U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that it will resume premium processing for certain visa categories starting 1st June, 2020.
For H-1B visas, the agency will offer premium processing from 8 th June for petitions that are pending adjudication and are cap exempt. This would include visa extension requests for petitions that have been included in the annual quota earlier. All other Form I-129 petitions (non H-1B petitions) for nonimmigrant classifications eligible for premium processing filed before June 8 that are pending adjudication.
On March 20th, the USCIS had announced that it a temporary suspension of premium processing for Form I-129 and I-140 petitions because of closures on account of Covid-19. Under this, the agency would process the application within 14 days, making it easier for companies to plan how to deploy their employees once the visa comes through.
The agency said that premium procession for cap-subject petitions for FY21 would be available effective 22 nd June. This would also include petitions for change of status for F-1 non-immigrant status. However, all dates are subject to change as the USCIS continues to take on more premium processing requests.
3 April 2020
Immigrant Doctors on H1-B Visas say visa limitations prevent them from assisting with COVID-19 patients
At a time when America’s health care system is being strained to the breaking point and states are summoning medical professionals into emergency service, many immigrant physicians say their hands are tied by U.S. visa restrictions that remain in place during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking with VOA from Logan, West Virginia, Indian-born Dr. Rama Krishna Yalamanchili said immigrant doctors are being trained in the United States and stand ready to do more to help during America’s time of urgent need, but many are legally constrained.
“I am on a H-1B visa [for workers in specialized fields]. ... I am authorized to work at a specific hospital and in a specific job,” Yalamanchili said. “Even in my hospital, I can’t work anywhere except in the specific job I got.”
Yalamanchili is one of thousands of foreign doctors who are working in the U.S. on temporary visas. He specializes in internal medicine. His contract gives him 10 days off after working 15 straight days.
“During my time off, I want to be able to help in areas in need,” he said.
Professionals like Yalamanchili can change jobs while living in the U.S. only if they apply to transfer their visas. But U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the agency responsible for adjudicating visa requests, temporarily cut back on services and closed offices to the public until May 3.
13 February 2020
US-India Trade Relations
Trade between the United States and India has grown steadily ever since India’s economy began to take off in the mid-1990s and its information technology sector shot to prominence in the early 2000s. From 1999 to 2018, trade in goods and services between the two countries surged from $16 billion to $142 billion. India is now the United States’ eighth-largest trading partner in goods and services and is among the world’s largest economies.
India’s trade with the United States now resembles, in terms of volume, U.S. trade with South Korea ($167 billion in 2018) or France ($129 billion).
But as trade between Washington and New Delhi has increased, so too have tensions. U.S. and Indian officials have disagreed for years on tariffs and foreign investment limitations, but also on other complicated issues, particularly within agricultural trade. Concern for intellectual property rights has preoccupied the United States for thirty years, while issues concerning medical devices and the fast-growing digital economy have more recently emerged.
On top of this, the US administration has exacerbated tensions by creating new dilemmas, including a focus on bilateral trade deficits and the application of fresh tariffs, prompting retaliation from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government.
3 January 2020
Countries where Americans can Travel Visa-Free
The USA passport is actually one of the most powerful passports in the world, according to the Henley Passport Index, which current ranks the US in 6th place in terms of ‘travel freedom’. The States currently shares their 6th place spot with Canada, The UK, Switzerland, Belgium, Norway, Greece and Ireland.
So what countries are in the 1st place spots? Singapore and Japan are currently tied for the most powerful passport in the world. Don’t get too jealous America… they only get access to a handful of extra countries Visa-free, 6 more to be exact.
Since Americans can travel to 184 countries without having to pre-apply for a Visa, it means travelling abroad is much easier, cheaper, and more accessible.
Visa's can be expensive, be very difficult to qualify for and can take a lot of time depending on what country you are trying to enter, so having automatic ‘visa-free’ entry is a blessing.
Please note: Even if a American passport is given visa-free access to a specific country, there are still rules on how long a visitor can stay.
6 Months or MORE Visa Free:
Albania – 1 year
Antigua and Barbuda – 6 months
Armenia – 180 days
Bahamas – 8 months
Barbados – 6 months
Belize – 180 days
Bermuda – 6 months
Canada – 6 months
Cayman Islands – 6 months
Central African Republic – 180 days
Dominica – 6 months
Georgia – 1 year
Gibraltar – 180 days
Jamaica – 6 months
Mexico – 180 days
Montserrat – 6 months
Panama – 180 days
Peru – 183 days
United Kingdom – 6 months
3 December 2019
Who Are America’s Undocumented Immigrants? You Might Not Recognize Them
Nearly half of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants now in the country did not trek through the desert or wade across the Rio Grande to enter the country; they flew in with a visa, passed inspection at the airport — and stayed.
Of the roughly 3.5 million undocumented immigrants who entered the country between 2010 and 2017, 65 percent arrived with full permission stamped into their passports, according to new figures compiled by the Center for Migration Studies, a nonpartisan think tank. During that period, more overstayers arrived from India than from any other country.
Overstayers represent about 46 percent of the 10.7 million undocumented immigrants in the United States, according to the migration center’s data. This is not necessarily because of a huge jump in the number of people overstaying their visas; rather, their proportion of the undocumented population has soared amid a huge decline in border crossings since 2000.
The largest number of overstayers — about 1 million — hail from Mexico, a neighboring country with a long history of commercial and family ties and substantial flows of people across the border. But the picture is changing. Between 2010 and 2017, 330,000 Indians overstayed their visas, more than from any other country. Large numbers of people from China, Venezuela, the Philippines, Brazil and Colombia also overstayed.
Many undocumented Asians — including a large number from India — have settled like the Ohs in and around Sunnyvale, about 50 miles southeast of San Francisco, according to the Center for Migration Studies analysis.
Apple, LinkedIn and other tech titans in the area employ many whom the companies have sponsored for legal work visas or permanent residency in the United States.
Some of them stay on as independent programming contractors after their visas have expired or after leaving a company that sponsored them for a visa.
But they are only part of the story. Many undocumented Indians here in Sunnyvale have low-skilled service jobs, catering to their well-heeled brethren who frequent the Indian supermarkets, eateries and clothing shops that line El Camino Real, the main commercial corridor.
6 November 2019
Polish Citizens to Travel Visa-Free to US From 11 November 2019
Poles will be able to travel to the US visa free from November 11, the Polish press has reported.
Speaking in a joint press conference with US Ambassador to Poland Georgette Mosbacher, Polish President Andrzej Duda said that Poland’s accession to the United States Visa Waiver Programme was a major step and praised Donald Trump, his US counterpart, for taking the decision to facilitate visa-free travel.
Poland was granted accession to the US visa-free travel scheme after its visa refusal rate to the US dropped below three per cent (to 2.8 per cent) in September.
Just three European Union countries now remain outside of the visa waiver programme: Bulgaria, Croatia and Romania.
15 October 2019
US Courts block new immigration restrictions
Federal judges in three states blocked stricter regulations for non-citizens seeking to immigrate to the US.
Non-citizens applying for a tourist, student, or work visa may face difficulties if they are over 62 years of age, young yet uneducated or un- or under-employed, or suffer from an illness which may impair their future ability to work or study.
Individuals who may request federal aid for food or housing may also be rejected, the report claimed.
The August regulations in question were "enforcing this longstanding law to prevent aliens from depending on public benefit programs," an August 12 statement from the White House said. "The Immigration and Nationality Act makes clear that those seeking to come to the United States cannot be a public charge."
"For many years, this clear legal requirement went largely unenforced, imposing vast burdens on American taxpayers. Now, public charge law will finally be utilized. Self-sufficiency has long been a basic principle of our Nation’s immigration laws that has enjoyed widespread support.
"Public charge has been a part of United States immigration law for more than 100 years as a ground of inadmissibility. Congress passed and President Bill Clinton signed two bipartisan bills in 1996 to help stop aliens from exploiting public benefits. This included the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act and the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act.
"As Congress made clear at the time, it is our national policy that aliens should 'not depend on public resources to meet their needs.'"
An October 4 release by the White House emphasized that another set of new restrictions- which discussed an applicant's ability to present a health care plan - will "not affect the entry of aliens entering the United States through means other than immigrant visas, including lawful permanent residents.
21 June 2019
H-1B visas benefits India and Silicon Valley
India and the United States are risking a fight over trade and technology. Both sides have applied new tariffs, and the Trump administration has raised objections over barriers American companies face.
Now, there's reportedly a new threat hanging over the relationship — the United States may be looking to hit India where it hurts by slashing the number of visas available to its skilled workers.
The Trump administration has told India it is considering capping the number of H-1B visas granted to some countries, Reuters reported Thursday, citing three sources with knowledge of the matter. The cap would apply to countries that force foreign companies to store data locally, according to Reuters.
"We have not heard anything officially from the US government on this matter," Raveesh Kumar, the spokesperson for India's Ministry of External Affairs, told reporters.
The US State Department denied considering a cap on the number of H-1B visas.
"The Trump Administration has no plans to place caps on H-1B work visas for nations that force foreign companies to store data locally," a State Department spokesperson told CNN.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is due to arrive in New Delhi next week, the first visit by a high-ranking American official since Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi began his second term in office following a comprehensive election win last month.
Pompeo "looks forward to his trip to New Delhi next week to advance our strategic partnership," the spokesperson added.
Domestic Migration in the US - Americans are Moving South to Florida
A recent Census Bureau report on migration that took a look at a handful of data sets covering different aspects of where Americans are moving reinforced the trend of Americans moving south. The report noted that in 2018, about 1.2 million people moved to the South from one of the other three regions of the US, while just 714,000 moved out of the South, for a net gain of about 512,000.
According to that report, Florida had the most people moving in among the states, with about 566,000 people moving to the state in 2017. The Bureau noted that the Empire State was the biggest source of new Floridians, with about 64,000 New Yorkers moving to the Sunshine state in that year.
India may soon be staring at a large number of US-based expats returning to the country, as the rate of refusal of H-1B visa extensions goes up. According to reports, H-1B visa applications are undergoing greater scrutiny in the recent past, which has led to an increase in the number of requests for evidence (RFEs).
By filing an RFE, US visa authorities can seek additional information before they make a formal judgment on an application for the H1-B visa. When asked for this information, applicants must provide adequate evidence to establish the position as a speciality occupation, a prerequisite of the H-1B visa. An RFE can significantly slow down a visa process, thus increasing time and money spent on the application. If the visa authorities are not satisfied with the additional information, it can lead to a rejection of the extension.
According to data released by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), 60% of H1-B cases were issued RFEs in the first quarter of 2019. Worst hit are IT consultancy companies, which have seen higher denial rates for visa applications. USCIS denied 80% of Capgemini’s H-1B visa applications, as compared to a 1% denial rate for US-based non-consultancy companies such as Apple, Facebook and Amazon.
According to US President Donald Trump’s speech on Wednesday, as there are more companies moving back to the US, more additional workers are needed.
While the US government has cut legal immigration by granting fewer visas and approving fewers refugees, Trump remarked that he would like to see more legal immigration as US companies need workers to run the factories and plants. Also, he called for immigrants to move to US legally in the largest numbers ever and mentioned “We need people.”
US Signed a new trade agreement with Mexico and Canada
According to US, the new trade agreement has advanced protections for businesses’ and workers’ interests, it will be the most modern, up-to-date and balanced deal. The new trade agreement called “United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement (USMCA)” will replace the previous “North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)”.
Under the USMCA, it provides incentive to auto sector in using high-wage manufacturing labor. Autoworkers in US can be benefited from the new deal. Moreover, USMCA also take fair trade of agriculture products into account. The US believe USMCA can bring benefit to US businesses and workers, also help to reinforce transparency and stability in its currency.
The Harvard Business School professor William Kerr published a new book namely “The Gift of Global Talent: How Migration Shapes Business, Economy & Society”, suggested why the US government should welcome more skilled immigrants.
Skilled immigrants produce lots of economic output which supported the US technology industry by writing softwares, designing products and starting business in US.
Skilled immigrants also act as a complement to the native workers by exchanging ideas with the locals.
The growth rates of housing prices slow down in 20 US cities
The growth rates of housing prices in July increased at the slowest rate in 10 months, it shows that the increasing mortgage rate is now being a more significant factor for potential house buyer. The slow down of growth rate also indicate that the demand for housing is increasing against the limitation of affordability.
For potential buyers, especially young buyers or first-time purchaser, although the growth rate of housing prices are still outpacing growth of wage, the prices may be more affordable now and they can get further relief as the appreciation of housing prices slow down.
According to Conference Board report released on 28, US consumer confidence has been increased by 4.3%, from 127.9 in July to 133.4 in August, which also hit record high since Oct 2000.
The surging US economy and consumer confidence help boosting sales of retailers. Target and Walmart, two of the largest retailers reported that, their sales growths in the recent quarter reached record highs not seen in at least a decade.
Walmart recorded an increase of 4.5% in sales last week , while Target reported an increase of 6.5%. Moreover, foot traffic to Target stores grew by 6.4%, which is the highest rate since 2008, indicating a surging US economy in this year.
US Justice Department released report on cyber-security operations and strategy on foreign actors
US Justice Department released a 156-page report regarding the cyber-security operations and strategy on foreign actors that influenced U.S. elections. The report focuses on several kinds of cyber-threats, it also mentions about what the Justice Department and intelligence agencies have done to alleviate the threats.
The report states the efforts paid to counter negative foreign influence operations towards US, especially influences that are related to elections.
For task force related to cyber digital, Justice Department plans to better inform the victims of cyber targeting. As FBI and US Attorneys’ officials are spread out across the US, it allows them to inform individuals and companies with ease. Also, New criminal statues are needed to prosecute these crimes. It is necessary to set up criminal statutes for crimes targeting foreign operations and spreading misinformation in the aim of affecting public opinion.
According to Commerce Department’s latest report, due to US export rose to a record high and increase in shipments of industrial materials and soybeans, the US trade deficit in April fell to a seven-month low record.
Trade gap is the smallest since September 2017, which is narrowed 2.1% to $46.2billion in April 2018. While trade gap in March is $47.2billion.
In April, exports of goods and services rose 0.3%, exports of industrial supplies and materials also reached record high. At the same time, imports of goods and services, and consumer goods dropped.
However, economist suggested that, US consumers’ preferences on exotic foreign goods remain unchanged; many US companies also prefer foreign goods in their production of products.
A senior economist at Wells Fargo Securities in Charlotte suggested that US economy is showing a faster progress in growth in the second quarter, although it is not on a stable footing. Besides, he also suggested that attention should be paid to trade tensions, as it is still a threat to US economy and might derail the growth.
According to the monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey released by the US Labor Department, in March, there is an increase in number of workers quit their jobs voluntarily. This reveals that the confidence in the labor market increases, and is believed that the wage rate can be boosted this year.
The number of job opening in March hits record high, it is the highest job opening numbers since the data series started in 2000.
The increase in quit rate can become a upward pressure on wage. Most of the workers who voluntarily quit and change their jobs can receive higher level of wage after change, this shows that there are greater wage growth for workers to switch job.
Skills mismatch and lack of qualified workers are also causes that lead to growth of job opening. US businesses are trying to employ qualified workers in the market, the labor market is now getting hotter.
Increase in H-1B visa Application reveals strong demand for high-skilled foreign talent
According to National Foundation for American Policy’s report released in April 2018, compared with FY 2016, there is a significant 78% increase in the number of approved H-1B visa for initial
employment in FY 2017. The top H-1B visa workers’ employers in FY 2017 are US technology companies, including Amazon (2,515 new visas), Microsoft (1,479), IBM (1,231)Intel (1,230) and Google (1,213).
These technology companies are those that focus on research and development. The statistics also show that there is a strong demand for high-skilled talent in the US economy. Other than these large technology companies,
emerging technology companies such as Telsa, Uber and General Motors, may also increase their demand for highly-skilled foreign workers and researchers. However, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services stated that, compared with the high H-1B visa application rate (190,000) in FY2018, the insufficient H-1B visa annual limit (8,500) cannot support the US economy size.
The US Metros with the highest number of H1-B Visa Approvals
Lottery for the visas in the H-1B visa program, which is the largest temporary employment visa program highly regarded by the technology industry
in the U.S., has already begun this year. Research showed that between 2010 and 2016 the majority of employers joining this temporary employment visa program
located along the metropolitan areas on the East Coast and in Texas, with almost 30% in New York City. However, the allocation might be different this year as the Trump Administration tightens the control.
The skilled immigrants’ entry and renewals of visas might be more difficult than before, ensuring the high standard of foreign skilled workers’ employment.
14 March 2018
International Student Reductions
US colleges are experiencing a downturn in incoming international students, attributed to a number of prominent changes. The escalating cost of college tuition, lengthened visa period,
reduction in F-1 visa approvals are the main factors contributing to the difficult financial situation that some US universities have encountered. Nonetheless, they welcome overseas students with open arms as they add diversity to the classroom and motivate the advancement of science and technology.
US EB-5 Investor Visa, known as the “golden visa”, has been gaining popularity over the past few years, owing to its comparatively simple requirements and transparent application process. Despite the fact that the Trump Administration intends to heighten the investment amount per applicant in the regulatory category, the "golden visa” probably remains
a favourable migration option for many, attributed to the generous exemption from education or income requirements and an enhanced accessibility to the Green Card. For more details about US EB-5 Investor Visa and securing immigration eligibility , please feel free to contact us.