USCIS REACHES H-2B CAP FOR SECOND HALF OF FISCAL YEAR 2008
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced this week that it has received a sufficient number of petitions to reach the congressionally mandated H-2B cap for the second half of Fiscal Year 2008 (FY2008). USCIS is hereby notifying the public that January 2, 2008 is the “final receipt date” for new H-2B worker petitions requesting employment start dates prior to October 1, 2008. The “final receipt date” is the date on which USCIS determines that it has received enough cap-subject petitions to reach the limit of 33,000 H-2B workers for the second half of FY2008.
The cap was reached with existing totals for that day. USCIS will reject petitions for new H-2B workers seeking employment start dates prior to October 1, 2008 that arrive after January 2, 2008.
USCIS will apply a computer-generated random selection process to all petitions which are subject to the cap and were received on January 2, 2008. USCIS will use this process to select the number of petitions needed to meet the cap. USCIS will reject, and return the fee, for all cap-subject petitions not randomly selected.
Petitions for workers who are currently in H-2B status do not count toward the congressionally mandated bi-annual H-2B cap. USCIS will continue to process petitions filed to:
Extend the stay of a current H-2B worker in the United States;
Change the terms of employment for current H-2B workers and extend their stay; or
Allow current H-2B workers to change or add employers and extend their stay.
More information about the H-2B work program is available at www.uscis.gov or by calling the National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283.
USCIS Extends Suspension of Premium Processing Service
for Religious Workers (R-1) Nonimmigrant Visa Classification
WASHINGTON—U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today that suspension of premium processing services for religious worker (R-1) visa petitions will be extended until July 8, 2008. A previous six-month suspension was announced on June 18, 2007.
The Premium Processing Service provides faster processing of certain employment-based petitions and guarantees a 15-calendar day processing time. USCIS needs additional time to assess whether it is possible to provide this level of service for nonimmigrant religious worker petitions. Due to the complexities with adjudicating R-1 visa petitions, USCIS cannot reasonably ensure a level of processing service within 15 calendar days.
On April 25, 2007, USCIS proposed significant revisions to its regulations related to the special immigrant and nonimmigrant (R-1) religious worker visa classifications. USCIS is currently considering comments on the proposed rule and promulgating the final rule. The proposed rule suggested steps to eliminate fraud in the religious worker program and discusses concerns addressed in an August 2005 Benefit Fraud Assessment conducted by USCIS’ Office of Fraud Detection and National Security. That assessment revealed potential vulnerabilities in the religious worker program.
USCIS will continue processing R-1 visa petitions which include already-established procedures designed to ensure the legitimacy of the petitioner and statements made in the petition. The procedures may include inspections, evaluations, verifications and compliance reviews for religious organizations – procedures that exceed the 15-day guarantee for premium processing.
In the future, if USCIS is able to properly process these cases within 15 calendar days of receipt, the Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker (Form I-129) requesting R-1 nonimmigrant visa classification may once again be available for premium processing services. Additionally, USCIS may prescribe additional conditions of availability on the Premium Processing Service for religious worker petitions.
USCIS Press Release