Reminder: Begin H-1B Process Early
H-1B petitions for the 2007 fiscal year will be accepted for processing beginning April 1, 2006. Because H-1B numbers tend to run out quickly, any prospective H-1B applicants should begin the process now to enable filing before the cap is met. In 2005, USCIS had received enough H-1B petitions by August to meet the cap for the 2006 fiscal year, which did not begin until October 1.
Dept. of Labor Proposes to Eliminate Labor Certification Beneficiary Substitutions
The DOL is proposing to eliminate the current practice of allowing the substitution of beneficiaries on permanent labor certification applications. Also, the DOL proposes a 45-day limit for employers to file approved labor certifications in support of an I-140 immigrant visa petition with U.S. CIS. The proposed rule, published in the Federal Register on February 13, 2006, would apply to all pending and approved permanent labor certification applications. Immigration advocates have taken issue with several of the provisions, so it is likely that the final regulation will have many changes. We will keep Khabar readers updated as news becomes available.
Senator Specter Proposes Comprehensive Immigration Reform
In February, Senator Arlen Specter introduced an immigration bill regarding the treatment of undocumented immigrants, foreign workers, and family-sponsored immigrants. The bill would allow immigrants who are present in the US unlawfully and working as of January 2004 to apply for a temporary visa that would allow them to work legally and travel abroad. In order to be eligible, immigrants would have to admit to being in the US unlawfully, show proof of employment, pay back taxes, undergo a medical exam, and submit an application within one year of date of enactment. Eligible family members could join the applicant, but would not be able to work.
This proposal does not create a path to permanent residence. Those who qualify under this program would have to be independently sponsored for permanent residency under the current employment or family-based systems. If a qualified applicant loses his or her job, a new employer would have to be found within 45-days who is eligible to hire a noncitizen under the new H-2C temporary worker program (see below).
The bill would also create a new temporary worker program, known as H-2C. Individuals who have lived unlawfully previously in the US, and are subject to grounds of inadmissibility under current law, would not be eligible for the H-2C program. The H-2C visa holder would receive travel permission and work authorization for 3 years. The individual's status would be renewed one time for a total of 6 years. To be eligible for a new H-2C visa, the worker would have to spend one year back in the home country. The H-2C holder would not be able to change status to another nonimmigrant visa category.
The bill would also increase the cap in the family-based visa system from 226,000 to 480,000. The employment-based quota will increase to 290,000 from 140,000. In addition, the bill increases the number of H-1B visas to 115,000 in the fiscal year following the enactment. It also exempts from the numerical limitation foreign nationals who have earned advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering, or math.
Finally, Senator Specter's bill proposes to provide additional benefits to nonimmigrants pursuing advance degrees. Students pursuing advanced degrees would be able to seek F-4 visas and could pursue a graduate program in the US. Such students, upon completing their advance degrees and attaining full-time employment, could apply for their permanent residence upon a payment of $1000. We will keep readers updated as these and other immigration bills come up for consideration in Congress.
Visa Preference Numbers for April 2006
FAMILY Pak/Bangladesh India
First 22Apr01 22Apr01
2A 01Mar02 01Mar02
2B 15Jul96 15Jul96
Third 22Jul98 22Jul98
Fourth 08Nov94 01Apr94
First C 01Jan05
Second C 01Jul02
Third 01May01 01Feb01
Other Workers 01Oct01 01Oct01
Fourth C C
Religious Workers C C
Fifth C C
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