April 1 is the day that U.S. employers seeking to sponsor working visas for professionals and skilled workers in the US must submit the complete application package, correct filing fees to the appropriate U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office.  A new H-1B additional fee of $4,000 is required for certain H-1B petitions and $4,500 for certain L-1A and L-1B petitions postmarked on or after December 18, 2015.

There is a yearly quota of 65,000 for the H-1B visas, a category for a work visa where the job being offered requires a bachelor’s degree or is a specialty occupation.  

This quota gets filled up in a matter of days.  In addition, selection is by luck or chance, since the H-1B visa is now by random computer selection, popularly known as “lottery.”

So don’t get fooled by job offers that assure your being picked once you pay the filing fees through an agency or employer.

When is the quota full?

The congressional mandated annual cap on the H-1B category is 65,000.  However, up to 6,800 visas are set aside from the 65,000 yearly cap for applicants from Chile and Singapore under free trade agreements with these two countries.

Another 20,000 H-1B visas are available for the first applicants with U.S. master’s degree or higher. “Once that limit is reached, any petitions filed for beneficiaries with a U.S. master’s degree or higher will count against the regular cap, unless exempt for other reasons.”

In addition, H-1B workers performing labor or services in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) and Guam may also be exempt from the H-1B cap if their employers filed the petition before December 31, 2019.

U.S. Immigrant Visas Full

Unless an individual being sponsored is the spouse, minor child, parent or fiancée of a U.S. citizen, the petition is covered by annual immigrant visa quotas.  While these visa petitions are called Preference Categories, the visa beneficiaries must wait until their priority date becomes current.  Even if a preference visa petition is approved by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the beneficiary must wait for an immigrant visa number to be available.  The approved petition is forwarded and kept by the National Visa Center (NVC).  Applicants are usually given notices of the availability of a visa number.

Availability is subject to the annual quota for each preference category. The U.S. Family-sponsored categories are:

When to Submit Documents for Visa Processing

Until late last year, the Visa Bulletin publishes only the priority dates for the preference categories. An applicant whose priority date is later than that published must wait for the next month to see if the priority date has advanced.

Also, an applicant may submit his documents to the National Visa Center upon receipt of a notice to start processing since an immigrant visa is already available.

That has changed.

Now, an applicant may check the dates on the monthly Visa Bulletin to determine if he or she may start to submit documents even without the NVC notice.

The applicant should check the current month’s FILING DATES.  Applicants whose priority dates are on or earlier than that published for a specific month (such as in March or April this year) should have received a notice of an immigrant visa interview date at the specific consular post - in the case of Filipinos – at the U.S. Embassy in Manila.

The priority dates for April 2006 and April 2016 are shown below, as well as the priority dates for March.  There has been no movement in the FILING DATES only on the FINAL ACTION DATES.

PRIORITY DATES, APRIL 2006 TO APRIL 2016

Family-Sponsored

APRIL  2006

PRIORITY DATES

MARCH 2016

FILING DATES

MARCH 2016

FINAL ACTION DATES

APRIL  2016 FILING DATES

APRIL 2016 FINAL ACTION DATES

F1

22AUG91

01SEP05

01APR04

01SEP05

01JUL04

F2A

01MAR02

15JUN15

22SEP14

15JUN15

22OCT14

F2B

08JUL96

01MAY05

01MAR05

01MAY05

01APR05

F3

08FEB91

01AUG95

08DEC93

01AUG95

22DEC93

F4

08OCT83

01JAN93

15AUG92

01JAN93

01SEP92

EB3

01MAY01

01JAN10

15MAR08

01JAN10

01MAY08

OW

01OC01

01JAN10

15MAR08

01JAN10

01MAY08

Canada Not Yet Full

Farther North, Canada announced an increase in the number of immigrant visas to be issued this year.

While the U.S. has a slightly bigger land area than Canada (9,147,593.0 sq.km and 9,093,507.0 sq.km respectively), Canada’s population in 2014 –35,344,962 is dwarfed by the USA’S 321,442,019 count.

Last week, Immigration Minister John McCallum announced that Canada intends to welcome  ”up to 305,000 new permanent residents this year — the highest projected immigration level in decades, and around a seven percent increase on the 2015 plan.”

The most to benefit from the increase are refugees which are expected to be around double the number that was targeted for 2015.  Family-sponsorships also had been increased especially that for parents and grandparents – from 10,000 to 20,000. 

On the other hand, the allocation for skilled workers and professionals had been reduced.

Immigration Category

2016 Target

2015 Target

Economic classes (skilled workers/professionals)

160,600

181,300

Family total

80,000

68,000

Refugee and Humanitarian

300,000

279,200

Overall Total

300,000

279,200

                                                                                                                                                                                  

Under the Economic Immigration program or classes, most numbers are allocated to high skilled workers in the federal class (58,400), followed by those for provincial nominations (47,800), Quebec (26,200) and caregivers (22,000).

The increase in numbers does not change the current selection system of Canada.  Intending immigrants to Canada must still submit their applications through Express Entry and must wait for invitations to apply for permanent residency. Only upon completion of documentation and meeting requirements for each class or category would an applicant be counted towards the increased numbers.

Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise or be one of this year’s April Fools.

Thinking about living abroad? Discover if you qualify for immigration.

You may be qualified & not even know it!

About the Author

Crispin Aranda

Crispin Aranda

Crispin R. Aranda is an established International Visa Conselor and Immigrant Advocate. He is the president of IVC and is in several migration radio programs.


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