USCIS Announces Latest H1-B Petitions Statistics for FY 2003

Washington, DC— U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) today announced that during the first three quarters of FY 2003 it approved 56,986 H1-B petitions. This amount will be counted against the annual cap of 195,000 workers. H1-B visas are for specialty occupations, defense workers and fashion models.

USCIS also approved 84,534 H1-B petitions for persons who are exempt from the congressionally mandated cap on this visa category for nonimmigrant workers and specialty occupations. Exempt workers include those who are employed by institutions of higher education and nonprofit and government research organizations.

In addition, 47,813 petitions are pending adjudication, one-third of which would count against the cap if approved. Petitions filed in the third quarter were up 15 percent over the same quarter of FY 2002, and receipts through the first three quarters were up three percent over the same period last year.

 

                                             H-1B Statistics for FY2003
Month Receipts Approvals*
October 2002 18,926 20,201
November 2002 15,810 14,914
December 2002 15,907 12,755
January 2003 17,096 15,760
February 2003 16,124 16,118
March 2003 19,511 18,802
April 2003 19,698 18,092
May 2003 20,162 19,165
June 2003 21,454 20,316

* This figure reflects the total number of approved petitions, not the number of foreign workers for whom petitions have been approved. In some cases, more than one petition is filed on behalf of a worker.

On March 1, 2003, U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) became one of three former INS components to join the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. USCIS is charged with fundamentally transforming and improving the delivery of immigration and citizenship services, while enhancing the integrity of our nation’s security.

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Medical Certifications for Applicants for Adjustment of Status Extended

A recent Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS) memorandum has extended the validity of civil surgeon endorsements on Form I-693, Medical Examination of Aliens Seeking Adjustment of Status, for some applicants for adjustment of status. While civil surgeon endorsements are typically valid for just one year, the BCIS in October 2002 extended this validity period until the adjudication of the adjustment of status application was completed. This extension, however, did not apply to individuals with Class A or Class B medical conditions.

This extension was originally in effect only until January 2003. However, due to a backlog in adjustment of status adjudication, the BCIS has extended this policy until January 2004. Form I-693, when filed concurrently with Form I-485 is extended until the adjudication of an applicant’s adjustment of status, as long as that applicant does not have a Class A or Class B medical condition.

New Interim Rule Requires Applicants for the Diversity Visa Lottery Program to Submit Applications Online

In its continuing efforts to streamline and digitalize petitioning processes for visa applications, the Department of State is now requiring that all petitioners for the Diversity Visa Program submit their applications online via a specific Internet site. As of August 18, 2003, all applications for this program must be submitted via the web; paper applications will not be accepted.

ENTRIES FOR THE DV-2005 DIVERSITY VISA LOTTERY MUST BE SUBMITTED ELECTRONICALLY BETWEEN SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 1, 2003 AND TUESDAY, DECEMBER 30, 2003. APPLICANTS MAY ACCESS THE ELECTRONIC DIVERSITY VISA ENTRY FORM AT ‘WWW.DVLOTTERY.STATE.GOV’ DURING THE 60 DAY REGISTRATION PERIOD BEGINNING NOVEMBER 1. PAPER ENTRIES WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED. PLEASE NOTE THAT THE WEBSITE IS NOT WROKING YET.

The DOS believes that this new electronic system will make the application process less prone to fraud (facial recognition software, among other processes, will check for repeat applications), will improve the efficiency of the application process and will reduce the cost of the process to the U.S. government.

The Diversity Visa Program allocates 55,000 new immigrant visas each year for individuals from underrepresented nations. A nation is considered underrepresented if less than 50,000 people from that nation immigrated to the U.S. in the past five years.

Previous to this new rule, a petitioner was required to submit information via paper, sign the paper and attach a photograph of him/herself, along with photographs of spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21. While a signature will no longer be required with the electronic application, applicants (or individuals acting for the applicant) are required to attach digital photographs (of a specific size, composition and quality) to the digital application. Applicants will also be required to specify their gender (only for the purpose of implementing facial recognition software).

This interim rule is effective as of August 18, 2003. Written comments must be received on or prior to October 17, 2003 and should be addressed to: the Chief, Legislation and Regulations Division, Visa Services, Department of State, Washington, DC 20520-0106, by fax to 202-663-3898, or by e-mail to VisaRegs@state.gov.

BCIS Clarifies Interpretations of Period of Stay in Determining Unlawful Presence

The Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS) has seen an increase in multiple filings by alien visitors in cases where these visitors wish to extend stay in the U.S. while petitioning for a change of status. These aliens wish to stay in the U.S. under “legal status” while waiting for adjudication of an immigration benefits application.

According to BCIS, “some immigration practitioners consider the ‘period of stay authorized by the Attorney General’ to be equivalent to ‘status’.” These practitioners believe that because the alien is in status while the BCIS is adjudicating the alien’s application for an extension of stay (EOS) or change of status (COS), that individual can continuously file for EOS or COS, a strategy that would, more or less, enable the alien to stay in ‘lawful status’.

In an effort to clarify these concerns, the BCIS has issued the following response:

1. Where an alien files a timely EOS or COS application and that application is ultimately denied, the alien can begin to accrue unlawful presence beyond the date of the denial regardless of whether the alien files additional, but untimely, requests for EOS or COS that are awaiting adjudication.

2. An EOS or COS application must be filed within the period during which the alien is in an “authorized status” …. The period during which a timely filed EOS or COS application is pending continues the alien’s period of authorized stay in the United States (allowing the alien to avoid accruing unlawful presence), but does not extend the alien’s period of “authorized status”.

BCIS Memorandum Clarifies Regulations Concerning Concurrent Filing of Forms I-140 and I-485

A memorandum was recently released by the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS) in order to clarify adjudication in regards to processing Form I-485, the Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, in cases where the beneficiary of an approved Form I-140, Petition for Immigrant Worker, proposes to change employers.

On July 31, 2002, the legacy Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) released an interim rule allowing beneficiaries in certain circumstances to concurrently file Forms I-140 and I-485 when changing jobs. Previous to this rule, beneficiaries were required to first receive approval of their Form I-140 before filing Form I-485.

Immigration law specifically states that approval of Form I-140 will remain valid when an alien beneficiary changes jobs if the following two conditions are met:

· A Form I-485, on the basis of this I-140 petition, has been filed and has been unadjudicated for a period of 180 days or more, and
· The new job is in the same or similar field as the original job.

The concurrent filing process in no way effects this regulation. However, if the Form I-485 has been unadjudicated for a period less than 180 days during this change in employment, the Form I-140 will not continue to remain valid with respect to this new prospect of employment.

Similarly, if an approved Form I-140 is withdrawn by an employer on or after the Form I-485 has been pending for 180 days or more, the alien beneficiary will simply need to prove that the new position of employment is in the same or similar field as the original position.