March 15, 2024 - Weekly Immigration News Update

Posted by Keshab R. Seadie | Mar 15, 2024 | 0 Comments

Dear Clients and Colleagues,

We hope this newsletter finds you well. In this edition, we bring you important updates on various immigration matters. Please take a moment to review the following key highlights:

April 2024 Visa Bulletin Summary: Key Updates and Movements

In our latest update on the U.S. Department of State's Visa Bulletin for April 2024, we have significant movements and adjustments across various employment-based preference categories. These changes are critical for immigrants awaiting their opportunity for U.S. permanent residency. Here's a concise summary of this month's pivotal updates:

Employment-Based, First Preference (EB1) Category:

  • India: The cutoff date has made a positive shift to March 1, 2021.
  • China: Experiences advancement to September 1, 2022.
  • For all other countries, the EB1 category remains current, indicating no backlog.

Employment-Based, Second Preference (EB2) Category:

  • India: Shows progress with a new cutoff date of April 15, 2012.
  • China: Moves forward to February 1, 2020.
  • The cutoff for all other countries has been updated to January 15, 2023.

Employment-Based, Third Preference (EB3) Category:

  • India: Advances to August 15, 2012.
  • China: Remains static at September 1, 2020.
  • All other countries see their cutoff dates advance to November 22, 2022.

EB3 Other Workers:

  • India: Aligns with the EB3 category, advancing to August 15, 2012.
  • China: Stays at January 1, 2017.
  • Philippines: The cutoff date remains at May 1, 2020.
  • Other countries move forward to October 8, 2020

Employment-Based, Fourth Preference (EB4) Category:

  • For all countries, the cutoff date advances to November 1, 2020.
  • Notably, the EB4 program for certain religious workers is nearing its expiration on March 22, 2024. Without Congressional action, this category will become unavailable post that date.

Employment-Based, Fifth Preference (EB5) Category:

  • China: The unreserved cutoff date remains at December 15, 2015.
  • India: Maintains its unreserved cutoff date at December 1, 2020.
  • EB5 remains current for all other countries and specific categories.

Implications and Next Steps:

These movements represent opportunities for many awaiting their chance for U.S. residency. Applicants close to the current cutoff dates should prepare their documentation and consult with their immigration attorneys to ensure readiness for when their priority date becomes current.

As always, we will continue to monitor the Visa Bulletin and provide updates on any changes or shifts in the landscape. Stay informed and ready to act to make the most of your immigration opportunities.

Top 10 Things to consider before filing CAP Subject H-1B Visa

Cap and Lottery System: Understand that there's an annual cap on the number of H-1B visas issued (65,000 under the regular cap and an additional 20,000 for those with a U.S. master's degree or higher). The USCIS uses a lottery system to select applicants when the cap is exceeded.

Eligibility Criteria: The job must qualify as a specialty occupation, meaning it requires a bachelor's degree or higher in a specific specialty. The applicant must meet the qualifications for the job, including having the relevant degree or its equivalent.

Successfully filing for and obtaining approval for an H-1B visa requires careful planning and attention to detail. Here's a consolidated list that captures essential steps and considerations:

  1. Hire an Experienced Immigration Lawyer: Engage an immigration lawyer who specializes in business immigration law, particularly H-1B visas. An experienced attorney can guide you through the process, help avoid common pitfalls, and increase your chances of approval.
  2. Labor Condition Application (LCA) Compliance: Ensure that the LCA filed with your application accurately reflects the wage level and the SOC (Standard Occupational Classification) code that matches your educational and professional background. Misalignment can lead to denial.
  3. Maintenance of Status: If you're already in the U.S., you must maintain your current visa status until your H-1B starts. This may include being on Optional Practical Training (OPT), STEM OPT, Curricular Practical Training (CPT), or another visa status. Maintaining status includes abiding by all conditions of your current visa, such as employment restrictions.
  4. Proof of Continuous Employment: Submit W-2 forms and proof of payment to demonstrate continuous employment in your current status. This is crucial for those transitioning from statuses like OPT or STEM OPT to H-1B.
  5. Specialty Occupation Proof: Clearly prove that the position qualifies as a specialty occupation. This means it requires a bachelor's or higher degree in a specific specialty. Documentation should include job descriptions, the nature of the company's business, and why the role necessitates a degree-level qualification.
  6. Employer-Employee Relationship: Demonstrate a valid employer-employee relationship, especially if placed at a third-party site. Provide contracts, work orders, and letters from the end client detailing the nature of the work, the duration, and how the employer maintains control over the employee's work.
  7. Availability of Work: For those working at a client site or on in-house projects, it's essential to prove there is enough professional work to occupy the H-1B period. This includes contracts, letters from clients, and project documentation.
  8. Educational Credentials and Qualifications: Ensure your educational background and qualifications directly relate to the specialty occupation. This includes degrees, certificates, and evaluation reports for foreign education.
  9. Company's Ability to Pay: The sponsoring employer must prove they can pay the prevailing wage to the H-1B employee from the start date through the employment period. This is often shown through financial statements, tax returns, or payroll records.
  10. Proper Filing and Timing: Submit the H-1B petition correctly and within the filing window. This includes completing all required forms accurately, compiling a comprehensive packet of supporting documents, and adhering to the USCIS filing deadlines.

Attention to these critical aspects can significantly enhance the likelihood of obtaining H-1B visa approval, thereby facilitating the legal employment of foreign professionals in specialty occupations within the United States.

USCIS Responds to Biometrics Appointment Scheduling Glitches

In recent developments, a significant number of applicants for various immigration processes have been facing issues with the scheduling of their required biometric appointments. Reports have surfaced indicating that many have received their biometrics appointment notices either too late or with dates that had already passed by the time the notice was received. This alarming trend has raised concerns about potential negative impacts on the outcomes of applicants' immigration applications due to non-compliance with biometric submission requirements.

USCIS has officially acknowledged the problem, attributing it to issues related to a “shortened scheduling window” that inadvertently caused delays and inaccuracies in sending out appointment notices. The agency has been quick to address the concern, implementing measures aimed at rectifying the situation and ensuring it does not recur in the future.

USCIS has informed various stakeholders that the root cause of the shortened scheduling window has been identified and corrective actions are underway. This initiative is expected to mitigate the issue moving forward, eliminating concerns related to biometrics appointment scheduling.

Moreover, USCIS has issued guidance to all Application Support Centers (ASCs), instructing them to accommodate applicants who may have been adversely affected by this issue. Specifically, applicants who receive their appointment notices late or with past appointment dates are advised to visit the ASCs with their notices in hand. Upon presentation of their notices, affected applicants will be processed accordingly, ensuring that their application processes are not unduly hindered by the scheduling snafu.

We hope you find this information valuable. If you have any questions or require legal assistance related to any of these updates, please don't hesitate to contact us. We are here to help.


Keshab Raj Seadie, Esq.
Law Offices of Keshab Raj Seadie, P.C.

Disclaimer: This newsletter is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Always consult an attorney for personalized advice.

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