Online Filing Options Through New FLAG System

The new Foreign Labor Application Gateway, “FLAG”, has been adding new filing capabilities in the past few months.  Next on the to-do list is moving H-1B filing over to FLAG, along with filings for H-1B1 and E-3 programs.  The shift is scheduled for later this year. The U.S. Department of Labor unrolled the new Foreign Labor Application Gateway, “FLAG”, earlier this year to “serve as the new application filing and case management solution for all foreign labor certification programs.”  The new system is set to replace the current iCert System, and as each process filing shifts to FLAG, applicants are no longer able to file using the iCert System.  FLAG allows users who had a Prevailing Wage Determination to link it now to an application in FLAG.   While it started with simply the option to create accounts, users can now file CW-1, H-2B, and Prevailing Wage.  Upon an application’s submission, users will be assigned a permanent FLAG case number within about 15 minutes.  There is also the opportunity to use client profiles to pre-fill sections of application, create a network with other members of your team, withdraw cases, receive automated case alerts, and view past submissions.   The most […]
Continue Reading

The ‘Buy American and Hire American’ Executive Order Two Years Later

On April 18, 2017, President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order titled “Buy American and Hire American.” The President insisted that the Executive Order would favor American workers more so than the policies already in place. He also intended, among other things, for the “Buy American and Hire American” Executive Order to address his concerns with the H-1B visa program. The President thought that the H-1B lottery system should be modified so that H-1B visas would only go to the most skilled and highest-paid applicants. He also insisted that the H-1B system should not be allowed to replace American workers with foreign workers. The new Executive Order was meant to address these flaws in the H-1B program. Technically, the executive order did not create any laws or modify any that already existed. Instead, the Order set in place a policy for the maximization of the production, and sale of goods, products and materials produced in the United States. With an eye toward fulfilling the mandate of the “Buy American and Hire American” Executive Order, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has applied new rules, directives and adjustments to safeguard the jobs of American workers and to avert abuses of […]
Continue Reading

USCIS Reaches the H-1B Cap for 2020

The H-1B program provides an avenue for businesses in the United States to bring foreign nationals into the country to work. But, not just any foreign national will qualify for an H-1B visa. H-1B visas apply only to foreign workers with at least a bachelor’s degree and to occupations that require “highly specialized knowledge.” For example, H-1B visa holders often work in the fields of science, engineering, information technology, teaching and accounting. Making H-1B visas even more selective, the United States Congress has mandated a cap for the number of H-1B visas that will be offered every year. The cap is currently 65,000. There is, however, an exemption from the cap for an additional 20,000 foreign nationals who have earned a U.S. master’s degree or higher. Of course, the number of applications from businesses in the United States for H-1B visas greatly exceeds the cap. The open filing period for H-1Bs began on April 1, and by April 5, USCIS announced that they had received enough applications to meet the cap of 65,000. In total, USCIS received 201,011 H-1B petitions during the filing period. Due to the large number of applications, the applicants that will receive H-1B visas are chosen […]
Continue Reading

USCIS Launches H-1B Employer Data Hub

On April 1, 2019, USCIS launched the H-1B Employer Data Hub, a search tool/information base that provides information to the public. Some employers in the United States use the H-1B program to temporarily employ foreign workers in certain occupations. The Data Hub helps the public to view which employers petition for H-1B workers and calculate approval and denial rates. A petitioner can be searched by fiscal year, NAICS code, employer name, city, state or ZIP code. Data for individual fiscal years is available to download on the H-1B Employer Data Hub Files page. USCIS has also created the Understanding Our H-1B Employer Data Hub page to help the public use the data hub and understand the terminology used within.  USCIS will provide quarterly updates and annual releases of the data and anticipates updating the data hub on a quarterly basis. For example, data for the first quarter of a fiscal year (October through December), will be provided in April of that fiscal year.  If you have questions on the H-1B category or are interested in applying for an H-1B visa, be sure to contact Berardi Immigration Law today to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys!
Continue Reading

H-1B Notice Requirement Compliance by Electronic Posting

The United States Department of Labor (DOL) regulations require all H-1B employers to maintain a list of records regarding the H-1B workers that they employ. These records are referred to as the public access file, or PAF. The PAF includes documentation of such information as the rate of pay for the H-1B workers and a summary of the benefits offered to H-1B workers, among others. One important record that must be included in the PAF is documentation that certain notice requirements were satisfied. The DOL regulations demand that notice be given to U.S. workers on or within 30 days before the employer files the Labor Condition Application or LCA with the Department of Labor. The LCA is a form employers must file with the DOL Employment and Training Administration (ETA) on behalf of employees applying for a non-immigrant H-1B work visa. The DOL provides specific guidance as to what information the notice must include. For instance, the notice must include the number of H-1B non-immigrants the employer is seeking to employ, the wages offered, the period of employment, the locations at which the H-1B nonimmigrants will be employed, as well as other information. While the H-1B employer has no control […]
Continue Reading

Breaking News: Premium Processing Now Available for Fiscal Year 2019 H-1B Cap Cases

After months of suspension, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will resume premium processing for fiscal year 2019 H-1B petitions as of January 28, 2019. This includes the advanced degree exemption cases, often referred to as the “master’s cap.” In 2018, USCIS announced that H-1B premium processing would be suspended until February 2019 to reduce delays in processing and to address the backlog present in this highly sought-after category. While fiscal year 2019 cap cases and master’s cap cases will be eligible for premium processing going forward, USCIS noted that this service will remain suspended for all other H-1B petitions that were impacted by the original memo outlining the parameters of the suspension. Currently, premium processing is only available for pending fiscal year 2019 H-1B petitions, as the cap has already been met. USCIS plans to resume premium processing for all remaining H-1B petitions as the agency’s workload permits.  The H-1B category provides work authorization for specialty occupations and receives many petitions every year. Premium processing creates a fast track allowing applicants to receive an answer on a petition within 15 calendar days, giving applicants peace of mind.  If you are interested in applying for an H-1B visa or would […]
Continue Reading

Recent Changes to the LCA for H-1B Cases

Employers should take note of several changes the Department of Labor (DOL) has made to the labor condition application (LCA) that is currently in effect. Recent changes primarily effect employers who place H-1B dependent foreign national employees at offsite locations.   Employers are mandated to have an approved LCA from the Department of Labor if they wish to file an H-1B petition. H-1B visa holders generally work in a specialty occupation. While LCAs are also required for other visa categories, the changes to the requirements apply specifically for the H-1B category. The LCA is crucial to the application process since it includes vital information about the proposed employment, such as the nature of the job, wage information and the location. The employer must also attest to the non-displacement of workers, that wage levels are set at or above the prevailing wage, and to comply with notice requirements.  The updated LCA form requires an H-1B dependent employer to submit education documents to verify the qualifying degree if the foreign national is considered exempt based on a master’s degree. Determining whether an employer is H-1B dependent varies based on the individual employer. Only certain documents are acceptable to fulfill this exemption requirement. […]
Continue Reading