E-3 Visas Available Now

The U.S. Department of State (DOS) issued a Final Rule effective September 2, 2005 in the Federal Register. The category has requirements with respect to the education of the beneficiary and the job duties to be performed which mirror the H1B requirements. It thus will be helpful in some situations where the H1B otherwise would be the logical category.

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USCIS Announces An Update Regarding New H-1B Exemptions

On June 12, 2005, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) announced in a public notice that it has received 8,069 H-1B petitions that will count against the Congressionally-mandated exemption cap for fiscal year 2005 (October 1, 2004 through September 30, 2005) established by the H-1B Visa Reform Act of 2004.

The H-1B visa Reform Act of 2004, which went into effect on May 5, 2005, changed the H-1B filing procedures for fiscal year 2005 and for future fiscal years. The regulations make available 20,000 new H-1B visas for foreign workers with a minimum of a master's level degree from a U.S. academic institution, in addition to the Congressionally mandated annual cap of 65,000 H-1B visas.

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Department Of State Update on Implementation of E3 Visas for Australians

Our office receives many questions about when the new E-3 visa category will become available for Australian nationals. Until the Department of State (DOS) finalizes the procedures for the issuance of E-3 visas, these visas remain unavailable. Hopefully, processing for Australians in the E-3 classification will start in the next month or so.

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Do you want a J-1 visa? Find out how you can qualify, and where you can get one.

The J-1 visa (also known as the Exchange Visitor Visa) is designed to provide educational and cultural exchange programs, and to promote the sharing of individuals, knowledge and skills in education, arts and sciences. This visa enables people to participate in exchange visitor programs in the United States. Participants in this visa include students, trainees involved in on-the-job training, teachers engaged in research and teaching and international visitors interested in traveling, researching, consulting and demonstrating specific knowledge. Your spouse and/or unmarried children under the age of 21 may apply for entry under J-2 status.

To qualify for a J-1 visa, an individual must demonstrate to the U.S. government that they do not have an intention to abandon their foreign residence and meet one of the aforementioned criteria. Additionally, the individual must prove to the U.S. government that have sufficient funds to maintain themselves while in the U.S. and that they are fluent in the English language. Individuals can apply for a J-1 Visa at the US Embassy or Consulate with jurisdiction over their place of permanent residence. While one may apply at any US consular office abroad, it is advised they apply within jurisdiction. Participants in the J exchange program should present to the consulate a Form IAP-66, prepared by a designated sponsoring organization.

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Government Officials Provide Update at the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) Annual Conference on H-1B Numbers.

Our office has been receiving many inquiries from concerned clients regarding the H-1B visa cap. Many of our clients have been hearing rumors and reading on many message boards that the FY2006 H-1B cap is close to being met. We would like to emphasize that the FY 2006 cap for H-1B visas is not close to being met. Moreover, there are also approximately 11,000 visas still also available for FY2005 for the additional 20,000 new H-1B visas made available on May 5, 2005 to foreign workers with a minimum master's level degree from a U.S. academic institution.

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Update On FY2006 H-1B Numbers - Rumors That Cap Is Close To Being Met Are False

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) has provided the American Immigration Lawyers Association with an update on where it stands with respect to the Fiscal Year 2006 H-1B quota numbers. According to AILA, USCIS has stated that, despite rumors to the contrary, the USCIS has not reached enough fiscal year 2006 cap-subject H-1B petitions to be nearing the cap. Unofficially, the USCIS has indicated to AILA that H-1B petitions are coming in more slowly than had been predicted. This is most likely due to the increse in USCIS filing fees that went into effect earlier thie year.

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As of June 26, 2005 Travelers From Visa Waiver Countries Must Have Machine Readable Passports

On June 7, 2004, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) issued a reminder to all travelers from the 27 Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries that in just over 2 weeks they must have a machine-readable passport to enter the United States without a visa. CPB strongly urges anyone traveling to the United States to check their documents to ensure that they have a machine-readable passport and other proper documentation to enter the United States. By having the correct documents, CBP officers can easily verify an individual's identity and quickly process them into the United States."

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USCIS TO ACCEPT ADDITIONAL H-2B FILINGS FOR FY 2005 AND 2006

Washington, DC - Beginning May 25, 2005, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin to accept additional petitions for H-2B workers as required by the Save Our Small and Seasonal Businesses Act of 2005.

WORKERS WHO BENEFIT FROM THE ACT

The Act allows USCIS to accept filings beginning May 25, 2005 for two types of H-2B workers seeking work start dates as early as immediately:

1. For FY 2005: Approximately 35,000 workers, who are new H-2B workers or who are not certified as returning workers as set forth below, seeking work start dates before October 1, 2005.

2. For FY 2005 and 2006: All "returning workers," meaning workers who counted against the H-2B annual numerical limit of 66,000 during any one of the three fiscal years preceding the fiscal year of the requested start date. This means:

a) In a petition for a work start date before October 1, 2005(FY 2005), the worker must have been previously approved for an H-2B work start date between October 1, 2001 and September 30, 2004.

b) In a petition for a work start date on or after October 1, 2005 (FY 2006), the worker must have been previously approved for an H-2B work start date between October 1, 2002 and September 30, 2005.

c) If a petition was approved only for "extension of stay" in H-2B status, or only for change or addition of employers or terms of employment, the worker was not counted against the numerical limit at that time and, therefore, that particular approval cannot in itself result in the worker being considered a "returning worker" in a new petition. Any worker not certified as a "returning worker" will be subject to the numerical limitation for the relevant fiscal year.

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Save Our Small and Seasonal Businesses Act of 2005-H2B Visa Relief

The H-2B visa enables US businesses and agents to fill temporary needs for nonimmigrant workers. The "Save Our Small Businesses and Seasonal Businesses Act of 2005" that was part of the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Package (H.R. 1268) signed into law by President Bush on May 11, 2005 restructures the way these nonimmigrant workers are counted against the annual 66,000 numerical cap on H-1B visa. This legislation is a much needed relief for employers who hire temporary nonimmigrant seasonal works in light of the fact that the numerical cap for H-2B visas was reached in both the 2004 and 2005 fiscal years. This new emergency legislation addresses the problem of the H2B cap by introducing a similar procedure to that of the H-1B cap to count nonimmigrant workers against the cap. As per the new regulations, a "returning worker" is not counted against the cap each time a case is filed for him or her.

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The New E3 Visa for Nationals of Australia

On May 11, 2005, President Bush signed into law the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Package (H.R. 1268). Part of the legislation contained several immigration related provisions. One of the provisions enacted by Congress created a new work visa category for Australians that in many respects will make it one of the most attractive visas in US immigration law. The new law will largely take Australians out of the H-1B quota and offer them a visa that is similar, but more flexible than the H-1B. It also incorporates some of the elements of an E treaty visa and functions as a hybrid visa that should be highly useful to Australian nationals seeking work in the US.

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H-1B Visa Reform Act of 2004 (Questions & Answers)

In a recent teleconference between the United States Immigration and Citizenship Service (USCIS) and representatives of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), several operational issues affecting the filing of H-1B cases and conversion of FY2006 cases to FY2005 cases under the recently implemented H-1B Visa Reform Act of 2004 were discussed. Please see our May 3, 2005 posting for more information of the H-1B Visa Reform Act of 2004. The following is a summary of the discussion between the USCIS and AILA on this matter.

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20,000 Additional H-1B Visas Will Be Available To US Masters Degree Holders Beginning May 12, 2005

The United States Citizenship & Immigration Service (USCIS) indicated yesterday (May 2, 2005) that it will publish the regulation implementing the additional 20,000 H-1B visas for the fiscal year 2005 on May 5, 2005. The regulation indicates that new H-1B petitions and conversions for these additional 20,000 visas will be accepted 5 business days after this regulation is published in the Federal Register. This means that the USCIS will be accepting cases for this 20,000 batch beginning May 12, 2005. Employers wishing to file cases that fall within this quota should file the cases on the initial date that the 20,000 visas are available as it is anticipated that the 20,000 visas will be depleted quickly. Below you will find a summary of the regulation that is to be published by the USCIS on May 5, 2005.

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Update on the additional 20,000 H-1B Visas to be added to this year's cap

As mentioned in our H-1B Visa Update last month an additional 20,000 H-1B visas were to be added to this year's 65,000 H-1B cap as mandated by Omnibus Appropriations Act for FY 2005. The regulation implementing these 20,000 H-1B numbers for the 2005 fiscal year was cleared last week by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB)and has been sent to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for signature. Once this this guidance is published on the federal register by DHS, USCIS will begin accepting these additional 20,000 H-1B applications. It is anticipated that the DHS will review and sign this regulation very quickly. This regulation is expected to be published in the Federal Register as early as this week.


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Immigration Options For Entrepreneurs Seeking To Start Ventures In The United States

An international entrepreneur's ownership of a U.S. business offers the entrepreneur a wide range of options for temporary and permanent immigration to the United States. Most nonimmigrant (temporary) options available to entrepreneurs are largely dictated by the individual's personal history, goals and investment. This article will explore the business immigration options for foreign nationals seeking to start new business ventures in the United States.

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H-1B Visa Update

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on December 8, 2004 that President Bush signed the Omnibus Appropriations Act for FY 2005, which contains provisions affecting the H-1B and L nonimmigrant visa categories. Both the H-1B and L programs allow U.S. employers to sponsor temporary foreign workers.

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L-1 Visa Update

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on December 8, 2004 that President Bush has signed the Omnibus Appropriations Act for FY 2005, which contains the L-1 Visa Reform Act of 2004.

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