May 2015

Immigration Law Newsletter, May 2015

Congress Must Enact H-1B Visa Reform

During the H-1B visa application period of April 1 to April 7, 2015, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) received nearly 233,000 applications, a significant increase over last year when 172,500 applications were filed during the first week of April 2014. Currently, only 85,000 H-1B visas are issued, which means that about two-thirds of applicants will have their petitions sent back without even being reviewed.

The number of applications filed has increased year after year during the past three to four years, which indicates increasing demand for high skilled workers as the U.S. economy continues to improve. Thus, the demand for H-1B visas will likely keep increasing, making the current H-1B visa problem even worse in the coming years.

In January 2015, the Immigration Innovation (“I-Squared”) Act of 2015 was introduced in Congress, which, if passed, would help alleviate some of the problems with the H-1B visa program. The key changes in the I-Squared Act that would affect the H-1B visa program are as follows:

Blanket L-1

Companies that frequently apply for L-1 visa category can benefit by filing a blanket L-1 petition for its intracompany transferees. The blanket L-1 petition is filed in anticipation of future transfer of employees to the U.S. rather than for any particular individual. Under blanket L-1 program, the company will receive one approval from USCIS for all transfers involving managerial and executive (L-1A) employees, as well as professionals with specialized knowledge (L-1B). The approved blanket L-1 is valid for an initial period of three years, with the option to file for an extension at the end of three years. The extension of blanket L-1 petition, if approved, is valid for an indefinite duration.

In order for a company to qualify for blanket L-1 petition, the following has to be met: