Update From The Dol Backlog Processing Centers
Thousands of South Asians who have filed labor certification applications with the Department of Labor before the recent PERM system was instituted now finally have good news on the progress of those cases at the Backlog Processing Centers (BPC).
The DOL had previously reported that these cases, all filed prior to March 2005, would be receiving "45-day letters" to verify whether the employer wished to proceed with the cases, some of which had been pending since 2001. The target date for completing that process was July 2006, and based on Subhani & Subhani LLC's experience with the system, all letters have been issued as expected. Upon completion of that process, we expected that regular processing of cases would proceed, and approvals would be issued on a consistent basis. However, based on our experience and anecdotal evidence from other lawyers, the volume of decisions continues to be fairly modest and sporadic. There has been slow movement, particularly, in the last half of August and in early September 2006. In our experience, Georgia cases are receiving labor certifications for those cases filed from May to June 2003. This is at the expense of earlier filed cases, and there does not appear to be a process of "first-in, first-out" as previously stated by the DOL.
However, a very positive new aspect of the system is that an on-line case status system is now available. This requires that the user have the BPC receipt number, which is found on the 45-day letter. The website to then use is: http://www.pbls.doleta.gov/pbls_pds.cfm. You can also access the system by going to http://workforcesecurity.doleta.gov/foreign/, and clicking "Backlog Case Status" on the far left side of the page. Furthermore, the DOL has stated that all cases will be processed by October 2007. However, the increase in the volume of labor certifications being issued will directly impact the number of visas available for these categories, typically the EB-2 or EB-3 categories. As a result, we strongly recommend that those with current priority dates file their cases at US CIS asap, to avoid the inevitable and imminent backlog.
INCREASE OF NONIMMIGRANT VISA FEES IN INDIA
The U.S. consulates in India began requiring nonimmigrant visa fees of Rs. 4,800.00 as of August 7, 2006. This is an increase from the previous rate of Rs. 4,600.00, which was the equivalent of $100 U.S. The increase applies to the nonimmigrant visa application only, and does not affect HFDC or VFS fees. Visa applicants must go to an HDFC branch to pay both the visa fee and the VFS service fee of Rs. 281.
In addition to the application fee, there is a nonimmigrant visa issuance fee of Rs. 2,400. This is payable only if the visa is approved and issued to the visa applicant in one of the following nonimmigrant visa categories: B (tourist), H (temporary worker), I (media person), L (intra-company transferee), O (Outstanding Professor / Researcher), P (Professional Athlete or Person in Arts, including culturally unique arts and their staff members), Q (Irish cultural exchange), and R (religious worker). Persons who purchased 4,600.00 demand drafts prior to the August 7th date on which these fees went into effect, will not be required to bring an additional Rs. 200 to cover the increase.
Visa applicants should always first check the website of the consulate where they will apply for a visa. It is important to verify the filing fees and other details to avoid rejection of one's application even before the merits of the case can be considered.
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