May 2015 Newsletter
In This Issue
H-1B Premium Processing Has Begun
On April 27, 2015, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) began premium processing for cap-subject H-1B petitions requesting it, and for petitions seeking an exemption from the H-1B cap for individuals with a U.S. master's degree or higher. USCIS guarantees a 15-calendar-day processing time for premium processing.
For H-1B petitions that are not subject to the cap and for any other visa classification, the 15-day processing period for premium processing service begins on the date USCIS receives the request. However, for cap-subject H-1B petitions, including advanced-degree exemption petitions, the 15-day processing period began on April 27, 2015, regardless of the date on the Form I-797 receipt notice, which indicates the date on which the premium processing fee is received.
The announcement is available here.
Immigrant Visa Interview Schedule Change at US Embassy, London
During the months of May and June immigrant visa interviews at the American Embassy in London will be scheduled for the afternoons, rather than the mornings. Applicants who received interview notices indicating a morning interview have been contacted and advised of the scheduling change.
District Court Grants Extension to DOL for H-2B Program
On April 15, 2015, the federal district court in the Northern District of Florida issued an order effectively allowing the Department of Labor (DOL) to continue issuing temporary labor certifications under the H-2B visa program through May 15, 2015. As a result, DOL will continue to process temporary labor certification applications under its 2008 H-2B regulations through May 15, 2015.
On March 4, the court vacated DOL's 2008 H-2B regulations on the grounds that DOL lacks authority to issue regulations in the H-2B program. DOL and the Department of Homeland Security are working on regulations "to minimize future interruptions to the H-2B program," U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services said.
USCIS Resumes Premium Processing for H-2B Petitions
On April 20, 2015, USCIS resumed accepting premium processing requests for Form I-129 H-2B petitions. USCIS had announced a temporary suspension of premium processing for all H-2B petitions on March 9, 2015.
Employers are now able to file Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service, either:
China-Mainland Born EB-5 Category Oversubcribed in May; Philippines EB-3 Retrogresses
The Department of State's Visa Bulletin for May 2015 notes that heavy China-mainland born applicant demand has required the implementation of an employment fifth preference (EB-5) cut-off date of May 1, 2013, for investors from China to hold visa number use for that country within the maximum limit for FY 2015.
The bulletin notes that future visa availability will depend on a combination of demand for numbers being reported each month and the extent to which otherwise unused numbers may become available. An increase in visa demand by applicants with relatively early priority dates could make a retrogression of this cut-off date necessary before the end of the fiscal year. The Bulletin emphasizes that retrogression is not being predicted but cannot be ruled out. "It is extremely likely that this category will remain subject to a cut-off date indefinitely," the Bulletin says.
The bulletin also reports that the cut-off date for the Philippines employment third (EB-3) preference has recently advanced very rapidly "in an effort to generate sufficient demand to fully utilize all available numbers." The current rate of increase in demand has required the retrogression of this cut-off date for the month of May to July 1, 2007, in an attempt to hold number use within the annual limit for this preference category.
On April 13, 2015, the Visa Office attended the IIUSA 2015 EB-5 Regional Economic Advocacy Conference to address questions related to the implementation of a visa cutoff date for Chinese investors in the EB-5 visa category. Responses from the Visa Office to questions are available here.
The Visa Bulletin for May 2015 is available here.
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
The weather hasn't quite decided whether it's Spring or another season, but whatever the weather Kehrela will be participating in the Hackney Half Marathon. As a team Hodkinson Law Group is preparing to participate in the Race for Life next month.