In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick discusses the recent collapse of the Silicon Valley Bank, and its repercussions on the startup world and foreign tech workers. The Silicon Valley Bank’s collapse is cited as the largest bank failure since the 2008 financial crisis. The bank was once responsible for managing billions of dollars in client funds and loans. What will be the ripple effect of its collapse on immigrant and non-immigrant tech workers on visas?
Keep on watching to find out more.
Silicon Valley Bank, an institution that once lent billions of dollars in funding to tech startups has collapsed. Its deep relationships within the startup community have left both immigrant and non-immigrant workers vulnerable, as they scramble to find stable ground. The impact of its collapse has been widespread. Hundreds of startups relied on the funding provided by SVB to maintain their operations and keep immigrant and non-immigrant visa workers on payroll. Additionally, SVB itself employed dozens of foreign tech workers.
When news broke of the bank’s collapse, many startups withdrew their funds from the bank and began to question the security of the banking system as a whole. SVB’s collapse may be a signal that something worse is on the horizon, which may lead tech companies to freeze hiring and potentially lay off workers many of which are in the United States on visas.
As a foreign worker, losing a job is not just losing a paycheck. It means your legal status in the United States could ultimately be put in jeopardy. Workers who have been laid off will be forced to find a new employer within 60 days, or risk having to depart the United States.
In recent months, we began to see massive layoffs throughout Silicon Valley including those at Twitter, Meta, Facebook, and Google. Now the bank’s collapse could set in motion an extensive hiring freeze and a shrinking workforce in the months ahead. This is surely unwelcome news for tech workers currently in the United States on H-1B visas. The climate of uncertainty and panic caused by the bank’s collapse, could leave employers with cold feet when it comes to sponsoring workers for employment-based green cards.
In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick tells you everything you need to know about the H-1B visa cap season for fiscal year 2024. We have been receiving questions from our followers regarding the application process and upcoming deadlines that applicants should be aware of.
In this post, we cover what the H-1B visa program is, why there is an annual cap on the number of H-1B visas available each year, and everything you need to know about the H-1B visa application process in 2023.
What is the H-1B Visa Program?
The H-1B visa is a nonimmigrant work visa that allows U.S. employers to hire foreign workers with specialized skills to work in the United States for a specific period of time. Generally, the job being offered by the U.S. employer must (1) require a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent (2) the degree should be common to the industry (3) and the duties required should be so specialized or complex that the knowledge required to perform them is usually associated with the attainment of a bachelor’s or its equivalent.
Professionals with job offers in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and math) are the most common applicants for H-1B visas, although other fields may also qualify for the H-1B visa, such as finance, architecture, accounting, health, education, social sciences, physical sciences, medicine, among others.
Professionals who do not possess a bachelor’s degree or higher, but have at least 12 years of relevant experience, may still qualify for the H-1B visa without having a bachelor’s degree.
Once approved, an H-1B visa is valid for an initial period of 3 years and can be extended for an additional 3 years for a maximum period of 6 years in H-1B visa status. Thereafter, employers may sponsor workers for a green card.
Why is there a numerical cap on H-1B visas?
One of the drawbacks of the H-1B visa is that there is an annual numerical limit (cap) to the number of visas that can be issued each year. The annual cap for the H-1B visa program which has been set by Congress is 65,000 visas each fiscal year. An additional 20,000 petitions are set aside for beneficiaries with a master’s degree or higher from a U.S. institution of higher education.
H-1B workers who are petitioned for or employed at an institution of higher education or its affiliated or related nonprofit entities, a nonprofit research organization, or a government research organization, are not subject to the H-1B numerical cap.
In order to select enough petitions to meet the H-1B numerical cap of 85,000 visas per fiscal year, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) conducts a visa lottery, selecting from properly submitted electronic registrations to fill the cap.
Historically, competition for the H-1B visa is very strong. As an example, in FY 2022 U.S. employers submitted roughly 308,613 H-1B registrations, and by 2023 this figure increased to 483,927 registrations.
In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick provides an update regarding the recent increase in the Immigrant Visa backlogs, which grew to more than 21,000 additional cases in the month of February alone.
If you would like to know more about this important update, please keep on watching.
Did you Know? Every month the Department of State’s National Visa Center (NVC) publishes an Immigrant Visa Backlog report, which provides data and statistics relating to the current status of worldwide visa operations, including the number of documentarily complete immigrant visa cases currently at the National Visa Center waiting for interviews, the number of cases that were scheduled for interviews at the end of each month, and the number of immigrant visa cases still waiting to be scheduled for a visa interview after interview appointment scheduling was completed at the end of each month.
According to the National Visa Center’s Immigrant Visa Backlog Report for the month of February 2023, there has been a substantial increase in the immigrant visa (IV) backlog rising from 386,787 pending cases in January to 408,456 cases in February — nearly a 6% increaseamounting to a jump of 21,669 additional cases added to the backlog in just a one-month period.
Additionally, when comparing the January and February Immigrant Visa backlogs, we can see that the number of immigrant visa applicants whose cases were documentarily complete and therefore ready to be scheduled for an interview at Consulates and Embassies increased by 21,874 cases, from 422,954 (in January) to 444,828 (in February).
A case is considered documentarily complete by the National Visa Center, when the applicant has paid all necessary fees and submits all necessary documents to meet the formal visa application requirements, such that the case is ready to be scheduled for a visa interview. When a case becomes documentarily complete, the NVC sends applicants an email to notify them that their case is complete and pending scheduling at the local Consulate or Embassy.
Many of our followers have been asking a very important question, what does a visa “refusal” mean and what is 221(g) Administrative Processing?
The situation unfolds something like this. You’ve applied for a non-immigrant visa and have attended your Consular visa interview. After attending your interview, you check the status of your visa on the State Department’s Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC) webpage, and you see the dreaded words “Refused.”
What does this all mean and what can you expect if you find yourself in this predicament? In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick walks you through the meaning of a “refusal” and how you can still be successful in obtaining a visa despite this obstacle.
Applicants for nonimmigrant visas can check the status of their visa cases by visiting the State Department’s Consular Electronics Application Center CEAC launch page .
To check your status, you must enter your DS-160 confirmation number and the Consular location (Country and City) where you were interviewed.
The DS-160 confirmation number can be found on the DS-160 confirmation page and starts with AA followed by 8 digits.
Once you have successfully entered the online CEAC visa check system, you will receive one of the following results:
(1) Application receipt pending
If you have submitted your online non-immigrant visa application (DS-160), it has not yet been processed into the visa system. At some locations, your application will remain in this status until you appear for an interview or until your application is ready for review. Please see the Embassy or Consulate website for information on the next steps required for visa processing.
The application data has not been entered into the Embassy system.
For interview cases, the application will remain in this status until the applicant appears for an interview.
For mail-in cases, this means the Embassy has not received the application.
(2) Application Received
Your case is open and ready for your interview, fingerprints, and required documents. If you have already had your interview, please check your status after two business days. If no interview was required, please check back in two business days for the updated status of your application.
For mail-in cases: The visa application has been received by the Embassy and is undergoing review.
This also includes cases that are pending for additional documents
(3) Administrative Processing
Your visa case is currently undergoing administrative processing. This processing can take several weeks. Please follow any instructions provided by the consular officer at the time of your interview. If further information is needed, you will be contacted. If your visa application is approved, it will be processed and mailed back within two business days.
This status includes:
The visa issuance process (visa has been approved but not yet printed)
Pending for additional documents/information
Your visa is in final processing. If you have not received after 10 working days, please see the webpage for contact information of the Embassy or Consulate where you submitted your application.
The visa has been issued
A U.S. consular officer has adjudicated and refused your visa application. Please follow any instructions provided by the consular officer. If you were informed by the consular officer that your case was refused for administrative processing, your case will remain refused while undergoing such processing. You will receive another adjudication once such processing is complete. Please be advised that the processing time varies and that you will be contacted if additional information is needed.
This includes cases that are:
Pending for additional documents/information
* Administrative Processing (See below for details)
Cases with a waiver request pending.
Denied under Section 214(b) of the INA.
For E-visa new company registration cases: The visa application has been received by the Embassy and is ready for review. Please wait for further instructions from the Embassy or Consulate. Processing time for new company registration typically takes at least 3 weeks.
For the purposes of this video, we will focus on what the visa status “refused” really means.
Applicants can receive a visa “refusal” for a number of different reasons.
In many cases, applicants are left confused upon seeing a visa “refusal,” especially where the Consular officer has told the applicant that their visa has been approved following their visa interview. In other situations, applicants have received a “refusal” after following the Consulate’s instructions to submit documents via dropbox (for instance for applicants seeking H-1B visa stamping). Applicants who have been told their cases have been placed in 221(g) administrative processing also receive a visa “refusal.”
Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog! In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick shares the most up to date information regarding the current status of U.S. visa services at U.S. Consulates and Embassies worldwide.
Many of our viewers have been asking us to provide a new update regarding visa operations in the year 2023. Here we provide a roundup of everything we know about this important topic.
Keep on watching to find out more.
As you might remember, the Department of State first suspended routine visa services at U.S. Consulates and Embassies worldwide during March of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Slowly, but surely, Embassies and Consulates began a phased resumption of routine visa services, scheduling visa interviews according to local country conditions.
Today, Coronavirus restrictions have been lifted worldwide. Approximately 96 percent of U.S. Embassies and Consulates are interviewing visa applicants, while processing nonimmigrant visa applications at 94 percent of pre-pandemic monthly averages, and immigrant visa applications at 130 percent.
In the past 12 months (through September 30, 2022), DOS reported processing 8 million non-immigrant visas. The agency expects to soon meet or exceed pre-pandemic visa processing capacity.
The waiver of in-person visa interviews for several key visa categories has been an important part of driving down the substantial visa backlogs. For instance, DOS has been waiving in-person interviews for many students and temporary workers integral to supply chains. In addition, applicants renewing nonimmigrant visas in the same classification within 48 months of their prior visa’s expiration can apply for visas without an in-person interview in their country of nationality or residence. This has dramatically reduced the wait time for an interview appointment at many Embassies and Consulates.
The State Department estimates that 30 percent of worldwide nonimmigrant visa applicants may be eligible for an interview waiver, freeing up in-person interview appointments for those applicants who still require an in-person interview.
In this video attorney Jacob Sapochnick discusses how Google layoffs are impacting foreign workers in the United States going through the employment-based green card process known as PERM. Layoffs in Silicon Valley have been more and more common, with major tech companies like Amazon, Facebook, and Twitter abruptly ending thousands of jobs, leaving workers scrambling for alternatives.
Specifically, what happens when a foreign worker is going through the employment-based green card process with their U.S. employer and subsequently gets laid off?
In this video we discuss the different scenarios that may apply and go over the different options for laid off workers going through the green card process.
If you want to know more just keep on watching.
Did you know?PERM Labor Certification is the process used for obtaining Labor Certification and is the first step for certain foreign nationals in obtaining an employment-based immigrant visa (Green Card). The employment-based preference categories that require PERM Labor Certification are EB-2 (other than a National Interest Waiver) and EB-3. Before a U.S. employer can file the I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker with USCIS, the employer must first obtain an approved Labor Certification from the Department of Labor (DOL).
What are the immigration options for those whose employment has been terminated?
Unfortunately, the uncertain economic climate has led to the loss of thousands of jobs, negatively impacting foreign workers. In particular H-1B workers have been some of the most affected.
Below we discuss some of the options that may be available to nonimmigrant workers who have been terminated and wish to remain in the United States following their termination. Additionally, we discuss how some workers can preserve their I-140 petition’s priority date or even their green card process depending on the stage of employment termination.
In this video attorney Jacob Sapochnick, brings you the latest updates regarding the rates of immigrant and non-immigrant visa approvals at U.S. Consulates and Embassies worldwide.
The latest Immigrant and Non-immigrant Visa Issuance Reports recently published by the State Department demonstrate that both immigrant and non-immigrant visa approvals are increasing significantly, nearly returning to pre-pandemic visa processing levels.
If you want to know more just keep on watching.
Did you know? Every fiscal year, the Department of State releases the Immigrant and Non-immigrant Visa Issuance Reports which include important statistics and data relating to current immigrant and non-immigrant visa backlogs at U.S. Consulates and Embassies worldwide. The data includes information regarding the number of immigrant and non-immigrant visas being issued at each Consular post worldwide, and a complete breakdown of visa issuance numbers by visa category.
In this video attorney Jacob Sapochnick discusses a very hot topic in the world of immigration—the H-1B visa lottery program. Learn how you can increase your chances of winning the H-1B visa lottery for the fiscal year 2024 cap in this video.
Recently, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that the initial registration period for the FY 2024 H-1B cap will open starting at noon Eastern time on March 1st and close noon Eastern time on March 17th.
The H-1B season is always an exciting time that gives you the chance of being selected in the lottery and the opportunity to live and work in the United States.
If you want to know more just keep on watching.
Did you know?The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant work visa that allows U.S. employers to hire foreign workers for specialty occupations requiring a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent. The most common occupations for the H-1B visa are the STEM occupations. Every fiscal year, USCIS is limited to a congressionally mandated visa quota of 65,000 cap-subject H-1B visas. Separately, 20,000 H-1B visas are available for foreign nationals who hold a master’s or other advanced degree from a US institution of higher education (cap-exempt).
As we near the end of the month, attorney Jacob Sapochnick discusses the release of the February 2023 Visa Bulletin and the trends and projected movement you can expect to see in the family-sponsored and employment-based preference categories for the month of February.
If you are interested to know about the cutoff dates and visa availability for the upcoming Visa Bulletin, please keep on watching.
Did you know? Every month the Department of State releases the Visa Bulletin, which summarizes the availability of immigrant visa numbers for that particular month. The “Final Action Dates” and “Dates for Filing Applications,” charts indicate when immigrant visa applicants can assemble and submit the required documentation to the National Visa Center (for those residing overseas), or USCIS (for those residing in the United States).
The primary purpose of the Visa bulletin is to provide an updated waiting list for immigrants that are subject to the numerical visa quota system.
USCIS Adjustment of Status Filing Charts for the February Visa Bulletin (for those residing in the USA)
To be eligible to file a family or employment-based adjustment of status application in the month of February (for those residing inside the United States), foreign nationals must have a priority date that is earlier than the date listed below for their preference category and country.
In this blog post, attorney Jacob Sapochnick talks about a brand-new proposal to increase the government filing fees for certain types of immigration benefits filed with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Following the announcement, on January 4, 2023, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) in the Federal Register outlining the proposed fee schedule which seeks to increase the filing fees of certain nonimmigrant visa classifications, as well as adjustment of status (green card) applications.
The government will be accepting public comments for the proposed rule until March 6, 2023. After the comment period has closed, the agency will review the public comments and issue a final version of the rule.
TIP:If you know that you will be applying for an immigration benefit that is subject to the proposed fee increase, you should apply as soon as possible to avoid incurring the higher fee.