In order to address its enormous backlog of H-1B visa petitions, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that it will be transferring processing for certain H-1B visa petitions to another one of its service centers. These cases will be transferred from the agency’s Vermont Service Center (VSC) to the California Service Center (CSC) for both data entry and adjudication.
This development comes right on the heels of a former Congresswoman informing a Senate Judiciary Committee that the H-1B program has failed to maintain the number of visas being issued annually to keep pace with need. She informed the committee that over the last nearly twenty years, the number of visas available has remained unchanged despite many possible options available for expanding legal immigration for skilled workers. Currently, almost 70% of H-1B visas are issued to Indian nationals annually, the majority of which are for individuals working at technology companies.
The H-1B visa petitions are being transferred for the fiscal year 2023 cap and awaiting intake at the agency’s VSC location. The H-1B visa lottery was completed on April 5th, and those petitioners who were selected then must submit an application that, once processed, would allow them to potentially begin working from October 1st, 2022. Many of these cases, among others, will be transferred to the CSC location, which according to the USCIS, is due to the delay the agency is facing in receipt issuance for these cases. USCIS states that this will allow them to accelerate the receipt issuance process.
Applicants are advised to continue filing petitions to the addresses provided on the Direct Filing Addresses for Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker page. USCIS also warns applicants to give the agency time to process the newly transferred cases and not to assume that their existing submissions failed to arrive or were lost and attempt to file duplicate submissions.
Petitioners will not receive a notice of transfer, but they will still receive a notice of receipt once the petition is now hopefully much more quickly receipted. Transferred petitions will be worked until completion at the CSC, and USCIS encourages applicants to use the petition receipt number for any inquiries they may have concerning case status. USCIS states that it is also experiencing similar delays in receipt issuance at other service centers, which it is attempting to address.
For employers looking to hire H-1B workers, it is important to keep in mind that there are considerable paperwork burdens involved in the hiring process. Not least among these is the Form I-9 process which can be made considerably more difficult due to the complex documentation requirements that can arise when confirming these workers’ employment authorization. One of the best ways to simplify this process is with an electronic I-9 management tool that can guide employers through every step of the process employment eligibility verification process and ensure that all paperwork and documentation is stored securely for review at any time.
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