The U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced recently that, beginning January 12, 2009, eligible citizens or nationals from all Visa Waiver Program countries must obtain approval through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) prior to traveling to the United States under the VWP.
News Release from Jewell & Associates - April 14, 2008
We reproduce, below, USCIS’s April 14, 2008 update on FY 2009 H-1B cap filings.
April 14, 2008
USCIS RUNS RANDOM SELECTION PROCESS FOR H-1B PETITIONS
WASHINGTON - U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) today conducted the computer-generated random selection processes on H-1B petitions, to select which H-1B petitions for fiscal year 2009 (FY 2009) would continue to full adjudication. If approved these H-1B petitions will be eligible to receive an H-1B visa number.
USCIS conducted two random selections, first on petitions qualifying for the 20,000 "master's or higher degree" (advanced degree) exemption, and second on the remaining advance degree petitions together with the general H-1B pool of petitions, for the 65,000 cap.
The approximately 163,000 petitions received in the first five days of the eligible filing period for FY 2009 (April 1 through April 7, 2008) were labeled with unique numerical identifiers. USCIS has notified the appropriate service centers which numerical identifiers have been randomly selected, so each center may continue with final processing of the petitions associated with those numerical identifiers.
Petitioners whose properly filed petitions have been selected for full adjudication should receive a receipt notice dated no later than June 2, 2008. USCIS will return unselected petitions with the fee(s) to petitioners or their authorized representatives. As previously announced, duplicate filings will be returned without the fee. The total adjudication process is expected to take approximately eight to ten weeks.
For cases selected through the random selection process and initially filed for premium processing, the 15-day premium processing period begins today (April 14), the day of the random selection process.
USCIS has "wait-listed" some H-1B petitions, meaning they may possibly replace petitions chosen to receive an FY-2009 cap number, but that subsequently are denied, withdrawn, or otherwise found ineligible. USCIS will retain these petitions until a decision is made whether they will replace a previously selected petition. USCIS will send a letter to the wait list petitioners to inform them of their status.
USCIS expects that for each of these wait-listed petitions, it will either issue a receipt notice or return the petition with fees within six to eight weeks.
- USCIS -
© Jewell & Associates 2008
News Release from Jewell & Associates - April 10, 2008
We reproduce, below, USCIS’s April 10, 2008 update on FY 2009 H-1B cap filings.
April 10, 2008
USCIS RELEASES PRELIMINARY NUMBER OF FY 2009 H-1B CAP FILINGS
WASHINGTON – U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) today announced a preliminary number of nearly 163,000 H-1B petitions received during the filing period ending on April 7, 2008. More than 31,200 of those petitions were for the advanced degree category.
USCIS expects next week it will conduct the computer-generated random selection process, beginning with the selection of the 20,000 petitions under the advanced degree exemption. Those petitions not selected under the advanced degree category will join the random selection process for the cap-subject 65,000 limit.
USCIS will reject, and return filing fees for all cap-subject petitions not randomly selected, unless found to be a duplicate. USCIS will handle duplicate filings in accordance with the interim final rule published on March 24, 2008 in the Federal Register.
USCIS will provide regular updates as the processing of FY 2009 H-1B cap cases continues.
- USCIS -
© Jewell & Associates 2008
On April 8, 2008, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security published an Interim Final Rule, effective immediately, that provides for additional Optional Practical Training (OPT) work authorization for foreign nationals in F-1 student visa status who would otherwise be limited to twelve months of OPT. The new regulation provides two types of prolonged OPT: (1) an automatic extension of OPT to bridge the “cap gap” between an employee’s OPT expiration date and the October 1st date when an approved cap-subject H-1B petition takes effect; and (2) a seventeen-month extension, upon application, of OPT for graduates of U.S. degree programs in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (“STEM” degrees) who have jobs related to their field of study with employers who are enrolled in the government’s E-Verify program.