Update: U.S. Visa Application Fee Increase Effective June 4, 2010

The State Department has announced that U.S. visa application fees will increase effective June 4, 2010. Only nonimmigrant (temporary) visa application fees are affected, although a separate proposal to increase immigrant visa application fees is pending. Update: The Embassy has now announced the exact fee for applicants who pay in RMB: For U.S. Consulates in China,…

H-1B Cap Update–No Rush on H-1Bs

At the Vermont Service Center Stakeholder meeting held on Tuesday, April 6, 2010, VSC reported that, as of close of business on Monday, April 5, 2010, VSC had received a total of 9,525 cap-subject H-1B petitions. Of those petitions, 6,791 were “regular” cap, and 2,734 were advanced degree. All cases received before April 7, 2010,…

U.S. Consulates in China Continue Roll-Out of Form DS-160, Nonimmigrant Visa Application

I was proud to learn today that the very first Form DS-160, Nonimmigrant Visa Application, to be received by the U.S. Consulate in Chengdu was prepared by our law firm. Our client’s visa was approved. I previously reported that the U.S. State Department has announced that by March 2010 all nonimmigrant visa applicants in China will need…

Tectonic Shift: Now Chinese Undergrads Are Studying Abroad

In the past, Chinese students applied in droves to study in science, technical, and math graduate programs in the U.S. But a tectonic shift is taking place. Now, greater numbers of Chinese are applying to study as undergraduates abroad too. Leading reasons seem to be: * Greater wealth in China means more families can afford…

USCIS Reaches FY 2010 H-1B Cap

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that it received a sufficient number of H-1B petitions to reach the statutory cap for fiscal year (FY) 2010.  Dec. 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…

Visa Application Fee Increase Proposed by State Department

The U.S. Department of State proposes increasing nonimmigrant visa application fees. The December 14 proposal cites an independent cost of service study finding that the U.S. Government is not fully covering its costs for processing visas. The current fee is $131. The new fee schedule would be tiered because “the cost of accepting, adjudicating, and…

The Obama Administration’s Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs) Should Provide for Investor Visas

The Obama Administration is busily negotiating bilateral investment treaties (BITs) with China, India, Russia, and Vietnam. BITs aim to attract foreign direct investment (FDI) to the United States and protect American investors’ rights abroad. It’s disappointing, then, that the Administration seems to omit from the BITs a provision for investor visas, despite the fact that previous…

New Book: The Visa Processing Guide & Consular Posts Handbook

It was my pleasure to write a chapter for the new book, The Visa Processing Guide & Consular Posts Handbook (2009-2010), published by the American Immigration Lawyer’s Association (AILA). This 800-page reference book for immigration lawyers provides insight on procedures and strategies for consular processing of U.S. nonimmigrant and immigrant visas. More information is available…

USCIS Focuses Fraud Investigations on Small Companies

I previously reviewed a September 2008 USCIS report, entitled H-1B Benefit Fraud & Compliance Assessment, finding that small companies are more likely than large companies to violate the rules related to employing workers with H-1B visas. In January 2009, I reported that USCIS had implemented the report’s recommendations by closely scrutinizing small companies filing H-1B petitions,…

Gazing Into the Crystal Ball–Part III–Changes in Fingerprint Procedures for Visa Applicants

In August 2008, I reported that the U.S. Consulate in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, planned to outsource part of the U.S. visa application process—fingerprinting would be done by private contractors at a separate facility. This began on April 6. Before going to the visa appointment at the U.S. Consulate in Ciudad Juarez, applicants must first make…

USCIS Says Annual H-1B Visa Cap Not Yet Reached

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced yesterday that the annual H-1B visa cap of 65,000 new H-1B petitions had not yet been reached. In fact, USCIS has only reached “about half” that number of petitions, according to a USCIS spokesman. As background, H-1B visas are temporary work visas for professionals. There is an annual…

Advice for Dealing with Long SAO Waits

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, nonimmigrant visa applicants are now waiting for 12-14 weeks for Visas Mantis security advisory opinions (SAOs). This SAO is a security check to ensure that science and technology students and professionals seeking U.S. visas aren’t likely to try to illegally export U.S. technologies. These waits are terribly disruptive to business and…

Gazing into the Crystal Ball–Part II: Future Changes in U.S. Visa Processing

Last year I wrote a post about possible future changes in U.S. visa processing. The State Department has now released more information about their plans, allowing a clearer glimpse at the future of visa processing. A Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC) has been created by the State Department with the goal of supporting “an Internet-based,…

USCIS Increases Scrutiny on Small Companies Filing H-1B Petitions

I previously reported on a September 2008 USCIS report, entitled H-1B Benefit Fraud & Compliance Assessment, finding that small companies are more likely to violate H-1B visa rules. USCIS apparently now has begun making procedural changes consistent with the report. The American Immigration Lawyers Association believes that USCIS has in some cases made overly broad requests…