• H-1B Visa Numbers. Per the recently issued count by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), approximately 40,600 petitions for professional workers have been filed towards the 65,000 annual cap. Additionally, 14,900 H-1B petitions have been filed for foreign nationals with advanced degrees from U.S. colleges. H-1B proceedings are approved for employment start in the government's fiscal year that began Oct. 1, 2010. While H-1B visa numbers remain available, it is hard to predict how long availability will remain. Consequently, it is advisable to file petitions for any intended H-1B employees as soon as possible.
  • Effective Nov. 23, 2010, the USCIS increases filing fees for a number of immigration benefits. While naturalization proceeding fees are not increasing, the overall fee increase average approximately 10 percent. Importantly, a few filing fees, including some for service members and veterans of the U.S. armed forces seeking certain benefits, will decrease. All petitioners and applicants should check filing fee updates immediately prior to filing any immigration proceedings with the government.
  • The USCIS has started implementation of Public Law 111-230, which establishes additional filing fees for certain H-1B and L-1 petitions. The additional fees of $2,000 for H-1B proceedings and $2,250 for L-1 applications apply to petitioners that employ 50 or more employees in the U.S. with more than 50 percent of their employees in H-1B, L-1A, or L-1B status. Since the application forms have not been yet revised to address applicability of the new fees to a given proceeding, H- and L- petitioning employers should discuss proper ways to submit the fees or notify the government of fee non-applicability with immigration counsel. Petitions submitted without the newly adopted fees or an explanation of their inapplicability would be subject to Requests for Evidence (RFEs).