• H-1B FILING SEASON IS HERE! On April 1, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will start accepting H-1B nonimmigrant work permit petitions towards the new fiscal year 65,000 quota. Importantly, the USCIS announced that it would not extend the period in which, due to Department of Labor processing delays, it temporarily accepted H-1B petitions filed with uncertified Labor Condition Applications (LCAs). The temporary measure expired on March 9, 2010, which means that as of March 10th, the USCIS is rejecting any H-1B petitions filed without a properly certified LCA. While the economy is in for a slow recovery, it is hard to predict how fast the annual H-1B visa allocation will go. It is advisable for U.S. companies interested in H-1B sponsorship for foreign national employees to file H-1B proceedings by April 1, 2010, to maximize chances of H-1B visa availability.
  • The USCIS recently has published revised guidance concerning H-1B status eligibility of individuals engaged in provision of contractual/consulting services. Historically, consulting companies have been able to sponsor H-1B workers and send them to client sites for long-term assignments, based on contractual arrangements between the companies involved. The recent USCIS memorandum tightens the standard of H-1B status eligibility under this popular scenario. Most importantly, the USCIS now requires proof of the H-1B sponsoring employer's ability to exercise control over the H-1B worker's employment and direct his work while at the client's site. Consult your immigration counsel if you currently have employees seconded to other companies.
  • Certain Chilean nationals are eligible for U.S. immigration benefits due to the recent major earthquakes in their home country. Temporary relief measures may include extension of U.S. stay for citizens of Chile currently in the U.S., expedited adjudication of some immigration proceedings that relate to work authorization in the U.S., expedited processing of permanent immigration proceedings for eligible individuals, and assistance to U.S. lawful permanent residents that hold Chilean citizenship and are stranded overseas without documents.
  • The USCIS recently has updated a number of immigration forms, including Form I-140 and I-360 Immigrant Petitions, and Form I-485 Adjustment of Status Application, and changed filing instructions for these proceedings. Consult your immigration counsel or check the USCIS website for current filing information before submitting any immigration proceedings.