• H-1B Visa Numbers. Per the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) November update, more than 50,000 petitions for professional workers have been filed towards the 65,000 annual cap. 20,000 H-1B petitions for foreign nationals with advanced degrees from U.S. colleges have been accepted for processing. H-1B proceedings are approved for employment start in the government's fiscal year that began October 1, 2011. H-1B visa numbers should remain available for the following couple of weeks, but may well be exhausted before the end of the holiday season. Do not wait to file any new and change of status H-1B proceedings!
  • The USCIS has confirmed its intention to return to the prior practice of mailing original immigration benefit filing receipt and approval notices to petitioner's counsel. The recent deviation from this long-established practice has led to receipts and approvals being sent to employers directly, which results in misplacement or loss of these documents in busy mail rooms and especially so since the recipient's name often is omitted on the government-issued receipts. Please continue to be on the lookout for the original notices in your office mail during the change in the USCIS's practices and notify your immigration counsel of any documents received directly from the government.
  • As changes in the global economy necessitate faster and more efficient personnel transfer, the USCIS has expressed willingness to consider "bundled" L-1B petitions for specialized knowledge personnel together, where the petitioner is trying to staff a U.S. project for an international company. The USCIS is also going to consider L-1A petitions for managers as part of the bundle, in the context of their supervisory responsibilities over the L-1B beneficiaries working on such a given project. Discuss specific "bundling" requirements with your immigration counsel in order to best take advantage of the government's new adjudication approach.