Q.I recently returned to the United States on an H-1B visa but I was not issued an arrival-departure record (I-94 card). Do I need to worry about this?
A. As of April 30, 2013, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) has transitioned to an automated, electronic system and they no longer issue a paper I-94 card. Therefore, you should make a point to visit http://CBP.gov/I94 to access your admission record information, preferably within 48 hours of entry into the United States. You should ensure that your admission record states that you arrived on “H-1B” status. You should also carefully note how long your admission record states you may remain in the United States, it should be consistent with your most recent H-1B expiration, unless your passport has an earlier expiration date.
Q. How does one deal with the upcoming H-1B cap season?
A.The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will start accepting H-1B petitions for the fiscal year 2015 beginning April 1, 2014.
As readers may be aware, there are 65,000 regular H-1B cap numbers with an additional 20,000 for individuals who have obtained master’s degrees from the United States. Only new H-1B petitions are counted against the H-1B cap. Individuals who are currently in H-1B status or held H-1B in the past with a cap subject employer will not be subject to the cap. These individuals can apply for H-1B extensions or a change of status at any time.
If the USCIS receives enough (or more) cases to fill the cap within the first five business days, it will stop accepting new cases.
If the USCIS receives more cases than the numbers allowed, a lottery is conducted.
Although it is difficult to say if the cap will be exhausted early this year, it is estimated that the H-1B cap may be used up within the first few days in April.
USCIS SCAM ALERT
Various USCIS applicants and petitioners have recently reported being targets of a new phone scam. The scammers display a misleading phone number on a recipient’s Caller ID and pose as USCIS officials, asking for personal information and payment to correct supposed issues with their records, often threatening deportation. USCIS will NEVER ask for any form of payment or personal information over the phone. If you receive such a call, hang up immediately and report it to the Federal Trade Commission at https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/ or to an appropriate state authority atwww.uscis.gov/avoidscams.
Immigration and business attorney Indu Liladhar-Hathi has an office in San Jose.(408) 453-5335.