The American Immigration Council (Council) and the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) have teamed up on a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The suits is requesting information about the government’s administration of the H-1B lottery.
USCIS typically receives more applications than H-1B numbers available, so it conducts a lottery from the cases that it receives in the first 5 days of filing. CIS selects a number of petitions to be processed - taking into account that some of these will be denied, withdrawn, or otherwise rejected.
USCIS has never been open in describing the selection process. Attorneys, employers and H-1B applicants will be watching this case closely, hoping to get answers.
Despite the Obama Administration’s public commitment to the values of transparency and accountability, frankly, our attempts to see into this process have been resisted...Instead of responding to our requests for information about how the lottery is conducted, how cap-subject petitions are processed, and how the numbers are estimated and tracked, USCIS has kept the process entirely opaque. This litigation is intended to shine a necessary light on an important process in America’s business immigration system.”
US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced a proposed fee increase yesterday. The increases are still under discussion and USCIS will accept public comments until July 5, 2016. This is the first fee increase since 2010 and CIS proposes an average increase of 21%
USCIS notes that "... current fees do not recover the full costs of the services it provides. Adjustment to the fee schedule is necessary to fully recover costs for USCIS services and to maintain adequate service."
DHS proposes to increase USCIS fees by a weighted average of 21%. Some fees (e.g. for a Waiver of Inadmissibility) would increase by a massive 258%. A full list of the proposed changes is below, with some of the most commonly-used forms highlighted in yellow.
To submit a comment on the fees, click here: https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2016/05/04/2016-10297/us-citizenship-and-immigration-services-fee-schedule#open-comment.
On May 2, 2016, USCIS announced that it had completed the data entry for all H-1B cap cases selected in the lottery for Fiscal Year 2017. This means that the lottery is finished and USCIS will return unsuccessful cases to the employers or their attorneys.
CIS has not yet said when they will return the unsuccessful cases, and the entire package will be returned, with the uncashed checks for filing fees. CIS will issue an announcement once all the unselected petitions have been returned.
Additionally, USCIS is transferring some H-1B cap petitions from the Vermont Service Center to the California Service Center to balance the distribution of cap cases. If your case is transferred, you will receive notification in the mail. If you want to upgrade an existing petition for premium Processing, the form and fees needs to be sent to the service center that is now processing your case.
Elaine Martin has been practising US and global immigration law since 1997. She is an immigrant herself (from Ireland), so has a special understanding of the legal and emotional challenges involved in relocating to a new country.