Uscis press room



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Description: Posts about USCIS Press Release written by dsheen88

WASHINGTON, DC, April 3 – Illustrating the inadequacy of the quota for specialized H-1B workers, USCIS announced today that it received more applications than the 65,000 limit on April 2. April 2 was the first day on which an employer could request a first-time visa for an H-1B worker for the period that begins on October 1, 2007. Agency rules state that if the limit is reached on the first day of filing, all applications received on the first two days are put into a lottery to determine who gets the relatively few visas that are available.

In the fiscal year now in effect, the supply of such visas lasted less than eight weeks after the filing period opened. For the fiscal year that starts October 1, 2007, the supply did not last through even the first day. “Every year, the application window becomes shorter and shorter, to the point that it is now practically non-existent,” said Carlina Tapia-Ruano, President of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. “These high-skilled workers help to keep our system dynamic, and many sectors of the economy will suffer from this shortage.”

The H-1B visa program is utilized by U.S. businesses and other organizations to augment the existing labor force with foreign workers in specialty occupations that require expertise in a specialized field. Typical H-1B occupations include scientists, architects, engineers, computer programmers, teachers, accountants, and doctors. H-1B workers are admitted to the United States for an initial period of three years, which may be extended for an additional three years.

“This absurd situation illustrates the disconnect between current immigration policy and the needs of our economy,” concluded Tapia-Ruano. “The best way to resolve this crisis is for Congress to pass a comprehensive immigration reform measure as soon as possible.”

The American Immigration Lawyers Association is the national association of immigration lawyers established to promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice, and enhance the professional development of its members.

Good news to H-1B holders!  CIS recently released their new policies that addresses several H-1B timing issues.  The following policies will be in effect January 2007:

1.  Time spent as an H-4 and L-2 dependent does not count against the maximum allowable periods of stay available to principals in H-1B or L-1 status.

2. Individuals do not need to be in H-1B status or in the U.S. in order to request additional H-1B time beyond six years under AC21.

3.  Individual who was in the U.S. in H-1B status for less than six years and then subsequently leaves the U.S. for more than one year, may elect to either be re-admitted for the remainder of the initial six-year admission period w/o being counted against the cap OR seek to be admitted as a new H-1B subject to the cap.

The first issue addressed in this CIS memo is how to count H-4 and L-2 time against maximum periods allowed under H-1B and L-2 time.  For example, would an individual present in the U.S. in L-2 status for the past 6 years be eligible for any H-1B time?  The answer is yes.

USCIS clarifies that any time spent in H-4 status will not count against the 6-year maximum period of admission applicable to H-1B individuals.  For example, an individual who was previously in H-4 dependent status and who subsequently becomes an H-1B principal is entitled to the maximum period of stay applicable under H-1B time.

The second issue addressed in this CIS memo deals with requesting extensions beyond six years under AC21 even if the individual is no longer in H-1B status or no longer in the U.S.  For example, if someone previously maxed out H-1B time and changed to TN status, and s/he is now eligible for H-1B time beyond six years under AC21, can s/he request more H-1B time even though s/he is now in TN status?  The answer is yes.

The memo reads “Though both provisions of AC21 use the term “extension of stay,” eligibility for the exemptions is not restricted solely to requests for extensions of stay while in the United States.  Aliens who are eligible for the 7th year extension may be granted an extension of stay regardless of whether they are currently in the United States or abroad and regardless of whether they currently hold H-1B status.”

The third issue in this CIS memo addressed the situation of an individual who did not max out his or her H-1B time but subsequently left the U.S. for more than one year.  For example, if an individual was previously in the U.S. in H-1B status for less than six years, and then subsequently leaves the U.S. for more than one year, may s/he be re-admittted for anytime remaining from their previous H-1B admission period or does s/he now need to admitted as a new H-1B with a new six years available, but subject to the cap?  The answer is actually either and up to the individual.

“There have been instances where an alien who was previously admitted to the United States in H-1B status, but did not exhaust his or her entire period of admission, seeks readmission to the United States in H-1B status for the remainder of his or her initial six-year period of maximum admission, rather than seeking a new six -year period of admission,  pending AC21 regulations, USCIS for now will allow an alien in the situation described above to elect to either (1) to be re-admitted for the “remainder” of the initial six-year admission period without being subject to the H-1B cap if previously counted or (2) seek to be readmitted as a “new” H-1B alien subject to the H-1B cap.”

Under this new policy, if the H-1B cap is an issue, the option will be for the individual to come in now and take whatever H-1B time they have left, or wait and file under the cap and have six-years available again.

Washington – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced today more than $12 million in grant awards to the four Southwest border states in support of ongoing local law enforcement efforts at the border. The funding, as part of Operation Stonegarden, assists local authorities with operational costs and equipment purchases that contribute to border security. The distribution of these funds is as follows: Arizona, $6,353,174; California, $1,000,000; New Mexico, $1,580,258; and Texas, $3,070,081.

“Local law enforcement plays an undeniable role in helping to combat crime and secure the border,” said Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. “Our ultimate success at the border is going to require close coordination with local authorities and sustained commitments to remedying a security challenge that has been decades in the making.”

Operation Stonegarden began as a successful pilot program in fiscal year 2005 that involved 14 border states. The initiative gave states the flexibility to use DHS grant funding to enhance coordination among state and federal law enforcement agencies at our borders. The pilot program resulted in an estimated 214 state, local and tribal agencies working 36,755 man-days on various public safety and border security operations.

Funding for Operation Stonegarden was made available through the fiscal year 2006 Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act for Defense, the Global War on Terror and Hurricane Recovery. The program requires states to identify and prioritize solutions to their border security needs.

Other resources for this initiative come from the Law Enforcement Terrorism Prevention Program (LETPP). As part of the expansion of Operation Stonegarden in January 2006, the department announced that states had the ability to use up to 25 percent of unspent LETPP funds from fiscal years 2004 and 2005. In addition, states can now use up to of 25 percent of their fiscal year 2006 LETPP funds for border security-related activities.

The $12 million in funds released today by the department will supplement the states’ opportunity to utilize 25 percent of their fiscal year 2006 LETPP funds to further enhance critical border security operations. More than $384 million was awarded nationwide through the LETPP program in fiscal year 2006.






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