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The H-1B cap season is now in full swing. Electronic registrations for the fiscal year 2025 H-1B work visa lottery opened on March 6th and will close at noon eastern time on March 22nd.

If you want to know how you can prepare for the upcoming lottery and learn about the recent changes made to the program, we invite you to watch our video.


Overview


The H-1B visa program is one of the most common work visas for professionals seeking to work for U.S. employers in specialty occupations that require a bachelor’s degree or the foreign equivalent. Every year, during the month of March, 65,000 H-1B work visas are up for grabs, and an additional 20,000 visas are available for those holding a U.S. advanced degree (master’s degree or higher from accredited U.S. institutions of higher education).

Those who wish to have a chance of being selected must submit an online electronic registration before the deadline of March 22nd.  Once the registration period has closed, USCIS will select enough registrations to meet the annual H-1B visa cap from the pool of applicants who have registered.


About the Electronic Registration System


The online electronic registration system was first introduced by USCIS in 2019 to streamline the H-1B selection process, without requiring U.S. employers to first submit complete paper filings by mail.

The electronic registration process allows U.S. employers and their prospective employees to first compete for the limited number of H-1B visas available, and once selected U.S. employers can submit complete filings to USCIS on behalf of the foreign worker.

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Every month the Department of State releases the Visa Bulletin, which tells visa applicants how long they must wait before they can apply for their green cards to immigrate to the United States.

Unfortunately, the Dates for Filing chart of the Visa Bulletin has not seen any forward movement in recent months, and the Final Action Dates have moved very slowly for most employment-based preference categories.

What does this mean for employment-based categories experiencing long delays such as EB-2? Keep on watching to find out more.


Overview


For employment-based visa applicants stuck in the lengthy backlogs, there is an effective way to combat the visa backlog by downgrading to the employment-based third preference category (also known as EB-3), which is currently moving faster than the other employment-based preference categories on the Visa Bulletin.


What is an EB-3 downgrade?


The EB-3 downgrade refers to the process of strategically moving from another employment-based category (one that is moving slowly), to the employment-based third preference category (EB-3) to take advantage of the faster movement of the category on the Visa Bulletin. This is particularly helpful for nationals of countries facing very high demand for immigrant visas such as India and China.

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Do you have a visa that has been pending for an unreasonable period at a U.S. Consulate or Embassy abroad, or perhaps that has been stuck in administrative processing for years with no decision? If so, you may be interested to learn of possible solutions to resolve your case matter.

In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick tells you everything you need to know about this important topic, including a discussion about the writ of mandamus lawsuit, and how it can help compel a decision in certain cases where there has been an unreasonable delay.

If you would like to know more about this topic, we invite you to watch our video.


Overview


Mandamus Lawsuits for Immigration Delays


A mandamus lawsuit also known as a writ of mandamus, is filed in federal court to compel a government body to fulfill their legal duty, for instance by issuing a decision on a visa application or immigration benefit, that has been unreasonably delayed by the agency.

The purpose of the mandamus lawsuit is to hold the government accountable where they have failed to act, as required by U.S. immigration law, to make a decision on an application. In cases where the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) or the Department of State (DOS) has failed to fulfill its duty, the mandamus lawsuit may be appropriate to help move a case forward to its final decision.

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In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick discusses the latest updates in the March 2024 Visa Bulletin including slight advancements in the employment based categories and major movement in the family-sponsored preference categories in the month of March. We also discuss our predictions on what to expect from the Visa Bulletin in the coming months.

If you would like to know more about this topic, we invite you to watch our video.


Adjustment of Status Filing Chart March 2024


For the month of March 2024, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will use the Dates for Filing chart for family-sponsored filings to determine eligibility for I-485 adjustment of status filings (green card filings inside the US).

For employment-based preference categories, USCIS will use the Final Action Dates chart to determine eligibility for I-485 adjustment of status filings (green card filings inside the US).


What Changes Can Be Seen Next Month?


Employment-based categories

Dates for Filing

  • The March Dates for Filing remain the same as February 2024, with the exception of the employment-based fourth preference category, EB-4 which will advance by 4 months to January 1, 2020.

Movement in the Final Action Dates

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If you are in participating in the H-1B visa program as an employer or beneficiary, you may be interested to learn all about the recent changes being made to strengthen the program and improve the H-1B registration selection process. Recently, the Department of Homeland Security published a final rule in the Federal Register, which will go into effect on March 4, 2024, just in time for this year’s H-1B cap season to kick off.

Learn all about these changes in this video, including filing fee increases and new fraud prevention measures being implemented to ensure H-1B beneficiaries have an equal chance of being selected in this year’s lottery.


Overview


FY 2025 H-1B Registration Period Begins at Noon ET March 6, 2024

The initial registration period for the FY 2025 H-1B cap season will open at noon Eastern on March 6, 2024, and run through noon Eastern on March 22, 2024. During the registration period, prospective petitioners and their representatives, if applicable, must use a USCIS online account to register each beneficiary electronically for the selection process and pay the associated registration fee for each beneficiary ($10 per registration and $215 per registration starting in fiscal year 2026).


Final Rule Brings New Changes to the H-1B Cap Electronic Registration Process


In anticipation of the H-1B cap season, on January 30, 2024, the United States Citizenship, and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced the publication of the final rule, “Improving the H-1B Registration Selection Process and Program Integrity.”

The purpose of the final rule is to strengthen the integrity of the program and reduce the potential for fraud in the H-1B electronic registration process, to prevent beneficiaries or their employers from gaming the electronic registration process to their advantage.

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In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick shares the latest news regarding the Immigrant Visa backlog at the National Visa Center as of January 2024. 

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.


Overview


According to the National Visa Center’s Immigrant Visa Backlog Report for the month of January 2024, there has been a slight decrease in the immigrant visa (IV) backlog from 304,773 pending cases in December 2023, to 292,105 pending cases in January 2024 still waiting to be scheduled for a visa interview. By comparison, in November of 2023, there were 311,550 pending cases waiting for interview scheduling.

This reduction is a great sign because it shows that the National Visa Center is consistently decreasing the immigrant visa backlog, and scheduling more and more appointments for immigrant visa interviews at U.S. Consulates and Embassies worldwide.

Additionally, when comparing the December 2023 and January 2024 Immigrant Visa backlog reports, 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 decreased from 341,392 (as of November 30, 2023) to 337,870 (as of December 31, 2023).

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In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick discusses the advantages and disadvantages of the H-1B temporary work visa versus the EB-3 immigrant visa for professionals.

We will dive into the differences between them and the factors that you may want to consider when evaluating which process might be right for you.

If you would like to know more about this topic, we invite you to watch our video.


Overview


If you are looking for opportunities to live and work in the United States, it is a good idea to carefully research the visas that are available to you and speak with a qualified immigration attorney to help you navigate through any visa alternatives that could benefit you.

Narrowing your search and having a thorough understanding of the most suitable visas for you will give you the knowledge and insight that you will need to comfortably approach a U.S. employer for a potential job offer and employment sponsorship.

Foreign workers typically find that U.S. employers, especially start-ups and smaller companies, are unfamiliar with the process of sponsoring a worker for a visa. That means that the worker will need to be familiar enough with the process to put their best foot forward during negotiations. Workers must be prepared to present different options to employers.

Our employment-sponsorship videos provide tips to empower you and make your job search more efficient in 2024. We hope you will share them with anyone who may benefit.


The H-1B Work Visa


We begin our discussion with the H-1B work visa. This is a temporary nonimmigrant work visa type that allows U.S. employers to petition and hire foreign workers with specialized skills for a specific period of time. To qualify for this visa type, foreign workers must have at least a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent and be employed in a specialty occupation relating to their field of study.

H-1B workers are typically employed in STEM fields, as scientists, engineers, computer programmers, software developers, and technology workers, but other fields may qualify that require specialty knowledge. This visa type also allows employers to sponsor professional fashion models of distinguished merit or ability.

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In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick shares everything you need to know about the February 2024 Visa Bulletin including a few changes in the employment based and family-sponsored preference categories. We also discuss our predictions on what to expect from the Visa Bulletin in the coming months.

If you would like to know more about this topic, we invite you to watch our video.


Adjustment of Status Filing Chart February 2024


As in the previous few months, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will continue to use the Dates for Filing chart in the month of February 2024 to determine eligibility for I-485 adjustment of status filings (green card filings inside the US).


What Changes Can Be Seen Next Month?


Employment-based categories

  • The February Dates for Filing remain the same as January 2024

Final Action Dates

  • EB-1 Worldwide: Final Action Dates will remain current.
  • EB-2 Worldwide: Final Action Dates will advance by two weeks to November 15, 2022.
  • EB-3 Professional/Skilled Workers: India will advance by one month to July 1, 2012. Final Action Dates for the remaining countries in this category will advance by one month to September 1, 2022.
  • EB-3 Other Workers: India will advance by one month to July 1, 2012.
  • EB-5: The EB-5 China Unreserved Final Action Date will advance by one week to December 15, 2015.

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If you recently became a naturalized U.S. Citizen, congratulations on accomplishing this huge milestone! Now that you have passed your citizenship interview, you will want to apply for a U.S. passport. In this short video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick, explains everything you need to know about how to apply for your new passport in 2024.

Did you know? As a U.S. passport holder, you can travel to more than 180 countries all over the world without having to obtain a visa. Additionally, one of the biggest perks of becoming a U.S. Citizen is that you can live abroad for as long as you want without worrying about your immigration status.

If this topic interests you, please keep on watching our video.


Overview


When should I apply for a U.S. Passport?

Our office typically recommends that new U.S. Citizens apply for their passport as soon as they attend the oath of allegiance ceremony and receive their naturalization certificate.


How long does it take to receive a U.S. passport after applying?

The current regular processing time for a U.S. passport to be issued is 8 to 12 weeks. Those who need a passport sooner can apply for expedited processing of their passport for an additional fee. Expedited processing times are 4 to 6 weeks. Those who need to travel within 14 calendar days, can apply for an emergency passport and receive it within several days, however appointments for emergency passports are very difficult to obtain.

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In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick discusses a very important topic in immigration law: How can E2 treaty investors avoid application denials?

Many E2 investors looking to start their businesses in the United States frequently ask, what is the minimum amount of investment that is satisfactory to the immigration authorities for the E2 treaty investor program, and how can I maximize my chances of success?

If this topic interests you, please keep on watching our video.


Overview


Minimum Investment Amounts

One of the most common reasons for an E2 visa denial is where the applicant fails to demonstrate that they have made a “substantial” investment in their business venture.

A substantial investment is defined as one that is:

  • Substantial in relationship to the total cost of either purchasing an established enterprise or establishing a new one
  • Sufficient to ensure the treaty investor’s financial commitment to the successful operation of the enterprise
  • Of a magnitude to support the likelihood that the treaty investor will successfully develop and direct the enterprise. The lower the cost of the enterprise, the higher, proportionately, the investment must be to be considered substantial.

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