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USCIS begins accepting H-1B petitions

April 15
02:24 2011

As of April 1, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has begun accepting H-1B petitions subject to the fiscal year (FY) 2012 cap of 65,000. Cases will be considered accepted on the date USCIS receives a properly filed petition for which the correct fee has been submitted; not the date that the petition is postmarked.

USCIS will monitor the number of H-1B petitions received and will announce when the H-1B cap has been met. If USCIS receives more petitions than it can accept, it may on the date the cap is met (the “final receipt date”) randomly select the number of petitions that will be considered for final inclusion within the cap.

USCIS will reject petitions that are subject to the cap and are not selected, as well as petitions received after it has the necessary number of petitions needed to meet the cap.

The first 20,000 H-1B petitions filed on behalf of individuals with U.S. master’s degrees or higher are exempt from the cap. Certain other petitions also are exempt from the congressionally mandated cap. Exempt petitions include those for which the beneficiaries will work at:

• institutions of higher education or related or affiliated nonprofit entities;
• nonprofit research organizations; or
• governmental research organizations.

Petitions filed on behalf of beneficiaries who will work only in Guam or the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands are exempt from the cap until December 31, 2014. Employers may continue to file petitions for these cap-exempt H-1B categories for beneficiaries who will start work during FYs 2011 or 2012.

Petitions filed on behalf of current H-1B workers who have been counted previously against the cap do not count toward the H-1B cap. USCIS will continue to process petitions filed to:
• extend the amount of time a current H-1B worker may remain in the United States;
• change the terms of employment for current H-1B workers;
• allow current H-1B workers to change employers; and
• allow current H-1B workers to work concurrently in a second H-1B position.

USCIS Announces Relief for Japanese, Pacific Nationals Stranded in US Following Quake, Tsunami

US Citizenship and Immigration Services announced on March 11, 2011, the following relief for Japanese and other nationals from the Pacific stranded in the US due to the earthquake and tsunami disasters in Japan:

This advisory is for Japanese and other foreign nationals from the Pacific stranded in the United States due to the earthquakes and tsunami devastation.
If you have exceeded or are about to exceed your authorized stay in the U.S. you may be permitted up to an additional 30 days to depart.

Visitors traveling under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP):

• If you are at an airport, contact the US Customs and Border Protection office at the airport
• All others, please visit the local US Citizenship and Immigration Services office
Visitors traveling under a nonimmigrant visa:
• Visit the local US Citizenship and Immigration Services office
• Bring your passport, evidence that you are stranded (such as an itinerary for the cancelled flight), and your I-94 departure record

New Mumbai US Consulate to open later in 2011; H and L interviews limited in meantime

A new US Consulate is being constructed for Mumbai, scheduled to open later in 2011. No new H and L appointments are being made at the current Mumbai Consulate, which has limited interview capabilities due to aging infrastructure. New H and L interviews may be scheduled at other US Consulates in India or at the US Embassy in New Delhi.

For more information, see http://www.vfs-usa.co.in/USIndia/news.html

Cyrus D. Mehta

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