This post originally appeared on the Mintz Levin EB-5 Matters Blog

USCIS updated its online list of terminated EB-5 regional centers on October 22, 2015. In the coming two months, regional centers are required to comply with the requirement to file their Forms I-924A in order to update USCIS on relevant job creating activity over the past year. We expect that USCIS will terminate more regional centers in the next six months where there are credibility issues over data supplied by regional centers in these filings, or where regional centers simply fail to update the agency through filing a Form I-924A. It would be fully within the realm of reasonable expectations to see at least 100 or more terminations initiated within the coming year. As USCIS uses more resources to tighten up administration of the EB-5 regional center program, and with lawmakers looking closely at the program, dormant or non-compliant regional centers may find their designations revoked.

Continue Reading Don’t End Up on a USCIS List of Terminated EB-5 Regional Centers: Be Creative and on Time with your I-924A Filing

Last week USCIS issued guidance stating that it will advise which of the two visa bulletin charts; Dates for Filing Visa Applications or Application Final Action Date applicants should use.

Today, USCIS released it’s first update on its new visa bulletin website stating that applicants CAN use the new “Dates for Filing” chart in October and November.

Unlike for the October visa bulletin, no changes have been made to the visa bulletin dates after the original publication.

USCIS announced today that it will:

“suspend final adjudication of employment-based Form I-485 applications… because the Department of State reports that the statutory cap has been reached for the employment-based preference categories for fiscal year (FY) 2015.”

However, this is not something to panic about.

As my colleague Michele Frangella wrote about in August, the end of the government’s fiscal year is September 30th. As of today, all available employment-based green cards have been used up so there are no more green card numbers for USCIS to access to approve cases for the next 6 days.  Once the new fiscal year starts on October 1st, they will again have green card numbers officially available. It doesn’t impact eligibility to continue to file I-485 applications based on Visa Bulletin guidance, including those cases newly eligible to file October 1st.

 

In July 2015, the White House announced a series of technology initiatives aimed at modernizing the application process for certain immigration benefits.  As part of this effort, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) was charged with overhauling their Electronic Immigration System (ELIS).  First released in 2009, ELIS was an aspirational response to meet the growing demand for web-based applications for immigration benefits.  The proposed goal of ELIS was to provide a faster and more reliable adjudication process, however, instead of improved efficiency; a July 2014 audit conducted by the Office of Inspector General concluded that ELIS actually slowed the adjudication of applications by almost 50%. Continue Reading At the edge of a new frontier: USCIS begins transition to Electronic Immigration System

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released final guidance on a recent Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) decision requiring amended or new H-1B petitions for workers who change job sites. These requirements continue to only affect H-1B workers who move to a site outside the “area of intended employment” for which the original petition on their behalf was filed.  “Area of intended employment” is the area within normal commuting distance of the worksite where the H-1B is employed.

Guidance on what employers are required to do depends on the date of the employee’s move, which are drawn from the publication dates of the Simeio case and issuance of USCIS policy memos. All changes described below are for changes in the place of employment that require certification of a new Labor Conditions Application (LCA). These actions can be split into three categories by date:

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Though employers are not required to file an amended or new petition if the employee’s worksite changed on or before April 9, 2015, they may choose to do so to encourage non-interference by USCIS. All changes in place of employment that occurred after April 9, 2015 and require certification of a new LCA MUST file an amended or new petition.

USCIS announced today, July 14, 2015, that it completed the return of  rejected fiscal year 2016 H-1B cap-subject petitions.

It was previously announced on May 4, 2015, that USCIS completed data entry of all selected cap-subject petitions.

USCIS advised that all returned cap petitions should be received by July 20, 2015.

USCIS will not accept new cap-subject H-1B petitions until April 1, 2016 for start dates of October 1, 2016 or later.

 

Republican leaders and both branches of Congress failed Friday to come to a long-term agreement to provide fiscal year funding for the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) and provide confidence that a DHS shutdown will be avoided. A one-week funding extension was passed, and now DHS is poised to run out of money at midnight on March 6th. Both Republicans and Democrats in the House expressed displeasure with the bill. Republicans want the funding legislation to address President Obama’s recent immigration related executive action and Democrats want a bill that will fully fund DHS through the end of the fiscal year (September 30, 2015). US Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) is one of the many agencies under the umbrella of the DHS.

USCIS grants affirmative immigration benefits based on user fees. As discussed in our alert, as a fee-funded agency, USCIS will be minimally impacted by any “shut down”. However, in previous government shut downs, such as the one in late 2013, we observed a general slowdown in petition and application processing times.

Unlike in the full government shut down of 2013, non-DHS agencies that process other types of immigration related applications and identity documents, such as the Department of Labor, Department of State, and the Social Security Administration, will continue operating under fully funded budgets. We therefore do not expect any impact on the processing times for H-1B Labor Condition Applications, PERM Labor Certifications or visa applications at U.S. Embassies or Consulates abroad regardless of what happens with DHS funding bills.

Today’s failure to pass a long-term bill in the House only serves to heighten funding uncertainty for DHS. If sticking points in the House involve Obama’s immigration related executive action, surely it is time for Congress to revisit legislative immigration reform.

It’s a little known fact that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) won’t approve an employment-based visa petition before checking the company information against the Dun and Bradstreet (D&B) database via the Validation Instrument for Business Enterprises (VIBE) system.  If any company information on the petition is not an exact match with D&B, USCIS will issue a Request for Evidence (RFE) regarding the discrepancy, which will delay the approval.  Many employers are not aware of this reliance by USCIS on D&B or don’t realize the level of detail checked by USCIS.  Even if a company changes office suite numbers or floors in the same building, the petition will likely receive an RFE.  Companies seeking approval of an L-1 intracompany transferee visa should make sure the D&B database properly lists all related companies overseas.

Accordingly, before filing a visa petition on behalf of an employee, employers should update D&B with their most up-to-date company information and ensure that there is a perfect match between the information in the petition and the D&B database.  This will take them one step closer to have their visa petitions approved in a timely fashion.