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Recent Blog Posts

  • USCIS Administrative Appeals Office issues important non-precedent decisions on wage level determinations for H-1B petitions By Rob Cohen    Beginning in the summer of 2017, employers began to see an increase in Requests for Evidence (RFE) from USCIS on H-1B petitions alleging that the occupation was not a specialty occupation because the employer assigned a level 1 wage. Two recent decisions from the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) indicate that this may no longer be an concern. Some background to this issue is helpful. The H-1B visa is available for foreign nationals who will be performing services in a... More
  • Administration disavows proposal to limit all H-1Bs to six years By Rob Cohen    On Dec. 30, 2017 McClatchy News reported that USCIS was considering an interpretation of a provision in the American Competitiveness in the Twenty First Century Act that would restrict H-1B visas from extensions beyond six years. This story provoked a fire storm of panic among Indian H-1B visa holders who have been waiting for an available immigrant visa while caught in backlogs often in excess of 10 years and longer. While many lawyers cautioned that the statute could... More
  • Scam alert: USCIS does not request I-9 forms by email By Rob Cohen    U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently posted notice advising employers of a scam operation requesting I-9 forms. USCIS, as well as any other investigating government agency, will never request I-9 forms by email. There are reports of recent scam operations that appear to come from a government email address requesting I-9 forms for recently hired employees. Employers should delete any emails requesting emails or uploaded copies of I-9 forms. The full government warning states: Scam Alert: USCIS Does... More
  • President Trump’s executive order on H-1B visas By Rob Cohen    President Trump issued yet another executive order addressing immigration issues on Tuesday, April 18, 2017. This order, entitled “Buy American and Hire American,” addresses federal procurement policies and reiterates the established policy to purchase goods manufactured in the United States. The order also addresses the H-1B visa. While it does not change any law, regulation or policy, it comes only one day after USCIS once again announced that 199,000 H-1B petitions were received during the first five business days... More
  • USCIS to suspend premium processing for H-1B petitions By Rob Cohen    On Friday, March 3, 2017, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it would suspend premium¹ processing for all H-1B petitions filed on or after April 3, 2017. Because April 3 is the first day that cap subject petitions² can be filed for Fiscal Year 2018, this puts a halt on premium processing for all cap subject cases that will be accepted in April, as well as all other H-1B petitions, both change of employer petitions... More
  • President Trump’s immigration Executive Orders By Rob Cohen    President Trump issued three Executive Orders during the first week of his administration to fulfill his campaign promises. During the campaign, President Trump promised to build a wall along the southern border with Mexico and to impose a ban on the admission of Muslims until the new Administration could impose “extreme vetting” of all non-citizens admitted to the United States. A third Executive Order seeks to withdraw federal funding for sanctuary cities. The implementation of these Orders has... More
  • Long wait times for Indian nonimmigrant visas merit human resources planning By Rob Cohen    Special thanks to summer associate Sara Schiavone for her work on this blog post. Human resource professionals who are managing the immigration processing for Indian nonimmigrant employees should be aware of the increased processing times for the visa application at consulates in India. The extraordinary increase in routine processing for nonimmigrant visas requires significantly more planning to avoid long periods of non-productivity while employees are stranded abroad waiting for a visa appointment. It was not that long ago that one... More
  • State Department revises Visa Bulletin cutoff dates By Rob Cohen    In November 2014, President Obama spoke on prime time television to explain his promise to issue executive orders and fix as much of the dysfunctional immigration system as could be done without Congressional action. The press and Republicans in Congress criticized the program to grant “deferred action” to a significant percentage of the undocumented population (and litigation has put that element on hold), but largely overlooked the several initiatives to reform the employment-based immigration system.  While the reforms... More
  • Business implications of the President’s Executive Action on immigration reform measures By Rob Cohen    Last night President Obama addressed the nation and outlined his long awaited Executive Order to begin the process of immigration reform. His speech emphasized the policy imperative to improve the system, and encourage economic growth consistent with our values respecting and protecting individual rights. The President, anticipating the Republican response, reiterated that it is the role of Congress to make substantive changes in the laws, but that in the absence of Congressional action, he noted several steps that... More
  • State Department announces a change in visa reciprocity agreement with China By Rob Cohen    This past weekend President Obama, while in China, announced changes in the reciprocity agreement for visas for Chinese citizens. The reciprocity agreement, which becomes effective on November 12, 2014, governs the period of validity for different kinds of visas which permit Chinese citizens to travel to the United States for different purposes. The agreement provides for the same provisions relating to U.S. citizens travelling to China in similar visa categories. The State Department issued a press release... More