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November 2014 Visa Bulletin: India EB2 Retrogresses

The Department of State released the Visa Bulletin for November 2014 which notes a slight forward movement in most categories, except the employment-based, second preference (EB2) India category, which retrogressed from May 1, 2009 to February 15, 2005. The Visa Bulletin, see below, also included notes on potential visa availability in the coming months.

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Major Retrogression Imminent for EB-2 India

Via aila.org

Per the AILA DOS Liaison Committee’s followup with Mr. Charles Oppenheim, Chief of the Visa Control and Reporting Division, U.S. Department of State, “retrogression of EB-2 India appears to be imminent, and could happen as early as November. The October 2014 priority date for EB-2 India is May 1, 2009. Given current demand, the priority date will retrogress, possibly to a date in early 2005.”

More details:

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H-1B Opponents continue onslaught against Immigration of the Educated

This week, Bill Snyder, a blogger for the anti-H-1B propaganda site Infoworld posted an article attacking Immigration of the Educated.  What is especially interesting about Mr. Snyder’s position is the fact that it signals the resumption of the 2008 attack on the Optional Practical Training program (OPT).  OPT being a temporary work authorized status granted to eligible F-1 students who may thus gain professional work experience post graduation, and perhaps a portion back of 20+ billion dollars in tuition they pay into our coffers each year.

Unjustified ire towards OPT is peaking only because the program may be utilized by eligible F-1 Science/Technology/Engineering/Math (STEM) graduates.  Apparently, for Mr. Snyder, it is only then that the program transforms into what he terms “a sleazy end run around the law”.  Mr. Snyder claims that these new STEM graduates, supported by their “tech company” employers, enter the U.S. workforce en masse to undercut IT wages.  Said wages, which he admits in the first sentence, are already “climbing to more than $87,000 a year”.

The fact that Mr. Snyder’s argument against OPT flies in the face of the concept of American Exceptionalism and two basic economic principles, or that it is entirely bereft of any unbiased and relevant data is moot.  The most significant takeaway from his article is that STEM OPT is nothing more than a scapegoat: this attack is actually and truly directed against the H-1B program itself.  Mr. Snyder and other IT protectionists seek justification to undermine the OPT program not because of any alleged misuse, but because OPT allows a post graduate STEM worker precious time to find a good employer who may agree to pay government fees of up to $5,550.00 (plus attorney fees) to file an H-1B petition on their behalf.  (There are no guarantees of approval, nor is the worker forced to even ultimately take up employment with the H-1B petitioner.  As well, in the future, the H-1B worker, for any reason, may transfer to a new H-1B employer in as little as one week.)

Our immigration policy is increasingly hobbled by protectionists who, for short term gain (or perhaps unknowingly), damage our nation’s international lead in the STEM fields.  Our insufficient H-1B cap that does the same: tens of thousands of highly qualified, valuable STEM professionals were rejected in last year’s random selection process (H-1B lottery), and sadly the scene is set be repeated again this year in April.

Our repeated rejection of STEM professionals is untenable and is certain to diminish our ability to attract the worlds best and brightest, unless we make drastic changes.  Already, other nations are eagerly recruiting STEM workers (sometimes from within our own borders).  The bottom line: the yearly H-1B cap must be increased to an amount commensurate to demand, or at the very least, to a level that isn’t exhausted in one week.

Read Bill Snyder’s Article

Update: PERM Website is down due to Federal Gov’t Shutdown

The PERM PLC website is down due to the Federal Gov’t Shutdown, the website displays the following message:

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The prod perm system is currently Unavailable

This Web application is currently unavailable due to the suspension of Federal government services. It will be available again when the Federal government resumes operations.

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Update: the iCERT system is currently unavailable due to Federal Government Shutdown. It Appears that No LCA’s or Prevailing Wages Can be filed.

By Ashwin Sharma, Esq.

Update: our law office tried to file an ETA 9035/LCA a few moments ago and received the following message:

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The iCERT system is currently unavailable

This Web application is currently unavailable due to the suspension of Federal government services. It will be available again when the Federal government resumes operations.

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We have received approvals on our PERM Reconsideration Requests filed subsequent to an “Agricultural Engineer” Denial

English: Experimental farm and Unit of Crop Pr...

English: Experimental farm and Unit of Crop Production of the school of agricultural engineering of the Technical University of Madrid (Spain) Español: Campos de prácticas y edificio del Departamento de Producción Vegetal: Fitotecnia de la ETSI Agrónomos de Madrid (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Our office has received approvals for PERM cases previously denied by DOL.  DOL had indicated in the denial that using the term “Engineering” in advertising for an IT position was essentially overbroad, and that “the job requirements, as described, must represent the employer’s actual minimum requirements for the job opportunity.”  The original DOL denial stated:

“the term “Engineering” implies that a degree in any engineering field would enable an applicant to qualify for the position of Senior Software Developer, when in fact, not all engineering degrees would provide an applicant with the necessary skills to perform the duties of a Senior Software Developer. For example, U.S. workers who have a degree in an engineering field like “Agricultural Engineering” are not likely to have the skills necessary to perform, in an acceptable manner, the duties involved in the Senior Software Developer position. Specifically, the curriculum for a degree in Agricultural Engineering focuses on educating students in the analysis and design of machinery, animal housing, and environmental systems for the production, processing, storage, handling, distribution, and use of food, feed, fiber and other biomaterials, and the management of related natural resources, by integrating basic physical and biological sciences with engineering design principles…Because the employer’s education requirements are so broad, the Certifying Officer is unable to determine if these requirements are normal to the position and/or if they are unduly restrictive. Therefore, the Certifying Officer has concluded that an applicant with any engineering degree would not have the skills necessary to perform the duties of the position in an acceptable manner, and as a result, is unable to determine the employer’s actual minimum requirements for the job opportunity.” 

Following our reconsideration request, the DOL has approved/certified our client’s PERM cases.

Update: USCIS has Issued a “Notice to Disregard” its previously issued I-485 RFEs asking Derivative Beneficiaries for Principle Applicant Evidence

By Ashwin Sharma, Esq. 07/01/201

Our firm has received several “Notices to Applicants” from USCIS today which confirmed our prediction that USCIS had erroneously issued the large numbers of I-485 Requests for Evidence (RFE) requesting Principle Applicant evidence (letter from employer, etc) from Derivative Applicant spouses.  We thank USCIS for clarifying this situation quickly; these RFE’s caused a great deal of confusion among applicants and their attorneys, especially in light of the potential for upcoming PD movement.

The USCIS Notice to Applicant indicates the following:

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Department of Labor Issues PERM and Prevailing Wage Processing Time Report

VIA Dept. of Labor ETA
NPWC Processing Times (as of 03/26/2013)

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Overview of the the STEM Jobs Act

STEM Jobs Act of 2012 Press Conference

STEM Jobs Act of 2012 Press Conference (Photo credit: republicanconference)

Via The House Committee on the Judiciary

Graduates of American universities in science, technology, engineering, and math – or “STEM” fields – are behind many of the innovations and new businesses that are part of our present and future economic growth. Talented students from around the world contribute to the graduate STEM programs of our universities. Foreign students receive nearly four out of every 10 master’s degrees awarded in STEM fields and about the same percentage of all doctorates.

But our immigration system does not always put American interests first. We have the most generous level of legal immigration in the world but we select only 5% of our immigrants based on the skills and education they bring to America. Although these foreign graduates of U.S. universities in STEM fields are in great demand by American employers, many of them end up on years-long green card waiting lists. And as a result, many of them give up and go to work for one of our global competitors.

In an ever-competitive global economy, we must keep our country as the world’s greatest source of innovation and creativity. The STEM Jobs Act allows employers to fill their talent needs with foreign graduates of U.S. universities with advanced degrees in STEM so that they can continue creating jobs and growing our economy.”

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Smith: Senate Democrats Block Jobs Bill

Smith: Senate Democrats Block Jobs Bill

Washington, D.C. – Senate Republicans today asked that the STEM Jobs Act (H.R. 6429) be brought up and passed by Unanimous Consent but Senate Democrats blocked the bill’s consideration.  The STEM Jobs Act eliminates the diversity visa program and reallocates up to 55,000 new green cards to the most highly qualified foreign graduates of American universities with advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering, and math fields.  The bill also contains a provision to put families first, allowing the spouses and minor children of legal permanent residents to come to the U.S. after waiting one year for their green cards.  Last week, the House of Representatives today approved the STEM Jobs Act by a vote of 245-139.

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Controversial STEM Jobs Act Proposes to transfer 55,000 visas from Diversity Visa Lottery to Masters and Ph.D. Graduates in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics

Regions and eligible countries for the Diversi...

Eligible countries for the Diversity Visa Lottery (Credit: Wikipedia)

The controversial H.R. 6429, otherwise known as the “STEM Jobs Act” (Rep. Smith, R-TX & 68 cosponsors) proposes to create new “V” visa categories for families awaiting reunification as well as visas for Ph.D and Masters graduates in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.  The Act would, however, eliminate the (poorly implementedDiversity Visa Lottery program that makes green cards available to certain individuals from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States.  The STEM Jobs Act has made it through the House, but will be almost certainly defeated in the Senate, where Democrats hold both a majority and a soft spot for the Lottery.

The White House, despite having repeatedly highlighted the substantial deficiency the nation faces in the STEM fields,  has quickly declared its opposition to the STEM Jobs Act, indicating that it “does not support narrowly tailored proposals that do not meet the President’s long-term objectives with respect to comprehensive immigration reform.”  In other words, the Administration wants immigration reform on an ‘all or nothing’ basis.  This is more than a little puzzling given that during the latest election cycle, President Obama repeatedly raised the issue of the many difficult decisions necessitated in the short-term so as to invigorate the U.S. economy.  This is not one of those difficult decisions.

ETA 9089 PERM System Down for Several Days – AILA Investigating

The seal of the United States Department of Labor

The seal of the United States Department of Labor (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Department of Labor has been experiencing technical problems with the PERM system, which still remains unavailable.

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Data on Adjustment of Status

I-485 Performance Data

This report contains information on adjustment of status applications. The number of receipts, approvals, denials, and pending cases are displayed by fiscal year and by office.
The reports are available both in comma delimited (csv) and Adobe pdf file formats.


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