• The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has confirmed that it has reached the H-2B visa petition cap for the first half of the government’s fiscal year 2009, which means that new H-2B worker petitions requesting employment start dates prior to April 1, 2009 will no longer be approved. The “cut off” date for H-2B petitions acceptance requesting U.S. employment start date prior to April 1, 2009 is July 29, 2008. Petitions that are received by the government after July 29th are being rejected and returned to petitioners. The H-2B is a popular work visa category and is used extensively by a number of industries, including hospitality and construction. The key to success is to plan H-2B employment needs early and time petition filings accordingly.
  • The USCIS has been working to reduce its adjudication delays with regard to naturalization proceedings. By the end of September 2008, the USCIS anticipates streamlining these adjudications to, on average, 1 year. At this time, the average naturalization proceedings timeline is 16-18 months, with adjudication in some immigration-heavy states taking a noticeably longer time.
  • The Customs and Border Protection agency (CBP) is gradually expanding its pilot program for international travelers. The program, named Global Entry, was commenced at three major U.S. airports and is now being expanded to four additional airports. The program is targeting global security enhancement while minimizing delays for foreign travelers’ entries into the U.S.