April 2015 Newsletter

In This Issue
  • USCIS Reaches FY 2016 H-1B Cap
  • USCIS Updates L-1B 'Specialized Knowledge' Guidance
  • IRS Office at US Embassy to Close Permanently
  • Updated Poverty Guidelines
  • Instructions for Medical Exams for Immigrant Visa interviews in London updated
  • Revised form I-407 Record of Abandonment of Lawful Permanent Residence Now Mandatory
  • New Publications and Items of Interest
  • Government Agency Links
  • Hodkinson Law Group News



USCIS Reaches FY 2016 H-1B Cap

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has reached the congressionally mandated H-1B cap (maximum number of visas) for fiscal year (FY) 2016. USCIS has also received more than the limit of 20,000 H-1B petitions filed under the U.S. advanced degree exemption.

USCIS will use a computer-generated process, also known as the lottery, to randomly select the petitions needed to meet the caps of 65,000 visas for the general category and 20,000 for the advanced degree exemption. As USCIS will first randomly select petitions for the advanced degree exemption, all unselected advanced degree petitions will become part of the random selection process for the 65,000 general limit.

Before running the lottery, USCIS will complete initial intake for all filings received during the filing period, which ended April 7. Due to the high number of petitions, USCIS is not yet able to announce the date it will conduct the random selection process. USCIS, however, will continue to accept and process petitions that are otherwise exempt from the cap.




USCIS Updates L-1B 'Specialized Knowledge' Guidance

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has issued interim policy guidance on L-1B "specialized knowledge" adjudications that supersedes and rescinds certain prior L-1B memoranda. USCIS said it is issuing this memorandum now for public review and feedback. USCIS will finalize the guidance effective August 31, 2015. The memo provides guidance on how L-1B petitioners may demonstrate that an employee has specialized knowledge. In the case of off-site employment, it also clarifies how to comply with the requirements of the L-1 Visa (Intracompany Transferee) Reform Act of 2004.

Among other things, the memo notes that a beneficiary must possess either special or advanced knowledge, or both. Determining whether a beneficiary has "special knowledge" requires review of the beneficiary's knowledge of how the company manufactures, produces, or develops its products, services, research, equipment, techniques, management, or other interests. Determinations concerning "advanced knowledge," on the other hand, require review of the beneficiary's knowledge of the specific employing company's processes and procedures, the memo states. While the beneficiary may have general knowledge of processes and procedures common to the industry, USCIS's focus is primarily on the processes and procedures used specifically by the beneficiary's employer. With respect to either special or advanced knowledge, the petitioner ordinarily must demonstrate that the beneficiary's knowledge is not commonly held throughout the particular industry or within the petitioning employer. As discussed in detail in the memo, however, such knowledge need not be proprietary in nature or narrowly held within the employer's organization.

The memo notes the following non-exhaustive list of factors USCIS may consider when determining whether a beneficiary's knowledge is specialized:
  • The beneficiary is qualified to contribute to the U.S. operation's knowledge of foreign operating conditions as a result of knowledge not generally found in the industry or the petitioning organization's U.S. operations.

  • The beneficiary possesses knowledge that is particularly beneficial to the employer's competitiveness in the marketplace.

  • The beneficiary has been employed abroad in a capacity involving assignments that have significantly enhanced the employer's productivity, competitiveness, image, or financial position.

  • The beneficiary's claimed specialized knowledge normally can be gained only through prior experience with that employer.

  • The beneficiary possesses knowledge of a product or process that cannot be easily transferred or taught to another individual without significant economic cost or inconvenience (because, for example, such knowledge may require substantial training, work experience, or education).

  • The beneficiary has knowledge of a process or a product that either is sophisticated or complex, or of a highly technical nature, although not necessarily unique to the firm.


The memo, which includes details on types of evidence to present and information on off-site employment, is available here. Comments are due to USCIS by May 8.’




IRS Office at US Embassy to Close Permanently

The Internal Revenue Service office at the United States Embassy in London, United Kingdom is in the process of permanently closing.

For assistance you can call or fax the Philadelphia International Customer Service Site, which is open 17 hours a day Monday through Friday, from 6:00 AM to 11:00 PM, Eastern Standard Time.

Tel: 001-267-941-1000 (not toll free) select the option for international callers
Fax: 001-267-941-1055 (response should be received within 10-12 working days)




Updated Poverty Guidelines

The Department of Homeland Security has released new poverty guidelines applicable to all I-864 Affidavits of Support filed on or after March 1, 2015.




Instructions for Medical Exams for Immigrant Visa Interviews in London Updated

The US Embassy in London has updated its online instructions for immigrant visa applicants’ medical examinations. Its instructional leaflet was also recently updated, but applicants should refer to the website stating that four photographs will now be required for the medical rather than only one as shown in the leaflet.




Revised Form I-407 Record of Abandonment of Lawful Permanent Residence Now Mandatory

Only revised form I-407 with the expiration date of 02/28/17 will be accepted by USCIS. Former editions of the form are no longer valid.




New Publications and Items of Interest

New supplemental guide for E-Verify employer agents. On March 8, 2015, USCIS published the new Supplemental Guide for E-Verify Employer Agents. The new guide replaces the previous E-Verify User Manual for E-Verify Employer Agents and the E-Verify Quick Reference Guide for E-Verify Employer Agents. E-Verify employer agents should now use the E-Verify User Manual and the new supplemental guide. These changes do not affect the information that E-Verify employer agents should provide to their clients. E-Verify employer agents should continue to provide their clients with the user manual and the E-Verify Quick Reference Guide for Clients of E-Verify Employer Agents.

Links:




Government Agency Links

Follow these links to access current processing times of the USCIS Service Centers and the Department of Labor, or the Department of State's latest Visa Bulletin with the most recent cut-off dates for visa numbers:



Hodkinson Law Group News

Spring is definitely in the air and our feet are “hitting the pavement”. Tasha Wiesman will be running the Rotterdam marathon and we wish her the best of luck. We have bid a fond farewell to our Legal Assistant, Shauna Maguire who we had the pleasure of working with for the past four and a half years. Shauna has moved north to be closer to family. Congratulations to Charis Hall on her promotion to Legal Assistant. We welcome our new Business Administrator Charlotte “Lottie” Holloway, who you will have the pleasure of speaking with when you ring our office.

Kehrela Hodkinson In addition to frequent speaking engagements, Kehrela is continuing her activities on the by-laws committee of AILA and she has once again been acclaimed in 'Who's Who Legal, Corporate Immigration 2014 as one of the top 15 corporate immigrations lawyers worldwide.
 


Sharon Noble has been practicing U.S. immigration law with Hodkinson Law Group since 1996. Her areas of expertise include non-immigrant and immigrant visa petitions for corporate employees, individual investors and entrepreneurs. Ms. Noble worked with Ms. Hodkinson in London for seven years before returning to the United States in 2003. She is now Of Counsel to Hodkinson law Group, working remotely from California.
 

Allison Ouvry has practiced law since 1996, concentrating in the field of business immigration since 2000. She is a member of the State Bar of Texas and the New York Bar, and a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, the American Women Lawyers in London group, and the London Library.
 


Tasha Wiesman is a member of the Illinois State Bar and assists in the preparation and filing of non-immigrant and immigrant visa petitions and applications of waivers of grounds of inadmissibility.
 
 
 
 
  
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Kehrela Hodkinson has again been acclaimed as one of the top 15 most highly regarded immigration lawyers worldwide in 'Who's Who Legal, Corporate Immigration 2014'.





Sharon Noble has been practicing US immigration law since 1996. She is Of Counsel to Hodkinson Law Group, working remotely from California.





Allison Ouvry has practiced law since 1996, concentrating in the field of business immigration since 2000.




Tasha Wiesman assists in the preparation and filing of non-immigrant and immigrant visa petitions and applications for waivers of inadmissibility.
Hodkinson Law Group | www.usvisalawgroup.com | +44 (0) 20 7299 2490
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