EIG Week in Review (March 28, 2014)


  • Premium Processing of FY2015 H-1B Cap-Subject Petitions to Begin by April 28, 2014
  • U.S. State Department to Conduct Site Visits of J-1 Program Hosts in California 
  • USCIS Expands e-Request Online Services  
  • Netherlands Joint Work and Residence Permit Available April 1, 2014
  • Ukraine Strengthens Immigration Requirements for Russian Nationals 

Premium Processing of FY2015 H-1B Cap-Subject Petitions to Begin by April 28, 2014

The filing period for H-1B petitions subject to the fiscal year 2015 numerical cap begins on April 1, 2014. The annual cap is set at 65,000 H-1B visas, with an exemption for the first 20,000 petitions filed on behalf of those who hold a U.S. master’s degree or higher.

H-1B petitions may be filed under an expedited processing service, known as “premium processing,” which guarantees an adjudication within 15 calendar days from the date USCIS receives the petition. However, in anticipation of a high volume of premium processing requests, and in order to determine which petitions meet the cap, USCIS will begin premium processing cap-subject H-1B petitions no later than April 28, 2014.

USCIS will continue to accept the Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service, with fee, concurrently with the Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, during the time period that premium processing is unavailable, and petitioners may also upgrade a pending H-1B cap-subject petition to premium processing once USCIS issues a receipt notice.  Although the Form I-797 receipt notice will indicate the date USCIS received the premium processing fee, the 15-day processing period will begin no later than April 28, 2014.

The 15-day period for premium processing requests for H-1B petitions that are not cap-subject continues to begin on the date that the request is received.

U.S. State Department to Conduct Site Visits of J-1 Program Hosts in California

The U.S. State Department, Office of the Private Sector Exchange, will be conducting field site visits of J-1 host sites in the San Francisco Bay Area during the week of April 7, 2014.   The Office of the Private Sector Exchange is also organizing meet-and-greet sessions with Intern and Trainee exchange visitors on April 8, 2014 in downtown San Francisco, California.

The purpose of the site visits is to learn about potential areas of improvement to the J-1 exchange visitor program and is part of a larger evaluation of the Intern and Trainee categories of the J-1 program.  During the visit, it is expected that evaluators will want to speak with both the J-1 participant and the supervisor and will likely ask for a tour of the host company site.  Evaluators will also be interested in the J-1 participant’s involvement in American cultural activities. Evaluators will be making determinations that the J-1 participant is in a training or internship role and not serving as a productive employee of the host company.  Employers should be prepared to provide the DS-7002 training plan and explain how closely it is being followed.

At the discretion of the State Department, field site visits may be unannounced or scheduled with the host organization, with the sponsor’s assistance.  Host employers should also note that Office of Private Sector Exchange personnel will present Government ID badges for identification purposes.

USCIS Expands e-Request Online Services

USCIS has added new capabilities to e-Request, the agency’s online inquiry system for customer service.  Customers can submit questions to USCIS through e-Request to assist with inquiries regarding the following circumstances:

  • Your case has been pending longer than posted processing times;
  • You did not receive an expected notice from USCIS, such as a biometrics appointment notice or an interview notice;
  • A USCIS-issued card, notice, or document contains a typographical error; or,
  • You are requesting a disability accommodation at a USCIS office.

In addition, effective March 21, 2014, customers can submit questions about USCIS-issued cards and documents that they have not yet received in the mail.  Customers may continue to inquire about processing times, check case status, and change their address online at www.uscis.gov/tools.

Netherlands Joint Work and Residence Permit Available April 1, 2014

Beginning April 1, 2014, foreign nationals working in the Netherlands for a local employer for more than three months may apply for a combined work and residence permit in lieu of separate permits.  Foreign nationals should submit applications for the Combined Permit for Stay and Work (GVVA) with the Dutch Immigration and Naturalization Service (IND), which relies on guidance from the Dutch Labor Office regarding the labor market.

The IND will issue the GVVA if guidance is positive and all other criteria are met and will also issue a separate document stipulating any conditions imposed on the work permit.   Intra-company transferees, foreign nationals working in the Netherlands for less than three months, seasonal workers, students, and Croatian nationals are not eligible for the GVVA.

Ukraine Strengthens Immigration Requirements for Russian Nationals

Russian nationals residing or visiting Ukraine, as well as their dependents, are now required to present a valid international passport, and it is strongly encouraged that they also acquire a temporary residence permit.  Formerly, Russian nationals only needed an internal passport for travel within the Commonwealth of Independent States member countries.

In light of this new requirement, it is recommended that Russian business travelers also carry the following documentation when traveling to Ukraine:  (1) a letter from their home country employer, explaining the business purpose of the trip and stating that the employer will provide financial support of no less than 800 UAH per day for the duration of the trip, and (2) an invitation letter from the Ukrainian host company, confirming that the person is invited to travel to Ukraine for business purposes.  Both letters should be issued on the appropriate company letterhead.

To date, Russian nationals are not required to obtain an entry visa for travel to Ukraine, although Ukraine is considering implementing a rule that would require it.