• H-1B Visa Numbers. H-1B visa numbers for the current fiscal year remain available. Per the government’s latest count, approximately 46,800 H-1B petitions have been accepted for processing under the annual 65,000 cap. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has also accepted 17,200 H-1B petitions filed under the separate visa quota for foreign nationals with advanced degrees from U.S. institutions. With the apparent increases in U.S. employers’ hiring and the approach of the holiday season, it is advisable to file any cap-subject H-1B petitions as soon as possible.
  • Reminder: immigration proceedings received by the USCIS on or after Nov. 23, 2010, are subject to new filing fees. Most filing fees are increasing by an average of 10 percent. Some of the petition and application fees increase by as much as 20 percent. Importantly, the government will reject any applications filed with incorrect fees, so check the updated filing fees table at the USCIS website.
  • The USCIS has announced an extension of the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for eligible nationals of Somalia. The current TPS for Samalis expires on March 17, 2011, but the new 18-month extension sets a new TPS expiration date of Sept. 17, 2012. TPS beneficiaries should re-register in order to maintain their immigration status in the U.S. for this extended period of time.
  • Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has announced E-Verify program improvements. The E-Verify promoted by the government as a tool for employees’ employment eligibility verification, now has capabilities to perform U.S. passport photo matching. The E-Verify enhancement is expected to assist DHS in their counterfeit documents and fraud investigations.