UPDATE: As of June 30, 2015, the Department of State (DoS) reported that US consulates and embassies were back online, and that the majority of the backlog created by the last few weeks’ technical issues with the overseas passport and visa systems has been cleared. Some online immigrant visa (IV) application forms are still having problems, however; but DoS hoped to have a fix in place by first week of July 2015.
Technical problems with overseas passport and visa systems is now causing US passport and US visa issuance delays overseas. This is not specific to any particular country, citizenship document or visa category. The Bureau of Consular Affairs (BCA) is now working urgently to correct these problems and restore the system to full operational status as soon as possible. However, no timeline is available for correction of this problem.
Specifically, individuals who submitted online visa applications or were interviewed for US visas on or after June 9, 2015, may experience US visa issuance delays. These problems are also delaying US passport applications accepted overseas on or after May 26, 2015. more »
USCIS has reached the H-1B cap for fiscal year FY2016 for cap-subject employment starting October 1, 2015. In addition, USCIS has received more than the limit of 20,000 H-1B petitions filed under the US advanced degree exemption.
Now that the FY2016 H-1B quota is filled, USCIS will use a computer-generated process, also known as the H-1B lottery, to randomly select the petitions necessary to meet the FY2016 H-1B cap. For FY2016, the H1B limits are 65,000 for the general H1B category and 20,000 for the advanced degree exemption. more »
Effective May 26, 2015, USCIS will begin accepting applications for H-4 employment authorization (EAD) from certain H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B workers who are currently seeking employment-based lawful permanent resident (LPR) status in the US. more »
On January 13, 2015, a bipartisan group of Senators re-introduced the Immigration Innovation Act of 2015 (S.153), also known as the I-Squared Act (I-2 Act). Among other things, the I-Squared Act would increase the annual H-1b cap, provide for work authorization for H-4 spouses, allow for increased portability among employers and establish a number of provisions to allow green cards to be issued much more quickly. more »
President Obama announced to the nation US Immigration Executive Action on November 20, 2014. Prior to that time, the President requested US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Johnson and Attorney General Eric Holder to undertake a rigorous and inclusive review to inform recommendations on reforming the US immigration system through executive action.
Beginning on November 12, 2014, the United States and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) will each increase the validity of short-term business and tourist visas (B-1 and B-2 visas in the US) and student and exchange visas (F, M and J visas in the US). more »
Since late July 2014, the US Department of State (DOS) has been experiencing technical problems with the US Passport and Visa System which has been having an impact on US passport issuance as well as US visa issuance at US Consulates around the world. Below is further information, updated as it becomes available, on this problem. more »
On May 6, 2014, DHS announced proposals for H4 spouse work authorization (work authorization for H4 spouses of certain H1B holders), among other things, in an attempt to attract and retain highly skilled immigrants in the US. Specifically, on May 12, 2014, the DHS published two proposed rules: (1) to extend employment authorization to H4 spouses of certain H1B workers; and, (2) to enhance opportunities for highly-skilled workers by removing obstacles to their remaining in the US. more »
On April 29, 2014, the US Embassy Caracas (Venezuela) announced that they have resumed limited issuance of B-2 tourist visas for first-time B-2 applicants. This announcement came a month after US consular officials abruptly suspended issuance of B-2 tourist visas. The US Embassy Caracas reports that they remain understaffed, but that the arrival of additional consular officials along with the expectation of more reinforcements for the Embassy has allowed them to open a limited number of appointments for B-2 tourist visas. To make an application for US B-2 tourist visas, see the US Embassy Caracas Nonimmigrant Visa web page. more »
USCIS received approximately 172,500 petitions subject to the annual H1B cap during the FY2015 filing period, which began April 1, 2014, including petitions filed under the advanced degree H1B cap exemption. This means that nearly 85,000 H1B candidates will not receive an H1B for the coming fiscal year beginning October 1, 2014 (FY2015). It also means that if Congress does not act, H1B candidates who did not receive an H1B number for the coming fiscal year must wait until the beginning of the following fiscal year (FY2016, which begins October 1, 2015) to try once again for an H1B. more »