Premium Processing Resumes for 2018 H-1B Cap Cases

The USCIS has announced that it will accept premium processing requests for all H-1B Cap petitions submitted during the 2018 Fiscal Year Cap. This change applies to petitions that were filed in the H-1B Lottery in April 2017.

This information is especially relevant to foreign workers present in F-1 status with OPT. Many foreign workers selected in the H-1B Lottery are present in the U.S. in F-1 status with OPT and may remain lawfully in the U.S. until their H-1B petition is approved via the Cap Gap. For workers whose Forms I-129 on page 2 show that box 4.b. was selected, and but their petitions have not been approved, they may want to consider filing a premium processing request to receive a decision or Request for Evidence from the government within 14 days. This will minimize the employment gap that may exist between when the foreign worker’s EAD expires and the H-1B approval notice is received.

On June 23, 2017, the USCIS announced that it would accept premium processing requests for some H-1B petitions filed on behalf of physicians and those filed by qualifying nonprofits. The USCIS has not reinstated premium processing for any other petitions, such as H-1B extension or amendment petitions.

Our firm will continue to follow this development closely. If you would like to be included on future updates, subscribe to our firm’s updates by entering your email address on the right-hand panel.

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Victoria Gentry is an associate attorney with The Immigration Group, P.C.  practicing exclusively in the areas of work visas and employment-based green cards. She first became interested in immigration law when her stepfather emigrated from El Salvador to the United States. Now she enjoys assisting corporate clients with a variety of immigration needs including international transfers, visa eligibility, and the green card process. She works primarily with professionals in IT, Engineering, Finance, Pharmacy, and Insurance.

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USDOS Announces October Priority Dates For Filing Permanent Residency Applications

The following priority dates determine whether an applicant may file for permanent residency during the month of October 2017.

Category Country of Chargeability Priority Date Comment
EB-1 Worldwide Current Unchanged
EB-1 China Current Advanced 68.5 months
EB-1 India Current Advanced 68.5 months
EB-1 Mexico Current Unchanged
EB-1 Philippines Current Unchanged
EB-2 Worldwide Current Advanced 20.5 months
EB-2 China May 22, 2013 Advanced 5 weeks
EB-2 India September 15, 2008 Advanced 3 weeks
EB-2 Mexico Current Advanced 20.5 months
EB-2 Philippines Current Advanced 20.5 months
EB-3 Worldwide Current Unchanged
EB-3 China January 1, 2014 Advanced 24 months
EB-3 India October 15, 2006 Advanced 3 months
EB-3 Mexico Current Unchanged
EB-3 Philippines December 1, 2015 Advanced 6 months

Dan White leads the law practice at The Immigration Group, focusing exclusively on work visas and green cards for companies and their employees. He is a graduate of Vanderbilt Law School and his writings have appeared in the National Law Journal and the Tennessee Bar Journal. Clients include corporations nationwide and in more than 60 countries.

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Employment-Based Green Card Applicants Will Be Required To Attend In-Person Interviews

The USCIS has announced that it will require in-person interviews for employment-based I-485 adjustment of status applicants starting October 1, 2017. This requirement is different from the current interview standard, where interviews for employment-based I-485 applicants are typically waived.

This change is a result of the USCIS’s recently altered “comprehensive strategy to further improve the detection and prevention of fraud and further enhance the integrity of the immigration system.” It also is consistent with President Trump’s Executive Order 13780, titled “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States,” which was signed on March 6, 2017.

Although the USCIS has not clarified the specifics of the interviews, we anticipate that the interviews will most likely take place at the nearest USCIS field office and that derivative family member applicants will also be required to attend the interview. Regarding the content of the interview, the USCIS adjudicator will most likely review the I-485 questions and answers with the applicant. If any additional information is required, we anticipate that the USCIS will advise applicants ahead of time on what additional documents to bring.

In addition, our firm expects that this additional hurdle in the green card process will also result in significantly increased processing times for I-485 adjustment of status applications. Currently, the processing times for these petitions is 7 to 12 months. This will likely increase by 6 months or more.

Our firm will continue to follow this new requirement closely. If you would like to be included on future updates, subscribe to our firm’s updates by clicking the ‘follow’ button on the right panel.

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Victoria Gentry is an associate attorney with The Immigration Group, P.C.  practicing exclusively in the areas of work visas and employment-based green cards. She first became interested in immigration law when her stepfather emigrated from El Salvador to the United States. Now she enjoys assisting corporate clients with a variety of immigration needs including international transfers, visa eligibility, and the green card process. She works primarily with professionals in IT, Engineering, Finance, Pharmacy, and Insurance.

Posted in Green cards, Immigration Law, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

New Member Spotlight in Tennessee Lawyer’s Association for Women Newsletter

Attorney Victoria Gentry has been featured in the New Member Spotlight as a member of the Tennessee Lawyers Association for Women’s September Newsletter. Victoria is a member of the Association’s Marion Griffin Chapter in Nashville, which emphasizes and addresses issues of concern to women within the legal profession. She is an avid supporter of the Association’s programs and conferences, and looks forward to joining the Networking Committee in the coming weeks.

TLAW logo

The full spotlight can be found on page 12 of the following link: http://www.law-nashville.org/resources/Documents/September%202017.pdf .

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Victoria Gentry is an associate attorney with The Immigration Group, P.C.  practicing exclusively in the areas of work visas and employment-based green cards. She first became interested in immigration law when her stepfather emigrated from El Salvador to the United States. Now she enjoys assisting corporate clients with a variety of immigration needs including international transfers, visa eligibility, and the green card process. She works primarily with professionals in IT, Engineering, Finance, Pharmacy, and Insurance.

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Travel Abroad More Complex for Business Travelers Under New USCIS Policy Relating to Advance Parole

Foreign nationals who travel abroad while their application for advance parole is pending will now have that application deemed abandoned by the USCIS and therefore denied.  The USCIS has confirmed that this is its new policy, even if the individual also holds an H visa, an L visa, or another unexpired advance parole.  Therefore, unless the USCIS reverses this new policy, those with pending advance parole applications should not depart the United States unless (1) they have an H visa, an L visa, or another unexpired advance parole with which to reenter and (2) they can “afford” to have their pending advance parole application denied in terms of timing, cost, and overall immigration planning.

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USDOS Announces September Priority Dates For Filing Permanent Residency Applications

The following priority dates determine whether an applicant may file for permanent residency during the month of September 2017.

Category Country of Chargeability Priority Date Comment
EB-1 Worldwide Current Unchanged
EB-1 China January 1, 2012 Unchanged
EB-1 India January 1, 2012 Unchanged
EB-1 Mexico Current Unchanged
EB-1 Philippines Current Unchanged
EB-2 Worldwide January 1, 2016 Advanced 8 months
EB-2 China April 15, 2013 Advanced 2 days
EB-2 India August 22, 2008 Advanced 1 month
EB-2 Mexico January 1, 2016 Advanced 8 months
EB-2 Philippines January 1, 2016 Advanced 8 months
EB-3 Worldwide Current Unchanged
EB-3 China January 1, 2012 Unchanged
EB-3 India July 15, 2006 Unchanged
EB-3 Mexico Current Unchanged
EB-3 Philippines June 1, 2015 Unchanged
Posted in Green cards, Immigration Law, PERM | Leave a comment

What U.S. Companies and Foreign Workers Should Know About the RAISE Act Immigration Point System

On Wednesday, August 2, 2017, President Trump endorsed the RAISE Act, a new bill proposed in the Senate by Sens. Tom Cotton and David Perdue, in hopes of securing more jobs for American workers. If made into law, the bill would affect both family and employment-based immigration. U.S. companies and foreign workers should know that

(a) the annual maximum number of employment-based green cards would stay the same, (b) the procedure for applying for those green cards would shift to a points system, and (c) the Diversity Visa Lottery would no longer be a means for pursuing a green card.

  • Annual Number of Employment-Based Green Cards Would Stay the Same

The annual allotment of green cards for employment-based green cards is 140,000. This number would stay the same under the RAISE Act.

  • Employment-Based Green Cards Would Shift to a Points System

Foreign workers would have to earn at least 30 points to qualify for an employment-based green card. Each applicant would be judged based on their:

  1. Ability to speak English: This would be judged by an exam.
  2. Future Earning Potential: A foreign worker with a job offer paying 300% of the median salary in the state where she will be working could receive 13 points.
  3. Highest educational qualification: A foreign worker would receive different point level based on her educational level. For instance, a foreign worker with a doctorate would receive 13 points.
  4. Age: Foreign workers below the age of 50 would be judged on a sliding scale and receive between 2 to 10 points. Foreign workers over the age of 50 would receive no points.
  5. Investments: Foreign workers would receive 12 points for a $1.8 million investment in a U.S. business.
  6. High achievements: Foreign workers who have received international recognition would receive points. For example, an Olympic medalist would receive 15 points while a Nobel Prize winner would receive 25 points.
  • Diversity Visa Lottery Would Be Eliminated.

Currently, the Diversity Visa Lottery provides 50,000 immigrant visas to foreign nationals from qualifying countries with low rates of immigration to the U.S. Under the RAISE Act, the Diversity Visa Lottery would be eliminated.

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This article was written by Victoria Gentry

Victoria Gentry is an attorney with The Immigration Group, P.C. practicing exclusively in the areas of work visas and employment-based green cards. She first became interested in immigration law when her stepfather emigrated from El Salvador to the United States. Now she enjoys assisting corporate clients with a variety of immigration needs including international transfers, visa eligibility, and the green card process. She works primarily with professionals in IT, Engineering, Finance, Pharmacy, and Insurance.

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