April 2015 Newsletter
In This Issue
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 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.
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.