In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick discusses the end of the selection process for the H-1B Visa Lottery for fiscal year 2024. If you were not selected in the lottery but would like to know more about your immigration options, then this is the right video for you.
Did you Know? The H-1B visa program allows American companies and/or organizations to employ foreign workers who possess both a theoretical or practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge and a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent, for a temporary period of time. A congressionally mandated cap limits the number of new H-1B visas that can be issued to 65,000 per year, and 20,000 for those who have earned a U.S. master’s degree or higher.
On March 27, 2023, the U.S. Citizenship, and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced it received enough electronic registrations to reach the congressionally mandated cap for fiscal year 2024. After the registration period closed on March 17th, USCIS completed a randomized lottery from among registrations submitted, to select qualifying petitions for the 65,000/20,000 H-1B regular visa cap and advanced degree exemption.
Registrants who were selected were notified via email or text message stating that an action was taken on their myUSCIS online account. Account holders could then log in to see the full notice and determine whether they were selected to file paper applications with USCIS.
The period for filing a paper H-1B cap-subject petition with USCIS will be at least 90 days. USCIS began accepting H-1B submissions from selected registrants (Form I-129 with supporting documentation) beginning April 1, 2023.
USCIS has not yet disclosed whether they will conduct additional randomized lotteries to fill the H-1B visa cap. In previous years, additional lotteries have sometimes taken place, where USCIS has determined that it has not received sufficient mail-in applications to fill the H-1B visa cap by June 30, 2023. Historically, second randomized lotteries (if any) have occurred during the month of July, with accountholders being notified in the month of August.
In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick discusses a new form of relief provided by USCIS, specifically for green card applicants who are facing compelling circumstances. Such individuals may request a renewable 1-year temporary work authorization (EAD) based on their “compelling circumstances,” by filing Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization. Dependents may also request a compelling circumstances EAD.
If you would like to know more about who can apply for this work permit and eligibility, just keep on watching!
Employment Authorization Document (EAD) based on Compelling Circumstances
This temporary employment authorization may be provided to certain nonimmigrants who are the beneficiaries of approved employment-based immigrant visa petitions, and who are facing compelling circumstances, such as losing a job.
In order to qualify for a compelling circumstance employment authorization document (EAD), you must:
Be in the United States in E-3, H-1B, H-1B1, O-1, or L-1 nonimmigrant status, including in any applicable grace period, on the date you file the application for employment authorization;
Be the principal beneficiary of an approved Form I-140;
Establish that an immigrant visa is not authorized for issuance to you based on your priority date, preference category, and country of chargeability according to the Department of State’s Visa Bulletin on the date you file your application for employment authorization; and
Demonstrate that compelling circumstances exist that would justify USCIS using its discretion to issue you an independent grant of employment authorization.
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 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.
We are lucky to have filed many successful O-1B visa petitions on behalf of individuals seeking a visa for their extraordinary ability in the arts. In this video, we share with you a recent case study of how our firm achieved success for an internationally recognized DJ of Electronic Dance Music, allowing him to live and work in the United States with his approved O-1B visa.
Want to learn how we did it? Keep on watching for more information.
What do the famous international DJs Avicii, Tiesto, David Guetta, Calvin Harris, and Afrojack have in common? They are not American, or at least they were not American, when they first entered the United States. These individuals had to apply for a special visa type, enabling them to perform in the United States, known as the O-1B visa of extraordinary ability in the arts.
Recently, our firm represented an internationally recognized DJ similarly performing under the Electronic Dance Music (EDM) genre.
O-1B Extraordinary Ability in the Arts Requirements
To work in the United States as a DJ, you must apply for the O-1B extraordinary ability in the arts visa type.
The O-1B visa is available to DJs who have extraordinary skills and can meet the O-1B criteria of national or international recognition.
What do DJs need to qualify for the O-1B visa?
Before you consider the O-1B visa, it is necessary for you to be represented by a U.S. employer, U.S. agent, or a foreign employer through a U.S. agent, who can file the O-1B petition on your behalf as your “petitioner.” In general, an applicant demonstrates his or her extraordinary ability in the O-1B category by providing evidence of sustained national or international acclaim, showing recognition of achievements, and providing signed contracts, offer letters, deal memos, letters of intent, and/or a detailed itinerary outlining the details of each planned performance.
In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick provides a brand-new update from the U.S. Department of State, specifically for applicants who are going through the process of applying for a waiver of the in-person interview requirement, also known as the “Virtual Waiting Queue.” If you would like to know what this is all about and how the Virtual Waiting Queue can help you just keep on watching.
Did You Know? Under the law, all nonimmigrant visa applicants must be interviewed by an officer unless the interview is specifically waived by the U.S. Department of State. Decisions to waive the in-person interview requirement are made on a case-by-case basis. In normal circumstances, an interview is necessary to verify important information about the applicant to determine their eligibility for permanent residence or an immigrant visa.
During the interview, the officer verifies that the applicant understood the questions on their application and grants the applicant an opportunity to revise any answers completed incorrectly or that have changed since filing the application.
Recently, our office received information from the U.S. Embassy in London regarding this brand-new visa interview waiver procedure for non-immigrant visa applicants. From what we know, while this procedure is first being implemented in London, more Embassies and Consulates worldwide are expected to adopt the waiver procedure in the coming months. Please note that while some applicants may be eligible for interview waiver under this new program, important considerations must be made along with an experienced immigration attorney to ensure that the applicant can adequately succeed in passing the virtual interview.
Quite a few of our nonimmigrant visa clients who were eligible to have their visa interview waived, have been receiving a specific email notification from the Embassy stating that their applications have been placed in the “Virtual Waiting Queue.”
Have you ever wondered how you can work in the United States as the founder of your very own startup? If so, you may be interested in learning more about the O-1A visa. In this video attorney Jacob Sapochnick discusses the criteria for individuals who possess extraordinary ability in business and are seeking to open a venture-backed startup in the United States.
Did you know? An approved O-1A visa applicant can remain in the United States for an initial period of 3 years working for the petitioning entity and bring their family members to live with them in the United States. The O-1A visa also opens a pathway for applicants to apply for permanent residency by filing for the EB-1A employment-based immigrant visa category.
Want to know more? Just keep on watching.
What is the O-1A visa?
First let’s discuss the O-1A nonimmigrant visa. The O-1A visa is designed for individuals who possess extraordinary abilities in the field of business, science, education, or athletics, and who can meet a specified set of criteria that must be demonstrated in the application package to ensure the applicant’s success.
Those who successfully attain the O-1A visa can live and work in the United States for an initial 3-year period, and pitch ideas to venture capitalists interested in supporting their company.
How can you demonstrate extraordinary ability in business?
To demonstrate extraordinary ability, applicants must be prepared to show evidence of a major internationally recognized award (such as a Nobel Peace Prize), or if the applicant does not have such an award, they must meet at least three of the following criteria which we discuss in turn below:
AWARDS—Documentation of the beneficiary’s receipt of nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in the field of endeavor
The first criterion is providing documentation showing that you have received nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence.
How does this translate to the startup world? There are several ways that one can qualify for this criteria as a startup founder. For instance, if you have received a grant from the government recognizing your proposed endeavor as one that is exceptional, you may be able to use the grant as evidence to meet this criteria. Alternatively, if you were a participant in a prestigious or distinguished event or competition, and you were one of the winners or finalists in the competition, you may also use documentary evidence of your participation to meet this criteria.
Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog! It’s the start of a brand-new year and as always, we at the Law Offices of Jacob J. Sapochnick, are committed to bringing you the latest in immigration news. We are happy for you to join us.
In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick shares his top predictions for U.S. immigration in the new year. In this blog post we cover the following topics: What will happen to visa processing during the COVID-19 pandemic? Will there be immigration reform in the new year? Will any new changes be made to the H-1B visa program? What about fee increases? Stay tuned to find out more.
What are some of our key immigration law predictions for the upcoming year?
Increase in Filing Fees for USCIS petitions and DOS Non-Immigrant Visa Fees
Our first prediction for the new year is an increase in filing fees at both the USCIS and Department of State levels, to help increase government resources during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. As you might recall, back in October of 2020, USCIS attempted to increase its filing fees to meet its operational costs. Among the petitions that were to be the most impacted were N-400 applications for naturalization, L visa petitions, O visa petitions, and petitions for qualifying family members of U-1 nonimmigrants.
Fortunately, in September of 2020, a federal court struck down the planned USCIS increase in fees arguing that the new fee increases would adversely impact vulnerable and low-income applicants, especially those seeking humanitarian protections.
We believe that early in the new year USCIS will again publish a rule in the Federal Register seeking to increase its fees to help keep the agency afloat. USCIS previously insisted that the additional fees were necessary to increase the number of personnel at its facilities to meet the increasing demand for adjudication of certain types of petitions. It is no secret that USCIS has experienced severe revenue shortfalls since the start of the pandemic as more and more families found it difficult to afford filing fees. Once those details have been made public we will provide more information right here on our blog and on our YouTube channel.
Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, and Happy New Year! We are excited to have you back. We hope you had a wonderful holiday break with your family and are ready to jump back into the latest in immigration news in the new year. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick shares the latest update regarding the operational status of U.S. Consulates and Embassies worldwide during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Want to know more? Just keep on watching.
First let’s start with some good news. In October of last year, the Biden administration took some major steps toward opening the United States to international travelers, lifting many of the COVID-19 related geographic travel bans that were put in place by the Trump administration to reduce the rapid spread of COVID-19. To provide relief to visa holders, President Biden later signed a Proclamation allowing fully vaccinated international travelers to enter the United States beginning November 8, 2021, regardless of their country of origin. At the same time the Proclamation, revoked the previous geographic travel bans including Proclamation 9984, Proclamation 9992, Proclamation 10143, and Proclamation 10199 for those fully vaccinated.
Unfortunately, U.S. Embassies and Consulates have been slow to adapt to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, with many posts still limiting operational capacity based on country conditions and local regulations. Services have not returned to pre-pandemic levels and there is simply no semblance of normalcy at the Consular level. This has been extremely frustrating for visa applicants who have been waiting in the massive visa backlogs for an interview. According to Department of State statistics, approximately 90% of Consular posts continue to be subject to pandemic related restrictions with some partially open and others providing very limited services.
Because most Embassies and Consulates are not fully operational, many applicants currently in the United States that have filed and received approvals for work visa related petitions with USCIS such as H-1B, O-1, E-2 petition-related approvals, etc. have not been able to leave the United States to return to their home country for visa stamping. This has caused even greater frustration among applicants who are essentially “trapped” in the United States due to their inability to obtain an appointment for visa stamping. That is because applicants encounter greater risks when they choose to leave the United States, due to the uncertain and indefinite amount of time they could be waiting for a visa stamping appointment to become available while overseas. An even greater fear is the risk that the applicant may lose his or her job while waiting for an appointment that may not come for a very long time.