Thursday, April 25, 2013

New Computerized I-94 System Goes Live April 30

From, 04/25/2013

Starting next week, foreign nationals will see new entry procedures at U.S. airports and sea ports, when Customs and Border Protection begins implementing a computerized I-94 arrival record system. The new system will replace the paper I-94 card that most foreign nationals currently receive on entry to the United States. 

The I-94 arrival record governs a foreign national’s terms and duration of stay in the United States and serves as evidence of lawful status. 

The following are some FAQs about the new computerized admission record and how it will affect entry procedures, I-9 and E-Verify employment eligibility verification and applications for benefits like Social Security numbers and driver’s licenses. If you have any questions about the new I-94 system, please contact your designated Fragomen professional. 


1. When will the new system take effect? 

CBP will phase in the automated I-94 system over several weeks, starting on April 30, 2013. During the first week, the system will be implemented six international airports – Charlotte (NC) International Airport, Chicago O’Hare International Airport, Houston Bush Intercontinental Airport, Las Vegas International Airport, Miami International Airport and Orlando International Airport. 

After the first week, CBP will roll out the system to major air and sea ports by region. Air and sea ports in the New York/Newark, NJ area, Boston and ten other cities are expected to implement the system during the week of May 7. Ports in Los Angeles and San Francisco, among other regions, are to go online during the week of May 14, along with pre-flight clearance stations abroad. Implementation will continue at U.S. air and sea ports through the week of May 21. As with any new process, however, implementation could take longer than anticipated. 

2. How will entry procedures change under the new system? 

Currently, CBP issues a paper Form I-94 card to most foreign nationals arriving in the United States on a nonimmigrant visa. The I-94 card, which is often stapled into the passport, lists the person’s nonimmigrant category, the expiration date of the stay, and a unique identifying number. CBP forwards each traveler’s admission information from the port of entry to a central office, where it is manually entered in the agency’s database – a process that can take 30 to 60 days. 

When the computerized system is fully implemented, most foreign travelers entering by air or sea will receive a stamp in their passport rather than a paper I-94 card. Their immigration category and period of stay will be recorded immediately in CBP’s database. The database will also contain the traveler’s basic biographic, passport and visa information, collected from the advance passenger manifests that air and sea carriers must transmit to CBP before departure for the United States. 

Not all foreign nationals will be subject to the new system. Parolees, asylees and refugees will still receive a paper I-94 card when entering the United States, as will travelers at land border ports of entry. 

3. I am a foreign national planning to enter the United States on a nonimmigrant visa. What should I expect during the inspection process at a U.S. airport or sea port after the computerized I-94 is implemented? 

As always, you will be inspected by a Customs and Border Protection officer. If you are admitted, the officer will place an admission stamp in your passport, and will hand write your date of entry, your class of admission and the date your stay expires into your passport. The officer will also give you a leaflet with instructions on how to get a paper printout of your CBP admission record. 

Before you step away from the admission counter, take a moment to check the date of entry, class of admission and expiration date written in your passport. If you notice an error, politely inform the officer. Checking your admission stamp before you leave the inspection area can help minimize problems and delays later on. 

4. How do I obtain a printout of my I-94 admission record? 

CBP has established a dedicated website,, for accessing I-94 admission records. If you last entered the United States by air or sea after April 26, 2011, your admission record should appear in the system. (The website is set to go live on April 30. Until then, a demonstration of the new system is available at the I-94 website.) 

When you visit, you will be asked to enter your first and last name, date of birth, passport number, country of passport issuance, date of entry and class of admission. Enter the information as it appears on your visa stamp and your admission stamp. If you do not have a visa, enter the information as it appears on your passport biographic page. If your record appears in CBP’s database, the website will generate an I-94 that contains your admission information and a unique admission number. 

We recommend that you make several copies of your admission record – one to present to your employer during the I-9 employment verification process; one or more for use when you apply for a Social Security number and/or state driver’s license; and one to keep with your passport. Please also make sure to send one to your designated Fragomen professional, who will need a copy of your I-94 if your employer applies to extend or change your immigration status. You will also need copies of your admission records if you seek permanent residence. 

5. What if I notice an error in my admission record after I enter the United States? 

If you notice an error in your online admission record or in your admission stamp after you leave the port of entry, notify your Fragomen professional as soon as possible. You will need to visit a CBP deferred inspection station or return to the port of entry to seek a correction. 

6. What if I lose my I-94 printout? 

If you lose your I-94 printout or need additional copies, simply visit to print out another. 

If you lose a traditional paper I-94 card, you may need to apply to USCIS on Form I-102 for a replacement. However, if you last entered the United States after April 26, 2011, your admission record may be available at

7. What should I do with the printout of my computerized I-94 when I depart the United States? 

You can turn the I-94 printout in to CBP when you depart by air or sea, though you are not required to do so. CBP will be informed of your exit from the United States when your air or sea carrier transmits an advance passenger manifest before departure. Please remember to keep a copy of your I-94 printout for your records. (If you hold a traditional paper I-94 card, make sure to turn it in to CBP when you depart.) 

If you enter the United States by air or sea after the computerized I-94 system is implemented, but later make your final departure through a land port of entry, you should retain proof of your timely exit, such as an entry stamp from Canadian or Mexican immigration authorities, travel ticket stubs or similar evidence. 

8. I will be entering through a land border port of entry. Will the automated I-94 system be in effect there? 

No. CBP will continue to issue paper I-94 cards to travelers entering through land borders. If you receive a paper I-94 card from a land border port of entry, please forward a copy to your Fragomen professional. 

9. I entered the United States before the automated I-94 system took effect. Is my paper I-94 card still a valid document? 

Yes. Foreign nationals who received a traditional paper I-94 document at a port of entry or from USCIS should retain it as before. Your valid, unexpired I-94 card is evidence of your lawful status and period of stay in the United States. 

When you depart the United States, you must turn the I-94 card in to CBP. If you reenter the United States after the automated system takes effect, you will be processed under the new system. 

10. Current USCIS rules require all foreign nationals to carry documentation of their immigration status. How does the automated I-94 rule change that requirement? 

All foreign nationals are required by law to carry documentation of their immigration status. Form I-94 is one of the documents acceptable for this purpose. When the computerized I-94 system takes effect, acceptable evidence of lawful status will include the printout of the I-94 record and the unexpired admission stamp. Unexpired paper I-94s issued before automation took effect will remain valid for this purpose. 


11. Is an I-94 printout an acceptable document for Form I-9 and E-Verify employment verification? 

Yes, an I-94 printout from the CBP website is considered an original I-94 document. Employers may accept an I-94 printout, along with a foreign passport, as a List A document during the I-9 process. A valid, unexpired I-94 card issued by a port of entry or along with a USCIS Form I-797 approval notice can also be accepted with a foreign passport. 

12. Will the website printout be the only form of I-94 acceptable for employment verification? 

No. There are several forms of I-94 in circulation, depending on when the foreign national entered the United States or otherwise acquired his or her current status. 

Foreign nationals who last entered the United States before the automated system took effect will hold a traditional paper I-94 card. After automation, the paper card will still be issued to foreign nationals entering through land border ports of entry and to parolees, asylees and refugees. 

If a foreign national changed or extended his nonimmigrant status from within the United States, he or she will be issued a paper I-94 card attached to a USCIS approval notice. 

Nonimmigrants who are members of the Global Entry trusted traveler program will continue to receive an I-94 receipt when they complete arrival processing through a Global Entry kiosk. 

For samples of the various forms of I-94, click here.


13. I am applying for a U.S. Social Security number. Will the Social Security Administration accept an I-94 printout as documentation of my lawful status? 

Yes, the I-94 printout is acceptable to document your lawful status in connection with a Social Security number application. The SSA will also accept a copy of the admission stamp in your passport, but prefers to receive an I-94 printout or card because the unique admission number on the I-94 helps it verify your immigration status more quickly. 

14. I am applying for a state driver’s license. Will the Department of Motor Vehicles accept an I-94 printout as documentation of my lawful status? 

It depends on the specific requirements of the state Department of Motor Vehicles. Some may accept a copy of the admission stamp in your passport, while others will require an I-94 printout or card. As noted above, we recommend that you print out an I-94 admission record to use when you apply for a driver’s license or other government benefit.

Travel Tips for Foreign Students Awaiting a Change of Status to H-1B

From, 04/25/2013

Are you an F-1 student who is the beneficiary of an H-1B petition and a request to change status to H-1B for employment starting on October 1, 2013? If you are planning to travel abroad between now and October 1, you should carefully consider whether your travel is necessary. 

Traveling internationally during this time can pose significant risks and result in delays, depending on whether you are in an ongoing course of study or period of optional practical training (OPT) or whether you are in the “cap gap” – the period between the end of your course of study or OPT and October 1, the date that a timely-filed H-1B petition and change of status will take effect. 

If you cannot postpone travel until after October 1, you should be aware that you may not be able to reenter the United States in F-1 status during the months before your H-1B petition takes effect. Instead, you may need to wait outside the United States and apply for an H-1B visa to reenter in time for your H-1B employment start date. If you do decide to travel abroad, you must make sure to have all necessary travel documents and be prepared for possible delays at U.S. consulates and ports of entry. Make sure to contact your designated Fragomen professional to discuss any travel plans. 

The following are some frequently asked questions and important tips to consider if you are thinking about leaving the United States before October 1. 

1. My H-1B petition and application to change status to H-1B have been filed and are pending with USCIS. May I travel internationally while they are pending? 

If you leave the United States before your change of status is approved by USCIS, you will have to take extra steps to assume your H-1B status on October 1. 

According to a longstanding government policy, if you travel abroad while your H-1B petition and request to change status are being processed, the change of status portion of your case will be considered abandoned. USCIS could still approve the H-1B petition itself, but you would not automatically change to H-1B status on October 1. Instead, you would have to leave the United States again and apply for an H-1B visa at a U.S. consulate or, if otherwise permissible, have your employer submit a new petition to change status to H-1B after your return. If you apply for an H-1B visa abroad, you could be subject to a long wait overseas during the visa application process, which could delay your return to the United States and your ability to begin your H-1B employment on time. See below for more information about the visa application process. 

2. I am an F-1 student who is still in school and I am not applying for optional practical training. After my H-1B petition and application to change status are approved, can I travel abroad before October 1? 

After your change of status is approved but before it takes effect on October 1, you should be able to travel abroad and reenter, as long as your course of study is not finished and you are coming back to the United States to resume your studies. (If you will be finished with school by the time you travel, see Question 3.) 

When you travel, make sure you are carrying a valid passport with a valid F-1 visa stamp and a Form I-20 that is endorsed for travel. If your F-1 visa is no longer valid and you will need to get a new one to reenter in F-1 status, you should expect delays during the visa application process. If you have an approved H-1B petition, it may be difficult for you to demonstrate nonimmigrant intent, which is a requirement for F-1 students. See Question 6 for more information about these issues. 

3. I am finished with my F-1 course of study and I am not applying for optional practical training. After my H-1B petition and change of status are approved, will I be able to travel abroad? 

You cannot return to the United States in F-1 status if you travel abroad after your studies are finished. As long as your H-1B petition was filed before your F-1 student status expired, you can remain in the United States during the cap gap period between the end of your F-1 period of stay (including 60-day grace period) and October 1. But an F-1 student who travels abroad during the grace period or the cap gap cannot be readmitted to the United States in F-1 status. If you must leave the United States, you will have to apply for an H-1B visa to return, and will not be able to work until October 1. See Question 7 for more information about H-1B visa application procedures and delays. 

4. I am a J-1 exchange visitor who is the beneficiary of an approved H-1B petition for employment starting October 1, 2013. May I remain in the United States until then? 

It depends. As a J-1 exchange visitor, you are authorized to remain in the United States for the duration of your exchange program, plus a grace period of 30 days. If your J-1 period of stay and grace period end before September 30, 2013, you must depart the United States and apply for an H-1B visa abroad. You are not eligible for a change of status to H-1B because there will be a gap between the end of your period of authorized stay and the day your H-1B petition takes effect. Unlike F-1 students, J-1 exchange visitors are not eligible for cap gap benefits. 

However, if your J-1 period of stay (including grace period) remains valid through the start date of your approved H-1B petition and application to change status to H-1B, you may remain in the United States in J-1 status before your change of status takes effect. 

5. I am an F-1 student awaiting a change of status to H-1B and my OPT has expired. If I travel before October 1, what are the risks? 

If you travel abroad after your OPT has expired, you cannot return to the United States in F-1 status. As long as your H-1B petition was filed before your OPT expired, you can remain in the United States and work during the cap gap period between the end of OPT and October 1. But if you have completed studies and OPT and you travel abroad during the cap gap, you cannot be readmitted to the United States in F-1 status. 

If you must leave the United States, you will have to wait to apply for an H-1B visa to return. You will not be able to work again in the United States until October 1. See Question 7 for more information about H-1B visa application procedures and delays. 

6. I am currently in a valid period of OPT and I have a valid employment authorization document. Is international travel possible if my change of status petition has been approved? 

Yes, if you are in valid OPT, have a valid EAD and your change of status to H-1B has been approved before you leave, you should be able to return to the United States in F-1 status, as long as you have the appropriate documents and are able to show visa and immigration officers that you intend to comply with F-1 rules, including having nonimmigrant intent. If your H-1B change of status is approved before you depart the United States, the change of status will take effect on October 1 as long as you have returned to the United States before that day. 

You will need the following documents to reenter in F-1 status: 

  • A valid passport with a valid F-1 visa stamp. If you need to apply for a new F-1 visa stamp to reenter the United States as a student, you should expect delays at the U.S. consulate and at the port of entry (see Question 7 for more details); 
  • A Form I-20 that is endorsed for travel by a designated school official; 
  • A valid EAD. If you are applying for an extension of your OPT on the basis of a degree in a designated science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) field, you should not leave the United States until you receive your new EAD for the extension period; and 
  • A letter from your OPT employer that verifies your employment. You must have an OPT job or job offer before you leave the United States. If you go abroad before you find a job, your OPT period will be terminated and you will not be able to return to the United States unless and until you obtain an H-1B visa.
If you travel abroad while on OPT, caution is advised. In particular, pay attention to the number of days you spend outside the United States, because that time could be counted against the regulatory limit on unemployment during the OPT period. USCIS rules require an F-1 student to have no more than 90 days of unemployment during OPT (or 120 days for F-1s who have received an OPT extension based on a STEM degree). This includes time spent outside the United States, unless international travel takes place during leave that is authorized by your OPT employer or is part of your OPT employment. 

7. Before October 1, I plan to leave the United States and reenter in my F-1 status, but I will need to apply for a new F-1 visa while I am abroad. What should I expect during the visa application process and at the port of entry? 

You should be prepared for possible delays and difficulties when you apply for a new F-1 visa and when you are inspected at the border. 

First, like any visa applicant, you could be required to go through a security clearance before your visa can be issued. If your name, personal details or travel history match or are similar to information in government security databases or travel watch lists, the State Department will not be able to issue a visa until it confirms that you are not the same person as an individual who appears on a security list. Many security clearances get resolved in a matter of weeks, but if you have a common name, your clearance could take several months or longer. If this occurs, your reentry to the United States could be delayed. 

Second, officials at U.S. consulates and the U.S. border may question whether you have nonimmigrant intent, i.e., whether you genuinely intend to return to your home country. Having a foreign residence that you do not intend to abandon is a requirement for F-1 status. If you have an approved H-1B in the system, consular and border officials will know that you have a professional job in the United States – a possible indication of strong ties to the United States. If a consular or border officer questions your intentions, you could have your visa or entry denied or delayed, and may have to wait overseas until you can apply for an H-1B visa to enter and start your H-1B employment. Having a foreign residence is not a requirement for an H-1B visa. 

8. If I decide to leave the United States before October 1, how soon can I apply for my H-1B visa and enter the United States in H-1B status? 

You can generally apply for your visa up to 90 days before your H-1B petition start date, according to State Department rules. If your start date is October 1, 2013, you would be able to apply for your H-1B visa no earlier than July 3, 2013. But procedures differ among U.S. consulates, so you should check with the consulate where you will apply for specific instructions on when you can submit your visa application. Contact information for U.S. embassies and consulates is available at  

Once you have applied for your H-1B visa, be prepared for a possible security clearance. As discussed in Question 7, if your name, personal details or travel history match information in government security databases or on travel watch lists, the State Department will not be able to issue your visa until it confirms that you are not the same person as a listed individual. A security clearance may also be required if you will work in high technology, engineering or the sciences, or with products or services that have both commercial and military applications (known as "dual use" technologies). Security clearances typically get resolved in a matter of weeks, but can take several months or longer depending on the circumstances. 

Once you have received your H-1B visa, you may enter the United States up to ten days before your H-1B petition start date. If your start date is October 1, 2013, you can enter as early as September 21, 2013. The extra ten days allows you to get settled in the United States, but you cannot do H-1B work during this time. You are not authorized to start your H-1B employment until your actual petition start date. 

Monday, April 22, 2013

New Travel Procedures for International Students

This announcement from International Student and Scholar Services addresses changes to OIE travel signature process, new federal regulation related to the I-94 arrival/departure record that effects travel to and from the US and a new tool offered by the US Department of State to check the status of a visa. 

New Process for Travel Signatures 
US Customs and Border Protection requires F and J visa holders to have a signature from an ISSS international student advisor on the form I-20 (pg. 3) or DS-2019 (bottom, right) in order to re-enter the US during their program. Signatures are valid for 12 months and a student can use the signed I-20 or DS-2019 multiple times to re-enter the US while the signature is valid. ISSS international student advisors are able to sign an I-20 or DS-2019 for travel after reviewing the immigration record and academic status of the student, as well as ensuring the student has information to prepare for the travel and visa interview (when applicable). 

We are nearing the end of the semester, when many students travel outside the US. ISSS has instituted a new travel signature e-form in iStart to ensure that advisors have appropriate information to process the travel signature, ensure a timely signature for students traveling, and ensure greater efficiency in managing this common request. With the introduction of this e-form, the OIE front desk will no longer take I-20s or DS-2019s at the front desk for a travel signature. Instead, students should log into iStart and provide relevant details about the upcoming travel in the new ‘Travel Signature Request’ e-form for F-1 students or the ‘Travel Validation Request’ for J-1 students. Travel e-form submissions will be reviewed daily and processed in the order they are received. Students will then be notified via an approval email to bring their I-20 or DS-2019 anytime during walk-in advising hours so an advisor can sign it. Walk-in advising hours are Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays 8:30am-11:30am and 1:30pm-4:30pm except during Georgia Tech holidays. 
We hope this new system will cut down on multiple visits to the office and save both you and the OIE time! The best time to submit this e-form is right after a plane ticket is purchased, not days or hours before you travel! Waiting to submit the travel e-form may result in less time than necessary for the ISSS to process your request before your flight. In other words, submit the e-form early! 

I-94 Arrival/Departure record automation & discontinuation of the paper I-94 card 

The federal government has published a new regulation to change the I-94 arrival/departure record from a paper document issued to a foreign visitor entering the US and stamped by the Customs and Border Protection Official (CBP) at the US. Port of Entry to a paperless, automated process. The new law is expected to be implemented starting April 30, 2013. 
With the new automated I-94 process, CBP will gather travelers’ arrival/departure information automatically from their electronic travel records (passport, visa stamp and flight manifest) and in most cases, foreign visitors will no longer complete the paper I-94 arrival/departure card prior to being admitted by a CBP official. CBP officials will stamp the passport of the traveler indicating the date of admission, visa type and authorized period of stay. 

This change will have minimal impact on F and J students and scholars already in the US with a paper I-94 document (white card stapled in the passport). Travelers who have a paper I-94 card are advised to turn it in to the airline official when checking into or boarding an international flight as was customary. 

Initial entry or re-entry to the US after the April 30, 2013 implementation will result in an electronic record of entry that can be accessed by the traveler at . After the traveler enters data about the travel (including date of travel, visa type and port of entry) and passport biographical information, a paper “receipt” can be printed by the traveler to show any state or federal agency that may still require paper evidence (such as the Social Security Administration or Georgia Department of Driver’s Services). The CBP websites below provide additional detail about the new automated process and the OIE will continue to share updates via the ISSS website and iBuzz newsletter as they become available. Should you have any questions or concerns, please visit the OIE during walk-in advising hours or send an email to 

On-line Visa Status Check 

The US. Department of State has implemented a new on-line tool that allows non-immigrant and immigrant visa applicants to check the status of their application. The non-immigrant case number or application ID is required to track the status. 

Department of Driver Services (DDS) Offers Tips for Better Service

From DDS, 04/16/2013

Don't Forget Two (2) proofs of Residency

Department of Driver Services (DDS) offers this important reminder about new documentation requirements when renewing or obtaining a new Georgia driver’s license or ID card. Customers can expect to present documentation to establish identity, a name change, citizenship or lawful presence in the United States, a Social Security number, and two documents to prove their residential address.
“The DDS is committed to issuing a REAL ID compliant driver’s license or State Identification Card to customers on their first visit to a customer service center (CSC),” said DDS Commissioner Rob Mikell. “We will continue to evaluate customer feedback and data analysis to make adjustments to our operating procedures to meet increasing demands and ultimately improve customer service,” he added. 
DDS is particularly focused on ensuring that each customer brings two proofs of their residential address along with their identity and social security number documentation.  Statistics reveal that the majority of return customer visits are to present a secondary proof of their residential address. 
The important tips below can ensure customers have the two necessary proofs of residential street address to complete their Driver Services transactions in a single visit.

Residency Requirements

  • Be sure you bring all the necessary documents. All customers may create and print a Custom Document Checklist, listing the exact documents they should bring on their next visit to one of our customer service centers, by visiting the DDS’ website,, and clicking on the blue box titled “Secure Driver’s License and ID”.
  • The most common proof of residency presented are utility bills for services installed at the customers’ residential address (water, sewer, gas, electricity, cable/satellite TV, internet, telephone/cell phone, or garbage collection).
  • Two bank statements or two credit card statements are acceptable for proof of residency as long as they are from separate companies (MasterCard and Visa statements are acceptable. A Visa statement from two separate months is not acceptable.)
  • Customers who exclusively use a post office box for their mail have many options for proving their residential address.  For example, they may present a voter registration card (printable directly from the Secretary of State’s website at or use a property tax, utility or cable bill or an insurance card when it includes the actual service address. 
  • Students can use a letter from their school plus a parent’s license or ID which has the same address.  College students often retain official residency at home and in most instances will not need to verify the college address.
  • DDS operates a Secure ID Help Desk comprised of specialized staff who is dedicated to helping resolve various issues.

Identification Requirements

The important tips below will assist customers when determining acceptable identification documents.  All identity documents must be the original or a certified copy from the issuing agency and will include a raised seal.
  • For persons who have ever been married, if the last name appearing on the primary identification document (ex. birth certificate, passport, etc.) is different from the current name, then these customers must be prepared to present additional supporting documents.  This requirement applies even if the person has been married for many years. 
  • Customers who currently hold a valid Georgia driver’s license or ID card may present original or certified copies of a document which supports the most recent name change (ex. marriage certificate, certified marriage application, certified marriage license and/or divorce decree).  Customers who are new to Georgia must provide the complete trail of original or certified copy documents which support all name changes.
  • All customers, regardless if they are new to Georgia or already hold a valid Georgia driver’s license or ID card, who use an up-to-date passport to prove their married name as their legal name do not need to show additional documentation proving identity.  For example, these customers do not need to present a birth certificate or a marriage license.

An additional tip is to plan your visit to the DDS. A license can be renewed 150 days before the expiration date (typically a customer’s birth date).  Tuesday is the busiest day for service at any location.  DDS provides two week historical average wait time data for each customer service center at

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Senate Introduces Much-Anticipated Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill

The Senate ‘Gang of Eight’ released a comprehensive immigration reform bill - the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013. 

Below are the highlights from the areas of the bill that we are tracking most closely:

Immigrant and Nonimmigrant Visas for Highly Educated Talent

The bill great strides in clearing current green card backlogs and improving future access for high-skilled professionals.  It increases availability of H-1B visas, but at a cost to L-1B visas.  It also provides portability for O visas, expands honoraria for B visas and tweaks the E visa system.  

Key provisions would:
  • Create many more green cards by exempting family members, extraordinary ability, outstanding professors and researchers, multinational managers and executives, STEM Ph.D.s, and certain physicians from the 140,000 employment-based cap.  Forty percent of the 140,000 visas will go to those with advanced degrees and certain U.S. STEM degree holders.  Another 40 percent will go to EB-3, with 10 percent each to special immigrants and entrepreneurs.
  • Work to clear current green card backlogs over a seven-year period after which a new “merit-based system” will provide additional visas for persons with strong prospects in the United States.  Points will be awarded based upon family ties, education, employment and other factors.  This will supplement, not replace, the employment-sponsored green cards.  The diversity lottery and certain family-based categories will be eliminated.  It would create new visas for start-up entrepreneurs.
  • Provide dual intent for students pursuing a bachelor’s degree.
  • Require all H-1B employers to recruit U.S. workers that are equally or better qualified by posting a detailed job opening on a Department of Labor website for 30 days.
  • Require H-1B non-dependent employers to attest to non-displacement of U.S. workers for 90 days before and after filing of LCA (180 days before and after for dependent employers). Some exceptions exist.
  • Create a new three-level prevailing wage system for most employers – effectively upwardly adjusting wages.  The concern is that under this new proposed prevailing wage system employers would pay their foreign national workers more than their U.S. workers. 

Related Links

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


The phishing scams have already started.  Each year, millions of people receive an email “from the IRS” that looks very real and asks the person to click on a link in order to get their refund electronically deposited into their bank account.  The person is asked to enter his or her SSN/ITIN and bank information and told that the refund will be there in about 24 hours. 

Please be aware of the following:

FIRST – the IRS DOES NOT and CANNOT send emails to taxpayers.

SECOND – if the person clicks on the link, a virus will likely be launched onto their computer. IF they actually enter the information, it is likely that money will be deducted from their bank account within a matter of hours. 

Monday, April 15, 2013

May 2013 Visa Bulletin

EB-3 Will Advance Significantly for Most Countries

According to the State Department’s May Visa Bulletin, the EB-3 subcategory for professionals and skilled workers will advance by more than seven months for China and five months for most other countries, to December 1, 2007. EB-3 India will advance a modest two weeks, however, to December 22, 2002. In the EB-2 category, priority date cut-offs for China will advance six weeks, to May 15, 2008, and will remain unchanged for India, at September 1, 2004. 

May 2013 Visa Bulletin, Employment-Based Immigrant Visas

Sequestration Update: What Immigration Agencies Will Have Furloughs?

From ACIP, 04/10/2013

Department of State: The Department of State is not furloughing employees at this time, but has retained the option to furlough employees beginning June 30.
Customs and Border Protection:  On March 7, furlough notices were sent to all CBP employees.  This decision faced considerable opposition from Congress.  On April 1, CBP postponed furloughs until further notice.
Department of Labor: DOL has issued furlough notices to 4,700 employees.  Employees must take their furlough days between April 15 and September 21.  We are doing outreach with the Office of Foreign Labor Certification to determine the impact furloughs will have on the processing of prevailing wage determinations, PERM and LCAs.
Department of Homeland Security: DHS law enforcement personnel will be furloughed for up to 14 days.
USCIS: At this time, USCIS has not announced any furloughs.  While USCIS is a fee based agency, we have been informed that the fee account is subject to the sequester and furloughs are possible.

Frequently Asked Questions: I-94 Arrival/Departure Record

The following FAQs and additional information can be found here: Arrival/Departure Forms: I-94 and I-94W

What is a Form I-94?
Form I-94 is the DHS Arrival/Departure Record issued to aliens who are admitted to the U.S., who are adjusting status while in the U.S. or extending their stay, among other things. A CBP officer generally attaches the I-94 to the non-immigrant visitor’s passport upon U.S. entry. The visitor must exit the U.S. on or before the departure date stamped on the I-94.

How will the new I-94 automation impact international travelers’ entry to the U.S.?
I-94 automation will not impact a traveler’s ability to enter the U.S. CBP will continue to create an I- 94 record for all travelers who require one, but the paper form will be created in an electronic format and not provided to the traveler. If a traveler requires a paper version of Form I-94, it will be available at

Will CBP provide a traveler with any documentation or evidence showing status and time allowed in the U.S.?
Yes. CBP will provide each traveler with an admission stamp that is annotated with date of admission, class of admission and admitted until date. The electronic arrival/departure record can be obtained at

Will travelers need to do anything differently when exiting the U.S.? How can they be sure their departure will be recorded properly with this new the I-94 automation process?
Travelers will not need to do anything differently upon exiting the U.S. Travelers issued a paper Form I-94 should surrender it to the commercial carrier or CBP upon departure. The departure will be recorded electronically with manifest information provided by the carrier or by CBP. If travelers did not receive a paper Form I-94 and the record was created electronically, CBP will record their departure using manifest information obtained from the carrier.

How does a traveler revalidate a visa without their I-94?
The I-94 admission record is created electronically and maintained in CBP systems. CBP will verify the I-94 electronically to re-validate an expired visa if the traveler meets the conditions of automatic revalidation. If entry occurred prior to automation, a paper form must be presented in order to comply with validation requirements. 

Will CBP still issue a paper Form I-94 once the automation begins?
No. Rather than distributing a paper Form I-94, CBP will scan a traveler’s passport, generating an electronic arrival record with data elements found on the current paper Form I-94. CBP will make the electronic I-94 available at Travelers may visit this website to print their electronic I-94 number before applying for immigration or public benefits, such as a driver’s license or a Social Security number. Since automation only affects air and sea arrivals, a paper Form I-94 is still issued at the land border ports of entry. Also, CBP intends to continue to provide a paper Form I-94 to certain classes of aliens, such as refugees, certain asylees and parolees, and whenever CBP determines the issuance of a paper form is appropriate.

What should a traveler do if he or she was admitted incorrectly to the U.S.?
If an applicant was admitted incorrectly to the U.S., the applicant should visit a local CBP Deferred Inspection Site or port of entry to have his or her admission corrected. A list of Deferred Inspection Sites and ports of entry can be found at, under the “Ports” link at the bottom of the page. If an applicant received an incorrect I-94 from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the applicant should refer to Form I-102 available at forms.

Will the process help expedite passenger processing time?
The I-94 automation will expedite passenger processing. CBP automated the I-94W process in 2010, which independent studies show has resulted in an approximate 20- second time savings per passenger. CBP estimates that I- 94 automation will result in similar time savings.

What is the I-94 website (
Travelers may visit to retrieve their electronic I-94 number. Upon entering the U.S., travelers will receive a paper with instructions on how to access the website.

CBP to Rollout New Arrival/Departure-Record Process for Foreign Visitors

From, 04/02/2013

Foreign visitors arriving in the U.S.—only via air or sea—who need to prove their legal-visitor status—to employers, schools/universities or government agencies—will be able to access their U.S. Customs and Border Protection arrival/departure record information online when the agency starts its records automation on April 30, 2013.

When the electronic rollout begins April 30, CBP will no longer require international non-immigrant visitors to fill out a paper Form I-94 Arrival/Departure Record upon arrival to the U.S. by air or sea. The agency will gather travelers’ arrival/departure information automatically from their electronic travel records. This automation will streamline the entry process for travelers, facilitate security and reduce federal costs. CBP anticipates that the automated process will save the agency an estimated $15.5 million a year. 

Because advance information is only transmitted for air and sea travelers, CBP will still issue a paper form I-94 at land border ports of entry.

CBP will phase-in the Form I-94 automation at air and sea ports of entry through April and May. Foreign visitors will continue to receive the paper Form I-94 until the automated process arrives at their port of entry. Following automation, if travelers need the information from their Form I-94 admission record to verify immigration status or employment authorization, the record number and other admission information will be available at

With the new CBP process, a CBP officer will stamp the travel document of each arriving non-immigrant traveler. The admission stamp will show the date of admission, class of admission, and the date that the traveler is admitted until. Travelers will also receive on arrival a flier alerting them to go to for their admission record information.

Travelers will not need to do anything differently upon exiting the U.S. Travelers previously issued a paper Form I-94 would surrender it to the commercial carrier or to CBP upon departure. If travelers did not receive a paper Form I-94, CBP will record the departure electronically via manifest information provided by the carrier or by CBP.

PLEASE NOTE: will not be live until the end of April, 2013.

Implementation Schedule 

Implementation will begin on April 30 at five pilot ports of entry and will continue to the remaining ports of entry over a total of four weeks.

Week 1
Charlotte Douglas International Airport, Orlando International Airport, Las Vegas Airport, Chicago O’Hare and Miami International Airport
Week 2
Major Air and Sea Ports within the following field offices:
New York, Boston, Buffalo, Baltimore, Detroit, Atlanta, Tampa, Puerto Rico, Miami, Chicago, New Orleans and Houston

Week 3
Major Air and Sea ports within the following field offices:
Pre-Clearance, San Francisco (includes Hawaii and Guam), Tucson, El Paso, Seattle, Portland (includes Alaska), Los Angeles, San Diego and Laredo

Week 4
All remaining airports and seaports

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

H-1B Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 Cap Season

On April 1, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services began to accept H-1B cap filings for employment in Fiscal Year 2014, which begins October 1, 2013. For FY 2014 there are 85,000 cap slots – 65,000 standard cap numbers and 20,000 additional numbers for holders of U.S. advanced degrees. Projections indicate the cap will be exhausted quickly, but not all H-1B filings are subject.

The cap does not apply to institutions of higher education or their related research centers. It also does not apply to nonprofit research or government research organizations. Therefore Georgia Tech is not subject to the H-1B cap. 

Cap Amounts

The current annual cap on the H-1B category is 65,000. Not all H-1B nonimmigrants are subject to this annual cap. Up to 6,800 visas are set aside from the cap of 65,000 during each fiscal year for the H-1B program under the terms of the legislation implementing the U.S.-Chile and U.S.-Singapore Free Trade Agreements. Unused numbers in this pool are made available for H-1B use for the next fiscal year.

How USCIS Determines if an H-1B Petition is Subject to the FY 2014 Cap

The information provided in Part C of the H-1B Data Collection and Filing Fee Exemption Supplement (Form I-129, pages 17 through 19) determines whether a petition is subject to the 65,000 H-1B numerical limitation (the "cap"). Some petitions are exempt from the cap under the advanced degree exemption provided to the first 20,000 petitions filed for a beneficiary who has obtained a U.S. master's degree or higher. Unless otherwise exempt from the cap, petitions filed on behalf of beneficiaries who have obtained a U.S. master's degree or higher will be counted against the regular cap once USCIS has received sufficient petitions to reach the advanced degree exemption.

How to Determine if your H-1B Petition is Subject to the FY 2014 Cap

Petitions for new H-1B employment are exempt from the annual cap if the beneficiaries will work at institutions of higher education or related or affiliated nonprofit entities, nonprofit research organizations or governmental research organizations. Petitions filed on behalf of beneficiaries who will work only in Guam or the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands are exempt from the cap until Dec. 31, 2014. Employers may continue to file petitions for these cap-exempt H-1B categories seeking work dates starting in fiscal year (FY) 2013.
Petitions filed on behalf of current H-1B workers who have been counted previously against the cap also do not count toward the congressionally mandated H-1B cap. Accordingly, USCIS will continue to process FY 2013 petitions filed to:
  • Extend the amount of time a current H-1B worker may remain in the United States.
  • Change the terms of employment for current H-1B workers.
  • Allow current H-1B workers to change employers. 
  • Allow current H-1B workers to work concurrently in a second H-1B position.

When to File an FY 2014 H-1B Cap-Subject Petition

USCIS began accepting H-1B petitions that are subject to the FY 2014 cap on April 1, 2013. You may file an H-1B petition no more than 6 months in advance of the requested start date. H-1B cap petitions received no later than April 5, 2013 have the best chance of being accepted for processing, and employers should do their utmost to file cases so that they are received at USCIS by this date. But employers who are unable to file by April 5 should nonetheless continue to submit their cap petitions. The H-1B cap is likely to be reached in the first five days of the filing, but in the event that it is not, cases filed after April 5 could still secure a cap number.

Find additional details on the USCIS on the H-1B Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 Cap Season website.