USCIS: Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 H-1B Cap Season To Begin April 1, 2019

by Protima Daryanani

Today, USCIS officially announced April 1, 2019 as the start date of FY 2020 H-1B cap season. USCIS also explained changes to the H-1B application process itself, including how premium processing will work, the agency’s new H-1B data hub, and an update to the order in which cap cases are selected.

Premium Processing

Rather than fully suspending the premium processing requests, the agency has decided to offer it in two phases: first to FY 2020 cap-subject H-1B petitions requesting a change of status, and then secondly to all other FY 2020 cap-subject petitions. Premium processing for the first phase will commence on May 20, 2019.

Applicants wishing to use premium processing for their H-1B petitions requesting a change of status may concurrently file Form I-907 with the H-1B petition on April 1. These petitions will not be processed by USCIS until after all data entry on cap cases has been completed, around May 20, 2019. Petitioners may also convert cases filed as a change of status and picked in the H-1B lottery to premium processing after May 20, 2019 if they prefer. The rest of the FY 2020 cap-subject H-1B petitions will likely be able to upgrade to premium processing in June 2019.

H-1B Data Hub

The new H-1B Employer Data Hub — available on April 1st — will allow the public to search for H-1B petitioners by fiscal year, NAICS industry code, company, name, city, state, or zip code. The hub is meant to allow members of the public to calculate approval and denial rates as well as review which employers are using the H-1B program, therefore increasing transparency between the agency and the public.

Selection Process

As previously noted, the Department of Homeland Security has reversed the order in which USCIS will select petitions. The purpose of the reversal is to increase the chances that more advanced degree H-1B petitions will be selected in any lottery.

The New York Times: “Trump Administration Plans to Close Key Immigration Operations Abroad.”

by Georgina Escobar

Director L. Francis Cissna, of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), recently informed senior staff members that the international division of USCIS operating in more than twenty countries will likely shut down by the end of the year, cutting a key support system for those applying overseas to relocate to the United States. The move to shut down is allegedly intended to provide more resources to handle the lengthy backlog in asylum applications domestically, but it could come at the expense of legal migration.

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The Vessel at Hudson Yards

by Joseph McKeown

Last night we were able to get a preview of the Vessel, the centerpiece of the newly-opened Hudson Yards. The largest private real estate development in American history, Hudson Yards consists of a vast network of residences, office space, shops, restaurants, and Instagram-worthy immersive art exhibits. The Vessel is a piece of interactive artwork designed by Thomas Heatherwick and Heatherwick Studio to be a focal point where visitors can “enjoy new perspectives of the city and one another from different heights, angles and vantage points.” Its spiral staircase is comprised of 154 intricately interconnecting flights of stairs—almost 2,500 individual steps and 80 landings—which all translate to a nearly one mile vertical climb. Heatherwick says: “We tried to see how we could make something that feels particular and doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world.” It is certainly unique, and after that climb, you will definitely need a snack! Hudson Yards officially opens today and visitors will need tickets to climb the Vessel.

USCIS Resumes Premium Processing for All H-1B Petitions

by Joseph McKeown

US Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that the agency will resume premium processing for all H-1B petitions effective today, Tuesday, March 12. This will be welcome news to many after USICS expanded the premium processing suspension to all H-1B petitions in September 2018. In February 2019, the agency resumed premium processing only for H-1B petitions filed on or before December 21, 2018.

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The Nation: “US Immigration Is Stuck in the Stone Age—and It’s Putting Lives In Danger.”

by Joseph McKeown

US Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) reportedly spends $300 million per year on paper and their alleged mismanagement of paper-based applications as well as clerical errors in processing paper-based evidence has caused serious consequences for certain immigrants. The agency has repeatedly failed to come up with a viable electronic-based filing system, which ultimately might improve processing efficiency and times, despite spending over a billion dollars over a thirteen-year time period. 

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The Guardian: “Thousands of migrant children allegedly sexually abused in US custody.”

by Joseph McKeown

Almost 5,000 complaints of alleged sexual abuse and harassment of migrant children in US custody have been made since October 2015, according to government documents released last week. The allegations range from adult staff members having relationships with minors to the showing of pornographic videos to forcible touching. Though the reports go back four years, the highest number of sexual abuse and harassment occurred since President Trump took office. 

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