Fakhoury Global Immigration

Troy MI

Openness and effectiveness go hand in hand at Fakhoury Global Immigration. Our motto is to treat our clients the way we like to be treated. Thus, we provide timely and quality immigration services at reasonable fees. And we keep our clients informed at all times about the costs and concerns of their cases. Strategies, timelines and budgets are frankly discussed and real solutions are blueprinted and implemented.

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Updates

Immigration

New labour condition application form implemented
USA | 07 December 2018

The Department of Labour recently announced the implementation of the new Labour Condition Application (LCA) form. The prior LCA form is no longer acceptable. The implementation of the new form will affect LCA processing, since additional information will now be needed to complete the new form. Among other changes, the new LCA form now requires the full legal name and any 'doing business as name' for end clients where the H-1B worker will be placed to perform job duties.

F-1 cap-gap status: work authorisation extension no longer valid from 1 October 2018
USA | 30 November 2018

The US Citizenship and Immigration Services issued an alert on 28 September 2018 reminding F-1 students with an H-1B petition that remained pending on 1 October 2018 that they risk accruing unlawful presence if they continue to work on or after 1 October (unless otherwise authorised to continue employment) because their cap-gap work authorisation was valid only until 30 September.

Employment and Training Administration's lack of control over H-2B process jeopardises businesses
USA | 23 November 2018

The Department of Labour's Office of Inspector General (OIG) recently found that the Employment and Training Administration's lack of control over the H-2B applications process has jeopardised businesses that depend on H-2B workers. According to the OIG, H-2B application processing delays "could prevent employers from obtaining foreign workers by their date of need" or "obtain[ing] US workers to fill those positions".

President Trump signs KIWI Act on non-immigrant treaty traders and investors
USA | 16 November 2018

The Knowledgeable Innovators and Worthy Investors (KIWI) Act was signed into law on 1 August 2018. The KIWI Act will allow eligible NZ nationals to enter the United States as non-immigrant traders and investors provided that New Zealand grants reciprocal treatment to US nationals.

DHS issues final rule eliminating non-immigrant visa exemption for certain Caribbean residents
USA | 31 August 2018

The Department of Homeland Security recently issued a final rule eliminating the non-immigrant visa exemption for certain Caribbean residents seeking to enter the United States as H-2A agricultural workers and the spouses or children who accompany or follow these workers. As a result of the related interim final rule, these non-immigrants must have both a valid passport and visa.

H-1B cap filings have decreased by 20% since Trump took office
USA | 04 May 2018

The US Citizenship and Immigration Services recently announced that it received 190,098 H-1B petitions during the filing period for fiscal year (FY) 2019, including petitions filed for the advanced degree exemption. This number is down from the record-breaking filings for FY 2017, during which USCIS received 236,000 petitions, and down from last year. It can be inferred that the changes implemented under the Trump administration have affected the number of H-1B filings.

New H-1B policies following USCIS memo on third-party placement requirements
USA | 27 April 2018

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently released a policy memorandum detailing the document requirements for H-1B petitions involving third-party worksites. USCIS has acknowledged that third-party arrangements may be a legitimate and frequently used business model and outlined the documents required to use this model. If employers do not include the mentioned corroborating evidence, USCIS may deny the petition.

10 business-based immigration updates expected in 2018
USA | 26 January 2018

In April 2017 President Trump issued the Buy American, Hire American Executive Order. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services has carried out and is considering a number of policy and regulatory changes to fulfil the president's executive order, including conducting a thorough review of employment-based visa programmes. Further, there are several bills being considered in the House and Senate pertaining to immigration.

New DHS immigration policy council: unifying immigration enforcement and decision making
USA | 24 November 2017

The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) allocated $22.8 billion between 2014 and 2016 to enforce and administer immigration laws, one of its strategic missions. In 2014 a DHS Unity of Effort initiative created the Joint Task Forces to coordinate the department's resources. The DHS Office of Inspector General recently audited DHS to evaluate whether it has been achieving its mission in the most efficient way possible.

USCIS updates policy on burden of proof for extension petitions
USA | 10 November 2017

In April 2017 President Trump signed the "Buy American, Hire American" executive order. Subsequently, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) started working on the necessary rulemaking, policy memoranda and operational changes to implement the executive order. As part of these initiatives, USCIS recently updated agency policy guidance on the burden of proof for extension petitions.

ICE plans to increase worksite enforcement
USA | 03 November 2017

Following the president's "Buy American, Hire American" executive order, companies and immigration practitioners have witnessed increased scrutiny over immigration compliance. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) acting director recently confirmed plans to increase enforcement in order to prevent fraud and abuse. ICE has indicated, among other things, that it will prosecute employers for knowingly hiring or retaining workers who lack valid US employment authorisation.

H-1B visa statistics and anticipated future trends
USA | 11 August 2017

President Trump recently released an executive order in which the secretary of state, the attorney general, the secretary of labour and the secretary of homeland security were prompted to suggest reforms and propose new laws to ensure H-1B visas are awarded to the most skilled or highest paid beneficiaries. In line with these developments, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services and the US Department of Labour have published reports detailing the existing H-1B trends.

Increased scrutiny over H-1B visas: beware of Level 1 wages!
USA | 28 July 2017

It is common knowledge that the Trump administration is attempting to tighten immigration. One component that the administration has talked about is converting the employment-based immigration system utilising the H-1B visa to be more merit based rather than lottery based. Immigration practitioners have already seen a trend in this direction with, among other things, more requests for evidence for lower-level professional categories.

Supreme Court reviews Trump travel ban order
USA | 07 July 2017

The US Supreme Court is reviewing US Court of Appeals decisions which found President Trump's Executive Order 13780 (Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the US) to be unconstitutional. The government can now ban people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entering the United States for a 90-day period, unless they can show that they have a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States

BALCA forgives electronic error
USA | 30 June 2017

In a recent case, the Board of Alien Labour Certification (BALCA) agreed that the requirement to provide a signed copy of a Programme Electronic Review Management form was reasonable and that failure to provide a complete copy would usually constitute a substantial failure. However, since the failure to submit an original, completed form in this case appeared to be an electronic error, BALCA decided that the omission was not material and ordered approval for the employer.

Bill to authorise and reform key immigration agencies introduced
USA | 23 June 2017

Two bills to authorise and reauthorise key immigration component agencies at the US Department of Homeland Security were recently sent to the House of Representatives as a whole for consideration, with the goal of ensuring that US immigration laws are enforced and maintaining the integrity of the immigration system. Authorisation bills direct how federal funds should or should not be used and are typically made for single fiscal years, but are often renewed in subsequent law.

Executive order "Buy American, Hire American" impact on H-1B visas
USA | 26 May 2017

President Donald Trump recently signed an executive order entitled "Buy American, Hire American". In the 'Hire American' part of the order, Trump announced that he was directing the Department of Labour, the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State to review the existing laws governing the H-1B programme and suggest changes to prioritise the most skilled and highest paid positions.

Some apples fall far from the tree
USA | 19 May 2017

The US Department of Labour recently issued two denials of Programme Electronic Review Management certification to Apple, the first US company with a market value of more than $700 billion. Denial in the first case was based on a clear typographical error, while the second was based on a subtle interpretation of the foreign worker's educational qualifications.

Searching for workers in all the wrong places
USA | 12 May 2017

In a nation of immigrants, the government struggles to determine which persons should be permitted to remain and which persons should be returned to their home country. Employers that seek labour certification to employ foreign workers must prove that they have not found suitable US workers who are qualified, willing, able and available for employment.

USCIS completes H-1B cap random selection process for 2017
USA | 28 April 2017

US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently announced that it has received enough H-1B petitions to reach the statutory cap of 65,000 visas for the fiscal year 2018. USCIS has also received more than the limit of 20,000 H-1B petitions filed under the advanced degree exemption, also known as the 'master's cap'. US businesses use the H-1B programme to employ foreign workers in occupations that require at least a bachelor's degree or equivalent.

Guidance memo on H-1B computer-related positions rescinded
USA | 21 April 2017

US Citizenship and Immigration Services recently released a new policy memorandum, which supersedes and rescinds the memo issued to Nebraska Service Centre employees in 2000. Under the earlier memo, many practitioners claimed that most computer programmer positions qualified as 'specialty occupations'. However, the new memo concludes that a Level 1 designation for a position covered under the computer programmer position classification does not qualify as such.

PERM Form 9089: what are normal job requirements?
USA | 14 April 2017

A little-known requirement in the Programme Electronic Review Management rule states that employers must offer to train job applicants if they can acquire the education, training, experience and skills necessary to perform the required duties in a reasonable period. While deference is given to the employer, whose judgement is the best arbiter of such matters, government policy regarding the required duties themselves is ambiguous.

Documents proving lawful status more critical than ever under Trump administration
USA | 07 April 2017

Given the new era of enforcement under the Trump administration, foreign nationals must have appropriate documentation in their possession to prove their lawful immigration status in the United States. Failure to do so may result in the foreign national being arrested and detained until the necessary documentation is provided.

Preparing for upcoming H-1B cap season
USA | 03 February 2017

As the H-1B cap season for fiscal year 2018 is fast approaching, companies should take steps now to assess their H-1B needs and begin to collect the necessary documentation for H-1B cap petition filings in order to maximise their chances of success. It is unclear whether any changes will be made to the H-1B programme in the months before the H-1B cap season, following the recent US presidential election results.

International Entrepreneur Final Rule under review
USA | 13 January 2017

US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently proposed a new rule which would allow the Department of Homeland Security to use its existing discretionary statutory parole authority for entrepreneurs of start-up entities. USCIS recently sent the rule to the Office of Management and Budget for review; however, it is unlikely that the final rule will be effective before the Trump administration takes over.

Department of Labour discusses PERM process
USA | 06 January 2017

The Department of Labour recently held a meeting which provided an opportunity for stakeholders to pose questions regarding the Programme Electronic Review Management process. A wide range of topics were discussed, including processing times, tools for prevailing wage requests, combinations of duties, prioritising adjudications, unquantified special requirements and the American Competitive and Workforce Improvement Act.

Special requirements not welcome
USA | 23 December 2016

The Department of Labour has long held the position that employers should not recruit for jobs requiring special skills or licences if US workers are available who could be easily trained. To defend the special skill requirement successfully, employers generally argue that job applicants did not list these skills on their résumés and that it would not be feasible for them to acquire the skills through on-the-job training.

Employment-based immigration considerations under Trump administration
USA | 02 December 2016

While the incoming Trump administration has not been entirely clear about how aggressively it will pursue changes to employment-based immigration and its primary stated agenda is enforcement action against undocumented immigrants, recent indications from the Centre for Immigration Studies and pronouncements from the new attorney general have foregrounded the potential for immigration reform in the near future.

Particular grounds for PERM appeals
USA | 25 November 2016

When Programme Electronic Review Management applications are denied, employers can file requests for reconsideration. If a request for reconsideration is denied, employers can still file an appeal to the Board of Alien Labour Certification Appeals (BALCA) within 30 days. In addition to the timely filing requirement, employers must carefully state the grounds for the appeal. A BALCA directive advises that appeals may be dismissed if the grounds do not contain sufficient detail.

Department of Homeland Security issues proposed rule to give parole status to entrepreneurs
USA | 07 October 2016

The Department of Homeland Security recently proposed a new rule to retain and attract highly skilled workers and entrepreneurs to the United States: the International Entrepreneur Rule. The proposed rule is separate from the E-2 and EB-5 US investor visa programmes, and would provide another avenue for entrepreneurs who wish to live and work in the United States to pursue.

PERM: private employment agencies can place ads
USA | 23 September 2016

In a recent case an employer used a private employment agency to place an ad for professional recruitment. The agency put its own name in the ad and not the name of the employer; as a result, the Department of Labour denied the Programme Electronic Review Management application.

Possible priority date movement in employment-based immigrant visa categories in October 2016
USA | 02 September 2016

The Department of State issues a monthly visa bulletin to inform the public of the priority dates which will be effective for various immigrant visa preference categories. As it is often difficult to predict which priority dates will become effective or be brought forward, the Department of State recently provided predictions regarding the movement of priority dates for the upcoming October 2016 Visa Bulletin.

Significant public benefit parole for entrepreneurs
USA | 26 August 2016

A proposed rule providing parole for entrepreneurs recently reached the Office of Management and Budget for review. The rule comes as a response to the president's executive order to modernise and streamline the US immigration system for the 21st century, which sought to address how the United States can continue to attract immigrants to foster innovation and entrepreneurship, in order to grow the economy and create jobs for citizens.

PERM: delivery of audit letter must be proved
USA | 19 August 2016

​The Department of Labour has issued a series of decisions explaining what happens when an employer claims that it never received a national Programme Electronic Review Management (PERM) office audit letter. In view of the difficulty in proving that an audit letter has not been received, employers should monitor their PERM case status and save online reports as proof in case of future disputes.

Bill strives to ensure integrity when allocating visas to highly skilled workers
USA | 01 July 2016

A draft bill in the House of Representatives proposes changes for highly skilled worker visas. The proposed bill would eliminate the per-country limit for employment-based immigrant visas in an effort to ensure that all workers are treated fairly and are subject to the same waiting times for visas. It would also reform the H-1B dependent employer, eliminate the master's degree exemption and allow F-1 students to possess dual intent.

PERM: spotlight on wage determinations
USA | 24 June 2016

The US Department of Labour holds regular stakeholder meetings to discuss technical issues with employers, bar associations, student advisers, unions, government agencies and other interested groups. At a recent meeting, questions were raised about prevailing wage determinations for job offers involving combinations of occupations.

Do high-tech workers 'travel' or 'relocate'?
USA | 03 June 2016

The Programme Electronic Review Management rule requires that a job's travel requirements be included in newspaper ads, but there is no guidance pertaining to different kinds of travel, such as that required of high-tech workers. The Department of Labour has recently argued that 'travel' and 'relocation' should be differentiated, which breaks with the longstanding tradition of assimilating all kinds of assignment under the definition of 'travel'.

USCIS addresses processing delays
USA | 20 May 2016

US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has five service centres that process applications and petitions that do not require a personal interview. As some cases are taking longer to process than usual, USCIS is working to address the staffing shortages and workload issues causing the delays. It recently addressed processing delays and provided specific examples that shed light on the frustrating wait times and recommended solutions.

Department of Labour loosens tight grip on PERM ads
USA | 13 May 2016

While the Programme Electronic Review Management process contains detailed instructions for what must be included in a newspaper ad, there is no rule pertaining to professional occupation ads placed elsewhere, such as online. Most employers tend to play it safe and follow the rules for newspaper ads. However, in recent years the Board of Alien Labour Certification Appeals appears to have liberalised the rules for online ads.

USCIS reaches 2017 H-1B cap with record-breaking number of petitions
USA | 29 April 2016

On April 7 2016 the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it had received enough H-1B petitions to reach the statutory cap of 65,000 visas for fiscal year 2017. USCIS also announced that it had received more than the limit of 20,000 H-1B petitions filed under the advanced degree exemption. USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions that are otherwise exempt from the cap.

PERM stakeholder meeting
USA | 22 April 2016

The Department of Labour recently held a meeting in Washington DC to discuss hot issues in Programme Electronic Review Management (PERM) processing. The agenda included prevailing wages, Programme Electronic Review Management and temporary work visas. Reports of stakeholder meetings provide an early warning system for employers to keep on the cutting edge of new developments in PERM.

PERM: to sign or not to sign...
USA | 15 April 2016

Programme Electronic Review Management Form 9089 and the supporting documentation must be signed by a number of different persons and failure of the right person to sign in the right place often results in denial. The likelihood of this is increased by the ambiguous definitions of these persons, such as the term 'employer' on Form 9089 which has two different meanings on the same form.

DHS issues final rule on STEM optional practical training for F-1 students
USA | 01 April 2016

Following the completion of their academic programme in the United States, F-1 visa students are often issued optional practical training (OPT). The purpose of OPT is to allow F-1 students to supplement their academic knowledge with valuable work experience after earning their US degrees. The Department of Homeland Security has now issued a final rule on OPT for F-1 students with degrees in the sciences, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Beware the ides of PERM!
USA | 26 February 2016

A recent case demonstrates the confusion among employers as to the date on which a Programme Electronic Review Management application must be filed; the law states that it must be filed both "within 180 days" of completing the advertising and recruitment campaign and "within six months". There is also confusion around whether this period starts on the date on which the application is sent or the date on which it is delivered or received.

Is there a PERM revocation in your mailbox?
USA | 05 February 2016

The Department of Labour has broad powers to revoke Programme Electronic Review Management (PERM) approvals and sister agencies can also invalidate labour certifications, which can lead to the loss of a green card or even citizenship. The best preventive remedy is to process all PERM applications carefully to obtain long-lasting approvals, and review past cases to see whether a notice of revocation might be imminent.

Danger: high-tech PERM ahead!
USA | 22 January 2016

Despite the promise of efficient processing, the high-tech PERM system has confounded employers due to its complexity and inconsistencies, and has also resulted in countless undeserved denials. With many of the important rules and policies flying under the radar, employers have no one-stop shop to learn the process.

Employers puzzled by conflicting PERM advertising requirements
USA | 08 January 2016

The Department of Labour continues to struggle with distinctions in advertising requirements for the Programme Electronic Review Management recruitment process, to the consternation of employers and attorneys. At issue is the fact that there are different rules for ads placed in newspapers of general circulation, ads for professional positions and job orders that are placed with state workforce agencies.

H-1B and L-1 Visa Reform Act 2015
USA | 18 December 2015

Two senators recently introduced a bill that would reform the H-1B and L-1 visa programmes in the United States. Specifically, the bill proposes to modify wage requirements, impose requirements when placing workers at third-party locations and limit the usage of the H-1B and L-1 categories by employers. While the bill is not expected to be passed by Congress in its current form, certain provisions are worth noting as they may find their way into future legislation.

Porting with PERM
USA | 11 December 2015

US Citizenship and Immigration Services recently issued a draft memo that provides definitions and interpretive guidance for Programme Electronic Review Management and certain other employment-based applicants who port to new employment when they are in the adjustment of status period for 180 days or more.

PERM information timeline: harsh consequences for employers
USA | 16 October 2015

In a recent administrative law decision a Programme Electronic Review Management application for a computer programmer was denied because the employer did not provide the Department of Labour with copies of the emails that it had sent to job applicants. The decision turned on the employer's efforts to submit material documentation after the audit by means of a request for reconsideration.

USCIS issues L-1B final policy guidance memorandum
USA | 11 September 2015

The L-1B visa category is used by multinational companies to transfer personnel to the United States based on their specialised knowledge of the organisation's product, service, equipment, techniques, processes or procedures. US Citizenship and Immigration Services recently issued a final policy guidance memorandum on the adjudication of L-1B visa petitions.

US PERM foreign labour certification process under assessment
USA | 17 July 2015

One way in which a foreign national may be sponsored by a US employer is through the Programme Electronic Review Management (PERM) process. Due to staff changes and the fact the PERM foreign labour certification process has not been updated or revised in more than 10 years, the Department of Labour appears poised to make changes to the programme in order to bring the process up to date.

Deadlines for filing, refiling and porting PERM petitions
USA | 22 May 2015

Most foreign-born IT employees work in the United States on H-1B temporary visas prior to qualifying for permanent residency. These workers need a PERM application (labour certification) before an I-140 immigrant visa petition can be filed on their behalf. There are several important time periods and deadlines to keep in mind throughout the PERM application process.

AAO: amend H-1B petition or risk revocation
USA | 24 April 2015

In In Matter of Simeio Solutions, LLC the Administrative Appeals Office has rendered a decision that may have a tone of finality in the context of when to file an amended H-1B petition if an employee's job location changes. An employer that fails to file will suffer the consequences: revocation of the originally approved petition.

L-1B denial rates: India in the lead
USA | 10 April 2015

​The National Foundation for American Policy has released its March 2015 Policy Brief, "L-1 Denial Rates Increase Again for High Skill Foreign Nationals". The L-1B visa category allows individuals with 'specialised knowledge' to be transferred to the United States as "intra company transferees". The brief shows that L-1B applicants of Indian origin are subjected to the highest request for evidence and denial rates.

H-4 visa holder dependent spouses can work
USA | 13 March 2015

As of May 26 2015, US Citizenship and Immigration Services will accept and process applications for an employment authorisation document from H-4 visa holder dependent spouses. H-4 is a visa category in US immigration laws for the dependent spouse and children of a H-1B visa holder. The benefit will be available to spouses of H-1B visa holders only.

NVC responds to visa processing for same-sex fiancés
USA | 06 March 2015

In a recent liaison committee meeting between the American Immigration Lawyers Association and the National Visa Centre (NVC), a question was posed about what has recently become a hot topic for many immigrants and their same-sex partner: how can a US citizen facilitate the required fiancée or fiancé visa for his or her same-sex partner? The NVC has now responded.

Office of Foreign Labour Certification attempts to define 'travel' and 'relocation'
USA | 27 February 2015

The PERM labour certification process requires a US employer seeking to sponsor a foreign national for US permanent resident status to place a series of advertisements which meet certain criteria, including notifying US workers of where they may have to travel to or reside to perform the work. There is little guidance on how an employer may craft language to this end, although recent denial notices may provide some clarity.

Executive actions may be issued, with consequences...
USA | 05 December 2014

Media reports indicate that President Obama intends to issue some executive actions relating to US immigration laws in the near future. Among other things, these are expected to cover issues such as the protracted waiting periods for obtaining green cards for nationals of certain countries in the professional and skilled worker categories, and the L-1B visa in the intra-company transferee visa category.

Additional data needed from Visa Waiver Programme entrants
USA | 28 November 2014

The Department of Homeland Security recently released announced that those seeking to travel to the United States from countries in the US Visa Waiver Programme will now to provide additional information in their travel application. It is confident that the changes will not hinder lawful trade and travel between the United States and its Visa Waiver Programme partners.

PERM – how to upgrade IT workers to second preference
USA | 14 November 2014

Most IT personnel want to apply for the US second preference employment-based category because the third preference is subject to long delays. Success in applying for second preference lies partly in the applicant's level of expertise and partly in the applicant's qualifications. It is also possible to qualify for second preference because of exceptional qualifications, even without a bachelor's or advanced degree.

India leads approval rates for IT workers
USA | 31 October 2014

The US Office of Foreign Labour Certification for permanent workers has issued a mid-year report for 2014. The report covers the top countries providing workers to the United States for classification as permanent residents, the top five occupations and the most popular employment destinations. It also highlights common errors that result in applications being denied, including failure to follow PERM procedural rules.

PERM: update on IT job codes
USA | 12 September 2014

To file a PERM application, the employer must first determine the proper job code according to the O*Net classification, including permissible characteristics such as title, duties, experience, education, training and other special requirements. Job zone selection is an important issue, because it determines whether a PERM application may be used to file for a third preference or second preference employment-based petition.

USCIS Ombudsman's Annual Report 2014: ongoing adjudication concerns
USA | 08 August 2014

The Office of the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Ombudsman recently issued its Annual Report for 2014, which focused on several areas, including waivers of inadmissibility, the H-2B temporary worker programme, the EB-5 investor programme and Form G-28 issues. One of the areas addressed by the report concerned the adjudication of H-1B and L-1 petitions by USCIS service centres.

USCIS to begin worksite inspections of L-1 visa holders
USA | 06 June 2014

US Citizenship and Immigration Services has announced that it is to send inspectors to the worksites of L-1 visa holders, similar to the current practice of sending inspectors to the worksites of H-1B visa holders. The purpose of sending inspectors to listed work locations is to verify that the information in the petition filings is accurate and that the workers and employers are complying with the terms and conditions of employment.

Immigration reform – the latest developments
USA | 02 May 2014

Immigration reform was the focus of lawmakers and the public in 2013, but appears to have stalled in 2014. Although there is more opposition to immigration reform from some lawmakers than in the past, there is still a good chance that the House of Representatives may pass one or more of its immigration reform bills. If no immigration reform legislation is agreed in 2014, it will likely be introduced in 2015.

Short-term placement of H-1B workers and when to amend H-1B petitions
USA | 24 January 2014

IT projects may last for years or only a few weeks, and the professionals with the skills needed to work on these projects are often in great demand. The H-1B category is one way in which companies are able to bring IT professionals to the United States to work on these projects.

US consulates reportedly denying H-1B petitions for improper wage level selection
USA | 15 November 2013

US consulates are reportedly increasing their scrutiny of H-1B visa applications with respect to wage rates. The government is concerned that some US employers may be selecting low wage rates for positions that are not entry-level roles. Employers must be careful when completing labour condition applications and ensure that the proper wage level is selected, following the Department of Labour wage-level definitions.

Office of Inspector General issues L-1 visa report
USA | 20 September 2013

The US Department of Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General recently issued a report intended to examine whether there is fraud or abuse with respect to the L-1 visa programme in the United States. The report makes several recommendations, including the issuance of new guidance with respect to the interpretation of the term 'specialised knowledge' and increased site visits for new office L-1s.

The latest twists and turns in the immigration reform saga
USA | 16 August 2013

The US Senate passed a comprehensive immigration reform bill in June 2013 which contains harsh provisions targeting heavy users of the H-1B and L-1 categories. However, the US House of Representatives has rejected the bill, preferring to pursue reform in a piecemeal fashion in the form of a series of bills that each address a specific immigration reform issue and do not seem to include the same harsh provisions.

Department of Labour launches Labour Certification Registry
USA | 26 July 2013

The Department of Labour recently created the Labour Certification Registry. The registry allows the public to view labour condition and permanent employment certification applications filed by US employers. As the registry will allow for close monitoring of applications, employers should be careful when drafting such applications in order to ensure that there is consistency and accuracy with respect to positions offered.

Comprehensive immigration reform: impact on H-1B and L-1 categories
USA | 07 June 2013

The Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernisation Act, which was recently introduced into the Senate, addresses border security issues and has provisions to reform the H-1B and L-1 non-immigrant visa categories. It creates a path towards citizenship for those who are undocumented, creates a merit-based visa and reallocates the distribution of visas.

CBP to automate processing of I-94 cards
USA | 26 April 2013

US Customs and Border Protection has published a rule that will eliminate the issuance of Form I-94 at the time of admission at all air and sea ports of entry. This new rule will have an impact on how foreign nationals document their status and apply for various government benefits. It will likely create challenges for several parties. Foreign nationals and employers are advised to monitor this developing issue.

H-1B cap petition closure for FY2014
USA | 19 April 2013

US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has reported that it has received enough H-1B cap petitions for the 2014 fiscal year to meet the 65,000 quota. In addition, it has received enough H-1B master's degree cap petitions to meet the 20,000 quota. For the first time since 2008, USCIS has reached the H-1B cap quotas within the first week of the filing period.

USCIS issues new Form I-9
USA | 22 March 2013

Form I-9 (Employment Eligibility Verification) is issued by US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and used by US employers to document the identity and employment authorisation of each new employee that is placed on the employer's payroll. Form I-9 is required to be completed by both the employer and employee. USCIS recently issued a new version of the form.

PERM labour application and Labour Condition Application updates
USA | 08 March 2013

The Department of Labour recently held a stakeholders' meeting, in which it provided information updates regarding its processing of Programme Electronic Review Management (PERM) labour applications and Labour Condition Applications. The filing of a PERM labour application by a US employer is often the first step in the US green card application process for many foreign nationals.

Immigration reform bill may see big changes for business visas
USA | 22 February 2013

In recent weeks a bi-partisan draft Senate immigration bill has been circulated. If enacted this session, the bill will result in some major changes for H-1B and other business visas. This comprehensive immigration reform legislation promises to be the best chance for a substantial legislative reshaping of H-1B and immigration law for many years.

H-1B cap expected to be reached earlier than previously
USA | 25 January 2013

The H-1B non-immigrant category is heavily used by US employers to bring professionals into the United States to work temporarily in a specialty occupation. With the slow but gradual improvement in the US economy, since the recession the cap has been reached earlier in each of the last three fiscal years. Thus, the H-1B cap quota for fiscal year 2014 is likely to be reached much earlier in 2013 than in prior years.

PERM labour applications
USA | 16 November 2012

The US Department of Labour (DOL) has provided statistics with respect to its Programme Electronic Review Management (PERM) labour application processing in the United States. The DOL reported that it has 23,700 PERM labour applications pending with its Employment and Training Administration. According to the report, non-audited PERM labour applications accounted for 47% of these applications.

Complying with PERM after moving corporate headquarters
USA | 21 September 2012

The Programme Electronic Review Management (PERM) labour application process requires that two Sunday print advertisements be placed in a newspaper of general circulation in the area of intended employment when sponsoring a foreign national in connection with the green card process. Where a US employer wishes to move its headquarters, this will have an impact on the PERM labour application process.

Department of State beefs up consular services in Brazil
USA | 08 June 2012

The Department of State has announced plans to open two new consulates in Belo Horizante and Porto Alegre, Brazil, which the White House said are important economic and cultural centres for the states of Minas Gerais and Rio Grande do Sul. To address immediate growth in demand, the department is sending dozens of consular officers to Brazilian posts to adjudicate visa applications.

USCIS implements first stage of electronic forms filing system
USA | 01 June 2012

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently announced that it has commenced operating its online filing portal for immigration applications. The Electronic Immigration System is the first operational stage in the USCIS transformation programme that intends to take the application process into a paperless, web-based environment.

Injunction blocks implementation of 2012 H-2B final rule
USA | 25 May 2012

The Northern District of Florida recently granted a nationwide preliminary injunction against implementation of the new H-2B programme. The injunction was issued in a case brought on the grounds that the Department of Labour had overstepped its authority by requiring companies to provide immigrant workers hired for low-skilled jobs with wage guarantees and travel reimbursements.

New H-1B guidelines offer limited relief from Neufeld memo burdens
USA | 30 March 2012

US Citizenship and Immigration Services has issued revised H-1B guidelines that modify the January 2010 Neufeld memo. That memo amounted to a major rule change without formal publication. The new question and answer guidelines lift the requirement for end-user memos, while leaving most of the rest of the Neufeld memo intact.

USCIS data reveals high denial rates for L-1 and H-1B petitions
USA | 16 March 2012

New data obtained from US Citizenship and Immigration Services reveals that the agency has dramatically increased denials of L-1 and H-1B petitions over the past four years, with much of the increase involving Indian-born professionals. These high denial rates are harming the competitiveness of US employers and encouraging companies to keep more jobs and resources outside the United States.

Consular procedure - an update
USA | 10 February 2012

When a petitioning company becomes the focus of an immigration investigation, often one of the first outward signs of compliance problems is that its employees will be issued vague letters from the consul citing "inadequate evidence to support issuance of the visa". In such an instance it is essential for an attorney to make a formal inquiry to try to determine the reason for the letter and how best to address the issue.

House passes Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act
USA | 16 December 2011

The Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act was recently passed in the House of Representatives. This amendment will eliminate the percentage quota of available visas for large countries such as India and will place Indian nationals in the same worldwide waiting period as applicants from other countries. However, this measure may not eliminate the long waiting times for employment-based visas.

USCIS reports high demand for H-1B visas
USA | 18 November 2011

US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has reported that it has received 56,300 H-1B petitions for the 2012 fiscal year. Based on H-1B cap count data provided by USCIS recently, it appears that the government received approximately six thousand H-1B cap cases within a two-week period. At this rate, USCIS may reach the maximum quota of 65,000 H-1B visas within the next one to three weeks.

USCIS proposed rule seeks to process certain pending EB-5 applications
USA | 11 November 2011

US Citizenship and Immigration Services has officially asked for public comments on a proposed rule that would give the federal agency the power to process certain EB-5 immigrant investor visa applications that were approved between 1995 and 1998.

Latest updates on 2012 H-1B visa availability
USA | 04 November 2011

US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently posted an update on the number of applications received for standard cap-subject and master's exemption H-1B visas for fiscal year 2012. According to USCIS, a total of 17,700 H-1B master's exemption visas and 36,300 standard cap visas have been filed.

2013 Diversity Visa Programme registration begins
USA | 07 October 2011

The online registration period for the 2013 Diversity Visa Programme (DV-2013) has begun. The programme makes up to 55,000 diversity visas available each year. These visas are granted to people from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States who meet certain eligibility requirements.

Latest figures for FY 2012 H-1B visa availability
USA | 30 September 2011

US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently posted an update regarding the number of applications received for standard cap-subject and master's exemption H-1B visas for fiscal year 2012. According to USCIS, a total of 16,700 H-1B master's exemption visas have been filed, and 32,200 standard cap visas have been filed.

Department of Labour increases wage level scrutiny
USA | 02 September 2011

The Department of Labour is increasing its scrutiny of wage levels listed on H-1B petitions. The reason for this increased scrutiny is because the majority of H-1B petitions filed in the past appear to list only a Level 1 wage. As a result, the department has begun to question the accuracy of wage levels listed on H-1B petitions by employers.

Alabama's new immigration law predicted to harm state economy
USA | 19 August 2011

While supporters of Alabama's new restrictive immigration enforcement legislation believe that it is ultimately a job creation programme for US citizens, many economic advisers are now publicly stating that the law will harm the state's economic health.

H-1B visas increase opportunities for US workers, claims NASDAQ CEO
USA | 12 August 2011

In a recent congressional hearing, the chief executive officer of NASDAQ shared data from recent studies that refute the myth that H-1B visas limit opportunity for US workers. Instead, he claimed, for every H-1B visa, technology companies increase employment by five workers.

USCIS opens door to residence status for foreign entrepreneurs
USA | 05 August 2011

In a reversal of policy, US Citizenship and Immigration Services has reinterpreted its regulations to allow foreign entrepreneurs access to the national interest waiver of the labour certification requirement. In effect, this should allow a much faster, more secure route to US residence status for some employment-based immigrants with exceptional ability in business and other fields.

New I-9 Central website aggregates information about I-9 process
USA | 08 July 2011

The US Citizenship and Immigration Services has launched a new website to provide resources, information and updates regarding the management of employee eligibility verification. Visitors to the website, called I-9 Central, can access information about completing Form I-9, what documents are acceptable as proof of identity, how to retain and store I-9 forms, employee rights and discrimination and other resource materials.

New ad campaign supporting citizenship
USA | 01 July 2011

The US federal government recently ran an advertising campaign to encourage immigrants to become US citizens. This effort, which reached an estimated 8 million immigrants who are currently eligible to request citizenship, ran in New York, Florida, Texas and California. The campaign is intended to remind immigrants of the importance and advantages of citizenship.

USCIS Trusted Employer Programme: some recommendations
USA | 24 June 2011

The Government Accounting Office has proposed that US Citizenship and Immigration Services establish a Trusted Employer Programme system for US companies with a clean record of compliance with immigration laws. Selection for the programme would impose particular duties on the participating company, but would carry the benefits of a streamlined, more predictable application process for such trusted H-1B employers.

Top Republican calls for H-1B reform
USA | 06 May 2011

In a recent hearing held by the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, US Representative Darrell Issa called for reform of the H-1B visa programme. He is not the only Republican to voice support for changing H-1B regulations: last month, US Representative Lamar Smith also called for an increase in the amount of H-1B visas available each year.