USCIS announces the Texas Service Center Employment Based I-485 Email Pilot Special Notification Initiative
Sunday, 29 August 2010 00:00

Vol. VIII, Issue 30 - August 30, 2010


The EB I-485 Email Pilot Special Notification Initiative was created to allow applicants a process by which they can facilitate the processing of certain EB I-485 applications.  Inquiries related to processing may be e-mailed to: EBUPDATE.TSC@dhs.gov This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .  An automatic reply will be sent by TSC stating that the request was received and providing information on how to send a follow-up inquiry.  A follow up inquiry may be sent if a response is not received within 90 days. 

For more information related to this program: USCIS Texas Service Center Email Pilot Initiative:  Employment-Based 1-485 Special Notification Protocol 

Special Instructions for B-1/B-2 Visa Holders Who Want to Enroll in School

Holders of a B-1 Temporary Business Visitor Visa and B-2 Tourist Visa are not permitted to enroll in school in the U.S.  In order to do so, foreign individuals in B-1/B-2 status must change to either an F-1 (academic student) or M-1 (vocational student) status prior to enrolling in a course. Enrolling in courses before changing to F-1/M-1 status will result in a violation of visa status and will preclude that individual from extending his or her B-1/B-2 status and from obtaining F-1/M-1 status. 

For more information regarding these instructions, please visit the following USCIS website: Special Instructions for B-1/B-2 Visitors Who Want to Enroll in School.

USCIS Implements H-1B & L-1 Fee Increase

On August 13, 2010, President Obama signed a law that increased the filing fees for H-1B and L-1 visa petitions.  The law requires that an additional $2,000 fee for certain H-1B petition and an additional $2,250 fee for certain L-1A and L-1B petitions submitted on or after August 14, 2010.  These fees apply to petitioners who meet the following criteria:

•    Employs 50 or more employees in the U.S.
•    More than 50 percent of those employees are in H-1B, L-1A, L-1B or L-1 nonimmigrant status

Petitioners meeting these criteria must submit the additional fee in two different circumstances: (1) when filing to obtain initial nonimmigrant status for a foreign worker or (2) when filing to obtain authorization to have a foreign worker with nonimmigrant status change employers.  The law will remain effective through September 20, 2014. 

For information on how to submit petitions that are not subject to this fee, please visit the following USCIS website: USCIS Implements H-1B and L-1 Fee Increase According to Public Law 111-230.
ICE Releases Guidance Memo Regarding the Handling of Removal Proceedings of Aliens with Pending Applications or Petitions

The ICE memo establishes a procedure by which the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will request expedited adjudication of applications and petitions pending before the USCIS for aliens in removal proceedings.  It also provides that detained aliens with pending applications before the USCIS may be entitled to dismissal without prejudice if the ICE, in its discretion, determines that the alien is eligible for relief from removal.  Please note that this policy only applies to applications and petitions that the USCIS has legal jurisdiction to adjudicate during a removal proceeding. 

For detailed information on this new ICE policy, please visit the following website:  Guidance Regarding the Handling of Removal Proceedings of  Aliens with Pending or Approved Applications or Petitions 

H-1B Program Cap Count Update (August 20, 2010)

The H-1B program allows U.S. businesses to employ foreign workers to perform services in specialty occupations that require technical expertise in specialized fields, such as scientists, engineers, or computer programmers. 

The FY 2011 cap amount for the regular H-1B visa category is 65,000.  However, not all H-1B petitions are subject to this cap.  Up to 20,000 H-1B petitions are exempt under the H-1B advanced degree exemption.  This exemption applies to petition beneficiaries who have obtained a U.S. master’s degree or higher.  According to the August 20, 2010 USCIS cap count for FY 2011, 33,900 regular H-1B petitions and 12,600 advanced degree H-1B petitions have been accepted or are still pending.

For more information on the H-1B program, eligibility and filing requirements, please visit the following USCIS websites: H-1B Specialty Occupations, DOD Cooperative Research and Development Project Workers, and Fashion Models and H-1B Fiscal Year (FY) 2011 Cap Season.

H-2B Program Cap Count Update (August 23, 2010)

The H-2B Temporary Non-agricultural Workers Program permits U.S. employers to fill temporary nonagricultural jobs by bringing foreign workers to the United States.  The current statutory cap on the H-2B visa category is 66,000 employments per fiscal year.  This cap amount is divided equally between the two halves of the fiscal year; 33,000 visas are reserved for the first half of the fiscal year (October 1 to March 31) and another 33,000 are reserved for the second half (April 1 to September 30).  Although there is no carry-over of unused employment spots from one fiscal year to another, unused cap numbers from the first half of the fiscal year can be filled during the second half of the fiscal year. 

Not all H-2B petitions are subject to the statutory cap amount.  In general, H-2B workers who apply to extend their stay are exempt from the cap.  Likewise, the spouse and children of H-2B workers who qualify under the H-4 nonimmigrant classification are exempt from the cap.  Further, H-2B workers who apply for the employment as fish roe processors, fish roe technicians and/or fish roe processing supervisors, or perform labor or services in the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands and/or Guam between November 28, 2009 until December 31, 2014 are exempt from the statutory cap.

Currently, USCIS is accepting H-2B petitions for both FY-2010 and FY-2011.  The August 23, 2010 USCIS cap count shows that 29,523 petitions have been approved and 437 petitions are pending for the second half of FY-2010.  For the first half of FY-2011, 3,654 petitions have been approved and 1,187 petitions are pending.

For more information on the H-2B Program, eligibility and filing requirements, please visit the following USCIS websites: H-2B Temporary Non-Agricultural Workers and Cap Count for H-2B Nonimmigrants.

 
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