Monthly Archives: March 2008

NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATIONS BRINGING FOREIGN PROFESSIONALS TO THE U.S.

The following is not legal advice.  Please contact a qualified immigration lawyer for assistance with your unique legal matter.

March madness is over. Our office filed all of our cap-subject H-1B petitions today and we will hold our breath for the next few weeks to see who won the “lottery” and had their petitions accepted and who will have to go home. It’s sad that our immigration laws have become a game show and the foreign nationals and companies that wish to hire them, the contestants.

Some beneficiaries and employers are exempt from the numerical limitation. For instance, beneficiaries who hold a Master degree from a U.S. college or university are subject to a separate 20,000 cap and some of those who have previously had an H-1B in the last six years and have not left the U.S. for more than a year during that period are cap-exempt.

Many organizations are exempt from the cap, such as non-profit organizations that are related to or affiliated with an institution of higher education. This is a great opportunity for such organizations to avail themselves of the H-1B visa program to recruit foreign nationals in an area where there are traditionally not enough interested U.S. candidates applying for the available positions, such as House Managers or Case Specialists who work with the developmentally disabled.

Quality Human Service Professionals (QHSP) is an organization that successfully brings professionals from abroad to work for U.S. nonprofits that are affiliated with or related to institutions of higher education. If you represent such a nonprofit or are a professional with at least a Bachelor degree and are interested in working with developmentally disabled individuals, I recommend contacting QHSP.

In the interest of full disclosure, neither I nor anyone at Maged Rost has an ownership interest in QHSP. However, our firm does represent the nonprofits and some beneficiaries who use the company’s services. I have created a permanent link to QHSP that can be found to the left.

WE SHOULDN’T RESORT TO A “LOTTERY” TO KEEP U.S. BUSINESSES COMPETITIVE

On Saturday my partner and I spent the day  at our office reviewing the cap-subject H-1B packages to be delivered to the USCIS on Tuesday and it was hard to believe that some of these talented beneficiaries, many of whom are U.S. educated, all of whom have U.S. companies that need their skills – will have their H-1B petitions rejected because they did not win the “lottery”.

In February I posted a link to an advertising campaign in which Alberta, Canada was welcoming talented professionals who could not work in the U.S.  Prior to that, in July 2007, there was the story of Microsoft opening a research center in Canada because the company could not recruit the foreign workers it needed in the U.S.  These poor immigration policies and outdated laws and quotas will put us at a competitive disadvantage globally.  And as any first year business student will tell you, we now live in a global economy.

REPORTING SUSPECTED CRIMINAL VIOLATIONS BY USCIS EMPLOYEES

The USCIS has provided the following information on its website:  “If you have knowledge of suspected criminal violations, misconduct, wasteful activities, and allegations of civil rights or civil liberties abuse, you may report them to the DHS Office of Inspector General. Calls can be made anonymously and confidentially.To make a report, call 1-800-323-8603 or email DHSOIGHOTLINE@DHS.GOV.”

This is probably in reaction to recent high profile cases of alleged corruption.  No group or organization is immune from unsavory characters.  It is my understanding that USCIS employees go through very extensive background checks before being hired.

The great majority of officers I have met over the years have been hardworking, conscientious and fair-minded.  However, there should always be a mechanism for those who have been wronged to report the incidents without the fear of retribution.  Adjudication Officers literally hold the futures of the applicants in their hands and in no instance should that power be abused.

H-1B FILER ADVICE: CHECK YOUR WORK!

The following is not legal advice.  Please consult a ualified immigration lawyer for advice on your partiular legal matter. 

The H-1B cap for FY 2009 is once again expected to be exhausted by the end of next week.  Petitions for cap-subject H-1Bs will be accepted as of April 1, 2008.  I suggest overnighting petitions so that they are received by the appropriate Service Center on that day.  If you are filing a petition, it is imperative to make sure that there are no errors that would cause the petition to be denied or rejected after being selected due to an avoidable error.  Double-check the following before filing:

1.  Is the USCIS address to which the petition is being sent correct?  There are PO Boxes for regular mail and Street addresses for acceptable courrier deliveries. 

2.  Has the H-1B Data Collection Supplement been properly completed to ensure that organizations or beneficiaries that are cap-exempt or subject to the US Masters Cap be counted as such?

3.  Are the filing fees correct?  Remember the training fee and anti-fraud fee must be included in addition to the filing fee for most petitions.  Including separate checks for each fee rather than one check for the total amount may be a good idea because if one of the checks s not required, the USCIS may (or may not) simply return the unnecessary check rather than reject the entire petition.

Of course, the underlying petition should be for a Specialty Occupation position for which the beneficiary is qualified.  Other than that, get it in on time, cross your fingers, don’t step under a ladder and hope for the best.  

It is surreal that our immigration system has become a lottery for skilled workers that US organizations would like to hire legally.  What a mess!     

USCIS MEMO ADDRESSES CATCH-22 FOR H-1B OCCUPATIONS REQUIRING A LICENSE

The following is not legal advice.  Please contact a qualified immigration lawyer regarding your specific legal matter.

The USCIS requires that for occupations that require a State license, such as teachers, that the beneficiary of the H-1B Visa have the license at the time the I-129 petition is filed.  The problem is that some States require that an applicant for a license have a social security number or work authorization from the USCIS before they will issue a license.

In a memo released on March 21, 2008, the USCIS has amended its field manual to address this issue.  The agency will approve the initial petition for one year if the beneficiary meets all of the other criteria for approval except for the requisite license.  When the H-1B extension petition is filed,the beneficiary will have to provide his or her license or the extension petition will be denied.

USCIS DIRECTOR CRITICIZES NY TIMES EDITORIAL REGARDING NATZ DELAYS

According to an entry by USCIS Director Emilio Gonzalez that appeared in the Leadership Journal on the dhs.gov site:  “The Times got it wrong again. I feel compelled to set the record straight for 17,000 employees who work late nights and weekends to welcome lawful immigrants into our society. I will not stand idly by as the New York Times insults the dedicated and professional services they provide.”

USCIS REVISES I-130 – PETITION FOR ALIEN RELATIVE FILING INSTRUCTIONS

According to a USCIS Press Release:  “U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has revised the filing instructions for the Petition for Alien Relative (Form I-130).   Effective immediately, all petitioners filing stand-alone Form I-130s must file their petitions with the Chicago Lockbox instead of a USCIS Service Center.  A USCIS Update was issued on Nov. 30, 2007, encouraging petitioners to file with the Chicago Lockbox while the form was being revised. “