Klasko Immigration Law Partners’ 11th annual spring seminar will be held on Wednesday, April 22, 2015. Join us!
USCIS announced that eligibility for employment authorization will be extended to certain H-4 dependent spouses beginning on May 26, 2015.
Forward movement is possible in some employment-based categories in the coming months.
Starting on May 1, 2015, USCIS will accept only the October 23, 2014, edition of the I-129.
In recent months, the Department of State has revised visa reciprocity schedules for Armenia, Brazil, Albania, and China, among others.
The measures President Obama announced included, among other things, initiating discussions to re-establish diplomatic relations with Cuba, and facilitating an expansion of travel.
USCIS said that it is rejecting new cap-subject H-2B petitions received after January 26 and that request an employment start date before April 1.
1. Save the Date: 2015 Annual Spring Seminar is April 22!
Save the Date: 2015 Annual Spring Seminar is April 22! Mark your calendars for Klasko Immigration Law Partners’ 11th annual Spring Seminar, “Immigration 2015: Hope Springs Eternal,” on Wednesday, April 22, 2015 from 9:30 am – 2:00 pm at The Union League of Philadelphia.
Sessions will include:
- How to Deal with H-1B Cap: Exceptions and Alternatives to H-1B
- I-9, E-Verify and Ensuring Compliance
- Challenging F-1 Issues
- Challenging Business Cases: L-1B, Functional Managers, and Specialty Occupation
- Who Can Pay, and for What?
- What Can You Ask About Immigration Status in Interviews?
- Nonresident Medical Residents and other GME Challenges
- Abandonment and Loss of Permanent Residence
- EB-1A, EB-1B, NIW and O: Case Studies in Assessing Options
- And much more!
We invite professionals involved in employment-based immigration to attend! There is no cost for this program. Look for your e-invitation with registration details in mid-March.[Back to Top]
2. Employment Authorization for Certain H-4 Spouses
On February 24, 2015, U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services announced that eligibility for employment authorization will be extended to certain H-4 dependent spouses beginning on May 26, 2015. The grant of H-4 employment eligibility was an integral part of President Obama’s executive actions on immigration, which aimed to improve and modernize the immigration program. USCIS Director Leon Rodriguez spoke to the effect of this change, “It helps U.S. businesses keep their highly skilled workers by increasing the chances these workers will choose to stay in this country during the transition from temporary workers to permanent residents.” This will hopefully alleviate some of the stress and burden that occurs while an H-1B beneficiary must wait several years to complete the lawful permanent resident process due to extended backlogs.
To be eligible for this benefit, the H-4 spouse must be married to an H-1B nonimmigrant who is seeking lawful permanent residence through an employment-based process. More specifically, H-4 dependent spouses are eligible if they are the spouse of an H-1B nonimmigrant who: (1) is the principal beneficiary of an approved I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker; or (2) has been granted H-1B status under sections 106(a) and (b) of the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-first Century Act of 2000, as amended by the 21st Century Department of Justice Appropriations Authorization Act (commonly referred to as “AC-21”), which allows H-1B nonimmigrants to remain in the United States beyond the six-year maximum for H-1B status. It is important to note that the H-1B status based on AC-21 sections 106(a) and (b) must have been granted to the H-1B beneficiary prior to the H-4 dependent applying for employment authorization.
USCIS will not accept applications for this benefit until May 26, 2015. To apply for employment authorization, the H-4 dependent spouse must file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, with the supporting evidence that establishes eligibility and the required filing fee of $380. A revised Form I-765 will be released by USCIS prior May 26, 2015. The applicant will then receive an Employment Authorization card (Form I-766) that establishes his or her ability to work in the United States. The dependent spouse will be able to concurrently file an I-539 Application to extend his/her status, and the I-765 Application.[Back to Top]
3. State Dept. Anticipates Visa Number Movement in Some Employment-Based Categories
The Department of State’s Visa Bulletin for February 2015 notes that movement is possible in some employment-based categories in the coming months.
In the employment-based “Worldwide” third preference category, the Visa Office expects rapid forward movement “for at least another month or two.” The bulletin notes that rapid movement in recent months is expected to generate a significant amount of demand for numbers. “Once such demand materializes at the anticipated rate, it will have a direct impact on this cut-off date,” which stands in February at January 1, 2014.
Similarly, the Visa Office expects rapid forward movement in the employment-based third preference category for China. “Such movement is likely to result in a dramatic increase in demand which could require ‘corrective’ action within the next six months,” the bulletin notes. India may move by up to two weeks. On the other hand, Mexico and the Philippines will remain at the Worldwide date, although increased demand in the latter could require “corrective” action at some point later in the fiscal year, the bulletin states.
The bulletin notes that the determination of the monthly cut-off dates is subject to monthly fluctuations in applicant demand and a number of other variables, so trends and estimates are not guaranteed.
The Visa Bulletin for February 2015 is available at http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/english/law-and-policy/bulletin/2015/visa-bulletin-for-february-2015.html.[Back to Top]
4. USCIS Revises Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has revised Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker. The revised Form I-129 is labeled with an October 23, 2014, edition date. It expires on October 31, 2016.
Starting on May 1, 2015, USCIS will accept only the October 23, 2014, edition of the I-129. USCIS will not accept previous editions of the I-129 on or after May 1, 2015.
Among other things, the revised form includes a question on the H classification supplement that asks, “Does any beneficiary in this petition have ownership interest in the petitioning organization?” Details and a link to the form are available at http://www.uscis.gov/i-129.[Back to Top]
5. State Dept. Revises Reciprocity Schedules for Several Countries
In recent months, the Department of State has revised visa reciprocity schedules for Armenia, Brazil, Albania, and China, among others.
For temporary visitors (nonimmigrants) to the United States, reciprocity tables show applicable visa issuance fees by country and by visa classification type, and the maximum period of visa validity and number of applications, or entries, that may be authorized.
The latest updates are available at http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/english/law-and-policy/visa-policy-update.html. Reciprocity tables by country are available at http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/english/fees/reciprocity-by-country.html. Additional updates are available at http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/english/fees/reciprocity-whats-new.html.[Back to Top]
6. President Announces Thaw in Relations With Cuba
On December 17, 2014, President Barack Obama announced a thaw in the United States’ relations with Cuba. He noted that decades of U.S. isolation of Cuba have failed to accomplish any U.S. goals.
The measures President Obama announced included, among other things, initiating discussions to re-establish diplomatic relations with Cuba, and facilitating an expansion of travel under general licenses for the 12 existing categories of travel to Cuba authorized by law, including: (1) family visits; (2) official business of the U.S. government, foreign governments, and certain intergovernmental organizations; (3) journalistic activity; (4) professional research and professional meetings; (5) educational activities; (6) religious activities; (7) public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic and other competitions, and exhibitions; (8) support for the Cuban people; (9) humanitarian projects; (10) activities of private foundations or research or educational institutes; (11) exportation, importation, or transmission of information or information materials; and (12) certain export transactions that may be considered for authorization under existing regulations and guidelines.
Also announced was raising remittance levels from $500 to $2,000 per quarter for most donations to Cuban nationals, and other measures to facilitate trade and commerce.
The fact sheet is available at http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/12/17/fact-sheet-charting-new-course-cuba.[Back to Top]
7. H-2B Cap Reached for First Half of FY 2015
USCIS has received a sufficient number of petitions to reach the congressionally mandated limit, or cap, of 33,000 on the total number of foreign nationals who may seek a visa or otherwise obtain H-2B status (nonagricultural temporary workers) for the first half of fiscal year (FY) 2015. January 26, 2015 was the final receipt date for new H-2B worker petitions requesting an employment start date before April 1, 2015.
USCIS said that it is rejecting new cap-subject H-2B petitions received after January 26 and that request an employment start date before April 1. No cap numbers from the first half of FY 2015 will be available in the second half of FY 2015, which begins on April 1, 2015. The cap is 33,000 for the second half also.
USCIS will continue to accept H-2B petitions that are exempt from the congressionally mandated cap.
For more information on the cap count for H-2B nonimmigrants, see http://www.uscis.gov/working-united-states/temporary-workers/cap-count-h-2b-nonimmigrants.[Back to Top]
8. Government Agency Links
Follow these links to access current processing times of the USCIS Service Centers and the Department of Labor, or the Department of State’s latest Visa Bulletin with the most recent cut-off dates for visa numbers:
9. Klasko News
H. Ronald Klasko (Ron) and Daniel B. Lundy (Dan) have been selected by EB-5 Investors Magazine as two of the “Top 25 EB-5 Immigration Attorneys” in its Winter 2015 edition. The individuals selected as top attorneys were chosen through a combination of community member votes, input from the magazine’s editorial board and analysis from the in-house team. Candidates were evaluated based on experience in the EB-5 industry, track record, and reputation within the field. Congratulations Ron and Dan!
Klasko Immigration Law Partners’ 1st Annual EB-5 Seminar “Marketing and Compliance: A Guide for Regional Centers and Developers” was held on Tuesday, February 10, 2015 at The Hub Cira Centre in Philadelphia. The full day event included sessions on how to structure EB-5 projects to be marketable in China and India; how to prepare for I-829 filings; how to keep your regional center in compliance with USCIS requirements; and much more. The PowerPoint presentation and articles from the seminar is now available on our website. Click here to download the materials folder from this event. For more information on this program or EB-5 in general, please contact Ron at email@example.com or Dan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Upcoming Speaking Engagements
Michelle T. Kobler
Michelle will be speaking to students at New York University on March 9. Michelle will discuss non-immigrant status, H-1B requirements, H-1B alternatives and provide an introduction to permanent residency.
Ron will be at the 2015 Invest in America Summit in China from March 13-21, and will serve as the program co-organizer. As the largest annual EB-5 conference and trade show held in China, the Invest in America Summit brings together regional centers, developers, attorneys, economists, over 100 migration agents, large numbers of individual Chinese investors and Chinese government officials involved with the EB-5 migration program. The summit will be held in Shanghai, Shenzhen and Beijing. Click here for a preview of the summit or write to Ron at email@example.com for more information.
Ron will be speaking at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania on March 31 and will discuss visa and permanent residence options with MBA students.
Elise A Fialkowski
On March 27, Elise A. Fialkowski will be speaking at the AILA Philadelphia Chapter Annual CLE Conference. Elise will serve as discussion leader for “Employment Based Cases and Successful NIWs” and will lead a panel discussion on the process of filing an employment based case and touch on some of the ethical issues attorneys may have in these types of cases. The panel will primarily focus on filing successful National Interest Waivers. For more information, write to Elise at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Elise and Feige M. Grundman will present at PBI’s 21st Annual Employment Law Institute on “Immigration for the Employment Lawyer” at the Pennsylvania Convention Center on April 28. For more information, click here.
Recent Speaking Engagements
Ron co-presented “Keys for Success: Operating in a Highly Competitive Market” at the NES Financial 2015 EB-5 Innovation Summit on February 24 in New York City. For more on this summit, click here.
William A Stock
William A. Stock (Bill) visited Pennsylvania State University’s University Park campus and Hershey Medical Center on February 19. At University Park, Bill presented “Post Student Years: Immigration Options” and discussed “Immigration Options for Scholars and Researchers” at Hershey Medical. Topics included H-1B visas, H-1B quota, options for dealing with H-1B quota, quota-exempt employment, and strategies to enhance chances of getting H-1B, among other topics. To view the PowerPoint presentation used at these programs, see the events calendar on our website.
Lisa T. Felix
Lisa T. Felix visited Arcadia University in Glenside, PA on February 19 and presented “International Students: Transition from Campus to the Workplace.” Lisa spoke to international students and faculty to present an overview of the F-1 Curricular Practical Training and Optional Practical Training programs, including how and when to apply, discussions with employers about employment authorization and documentation, and the transition to other visas for continuing employment in the United States after the Practical Training period concludes.
Lisa was a guest speaker of the Wharton Canada Club of the University of Pennsylvania on February 12 in Philadelphia and discussed “U.S. Immigration Options for the Canadian MBA: Options for Employment.” This presentation was prepared specifically for the Canadian students in the Wharton School’s MBA program and covered topics common to all nonimmigrant an immigrant individuals in the U.S., including the use of student Practical Training employment authorization and employment options beyond the student visa. Lisa also discussed topics and considerations specific to Canadians, such as TN employment authorization and travel between the U.S. and Canada. Points of particular interest to business students included discussion of special challenges when creating or working for start-ups, linking future employment to previous overseas employment, and international careers.
On February 10, Lisa and Michelle Kobler visited Drexel University and presented an overview of J-1 waivers to Drexel’s international student, researchers and faculty. They explained which J-1 exchange visitors would need a waiver and why. Then they introduced the various waiver types and the general application process. Extensive Q&A addressed a myriad of issues including timing, cost, and special considerations in the waiver application process. For more or J-1 waivers, contact Lisa at email@example.com or Michelle at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ron Klasko & William A Stock
Ron and Bill participated at the 36th Annual AILA South Florida Immigration Law Update from February 5-6, 2015 in Miami. Ron was a panelist for the sessions “Life with No H-1B Visas,” “Developments in EB-5 – Swimming through Murky Waters,” and “Tips for Building Your Practice.” Bill was a speaker for the plenary session “Overview of Recent Developments in Immigration Law” as well as for the “Labor Certification – The Rules of the Game” session.
Elise A Fialkowski
Elise presented at a PBI program in Philadelphia on January 13, 2015 entitled “Immigration Law Update: The Executive Actions.” Elise explained executive actions as they relate to employment based immigration including plans to modernize the employment based immigrant visa system, increase worker portability, reform optional practical training, bring greater consistency to L-1B adjudications, and review the PERM Labor Certification process.
Bill’s recently authored article “Texas Judge Enjoins Immigration Relief for Undocumented Parents” was published in the February 18, 2015 edition of The Legal Intelligencer. In the article, Bill discussed the President’s administrative actions to provide some protection from deportation to undocumented parents of U.S. citizens, and the lawsuit by Texas and 26 other states to bar the president’s actions. On February 16, the judge in the Texas lawsuit had enjoined the Department of Homeland Security from taking steps to implement the President’s directives until the lawsuit was resolved. For more information on the agreement or to request a copy of this article, email Bill at email@example.com.
Bill also published a blog on the AILA Leadership Blog entitled “Big Data, Bad Data: Resolving the Tyranny of the Database.” Bill currently serves as AILA First Vice President.
Lisa published “No Reform Means More of the Same for Annual H-1B Cycle” in The Legal Intelligencer on January 21, 2015. Lisa discussed the challenges employers face in the juxtaposition between a steadily improving economy and a stagnant immigration climate which limits their ability to hire highly qualified workers in specialty occupations. Base on current trends, it is predicted that the annual H-1B quota will be exceeded by over 100% immediately upon opening on April 1, 2015, and that employers will have to seek other limited options to hire the specific talent they require in the next year. For more information on H-1B visas and alternatives, or to request a copy of this article, email Lisa at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You May Have Missed: Blog Posts & Alerts
- Employment Authorization for Certain H-4 Dependent Spouses
February 24, 2015 by Michele Gallo
- The ABC Fallout – Time for the EB-5 Industry to Take the Offensive
February 12, 2015 by H. Ronald Klasko
- Open Letter to Director Rodriguez and Chief Colucci
January 6, 2015 by H. Ronald Klasko