Posts Tagged ‘USCIS’

Immigration Update – Stranded Passengers to Europe

April 20, 2010

A quick update regarding the effect of the recent flight cancellations to Europe.

Persons who entered on visas will need to file for an extension of stay if they cannot leave on their expected departure date and their I-94 cards will expire before they can leave. The extension must reach USCIS BEFORE the expiration of the I-94 and be filed correctly to obtain this approval. We can help if needed.

Persons entering on the visa waiver program (the green I-94s) cannot extend their stay beyond the 90 days that is initially granted upon entry.

However, USCIS should be able to provide “satisfactory departure” to those who cannot leave for reasons beyond their control. You can request “satisfactory departure” by making an InfoPass appointment at a local USCIS office. I-94s will be annotated for satisfactory departure (or “SD”) by ______ (date – usually 30 days after regular end date). The computer system should be updated with the new departure date.

You should make a copy of the back and front of your I-94 before surrendering it upon departure to make sure that you have a record in case the computer was not updated correctly.

The USCIS in our region has not formally acknowledged the SD process, but it is available in other parts of the U.S. We believe it should be granted here and could assist you in requesting it if needed.

Regards,

Lori Chesser

Chair, Immigration Department

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REMINDER: “Deadline” for Filing H-1B Applications is April 1, 2010

March 4, 2010

H-1B status is a temporary, work-authorized status for individuals working in “specialty occupations”, which are occupations that require, at minimum, a bachelor’s degree in a specialized area.  The government limits the number of new H-1B approvals to 65,000 per fiscal year (and makes and additional 20,000 slots available to individuals with a master’s or higher degree from a U.S. institution of higher education).  This quota is referred to as the “H-1B cap” and, in most circumstances, only applies to individuals who are initially seeking H-1B status (it does not apply – in most instances – to individuals who have been in H-1B status and are seeking an extension or transfer to another employer).  In addition, some employers are exempt from this H-1B cap (such as institutions of higher education, nonprofit research organizations, and government research organizations).

All of the H-1B slots for the current fiscal year have been used. However on April 1st we can begin filing applications for the next fiscal year (which begins October 1, 2010).  With the exception of applications filed in 2009, over the past several years USCIS received more H-1B applications than slots available on the first available filing date, which subjects applications to a lottery system.  Therefore, it is important to file your H-1B application on April 1st.  Prior to filing the H-1B application, we must obtain an approved Labor Condition Application (LCA), from the Department of Labor (DOL).  This application is filed electronically online and in the past, would be approved instantly.  However, due to a new online system, the LCA approval is taking approximately one week to obtain.  Therefore, due to this delay, H-1B applications take longer to prepare than in past years.

Please contact our office immediately if you wish to sponsor an individual for H-1B status.


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