Archive for March, 2012

TPS Designation for Syria

March 30, 2012

Today the USCIS released details on Temporary Protective Status (TPS) application procedures for eligible Syrian nationals.  In addition to Syria, other designated countries include El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, Somalia, Sudan, and South Sudan.

TPS designation can be made by the Secretary of Homeland Security when a foreign country has conditions that temporarily prevent the country’s nationals from returning safely.  Conditions that can warrant TPS include civil wars or ongoing armed conflicts; environmental disasters or epidemics; or other extraordinary and temporary conditions. During a designated TPS period, eligible individuals are not removable from the United States, can obtain temporary work authorization, and may be granted travel authorization.

To qualify for TPS, Syrian nationals must register prior to September 25, 2012. Individuals must meet all requirements for TPS, including being able to document that they have continually resided and been physically present in the United States since March 29, 2012 and pass a security background check.  Individuals with criminal records or who are deemed a threat to national security will not be eligible for TPS.

If you have questions regarding TPS designation or need assistance, please feel free to contact our department.


Syria Designation for Temporary Protected Status (TPS)

March 26, 2012

The USCIS announced that Syria will be designated for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for an 18-month period.  We anticipate that later this week USCIS will provide additional details in the Federal Register, which will include information on how to register for TPS, who is eligible to apply for TPS, and when the TPS registration will begin.  We will post additional information as soon as it is published.

Visa Numbers for EB-2 India and China Expected to Retrogress in May 2012

March 26, 2012

According to Charlie Oppenheim, Chief, Immigrant Visa Control & Reporting in the State Department, the China and India EB-2 cut-off will retrogress to August 15, 2007 in the May 2012 Visa Bulletin. The reason for this is because demand for immigrant visas for these categories has been increasing. The State Department has not made projections for the remainder of the year.  However, USCIS has indicated that they plan to “pre adjudicate” adjustment applications received through April 2012. The State Department will hold these pre adjudicated cases in the “pending” demand file. That way, the cases will be ready to process if the current number use pattern changes.

New Study Finds Dramatically Increased Rates of Denials and “Requests for Evidence” for H-1B Professionals, L-1 Intracompany Transferees, and O-1 Extraordinary Ability Nonimmigrants

March 15, 2012

With its analysis of new data from the government, the nonprofit, nonpartisan National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP) makes crystal clear:  Over the past four years, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has dramatically increased its denials of L-1 and H-1B petitions and much of the increase in denials involves Indian-born professionals and researchers. NFAP also reports a dramatic increase in denials of O-1 “extraordinary ability” petitions, and an across-the-board increase in requests for additional evidence (RFEs) for all of these categories. The data suggests that USCIS has changed the standards for these petitions, beginning in 2008–09, despite no change in the law or relevant regulations and, as a result, has demonstrated its capacity to keep skilled foreign nationals out of the United States. Here are some of the statistics from the report:

  • Denial rates for L-1B “specialized knowledge” petitions rose from 7% in FY07 (Fiscal Year 2007) to 27% in FY11 (Fiscal Year 2011). In FY11, 63% of L-1B petitions were delayed due to RFEs; in FY04, only 2% received RFEs.
  • Denial rates for L-1A executives and managers petitions increased from 8% in FY07 to 14% in FY11. RFEs increased from 4% in FY04 to 51% in FY11.
  • Denial rates for H-1B petitions increased from 11% in FY07 to 17% in FY11. (In FY09, the denial rate was 29%.) RFEs rose from 4% in FY04 to 26% by FY11.  (In FY09, the RFE rate was 35%.)
  • Denial rates for O-1A extraordinary ability petitions rose from 4% in FY08 to 8% in FY11. For O-1As, RFEs increased from 1% in FY04 to 27% in FY11.
  • Country-specific data on new (initial) L-1B petitions indicate USCIS is more likely to deny a petition from an Indian-born professional than from a national of another country. The denial rate for Indian-born applicants for new L-1B petitions rose from 2.8% FY08 to 13.4% in FY11. (In FY09, the rate was 22.5%.)  The drop in FY11 Indian denials can be attributed to a 40% decline in the number of receipts for new L-1B petitions for Indian professionals between FY10 and FY11.

Employers already are selective about who they sponsor and thus petition for those who they believe meet the standard for approval. They complain, rightly so, that the time lost due to the increase in denials and RFEs are costing them millions of dollars in project delays and contract penalties, while aiding competitors that operate exclusively outside the United States. Denying these businesses the ability to transfer these key personnel harms innovation and job creation in the U.S. and encourages employers to keep more resources outside the country to ensure predictability.

As noted by NFAP, the dramatic increase in denial and RFE rates for employment petitions raises serious questions about the training, supervision, and procedures of adjudicators and of the government’s commitment to maintaining a stable business climate for companies competing in the global economy.

H-1B Professional Visa – It’s Filing Season

March 9, 2012

On April 1, employers will be able to file H-1B petitions for their employees who require a first-time H-1B visa for work that will commence on October 1, 2012. Therefore, now is the time to identify new H-1B employees and begin preparing necessary petitions. With increased denial rates and skyrocketing requests for additional evidence, employers may be able to avoid costly delays or denials with meticulous, careful planning and preparation.  A review of company H-1B public access files also may be prudent to ensure that files are complete and in full compliance as well as to determine that valid employer-employee relationships have been maintained.

While we anticipate that visas will remain available beyond April 1, H-1B visas will be used up much more rapidly as the economy recovers. Under immigration rules, first-time H-1B visas are limited to 85,000 per fiscal year.

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