Hello everybody. This is Cyrus Mehta. Welcome to this week's edition of Immigration Matters.
I am pleased to inform you that both the Senate and House of Representatives have passed the H-1B bill. This is a significant victory and those of you who contacted your representatives over the past several months should be proud that you participated in a successful and fruitful exercise in American participatory democracy.
Let's analyze the H-1B bill, which will become law when the President signs it.
The cap on H-1B visas for Fiscal Year 2000, 2001, and 2002 will be raised to 195,000 per year from 115,000 visas.
Nationals of oversubscribed countries will be able to use unused immigrant visa numbers from undersubscribed countries. This will do a lot to relieve the terrible backlogs for Chinese and Indian nationals in the EB2 and EB3 categories. Each country, regardless of population or past usage, gets the same number of visas per category. However, most of these visas are not used. Countries like India and China have many more nationals than visa numbers available to them. This results in the lengthy backlogs. The bill will allow these Indian and Chinese nationals to use the unused visas from other countries, reducing the backlog and easing the need for people to begin their permanent residence strategy when they came into the United States on an H-1B visa.
Another interesting feature is that H-1Bs who have filed immigrant petitions, i.e. I-140s and are awaiting green cards, can file for an extension of H-1B status beyond six years.
Extensions will be granted in one-year increments to H-1Bs who had labor certification or I-140s filed at least 365 days prior.
Indian and Chinese nationals in EB3 categories can therefore file for extensions beyond the 6 years on the H-1B, which will prevent them from going out of status.
The 195,000 cap will not apply to H-1B workers employed at higher educational institutions, nonprofit entities, and governmental research organizations.
H-1Bs will also be able to transfer their status more easily as an employee may take a new position once the H-1B transfer has been filed. Employers will no longer have to wait for the H-1B approval to start their new employee so long as the H-1B is in status at the time of filing and has not engaged in unauthorized employment.
Another interesting feature is that I-140s and Labor Certifications will be portable. Individuals who had adjustment of status applications pending over 180 days may change jobs or employers without affecting the validity of the I-140 or underlying labor certification, so long as the new position is in "the same or a similar occupational classification" as the I-140 or labor certification.
Once an individual has received an H-1B visa, the person will not be counted against the cap again. This is very important. This will allow an individual to leave the US after an H-1B transfer has been filed for them without causing them to be stuck in the cap. This person can get her new H-1B status at the Consulate abroad.
It also appears that the fee will be raised to $1000 to file an H-1B. The bill is great news and is a repudiation of the anti-immigrant feelings of earlier Congresses and the Chairman of the Immigration Subcommittee, Lamar Smith, whose own H-1B bill was rejected by the Congress and the business community. We thank everybody for having participated in a successful and fruitful exercise in American participatory democracy and will keep you posted on future developments.
I hope you found this segment interesting and helpful. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Offices of Cyrus Mehta at 212-686-1581. The number once again is 212-686-1581. You can also e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
or visit our website at www.cyrusmehta.com
Have a wonderful weekend.