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EIG Dispatch | April 15, 2016

April 15, 2016

HIGHLIGHTS

  • UPDATE: H-1B FY 2017 Lottery Process Complete
  • Venezuela Announces Delays in Processing Times Due to Reduction in Energy Consumption
  • U.S. Senate Intends to Analyze the EB-5 Visa Program for Foreign Investors
  • Colombia Now Requires More Documentation for TP-4 Applications

UPDATE: H-1B FY 2017 Lottery Process Complete

As reported in our April 7th Special Alert, USCIS announced that is has received enough regular and advance degree master’s cap petitions to meet the statutory cap of 85,000 visas on April 7th. This year over 236,000 petitions were filed with USCIS between April 1, 2016 and April 7, 2016. Starting April 9, 2016, USCIS selected 20,000 advance degree and 65,000 regular cap cases by a computer-generated random selection process.  Advanced degree cases that were not selected in the first 20,000 slots were combined with the remaining petitions for a second chance at selection. If a petition was not selected, it will be returned along with the filing fee, unless the petition is a duplicate filing.

USCIS is still accepting cap exempt cases. This includes petitions to change terms of employment, change employers, allow for concurrent work, or extend the time for current H-1B visa holders.

EIG will continue to notify employers and employees on a case-by-case basis as we receive Receipt Notices or Returned Petitions.


Venezuela Announces Delays in Processing Times Due to Reduction in Energy Consumption

Delays in document processing are expected from April to June in all Venezuelan government offices, including delays in document legalization, work permit applications, and visa renewals. The standard processing time for work permits and transient visa applications has increased from 42 to 61 days. This is the result of the Venezuelan government’s recent effort to reduce energy consumption by decreasing government office hours to five hours a day, Monday through Thursday. The 20 hour government work week is expected to end by May 31, 2016 but the delays will continue into June. Processing times in Venezuelan consulates abroad will not be affected.


U.S. Senate Intends to Analyze the EB-5 Visa Program for Foreign Investors

Significant critique of the EB-5 visa program has caused Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman, Chuck Grassley, to add a hearing on the program. The EB-5 visa program was created to give an opportunity for foreign investment in low-income and low-employment areas of the U.S. The program gives foreign nationals the opportunity to obtain legal residency by investing at least $500,000 in a new commercial enterprise and contributing to job creation. The program was created to help stimulate the U.S. economy.  Under the program, 10,000 immigrant visas are issued each year to foreign investors. Critics of the program claim the investments benefit wealthy neighborhoods where unemployment issues are scarce, thus unfairly benefiting the wealthy and widening the economic divide. EB-5 visa program supporters claim the program is a good business practice, as cities like Dallas, TX experienced job growth attributed to foreign investments under the program. The fate of the program is still up in the air as the most recent reform bill on the issue failed to pass the Senate floor in December 2015 and no other legislation has been drafted to modify this program.


Colombia Now Requires More Documentation for TP-4 Applications

As of March 2016, the Colombian Foreign Ministry requires additional documentation for both TP-4 temporary work visa applications and dependent applications. An initial TP-4 work visa application must include an employment contract, while TP-4 extension applications must include an employment certification provided by the Colombian company. Dependent visa applications must include marriage and birth certificates issued and/or legalized within three months of submission.

In the future, the requirement for an employment contract may extend to the TP-13 visa as well. It is advised to have all necessary documents ready when applying for the TP-4 and dependent visas to avoid delays in approval.