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Grant Godfrey to Speak at Lesley University 02/25/2014

Posted by Morse, Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Attorney News, Immigration.
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Immigration Attorney Grant GodfreyOn Wednesday, March 5th MBBP Immigration Attorney Grant Godfrey has been asked to speak to international students attending Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Grant will be discussing immigration options for students once they receive their degree.

Please feel free to contact Grant with any questions on immigration.

Visit our resources page for MBBP immigration articles and newsletters.

MBBP Immigration Alert: 2015 H-1B Cap to Open on April 1st 02/10/2014

Posted by Morse, Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Immigration, Legal Developments, New Resources.
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Given improving economic conditions and increased hiring, we anticipate that demand for the limited number of H-1B visas will again this year vastly exceed supply. Last April, over 130,000 cap subject H-1B petitions were filed with the USCIS in the first week of April, and USCIS held a lottery to determine which petitions would be accepted for processing. We are projecting that this year the cap will again be reached within the first week of April and that USCIS will hold another lottery. As a result we are advising all employers who expect to sponsor an employee for a new H-1B visa to file within the first five (5) days of April.

Please see this month’s Immigration Alert for further details.

As always, you’re invited to contact our Immigration Team at you convenience to discuss your specific needs.

Immigration Alert: The Effect of The Government Shutdown on Immigration Matters 10/01/2013

Posted by Morse, Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Immigration, Legal Developments, MBBP news, New Resources.
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On October 1, 2013 MBBP published a new Immigration Alert: The Effect of The Government Shutdown on Immigration Matters. As a result of Congress being unable to agree to fund the government, it has been “shutdown” until the funding has been secured. This will have a major effect on government services that are not fee-based. For those services, all non-essential employees must stay home. The only exception where non-essential employees can work is to protect life or property. Essential employees will continue to work. Fee-based government services will be mostly unaffected. We strongly encourage any HR or hiring officials to read this in its entirety to ensure that they understand what compliance obligations will continue, and what will be suspended. The major government agencies that will be affected are:

For a summary of these effects, please see our full Immigration Alert. Feel free to contact any member of our Immigration Law Group with any questions.

MBBP Immigration Event: I am a Foreign National in the U.S. and I Want to Start a Company 09/12/2013

Posted by Morse, Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Events, Immigration, Legal Developments, MBBP news.
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On Thursday, October 24th MBBP is hosting a brown bag lunch event titled “I am a Foreign National in the U.S. and I Want to Start a Company” at the Cambridge Innovation Center in Cambridge, MA. Foreign Nationals who are already in the U.S. and want to start a company have special considerations relating to their U.S. visa status. This brown-bag event will discuss the considerations foreign entrepreneurs should take into account if they don’t yet want to (or cannot yet) be sponsored for employment with the new company, and what they should consider if they do. We will review some of the current nonimmigrant and immigrant visa options available to foreign entrepreneurs who are already in the United States, and will provide critical information for foreign students in F-1 status. The discussion will be interactive with time for questions and answers.

This event is complimentary, but space is limited. Register today!

Please visit our event page for more details and to register.

Update – Government Agencies Extend More Immigration Benefits to Same-Sex Spouses 08/05/2013

Posted by Morse, Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Immigration.
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Immigration Attorney Grant GodfreyBy: Grant W. Godfrey

We have previously written about the recent Supreme Court decision striking down a key provision in the federal 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”). DOMA had prohibited the Federal Government from recognizing same-sex marriages by defining the word “marriage” as a legal union between one man and one woman. We also provided an update when the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (“CIS”) announced that it would allow Same-Sex Spouses to sponsor each other for Green Cards.

The CIS has updated its Frequently Asked Questions (“FAQ”) informing the public that it will accept applications for all benefits that heterosexual spouses are provided. The U.S. Department of State (“DOS”) has also issued its own FAQ stating that it will process visa applications for same-sex spouses in the same way that it processes applications from heterosexual spouses.

It is important to note that at this time, same-sex partners in civil unions and domestic partnerships are not allowed to sponsor each other for immigration benefits. As long as the same-sex spouses were married in a jurisdiction that recognizes same-sex marriage, the marriage should be considered legally valid for immigration purposes. CIS has previously stated that there may be circumstances in which it will look at the law where the spouses are living to determine if the marriage is valid for immigration purposes, however this interpretation directly contradicts recent case-law stating that the only relevant consideration is the jurisdiction where the marriage occurred. It is our expectation that CIS will rarely, if ever, look to the law of the state where the spouses are living to determine if the marriage is valid.

Please do not hesitate to contact the attorneys in our Immigration Practice with any questions, or to explore sponsorship opportunities.

USCIS Now Allows Same-Sex Couples to Sponsor Each Other for Green Cards 07/03/2013

Posted by Morse, Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Immigration, Legal Developments.
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Immigration Attorney Grant GodfreyBy: Grant Godfrey

On July 2, 2013, U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (“CIS”), the government agency with primary responsibility over granting immigration benefits, issued an Alert containing a statement from the Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and a Frequently Asked Questions (“FAQ”) regarding implementation of the Supreme Court Decision that overturned a critical section of the Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”).

In her statement, Secretary Napolitano specifies that effective immediately, CIS has been directed to review immigrant visa petitions (commonly referred to as a petition for a “Green Card”) filed on behalf of a same-sex spouse in the same manner as it would for a petition filed by a heterosexual spouse. The FAQ reiterates Secretary Napolitano’s statement, and also clarifies that as a general matter CIS will look at the law of the place where the marriage was performed to determine if it is valid, not the spouse’s state of residence. This means that even if a spouse lives in a state that does not recognize same-sex marriage, in most cases the marriage will still be considered valid as long as it was conducted in a state or country that recognizes same-sex marriage.

Green Card sponsorship is only one of several benefits that heterosexual spouses are allowed (see Impact of the Supreme Court Striking Down the Defense of Marriage Act on Immigration). We will continue to monitor this situation, and expect that in the coming weeks more immigration benefits will be extended to same-sex couples.

Please do not hesitate to contact the attorneys in our Immigration Practice with any questions, or to explore sponsorship opportunities.

Impact of the Supreme Court Striking Down the Defense of Marriage Act on Immigration 06/26/2013

Posted by Morse, Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Client News, Immigration.
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Immigration Attorney Grant GodfreyBy: Grant Godfrey

On June 26, 2013, the Supreme Court struck down the federal 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”), ruling in a 5-4 decision that the law violates the rights of gays and lesbians and intrudes into states’ rights to define and regulate marriage. DOMA prohibits the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages, even if they have been conducted in the 12 states and District of Columbia that allow them. The effect of DOMA is that it has denied the extension of over a thousand federal benefits to same-sex couples.

Since the cornerstone of Immigration Law, the Immigration and Nationality Act, is federal law, the Department of Homeland Security has been required under DOMA to prohibit same-sex couples from sponsoring each other for immigration benefits that heterosexual spouses are routinely granted, including derivative nonimmigrant visas (e.g. H-4 and L-2 status), Green Card sponsorship (e.g. as an immediate relative or as a derivative beneficiary of their spouse’s being granted a Green Card), and accelerated naturalization for Green Card holders who are living with their U.S. Citizen spouse.

The agency in charge of granting immigration benefits, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“CIS”), has not yet issued a press release as to whether it will immediately begin granting these benefits to same-sex couples. We expect that there will be some delay as CIS drafts internal policy memoranda and we will provide updates on any important developments.

Please do not hesitate to contact the attorneys in our Immigration Practice with any questions about the impact of the Supreme Court striking down DOMA, or any other important immigration questions that you may have.

The H-1B Filing Season – a Post-Mortem 06/06/2013

Posted by Morse, Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Immigration, Legal Developments.
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Immigration Attorney Donald ParkerBy: Donald Parker

The 2014 H-1B filing season opened on April 1st with a bang. In the first 5 days of April, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“CIS”) received approximately 124,000 visa petitions for new H-1Bs – well exceeding the 65,000 quota for non-U.S. Master’s degree cases and the 20,000 quota for U.S. Master’s degree holders. By regulation, CIS is required to accept for processing all H-1B petitions filed during the first 5 business days of the H-1B filing season. In the event that CIS receives more petitions than the available annual quota during the initial filing period, it will make an announcement that it is no longer accepting H-1B petitions and will hold a lottery to determine which cases will be accepted for processing. This year, CIS announced on April 5th that it received sufficient visas to fill the quota, and on Sunday, April 7th it held the required lottery.

Over the course of the following weeks, we, like other immigration practices began to see Receipt Notices trickle in for those of our cases that were selected in the lottery process. Beginning in the second week of May, with all selected cases having been receipted, the CIS began to return the cases of those who were not as fortunate in the lottery.

In our practice we filed a record number of cases – even more than had been filed by us in 2008, the last year when an early lottery needed to be held. Of that number, all of our U.S. Master’s degree cases were accepted for processing. This suggests that while CIS received more than 20,000 U.S. Master’s degree cases, the number that they received was likely not significantly in excess of the cap. With respect to our non-Master’s cap cases, we received Receipt Notices for approximately 72% of our filed cases suggesting that the USCIS received approximately 100,000 non-U.S. Master’s cap cases.

Of the cases that were not receipted, many of the affected workers had other options to remain in the U.S. (e.g. STEM extensions of OPT, and eligibility for H-1B alternatives like the O-1 visa and the E-2 visa). Still, as is the case for many thousands of people around the United States, several of our clients are having to deal with the reality that there will be no more new H-1B visas available this year and few good alternatives that fit their workers.

The Immigration Reform legislation that is currently working its way through the U.S. Senate will do much to remedy the shortage of H-1B visas. But, it faces many challenges including making it safely out of the Senate and then trying to find some reconciliation with the less controlled House of Representatives. Time will tell whether the U.S. government is prepared to replace the “luck” of a lottery with a sensible system and adequate visa numbers to meet the needs of U.S. employers looking for the strongest and most capable, professional labor force.

For questions or more information on this topic, please contact any member of our Immigration Law Group.

CIS Will Likely Need Until The End of May to Sort Out Accepted and Rejected H-1B Cap Cases 04/16/2013

Posted by Morse, Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Immigration, Legal Developments.
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In recent alerts, we have informed clients that the H-1B Caps had been reached and the lottery had been held, provided a FAQ in regards to the H-1B Cap, and provided an alert describing the H-1B caps and provided an overview of eligibility for the status.

At a recent conference, an official at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“CIS”) informed the audience that CIS would first process data entry for the H-1B cap cases filed requesting premium processing, and that they expected data entry for those cases would be completed by April 15. Note that this is the only preferential treatment that CIS is providing to premium processed cases. CIS must process those cases first as they are required to make an initial determination on all premium processed cases by May 1st. Premium processed cases did not receive any preferential treatment in the lotteries.

Once data entry is complete on the premium processing cases, CIS will begin data entry for all other cap-subject H-1B cases. CIS anticipates that data entry for the non-premium processed cases will continue until sometime in May, and rejection notices for petitions not selected in the lottery will be sent out after that.

Unfortunately this information confirms our prediction in the H-1B Cap FAQ that both the employers and sponsored employees will likely need to wait another month or more before they will definitively know whether the case was accepted for processing or not.

We again encourage anyone who is in Human Resources or Recruiting who are interested in learning more about the other work authorized visa categories to attend our event on May 9th, “Alternatives to H-1B Visas.”

“Getting in Line”: A flawed concept in the Immigration debate 04/12/2013

Posted by Morse, Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Immigration, Legal Developments.
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Immigration Attorney Grant GodfreyBy: Grant Godfrey

Anyone who has navigated through our maze of immigration laws understands that it is complicated and takes a long time. An NBC news article published today sheds light on how the concept of “getting in line” for a Green Card is a dramatic oversimplification of our current system. The better questions are: (a) which line do you have to get in?, (b) how many years are you going to have to wait?, and (c) is there even a line available to you?

To help you answer these questions and more, please contact any member of our Immigration Practice Group.

H-1B Cap for 2014 Reached in First Week 04/09/2013

Posted by Morse, Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Immigration, Legal Developments.
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On April 5, 2013, the Citizenship and Immigration Services (“CIS”) announced that for the first time since 2008, the “Regular” and “U.S. Master’s Degree” H-1B caps for the 2014 fiscal year had been reached during the first week that they were available.  More information regarding the H-1B Caps can be found in our March Immigration Alert Newsletter.  CIS is required to keep the H-1B caps open for at least the first 5 business days, and during that filing period, CIS received approximately 124,000 H-1B petitions under both the “Regular” and “U.S. Master’s Degree” caps.

On April 7, 2013, CIS used a computer-generated random selection process to select the petitions it would accept for processing.  CIS conducted the lottery first for the “U.S. Master’s Degree” cap.  All petitions not selected in the first lottery were then added to the “Regular” cap pool, and the lottery was then conducted on the remaining petitions.

Any petition that was not selected for processing will be rejected and returned with the filing fee.  As discussed in the FAQ that we released last week regarding the lottery, there is not a good method to quickly know whether a petition has been accepted for processing or not.

Foreign workers whose petitions were rejected may have other options available, and should speak to an immigration attorney to determine if they would qualify.  We encourage anyone who is in Human Resources or Recruiting to attend our event on May 9th, “Alternatives to H-1B Visas.”

Frequently Asked Questions on the H-1B Cap 04/03/2013

Posted by Morse, Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Client News, Immigration, Legal Developments.
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Immigration Attorney Grant GodfreyBy: Grant Godfrey

MBBP recently sent an Immigration Alert that the FY 2014 H-1B season will open on April 1st, allowing companies to sponsor foreign nationals for new H-1B “specialty worker” visas, and cautioned employers that this year’s H-1B Cap numbers could be reached within weeks, if not days of the cap opening up. The U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Service (“CIS”) recently issued a press release that it anticipates the H-1B Cap could be reached in the first week of April. We have assembled a list of frequently asked questions to help employers, and their employees, understand the implications if the H-1B Cap is reached quickly.

Please visit our resources page to view our full article on “Frequently Asked Questions on the H-1B Cap“.

MBBP Immigration Event: Alternatives to H-1B Visas 03/20/2013

Posted by Morse, Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Events, Immigration, Legal Developments, MBBP news.
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On Thursday, May 9th MBBP is hosting a complimentary immigration event on the topic of “Alternatives to H-1B Visas“. With the economy steadily improving, over the past two years the H-1B cap has been reached very quickly. The most recent year, it was reached in approximately two months.

This timely event will provide an overview of other visa options employers have to utilize the best available talent, including: 17 Month STEM Extensions, L, TN, O, E and B visas. We will address the advantages and pitfalls of each visa category, and will also host a question and answer session.

Please visit our event page for more details and to register.

The Uncertain Future of E-Verify? 02/11/2013

Posted by Morse, Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Client News, Immigration, Legal Developments.
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Immigration Attorney Donald ParkerBy: Donald Parker

E-Verify is an online system operated by the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) and the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) that allows employers to check both the validity of a new employee’s Social Security Number and whether that employee is authorized to work in the United States. On the drawing table in various forms since 1996, but revived and re-implemented in 2007, E-Verify has to-date been a voluntary system for most employers in the United States. Once an employer registers with E-Verify it is required, however, to process all new hires through the E-Verify system.

E-Verify is intended to be an add-on to the I-9 Employment Verification process that has been required of all employers for several decades. Many of our clients have registered with E-Verify and the returns so far have been largely positive. While the system can occasionally return false positive data that can then take several weeks to get resolved with the SSA and DHS, these problems are not common. Indeed, this bright-line test approach has its advantages. Employers in industries that have a high level of workers without proper legal authorization to work like the ability to determine up front whether the employee’s Social Security Number is valid and/or whether the employees in fact are authorized to be employed in the United States.

Until recently, most immigration law practitioners felt that the early success of E-Verify signaled that DHS would make it a mandatory system of all employers in the United States within the next several years. And that may still happen. In the outline of a Senate proposal that was issued recently for Comprehensive Immigration Reform legislation, however, there is language that suggests that the employment verification system in the United States would be revamped and made stronger. The Senate proposal contains a number of strong statements relating to immigration and employment control issues and processes that are clearly intended to open the door to a dialogue on an “amnesty” program for persons that are in the United States illegally. While this is an admirable and sensible goal, we would hope that the Senate does not throw the baby out with the bathwater when it comes to E-Verify. The combination of the I-9 verification process and a mandatory E-Verify system is a powerful tool for employers to control their hiring foreign nationals. E-Verify works and works well and efficiently and our hope is that the Senate does not turn its back on it in the desire to appear “tough on immigration”.

For more information on this topic, please contact Donald Parker.

John Gallini Panels MCLE’s Immigration Law Event 12/17/2012

Posted by Morse, Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Attorney News, Events, Immigration, Legal Developments.
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Immigration Attorney John GalliniOn December 12th – 13th MBBP Immigration Attorney John Gallini was a panel member for MCLE’s BasicsPlus! two-day intensive immigration law program. The event helped to provided attendees with a practice introduction to the concepts, procedures and practice of immigration law. John lead a discussion on Employment-Based Green Cards Without Labor Certification.

John Gallini is also the co-chair of the Boston Bar Association‘s Immigration Law Section. Please feel free to contact John with any questions on immigration.

U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services Launches New Web Portal For Entrepreneurs 12/11/2012

Posted by Morse, Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Immigration, Legal Developments.
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Immigration Attorney John GalliniBy: John Gallini and Grant Godfrey

Last October, the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (“CIS”) announced the Entrepreneurs in Residence program with the goal of harnessing industry expertise from the public and private sectors and increasing the job creation potential of employment-based and high-skilled visa categories. On November 29, 2012, CIS launched a new web portal for entrepreneurs, the Entrepreneurs Pathways web portal.

Immigration Attorney Grant GodfreyThe portal includes a guide to the various visa options an entrepreneur has to enter and work in the United States. While the portal provides an overview of the basic eligibility requirements for the statuses, it does not inform the reader of the limitations, traps and pitfalls of those visa options. The establishment of the Entrepreneurs in Residence Program at CIS is a clear statement that CIS is interested in facilitating entrepreneurs’ entry to the United States. However, it will do little to simplify how foreign born entrepreneurs can found and run a business in the U.S. with reliable expectation of visa issuance, extension and, if desired, a pathway to a Green Card. Bipartisan legislation like the StartUp Visa Act and Startup Act 2.0 that are currently pending in Congress, would provide pathways to a Green Card for entrepreneurs, and could easily be amended to include temporary visa statuses so that entrepreneurs could quickly enter the U.S.

Please feel free contact the Immigration Law Group with any questions on this topic.

Immigration Reform Is An Early Priority After the Inauguration 11/12/2012

Posted by Morse, Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Attorney News, Immigration, Legal Developments.
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Immigration Attorney Grant GodfreyBy: Grant Godfrey

According to the Huffington Post the Senate Democrats are planning on making immigration reform a priority post-inauguration. While exact measures or legislation have not been disclosed, Washington is showing an increased willingness to tackle what has proven to be a politically dividing topic. Many businesses find our immigration system to be confusing and too rigid to be able to adapt to 21st century business practices. Future legislation could provide needed flexibility so that U.S. employers can focus on hiring and retaining top educated workers who fill critical functions in their organizations.

MBBP’s immigration practice has experience advising companies ranging from start-ups to multi-national corporations, as well as experience advising families and individual workers. If you have any questions about this article, or any other important immigration topic, do not hesitate to contact a member of the Immigration Team.

John Gallini Named BBA Immigration Section Co-Chair 05/22/2012

Posted by Morse, Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Client News, Immigration.
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Immigration Attorney John GalliniOn May 21st, the Boston Bar Association announced the new 2012-2013 Co-Chairs of its 24 sections.  MBBP Attorney John Gallini was selected as a Co-chair for the Immigration Law Section within the BBA and will serve for two years. BBA President-elect, J.D. Smeallie, had this to say of the section leaders:

The lawyers named to lead our Sections represent a talent pool enriched by the diversity of their respective backgrounds. They are drawn from law firms of all sizes, from the legal departments of businesses and non-profits, and from government, legal services, and academia.

Congratulations John!

For more information, please visit the Boston Bar Association.

MBBP Welcomes Attorney Grant Godfrey 05/09/2012

Posted by Morse, Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Attorney News, Immigration, MBBP news.
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Immigration Attorney Grant GodfreyMBBP is pleased to announce that Attorney Grant Godfrey has joined the firm as an associate. Grant concentrates his practice in immigration law. Prior to Morse, Barnes-Brown & Pendleton, he was an associate at Blake J. Godbout & Associates where he worked on a variety of litigation, transactional, and bankruptcy issues.

After receiving his undergraduate degree, Grant worked as a paralegal at McNamara, Koenig & McCarthy (now McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter), and then at Morse, Barnes-Brown & Pendleton, where he focused on business-based immigration law. He then changed careers and worked at Bullhorn, a software company, as a hybrid account and project manager before attending law school.

Please feel free to contact Grant directly.

MBBP February Immigration Alert: 2013 H-1B Cap to Open on April 1st 02/29/2012

Posted by Morse, Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Immigration, Legal Developments.
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By Donald Parker and John Gallini

Immigration Attorney Donald ParkerThe H-1B visa is the standard working visa used by foreign nationals to work in the United States with a U.S. employer. The H-1B “specialty worker” visa is available only to foreign nationals who have obtained a job offer in a position that customarily requires someone with a Bachelor’s degree. With a few exceptions, foreign nationals who have completed 6 years of time in the United States in H-1B status, will be required to return to their home country.

Immigration Attorney John GalliniH-1B visas are available in a limited number (the “H-1B cap”) on October 1st of each year, the beginning of the fiscal year of the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (“CIS”). Applications for the up-coming fiscal year tranches of H-1B visas can be made starting April 1st. While we expect that the FY 2013 H-1B cap may not be reached for several months after April 1st, we cannot of course be certain. The demand appears to be greater this year and we expect that CIS’s apparent bias against granting L-1B “specialized knowledge” work visa petitions will cause U.S. multinational corporations to rely more heavily on the H-1B visa program.

As a result, we are advising all employers who expect to sponsor an employee for an H-1B visa to plan to file in the early part of April of 2012.

Please visit our website for the full Immigration Alert.

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