Employment-Based Immigrant Visa Categories for India
Professionals from India face multiple-year visa waits because their employment-based (EB) visa categories are oversubscribed. Recently, however, there has been some significant forward movement, reducing wait times in some categories by as much as six months. Below is a summary of waiting times and the reasons for the movement:
EB-2 India: In the March Visa Bulletin, the EB-2 India final-action date advanced to Oct. 15, 2008, shaving off 8½ months from where the category was just three months ago. The Department of State (DOS) explains that demand was less than anticipated — thus the forward movement — and also reflects a strategy of advancing dates more aggressively earlier in the year in an effort to ensure that cases can be completed and all visa numbers used within the fiscal year. The lower demand may be attributable to fewer EB-3 to EB-2 upgrades than expected, or that the last advancement sufficiently captured the bulk of the demand. Low demand also may be the result of USCIS working through a backlog of EB-2 India cases, which would give the appearance that demand has tapered off. The category, advises DOS, is not expected to move at this pace in the coming months.
H-1B Professional Visas — Preparation Begins for April Filings
Once again it is H-1B filing season, and, once again United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is likely to receive a record number of petitions and the full allocation of visa petitions in the first week of filing commencing April 1. Once the quota is reached, new H-1B visa requests will not be accepted until April 1, 2017, for work that commences on October 1, 2017.
Visas for professional specialty workers (H-1Bs) are capped at 65,000 per fiscal year. Another 20,000 visas are available to workers with advanced degrees (Master’s or higher) obtained at U.S. institutions of higher education. Of the total 85,000 H-1B visas available, some 6,800 visas are set aside for nationals of Chile and Singapore under special rules of H-1B1 visas.
While some H-1B petitions can be filed at any time because they are cap exempt, the vast majority of H-1B petitions for new work must be filed in April. Thus, employers should immediately identify first-time H-1B employees and begin preparing necessary petitions for the early April filing period.
Long-Ago Entry — What to Do If You Lost Your Passport and White I-94 Card and Need to Prove Your Entry
Foreign nationals who entered the United States before Customs and Border Protection moved over to an electronic arrival/departure system for I-94 records were issued white I-94 cards that were stapled into their passports. That record is important evidence to prove that the foreign national was inspected and admitted. This arises most often when the foreign national is out of status but still eligible to adjust status as an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen (spouse, parent, or child). When that record is lost, the foreign national can request a duplicate from USCIS, but USCIS cannot always find the record. What to do? Other agencies may have copies of the original records. For example, if you applied for a Social Security card – years ago, foreign nationals who had a valid and unexpired visa and I-94 were issued Social Security cards – you can request from the Social Security Administration the documents that were used to request that SS card: the passport number and the I-94 record.
What to Do When the Examiner at Your Adjustment Interview Requests Your EAD
Local field offices can ask for EAD (Employment Authorization Document) cards from applicants at the conclusion of successful adjustment of status interviews. This is because once the application has been approved, the foreign national is no longer an applicant for adjustment of status, but a permanent or conditional resident. As a result, the authority under which the EAD was granted no longer applies, and the card is no longer valid. Unfortunately, the EAD is often the only document a foreign national has to demonstrate lawful status in the U.S. Many field offices do not issue an I-485 approval notice at the conclusion of the interview, nor routinely place “I-551” lawful permanent resident stamps in passports immediately after a successful interview. By confiscating the EAD at the interview, the foreign national is left without any documentation regarding his or her status in the United States. Should an officer request an applicant’s EAD card at the conclusion of a successful adjustment interview, request an approval letter or an I-551 stamp. While most green cards are being produced and mailed within two to three weeks of the approval, an approval letter or stamp can serve as proof in the interim and in the event that the green card is not delivered as planned.
Copy of Approval Notice Sufficient for O and P Canadian Travelers
Some Canadian O and P travelers recently have been told by CBP officers that their admission may be denied for not having the original I-797 approval notices when they seek to enter the United States. In a recent meeting, CBP confirmed that presentation of a photocopy of an approval notice is sufficient for CBP to verify the petition validity and grant admission. The issue arises because Canadian nationals are exempt from the visa requirement for O and P visas and often are approved with multiple beneficiaries but only receive one original approval notice. Because the beneficiaries frequently do not travel together, only one person will have the original and all others only copies.
Dilip Patel of Shutts, a Florida Bar board-certified expert on immigration law, can be reached at (813) 227-8178 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org