers can expect that by sometime in June, they will receive back their H-1B petitions as well as refunds of filing fees for petitions which were not selected in the lottery.
Updated 04-17-2015 at 01:00 PM by CShusterman
The MAVNI (Military Accession Vital to National Interest) program was started in 2008 to recruit persons with medical skills (Certain physicians and nurses, etc.) or with special language skills into to the US military. Most of these persons have to be present in the US in temporary visa status. Once they complete their basic training, they are immediately eligible to apply for naturalization.
MAVNI has strict numerical limits. However, the numbers were recently increased from 1,500 to 3,000 per year and will increase again in fiscal year 2016 (which starts October 1, 2015) to 5,000 year per year.
The government recently announced that it would accept applications from persons with DACA work permits. Also, persons with TPS, physicians who had not received a J waiver and asylees/refugees are eligible to apply. Caveat: Spanish is not one of the languages on the MAVNI list.
Eligible individuals can enlist for a 3-year contractual active duty tour or for 6 years in the Selected Reserve.
If a person naturalizes, but fails to complete the above requirements, their US citizenship can be revoked.
Languages include Albanian, Amharic, Arabic, Azerbaijani, Bengali, Bulgarian, Burmese, Cebuano, Cambodian-Khmer, Chinese, Czech, French (with citizenship from an African Country), Georgian, Haitian Creole, Hausa, Hindi, Hungarian, Igbo, Indonesian, Kashmiri, Korean, Kurdish, Lao, Malay, Malayalam, Moro (Tausug/Maranao/Maguindanao), Nepalese, Pashto, Persian Dari, Persian Farsi, Polish, Portuguese, Punjabi, Russian, Sindhi, Serbo-Croatian, Singhalese, Somali, Swahili, Tagalog, Tajik, Tamil, Thai, Turkish, Turkmen, Ukrainian, Urdu (with citizenship from Pakistan or Afghanistan), Uzbek and Yoruba.
Active Duty Medical Specialties include Comprehensive Dentist, Oral Surgeon, Preventive Medicine, Anesthesiologist, Pediatrician, Psychiatrist, Internal Medicine, Family Medicine, General Surgeon, Emergency Medicine, Nuclear Medical Science Officer, Entomologist, Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner and Nurse Anesthetist.
Army Reserve Medical Specialties include General Dentist, Comprehensive Dentist, Prosthodontist, Oral Surgeon, Preventive Medicine, Urologist, Anesthesiologist, Ophthalmologist, Otolaryngologist (ENT), Psychiatrist, Internal Medicine, Family Medicine, General Surgeon, Thoracic Surgeon, Orthopedic Surgeon, Emergency Medicine, Entomologist, Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Physician Assistant and Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner
For Army Reserve only: Health care professionals in their final year of residency may be eligible to apply to the MAVNI program.
Additional information about MAVNI is available on the following website (http://www.goarmy.com/benefits/addit...ves/mavni.html )
Updated 04-13-2015 at 01:56 PM by CShusterman
In 2014, when over 172,000 petitions were filed for 85,000 visas, immigration lawyers had the following advice for the H-1B lottery losers:
Look for a cap-exempt H-1B employer;Get a TN or an E-3 visa if you are eligible;Extend your OPT if you are a STEM graduate;Go to graduate school on an F-1 visa; orReturn to your country, and try again next year.
This year, there will probably be over H-1B 200,000 petitions filed for 85,000 visas, so the odds of being selected for the H-1B lottery will be far less than they were last year.
This year, there is a better alternative to waiting for the H-1B lottery results: Have your employer sponsor you for a green card now.
Last year, the wait in the EB-3 professional category was 18 months. This year, the EB-3 wait has been decreasing every month. Consider the first 3 months of 2015: January (19 months), February (13 months) and March (9 months). Odds are the EB-3 waiting times will continue to shrink, perhaps to 6 months or less.
This is great news for both employers and employees getting ready for the H-1B lottery in April. After all, even if one wins the H-1B lottery, he cannot get H-1B status for at least 6 months, until October 1, 2015. So why not start your application for a green card now? It is not necessary to wait until April to apply for a green card.
Let's examine the following categories of potential immigrants:
1. Students who will Graduate this June
If you are due to graduate from a US university in June, you will be granted a 12-month OPT work permit (EAD), perhaps with the possibility of a 17-month extension if your degree is in a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) field.
If you employer immediate files a PERM application of your behalf, it will probably be approved before the end of 2015 and you can file forms I-140 and I-485 simultaneous. 90 days later, you will qualify for another EAD, and you will get your green card a few months later.
2. Registered Nurses and Physical Therapists
Most RNs are ineligible for H-1B visas, so it may not make sense to apply. However, both RNs and PTs are Schedule A shortage occupations, meaning that their employers do not have to file PERM applications for them. Instead, they can simply file I-140s for them, and when their priority dates are reached a few months later, they can submit I-485 packets and received an EAD 90 days later. A few months after that, they will receive green cards.
3. Other Professionals
If you are not eligible for OPT and are not an RN or a PT, there is no reason to worry. If you are present in the US on another type of working visa (E-1, E-2, H-1B, H-4, J-1, J-2, L-1, L-2, O, P, R, etc.) your employer can sponsor you for a green card, and you will be probably get an EAD within 12 months and a green card shortly thereafter.
If you outside the US, you will have to get your green card abroad, but do not let that stop you. If your employer in the US is willing to sponsor you for a green card, you will probably enter the US as a permanent resident within 1 to 2 years.
Unfortunately, Congress has yet to abolish the per-country quotas for EB visas. Until they do, applying for a green card will take many years for persons born in India and China with needed job skills.
4. Section 245(k)
What if so many people who lose the H-1B lottery all apply for green cards now that the waiting times start to retrogress?
If you are in the US, remember that section 245(k) of the law permits you to adjust your status under an employment-based category as long as you have not been out of status for 180 days or more since you last admission to the US. In other words, you have 6 months of wiggle room.
So, if you lose the H-1B lottery, don't jump off a bridge. Have your employer sponsor you for a green card, now!
Updated 02-17-2015 at 03:06 PM by CShusterman