U.S. Immigration News for Japanese Companies - May 2012

Date: 5/9/2012
 U.S. Immigration News for Japanese Companies - May 2012

H-1B Cap Count Update

USCIS updated its count of the number of H-1B petitions that it has received for Cap cases with employment to begin on or after October 1, 2012. As of May 4, 2012, USCIS receipted approximately 32,500 H-1B cap-subject petitions toward the 65,000 cap and receipted approximately 13,700 H-1B cap-subject petitions toward advanced degree H-1B cap of 20,000.

New 5-Year L-1 Visas Require Presentation of Form I-797

U.S. Embassies and Consulates have been issuing the new L-1 visas with a visa validity period of five years for Japanese citizens. The new L-1 visa stamps also contain a new notation, "MUST PRESENT APPROVED I-797 OR I-129S AT POE." Therefore, it is extremely important that all new L-1 visa holders carry with their passports, the original Approval Notice Form I-797 issued by USCIS in the United States. If the individual applied for and was issued an L-1 blanket visa at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate, the individual should carry a copy of the I-129S. In addition, when they are undergoing customs and immigration processing at the Port of Entry (POE), they will need to be prepared to present these documents. Under the L-1 regulations, individuals being admitted pursuant to L-1 visa status are to be given a valid period of stay not to exceed the underlying L-1 petition validity period, which is provided on the Form I-797 approval notice. The Forms I-94 issued by CBP should be issued to the I-797 validity date and not to the L-1 visa validity date.

Arrival/Departure Form I-94 to be Automated Beginning This Summer

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that it will begin automating the Form I‑94 in an effort to end the reliance on the paper Form I-94 as proof of valid immigration status. This process was completed for Visa Waiver Program (VWP) travelers who no longer complete a paper I-94W when they are processed at the port of entry. VWP travelers' passports and arrival stamps serve as evidence of their lawful status. DHS claims that the automation process has saved the agency and airlines approximately $19 million a year since its implementation. The next step is to fully automate and eliminate the paper Form I-94 for all other nonimmigrants. Initially, travelers will continue to complete the paper Form I-94, but during the entry process, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officers will create an electronic Form I-94 record. What will initially create confusion is that the paper Form I-94 number will not match the official electronic Form I-94 number. CBP will create a website where the traveler can enter certain biographical information to obtain their electronic I-94 number. The pilot program is scheduled to begin at sea and air ports of entry this summer.

This change has many implications due to the multiple uses of the Form I-94, such as its use in employment verification for Form I-9 and E-Verify purposes, issuance of social security cards and driver's licenses, etc.

Please continue to review our updates for any new information on this development.

For more information about this or any other immigration topic, please contact Eldon Kakuda via email at ekakuda@masudafunai.com or any of the other attorneys in Immigration Group.

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