Monday, December 16, 2019

H-1B Cap Filing

USCIS Announces Major Change to H-1B ‘Cap’ Filing With Electronic Registration

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently announced that U.S. employers will have to pay a $10 fee and register to have a chance at filing an H-1B petition subject to the statutory “cap” of 65,000 workers per fiscal year (FY). The annual “cap” filing also includes 20,000 additional visa numbers for foreign workers with a master’s or higher degree from a qualified U.S. college or university.

The H-1B visa classification allows highly educated foreign professionals to work in the United States on a temporary basis.

The new registration process is a major change from last year, when USCIS received 201,011 petitions in April 2019 for the 65,000 “regular” and 20,000 “master’s exemption” visa numbers available for FY 2020, which began on October 1, 2019.

USCIS expects electronic registration to “dramatically streamline processing.” For at least the past seven years, USCIS has been overwhelmed by an enormous volume of H-1B petitions delivered during the first five business days of April. USCIS had to initially process this pool of petitions so it could run two random selections (“lotteries”) of petitions eligible for actual filing.

Although USCIS created the new registration process in 2019, the agency suspended its use as no system was yet in place. For FY 2021 H-1B visa numbers, USCIS will open an initial registration period from March 1 through March 20, 2020. If USCIS receives more registrations than needed to use the available H-1B visa numbers, it will run a lottery to select the registrants authorized to file a petition. A lottery is likely given past demand.

An employer may register to file H-1B petitions for several foreign workers. However, USCIS limits the employer to one registration for an individual in a FY.

Monday, December 9, 2019

Zero Tolerance?

‘Zero Tolerance’ Overwhelmed Courts and Diverted Resources From Criminal Investigations

Attorney General Sessions’ orders to prioritize prosecuting people for immigration-related offenses in 2017 and 2018 put a significant strain on law enforcement across the border, diverting resources away from drug and organized crime prosecutions. The increase in immigration prosecutions, which played a primary role in the family separation crisis, also led to overcrowded jails, backed up court dockets, and overwhelmed prosecutors and federal public defenders.

These findings come from a new report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

The report also concludes that increased immigration prosecutions cost the government tens of millions of dollars across multiple government agencies. Agents were forced to work overtime for days on end, military prosecutors were detailed to the border, and federal judges were reassigned to the border from courts around the country.

The report mirrors findings from Syracuse University’s TRAC center, which found last year that during the height of Zero Tolerance, non-immigration prosecutions at the border dropped by 35%.

Federal prosecutors explained that “the more time prosecutors spend on reactive work—such as misdemeanor or felony immigration-related cases—the less time [they] have to work on other issue areas, including proactive cases that may take months or years of work to build.”

Increased caseload also had ripple effects on other criminal defendants.