InfoPass Opens in New York City

USCIS formally opened its web-based appointment system, InfoPass, to residents of New York City yesterday. In addition, the organization has committed to implementing the program nationwide by September 2004.

USCIS Director Eduardo Aguirre, who was at the launch yesterday, stated that this new program would mean the end of waiting at the New York City district office. “This is another important stride for USCIS in our commitment to offer customers first rate service,” said Aguirre. “InfoPass debuted last year in Miami and in a matter of weeks we saw a dramatic decrease in the lines and wait times for our clients. We’re optimistic we’ll have similar results in New York and in all of our offices.”

Last year, more than 350,000 people were served at the New York City District Office.

InfoPass is available online at http://www.uscis.gov

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Homeland Security to Extend Certain F and J Visas — Deadline July 30

The Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services, on February 25, 2004, published a notice detailing the procedures the organization would follow as the numerical cap for the H-1B category (FY 2005) would be reached.

As part of the procedures, the Department of Homeland Security has extended the status of certain F and J nonimmigrant students if Homeland Security has received from their prospective employer a timely filed request for change of nonimmigrant status to that of an H-1B visa holder on or prior to July 30, 2004. In addition the employment start date of this petition must be on or before October 1, 2004.

ETA Works Toward Addressing Backlog of Labor Certification Applicatins

The Employment and Training Administration (ETA) of the Department of Labor (DOL) is issuing an interim final rule in order to address the backlog of pending applications for labor certification for aliens seeking permanent employment in the U.S. This amendment will enable a National Certifying Officer to transfer to a centralized processing center applications that are waiting to be processed at State Workforce Agencies or regional offices. This interim rule will only affect applications filed under current regulations and will not affect new proposals to streamline processes.

This interim final rule is effective August 20, 2004 Written comments about this rule must be received on or before that date. Comments can be made online at regulations.gov by using the Regulatory Information Number 1205-AB37.

USCIS Announces Number of Remaining H-1B Visas for FY 2005

USCIS officials announced recently that, as of May 2004, 16,000 petitions for H-1B visas have been approved for fiscal year 2005. This means that only 49,000 remain for that year before the annual cap is closed.

USCIS stated that it began accepting H-1B petitions for FY 2005 on April 1 of this year. The minimal amount of H-1B visas remaining may pose a problem for corporations; many depend on international professionals to fill vacancies and gaps in IT and other specialized positions.

USCIS reached its cap for FY 2004 in February of this year.

NSC Changes Medical Service Notification Procedures

The Nebraska Service Center (NSC) is changing its procedures related to medical service notifications that are issued to National Interest Waiver (NIW) physicians filing via I-485. These forms are submitted by certain physicians serving in Medically Underserved Areas or VA facilities who have filed and received approved I-40 petitions.

NSC notifications will now include a pink cover sheet for each NIW notification response that is required. All responses must be accompanied by this pink notification sheet, which should be placed on top of the response.

This new procedure is being implemented so that NSC can better track the evidence and better adjudicate I-485s after the five year period of service is completed.

Note: This pink cover sheet should only be included with responses to NIW physician medical service notifications, and should not be utilized when submitting evidence for other forms or purposes.

This change is effective immediately.