Contact Us Today

News & Resources

Planning for the H-1B Cap

Posted January 24, 2019Kristen KellarH-1B

With the annual April H-1B cap right around the corner now is a great time to  start thinking about individuals you’d like to sponsor and opening cases. The H-1B cap officially opens April 1, 2019. For the past few years, the USCIS accepted cap petitions the first five business days of the month, and we anticipate the same this year. Petitions received after will not be eligible to be selected in the H-1B cap lottery. Starting the process early can provide peace of mind as April approaches knowing that the cases are prepared or that if positions or employees change there is time to make adjustments.

Employees you may consider sponsoring for the cap include:

  • Employees in F-1 OPT or CPT status
  • Employees who are currently working abroad
  • Employees in other visa statuses who may be sponsored for a green card
  • Employees working on an H-4 EAD
  • Employees currently on TN status, such as those working under the Economist category.

Due to the nature of the H-1B cap, even if an employee’s current status is valid until 2019 or later, you may want to consider filing an H-1B cap case now so that they have more chances at the cap. This past April, USCIS received 190,000 petitions for 85,000 spots.

It is also important to keep in mind processing timelines for the certified Labor Condition Application (LCA), which is required for all H-1Bs. If your company has not filed an LCA in the past, it must register with the Department of Labor prior to filing an LCA. Typically, it takes a few days for the Department of Labor to verify a company, but verification tends to take longer as April approaches. Once a company is verified with the Department of Labor, the LCA can be filed. LCAs are usually certified in 7 days, but that timeline tends to get longer as well. In the event of any error on the LCA or change to to position it’s vital to have time to correct it and have a new LCA be certified.

For companies that place employees at client sites, starting the H-1B process early can provide more time to ensure that sufficient evidence regarding the client relationship can be obtained. Providing client documents early allows your business immigration attorney ample time to review them and for additional documents to be obtained in the event of incomplete or insufficient evidence. Not having the proper documentation can result in an inability to file the case or a Request for Evidence later.

We encourage you to speak with you Meltzer Hellrung LLC attorney about any individuals you’d like to sponsor or if you have questions about the types of positions that qualify for an H-1B.

Read More

USCIS Confirms SAVE Program is Operational During Shutdown

Posted January 24, 2019Kristen KellarArticles

USCIS has confirmed that its SAVE Program is available during the government shutdown. The Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements Program is used by government agencies to verify immigration status when offering government benefits. Examples of agencies that may use the program are a state's department of motor vehicles, department of human services, and department of employment security. Agencies using the program will continue to be able to use the system during the shutdown. The SAVE CaseCheck system is also still available for individuals looking to follow the status of their verification case.

Read More

USCIS Updates Guidance on Traveling with Advance Parole

Posted January 3, 2019Articles

USCIS updated its form instructions for when the agency will deny pending Form I-131 applications for advance parole for applicants who travel while the application is  pending. Previously, USCIS has denied all advance parole petitions when an individual traveled while the application was pending. 

USCIS indicates that when an applicant applies for advance parole, and the applicant travels internationally without the advance parole document that is valid for the entire period of travel, USCIS will consider the pending Form I-131 to be abandoned.

Further, USCIS notes that an applicant may have an approved advance parole document while a second one is pending. Individuals can travel while a new advance parole petition is pending as long as a previously approved advanced parole document is valid for the entire time spent abroad. In this situation, the pending application for advance parole will not be considered abandoned.

USCIS indicates that when an applicant applies for advance parole, and the applicant travels internationally without the advance parole document that is valid for the entire period of travel, USCIS will consider the pending Form I-131 to be abandoned.

We will continue to update this practice alert as more information becomes available. If you have any questions, please reach out to your designated Meltzer Hellrung attorney. 

Read More

Effect of the Government Shutdown on Employment-Based Immigration

Posted December 26, 2018Articles

With the government partially shut down as of December 22, 2018, many agencies are still operating, but other services will be unavailable until a new spending bill is signed. Here is an overview of how some of the immigration related agencies and services are being affected.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services budget is fee based and generally is not affected by a government shutdown. USCIS offices will be open and interviews and appointments should be attended.

The following USCIS programs are affected:

  • EB-5 Immigrant Investor Regional Center Program

EB-5 applications are on hold due to a lapse in congressional authorization for the program. Forms I-526 and I-924 can be submitted but will not be adjudicated until congressional authorization is received. Forms I-829, submitted to remove conditions to remove conditions on permanent resident status for entrepreneurs are not affected.

  • E-Verify

E-Verify services are unavailable. During this time, the following policies have been implemented to assist employers:

  1. The 'three-day rule" for creating cases is suspended for cases affected by the unavailability of E-Verify.
  2. The time period which employees may resolve tentative nonconfirmations (TNCs) will be extended. Additional guidance will be provided by E-Verify when operations resume.
  3. Employers may not take adverse action against employees because the E-Verify case is in an interim case status, including while the employee's case is in an extended interim case status due to the unavailability of services.
  4. Federal contractors with the Federal Acquisition Regulation E-Verify clause should contact their contracting officer for information on extending deadlines.
  • Conrad 30 Waiver Program for J-1 medical doctors

Conrad 30 waivers are not being granted.

  • EB-4 Non-Minister Religious Workers

The non-ministerial special immigrant religious worker program is currently on hold.

Department of Labor

The Department of Labor has been funded through October 2019 so it is not affected by the shutdown.

Department of State

The State Department has announced that it will continue to provide scheduled passport and visa services at U.S. Embassies and Consulates during the shutdown, however delays may occur.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection

Ports of entry are open and Customer and Border Protection will continue to work. CBP is affected by the shutdown but employees with be working without pay.  

If you have any additional questions about how the shutdown could affect you or your employees, please reach out to your designated Meltzer Hellrung LLC attorney.

Read More

USCIS Issues Updated Guidance on I-751 Interview Waivers

Posted December 5, 2018Kristen KellarGreen Card

USCIS recently issued a policy memorandum revising guidance for Form I-751 interview waivers. Form I-751 is filed to removed conditions on permanent residents whose lawful permanent residence is based on a qualifying marriage that is less than two years old at the time of admission or adjustment of status.

Generally, individuals who file a Form I-751 must appear for an interview with a USCIS officer. All I-751s filed on or after December 10, 2018 are subject to the new policy memorandum. The new guidance states that officers may waive the interview if the following conditions are met:

  • The officer can make a decision on the record because it contains sufficient evidence about the bona fides of the marriage and that the marriage was not entered into for the purpose of evading the immigration laws of the United States;
  • For Form I-751 cases received on or after December 10, 2018, USCIS has previously interviewed the I-751 principal petitioner (for example, for a Form I-485 or Form I-130);
  • There is no indication of fraud or misrepresentation in the Form I-751 of the supporting documentation; and
  • There are no complex facts or issues that require an interview to resolve questions or concerns.

If you have any questions about the policy memorandum and how it could affect your application, please reach out to your designated Meltzer Hellrung LLC attorney.

Read More