FY2018 H-1B Lottery Held for 199,000 Petitions

The USCIS received 199,000 petitions for the FY-2018 H-1B visas that will become available on October 1, 2017.  The lottery was held on April 11, 2017, for both the master’s cap cases (20,000 H-1B visas) and the regular cap cases (65,000 H-1B visas).  The USCIS is in the process of sending receipt notices by regular mail to those whose petitions were selected in the lottery.  We expect that the process to mail all of the notices will take several weeks to complete.  Petitions that were not selected in the lottery will be returned (with the uncashed filing fee checks) over the next few months.

May 2017 Visa Bulletin—Little Movement in All Employment-Based Categories, Except Philippines EB-3

The Visa Bulletin is released monthly by the Department of State and is used to determine when a sponsored foreign national can submit the final step of the green card process. The complete visa bulletin can be found here.

Below is a summary of the May Visa Bulletin, including Final Action Dates and changes from the previous month:

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FY2018 H-1B Cap Reached

Not surprisingly, the USCIS announced today that the FY2018 H-1B cap has been met.  The USCIS will hold a lottery for the H-1B visas as early as next week.  Those selected will receive receipt notices in the mail; those rejected will have their filings returned, along with the filing fee checks.   We expect that the receipt notices for those selected will begin to trickle in later this month through most of May; the rejected petitions will take longer to return.  The USCIS has not yet released the number of petitions it received.  Please check back for updates.

USCIS Rescinds Old Guidance on H-1B Computer Programmers and Announces Targeted Scrutiny of IT Contractors

On, March 31, 2017, U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services rescinded a 17-year-old memorandum issued by the Nebraska Service Center regarding computer-related positions as H-1B “specialty occupations.”  For the last 10 years, all H-1B petitions have been processed at the Vermont and California Service Centers, so the memo has not been in use.  Since NSC recently began accepting H-1B extension petitions again, USCIS has rescinded the memo, stating it is outdated and inconsistent with the agency’s current approach to H-1B petitions for computer jobs.

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USCIS’s Nebraska Service Center Announces Delays In Adjudication of H-4 and H-4 EAD Applications Concurrently Filed with Premium H-1B Petitions

Due to the upcoming temporary suspension of premium processing for all H-1B petitions on April 3, 2017, USCIS has experienced a dramatic increase in the number of premium processing cases it has received.  The Nebraska Service Center, which processes all H-1B extension petitions for non-cap exempt employers containing no changes to the beneficiary’s terms of employment, has announced that it will focus its resources on processing H-1B petitions in accordance with premium processing requirements.

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Trump Signs New Travel Ban Executive Order

President Trump signed today the long-awaited revised travel ban Executive Order entitled, “Protecting The Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into The United States”, effective 12:01 a.m, Eastern Standard Time on March 16, 2017.  The list of affected countries includes Sudan, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen; Iraq was removed from the list.  Key provisions are as follows:
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USCIS To Temporarily Suspend Premium Processing for All H-1B Petitions

On Friday, March 3, 2017, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that premium processing service will be suspended for all H-1B petitions received on or after April 3, 2017. This suspension may remain in place for up to 6 months.
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Travel Ban Limbo

It’s been a week since the Ninth Circuit unanimously upheld the temporary restraining order against the Trump administration’s Executive Order known as the “Travel Ban”.   Shortly after the Ninth Circuit’s ruling, President Trump said that new security measures were imminent, however, no new executive orders have been issued.  While waiting for the next attempt at a legal travel ban or a way to revive the prior one, those born in one of the countries mentioned in the original ban (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen) and those from other predominantly Muslim countries may want to reconsider overseas travel at this time.  President Trump explained why there was no warning before the travel ban, so we expect the next one to be announced without warning as well.  The next one could, again, leave individuals stuck abroad for undetermined lengths of time.  Given what happened in various court cases, the administration will likely attempt to draft its new ban in a way that may prevent the courts from stopping the enforcement.

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