In the past week or so we have been receiving many requests for evidence on all H1b cases filed on April 1, 2009. The RFEs received by us and practitioners across the country so far appear to only request that the single page of the I-129 Data Collection sheet be sent with the TARP question answered.
Due to the passage of EAWA, USCIS is required to collect TARP (and Section 13 funding) information on each H-1B petitioner. However, by the time the new form became available, we had already completed our packages for the H-1B cap filing period for April 1, 2009. Therefore, USCIS confirmed that the new I-129 form was not mandatory and that only the one page (of the I-129 Data collection sheet requesting the TARP information) was urged to be included.
At the AILA Spring Conference in Washington, D.C., Barbara Velarde, Chief, USCIS Service Center Operations, mentioned that if the TARP information was not included in the filing, the petitions would not be rejected. However, USCIS would need to send an RFE for the TARP information. Unfortunately, this was not clearly explained in the USCIS fact sheet on TARP issued on March 20, 2009. Nevertheless, USCIS is required under the EAWA statute to obtain this information and the easiest way for USCIS to comply is to send an RFE. This is a very annoying and time consuming process for all us dealing with H1B filings, and even more confusing for the clients. We hope that USCIS explain better such crucial changes in future matters.