Tuesday, June 24, 2014

USCIS Issues New Policy on Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record

USCIS Public Engagement Division, 06/24/2014

USCIS recently announced new policy changes regarding Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record. Starting June 1, 2014, USCIS limits the validity period for all Forms I-693 to one year from the date that USCIS receives the form. As outlined in policy alert PA-2014-005this updated policy applies to any Form I-693 supporting a benefit application that USCIS adjudicates on or after June 1, 2014.

If you are applying for adjustment of status, you may submit Form I-693 in one of the following ways:

  • Submit Form I-693 by mail, together with your Form I-485, Application to Register for Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, to the location specified for your Form I-485 (see “Direct Filing Addresses for Form I-485”).
  • Submit Form I-693 by mail, after filing your Form I-485, to the location specified in your most recent communication with USCIS (for example, a Request for Evidence letter from USCIS).
  • Submit Form I-693 in person at an interview in a USCIS field office (if an interview is required).

To ensure that your medical examination is still valid at the time USCIS adjudicates your application, you should schedule the medical examination as close as possible to the time you file for adjustment of status, respond to a Request for Evidence, or attend an interview (if applicable).

For additional information, please visit www.uscis.gov/i-693 or see the USCIS Policy Manual Volume 8, Part B, Chapter 4.

Starting June 1, 2014, USCIS will limit the validity period for all Forms I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record, to one year from the date of submission to USCIS. Applicants must also submit Form I-693 to USCIS within one year of the immigration medical examination. USCIS will also provide additional ways to submit Form I-693. As outlined in policy alert PA-2014-005, this updated policy applies to any Form I-693 supporting a benefit application that USCIS adjudicates on or after June 1, 2014.

USCIS will hold an engagement on June 12, 2014 to address questions about the new policy and provide guidance on filing Form I-693. They have also updated the Form I-693 Web page on their website.

For more information, please visit http://go.usa.gov/8y9d

Thursday, June 19, 2014

H-1B Processing Times

The amount of time needed to process an H-1B petition varies from 3 months to 5 months. The process is a series of consecutive steps with various Georgia Tech departments and federal agencies.

 Dynamic timeline: http://preview.tinyurl.com/or4pr3q
Step 1
Complete all required forms in iStart. This involves the employing department, legal affairs and the employee. All forms are reviewed and processed by a Faculty and Researcher Immigration Specialist in Global Human Resources.

Step 2
The Faculty and Researcher Immigration Specialist requests the prevailing wage from the US Department of Labor. The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) requires that the hiring of a foreign worker will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of U.S. workers comparably employed. To comply with the statute, the Department's regulations require that the wages offered to a foreign worker must be the prevailing wage rate for the occupational classification in the area of employment.

Currently, prevailing wage determinations take about 60 days.

Step 3
The Faculty and Researcher Immigration Specialist requests the Labor Condition Application (LCA) from the US Department of Labor. To prevent an adverse effect on the U.S. workforce, an employer applying to temporarily hire a nonimmigrant worker in H-1B, H-1B1 or E-3 status must attest that it has met or will meet the following requirements: 
  • Wages: Pay the required wage to the workers for whom it will file a petition supported by the LCA for the duration of the authorized period of employment;
  • Working Conditions: Provide the nonimmigrant workers working conditions that will not adversely affect the working conditions of U.S. workers similarly employed, such as hours, shifts, vacation periods, and benefits based on the same criteria as those the employer offers to its U.S. workers;
  • No Strike/Lockout: Ensure that there is no strike, lockout, or work stoppage in the course of a labor dispute in the occupational classification at the place of employment at the time of filing the ETA Form 9035/9035E; and
  • Notice: Notify its U.S. workers that it intends to hire an H-1B, H-1B1 or E-3 nonimmigrant worker by either providing notice of the LCA to the bargaining representative (representing the workers of the employer in the same job classification and area of intended employment as the nonimmigrant worker), or where there is no bargaining representative, providing electronic notice of the filing of the LCA or by posting notice of the LCA in at least two conspicuous locations in the employer's place(s) of business in the area of intended employment. The notice must contain specific information about the nonimmigrant workers sought and the process for submitting allegations of misrepresentation or non-compliance related to the LCA. Since the ETA Form 9035/9035E contains this information, employers may choose to comply with the notice requirement by providing or posting a copy of the ETA Form 9035/9035E.
In addition, the employer must provide the nonimmigrant worker(s) with a copy of the certified ETA Form 9035/9035E no later than the first day on which the foreign worker begins to work for the employer.

LCAs always take 7 days to be certified. 

Step 4
Adjudication of Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, but United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. All I-129 petitions for H-1B employees at Georgia Tech are mailed to the California Service Center.

The current processing times are as follows:
Premium Processing: 15 calendar days
Standard Processing: 75 calendar days

Explore an H-1B processing timeline here: Global Human Resources H-1B Timeline. This hypothetical timeline is based on the employing department initiating the H-1B process today and illustrates the various steps involved in the H-1B process.

USCIS Processing Time Information for the California Service Center can be found here: https://egov.uscis.gov/cris/processTimesDisplayInit.do

Please note this is for informational purposes only and does not account for unforeseen circumstances which may delay a petition or the arrival of an employee. 

Updated 06/18/2014

Friday, June 13, 2014

U.S. Consulates in Canada Temporarily Suspend TCN Visa Processing Over the Summer

From Canada CSC, 06/13/2013

Important information for U.S. residents: Due to increasingly heavy demand by Canada-based visa applicants, U.S. visa processing posts in Canada are unfortunately extremely limited in the ability to accept visa applications from U.S. residents during the peak demand period of June through August. Appointments for visa renewals for U.S. residents who are currently studying or working in the U.S. will be more readily available during non-peak periods in October and November, and January through May.
For information on options for extending or renewing authorization to continue studies or employment while in the U.S., contact U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Many travelers to Canada and Mexico are eligible for automatic revalidation at a Port of Entry without a new visa.
U.S.-based applicants who need a visa are encouraged to schedule an appointment in their home country. Information on worldwide appointment availability is found on the State Department’s website, www.Travel.State.gov.

From Fragomen.com, 06/10/2014

Third-Country National Visa Appointments Unavailable at U.S. Posts in Canada This Summer The Department of State has confirmed that third-country national (TCN) processing will not be available at any U.S. consular post in Canada from June to August 2014, except in emergency situations. TCN applicants with appointments already scheduled at a post in Canada during these months will not be affected. 

The suspension will primarily affect foreign nationals who seek to renew a visa in Canada rather than travel to their home country. Appointments are expected to be available to foreign permanent residents of Canada, however. 

From www.OgletreeDeakins.com, 06/04/2014

U.S. visa processing posts in Canada are urging third-country national (TCN) applicants to seek appointments at other U.S. Embassies and Consulates, such as those located in the applicants’ home countries. A TCN is an individual who applies for a visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate in a country where the individual is not a citizen or national.
The U.S. Department of State has reported that, as a result of heavy demand by Canada-based visa applicants during June, July, and August, the seven Canada posts are extremely limited in their ability to accept TCN cases during these peak demand months. Canadian posts will offer increased appointment availability for TCNs during non-peak processing times, namely October and November, and January through May. In the event of emergency cases during the peak demand period, applicants may seek consideration for scheduling an interview at a Canada post by visiting canada.usembassy.gov.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

July 2014 Visa Bulletin

From Fragomen.com, 06/10/2014 

EB-2 India to Advance By Nearly Four Years, As Projected

According to the State Department’s July Visa Bulletin, a surge in EB-2 India immigrant visa availability will occur next month, when the priority date cut-off for the subcategory will advance by nearly three years and nine months, to September 1, 2008. EB-2 China will move forward by five weeks, to July 1, 2009, but EB-3 China will remain at October 1, 2006 after this month’s dramaticretrogression

EB-3 Philippines will advance by one year, to January 1, 2009, while EB-3 India will move ahead by two weeks, to November 1, 2003. For all other countries, EB-3 will remain at April 1, 2011. 

As we reported previously, the significant advancement for EB-2 India is made possible by unused immigrant visas in the EB-1 and EB-2 worldwide categories. EB-2 India is expected to continue to advance in the remaining months of the fiscal year. The State Department projects that the cut-off date could move to February 2009 in August and to an early summer 2009 date in September of this year. 

Though EB-5 remains current in July, the State Department could impose a cut-off date for China in August or September of this year. 

July 2014 Priority Date Cut-Offs 

In July 2014, EB immigrant visa priority date cut-offs will be: 

Current for all countries. 

China: July 1, 2009 
India: September 1, 2008 
All other countries: Current 

EB-3 Professionals and Skilled Workers 
China: October 1, 2006 
India: November 1, 2003 
Philippines: January 1, 2009 
All other countries: April 1, 2011 

EB-3 Other Workers 
China: January 1, 2003 
India: November 1, 2003 
Philippines: January 1, 2009 
All other countries: April 1, 2011 

Current for all countries and subcategories. 

Monday, June 9, 2014

Employment Verification Letters for Immigration Purposes

To help make requesting immigration letters easier, Georgia Tech has partnered with The Work Number®, an automated service that protects your personal information. Immigration letters are designed for employees who travel internationally, supporting documentation for filing immigration forms with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, or for visa interviews with the U.S. Consulate.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

State Department Projects Significant Movement for EB-2 India in the Coming Months

From Fragomen.com, 06/03/2014

The priority date cut-off for EB-2 India could advance by nearly five years, to an early summer 2009 date, by the September Visa Bulletin. EB-2 China is projected to move forward by five weeks per month for the remainder of the fiscal year, but EB-3 China will remain static and could retrogress further if demand does not subside. EB-5 China may become unavailable in August or September, but is expected to become current when FY 2015 begins on October 1. 

The nearly five-year surge in India EB-2 availability is due to the application of unused immigrant visas in the EB-1 and EB-2 worldwide categories, according to Charles Oppenheim, the senior State Department official responsible for visa control. EB-3 India is projected to advance slowly, by one week per month, through the end of the current fiscal year. EB-3 China is expected to move forward slowly during FY 2015. Rapid advancement is anticipated for EB-3 Philippines in the last months of the fiscal year, but EB-3 for all other countries is expected to hold at current cut-off dates. 

What This Means for Employers and Foreign Nationals 

Now would be a good time for employers and their immigration counsel to carefully review the priority dates for Indian employees with approved I-140 petitions but who have been unable to pursue adjustment of status applications due to retrogression. As we have seen in the past, there may only be a small window of time when before the EB-2 cut-off dates again move backwards. In addition, many long-pending adjustment applications may be approved during this surge. 

The exact cut-off date will not be known until the State Department releases a Visa Bulletin announcing the advancement. The Bulletin is usually issued about three weeks before the month to which it applies. 

When their priority dates become current, adjustment applicants with pending cases may need to provide supplemental documentation so that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services can finalize their cases. Applicants could be asked to provide updated job letters from their employer-sponsors and may need to attend another biometrics appointment so that new fingerprints can be taken. Updated medical certificates may also be required.