April 9, 2010

H-1B Cap Numbers Remain Available for FY 2011, Preliminary Estimates Suggest

The critical first five business days of the Fiscal Year 2011 H-1B cap filing period have now passed. Early indications are that cap numbers remain available and employers can continue to file petitions for H-1B employment in the coming fiscal year. Though U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has not issued an official cap count yet, unofficial word from the agency suggests that cap filings in the initial days of the filing season were relatively light compared to previous years.

Based on these preliminary estimates, it appears that the FY 2011 cap has not been reached and that a selection lottery - used when the agency receives more than enough cases to meet the cap - will not take place imminently. But though numbers likely remain available, employers who have not yet filed their H-1B cap petitions for FY 2011 should do so as quickly as possible. With continuing improvements in the economy and with May and June university graduations, usage of H-1B cap numbers could increase steadily in the weeks to come.

In related news, Fragomen offers travel tips for F-1 students who are awaiting a change of status to H-1B, and the U.S. Transportation Security Agency plans changes to airport security screening procedures. These items and more from the UK, Canada and the United States follow in this week's edition of the Fragomen Immigration Update.

Remember that the Immigration Update is available through both e-mail and Web version by clicking on "View as Web Page" above.


Important Updates in Immigration This Week

April 8, 2010

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

There are significant risks to many F-1 students who travel after an H-1B petition has been filed on their behalf. Those who travel internationally should make sure they have all necessary documents and should be prepared for possible reentry delays.

To view entire article, click here.
April 2, 2010

United States
Changes Coming to Airport Security Screening Procedures

Foreign travelers to the United States will no longer be subject to additional airport security screening based on their citizenship alone, but could still be flagged for heightened scrutiny if their personal information matches government travel watch lists or other security data.

To view entire article, click here.
April 7, 2010

United Kingdom
Immigration Application Fees Increase

Effective April 6, 2010, most immigration fees in the UK have increased by ten percent, but the fee for employer-sponsored Certificates of Sponsorship under Tier 2 of the Points Based System remains the same.

To view entire article, click here.
April 2, 2010

Expedited Labour Market Opinion Program (E-LMO) to be Eliminated in April

On April 15, 2010, the Expedited Labour Market Opinion Pilot Project (E-LMO) will expire. Employers in Alberta and British Columbia will no longer be able to take advantage of the expedited program after that date.

To view entire article, click here.

Other Immigration News This Week


United States: USCIS Updates H-2B Count for FY 2010 - USCIS has updated its H-2B statistics for the first and second half of Fiscal Year (FY) 2010. As of April 2, 2010, USCIS has received filings for 22,825 beneficiaries for the second half of FY 2010, which runs from April 1 through September 30, 2010. Of these, 20,533 have been approved, and 2,292 were pending. USCIS has established that a total of 47,000 cap-subject H-2B petition beneficiaries will be needed to reach the 33,000 cap for the second half of the fiscal year. USCIS uses the beneficiary target figure to account for cases that are ultimately denied, withdrawn or revoked, as well as cases in which employers actually employ fewer workers than requested. The target figure is subject to change.

USCIS also provided what should be a final count of 41,108 beneficiaries for the first half of FY 2010.

USCIS now maintains its H-2B cap counts for FY 2010 at a new URL: http://www.uscis.gov/h-2b_count.

United States: USCIS to Hold "Listening Session" on RFEs - USCIS is hosting a listening session on Monday, April 12, 2010 to hear stakeholder concerns regarding the agency's use of Requests for Evidence (RFEs) and to discuss an initiative to review and revise RFE templates to make them more uniform and to bring more consistency to the RFE process. The first phase of the initiative is going to focus on RFEs in the O, P, and Q nonimmigrant classifications and the extraordinary ability employment-based immigrant category. Stakeholders from around the country, including Fragomen attorneys, will participate. We will provide any additional updates from the session, as necessary.

United States: USCIS Blog Posts on Visa Numbers - On its new official blog, The Beacon, USCIS recently posted a lengthy response to comments and questions concerning the usage of immigrant visa numbers, spillover of visa numbers from one preference category into another, and the current immigrant visa backlog.

United States: USCIS/DOJ Memorandum of Agreement on Discrimination Claims- The Department of Justice (DOJ) has made available the Memorandum of Agreement governing the process by which USCIS will refer allegations of discrimination rising from employers' use of E-Verify and claims the misuse, abuse or fraudulent use of E-Verify to DOJ's Office of Special Counsel for Unfair Immigration-Related Employment Practices (OSC). As previously reported,  the two agencies have agreed on procedures that will make it easier to bring employment discrimination cases against employers. The two agencies will also share information about possible violations. USCIS will refer potential employment discrimination cases to OSC and OSC will provide information about misuse of the E-Verify system to USCIS.

United States: DOJ OSC Releases Flyers on Work Authorization for Refugees and Asylees - The Office of Special Counsel for Immigration Related Unfair Employment Practices has released two flyers, one for employers and one for employees, discussing the employment eligibility of refugees and asylees. 

United States: DOL Launches Toll-Free Hotline for Wage and Hour Assistance - The Department of Labor has launched a public awareness campaign called "We Can Help" to provide workers with information about workplace rights and how to seek Wage and Hour Division assistance, including how to file a complaint. The campaign's toll-free hotline is 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243).

Global Immigration News Links:
  • The New York Times reports on a growing problem for many foreign and U.S. business travelers, students, professionals and others: mistakes on the country's national security "no-fly" lists. When a routine check of a traveler's name yields a no-fly list hit, the individual may be prevented from traveling, and the Times report cites instances where travelers have had their existing visa revoked or were detained. "Ensnared by Error on Growing U.S. Watch List"
  • In a New York Times op-ed piece, Thomas Friedman argues that jobs and economic growth will come from encouraging immigrant entrepreneurs and improving our education system, not bailout programs. "Start-Ups, Not Bailouts"

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