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February 22, 2019 The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that they have reached the cap on H-2B visas for fiscal year 2019. This means that all new H-2B visa requests that request a start date before Oct 1, 2019 will be automatically rejected.The final date for accepted visa requests will be Feb. 19, 2019. Because the number of petitions exceeded the number of allowable visas, this triggered the selection system known as the “lottery” to determine who would receive a H-2B visa. The lottery was conducted on Feb 21st, with the assignments being released on Feb 22nd.IMPORTANT:...

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February 18, 2019The USCIS has announced that it will resume premium processing of H-1B petitions filed before the end of last year. While the properly requested premium processing normally guarantees a 15-day processing time, the USCIS has previously announced in January that they had suspended the program due to the government shutdown.With the government now refunded, the USCIS will resume the premium processing for those applicants who submitted the requests before December 21st, 2018. It is imperative that applications are properly submitted, and that in the event of a transfer or a request for evidence, those materials be handed promptly...

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Heavy Penalties in Sight for Man Arrested for Visa Fraud

February 15, 2019 US Attorneys recently announced the arrest of a man accused of committing mass Visa fraud and falsely procuring US citizenship.Neeraj Sharma, of Piscataway, NJ was arrested and charged after federal investigators claimed he recruited foreign workers under H-1B visas, but those workers and staffers never actually secured work in the United States. Sharma allegedly falsely claimed in the applications that the workers had full-time jobs secured in the US, a requirement for the H-1B, but had forged key aspects of the applications to help 11 people falsely enter the country.This story comes on the heels of a...

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Attention Foreign Students: Be Aware of Dramatic Policy Changes

FEBRUARY 11, 2019 Last August, the USCIS announced policy changes that dramatically impacts foreign students in the US on visas, particularly those on the F, M, and J visas. In short, the changes impact the way that those on visas can accrue “unlawful presence” in the United States, which can lead to consequences such as a 3-year or a 10-year bar. Additionally, visa holders with unlawful presence can be deported.Foreign students can even begin accruing unlawful presence time without knowing it! Regardless of whether they are informed by the government or not (and its likely that they are...

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A Brewing Crisis: Immigration Services Sharply Delayed

FEBRUARY 08, 2019 According to a recent study by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), the processing times for US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has increased by 46% since the start of the Trump Administration. Additionally, this decrease has occurred in spite of the fact that 2018 saw fewer visa petitions than previous years.These delays are causing ripple effects throughout the immigration process, hurting both business trying to get skilled labor, and potential visa holders trying to obtain legal status in the US. An assessment by the Houston Public Media showed that there had been additional strain...

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Be Aware! H-1B Visa Rules are Changing!

FEBRUARY 04, 2019 Late last month, the Department of Homeland Security announced a rule change to H-1B petitions, with a specific focus on those eligible for the advanced degree exemption. According to the USCIS announcement, the rule change “…reverses the order by which U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) selects H-1B petitions under the H-1B regular cap and the advanced degree exemption, and it introduces an electronic registration requirement for petitioners seeking to file H-1B cap-subject petitions.”USCIS Director Cissna claimed that the rule changes were meant to give those with graduate degrees a better chance of selection during...

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Another Fake University Sting Leads to 8 Arrests

JANUARY 30, 2019 The University of Farmington, a proud institution in Farmington, MI, is no more.Or, to be more correct, it never was.That’s because the university was actually part of a major sting operation by the federal government to identify people helping ‘students’ stay in the US illegally. The university had no staff or faculty, no classrooms, and no campus. Instead, recruiters conspired with undercover US agents to allow for people to enter or stay in the US under student visas through admission into the fake college, in exchange for fees and kickbacks. Eight different “recruiters” have since...

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Are Visas Restricting Job Mobility for Foreign Workers?

JANUARY 28, 2019 Significant numbers of workers enter the US every year on a variety of work visas, including the H-1B program for specialty workers, the O-1 program for extraordinary ability workers, and the J-1 program for professors and research scholars, as well as many other programs. These visa processes are often long, complex, and require a fair amount of elbow grease from both the employers and the employees. As a result, its fair to wonder if workers in the US on those visa programs are “trapped” at their jobs, or if they have as much worker mobility...

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Name Americanization: Economic Payoff vs Cultural Identity

JANUARY 25, 2019 “Americanization” is a process by which immigrants to the United States attempt to integrate with the local culture. In many cases, immigrants have chosen to “Americanize” their birth names to ones that are more traditionally or popularly American, such as changing “Hans”, “Johan”, and “Ivan” to the more American name “John”. Often, this was done with the intention of making it easier to succeed economically, as anti-immigrant economic bias has existed in the United States since its inception.But what are the economic rewards to name Americanization? A study conducted by a team of researchers based...

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How is the H-1B Quota Impacting Immigration?

JANUARY 22, 2019 The H-1B visa program is a well-known, popular way for companies to fill skill-shortage positions in the United States with foreign labor. The program, which has been around since the early 1990s, has had dramatically different “caps” on the number of visas allowed in a given year since its inception. These caps have ranged from 65,000 in the early years to a peak of 195,000 in the early 2000s, before going back down to 65,000 in 2004.But what have the implications of these different caps been? How has changing the number of visas accepted impacted...

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