U.S. immigration news continues to make headlines. Here are some updates on how your business could be affected by them.
H-1B Filing Update
H-1B cap season is well underway. We are planning to submit this year’s H-1B cap cases commencing on Friday, March 30, 2018 and into the first five business days of April. If your company has interest in submitting a new H-1B petition for an employee located overseas who might not otherwise qualify for other nonimmigrant visa categories or on behalf of a student in the United States currently holding optional practical training status, be advised that the window for this year’s filings will likely close at the end of the first week of April 2018.
The H-1B program is utilized by U.S. employers for the purpose of hiring foreign nationals who will work for U.S. employers in a 'specialty occupation' – those occupations requiring the minimum of a U.S. bachelor’s degree, master’s degree or equivalent. The employer must be willing to pay minimally a predetermined prevailing wage, as set by U.S. Department of Labor regulations. The number of petitions filed under the H-1B program has in the recent past exceeded the mandatory allotted 85,000 petitions available. The maximum annual statutory filing permits 65,000 for foreign nationals with U.S. bachelor’s degrees or a foreign equivalent, plus an additional 20,000 reserved for students who are only pursuing U.S. masters degrees.
Should U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services receive in excess of 85,000 petitions within the first five work days in April, it will conduct a random lottery and adjudicate only those cases that are accepted in the lottery process. Cases not selected in the random lottery program will be rejected and returned.
DACA Decision Declined by U.S. Supreme Court
On February 26, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the Trump administration’s appeal of a Federal judge’s ruling that requires the government to retain the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA). This ruling briefly stated, “It is assumed the court of appeals will act expeditiously to decide this case.” President Trump has repeatedly stated that he would like to help DACA applicants, but repeated bipartisan efforts to sustain and breathe life into this program have met with resistance. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi stated that the court’s action is “welcome news, but only Congress can provide the permanent protection our Dreamers need and deserve.” It was not surprising that the Supreme Court declined accepting the case, because the court rarely accepts appeals asking them to bypass the lower courts.
The DACA program allows children of undocumented immigrants, known as Dreamers to remain in the United States per the Executive Order issued by President Obama in 2012. The program allows Dreamers to remain in the United States if they were under 16 when brought to this country and arrived by 2007. DACA applicants are permitted to renew their status every two years, thus furnishing them with the ability to work, secure drivers licenses and remain in this country. The DACA program does not include a provision permitting applicants a path to permanent residence or U.S. citizenship. For the moment, USCIS will continue to accept DACA applications.