2005 Omnibus Appropriations Act, When Passed, Will Significantly Change H-1B and L-1 Nonimmigrant Categories
The House of Representatives and the Senate have both passed the 2005 Omnibus Appropriations Act (HR 4818), which contains rider provisions that will amend H-1B and L-1 nonimmigrant visa status. President Bush is expected to sign the bill into law by mid-December, after an amendment is made to the Appropriations Act.
Following is an overview of some of the changes:
Changes to L-1 (Intracompany Transferees): To take effect within 180 days of enactment of the Act
1. L-1B Specialized Knowledge workers may no longer be transferred to the
to be outsourced to third party employers; U.S.
2. Beneficiaries of L-1B Blanket Petitions must have worked for the related company abroad for 1 year in the 3 years immediately prior to the filing of the petition, rather than for the 6-month period previously required;
3. DHS will examine potential abuses of the L-1 program;
Changes to H-1B (Specialty Workers): To take effect within 90 days of enactment of the Act
1. Exempts up to 20,000 aliens from the H-1B Cap each fiscal year, if they have a Masters Degree or higher from a
institution of higher education. This will likely mean that within 90 days of the enactment of the Act, USCIS will open up 20,000 new H-1B numbers to eligible noncitizens with Masters Degrees from US institutions. We do not know yet how USCIS is going to administer this provision. U.S.
2. H-1B employers will be required to pay 100% of the prevailing wage rather than 95% as per the current rule. (However, the DOL will provide a governmental survey containing 4 levels of wages commensurate with experience, education, and the level of supervision. This will replace the 2-tiered wage determination system that frequently inflates the “prevailing wage” that employers are required to pay H-1B workers);
3. Allows Department of Labor to investigate employers where there is reason to believe the employer is violating Labor Condition Attestation (LCA) requirements;
Fee Changes to Take Effect Immediately Upon Enactment of the Act
1. A $500 fee must be submitted with all H-1B and L-1 petitions. This fee will be used to fund an H-1B and L-1 fraud prevention unit. This applies only to principal beneficiaries and not their dependent family members. It applies to all H-1B and L-1 petitions, whether for an initial petition or for a change of status to H or L, and including L-1 visa applications filed at U.S. Consulates abroad under an L blanket petition. The $500 fee is not required for an extension of stay in H or L status with the same employer, but is required for an alien who is currently in H or L status and on whose behalf a new H or L petition is filed to change employers. This fee is assessed in addition to the filing fee, and any other fees associated with the petition (such as a premium processing filing fee).
2. The employment training fee for H-1B petitions is reinstated, and is raised from $1000 to $1500 for employers with 25 or more full-time employees. Employers with fewer than 25 full-time employees will only be responsible for a $750.00 training fee. This fee is in addition to the H-1B filing fee, and in addition to the $500 fraud prevention fee.
In light of this very large fee hike for H-1B petitions, anyone who is currently in H-1B status and whose petition is due to expire within 6 months should consider filing an extension of stay as soon as possible, so as to avoid paying an extra $2000 in fees to USCIS.
Please contact our office at 603-228-1277 for further information!
NABP Moves to New Headquarters
The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) announced its move from
to Park Ridge, IL 1600 Feehanville Drive, Mount Prospect, IL 60056on November 30, 2004. The new phone number is 847/391-4406 and the new fax number is 847/391-4502. All printed communications can be sent to the new Feehanville Driveaddress.
The new facility enables NABP to enhance its program and service offerings to the state boards of pharmacy, candidates, and applicants and provides ample space for future growth. In recent years, NABP has added new programs and services such as the Verified-Accredited Wholesale Distributors program; the Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites program; and the Pre-NAPLEX and the Pre-FPGEE, which are the respective practice examinations for the North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination and the Foreign Pharmacy Graduate Equivalency Examination.
“This new facility ensures that NABP, a steadily growing Association in its programs, is able to support the existing and new services that it provides to the state boards of pharmacy,” says NABP President Donna M. Horn.
VisaScreen Certificates Issued from CGFNS/ICHP Prior to January 2004 are Valid
In January, 2004, CGFNS began to include the signatures of the organization's President and Chief Executive Officer, as well as an expiration date on VisaScreen Certificates. VisaScreen Certificates were first issued in conjunction with the issuing of three interim rules by the DHS on October 1998, April 1999, and in January 2001. Therefore VisaScreen Certificates issued during these periods and prior to January 2004 would not contain signatures or expiration dates, however will remain valid.
Some VisaScreen certificates may also include a photograph of the applicant (which CGFNS has included when a photo was available), but the majority of certificates do not. CGFNS has added these features with the aim of making the certificate more resistant to various forms of fraud.
Did you know?
Naturalization receipts in July 2004 increased 9 percent, while approvals/oaths were up 7 percent and denials were up 17 percent when compared to July 2003. For the first ten months of fiscal year 2004, 418,332 persons took the oath of citizenship, an increase of 11 percent compared to the same period in fiscal year 2003.
- Source: DHS Fiscal year 2004 Report
Goff and Wilson Christmas 2004
Our law firm celebrated Christmas this year with the Nutcracker Ballet at the Palace Theatre. Before the show we enjoyed a nice brunch at Richard's Bistro in Manchester.
Happy Holidays from all of us at Goff and Wilson, P.A.!
For more information about NABP, please visit http://www.nabp.net
If you are applying for the VisaScreen Certificate, the new VisaScreen Handbook is now available on-line at http://www.cgfns.org/cgfns/downloads/VisaScreenHandbook.pdf
The VisaScreen Application Form also has been revised. Please visit http://www.cgfns.org/cgfns/downloads/VisaScreenApplication.pdf for more information.
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