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,… Continue reading USCIS Focuses Fraud Investigations on Small Companies

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

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

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… Continue reading Advice for Dealing with Long SAO Waits

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

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

Record Number of Chinese Students in U.S. Universities

In academic year 2007/08, there were 81,127 students from China studying in the United States, up 19.8% from the previous year. That makes China the second-leading place of origin for students coming to the United States, following India (94,563). These figures were released in a study called Open Doors: Report on International Educational Exchange, published… Continue reading Record Number of Chinese Students in U.S. Universities

USCIS Finds Small Companies More Likely to Violate H-1B Rules

H-1B Benefit Fraud & Compliance Assessment, a study published by U.S. Citizenship and Immigraton Services last month, finds that small companies are more likely to violate the rules related to H-1B temporary work visas. This finding is unsurprising because–as my clients constantly remind me–the rules are hyper technical. They consist of hundreds of pages of… Continue reading USCIS Finds Small Companies More Likely to Violate H-1B Rules

EB-5 Investor Visa Update from USCIS

On Sept. 22, 2008, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services released a powerpoint presentation with updates on the EB-5 investor visa program for Fiscal Year 2008. Here are the highlights: 12 new EB-5 regional centers were approved. 1017 Forms I-526, Immigrant Petitions for Alien Entrepreneurs, were filed. 350 Forms I-829, Petitions by Entrepreneurs to Remove Conditions,… Continue reading EB-5 Investor Visa Update from USCIS

U.S. Visa Invitation Letters for Sale—$16,000 a Piece

  The U.S. State Department has announced it is searching for Philip Ming Wong, a fugitive who has been indicted for his role in a visa fraud scheme. “Operation Shell Games” Targeted Brokers Who Supplied Chinese Citizens with False Documents and Fraudulent Visa Applications  United States Attorney Joseph P. Russoniello and Diplomatic Security Service (DSS)… Continue reading U.S. Visa Invitation Letters for Sale—$16,000 a Piece

Gazing into the Crystal Ball: Possible Future Changes in U.S. Visa Processing

If you had just one chance to gaze into a crystal ball, you probably wouldn’t use the opportunity to learn about the future of U.S. visa processing in China. So you’ll have to settle with glimmers of the future from a recently published U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, Border Security: State Department Is Taking… Continue reading Gazing into the Crystal Ball: Possible Future Changes in U.S. Visa Processing

Update: Consular Recommendations to Revoke Visa Petitions

Our law firm is often retained to represent clients where a U.S. Consulate has returned the visa petition to USCIS to consider revocation. This process is slower and less transparent than it should be. Still, this update explains that recently there have been some minor improvements in the process. These improvements were mentioned by Jonathan… Continue reading Update: Consular Recommendations to Revoke Visa Petitions

Map of Schools Approved to Sponsor Students with F-1 Visas

A map of schools approved for admission of students with F-1 visas has been posted on U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s webpage. If you know where you want to live but need help choosing a school, this map will tell you what schools in that location have been authorized by the government to sponsor students… Continue reading Map of Schools Approved to Sponsor Students with F-1 Visas

Tourism Agreement Should Be Applauded, But Does It Create an Unfair Monopoly?

On Dec. 11, 2007, the U.S. and China signed a memorandum of understanding on group leisure travel from China to the United States. This MOU should be applauded because it lifts prior Chinese rules restricting the travel industry. Still, a question remains whether travel agencies designated by the China National Tourism Agency (CNTA) will receive… Continue reading Tourism Agreement Should Be Applauded, But Does It Create an Unfair Monopoly?

Visa Statistics from the U.S. Embassy in Beijing

U.S. visa-issuing posts in China include the U.S. Embassy in Beijing and the Consulates in Shanghai, Guanghzou, Shenyang, and Chengdu. In calendar year 2007, the U.S. Embassy and Consulates in china issued 417,146 nonimmigrant visas, a 17% increase over 2006. The vast majority, 417,146 or 69%, were B1/B2 visas (visitors for business and pleasure). Student… Continue reading Visa Statistics from the U.S. Embassy in Beijing