H-1B Filing Season To Begin April 1-5, 2013
Employers are reminded to identify new candidates who will require H-1B sponsorship as soon as possible, to ensure that these applications are accepted for processing. April 1 through April 5, 2013 will be the soonest that an employer is able to file an H-1B petition on behalf of a foreign national who has not possessed H-1B status before. Employees with approved H-1B petitions will be able to begin work in that status on October 1, 2013.
The H-1B is a frequently used temporary work visa for professional positions. Generally, there are only 65,000 H-1Bs available per year. Although the annual limit in 2012 was not reached until June 2012, the annual limit has been reached in prior years in early April. Under the current rules, if USCIS receives more than enough petitions in the first five days of processing, there will be computer generated random selection process to choose which H-1B petitions will be accepted for processing. All applications received during the first five business days of April will be treated as though they were received on the first business day of April.
There are an additional 20,000 H-1Bs available for candidates with a Master's Degree or higher from a US university. Foreign nationals who work for a non-profit research organization, an institution of higher education, or work furthering the purposes of either of these, or have used a cap subject H-1B, are exempt from the H-1B quota. For more information on H-1Bs, see the Clark Hill website .
Food Service Provider Fined $250,000 for I-9 and E-Verify Discrimination
On January 7, 2013, the US Department of Justice announced that Centerplate Inc., a hospitality services provider based in South Carolina, had agreed to pay $250,000 in civil penalties, following an investigation that revealed that during the prior three years, the company had a pattern or practice of treating work eligible non-US citizens differently from US citizens during the Form I-9 and E-Verify work eligibility processes. The DOJ found that the company had required specific documents issued by the Department of Homeland Security from non-U.S. citizens, while not making similar requests of U.S. citizens. The company also agreed to fully compensate any victims who lost wages as a result of the companies practices and to undergo DOJ training on the anti-discrimination provisions affecting the I-9 and E-Verify processes and to be monitored for a period of three years.
Visa Priority Dates – February Visa Bulletin
The February Visa Bulletin has been posted. Visas for employment based first preference cases (EB-1) are current. Visas for employment based second preference cases (EB2) included in the "worldwide" limit are also current. Visas for employment based second preference cases (EB2) for individuals born in India remain at September 1, 2004, and for individuals born in China, dates have progressed to January 15, 2008. There has been some forward movement for the EB-3 category. For a summary of priority dates, retrogression, and how these dates impact US green card processing, please visit the Clark Hill website .
FERC Advancing New Reliability Requirements for Renewables
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) recently issued two orders designed to address electric grid reliability implications raised by the dramatic growth in solar and wind projects. Renewable project owners and operators should follow these developments closely, as FERC’s orders propose to substantially increase registration and compliance requirements.