Articles Posted in H1B Employers

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Certain types of nonimmigrants will be expected to shell out more money for the nonimmigrant visa process.

The State Department has announced that starting June 17, 2023, nonimmigrant visa (NIV) application processing fees for visitor visas for business or tourism (B1/B2s and BCCs), and other non-petition based nonimmigrant visas such as student and exchange visitor visas (F, M, and J visas), will increase from $160 to $185.

Additionally, processing fees for certain petition-based nonimmigrant visas for temporary workers (H, L, O, P, Q, and R categories) will increase from $190 to $205.

Fees for a treaty trader, treaty investor, and treaty applicants in a specialty occupation (nonimmigrant E category) visa will also increase from $205 to $315.


What if I pay my nonimmigrant visa fee prior to June 17, 2023?


In this case you are in luck. Nonimmigrant visa fees paid prior to June 17, 2023, will remain valid through the expiration date on your nonimmigrant visa fee payment receipt.


Why the increase?


The Department of State has said that nonimmigrant visa fees are set based on the actual cost of providing nonimmigrant visa services and are determined after conducting a study of the cost of these services.

The agency uses Activity-Based Costing (ABC) methodology to calculate, annually, the cost of providing consular services, including visa services.

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The Department of State raised eyebrows earlier this month when it released information that it will be reducing the waiting period for 221(G) “administrative processing,” in an effort to process visas more efficiently.

While this is welcome news, in practice it may not mean much. Consulates and Embassies have been notoriously secretive when it comes to 221(G) administrative processing and do not reveal the reason for a visa applicant being placed in administrative processing in the first place, nor the type of security checks that are being conducted.


What is 221(G) Administrative Processing?


First, let’s explain what administrative processing is. When an applicant visits a U.S. Consulate or Embassy overseas for their visa interview, there are only two possible outcomes that can occur at the conclusion of their interview. The Consular Officer may choose to either issue or “refuse” the visa. A refusal is not the same as a denial. It simply means that the visa applicant has not established his or her eligibility for the visa they are seeking for the time being, and the Consulate needs additional time or requires further information either from the visa applicant or another source to determine the applicant’s eligibility for the visa.

In most cases, visa applicants who have been “refused” will require further administrative processing.


How will I know if I have been placed in 221(G) administrative processing?


Visa applicants placed in administrative processing are often given what is called a “Notice of 221(G) Refusal” at the conclusion of their interview, which states that the visa application has been “refused” under section 221(G) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. The Notice should indicate whether additional administrative processing is required for your case, and whether any further action is required on your part, such as providing additional documentation or further information to process your visa.

However, in some cases visa applicants are not given such a Notice and will later discover that they have been placed in 221(G) administrative processing upon checking their visa status on the Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC) visa status check webpage.

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This Friday afternoon, we share with you some interesting new insights revealed by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services regarding the recent H-1B electronic registration period for fiscal year 2024.

USCIS has disclosed that this H-1B season, it received 758,994 eligible registrations for FY 2024, breaking its previous record of 474,421 eligible registrations just the previous year.

This represents a 60% increase in eligible registrations, with 284,573 more registrants in comparison to last year’s H-1B season.

In terms of actual selections, USCIS selected a total of 110,791 registrations to meet the annual H-1B numerical cap of 85,000 visas this H-1B season. When crunching the numbers, registrants had about a 14.6% chance of being selected, when compared to last year when the chance of selection sat at 26.9%.

This H-1B season, USCIS saw a dramatic increase in the number of registrations submitted, in comparison to prior years. Across the board, there was also an increase in the number of registrations submitted on behalf of beneficiaries with multiple registrations, and the number of registrations submitted on behalf of unique beneficiaries with only one registration. USCIS saw upward trends in the FY 2022 and FY 2023 H-1B registration periods as well.

From looking at the chart below for H-1B fiscal years 2021-2014, one can see that the competition has become greater and greater for H-1B visas year by year, however FY 2024 stands out in particular as the most competitive H-1B season overall.


This chart shows registration and selection numbers for fiscal years 2021-2024 (as of April 24, 2023).

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Specifically, the selection rate this H-1B season was significantly lower than all previous H-1B seasons. According to USCIS, there were fewer registrations selected this season, because of higher demand for Chile/Singapore H-1B visa (cap-exempt), and projections showing a higher rate of filings from employers whose registrations were selected in the cap lottery.

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We have great news for H-1B visa registrants! Today, March 27, 2023, USCIS announced that it has received enough electronic registrations to reach the FY 2024 H-1B visa cap—just 10 days after the H-1B electronic registration period closed on March 17, 2023.

USCIS randomly selected from among registrations that were properly submitted to meet the 65,000/20,000 annual numerical limitations for the regular cap and advanced degree exemption.

Petitioners who have been selected have been notified of their selection via their myUSCIS online accounts.


Notification of Selection


Now that the selection process has been completed, USCIS has sent electronic notices to all registrants with selected registrations that are eligible to file an H-1B cap-subject petition on behalf of the individual named in the notice within the filing period indicated on the notice.

Account holders who submitted the selected registration have been notified of selection via email or text message stating that an action has been taken on their myUSCIS online account. Account holders can log in to see the full notice and determine whether they have been selected.

A registrant’s USCIS online account will show one of the following statuses for each registration:

  • Submitted: The registration has been submitted and is eligible for selection. If the initial selection process has been completed, this registration remains eligible, unless subsequently invalidated, for selection in any subsequent selections for the fiscal year for which it was submitted.
  • Selected: Selected to file an H-1B cap petition.
  • Not Selected: Not selected – not eligible to file an H-1B cap petition based on this registration.
  • Denied: Multiple registrations were submitted by or on behalf of the same registrant for the same beneficiary. If denied as a duplicate registration, all registrations submitted by or on behalf of the same registrant for this beneficiary for the fiscal year are invalid.
  • Invalidated-Failed Payment: A registration was submitted but the payment method was declined, not reconciled, disputed, or otherwise invalid.

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The H-1B registration period is now in full swing. Employers will have the opportunity to complete the electronic registration process from now until noon Eastern Time on March 17, 2023.

The question on everyone’s minds is whether the massive tech layoffs in Silicon Valley will decrease demand for H-1B visa registrations. Tens of thousands of employees at Google, Amazon, and Meta, have been laid off since early January, leaving big tech companies to adapt to their changing circumstances.

However, demand for high-skilled foreign workers remains high. Companies across the United States will compete for a chance to win selection just as in past years. It is expected that demand for the H-1B visa lottery program will grow this year, because the labor market still demands highly skilled workers with skills in the STEM fields.

Once the H-1B registration period has closed on March 17th the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will complete a random lottery to reach the annual cap of 85,000 H-1B visas.

Since the implementation of the online registration process in 2020, H-1B registration submissions have far exceeded the number of available visas each year. As an example, in FY 2022 employers submitted roughly 308,613 H-1B registrations (selecting 131,970), and by 2023 this figure increased to 483,927 registrations (selecting 127,600).

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In this blog post, we give you an update on the status of the proposed rule increasing the filing fees for certain applications and petitions filed with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

As you may remember, on January 4, 2023, USCIS published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) in the Federal Register proposing an increase in the filing fees of many types of applications, including but not limited to, the I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, N-400 Application for Naturalization, I-129F petition for alien fiancé(e), Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative, Form I-751 Petition to Remove Conditions on Permanent Residence, Form I-129 Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker for H, L, and O classifications, Form I-526 Immigrant Petition for the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program, Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization, among many others.

The proposed rule also sought to do the following:

  • Incorporate biometrics costs into the main benefit fee and remove the separate biometric services fee
  • Require separate filing fees for Form I-485 and associated Form I-131 and Form I-765 filings
  • Establish separate fees for Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, by nonimmigrant classification.
  • Revise the premium processing timeframe interpretation from 15 calendar days to 15 business days
  • Create lower fees for certain immigration forms filed online.

Under the Administrative Procedure Act, before the government can implement a proposed rule they must abide by a mandatory notice-and-comment rule-making process. This includes offering a public comment period of at least 60 days from the date of the NPRM’s publication in the Federal Register.

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In this blog post we share very exciting news for H-1B and L visa holders working in the United States.

The State Department is planning to resume the process of domestic visa revalidation in certain categories, like H-1B and L-1 visas, through the launch of a new pilot program that will soon be implemented later this year, specifically benefitting H-1B specialty occupation workers and L-1 visa holders who are currently required to travel abroad for renewal of their visas.

This move will restore stateside visa renewals, a practice that was previously discontinued by the government in 2004. Previously, certain categories of non-immigrant visa holders, particularly H-1B workers, could renew their visas and be stamped domestically while inside the United States. However, the government stopped allowing domestic renewal of these visas, requiring foreign workers to go out of the country and make an appointment at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate in their home country to receive an H-1B extension stamped in their passport.

The pilot program when fully implemented will benefit H-1B and L-1 workers allowing them to receive their stamping inside the United States without having to leave the country. This will help reduce the visa backlogs at U.S. Embassies and Consulates worldwide.

Additionally, the pilot program will potentially benefit tens of thousands of foreign workers, especially technology workers from India, where Consular operations are some of the busiest in the world.

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USCIS Updates Policy Manual Clarifying Physical Presence Requirement for Asylees and Refugees


The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently updated its Policy Manual to clarify that BOTH asylees and refugees must have been physically present in the United States for one year at the time the Immigration Officer adjudicates their Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, rather than at the time the individual files their adjustment of status application.

This policy is effective immediately and applies to all Form I-485 Applications to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status and Form N-400, Applications for Naturalization, that are pending on February 2, 2023, and applications filed on or after that date.


What does this mean?


This means that in order to be eligible for adjustment of status (a green card), an asylee or refugee must have been physically present in the United States for at least 1 year after either being granted asylum status or admitted as a refugee.

Additionally, the policy manual:

  • Provides that asylees and refugees are required to accrue 1 year of physical presence by the time of adjudication of the adjustment of status application, rather than by the time they file the application (and that USCIS may request additional information to determine such physical presence in the United States).
  • Clarifies that asylee and refugee adjustment applicants who have held the immigration status of exchange visitor (J-1 or J-2 nonimmigrants) and who are subject to the 2-year foreign residence requirement under INA 212(e) are not required to comply with or obtain a waiver of such requirement in order to adjust status under INA 209.
  • Makes technical updates, including clarifying processing steps for refugees seeking waivers of inadmissibility and removing references to the obsolete Decision on Application for Status as Permanent Resident (Form I-291).
  • Provides that USCIS considers a refugee or asylee who adjusted status to a permanent resident despite filing for adjustment before accruing 1 year of physical presence to have been lawfully admitted for permanent residence for purposes of naturalization if the applicant satisfied the physical presence requirement at the time of approval of the adjustment of status application.

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It’s that time of the year again. The H-1B cap season for FY 2024 will soon be in full swing.

USCIS has just announced that the H-1B initial registration period for the FY 2024 cap is scheduled to open at noon ET on March 1, 2023 and will remain open until noon ET on March 17, 2023.

Prospective petitioners (also known as registrants), and their authorized representatives, who are seeking authorization to employ H-1B workers subject to the cap, must complete an electronic registration process on their myUSCIS online account to receive a chance at selection. The registration process is simple and easy, requesting only basic information about the prospective petitioner and each requested worker.

The H-1B FY 2024 selection process will be based off properly submitted electronic registrations. Only those with selected registrations will be eligible to file H-1B cap-subject petitions.

That means that in order to have a chance of being selected, all prospective petitioners and their authorized representatives seeking to file H-1B cap-subject petitions for FY 2024, including for beneficiaries eligible for the advanced degree exemption, must first register during the registration period (March 1, 2023, to March 17, 2023) and pay the associated $10 registration fee for each beneficiary.

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Welcome back to Visalawyerblog! We hope you had a wonderful Christmas break with your families.

In this blog post, we share a new update from the State Department regarding the continuation of its interview waiver policy for certain nonimmigrant visa types.

In a new announcement, the Secretary of State has revealed that it is extending its interview waiver policy for certain nonimmigrant visa types until December 31, 2023, allowing Consular officers to continue to waive the in-person interview requirement for certain classes of immigrants.


What is the extension all about?


As you might recall back in December of last year, the State Department first announced its interview waiver policy for temporary workers applying for H-1, H-3, H-4, L, O, P, and Q visas in their country of nationality or residence, following USCIS approval of their petitions.

The State Department has now confirmed it will continue its interview waiver policy until at least the end of 2023.


Who qualifies?


Interview Waiver Policy for H, L, O, P, Q visas


Pursuant to the interview waiver policy, Consular officers have the discretion to waive the visa interview requirement for:

  • individual petition-based H-1, H-3, H-4, L, O, P, and Q applicants who were previously issued any type of visa, and that have not had any visa refusal or ineligibility issues in the past OR
  • first-time individual petition-based H-1, H-3, H-4, L, O, P, and Q who are citizens or nationals of a country that participates in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), provided that they have no ineligibility issues and have previously traveled to the United States using an authorization obtained via the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA)

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