Labor Immigration Law

United States Labor Immigration Law News and Analysis

January 2015 Visa Bulletin – EB-3 Continues to Advance Significantly; EB-2 India Unchanged

The U.S. State Department has just released the January 2015 Visa Bulletin which is the fourth Visa Bulletin for the FY2015 fiscal year.   The major headline in the upcoming month’s Visa Bulletin is the continued forward movement in the EB-3 preference category.

Summary of the January 2015 Visa Bulletin – Employment-Based (EB)

Below is a summary of the January 2015 Visa Bulletin with respect to the employment-based categories:

  • EB-1 remains current across the board.
  • EB-2 for ROW, Mexico and Philippines are all current.    EB-2 India remains unchanged at February 15, 2005 after the major retrogression from a couple of months ago.    EB-2 China moves forward by one (1) month to February 1, 2010.
  • EB-3 ROW, Mexico and Philippines advance by seven (7) months to June 1, 2013.   EB-3 China advances by nine (9) months to March 1, 2011 while EB-3 India  advances by only two (2) weeks to December 15, 2003.
  • The “other worker” categories for ROW, Mexico and Philippines advance by seven (7) months to June 1, 2013.   EB-3 China remains unchanged at July 22, 2005 while EB-3 India  advances by only two (2) weeks to December 15, 2003.

Summary of the January 2015 Visa Bulletin – Family-Based (FB)

Below is a summary of the January 2015 Visa Bulletin with respect to some family-based categories:

  • FB-1 ROW, China and India all move forward by two (2) weeks to July 8, 2007.   FB-1 Mexico moves forward by one (1) month to September 15, 1994 and FB-1 Philippines moves forward by one (1) week to December 22, 2004.
  • FB-2A moves forward again  – it moves forward by three (3) weeks to April 15, 2013 for ROW, China, India and Philippines.  It also moves forward by seven (7) weeks to February 22, 2013  for Mexico.

EB-2 India Retrogression Expected to Remain Through Summer of 2015

As expected, EB-2 India remains unchanged at the (severely retrogressed) February 15, 2005 date.    Unfortunately, no movement in EB-2 India is expected over the next several months with a possible forward movement towards the summer of 2015.

EB-3 Continues to Move Forward Significantly

The most important development in the January 2015 Visa Bulletin is the continued notable forward movement in the EB-3 categories.    Most of the EB-3 categories have advanced by seven months, with EB-3 China moving forward by nine months, on top of the significant forward movement in the past few visa bulletins. This should be welcome news to many EB-3 applicants (except EB-3 India where the forward movement is only of two weeks) who may be eligible for I-485 filings or processing of their immigrant visas at the U.S. Consulates abroad.    We are happy to provide a free quote for preparing and filing your I-485 application to those EB-3 applicants (and other) who are seeing an advancing and current (or soon to be current) priority date.

Current Priority Date?

Our office stands ready to assist in the applicable process to take advantage of a current (or close to current) priority date.   Those applicants whose priority dates are current as of the January 2015 Visa Bulletin may be eligible to process their (and their family members’) I-485 Adjustment of Status applications from within the U.S. or process their immigrant visa at a U.S. Consulate abroad.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if our office can help you take advantage of this (very time-sensitive for some) opportunity to file I-485 applications.    We are also happy to provide a free quote for preparing and filing your I-485 application.

Further Updates and News

We invite you to subscribe to our free weekly immigration newsletter to receive timely updates on this and related topics.  We also invite you to contact us if our office can be of any assistance in your immigration matters or you have any questions or comments about the January 2015 Visa Bulletin.  Finally, if you already haven’t, please consider our Visa Bulletin Predictions tool which provides personalized predictions and charts helping you understand when a particular priority date may become current and what are the movement patterns.

Current PERM Processing Times (December 2, 2014)

Our office handles a substantial number of ETA Form 9089 – Permanent Labor Certification (“PERM”) applications and we are closely monitoring the current PERM processing times not only for the benefit of our clients but also to be able to predict longer-term trends in PERM processing.

The Department of Labor (“DOL”) has provided an update on the current PERM filing and processing statistics in addition to the processing dates as of December 2, 2014.

Current PERM Processing Times

This month does not bring much change in the PERM processing times – regular PERM cases still take around five months.     The processing time of PERM applications in audit increases slightly (by a month) compared to our prior monthly report.

The processing times, as reported by DOL, are as follows:

  • Regular processing: July 2014.  DOL is processing PERM applications with priority dates of July 2014.  There is no change in the expected duration of a PERM case compared to the October 2014 report.    Accordingly, regular PERM processing times should be around five months.   Our office has experienced PERM approvals consistent with this timeline and we can confirm it.    The PERM processing times have remained steady at five months — we hope that DOL will be able to decrease their regular PERM processing times over the next months.
  • Audited applications: May 2013.  DOL is processing PERM audits which have a priority date (date of filing of the PERM application) of May 2013.  There is a slight delay of about one month in the expected PERM audit review time compared to last month’s report.    Accordingly, audited PERM applications are processed approximately 19-20 months after the initial PERM was filed and the priority date established.
  • Appealed applications (requests for reconsideration to the Certifying Officer): December 2014.  DOL is processing PERM appeals (requests for reconsideration to the certifying officer) which were appealed in December 2014.  There is no change in this category, compared to our last report.    Accordingly, PERM requests for reconsideration are processed within approximately a month after PERM appeal (motion for reconsideration to the Certifying Officer) is filed.
  • “Government error” appealed applications. DOL has indicated that PERM appeals in this category are reviewed on a 30-45 day timeline.   However, after filing an appeal, DOL does not make an indication whether a PERM appeal is accepted to be processed under the  “government error” queue or under the regular appeal queue.   As a result, DOL has indicated that the only way to know whether a PERM appeal has been accepted for processing under the “government error” queue is to wait for 45 days for response.  If the PERM appeal is reviewed within this time, this would be an indication that a PERM appeal has been accepted (and reviewed) under the “government error” queue.  If no response is received 45 days after filing of a PERM appeal, then this should be an indication that the PERM is pending under the regular appeals queue.

Conclusion

The December 2014 PERM processing times report shows that the PERM processing times remain largely unchanged over the last couple of months.  We had noticed gradual decrease in the PERM processing times earlier in the year; however, the last one or two monthly reports suggest that the processing times remain steady.      We are hopeful that the trend of improvement in the processing times would continue in the next months.

Our office has developed a great practice handling PERM filings and/or audit/appeal responses so please do not hesitate to contact us if we can help you.  Also, we will continue monitoring the PERM processing times and analyze any updates.  Please visit us again or subscribe to our free weekly newsletter to ensure that you obtain this and related immigration-related news and announcements.

The Immigration Accountability Executive Action (IAEA): Summary of Action Plan

It has been a busy day for immigration attorneys and Washington, DC.    As President Obama is getting ready to announce his executive action proposal, called Immigration Accountability Executive Action (IAEA), there are some reliable preliminary updates we can share with our readers.

Summary of Proposed Executive Action Steps

Deferred Action for Parents of USC and LPR.   Deferred action (similar to DACA) – can obtain work permit (3 years) and relief from removal.   Must be in the US for five years or more.  Also, must apply, submit biometric data, pass background checks, pay fees, and show that their child was born before the date of this announcement.   Estimated population of this benefit is around 4.4 million.   Should be running in 180 days.

DACA Expanded.   The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is being expanded.   Individuals who were brought to this country as children can apply if they entered before January 1, 2010, regardless of how old they are today.  Going forward, DACA relief will also be granted for three years.   Should be effective in 90 days.

H-4 Spouses EAD.   The rules announced in May to give work permits (EAD) to certain H-4 spouses (of H-1B holders who have an I-140 immigrant petition) are expected to move forward.

I-485 Pre-Registration/Easier Job Portability Prior I-485 Filing.   Changes are expected to make it easier for workers who are stuck waiting for an immigrant visa number to change their jobs.     The proposal is to allow approved I-140 beneficiaries to obtain I-485-like benefits (such as work permit, job portability) and allow them to change employers.     Estimated population is around 400,000.   This will be done via regulation which is subject to the (often time-consuming) regulation-making process.   The AC21 “same or similar job” language is expanded/clarified.

Entrepreneurs Qualify for NIW.   While this has already been a “guidance”, the plan is to expand immigration options for foreign entrepreneurs, researchers, inventors, and founders who meet certain criteria for creating jobs, attracting investment, and generating revenue in the U.S.

STEM/OPT Program Expanded.   OPT eligibility and terms to be expanded but stronger ties between OPT students and their universities will be required.

PERM Labor Market to be “Modernized.” DOL will be tasked with “modernizing” the PERM labor certification system and its labor market test to ensure American workers are protected by the immigrant visa process.   Details are key but we do not have them yet.

Provisional Waiver Expanded to Spouses of LPR.   Provisional waiver from within the US is being expanded to include spouses of LPR (in addition to US citizens).

Parolees Will Have Expanded Protections for Travel.   It is expected that the rules will remove the inadmissibility trigger when traveling and entering on advance parole; which will help many parolees (DACA, IAEA and employment-based parolees).

What DID NOT Make it Into the Proposal

It is worth mentioning briefly which of the common points did not make it into the proposal.   Parents of DACA holders are not included.   Also, the proposal does not change the way the family derivative members are counted under the immigrant visa numbers.   As a result, the current backlogged wait system will continue (subject to some relief from the points above).    There are no changes to the H-1B  program.

Live Chat and Webinar on Immigration Accountability Executive Action

Please join us for two upcoming events to discuss the details of the program.

Live Chat:   Immediate Analysis and Reaction to Executive Action Proposal Thursday, 9 pm EST.

Immediately after President Obama’s speech this evening we will host hosted a live chat dedicated solely on the speech, the proposals contained therein and our immediate analysis of the impact on various groups of immigrants.    Sorry we missed you – but you can read the chat transcript.

Webinar:   SPECIAL EDITION on President Obama’s Executive Action Plan – Details and Analysis Friday, 1 pm EST.

On Friday, November 21, 2014 at 1 pm EST, after we have had a chance to go through the proposal in more detail, we will hold held a webinar presentation where we will provide provided a more detailed analysis of the executive action proposal and how it affects various groups of immigrant populations.     We should also be able to provide some kind of an overview of challenges to the proposed action and anticipated steps forward and timeline.    You can see the recorded webinar.

Conclusion

We will be providing much more over the next few days — this is obviously a somewhat quick and brief overview of the proposed components of the plan.    Please stay tuned over the next days as we will be active in providing updates and analysis.

We invite you to subscribe to our free weekly immigration newsletter to receive timely updates on this and related topics.  In the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions or comments, or if we can be of any assistance with this or related immigration-related issues.

Executive Action on Immigration: Announcement and Analysis Live Chat and Webinar Sessions

There are a few people who are interested in immigration who are not aware of the upcoming announcement by President Obama on his plan for executive action on immigration.    At this time,  we have been receiving rumors, bits and pieces, provided off the record, by various sources in the government here in Washington, DC and we will not be analyzing the proposals until the official announcement is made:  President Obama is expected to make his announcement this evening, November 20, 2014, at 8 pm eastern time and we will be staging a number of events immediately after to analyze the proposal.

Live Chat:   Immediate Analysis and Reaction to Executive Action Proposal Thursday, 9 pm EST.

Immediately after President Obama’s speech this evening we will host a live chat dedicated solely on the speech, the proposals contained therein and our immediate analysis of the impact on various groups of immigrants.    Please join us for this chat immediately after the announcement at 9 pm EST.

Webinar:   SPECIAL EDITION on President Obama’s Executive Action Plan – Details and Analysis Friday, 1 pm EST.

Tomorrow, Friday, November 21, 2014 at 1 pm EST, after we have had a chance to go through the proposal in more detail, we will hold a webinar presentation where we will provide a more detailed analysis of the executive action proposal and how it affects various groups of immigrant populations.     We should also be able to provide some kind of an overview of challenges to the proposed action and anticipated steps forward and timeline.    There are limited seats for this webinar and it will sell out – please register now.

And yes, these events are FREE to anyone to register but there is limited space available.   We invite you to subscribe to our free weekly immigration newsletter to receive timely updates on this and related topics.  In the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions or comments, or if we can be of any assistance with this or related immigration-related issues.

National Visa Center No Longer Requires Original Civil Documents

In an important (and surely welcome by many) announcement, the National Visa Center (NVC) has announced that as of November 12, 2014, they would no longer start requiring and collecting original civil documents in support of immigrant visa (green card) cases.     Most applicants will simply need to submit photocopies of the applicable required civil documents (birth certificate, marriage certificate, police certificate, etc.) to NVC and bring the originals to the Consulate for the immigrant visa interview.

New Instructions to NVC Applicants Starting November 12, 2014

After NVC applicants (and their petitioners, as applicable) collect the Affidavit of Support form(s), financial evidence, and supporting civil documents, they are instructed to submit all of the documents to NVC.   As of November 12, 2014, applicants at non-electronic processing posts will be instructed to submit photocopies of their civil documents by mail.   NVC will review the copies and, when the case is documentarily complete, will place the copies into the file, which will be sent to the Consular post, increasing the number of cases that are documentarily qualified.  In other words, not requiring original civil documents is likely to allow more people to complete their NVC process faster.

When the appointment is scheduled, NVC will instruct applicants to bring their original documents to the interview for evaluation and final case processing. Original Affidavit of Support forms will still be submitted to NVC for initial evaluation. Applicants at designated electronic processing posts (and only for those posts) will continue to submit their documents via email.

Conclusion

We welcome this announcement from NVC because it is likely to significantly shorten the time it takes to complete an NVC case.   According to NVC, they expect this slight change in the process to reduce customer wait times and improve the customer experience overall.

We invite you to subscribe to our free weekly immigration newsletter to receive timely updates on this and related topics.  In the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions or comments, or if we can be of any assistance with this or related immigration-related issues.

US Consulate in Kingston, Jamaica Restricts Third-Country Nationals’ Visa Stamp Applications

The U.S. Consulate in Kingston, Jamaica has announced that effective October 31, 2014, it will restrict the ability of certain (but not all) third-country nationals (TCNs) to apply for and obtain a U.S. visa stamp at the Kingston Consular Section.

TCN Visa Stamp Application Restrictions Effective October 31, 2014

Effective October 31, 2014, the U.S. Consular Section in Kingston, Jamaica will not accept interview applications from third country nationals for the following visa categories and cases:

  • Applicants who have changed their status in the U.S. and who are now seeking a new visa in the new visa category;
  • Applicants who entered the U.S. in one visa category and are seeking to reenter the U.S. in a different visa category;
  • Applicants who have been out of status in the U.S. having violated the terms of their visas or having overstayed the validity indicated on their I- 94s;
  • Applicants who obtained their current visa in a country other than that of their legal residence;
  • Petition-based first time applicants; and
  • Third country nationals who are not resident in Jamaica and who are applying for a B1/B2 visa (including B1/B2 renewals).

According to these restrictions, it is still possible for certain TCNs to obtain an interview appointment and successful U.S. visa stamping in a number of situations but we urge TCNs who consider Jamaica for their stamping to review the requirements very carefully and ensure that they are actually eligible to appear for an interview.

TCNs Should Carefully Consider and Research Their Destination U.S. Consular Section in Advance

As a general matter, even in cases where none of the exclusions apply and even for other U.S. Consular Sections popular for visa stamping with third-country nationals, we recommend that visa applicants contact the desired U.S. Consular Section well in advance of their planned U.S. visa stamping in order to confirm that the Consular Section can actually accept and accommodate their request.    For example, last summer U.S. Consular Sections in Canada restricted their TCN visa appointment availability due to high demand for U.S. visas from Canadian residents.

U.S. Consulates (and our office) generally recommend that the best place to obtain a U.S. visa stamp is at the U.S. Consulate in the applicant’s home of legal residence.    Applicants who appear at a U.S. Consulate at a third country should understand that in many cases, if their visa application is delayed or denied, they may not be able to travel back to the U.S. until they wait for the resolution of their application,  in many cases requiring them to travel to their home country and reapply.

Finally, TCNs going for U.S. visa stamping to Canada, Mexico or some of the adjacent islands should remember that the Automatic Visa Revalidation program would not allow them to travel back to the U.S. if their U.S. visa stamp application is denied/delayed.

Conclusion

While TCN visa applications in Kingston, Jamaica have not been completely eliminated, the restrictions in effect make it unavailable as a destination Consular Section for many U.S. visa stamp applicants.    As noted above, we recommend third-country nationals who consider going for a U.S. visa stamp application at a country other than their country of legal residence to research and consider their options well in advance of their anticipated visa application date.

We invite you to subscribe to our free weekly immigration newsletter to receive timely updates on this and related topics.  In the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions or comments, or if we can be of any assistance with this or related immigration-related issues.

Non-US Citizen and Moving? Don’t Forget to File AR-11 Notification with USCIS

Most non-U.S. citizens are required to report a change of their residential address within 10 days of moving within the U.S. or its territories.    This requirement becomes even more important when there is an application pending with USCIS.   The change of address notification is done by filing Form AR-11 electronically with USCIS.

Who Must File and Who Does Not Have to File AR-11?

The rule (8 CFR 265.1) is that all non-U.S. citizens in the United States are required to inform USCIS of their new address within 10 days of moving.   There are exceptions:  diplomats (visa status A); official government representatives to an international organization (visa status G), and certain nonimmigrants who do not possess a visa and who are in the U.S. for fewer than 30 days are not required to file AR-11.

U.S. citizens normally not required to a Form AR-11 with two important exceptions.    U.S. citizen petitioners who are petitioners in an application (for example, I-130 filing) should inform USCIS and update their address on the pending application so that they receive correspondence relating to the case.     Also, U.S. Citizens who have previously submitted a Form I-864 (Affidavit of Support) on behalf of someone who has become a permanent resident are legally required to notify USCIS of a change of address – in this case, a different form, Form I-865 must be submitted within thirty days of moving to inform USCIS of changed address.

Importance of Filing AR-11

It is important to follow and remember about this requirement for a number of reasons.

Perhaps most importantly, this is the law and there are penalties for non-compliance.   A willful failure to give written notice to the USCIS of a change of address within 10 days of moving to the new address is a misdemeanor crime.  If convicted, the alien (or parent or legal guardian of an alien under age 14 who is required to give notice) can be fined up to $200 or imprisoned up to 30 days, or both. The alien may also be subject to removal from the United States. (INA § 266(b)).   Failure to comply could also jeopardize one’s ability to obtain a future visa or other immigration benefits.

Additionally, USCIS uses their most current address information to mail case-related information.   This is true even if a case has been approved and closed for months or years.

Conclusion:  Electronic Filing Options Make it Easy to File AR-11

Compliance should not be burdensome.   USCIS allows electronic submission of Form AR-11 and compliance in most cases takes 5 to 10 minutes.    There are no government filing fees associated with this filing.   The form provides electronic confirmation and we urge everyone who files AR-11 to make and keep a record of the confirmed address change.

We invite you to subscribe to our free weekly immigration newsletter to receive timely updates on this and related topics.  In the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions or comments, or if we can be of any assistance with this or related immigration-related issues.

US and China Agree to Issue Longer-Term Visas for Visitors and Students

The Department of State announced earlier today that starting November 12, 2014, the U.S. and PR China have agreed to start issuing longer-term visas for visitors and students.     Chinese nationals who qualify for a B-category nonimmigrant visa (NIV) may now be issued multiple-entry visas for up to 10 years for business and travel. Qualified Chinese students and exchange visitors and their dependents who qualify for F, M, or J-category visas are now eligible for multiple-entry visas valid for up to five years or the length of their program.   This announcement would provide great relief to the increasing number of Chinese visitors and students in the United States who, under the current regime, are issued single-entry and/or one-year visas to the United States.

Fees and Process for Obtaining U.S. Visas Remains Unchanged

The eligibility, process and the fees for obtaining a U.S. visitor or student visa remain unchanged as a result of this announcement.    The basic visa fee remains $160 and includes passport delivery.   More information on the process, steps and fee payment can be obtained at www.ustraveldocs.com.   The changes are expected to be very popular among Chinese nationals and higher visa application load is expected with a possibility of increased visa processing times.    As it is always the case with U.S. visa stamp applications, proper advance planning is strongly recommended.

Longer Visa Validity Does Not Mean Longer Authorized Stay in the United States

It should be noted specifically that because a U.S. visa stamp has longer validity, it does NOT mean that its holder will be allowed to stay in the United States for longer period.

There is an important distinction between a U.S. visa stamp and authorized stay in the U.S.     A visa allows a foreign citizen to travel to a U.S. port of entry where a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer will grant admission.   In doing so, the officer will inform the traveler of the permitted length of stay (expiration should be noted in the passport).   The current change in visa validity does NOT change the permitted duration of stay for any visa class.  Remaining in the United States beyond the allowed duration of stay can result in a violation of U.S. immigration laws and may cause ban on entering the United States in the future.

Conclusion

We welcome these rules seeking to make it easier for Chinese nationals to travel to the United States.   The reciprocal rules would also help U.S. passport holders to obtain longer visas to visit China.

We will continue to monitor developments on this topic and provide updates.    Please do not hesitate to contact us if we can be of any assistance or answer any questions.  We also invite you to subscribe to our free weekly immigration newsletter to receive timely updates on this and related topics.

December 2014 Visa Bulletin – EB-3 Continues to Advance Significantly; EB-2 India Unchanged

The U.S. State Department has just released the December 2014 Visa Bulletin which is the third Visa Bulletin for the FY2015 fiscal year.   The major headline in the upcoming month’s Visa Bulletin is the continued forward movement in the EB-3 preference category.

Summary of the December 2014 Visa Bulletin – Employment-Based (EB)

Below is a summary of the December 2014 Visa Bulletin with respect to the employment-based categories:

  • EB-1 remains current across the board.
  • EB-2 for ROW, Mexico and Philippines are all current.    EB-2 India remains unchanged at February 15, 2005 after last month’s major retrogression.    EB-2 China moves forward by three (3) weeks to January 1, 2010.
  • EB-3 ROW, Mexico and Philippines advance by four (4) months to November 1, 2012.   EB-3 China advances by six (6) months to June 1, 2010 while EB-3 India  advances by only one (1) week to December 1, 2003.
  • The “other worker” categories for ROW, Mexico and Philippines advance by four (8) months to November 1, 2012.   EB-3 China remains unchanged at July 22, 2005 while EB-3 India  advances by only one (1) week to December 1, 2003.

Summary of the December 2014 Visa Bulletin – Family-Based (FB)

Below is a summary of the December 2014 Visa Bulletin with respect to some family-based categories:

  • FB-1 ROW, China and India all move forward by two (2) weeks to June 22, 2007.   FB-1 Mexico moves forward by five (5) weeks to August 15, 1994 and FB-1 Philippines moves forward by six (6) weeks to December 15, 2004.
  • FB-2A moves forward again (but not as much as the last few months) – it moves forward by three (3) weeks to March  22, 2013 for ROW, China, India and Philippines.  It also moves forward by three (3) months to January 1, 2013  for Mexico.

EB-2 India Retrogression Expected to Remain Through Summer of 2015

As expected, EB-2 India remains unchanged at the (severely retrogressed) February 15, 2005 date.    Unfortunately, no movement in EB-2 India is expected over the next several months with a possible forward movement towards the summer of 2015.

EB-3 Continues to Move Forward Significantly

Another notable development in the December 2014 Visa Bulletin is the continued notable forward movement in the EB-3 categories.    Most of the EB-3 categories have advanced by four months, on top of the significant forward movement in the October 2014 Visa Bulletin and in the November 2014 Visa Bulletin.  This should be welcome news to many EB-3 applicants (except EB-3 India where the forward movement is only of one week) who may be eligible for I-485 filings or processing of their immigrant visas at the U.S. Consulates abroad.    We are happy to provide a free quote for preparing and filing your I-485 application to those EB-3 applicants who are seeing an advancing and current (or soon to be current) priority date.

Current Priority Date?

Our office stands ready to assist in the applicable process to take advantage of a current (or close to current) priority date.   Those applicants whose priority dates are current as of the December 2014 Visa Bulletin may be eligible to process their (and their family members’) I-485 Adjustment of Status applications from within the U.S. or process their immigrant visa at a U.S. Consulate abroad.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if our office can help you take advantage of this (very time-sensitive for some) opportunity to file I-485 applications.    We are also happy to provide a free quote for preparing and filing your I-485 application.

Further Updates and News

We invite you to subscribe to our free weekly immigration newsletter to receive timely updates on this and related topics.  We also invite you to contact us if our office can be of any assistance in your immigration matters or you have any questions or comments about the December 2014 Visa Bulletin.  Finally, if you already haven’t, please consider our Visa Bulletin Predictions tool which provides personalized predictions and charts helping you understand when a particular priority date may become current and what are the movement patterns.

Case Processing Statistics from the Department of Labor (FY2014 Q4)

The Department of Labor has provided some updates for the fourth quarter of the Fiscal Year 2014 (July 1, 2014 to September 30, 2014) on their processing of PERM, H-1B LCA and prevailing wage determination cases and we are happy to share them with our clients and readers.

DOL Processing Statistics (Fourth Quarter, 2014 Fiscal Year)

PERM

According to the report, during the quarter, there were 21,559 new cases received (an increase of 3% from the same period in the prior year), 15,401 certified (notable decrease over the previous quarters), 1,065 denied (decrease, but in proportion of the rate of new filings) and 1,035 withdrawn (about the same as the prior quarter).

There are 59,901 applications pending as of September 30, 2014 with approximately 60% in analyst review stage (slight decrease), 30% under audit review (slight increase) and 9% on appeal (slight decrease.  It is interesting to note that there were no cases reported in supervised recruitment — we believe that this may be incorrect reporting, because there are supervised recruitment cases right now at DOL.

Prevailing Wage Determinations

The prevailing wage report provides some detailed breakdown of the rate of filings in addition to details about top employers, top occupations and top areas.   During the fourth quarter, there were approximately 37,000 prevailing wage determination requests filed — of those, 31,738 were for PERM cases (increase of 3% compared to prior year’s period), 1,558 were for H-1B cases (decrease of 14%) and 3,357 were for H-2B cases (decrease of 40%).     In terms of activity, 36,247 prevailing wage determinations were issued during the fourth quarter and the pending load has remained steady over the past quarters to about 14,619.

H-1B/LCA

The H-1B/LCA report also provides a breakdown in the rate of filings, in addition to some details about the top LCA filers and the top positions and geographic areas.    Since this quarter fell entirely outside of the H-1B cap filing season, the number of LCA filings is lower compared to other quarters during the year, and especially Q2.  Even then, there were 93,796 H-1B LCA filings in the fourth quarter.   During the quarter, there were 90,367 LCAs certified for 178,352 positions (one LCA can include more than 1 position).

According to DOL, 100% of the LCAs are processed timely within seven days of receipt.     The rate of LCA denial is fairly low (2,390 out of 100,620 determinations) and the main reasons remain (1) FEIN mismatch or failure to verify before LCA filing  or (2) prevailing wage tracking number issues.

Conclusion

The fourth quarter of the FY2014 shows increase in the number of DOL filings in a number of categories.   It is interesting to see that the rate of PERM prevailing wage requests has been going up over the past two quarters, which is likely to translate into a higher number of PERM filings and, as a result, increase in PERM case processing times.    We are hopeful that DOL would continue to work on decreasing its load and processing times, especially for the PERM cases.    We will continue monitoring DOL processing metrics and report any notable developments and trends.      Please visit us again or subscribe to our free weekly newsletter to ensure that you obtain this and related immigration-related news and announcements.

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