LawQuest | US Immigration Alert | USCIS Announces Registration Dates for the H-1B CAP Season FY 2024

USCIS Announces Registration Dates for the H-1B CAP Season FY 2024

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on January 27, 2023 that the initial period for FY 2024 H-1B cap registration will open at 12 noon EST on March 1, 2023, and run through 12 noon EST on March 17, 2023. Employers seeking to engage foreign nationals on H-1B visas must complete registrations online.  In addition, it is important to note the following:

  • Petitioners or their representatives must submit registrations via a myUSCIS online account and pay a $10 filing fee for each registration.
  • Employers will not be able to submit registrations after the March 17 deadline. There is no advantage to filing the registrations at the beginning of the registration period but later the system might be overloaded with last-minute registrations.  So, it is best to be prepared to submit the registrations soon after it opens on March 1, 2023.
  • After the registration period, the USCIS will conduct a random lottery if there are more registrations than available visas. Annual H-1B caps continue to be set at 65,000 visas plus an additional quota of 20,000 for individuals with advanced U.S. degree holders.
  • Petitioners will be given a 90-day period beginning April 1, 2023, to file full H-1B petitions for candidates that were selected in the random, post-registration selection.

In the last fiscal year, the USCIS received 484,927 H-1B registrations, the highest in history. We expect that the demand for H-1B visas will continue to be high this cap season, despite the layoffs and signs of an economic slowdown in the U.S.

Please contact Manizeh Mistry at [email protected] or [email protected] if you have questions about the registration process or need assistance with your H-1B CAP selections and/or preparation.


LawQuest | US Immigration Alerts | Additional NI Visa Appointments for First Time Applicants, USCIS implementation of Prem Proc Final Stage & Adjudication of I-539 & I-765 applications together

The US Embassy and Consulates in India Introduce More Visa Appointments

There is finally some good news for visa applicants seeking a visa for the first time or those that do not qualify for Dropbox applications.   The United States Embassy in New Delhi and Consulates in Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata and Hyderabad (collectively known as Mission India) will now be open for regular consular (including visa) operations on certain Saturdays to accommodate applicants who need in-person visa interviews.  These additional working days are likely to run through the next few months.

Additionally, to address the significant post-pandemic backlog in visa processing Mission India has also implemented the following and we are seeing reduced wait times as a result:

  • Remote processing of interview waiver cases for applicants with previous U.S. visas.
  • Temporary Consular Officers from Washington and other Embassies to arrive in India to increase processing capacity between January and March 2023.
  • Increasing the number of Consular Officers permanently assigned to the Embassy and Consulates in India.
  • Released more than 250,000 additional B1/B2 appointments and continue to open more slots in the coming few months.
  • U.S. Consulate, Mumbai also extended its weekday operating hours to manage additional appointments.

By this summer, the U.S. Mission in India is expected to be fully staffed and processing visas at levels from prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This will result in a huge relief for visa applicants who have been waiting for several months for visa appointments.  We continue to monitor the situation and will provide further updates as they become available.

USCIS Extends Premium Processing to Additional Categories

The USCIS extends premium processing for newly filed applications under EB-1 and EB-2 petitions. In the earlier phase, this service was only available to already filed I-140 petitions for managers and executives or for those filed for members of Professions holding an Advanced Degree or an Alien of Exceptional Ability. This new phase will come into effect on January 30, 2023.

Further, premium processing will shortly be extended to certain F-1 seeking OPT and STEM OPT extensions and for those applicants who file I-539 Application to Extend/Change their non-immigrant status. This will most likely go into effect in February 2023 after the USCIS makes its final announcement.

Adjudication of L-2 and H-4 Spouse/Dependent Applications Along with the Primary Beneficiary’s Petition

On Friday January 20, 2023, the U.S. government signed off on a settlement of a lawsuit, agreeing to again adjudicate I-539 (extension or change of status applications) and I-765 (work authorization) for H-4 and L-2 dependents, together with the primary beneficiary’s I-129 when these forms are filed together.  It is important to note that if the forms are not filed together, the USCIS is not required to adjudicate them together. This arrangement will take effect on January 25, 2023 and will greatly benefit new applicants, especially when the primary beneficiary’s I-129 petition is filed for premium processing.


LawQuest | Indian Immigration Alert | e-Visa Services Finally Restored for British Nationals!!

e-Visa Services Finally Restored for British Nationals!!

On December 5, 2022, the High Commission of India in London announced that the e-Visa facility will be restored for the UK nationals travelling to India.  The Indian High Commissioner, Vikram K Doraiswami in his official announcement has confirmed this (see

For the first time since the COVID-19 outbreak, India has resumed the e-Visa facility for the UK nationals for whom the lack of e-Visas and the backlogged visa application appointments have been huge impediments.

The United Kingdom has been reinstated on the list on countries eligible for e-Visas on the India e-Visa portal at:

The reinstatement of e-Visas is a significant step forward in eliminating barriers for the UK nationals wishing to visit India for tourism and/or business. This in turn will also help strengthen the Indo-UK relationships and the tourism industry.


US Immigration Alert | Premium Processing Services Extended to Additional I-140 Pending Cases

Premium Processing Services Extended to Additional I-140 Pending Cases

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it will extend premium processing services to additional pending cases. This third phase is similar to the first and second phases and will apply to certain previously filed Form I-140 petitions under the EB-1 and EB-2 classifications.

Petitioners may request premium processing upgrades by filing the new edition of Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing. Beginning September 15, 2022, the USCIS will accept Form I-907 requests for:
• Multinational executive and manager petitions that were received by the USCIS on or before January 1, 2022.
• NIW petitions that were received by the USCIS on or before February 1, 2022.

The USCIS is taking a phased approach to expanding premium processing as part of a broader effort to reduce backlogs. The USCIS will take up to 45 days to provide a decision under the premium processing request for the above Form I-140 classifications.

The Nuts and Bolts of A Family Based Green Card Process.

The Nuts and Bolts of A Family Based Green Card Process.

In our last article we wrote about who can be sponsored for a US green card as a family member. A US citizen or lawful permanent resident (green card holder) may file Form I-130 petition for the foreign national relative, with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to establish a qualifying relationship with the beneficiary (family-based immigrant). In this article we take you through the different stages of the process. Please note that it is now possible to file I-130 petitions online for certain categories.

Although the process for all categories is almost the same, the I-130 processing time will vary widely based on the type of relationship (between the petitioner and the beneficiary), the place of birth of the foreign national, the USCIS’ backlogs, waiting times at the applicable consular post and the accuracy and completeness of the I-130 petition.

I-130 Eligibility

US citizens can file a Form I-130 to petition for the following eligible relatives:

  • Spouse
  • Unmarried and married children
  • Siblings when petitioners are age 21 or older
  • Mother or father when petitioners are age 21 or older

Green card (LPR) holders can file a Form I-130 to petition for the following eligible relatives:

  • Spouse
  • Unmarried child

For family-based immigrant visa applications, having an approved Form I-130 by the USCIS is the first step, i.e. a prerequisite to the immigrant visa application for a green card.

General Steps to Process Family-Based Immigrant Visa I-130 Petition

  1. File I-130 petition and the USCIS will issue receipt notice
  2. The USCIS will review the I-130 petition to determine completeness
  3. The USCIS upon review will either approve the petition or issue a Request for Evidence for any additional/missing documents.
  4. The USCIS will forward the case to the NVC
  5. The NVC asks for additional forms, documents and fees and if everything is in order it forwards the case to the appropriate Consular office outside the US
  6. The US Consular office will schedule an immigrant visa interview after which if approved, the officer will issue an immigrant visa stamp in the passport.

Please note that the process is a little different for relatives who are already in the US in another non-immigrant visa status and can apply to adjust status to immigrant status.

Also, some cases may go through additional steps depending on their circumstances and availability of documents.

Filing I-130 Petition

Form I-130 can either be filed online or via mail.

To file online, an online USCIS account must be created. Online applications make it relatively easier to receive case alerts, check the case status, upload supporting evidence and see all case related correspondence.

I-130 petitions can also be submitted by mail by confirming the USCIS service centre address to which the application must be sent. Depending on the state in which the Petitioner resides and whether the immigrant beneficiary is submitting Form I-485 as well, I-130 petitions are routed to either of the following Lockbox facilities – Dallas, Chicago or Phoenix Lockbox.

From here, it will be processed at any of the USCIS’ five service centres.

I-130 Petition Processing

The USCIS, upon receiving the I-130 application and after determining the completeness of the petition, will issue a receipt notice to the concerned Petitioner and put the case in line for further review. Processing times for an I-130 petition may vary depending on a number of factors, most notably how busy the USCIS service centre is where the petition has been filed.

Wait times of several months/years are typical. Given the COVID-19 restrictions, there has been a significant increase in filings, which has led to extensive delays in receiving receipt notices for properly filed petition with a USCIS lockbox.

The review involves scrutinizing documents to make sure that, that the US citizen’s passport and other supporting documents submitted for the immigrant beneficiary are authentic and contain any official government certifications, if necessary, from the immigrant’s home country. The USCIS is very vigilant about fraud that can take place in such matters.

Once the USCIS completes its checks and scrutiny, and if all looks fine, it will approve the I-130 petition. By way of approval, the USCIS Service Centre will notify the Petitioner, by sending an official I-130 approval notice (with a priority date) and transfer the case file to the appropriate government office. It is important to note that having an approved I-130 does not, by itself, give an immigrant any right to come to, or remain in the United States.

Priority Date

The priority date basically determines each applicant’s place in the immigrant visa waiting line. It is established based on the date that a properly filed I-130 petition is received by the USCIS. The priority date is listed on the I-797 approval notice which is mailed to the Petitioner once the I-130 petition is approved.

The immigrant beneficiary must wait for the priority date to become “current” before he/she can apply for an immigrant visa or adjustment of status. “Current”, in this context, means until the applicant reaches the front of the waiting line or there is no backlog, and a family-based green card is available. Sometimes, an entire subcategory preference can become current if there is no backlog within that category. Such instances are seldom given the current backlogs and wait times.

Immigrant Visa Consular Processing or I-485 Adjustment of Status Filing

Upon approval of the I-130 petition, depending on where the immigrant is and the choice made in the I-130 application, the immigrant beneficiary may choose to apply for the green card through the process known as “Adjustment of Status” (which takes place in the United States) or “Consular Processing” (which takes place through a US Consulate or Embassy abroad).

If the immigrant beneficiary is in the US on a valid non-immigrant visa – such as an L-1, H-1B, F-1 or K-1 they need to “adjust status” from non-immigrant to immigrant, by filing an I-485, Application to Register Permanent Resident or Adjust Status with the USCIS.

The I-485 application must be submitted with relevant documents to prove, lawful status within the US, confirm the qualifying family relationship with the Petitioner, beneficiary’s biographic information etc. The required filing fee for this step will depend on the immigrant beneficiary’s age.

When the immigrant beneficiary is outside the US, he/she will have to go through consular processing at the US Embassy or Consulate abroad, generally in the country or nationality or residence. The National Visa Center (NVC) will notify the immigrant beneficiary and/or the petitioner that they must submit additional documents (including a duly completed form DS-260) and processing fee to the NVC.

The NVC will then inform the beneficiary if the case is “documentarily qualified” or ready and that NVC will send a further notification when the Embassy or Consulate is ready to schedule an interview. During the immigrant visa interview the Consular officer will also review the documents once again and if everything is in order the officer will approve the immigrant visa that is generally valid for 12 months from the date of issue. The officer will retain the passport and return it in a few days with the immigrant visa stamp. The immigrant beneficiary must travel to the US within six months of the issue date on the visa.

Police Clearance Certificate & Medical Examination

When the I-130 application is sent to the NVC, the immigrant beneficiary will need to submit a Police Clearance Certificate (along with other civil documents) from his/her present country of residence and from all countries where he/she may have lived for six months or more since the age of 16. In India, the Police Clearance Certificate must be obtained from the Regional Passport Office. The Police Clearance Certificate is valid for one year from the date of issuance. The applicant will only need to carry a new certificate to the visa interview, if the one submitted to the NVC has expired at the time when the immigrant visa interview date is scheduled.

Additionally, the immigrant beneficiary will also need to undergo a medical exam from one of the Consulate’s panel physicians before the immigrant visa interview. Entering the US on Immigrant Visa

The immigrant beneficiary must enter the United States no later than the visa expiration date printed on the immigrant visa issued. An immigrant visa is usually valid for up to six months from the date of issuance unless the medical examination expires sooner, which may make the visa validity less than six months.

At the port of entry, the US Customs and Border Protection will inspect the immigrant beneficiary and determine whether he/she is admissible or not. If found admissible, they will allow the immigrant beneficiary to enter the United States as a permanent resident. A few weeks upon arrival (usually within 45 days), the USCIS will mail the family-based green card to the immigrant beneficiary.

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