Archive for December, 2009

Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act of 2010 Extends Certain USCIS Programs

Henry Chang | December 29, 2009 in United States Immigration | Comments (0)

The Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act of 2010 (the “Act”) was signed by the President on October 28, 2009. The Act extends the following programs until September 30, 2012:

  1. E-Verify
  2. The Immigrant Investor (EB-5) Pilot Program
  3. The special immigrant visa category for non-minister religious workers
  4. The date by which J-1 nonimmigrant exchange visitors must obtain that status in order to qualify for the “Conrad 30″ program.

Further details regarding these programs appears below.


E-Verify, an Internet-based system operated by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in partnership with the Social Security Administration (SSA), allows participating employers to electronically verify the employment eligibility of their newly hired employees. More than 168,000 participating employers at nearly 640,000 worksites nationwide currently use the program. Since Oct. 1, 2009, more than 1.3 million employment verification queries have been run through the system and approximately 96.9 percent of all queries are now automatically confirmed without any need for employee action.

EB-5 Regional Center Pilot Program

Under the Immigrant Investor Pilot Program, USCIS will continue to receive, process, and adjudicate all Regional Center Proposals and Forms I-526, Immigrant Petitions by Alien Entrepreneur, and Form I-485, Applications to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, affiliated with Regional Centers relying on “indirect” job creation analysis. Currently, there are more than 70 regional centers throughout the United States.

Special Immigrant Visa Category for Non-Minister Religious Workers

The special immigrant visa category for non-minister religious workers covers those within a religious vocation or occupation and also applies to accompanying or ‘following-to-join’ spouses and children of non-ministers. USCIS will continue to receive and process Form 1-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant and Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, based on Form I-360 petitions.

Conrad 30 J-1 Waiver Program

USCIS will continue to adjudicate immigration benefits covered by the “Conrad 30” program. The “Conrad 30” program allows each state health department to submit a request directly to the Department of State to initiate the waiver process for a foreign medical graduate who obtained J-1 status to change or adjust to another status without the required two-year foreign residence. The law previously required the foreign medical graduate to have acquired J-1 status before September 30, 2009; the law now extends the program to cover J-1 admissions before Sept. 30, 2012.

USCIS Reaches H-1B Cap for Fiscal Year 2010

Henry Chang | in United States Immigration | Comments (0)

On December 22, 2009, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it had received a sufficient number of H-1B petitions to reach the statutory cap for fiscal year (FY) 2010. As a result, December 21, 2009, is the “final receipt date” for new H-1B specialty occupation petitions requesting an employment start date in FY 2010. The “final receipt date” is the date on which USCIS determines that it has received enough cap-subject petitions to reach the limit of 65,000. USCIS has also received more than 20,000 H-1B petitions filed on behalf of persons exempt from the cap under the “advanced degree” exemption.

Properly filed cases are considered received on the date that USCIS physically receives the petition; not the date that the petition was postmarked. USCIS will reject cap-subject petitions for new H-1B specialty occupation workers seeking an employment start date in FY 2010 that arrive after December 21, 2009.

USCIS will apply a computer-generated random selection process to all petitions that are subject to the cap and were received on December 21, 2009. USCIS will use this process to select petitions needed to meet the cap. USCIS will reject, and return the fee, for all cap-subject petitions not randomly selected.

Petitions filed on behalf of current H-1B workers who have been counted previously against the cap will not be counted towards the congressionally mandated FY 2010 H-1B cap. Therefore, USCIS will continue to process petitions filed to:

  1. Extend the amount of time a current H-1B worker may remain in the United States;
  2. Change the terms of employment for current H-1B workers;
  3. Allow current H-1B workers to change employers; and
  4. Allow current H-1B workers to work concurrently in a second H-1B position.