U.S. Department of State Issues March Visa Bulletin

The U.S. Department of State has issued the March Visa Bulletin very early this month.  The good news is that the numbers show immigrant visa retrogression going in the right direction.  But this good news is tempered by the modest gains.

The first preference category (EB-1) remains current for all countries.  The second preference category (EB-2) remains current for all countries, except for India and China.  EB-2 India moved forward one week, from January 22, 2005 to February 1, 2005.  EB-2 China moved forward by one and a half months, from May 22, 2005 to July 8, 2005.

The EB-3 category experienced similar modest gains.  For the “All Chargeability Areas Except Those Listed,” China, and the Philippines, there was nearly a 3-month move, from September 22, 2002 to December 15, 2002.  EB-3 India moved one week, from June 22, 2001 to July 1, 2001.  EB-3 Mexico remain unchanged at July 1, 2002.

The March 2010 Visa Bulletin can be viewed at: http://www.travel.state.gov/visa/frvi/bulletin/bulletin_1360.html.

USCIS Updates Power of Attorney Signature Policy

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) had previously issued a signature policy memorandum that would require signatures by an authorized company representative on all forms and letters for cases filed by the company.  This would remove a company’s ability to have forms and letters signed by outside counsel pursuant to a power of attorney letter.

For now, companies can continue to have forms and letters signed by authorized outside counsel, as USCIS has temporarily withdrawn its recent policy memorandum that would have required that signatures come from company representatives.  However, USCIS is expected to reissue a revised memorandum with future implementation date in the near future.

State Department Releases February 2010 Visa Bulletin

The U.S. Department of State has released the February 2010 Visa Bulletin.  The monthly visa bulletin is a mathematical projection of immigrant visa availability for the coming month, based on recent data related to the number of immigrant visa applications.  In February, priority date cutoffs for the EB-2 China category will advance modestly, with the new date of May 22, 2005. In the EB-3 preference category, cutoff dates will advance approximately seven weeks for China and Worldwide (September 22, 2002), but will not advance for India or Mexico.

All other categories will remain unchanged from the current January 2010 bulletin.  As expected, the EB-1 preference category remains current for all countries.

If you wish to view the February 2010 Visa Bulletin, visit: http://travel.state.gov/visa/frvi/bulletin/bulletin_1360.html

DOL Clarifies Questions on New National Prevailing Wage

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has issued guidance to clarify some questions that have arisen due to the new centralized prevailing wage system for labor certification, which took effect as of January 1, 2010.  Perhaps the most concerning news in this update is related to the anticipated processing time.  The DOL indicated that processing times for the issuance of a prevailing wage determination could be lengthy, and recommended that they be done at least 60 days in advance of initial recruitment efforts.  The protracted processing time for prevailing wage determinations will further lengthen an already extensive recruitment period.

USCIS Confirms H-1B Numbers for FY2010 Have Been Exhausted

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued confirmation that the FY2010 H-1B cap was reached as of December 21, 2009.  This means that a sufficient number of cap-subject H-1B petitions have been filed with USCIS to meet the statutory limitation of 65,000.  Any petitions received on December 21st will be subjected to a computer-generated random lottery process.  Any cases received after December 21st will be rejected.

With the surge of H-1B filings in October, the advanced U.S. degree cap of 20,000 had already been used up.  This is a reversal of the normal trend wherein the regular H-1B cap of 65,000 is nearly always exhausted before the advance U.S. degree set aside.

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