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2016 ()


GoffWilson will conduct the popular training seminar for employers and human resource professionals, Advance Your I-9 Skills — 2015 I-9 Workshop on June 11, 2015 in Concord.

Always sold out, the training workshop will take place on the first Thursday in June from 8 a.m. to noon at the Delta Dental Auditorium in Concord, NH. Participants earn three Human Resource Certification Institute (HRCI) continuing education credit hours for completing the training.

Details

The registration fee for the seminar is $115, which includes intensive Form I-9 training, the updated 2015 version of the GoffWilson proprietary I-9 manual, breakfast, and three hours of HRCI credit. Early registration is recommended as space is limited.

To purchase tickets, head to the Eventbrite listing.

Agenda

8 AM: Registration and breakfast

8:30 AM: Seminar begins—Introduction

8:45 AM: Intensive Training Part I: Completing the I-9 Form

  • Overview
  • Lists of Acceptable Documents
  • Receipt Rule Samples and Establishing Office Procedures

10 AM: Break

10:15 AM: Intensive Training Part II: Retention and Maintenance

  • Issue Spotting, Retention Requirements, Social Security
  • No-Match Letters, E-Verify requirement
  • Federal Contractor, I-9 Compliance Resource Guide

11:45 AM: Questions and Answers

12 PM: End of seminar

How To Get H1-B Visa

If you are looking to sponsor an H-1B employee this year, you still have a chance. But don’t delay! The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced yesterday that it will accept H-1B visa petitions filed during the first 5 business days of April.

Therefore, as long as your H-1B petition filing is received by April 7, 2015, you still have a chance at being selected in the lottery (i.e. the computerized random selection process used by USCIS to fill the H-1B CAP).

As discussed in our February 17th bLAWg post, the H-1B CAP is the available quota of new H-1B visas for each fiscal year.  USCIS will accept 85,000 H-1B petitions in the CAP, with 20,000 being reserved for U.S. Master’s degree recipients.  Premium processing (i.e. expedited processing, which results in a quicker case decision in 15 days) is available on the petitions for an extra $1,225.00 fee.

Should you decide to file your H-1B petition using premium processing, you will not necessarily have a better chance in the lottery; however, you will know whether your petition has been selected much sooner.  USCIS announced on March 12, 2015 that it will begin processing selected premium petitions no later than May 11, 2015.

Willing to try your luck in the H-1B lottery? Contact GoffWilson today for assistance. We are here for you.



In our recent bLAWg post on December 10, 2014, we mentioned the possibility of work authorization being extended to certain H-4 dependents in the near future.

As we predicted, H-4 work authorization has been enacted and, beginning May 26, 2015, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will be accepting Applications for Employment Authorization for eligible individuals.

 
To qualify, applicants must:
  1. Be in valid H-4 status; and
  2. Have a spouse in valid H-1B status, who has either an approved Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, or an approved Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, granting H-1B status past the six-year limitation.

It is important to note that applicants will not be permitted to commence employment until the Application for Employment Authorization is approved and an Employment Authorization Document (EAD Card) is issued.

Processing times are expected to range from 3–5 months. Need assistance with filing for H-4 work authorization?

GoffWilson is here to help! Please contact our office today for more information.

April 1st, the opening day for filing H-1B visa petitions, is just around the corner. Arguably the most sought-after nonimmigrant visa, the H Visa is available for professionals to work in a specialty occupation (i.e. requiring a Bachelor’s degree or higher).

Looking to Hire an H-1B Employee?

If you are an employer seeking to hire one of these professionals, you better act fast as there are only 85,000 new H-1B visas available each fiscal year—broken down as 20,000 for individuals possessing a U.S. Master’s degree or higher and 65,000 for all other applicants possessing a Bachelor’s degree.

The H-1B CAP

This quota is referred to as the H-1B CAP. Last year, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services received approximately 172,500 CAP-subject H petitions and the predictions for this year are even higher!

If the number of petitions filed with USCIS on April 1st exceeds the available amount of H-1B visas, which is very likely given the improving economy and lack of highly skilled workers in the US, a random selection lottery will be conducted.

Benefits of H-1B Visa for Employers

Even with the lottery, you still want to file for an H Visa as the benefits outweigh the risks: your employee will receive a 3-year H-1B visa, which can be renewed for an additional 3 years.

Additionally, H-1B visas allow for dual-intent, which means you can sponsor your employee for permanent residency (i.e. green card) and they can continue working for your company in the U.S. without interruption.

How to File an H-1B Petition

Complete H-1B petition packages include the required USCIS forms and filing fees, a Labor Condition Application (LCA), information surrounding the employer and the offered position, and documentation regarding the employee.

Not sure where to begin? Contact the GoffWilson H-1B Team for assistance. Our office has successfully assisted thousands of employers and employees with their H-1B petitions. Contact us today for more information and be a winner all the way around!


US Canada Employment Program

Are you a U.S. employer interested in hiring a Canadian citizen? Are you a Canadian citizen interested in pursuing U.S. employment? This year, the process may become easier.

On January 8, 2015, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced its consideration of a “Known Employer” Pilot Program. The program would create a more efficient adjudication process for certain types of employment-based immigration petitions filed by eligible employers.

The program would also reduce costs, paperwork, and delays related to petition processing. Another goal of the program is to expedite legitimate cross-border business travel between Canada and the U.S.

DHS is expected to commence the Pilot Program by late 2015.

Need immigration assistance? GoffWilson is here to help! Please contact our office today for more information.

H-4 Work Authorization

Is employment authorization for H-4 nonimmigrants a reality?

Not just yet, but it is getting closer.

By definition, individuals holding an H-4 visa are dependent family members of those in H-1B status (nonimmigrant professionals with specialized knowledge). Typically, H-4 visa holders are not allowed to work while in that status.

In May 2014, the Department of Homeland Security published a proposed rule in the Federal Register pertaining to employment authorization for certain H-4 dependent spouses. The rule proposes to amend existing regulations to allow employment authorization for H-4 dependent spouses of principal H-1B nonimmigrants seeking employment-based lawful permanent resident status in the United States.

If the rule is enacted, H-4 nonimmigrants would need to apply for employment authorization using Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization.

The comment period on the proposed rule ceased in July 2014. Many organizations and individuals submitted comments during the open period, with over 13,000 comments received. Most comments called for an expansion of the proposed rule to allow ALL H-4 nonimmigrants, not only those with a spouse, to apply for employment authorization. Comments also suggested H-4 dependent children should be included.

In August 2014, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) Director, Leon Rodriguez, stated that USCIS is reviewing the comments received and plans to complete the review process as quickly as possible. Thus far, no further update has been issued. However, with the midterm elections behind us, we think a change may be coming very soon.

We at GoffWilson are watching this important development closely for all our affected clients and we will keep you informed on all developments relating to H-4 work authorization as we learn anything.

Please check our bLAWg for all the latest news and updates on changes in immigration rules and regulations that may affect you and or your family members. If you have any questions, please contact us for more information.

Visa Waiver Changes

On November 20, 2014, President Obama announced his executive actions for improving the U.S. immigration system. The President’s initiatives focus centrally around two main points: accountability for undocumented immigrants and options to streamline certain immigration programs and benefits.

Working with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the President has identified ten major areas for executive action. These areas include:

  • Expanding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program;
  • Extending the Deferred Action Program to parents of U.S. Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents (i.e. green card holders);
  • Amending the Provisional Waiver Program to include spouses and children of green card holders;
  • Revising parole rules to expand travel opportunities and clarify existing regulations; and
  • Improving the citizenship process.

Each of the areas encompasses certain initiatives set to take place in the coming months. We have highlighted some of these initiatives below.

1. Initiatives for Undocumented Immigrants

  • DACA Expansion: The DACA Program will be expanded to remove the upper age restriction and permit initial employment authorization for three years instead of two.
  • Deferred Action for Parents: Deferred Action will be permitted for parents of U.S. Citizens and green card holders (born on or before November 20, 2014), who have continuously resided in the U.S. since January 1, 2010 and are not a threat to public safety. This Program will also allow requests for employment authorization.
  • Provisional Waiver Program Amendment: The current Provisional Waiver Program (i.e. program allowing for individuals to apply for a waiver of unlawful presence in the U.S. before departing for a visa interview) will be amended to include adult children of U.S. Citizens and spouses and children of green card holders.
  • Revisions to Parole Rules: The current parole rules (i.e. rules governing temporary authorization to enter the U.S.) will be revised to address the availability of parole to spouses, parents, and children of U.S. Citizens and green card holders seeking to enlist in the U.S. Armed Forces. The revisions will also clarify that using advance parole (i.e. travel authorization obtained in advance) to leave the U.S. is not considered a departure, even for deferred action individuals. This will result in undocumented individuals being able to leave the U.S. under advance parole without triggering the 3- or 10-year bar.

2. Initiatives for U.S. Citizenship 

  • Improvements to Citizenship Application Process: The application process for U.S. Citizenship will be improved to allow for fee payments by credit card. The possibility of partial fee waivers will also be assessed.

Each of the initiatives will be implemented in the coming months. The DACA expansion is set to occur in the next three months, while Deferred Action for Parents will be implemented in six months. DHS is working to integrate the changes into current policy.

What do the President’s initiatives mean for you? GoffWilson can help determine your answer. Please contact our office today for more information.


1. Initiatives for Skilled Workers

  • PERM Program Modernization: The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has committed to modernizing the PERM Program (i.e. the first step in the employment-based green card process for employees) for the first time since the Program’s inception ten years ago. Specifically, the DOL plans to review the current regulations and seek input on key items such as labor force occupational shortages, recruitment requirements, premium processing possibilities, and typographical errors.
  • Adjustment of Status Timing: Individuals with an approved I-140 petition, who are waiting for their priority date to become current, will be permitted to file for Adjustment of Status (i.e. their green card application) earlier. This will allow the individuals to gain benefits of having an application pending, such as an EAD card and a travel document. This will also allow employees awaiting their green cards to switch employers more easily.
  • Employment Authorization for H-4 Spouses: H-4 spouses of H-1B skilled workers with an approved I-140 petition will be eligible to apply for employment authorization. Clarifying Guidance on L-1B and Portability
  • Provisions: Clarifying guidance will be provided to further explain the requirements of L-1B visa eligibility and clearly define “specialized knowledge.” Guidance will also be provided to clarify the definition of “same or similar classification” for employees wishing to port (i.e. switch) employers while their green card application is pending.

2. Initiatives for Investors and Entrepreneurs 

  • Travel Authorization for Foreign Investors: Certain investors will be granted temporary authorization to travel to the U.S. to explore opportunities for job creation. This travel authorization can also be used to temporarily pursue research and development of new businesses in the U.S.
  • National Interest Waivers: Certain entrepreneurs, investors, and founders will be eligible to apply for a National Interest Waiver (i.e. a waiver of the job offer requirement for a green card applicant pursuing work in the U.S. that is found to be in the national interest).

3. Initiatives for Students

  • STEM OPT Expansion: Optional Practical Training (OPT) for STEM graduates (i.e. graduates with a degree in a field of science, technology, engineering, or mathematics) will be expanded to allow for a longer period of time in OPT. The relationship between the STEM graduate and their degree institution will be strengthened during this period.
The timeframe for each initiative differs, depending on whether full regulatory review is required for the initiative to be enacted. The earliest change expected is employment authorization for certain H-4 spouses, which could happen as early as December or January. The other changes are expected to follow in the coming months. Questions on how the President’s executive actions apply to you? GoffWilson is here to help! Please contact our office today for more information.

DON’T BE TOO LATE! Register today for our next I-9 Training Workshop November 13th Our hands-on I-9 Training is taking place on Thursday November 13th from 8 a.m. till noon at Two Delta Dental in Concord, NH.


Reasons you should register right now:
  1. You want to be current on the latest trends in I-9s, plus E-Verify.
  2. You need a refresher. Discuss with us common mistakes made in completing I-9s, how to correct flawed forms and how to avoid them.
  3. You have new staff that need training on best practices for I-9s.
  4. Your remote hires, your re-hires, recent mergers or federal contracts present considerable challenges that can be met following this informative seminar.
  5. HRCI credit and a certificate are provided to you so you maintain your HR accreditation.
  6. A delicious complimentary breakfast – Need we say more?

Click HERE to register today!

Each month, the U.S. Department of State (DOS) publishes a Visa Bulletin that summarizes the available immigrant visa numbers for the upcoming month. The visa numbers are calculated based on total fiscal year limits set by the Department of State.

The Visa Bulletin is broken down by categories (e.g. employment-based), preferences (e.g. 2nd preference), and countries of chargeability (e.g. India), which are presented in matrix format. On each of the matrices, the breakdowns come together with either a “C,” a “U,” or a date.
  • A “C” stands for current (i.e., all of the immigrant visa demand for that breakdown can be satisfied by the amount of available visa numbers currently allocated).
  • A “U” stands for unavailable (i.e., all of the allocated visa numbers in that breakdown have been used for the fiscal year).
  • A date represents the cut-off date for an oversubscribed breakdown (i.e., not all of the immigrant visa demand for that breakdown can be satisfied by the amount of available visa numbers currently allocated).
Cut-off dates are determined by priority dates (i.e., date of filing for the petition or application granting a visa number). Thus, if a date is listed in one of the matrix breakdowns on the monthly Visa Bulletin, the date represents the priority date of the first applicant whose immigrant visa application could not be processed within the numerical limits.

For example, if “01APR11” appears in one of the matrix breakdowns, then only applicants whose priority dates are earlier than April 1, 2011 are eligible to receive an immigrant visa.

Countries of chargeability are determined by countries of birth. It is important to note that this is not referring to country of citizenship. Often times, foreign nationals mistakenly believe that they can “skip the line” by obtaining citizenship in another country. Unfortunately, this is not the case.

Currently, the Department of State has four countries designated on the Visa Bulletin whose visa demand exceeds the per-country limitation. These countries are China (mainland born), India, Mexico, and Philippines. If a country is not specifically represented on the Visa Bulletin, it falls into the “All Chargeability Areas” section. In recent months, the India Employment-Based Second Preference (“EB-2 India”) cut-off date has been rapidly advancing due to the use of “otherwise unused” immigrant visa numbers. However, this rapid advancement has led to increased demand for these visas.


In the October 2014 Visa Bulletin, the DOS specifically mentions that the increased demand will require the retrogression of the EB-2 India cut-off date. The Visa Bulletin goes on to explain that the retrogression could occur as early as November 2014. Currently, the cut-off date for EB-2 India is May 1, 2009. However, Visa Bulletin experts are predicting a retrogression to around 2005.

Pursuant to this information, foreign nationals who fall under the EB-2 India category should verify whether they are eligible to file an immigrant visa application based on the current cut-off date. Eligible individuals should heed the retrogression warning and file their applications as soon as possible. Not sure how to verify this information? GoffWilson is here to help! Please contact our office today for more information on filing an immigrant visa application.

To view the October 2014 Visa Bulletin click here.
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