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EIG Week in Review (March 7, 2014)

March 21, 2014

Highlights

  • April 2014 Visa Bulletin Released
  • Chile Newest Participant in Visa Waiver Program
  • UK Increases Salaries for Tier 2 Skilled Workers
  • Israeli Labor Strike Derails Visa Processing

April 2014 Visa Bulletin Released

The U.S. Department of State has released the Visa Bulletin for April 2014.  With the exception of India EB-2 and EB-3, all other Chargeability Areas have moved ahead in the Employment-Based categories.  India EB-2 remains at November 15, 2004 and India EB-3 remains September 15, 2003.

The April bulletin movement can be summarized as follows:

EB-1

  • All countries remain current.

EB-2

  • The world-wide quota, Mexico, and the Philippines remain current.
  • Persons in the EB-2 category born in China are current if they have a priority date of March 8, 2009 or earlier (jump of 3 weeks).
  • Persons in the EB-2 category in India are current if they have a priority date of November 15, 2004 or earlier (no change from March 2014 bulletin).

EB-3

  • Persons in the EB-3 category and falling into the world-wide quota are current if they have a priority date of October 1, 2012 or earlier (jump of 1 month).
  • Persons in the EB-3 category and born in China or Mexico are also current if they have a priority date of October 1, 2012 or earlier (jump of 1 month).
  • Persons in the EB-3 category and born in India are current if they have a priority date of September 15, 2003 or earlier (no change from March 2014 bulletin).
  • Persons in the EB-3 category and born in the Philippines are current if they have a priority date of June 15, 2007 or earlier (jump of 6 weeks).

EB-4 and EB-5

  • All countries remain current.

The complete Visa Bulletin for April 2014 can be found at: http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/english/law-and-policy/bulletin/2014/visa-bulletin-for-april-2014.html.


Chile Newest Participant in Visa Waiver Program

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced that Chile will become a member of the Visa Waiver Program (VWP).  It is the first Latin American country to be included; most participating countries are in Europe and in Asia.  The VWP allows citizens of participating countries to travel to the United States without a visa for stays of 90 days or less, as long as the purpose of the visit is for business or tourism.  Beginning May 1, 2014, eligible Chilean e-passport holders may travel to the United States under the VWP.


UK Increases Salaries for Tier 2 Skilled Workers

Beginning April 6, 2014, the UK Home Office will update its salary rates for Tier 2 skilled workers.  This change will require companies sponsoring Tier 2 skilled workers to satisfy higher salary thresholds for Restricted Certificate of Sponsorship (RCoS) applications.

The Home Office has adjusted the RCoS application periods in April and May and delayed the allocation date in April to prepare for these changes.   The Home Office will only accept applications for April RCoS allocations between April 6, 2014 and April 16, 2014, and decisions will be made on those applications on April 18, 2014.  The Home Office will consider emergency requests via e-mail, which must explain the exceptional circumstances, to be considered at the discretion of the Home Office.

In addition to salary increases, the Home Office will also replace several current Standard Occupation Classification (SOC) codes with more options for positions within the following occupational fields: electrical engineers, medical practitioners, pharmacists, health professionals not elsewhere classified, nurses, and social workers.


Israeli Labor Strike Derails Visa Processing

Employees of Israel’s Foreign Ministry recently announced a labor dispute, effectively shutting down operations at Israeli embassies and consulates worldwide.  It is not immediately clear for how long the strike can be expected to last or when Israeli consulates will resume accepting and processing visa applications.  The strike is the second within the last year and comes after a seven month mediation with the Israeli Government. In the meantime, the work stoppage is expected to result in lengthy processing delays and application backlogs.  As such, companies should take this into consideration when sending employees to the area.