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Chris Musillo on Nurse and Allied Health Immigration

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  1. The Most Important Visa Bulletin Ever

    by , 12-11-2009 at 08:44 AM (Chris Musillo on Nurse and Allied Health Immigration)

    by Chris Musillo
    The January 2010 Visa Bulletin has just been released and it is the most important Visa Bulletin ever released. For the first time, the Department of State has projected future months' visa numbers.

    Based on current indications of demand, the best case scenarios for cut-off dates which will be reached by the end of FY-2010 are:

    EB2:
    China: July through October 2005
    India: February through early March 2005

    EB3:
    Worldwide: April through August 2005
    China: June through September 2003
    India: January through February 2002
    Mexico: January through June 2004
    Philippines: April through August 2005


    FY2010 runs until September 30, 2010. Based on these projections, EB3 priority dates should move to mid-2005 by the end of FY-2010. This means that there is a five year processing time for EB3 professions, such as most nursing positions. This is a horrendous processing time. Congress plainly has to enact positive legislation aimed at progressing processing times for shortage occupations such as nursing.

    The consolation is that intending immigrants can now plan for when their immigrant visa number will come. Those with EB3 priority dates beyond Summer 2005 should not expect their IV appointment in 2010. Charlie Oppenheim and the Visa Bulletin team deserve credit for producing these estimates. The fault for the long retrogression is with Congress, not with the DOS.

    The Visa Bulletin also contains an explanation of the visa number calculation that is required reading for anyone interested in immigrant visa allocation.
  2. H-1 Cap at 61,500 (12/8 Update)

    by , 12-09-2009 at 03:22 PM (Chris Musillo on Nurse and Allied Health Immigration)

    by Chris Musillo
     
    As of December 8, 2009, there are approximately 3,000 H-1Bs still available, which is when the USCIS last updated their page. MU is predicting that the H-1B cap will be reached by next week. Accordingly all MU clients are encouraged to send us their H-1B cap-subject filings ASAP.

    Employees that may need an H-1B visa include:

    - International students working on an EAD card under an OPT or CPT program after having attended a U.S. school;
    - International employees working on a TN may need an H-1B filed for them in order for them to pursue a permanent residency (green card) case;
    - Prospective international employees in another visa status e.g. H-4, L-2, J-1, F-1;- H-1B workers with a cap exempt organization; and
    - Prospective international employees currently living abroad.International workers who are working here in the U.S. on an H-1B visa with another cap-subject employer are not subject to H-1B cap. These cases are commonly referred to as "transfer" cases and may be filed at any time throughout the year.

    Many healthcare professions ordinarily qualify for H-1(b) status, including Physical Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Speech Language Therapists, and some Registered Nursing jobs.
     

    From USCIS:

    As of December 8, 2009, approximately 61,500 H-1B cap-subject petitions had been filed. USCIS has approved sufficient H-1B petitions for aliens with advanced degrees to meet the exemption of 20,000 from the fiscal year 2010 cap. Any H-1B petitions filed on behalf of an alien with an advanced degree will now count toward the general H-1B cap of 65,000. USCIS will continue to accept both cap-subject petitions and advanced degree petitions until a sufficient number of H-1B petitions have been received to reach the statutory limits, taking into account the fact that some of these petitions may be denied, revoked, or withdrawn.
  3. The DOL Takes One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

    by , 12-08-2009 at 11:21 AM (Chris Musillo on Nurse and Allied Health Immigration)

    by Chris Musillo

    The US Department of Labor (DOL) is about to roll out a new Prevailing Wage Determination (PWD) system that centralizes the process. Unfortunately, the DOL is unable to process electronic forms or even faxes. The new process calls for employers to mail in the PWD to the central office. The new regulation, which goes into effect on January 1, 2010, is available on-line.

    The PWD is a mandatory part of the immigrant visa process (permanent residency or green card). While employers must still pay a prevailing wage in the nonimmigrant process (e.g. H-1B), it is not a mandatory part of the nonimmigrant process; employers are afforded safe harbor benefits by using the PWD process in nonimmigrant matters.

    The present PWD process is straightforward. Employers (or their attorneys) file a PWD with the State Workforce Agency (SWA) that controls the worksite. This has not been ideal. Different states have different processing times, different forms, and different processes. For many years the DOL has contemplated a centralized program.

    PWDs will be submitted directly to the new National Prevailing Wage and Helpdesk Center (NPWHC) in Washington D.C. starting January 1, 2010. This should improve the process by adding consistency and uniformity.

    The new PWD is the Form ETA-9141, the Application for Prevailing Wage Determination. The PWD must be sent by mail or delivery service to: U.S. Department of Labor-ETA, National Prevailing Wage and Helpdesk Center, Attn: PWD Request; 1341 G Street, NW., Suite 201, Washington, DC 20005- 3142.

    The DOL indicated that it is developing an on-line PWD, but it did not commit to a date when the on-line PWD will be available. It is expected that until the on-line Form is ready, the PWD process will slow, perhaps quite considerably if past history is any guide. This is especially disheartening for green card cases, whose processing times have dramatically risen in recent years.
  4. H-1B Cap Running Out

    by , 12-04-2009 at 10:49 AM (Chris Musillo on Nurse and Allied Health Immigration)

    by Chris Musillo

    The latest H-1B cap numbers show yet another dramatic uptick in filings. There are approximately 6,000 H-1Bs still available as of November 27, which is when the USCIS last updated their page.

    MU is predicting that the H-1B cap will be reached in the next 2 weeks, perhaps sooner. Accordingly all MU clients are encouraged to send us their H-1B cap-subject filings ASAP.


    USCIS is allowed to approve 65,000 H-1B visas, but they have to withhold 6,800 visas for the special Singapore and Chile H-1B1 visas. This leaves 58,200 H-1B visas

    USCIS then adds back any unused Singapore and Chile H-1B1 visas. In most years, this is 6,500+ visas. In other words there are only a few hundred Singapore/Chile H-1B1s used every year. So then we add 57,800 + 6,500 and this means that the actual H-1B cap is around 64,000 H-1Bs.
    Employees that may need an H-1B visa include:
    - International students working on an EAD card under an OPT or CPT program after having attended a U.S. school;
    - International employees working on a TN may need an H-1B filed for them in order for them to pursue a permanent residency (green card) case;
    - Prospective international employees in another visa status e.g. H-4, L-2, J-1, F-1;
    - H-1B workers with a cap exempt organization; and
    - Prospective international employees currently living abroad.

    International workers who are working here in the U.S. on an H-1B visa with another cap-subject employer are not subject to H-1B cap. These cases are commonly referred to as "transfer" cases and may be filed at any time throughout the year.

    Many healthcare professions ordinarily qualify for H-1(b) status, including Physical Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Speech Language Therapists, and some Registered Nursing jobs.

    From USCIS:

    As of November 27, 2009, approximately 58,900 H-1B cap-subject petitions had been filed. USCIS has approved sufficient H-1B petitions for aliens with advanced degrees to meet the exemption of 20,000 from the fiscal year 2010 cap. Any H-1B petitions filed on behalf of an alien with an advanced degree will now count toward the general H-1B cap of 65,000. USCIS will continue to accept both cap-subject petitions and advanced degree petitions until a sufficient number of H-1B petitions have been received to reach the statutory limits, taking into account the fact that some of these petitions may be denied, revoked, or withdrawn.
  5. CGFNS Reauthorized

    by , 12-01-2009 at 01:50 PM (Chris Musillo on Nurse and Allied Health Immigration)
    by Chris Musillo
     
    CGFNS was reauthorized by the Department of Homeland Security to issue Visa Screens and Healthcare Worker Certificates, effective November 19, 2009. The reissuance is valid for seven years and covers all seven occupations covered under INA 212(a)(5)(C). The Seven occupations are: registered and licensed vocational nurses, physical therapists, speech language pathologists, audiologists, medical technologists, medical technicians, occupational therapists and physicians assistants.

    The full press release is available on CGFNS' website.
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