Immigration Updates from the Immigration & Nationality Law Practice

June 24, 2009

H-1B Petitions Have Not Yet Reached Statutory Limits

We would like to notify our clients of the continuing ability to file H-1B petitions for Fiscal Year 2010. On June 12, USCIS announced that approximately 44,400 petitions have been received. This amount is still well below the annual statutory limit of 65,000. Recent university graduates who are in their Optional Practical Training period can benefit from the H-1B availability now. In recent years this cap was reached on the first day of availability. Please contact our office should you wish to discuss filing an H-1B petition on behalf of one of your employees or prospective employees.

Detroit Airport is Location of DHS Pilot Program

Historically, the U.S. has not personally screened foreign nationals upon their departure. Now, the Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW) is the location of a DHS pilot program in which Customs and Border Protection officers are collecting biometric information (fingerprints and photo) of each foreign national at the departure gate. Travelers with international destinations who are subject to US-VISIT biometric requirements will be directed to an area designed to minimize interference with boarding processes where biometric information will be collected. This information will be transmitted to record the exit from the U.S. and evaluate the identity verification and exit-recording systems. The pilot program will also assess the amount of additional time needed to collect biometrics at departure gates.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) established the United States Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology (US-VISIT) Program as a result of congressional mandates requiring the creation of an entry-exit system to records the arrival and departure of foreign nationals while verifying identities. A second pilot program is taking place at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL).

Premium Processing Service Available for Certain I-140 Petitions

USCIS recently announced that effective June 29, 2009 Premium Processing Service for Form I-140 will be resumed. This service is available for most, but not all, immigrant classifications in I-140 petitions. The Premium Processing Service is available by payment of an additional $1,000 filing fee, for which the USCIS will act within 15 days on the petition. Pending I-140s can be upgraded by filing the Premium Processing fee.

E-Verify Effective Date Delayed… Again

The effective date of the E-Verify requirement for federal contractors has been delayed until September 8, 2009. As we reported earlier, this rule would require most federal contractors and subcontractors to use E-Verify to verify the employment authorization of employees. As there is pending litigation regarding E-Verify, as well as an investigation by President Obama’s administration, there is a possibility that the effective date could change again.